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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume III. Renascence and Reformation.

XV. Chroniclers and Antiquaries

§ 5. John Speed

John Speed, on the other hand, was a born rhetorician. His love of words outstripped his taste. When Richard I dies, “now ensued,” says he, “the fatall accident, which drew the blacke cloud of death over this triumphal and bright shining Starre of Chevalrie.” The battle of Agincourt inspires him to such a piece of coloured writing as Hall would not have disdained. Whatever the occasion be, he is determined to attain what he thinks is a brilliant effect, and his Historie of Great Britaine is marred by a monstrous ingenuity. One virtue he has which must not be passed over: he supports his narrative more often than the others from unpublished documents. He quotes the Life of Woolsey, which Stow had quoted before him without acknowledgment, and ascribes it honourably to George Cavendish. His character of Henry VII is borrowed, with some verbal differences, from the manuscript of Sir Francis Bacon, “a learned, eloquent knight, and principall lawyer of our time.” In brief, truth and patriotism are his aims. Like all the chroniclers, and with an unrestrained eloquence, he hymns the glory of England, “the Court of Queene Ceres, the Granary of the Western world, the fortunate Island, the Paradise of Pleasure and Garden of God.”