Reviews of Books

A. JESSOPP
1894 English Historical Review  
THE story of the great pestilence in the fourteenth century lias during the last twenty years incited the researches of students at home and abroad with a strong fascination; and the subject is now handled from two different points of view by Dr. Creighton and Dr. Gasquet. The former of these writers is a physician, and a specialist as a medical historian ; the other is a representative of the Benedictine order in England, and therefore inevitably prone to see things from the point of view of
more » ... point of view of one whose sympathies are with the past rather than the present, and whoso regrets are for much that has gone and cannot return. Dr. Creighton is a man of wide learning whose field embraces much more than could como within Dr. Gasquet's purview. To deal with the history of epidemics from the earliest times could only be possible for a physician whose professional knowledge and culture had prepared him adequately for his task, whilo even to colleot the evidence which has been accumulating upon us of late concerning the incidence of the great fourteenth-century plague required a practised eye and a practised hand in the art of research. These Dr. Gasquet has brought to bear with considerable success in carrying out bis task. As might have been expected, the physician's volume has less to do with general history than with the varying phenomena of epidemics from age to age. It investigates rather the origin-the march, the pathology, and the recorded symptoms-than the social or still less the political consequences of these terrible outbreaks. Father Gasquet endeavours to interpret the significance of the phenomena whioh he brings before us, but the impression which his volume leaves upon as is that he is much stronger as a collector of evidence than as a commentator. As a contribution to the apparatus of history the book ia one of very great value, and deserves to be spoken of with cordial admiration and respect; but the subject has not yet been exhausted, and the philosophic historian who can briDg to bear upon it a judicial intellect with breadth of view and a freedom from bias has yet to come. Meanwhile Dr. Gasquet has done his work with unsparing industry, and has given us a monograph which is not only scholarly but abounds in narratives of thrilling interest. It is not the least of its charms that when we have got to the end of the volume wo leavo off with the regret that there is not more. Dr. Gasquet does not spend too much time in describing the symptoms of the plague. The particulars which a contemporary-Gui de Chauliac-has left us tell us nearly as much as we are ever likely to know. Nor does he troublo himself with conjectures as to its origin ; this is entering upon dangerous ground even for such a learned expert as Dr. Creighton. Do we misunderstand the physician's theory? or does he adopt with little or no hesitation the at Université
doi:10.1093/ehr/ix.xxxv.567 fatcat:5kwnzlf6y5g6nagvz6ss5diaoi