Page:A History of Horncastle from the Earliest Period to the Present Time.djvu/15

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viii
PREFACE.

respectable family, for generations connected with the town and county), has most kindly given him the use of various family MS. notes, bearing on parish and other matters. Mr. Henry Sharp has freely assisted him with most varied information, derived from long years of connection with the town, in public or private capacity. The late Mr. Henry Boulton, ancestrally connected with various parts of the county, was remarkable for a mind stored with memories of persons and things, in town and neighbourhood, which he freely communicated to the author, who saw much of him in his later years. While, last but not least, the late Mr. William Pacey, whether in his "Reminisences of Horncastle," which he contributed to the public newspapers, or in his personal conversations, which the present writer enjoyed for many years, yielded up to him treasure, collected by an indefatigable student of local lore, who entered into such work con amore.

To all these the author would now fully, and gratefully, acknowledge his indebtedness; but for them this work could not have been produced in anything like its present fulness. In some of the matters dealt with, as for instance in the accounts of the Grammar School, as well as in other portions, he may fairly say, in the language of "the pious Æneas" (slightly modified), "quorum pars (ipse) fui," (Æneid ii, 6); and in these he has drawn not a few of the details from his own recollections.

In stringing these records together, of such varied character, and on subjects so numerous, he cannot but be conscious that, in the endeavour to give all possible information, and to omit nothing of real interest, he may, on the other hand, have laid himself open to the charge of being too diffuse, or even needlessly prolix. Others not sharing his own interest in the subjects treated of, may think that he has occasionally "ridden his hobby too hard." If this should be the judgment of any of his readers, he would crave their indulgence out of consideration for the motive.

These are the days of historic "Pageants," drawn from life, and with living actors to illustrate them. We have also our "Gossoping Guides," to enable the tourist to realize more fully the meaning of the scenes which he visits. From both of these the author "has taken his cue." He had to cater for a variety of tastes; and while, for the general reader he has cast his discriptions in a colloquial, or even at times in a "gossoping," form, he believes that the old town, with its "Bull Ring," its "Maypole Hill," its "Fighting Cocks," its "Julian Bower," and other old- time memories, can still afford pabulum for the more educated student, or the special antiquary.

Like the composer of a Pageant play, his endeavour has been rather to clothe the scenes, which he conjures up, with the flesh and blood of quickened reality, than in the bare skin and bones of a dry-as-dust's rigid skeleton. How far he has succeeded in this he leaves to others to decide; for himself he can honestly say, that it has not been from lack of care, enquiry, or labour, if he has fallen short of the ideal aimed at.