"To him who feels no interest in the things of the past, who thinks it worthless and unprofitable to inquire into the ways and habits of the old time before us, I fear my book will be a dull volume to his mind, and receive but harsh censure at his hand. Can the reader view a grey old ruined pile, some crumbling fabric over which the ivy grows triumphantly and fast, as if striving to hide from mortal eyes the decay upon which it gloats; can he look upon so sad a picture and find no interest awaken? If so, I fear he will find but little pleasure in a page of mine.Can he hold in his hand a manuscript, whose dazzling illuminations mark the labour some poor old monkish student bath bestowed upon it in times long gone by; and feel no delight and rapture as he turns back its crackling leaves? If he finds none then, he will gain none from a page of mine!
Can he enter a Gothic village church, on whose dull walls are preserved tablets, which bear down to posterity the virtues and honours of the humble forefathers of that quiet hamlet-or on whose oaken cornices are engraven the rude images that flashed through the brain of some neglected genius of obscure birth, and not feel an interest all absorbing, in pondering on these remains of ancient art? If he does not, I fear he will find but little pleasure in a page of mine. For I am one of those who love to seek knowledge in the black lettered folio, and luxuriate in exploring the membraneous volumes of a monastic age--who love to wander in quiet though among the ruined relics of other days, and delight to glean wisdom and content from the antiquities of a peaceful village sanctuary, and whose very soul is on fire when in the midst of a library, rich with the literature of old.