I have just added the 1689 act ‘Absence of King William‘ to the statutes text section.
I took the text from Wikisource, which in turn transcribed it from the Statutes of the Realm collection, volume 6. It is also available from British History Online, which has transcribed three volumes of that series.
Statutes of the Realm is the most complete collection of pre-Union legislation available; it was commissioned to collect all the laws up to the union with Scotland, without regard to whether an act was in force or not. The act is not included in either Pickering’s or Ruffhead’s ‘Statutes At Large’ series, presumably because it had long since expired at the time those were published, and those collections were more pragmatically focused.
The text I’ve posted is different from the other transcriptions, in that I have standardized it. The Statutes of the Realm sought fidelity to the original manuscripts, and reconciling the originals and the inrolled copies, noting their differences, omissions, and discrepancies, and strictly following original spellings. This makes for difficult, interrupted reading for humans; similarly, it is an obstacle to ‘distant reading’, that is, the digital analysis analysis of large volumes of text.
Consequently, with the help of a simple line of code and a short, hand compiled list of obsolete spellings, the version I publish is readable both for people and machines.
All the changes to the text are quite minor: replacing antiquated and inconsistent spellings with regular, modern ones, often just removing a superfluous last letter (Regal for Regall, public for publick, etc.). The list of standardization couples available on github. It’s short, just 52 pairs, but it’s a start. I haven’t uploaded a script to utilise them yet, mainly because just one line is adequate:
while read n k; do sed -i.bak "s/\b$n\b/$k/g" target/*.txt; done < word-standardization-couples.txt
This should produce corrected versions of texts in the folder called target (insert your own path), with the originals renamed to *.txt.bak.
Note this has been tested on Lubuntu 18.04 and Mac OS High Sierra; other operating systems are available.
There is obviously a great deal more to say about manipulating texts in this way, covering matters ethical, academic, technical, and typographical. For the moment I leave all that aside, but it is worth noting these issues.