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It is my purpose to say a word of Samuel Rawson Gardiner, the English historian, who died February 23, 1902, and who in his research and manner of statement represents fitly the scientific school of historical writers. He was thorough in his investigation, sparing neither labor nor pains to get at the truth. It may well enough be true that the designedly untruthful historian, like the undevout astronomer, is an anomaly, for inaccuracy comes not from purpose, but from neglect. Now Gardiner went to the bottom of things, and was not satisfied until he had compassed all the material within his reach. As a matter of course he read many languages. Whether his facts were in Spanish, Italian, French, German, Dutch, Swedish, or English made apparently no difference. Nor did he stop at what was in plain language. He read a diary written chiefly in symbols, and many letters in cipher. A large part of his material was in manuscript, which entailed greater labor than if it had been in print. As one reads the prefaces to his various volumes and his footnotes, amazement is the word to express the feeling that a man could have accomplished so much in forty-seven years. One feels that there is no one-sided use of any material. The Spanish, the Venetian, the French, the Dutch nowhere displaces the English. In Froude’s Elizabeth one gets the impression that the Simancas manuscripts furnish a disproportionate basis of the narrative; in Ranke’s England, that the story is made up too much from the Venetian archives. Gardiner himself copied many Simancas manuscripts in Spain, and he studied the archives in Venice, Paris, Brussels, and Rome, but these, and all the other great mass of foreign material, are kept adjunctive to that found in his own land. My impression from a study of his volumes is that more than half of his material is in manuscript, but because he has matter which no one else had ever used, he does not neglect the printed pages open to every one. To form “a judgment on the character and aims of Cromwell,” he writes, “it is absolutely necessary to take Carlyle’s monumental work as a starting point;" yet, distrusting Carlyle’s printed transcripts, he goes back to the original speeches and letters themselves. Carlyle, he says, “amends the text without warning” in many places; these emendations Gardiner corrects, and out of the abundance of his learning he stops a moment to show how Carlyle has misled the learned Dr. Murray in attributing to Cromwell the use of the word “communicative” in its modern meaning, when it was on the contrary employed in what is now an obsolete sense.

Gardiner’s great work is the History of England from 1603 to 1656. In the revised editions there are ten volumes called the “History of England, from the Accession of James I to the Outbreak of the Civil War,” and four volumes on the Great Civil War. Since this revision he has published three volumes on the History of the Commonwealth and the Protectorate. He was also the author of a number of smaller volumes, a contributor to the Encyclopædia Britannica and the Dictionary of National Biography, and for ten years editor-in-chief of the English Historical Review.

I know not which is the more remarkable, the learning, accuracy, and diligence of the man, or withal his modesty. With his great store of knowledge, the very truthfulness of his soul impels him to be forward in admitting his own mistakes. Lowell said in 1878 that Darwin was “almost the only perfectly disinterested lover of truth” he had ever encountered. Had Lowell known the historian as we know him, he would have placed Gardiner upon the same elevation. In the preface to the revised ten-volume edition he alludes to the “defects” of his work. “Much material,” he wrote, “has accumulated since the early volumes were published, and my own point of view is not quite the same as it was when I started with the first years of James I." The most important contribution to this portion of his period had been Spedding’s edition of Bacon’s Letters and Life. In a note to page 208 of his second volume he tells how Spedding’s arguments have caused him to modify some of his statements, although the two regard the history of the seventeenth century differently. Writing this soon after the death of Spedding, to which he refers as “the loss of one whose mind was so acute and whose nature was so patient and kindly,” he adds, “It was a true pleasure to have one’s statements and arguments exposed to the testing fire of his hostile criticism.” Having pointed out later some inaccuracies in the work of Professor Masson, he accuses himself. “I have little doubt,” he writes, “that if my work were subjected to as careful a revision, it would yield a far greater crop of errors."

Gardiner was born in 1829. Soon after he was twenty-six years old he conceived the idea of writing the history of England from the accession of James I to the restoration of Charles II. It was a noble conception, but his means were small. Having married, as his first wife, the youngest daughter of Edward Irving, the enthusiastic founder of the Catholic Apostolic Church, he became an Irvingite. Because he was an Irvingite, his university, he was a son of Oxford, so it is commonly said, would give him no position whereby he might gain his living. Nevertheless, Gardiner studied and toiled, and in 1863 published two volumes entitled “A History of England from the Accession of James I to the Disgrace of Chief Justice Coke.” Of this work only one hundred and forty copies were sold. Still he struggled on. In 1869 two volumes called “Prince Charles and the Spanish Marriage” were published and sold five hundred copies. Six years later appeared two volumes entitled “A History of England under the Duke of Buckingham and Charles I.” This installment paid expenses, but no profit. One is reminded of what Carlyle said about the pecuniary rewards of literary men in England: “Homer’s Iliad would have brought the author, had he offered it to Mr. Murray on the half-profit system, say five-and-twenty guineas. The Prophecies of Isaiah would have made a small article in a review which ... could cheerfully enough have remunerated him with a five-pound note.” The first book from which Gardiner received any money was a little volume for the Epochs of Modern History Series on the Thirty Years’ War, published in 1874. Two more installments of the history appearing in 1877 and 1881 made up the first edition of what is now our ten-volume history, but in the meantime some of the volumes went out of print. It was not until 1883, the year of the publication of the revised edition, that the value of his labors was generally recognized. During this twenty-eight years, from the age of twenty-six to fifty-four, Gardiner had his living to earn. He might have recalled the remark made, I think, by either Goldsmith or Lamb, that the books which will live are not those by which we ourselves can live. Therefore Gardiner got his bread by teaching. He became a professor in King’s College, London, and he lectured on history for the London Society for the Extension of University Teaching, having large audiences all over London, and being well appreciated in the East End. He wrote schoolbooks on history. Finally success came twenty-eight years after his glorious conception, twenty years after the publication of his first volume. He had had a hard struggle for a living with money coming in by driblets. Bread won in such a way is come by hard, yet he remained true to his ideal. His potboilers were good and honest books; his brief history on the Thirty Years’ War has received the praise of scholars. Recognition brought him money rewards. In 1882 Mr. Gladstone bestowed upon him a civil list pension of L150 a year. Two years later All Souls College, Oxford, elected him to a research fellowship; when this expired Merton made him a fellow. Academic honors came late. Not until 1884, when he was fifty-five, did he take his degree of M.A. Edinburgh conferred upon him an LL.D., and Goettingen a Ph.D.; but he was sixty-six when he received the coveted D.C.L. from his own university. The year previous Lord Rosebery offered him the Regius Professorship of History at Oxford, but he declined it because the prosecution of his great work required him to be near the British Museum. It is worthy of mention that in 1874, nine years before he was generally appreciated in England, the Massachusetts Historical Society elected him a corresponding member.

