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IN presenting the following study, which was begun in Berlin some four years ago, I wish merely to forestall such criticism as might result from a misconception of its scope and intention. My object (and I have sought to emphasise this in my choice of a title) has not been to write a history of Life Assurance—that remains still to be done; but I have endeavoured to prepare the way, in some measure, by an examination of certain main factors in the development of the insurance idea. I have thought it necessary to devote a large portion of the book to a consideration of the Gilds, because the relief for which they were responsible was so much a part of their nature that to seek to deal with it without reference to general development and characteristics would lead to wrong impressions. The list of works given is by no means intended as a comprehensive survey of the literature on the subject: I have simply mentioned those sources to which I have had occasion to refer specifically in the footnotes. The most obvious omissions, however, are probably two valuable English works which have recently appeared, namely, Mr. George Unwin's Gilds and Companies of London, and Volume III. of Dr. W. R. Scott's Constitution and Finance of English, Scottish, and Irish joint-Stock Companies to 1720; neither of these, I regret to say, came into my hands until after my essay was complete. It only remains for me to offer my very sincere thanks to those who have given me most valuable help. Professor


Chapman has for a number of years afforded me the benefit of his counsel and encouragement, and I am glad to have this opportunity of expressing my appreciation of both ; I am also much indebted to Mr. J. H. Clapham for his helpful advice and criticism. Miss A. G. Hunter has assisted me very much in the collection and transcription of my notes. Finally, the book owes a great deal to the many suggestions of Miss A. Shillington, who revised the whole of the manuscript for me, in addition to correcting the proofs. The faults are my own.


March 25, 1912.


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