The Ingoldsby Legends, by Thomas Ingoldsby

Preface to the First Series

To Richard Bentley, Esq.

My Dear Sir,

YOU wish me to collect into a single volume certain rambling extracts from our family memoranda, many of which have already appeared in the pages of your Miscellany. At the same time you tell me that doubts are entertained in certain quarters as to the authenticity of their details.

Now with respect to their genuineness, the old oak chest, in which the originals are deposited, is not more familiar to my eyes than it is to your own; and if its contents have any value at all, it consists in the strict veracity of the facts they record.

To convince the most incredulous, I can only add, that should business — pleasure is out of the question — ever call them into the neighbourhood of Folkestone, let them take the high road from Canterbury to Dover till they reach the eastern extremity of Barham Downs. Here a beautiful green lane diverging abruptly to the right, will carry them through the Oxenden plantations and the unpretending village of Denton, to the ‘foot of a very respectable hill, — as hills go in this part of Europe. On reaching its summit let them look straight before them, — and if among the hanging woods which crown the opposite side of the valley, they cannot distinguish an antiquated Manorhouse of Elizabethan architecture, with its gable ends, stone stanchions, and tortuous chimneys rising above the surrounding trees, why — the sooner they procure a pair of Dollond’s patent spectacles the better.

If, on the contrary, they can manage to descry it, and, proceeding some five or six furlongs through the avenue, will ring at the Lodge-gate, — they cannot mistake the stone lion with the Ingoldsby escutcheon (Ermine, a saltire engrailed Gules,) in his paws, — they will be received with a hearty old English welcome.

The papers in question having been written by different parties, and at various periods, I have thought it advisable to reduce the more ancient of them into a comparatively modern phraseology, and to make my collateral ancestor, Father John, especially, deliver himself like a man of this world; Mr. Maguire, indeed, is the only Gentleman who, in his account of the late Coronation, retains his own rich vernacular.

As to arrangement, I shall adopt the sentiment expressed by the Constable of Bourbon four centuries ago, teste Shakespeare, one who seems to become more fashionable every day,

‘The Devil take all order!! — I’ll to the throng!’

Believe me to be,

My dear Sir,

Yours, most indubitably and immeasurably,

Thomas Ingoldsby,

Tappington Everard,

Jan. 20th, 1840.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/i/ingoldsby/thomas/ingoldsby_legends/preface1.html

Last updated Monday, March 17, 2014 at 16:47