IN our efforts to realise the leading events of our own history we experience no small difficulty from the fact that so much of the face of England has completely altered its outward appearance under the stress of modern development, so that we find it particularly hard to picture to ourselves their original setting. Our overgrown yet ever-spreading capital owns scarcely a feature to-day in common with the London of the Tudors or Plantagenets; the relentless pushing of industrial enterprise has turned whole shires from green to black, from verdant countryside to smoke-grimed scenes of commerce. It is therefore well-nigh impossible for us in many cases to conjure up the old-world conditions of Merrie England. But in writing of Italian annals we are confronted by no such problem: altered to a certain extent no doubt is the present aspect of Italy, yet in Florence, Venice, Siena and most of her cities we still possess the empty stages of the pageants and deeds of long ago, all ready prepared for us to people with the famous figures of the historic past...
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