Page:The Ancestor Number 1.djvu/286

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226 THE ANCESTOR WHAT IS BELIEVED Under this heading The Ancestor will call the attention of press and public to much curious lore concerning genealogy^ heraldry and the like with which our magazines^ our reviews and news- papers from time to time delight us. It is a sign of awakening interest in such matters that the subjects with which The Ancestor sets itself to deal are becoming less and less the sealed garden of a few workers. But upon what strange food the growing appetite for popular archeology must feed will be shown in the columns before us. Our press^ the best-informed and the most widely sympathetic in the worlds which watches its record of science^ art and literature with a jealous eye^ still permits itself ^ in this little corner of things^ to be victimized by the most recklessly furnished information^ and it would seem that no story is too wildly improbable to find the widest cur- rency. It is no criticism for attacking s sake that we shall offer ^ and we have but to beg the distinguished journals from which we shall draw our texts for comment to take in good part what is offered in good faith and good humour, ONE can always turn to those of the ^ Peerages * which supply historical information with the certainty of finding within their covers quaint and wild beliefs. Forlorn ghosts of fables long since deceased haunt their truthful pages and arouse memories of the past. And it is when they are most serious that these works are most delightful. Take, for in- stance the introductory chapter on ' Titles, Orders and Degrees of Precedence and Nobility ' in which Debretfs Peerage en- lightens our ignorance on these subjects. Some may prefer the sober observations prefixed to Courthope's edition of Nicolas* Historic Peerage ; others may content themselves with Whitakers Peerage ; but for boldness and originality of con- ception Debrett is hard to beat. We read for instance under Baron that : When the title was introduced into England is uncertain, but it is probable that its original name in England was Vavassour, which the Danes changed into Thane, and the Normans into Baron ... It is certain, however, that as a title of dignity it is of very ancient date in some parts of the Continent.