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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XII. The Romantic Revival.

XIV. Historians

§ 13. Hodgkin’s Italy and her Invaders

From a different point of view than that of Milman, and with an amplitude of detail such as would hardly have commended itself to the historian of later Christianity, or even to him of The Decline and Fall itself, Thomas Hodgkin undertook the task of supplementing the vast enterprise of Gibbon, where it undoubtedly fell short of the historical learning of the present age. Having, like Grote, been trained in the responsibilities of the higher spheres of business, it was not till a relatively advanced stage of his life that Hodgkin first came before the historical public in 1886, in an attempt to introduce to wider circles the letters of the chief extant authority on Roman life under Gothic dominion, the great Theodoric’s circumspect minister Cassiodorus, whose works have found a notable editor in Mommsen. After this (while some of his earlier publications marked the gradual advance of his labours), Hodgkin carried out the task that he had set himself, and which covered the entire period from the partition of the Roman empire between Valens and Valentinian to the death of Charles the Great. The eight volumes entitled Italy and Her Invaders were completed in 1899. During the execution of this great undertaking his enthusiasm had never deserted him, either in the main course of his narrative or the many side-paths into which his unflagging desire for knowledge diverted his researches, aided by his experiences as a traveller. He was an accomplished archaeologist and a most attractive historical topographer, who had thus good reason for the sympathy which he felt with the genius of Ernst Curtius. His personal preferences, nevertheless, inclined to the medieval type of historical writing, and he was at least a chronicler, something after the manner of Barante, rather than a critical historian, and loved to reproduce at length the flow of the sources of which his learning had enabled him to appreciate the value. Thus, his narrative was wont to run into a lengthiness which was not altogether redeemed by the general charm of his style. Hodgkin, besides publishing some shorter pieces, contributed to The Political History of England a well-written volume on the period before the Norman conquest and composed an interesting monograph on the founder of the religious body to which he belonged and with whose spirit of humankindness he was signally imbued.