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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IX. From Steele and Addison to Pope and Swift.

XIII. Scholars and Antiquaries

§ 16. Dugdale and Dodsworth; The Antiquities of Warwickshire and Monasticon Anglicanum

To these may be added the author of The Antiquities of Warwickshire, for, though Sir William Dugdale was not an alumnus of the university, yet, during his sojourn in Oxford, in 1642–6, he fell under the spell of the Bodleian and collected there abundant material for the works he was at that time projecting.

The book which Wood greeted so enthusiastically was not undeserving of the encomium. In its fulness, its method, its reliance upon original sources, and its general accuracy, it was much beyond anything that had hitherto appeared. It set a new standard in topographical history, and inspired succeeding writers to emulate its merits. If, among its author’s many works, the Warwickshire volume may be esteemed his masterpiece, yet the book which, at the present day, most notably maintains Dugdale’s fame is Monasticon Anglicanum, an account of English monastic houses, consisting, to a large extent, of charters of foundation and other original documents. In this undertaking, he collaborated with Roger Dodsworth, an indefatigable worker who spent his life in the study of genealogy and ecclesiastical and monastic history, and whose enormous manuscript collections now repose in the Bodleian. Wood says of him that “he was a person of wonderful industry, but less judgment, was always collecting and transcribing, but never published anything”: a characterisation that would describe equally well many another antiquary whose ambitious schemes have failed of fruition.

The first volume of Monasticon appeared in 1655, the year after Dodsworth’s death and just seventeen years after the authors began their joint work. The second volume, which was delayed until the sale of the first should produce funds to defray some of the expense, came out in 1661; and, in 1673, Dugdale published a third volume containing Additamenta and documents relating to the foundation of cathedral and collegiate churches. The precise share in this work with which the respective authors are to be credited has been, almost from the first, a subject of controversy; but this is a matter of little moment. Dugdale claimed that a full third of the collection was his, and that the work had wholly rested on his shoulders; and there can be no doubt that, apart from his contributions to the text, the work owes its appearance in print to Dugdale’s energy and methodical scholarship. In 1722–3, captain John Stevens, to whom is attributed the English abridgment of Monasticon which appeared in 1718, brought out two supplementary volumes to the original work, containing additional charters and the records of the friaries.