Page:Historical Lectures and Addresses.djvu/207

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sion, and gloried in a freedom from prejudice which they would have all men follow.

It is a matter of some interest to see how England was affected by this movement. The first class of scholars was, I think, strongly represented, and English writers early show the influence of considerable reading of the classics. For instance, the chronicler, William of Malmesbury, who died in the middle of the twelfth century, tells us that his object in writing was "barbarice exarata Romano condire sale," to season with classical flavour the barbarous chronicles of his predecessors. The object and phrase in which it was expressed are alike worthy of a Florentine of the best period. I have come across one testimony to a knowledge of classics in England in early times which is so remarkable, and so difficult of explanation, that I think it worth mentioning even at the risk of seeming pedantic. Æneas Sylvius, who certainly knew MSS., says that in the Library of St Paul's in London he found an ancient history, written, according to its colophon, six hundred years before, that is, roughly speaking, about 800 to 850 A.D. "The writer of this history," he goes on, "was noted as the Greek Thucydides, whom we know by report to have been famous: I found, however, no translator's name." England was indeed far in advance of the rest of Europe if at that early date it possessed a student capable of translating Thucydides. However this may be, England produced in the fourteenth century one of the earliest collectors of books. Richard of Bury, Bishop of Durham, was a type of the omnivorous student: even on his journeys he carried a library