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As a new blogger, I suppose I should say something about my blogging-plans. Well, I will not make any promises or commit myself to post here so and so many times in a day, week or a month. Instead, I cautiously refer to a rather embarrassing example of one of my nineteenth-century predecessors, Edward Augustus Freeman, who more than once publicly announced to write this and that history, but eventually failed to keep his promises. Instead of finishing the projects, he spent his time for writing to his publisher to explain, justify and excuse why he was not able to finish the promised manuscripts.

“It is the first instalment,” Freeman wrote in a preface to his History of Federal Government, from the Foundation of the Achaian League to the Disruption of the United States 1863). The first volume discussed the history of the Greek Federations and Freeman explained in the preface that the second volume would treat “Swiss and other German Leagues”. This, he estimated, would be ready in short while. He did, however, precaution his readers that it might take a moment, because, as he wrote, the research “involves a minute examination of some very obscure portions of history”. In reality, Freeman still had many obscure historical events and personalities to check because he had barely began his work on the promised second volume when he composed the preface to the first one. Indeed, the events remained obscure because the second part never appeared. Freeman was simply too busy with his research on the history of Norman Conquest and with editing and writing primers for Macmillan and Longman to dedicate enough time for the history of federal governments.

Surprisingly, Freeman did not seem to draw any lessons from his careless promise. Thoughtlessly he again announced in the preface to his General Sketch of European History (1872) that he was about to write not just one, but two historical studies. The General Sketch was the first volume in a popular history series which Freeman edited for Macmillan and in the preface he explained that he would write also the histories of Rome and Switzerland. Needless to say, neither of them ever saw the daylight, and again Freeman found himself explaining himself for his publisher who impatiently waited for the two promised primers. While Freeman did not seem to learn anything from his careless announcements, I do, and cautiously promise nothing else than that I will post something every now and then.

 

 

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