A historian's achievement lies in the advancement he makes upon his predecessors, and the giants of the nineteenth century are too often castigated by the ungrateful dwarves who stand on their shoulders.
(from the Introduction by AG Dickens of King's College, London)
... even in the sixteenth century a considerable number of those who quitted the old religion [Roman Catholicism] followed the first confident and plausible guide who offered himself, and were soon led into errors more serious than those which they had renounced. Thus Matthias and Kniperdoling, apostles of lust, robbery and murder, were able for a time to rule great cities. In a darker age such false prophets might have founded empires; and Christianity might have been distorted into a cruel and licentious superstition, more noxious, , not only than Popery, but even than Islamism.
... Whoever, knowing what Italy and Scotland naturally are, and what, four hundred years ago, they actually were, shall now compare the country round Rome with the country round Edinburgh, will be able to form some judgement as to the tendency of Papal domination... Whoever passes in Germany from a Roman Catholic to a Protestant principality, in Switzerland from a Roman Catholic to a Protestant canton, in Ireland from a Roman Catholic to a Protestant county, finds that he has passed from a lower to a higher grade of civilisation... The French have doubtless shown an energy and an intelligence which, even when misdirected, have justly entitled them to be called a great people. But this apparent exception, when examined, will be found to confirm the rule; for in no country that is called Roman Catholic, has the Roman Catholic Church, during several generations, possessed so little authority as in France. The literature of France is justly held in high esteem throughout the world. But if we deduct from that literature all that belongs to the four parties which have been, on different grounds, in rebellion against the Papal domination, all that belongs to the Protestants ... the asserters of the Gallican liberties ... the Jansenists, and ... the philosophers, how much will be left?
In natural courage and intelligence both the nations which now became connected with England ranked high. In perserverance, in selfcommand, in forethought, in all the virtues which conduce to success in life, the Scots have never been surpassed. The Irish, on the other hand, were distinguished by qualities which tend to make men interesting rather than prosperous.
(All from History of England, Chapter 1)