Excerpt from Manners, Customs, and Observances: Their Origin and Signification
All that need be said by way of preface to the following pages, is to lay stress upon the great pains which have been |taken to ensure accuracy. The innumerable books consulted to this end have not involved half so much time and patience as the journeys undertaken for the purpose of interviewing those who, owing to their official position, or for any other reason, could be relied upon to impart information at first hand. In short, recourse has been had to books only where no living authority was available. By such means, many apocryphal stories have been avoided or explained away.
In a work of this nature, ingenious theories and plausible explanations should find no place. Still less should generally accepted statements be complacently set down without inquiry. Of curious and out-of-the-way information there is in these days assuredly no lack. One can rarely take up a periodical without meeting with something new and strange of archaeological interest But, for the very reason that it is found where it is, it lays itself open to qualification. In another place the self-same subject may be presented in a totally different light This is because ordinarily accessible information, such as is every day drawn upon by pressmen and magazine writers, is to a great extent conflicting and unreliable. Antiquaries are never so much at variance as when they are striving to make a very simple matter appear abstruse. Even grave historians will often be found romancing instead of adhering to sober fact.
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