During the latter part of his life Gardiner resided in the country near London, whence it took him about an hour to reach the British Museum, where he did his work. He labored on his history from eleven o’clock to half-past four, with an intermission of half an hour for luncheon. He did not dictate to a stenographer, but wrote everything out. Totally unaccustomed to collaboration, he never employed a secretary or assistant of any kind. In his evenings he did no serious labor; he spent them with his family, attended to his correspondence, or read a novel. Thus he wrought five hours daily. What a brain, and what a splendid training he had given himself to accomplish such results in so short a working day!

In the preface to his first volume of the “History of the Commonwealth,” published in 1894, Gardiner said that he was “entering upon the third and last stage of a task the accomplishment of which seemed to me many years ago to be within the bounds of possibility.” One more volume bringing the history down to the death of Cromwell would have completed the work, and then Mr. Charles H. Firth, a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, was to take up the story. Firth now purposes to begin his narrative with the year 1656. Gardiner’s mantle has fallen on worthy shoulders.

Where historical scholars congregate in England and America, Gardiner is highly esteemed. But the critics must have their day. They cannot attack him for lack of diligence and accuracy, which according to Gibbon, the master of us all, are the prime requisites of a historian, so they assert that he was deficient in literary style, he had no dramatic power, his work is not interesting and will not live. Gardiner is the product solely of the university and the library. You may visualize him at Oxford, in the British Museum, or at work in the archives on the Continent, but of affairs and of society by personal contact he knew nothing. In short, he was not a man of the world, and the histories must be written, so these critics aver, by those who have an actual knowledge by experience of their fellow-men. It is profitable to examine these dicta by the light of concrete examples. Froude saw much of society, and was a man of the world. He wrote six volumes on the reign of Elizabeth, from which we get the distinct impression that the dominant characteristics of Elizabeth were meanness, vacillation, selfishness, and cruelty. Gardiner in an introductory chapter of forty-three pages restores to us the great queen of Shakespeare, who brought upon her land “a thousand, thousand blessings.” She loved her people well, he writes, and ruled them wisely. She “cleared the way for liberty, though she understood it not." Elsewhere he speaks of “her high spirit and enlightened judgment." The writer who has spent his life in the library among dusty archives estimates the great ruler more correctly than the man of the world. We all know Macaulay, a member of Parliament, a member of the Supreme Council of India, a cabinet minister, a historian of great merit, a brilliant man of letters. In such a one, according to the principles laid down by these critics, we should expect to find a supreme judge of men. Macaulay in his essays and the first chapter of the History painted Wentworth and Laud in the very blackest of colors, which “had burned themselves into the heart of the people of England.” Gardiner came. Wentworth and Laud, he wrote, were controlled by a “noble ambition,” which was “not stained with personal selfishness or greed." “England may well be proud of possessing in Wentworth a nobler if a less practical statesman than Richelieu, of the type to which the great cardinal belonged." Again Wentworth was “the high-minded, masterful statesman, erring gravely through defects of temper and knowledge." From Macaulay we carry away the impression that Wentworth was very wicked and that Cromwell was very good. Gardiner loved Cromwell not less than did Macaulay, but thus he speaks of his government: “Step by step the government of the Commonwealth was compelled ... to rule by means which every one of its members would have condemned if they had been employed by Charles or Wentworth.” Is it not a triumph for the bookish man that in his estimate of Wentworth and Laud he has with him the consensus of the historical scholars of England?

What a change there has been in English opinion of Cromwell in the last half century! Unquestionably that is due to Carlyle more than to any other one man, but there might have been a reaction from the conception of the hero worshiper had it not been supported and somewhat modified by so careful and impartial a student as Gardiner.

The alteration of sentiment toward Wentworth and Laud is principally due to Gardiner, that toward Cromwell is due to him in part. These are two of the striking results, but they are only two of many things we see differently because of the single-minded devotion of this great historian. We know the history in England from 1603 to 1656 better than we do that of any other period of the world; and for this we are indebted mainly to Samuel Rawson Gardiner.