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William Prince of Orange

William Prince of Orange

(1928)
A non fiction book by

 
The modern conception of history is that of a continuous movement, the beginning of which eludes the most patient research and the conclusion of which is, of course, beyond any possible surmise; historians are no longer content with labels nor satisfied to trace the rise and fall of nations or ideas, the bloom and decay of such institutions as the feudal system, the Holy Roman Empire, or the scope and influence of movements such as the Renaissance, or the Reformation; this wide view, in which no one nation has a greater share, or one ideal a larger prominence than another, naturally tends to dwarf and even obscure the events and the personalities that, under the former school of historians, showed in such startling importance; dramatic incident, picturesque legend, fade in the clear light of this wide vista, and commanding figures, once of heroic proportions, are reduced to trivial measurements; the impersonal progress of humanity is all that remains; nor have we much right to use the word "progress." Despite a great deal that flatters us in our modernity, a cool historian could scarcely claim that the standards of honour, morality and aspiration, which mankind has set up for himself from time immemorial, have been more steadily adhered to in one age than in another, including our own; that the ignorance, superstition and ills of humanity have been more glaring in one age than in another, including our own; the assurance that scolds and scorns the past, and talks of modern enlightenment and modern standards as if these had nearly reached perfection, is assuredly affording matter for amusement to future generations.
We may claim stupendous discoveries in science, but this is not a virtue; nor have these same discoveries been always turned to virtuous ends; we can claim a wide religious tolerance (probably our one achievement), but it is doubtful if this is not indifference, and that we are not persecutors merely because we are apathetic on questions of dogma; it must also be admitted that tolerance has always been an attitude of fine minds and is no modern discovery, and that the temper of the bigot and the fervour of the fanatic are by no means extinct.
Surveying, then, a history which appears to have taught us nothing, and be leading us no further - for who can now accept the neat, self-satisfied definitions with which party historians strove to prove their points? - what do we find of interest?
Always, one thinks, the character and actions of individual men and women, people whose common humanity was tempered and influenced by their positions and environments and the peculiar questions of their times; these were more similar than at first appears, small exterior differences of customs, problems, local atmosphere, are apt to be much exaggerated; the mainsprings of human character have remained unchanged; ambition, spirituality, love, hate, self-interest, self-sacrifice, lust for fame, for power, for money, struggling with piety, asceticism, altruism; all played upon by circumstance, by environment, by the actions of others, in brief, the one theme of fact and fiction alike when it treats with humanity, man's dealing with his destiny - what interest is there save this?
The following is an account of the childhood and youth of a man who, by reason of his position and his character, has constantly occupied the attention of his fellows, been extravagantly lauded, fiercely slandered, blamed for much for which he could not, perhaps, have been responsible, and praised for much that was, perhaps, not owing to him, but by all admitted to have been one who by sheer force of moral and mental qualities had, as one of his enemies remarked, "the honour of being for thirty years the first personage in Europe."

 
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Kindle Editions

August 2015 : USA, Canada Kindle edition
Title: William Prince of Orange (Illustrated)
Author(s): Marjorie Bowen
Publisher: Didactic Press
Availability: Amazon   Amazon CA   



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