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vain. Nor was her search fruitless. Many of these queens she found were pre-eminent for their princely beneficence; many were munificent patronesses of our early literature; while many adorned their high station by the moral lustre which they shed around them. A series of memoirs, therefore, of these illustrious women, which, in connexion with their biographies, should aim at tracing the progress of the arts, the literature, and the social advancement of England, seemed to the writer yet wanting, and to supply this deficiency the present work was undertaken.
In the prosecution of her task, the author has sought information chiefly from those voluminous and often rare works, which, although well known to the historian and the antiquary, are for the most part inaccessible to the general reader. For those, therefore, who, unable to pursue extended historical inquiries, are yet anxious to learn more respecting the progress of society and literature in these early days, than the volumes of the general historian can supply, this work is expressly intended.
The period at which these Memoirs commence may, by some perhaps, be considered too early; but in a work especially designed to trace the advancing progress of national improvement, it was necessary to commence at the point from whence that improvement can be definitely traced; and that is the commencement of the twelfth century. Comparatively obscure as the medieval period may be considered, yet in it may be found the elements of all that has made England and her literature what they are; and comparatively remote as this period may appear, yet is it, in its general character, best known of any. Our popular literature has claimed it for her own; and not merely the historical plays of Shakspeare, but the ancient ballad, even the nursery tale, have associated with our earliest recollections the names of our Coeur de Lion, our Henrys, and Edwards; and invested the memories of our Maudes, our Elinors, and our Margarets, with an interest which the queens of a later period often fail to excite.
It was the author's intention to have continued the Memoirs in this volume to a much later period: but materials which she could not reject, have accumulated in her progress. The poetry of the trouvere, listened to and patronized, both by the beautiful Adelais and Elinor of Aquitaine, seemed imperatively to claim admission into a work devoted alike to the early literature, and the queens of England; while a view of the arts, at a period to which so many of our most beautiful monuments refer, was too delightful a subject to be dismissed with a mere passing notice.
Should the present volume receive the approbation of the public, a second, bringing down these Historical Memoirs to the commencement of the 16th century, will speedily appear.
THE LEARNING OF THE CLOISTER.