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THE PREFACE to the reader.

Compare 1577 edition: 1 _IT is dangerous (gentle reader) to range in so large a field as I haue here vndertaken, while so manie sundrie men in diuers things may be able to controll me, and manie excellent wits of our countrie (as well or better occupied I hope) are able herein to surpasse me; but seeing the best able doo seeme to neglect it, let me (though least able) craue par|don to put them in mind not to forget their natiue countries praise (which is their dutie) the incouragement of their woorthie countriemen, by elders ad|uancements; and the daunting of the vi|cious, by foure penall examples, to which end (as I take it) chronicles and histories ought cheefelie to be written. My labour may shew mine vttermost good will, of the more learned I require their further enlargement, and of fault-finders dispensati|on till they be more fullie informed. It is too common that the least able are readiest to find fault in matters of least weight, and therefore I esteeme the lesse of their carping, but humblie beseech the skilfull to supplie my want, and to haue care of their dutie; and either to amend that wherein I haue failed, or be content with this mine endeuour. For it may please them to consider, that no one can be eie-witnesse to all that is written with|in our time; much lesse to those things which happened in former times, and therefore must be content with reports of others. Therein I haue beene so carefull, that I haue spared no paines or helpe of freends to search out either written or printed ancient authors, or to inquire of moderne eie-witnesses for the true setting downe of that which I haue here deliuered: but I find such want in writers for the necessarie knowledge of things doone in times past, and lacke of meanes to obteine sufficient instructions by re|porters of the time present; and herewith the worthie exploits of our countriemen so manie, that it greeueth me I could not leaue the same to posteritie (as I wished) to their well deserued praise. But I haue here imparted what I could learne, and craue that it may be taken in good part. My speech is plaine, without any rhetoricall shew of eloquence, hauing rather a regard to simple truth, than to decking words. I wish I had beene furni|shed with so perfect instructions, and so many good gifts, that I might haue pleased all kinds of men, but that same being so rare a thing in any one of the best, I beseech thee (gentle reader) not to looke for it in me the meanest.

Compare 1577 edition: 1 But now for thy further instruction, to vnderstand the course of these my labours. First concerning the historie of England, as I haue collected the same out of manie and sundrie authors, in whome what contrarietie, negligence, and rashnesse sometime is EEBO page image 5 found in their reports; I leaue to the discretion of those that haue perused their works: for my part, I haue in things doubtfull rather chosen to shew the diuersitie of their wri|tings, than by ouer-ruling them, and vsing a peremptorie censure, to frame them to a|gree to my liking: leauing it neuerthelesse to each mans iudgement, to controll them as he seeth cause. If some-where I shew my fansie what I thinke, and that the same dislike them; I craue pardon, speciallie if by probable reasons or plainer matter to be produ|ced, they can shew mine errour; vpon knowledge whereof I shall be readie to reforme it accordinglie. Where I doo begin the historie from the first inhabi [...]ation of this Ile, I looke not to content ech mans opinion concerning the originall of them that first peo|pled it, and no maruell: for in matters so vncerteine, if I cannot sufficientlie content my selfe (as in deed I cannot) I know not how I should satisfie others. That which seemeth to me most likelie, I haue noted, beseeching the learned (as I trust they will) in such points of doubtfull antiquities to beare with my skill: sith for ought I know, the mat|ter is not yet decided among the learned, but still they are in controuersie about it, and as yet Sub iudice lis est. Well, howsoeuer it came first to be inhabited, likelie it is, that at the first the whole Ile was vnder one prince and gouernour, though afterwards (and long peraduenture before the Romans set any foot within it) the monarchie thereof was broken, euen when the multitude of the inhabitants grew to be great, and ambiti|on entred amongst them: which hath brought so manie good policies and states to ruine and decaie.

Compare 1577 edition: 1 The Romans hauing once got possession of the continent that faceth this Ile, could not rest (as it appeareth) till they had brought the same also vnder their subiection: and the sooner doubtlesse, by reason of the factions amongst the princes of the land, which the Romans (through their accustomed skill) could turne verie well to their most ad|uantage. They possessed it almost fiue hundreth yeares, and longer might haue doone, if either their insufferable tyrannie had not taken awaie from them the loue of the peo|ple, as well here as else-where; either that their ciuill discord about the chopping and changing of their emperours had not so weakened the forces of their empire, that they were not able to defend the same against the irruption of barbarous nations. But as we may coniecture by that which is found in histories, about that time, in which the Ro|mane empire began to decline, this land stood in verie weake state: being spoiled of the most part of all hir able men, which were led awaie into forren regions, to supplie the Romane armies; and likewise (perhaps) of all necessarie armour, weapon, and treasure: which being perceiued of the Saxons, after they were receiued into the Ile, to aid the Britons against the Scots and Picts then inuading the same, ministred to them occasion to attempt the second conquest, which at length they brought to passe, to the ouer|throw not onelie of the British dominion, but also to the subuersion of the Christian religion here in this land: which chanced (as appeareth by Gildas) for the wicked sins and vnthankefulnesse of the inhabitants towards God, the cheefe occasions and cau|ses of the transmutations of kingdoms, Nam propter peccata, regna transmutantur à gente in gentem.

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