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LONDON: J. B. NICHOLS AND SON, PRINTERS, 25, PARLIAMENT-STREET.

PREFACE.

There is, we think, among all people a natural feeling of respect for that which is gone before; or, in other words, a curiosity accompanied with reverence towards the records of the past, —something like the personal feeling in society which is occasioned by the presence of venerable age. The "Laudator temporis Acti" if he wanted a defence for his favourite and partial opinions, might find them in the general concurrence; and certainly, though they may, like those on other subjects, be carried into an undue indulgence, yet in principle they seem to rest on a solid foundation. The present is not so much the follower of the past, as its offspring; and who would not wish to know all that belongs to his ancestry, to the founders of his family, to his parental stem? But as those who live in the early periods of a nation's existence are not aware of the future curiosity of their posterity, nor of the obscurity that may hereafter envelope the most familiar usages, and even the most important events of their own time; so in consequence are they little careful either to record or to preserve that which to them needs no explanation, which possesses no peculiar value, and appears to be in no danger of being lost or obscured. Time however passes on, and behind its steps mist and obscurity are continually gathering. Some things are overlooked by negligence, some lost by misfortune, and even some destroyed by folly or malignity. Hence arises the immense labour necessary in acquiring those extensive stores of knowledge which can alone render the studies of the searcher into antiquity successful. On whatever branch of the general subject he may enter, he must possess a comprehensive erudition which brings all that belongs to the inquiry at once within the circle of sight,—a sagacity enabling him to supply by conjecture and analogy what has been entirely lost or is partially defective, and a delicate and discriminating power in balancing between different shades and degrees of evidence, and separating the probable from the true. To effect this to any extent, as in the whole range of national antiquities, lies beyond the

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