I have received from your Holiness the letter in
which you kindly allot to me the task of studying and recording those
events which have occurred in greater abundance in our day, so
as to advance the knowledge and circumspection of posterity; and this
in spite of the
fact that in the revered community of your sons you have the resources
of several men who could perform this work more aptly and gracefully.
I see it your devoted wisdom has decreed that you should relieve
your own sons of this task as they sweat in the performance of the service
by the rule, and you refuse to permit the leisure mercifully granted
to my weakness to lie fallow. And indeed, such is the devotion which binds
me to your regard for me that even if you were to impose more laborious
tasks I should not dare to refuse you. As it is, your careful discretion
bids me not to devote myself to the investigation of lofty matters,
to the exploration of the mysteries, but to stroll for a while
in the paths of historical narrative, an easy task offering me a form
of mental recreation.
This all the more deprives me of the chance of putting forward
an excuse. So with the help of God our Lord (for we ourselves and our
words lie in
his hand) and relying on your prayers and commanding respect to
your Holiness’ request,
I shall embark on the task imposed upon me …
[William of Newburgh, History of English Affairs, p. 27].