It was Macaulay who realised the great fact that history is not made up of the prominent events of sieges and treaties, of coronations and royal marriages, but of the rehearsals of all these behind-the-scenes of the tragic-comedy of la vie humaine. From broad-sheets and ballads, from little known books by less known authors. who were honest enough to speak their mind because they had nothing to hope from dis¬ honesty, he wove the magic cloth of England’s history. And as we learn more of a country from the narrow byways than from the broad highways, so do we gain from the great men and women of other days, unwigged and slip¬ pered, the picturesque prospects of a sometimes prosaic past. — Hugh Willoughby Sweney, The Magazine of Art (1878)

Last modified 26 December 2020