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time rather than writing a consecutive narrative of events and tendencies. It was found impossible, without so obliterating his work as to make the retention of his name as joint-author an anomaly, to depart from this method. What has been done is to add to his material certain sections with which he had either not dealt at all but only partially, and in some cases to rewrite whole sections, retaining his phraseology wherever possible, and modifying his order and arrangement. I have not willingly parted with a line, scarcely a word, of what he had written. As the work now stands, therefore, it is a distinctly composite production. Some is wholly his, some wholly mine, and the able hand of the Editor has been exercised freely on both. I am solely responsible for the lists of Authorities at the end of the chapters. I could not now, without reference to the documents in their respective stages, distinguish always accurately between these three, and the “higher criticism” would fail to disentangle the various contributions of O. and R. and H. I did make a rough calculation of the relative amount of each, and it might be expressed by the formula O24R4H
Since Canon Overton and his colleague C. J. Abbey first drew the attention of the thoughtful to the problems of our eighteenth-century Church life, a gradual change has come over our judgments upon it. The more it is studied the more full of life it is found to be. Not perhaps our kind of life, but life nevertheless. Every investigation that is made into the annals of a diocese or a parish reveals this more and
The day is not yet when the full history can be written. Much spade work has still to be done before the foundations can be fully explored. Local and diocesan records need to be investigated and their results tabulated before any trustworthy verdict can be pronounced upon the religious life of the Church as a whole. Overton's and Abbey's work was pioneer work, and much more of the same kind is required.
In one respect a very severe restraint has had to be
exercised. Tempting and congenial as the subject is, there was no space in which to treat of the secular literature of the time. The poetry, the essays, the novels especially, have been passed over, though their influence upon the thought and life of the age was enormous. Chapters might be written thereon. The contemporary life of the Church of Ireland was sketched by Dr. Overton, but that too had to be omitted.
I have to thank my eldest son, the Rev. B. F. Relton, B.A., late Scholar of St. John's College, Oxford, for invaluable help in the way of research and verification, without which the growing claims of a town parish would have prevented my making much progress. To the Rev. Dr. Hunt I must express my deep sense of obligation for much guidance and patience. I can only conclude in the words of one whose life began towards the close of the century
“What is writ is writ; Would it were worthier."