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Anduson 14 Mar 1934
NCE in May, and again in August, in the year 1892, it fell to my lot to wander through some of the woods, valleys and towns of Derbyshire. The pleasure I felt and the knowledge I gained on these occasions I have sought to suggest in the following pages; and, as with former books written by me upon similar subjects, this book is given to my reader, not so much as a history, or a survey, or even as a guide, but chiefly to help him pleasantly to while away a few minutes now and again, in exciting memory to recall, or imagination to picture, the people, places, manners and traditions of an ld-world region. I am well aware of difficulties and defects in my work. I have wandered, as some of the brooks in Derbyshire wander, here, there and almost everywhere. Perhaps not a few will think me as dry, desultory and wearisome as are the highlands of that same county; if so, I hope such readers will look again into other passages of my book which I have striven to make pleasant and merry as are green and well-watered glens cleft in the wide, waste moorland. No author knows into whose hands his work may come: my hope is that this volume may be read only by generous and genial folk,-goodnatured, happy-hearted friends, who love gossip at least as much as they care for precision of style, clarity of thought or conciseness of argument. I could tell them what creature-comforts would help them both to enjoy my book, and also to take from them the inclination to use rules of criticism-the justice of which rules I should be the first to admit, but the application of which I should be the last to like; only, if they do not know such for themselves, there is no hope that they will take kindly to anything I may write. By far the greater part of the book was written in Europe, much of it at the time and at the places mentioned. It is still in its rough freshness,-without study, without elaboration, without polish,—almost exactly as first composed. When I read again the pencil(5)
written sheets, before sending them to the printer, I came to the conclusion that if I began to revise I should probably take out the very spirit I wished to retain,— perhaps the truth as well as the rudeness, and the humor as well as the inequalities. So like "Over the Hills to Broadway" and "From Frankfort to Munich," the reader has the book, if not finely finished, yet, I fondly hope, warm and living as from my very heart.
Further than this, it is well for me to say that I used the most scrupulous care to make the book true both to life and to fact. All diligence was taken not to give even a coloring or an idea that was not both fair and faithful, as much for my own satisfaction as for my reader's comfort. It is not of course implied that my taste or my judgment is always correct. I may have erred, even in allowing first impressions to remain untouched; but of this others, and not I, must decide.
Many are the books which have been written on Derbyshire and its towns since Domesday, Rotuli Hundredorum, and Camden's Britannia were set forth. Hutton, Simpson, Davies, Glover and Noble wrote long ago of the history and antiquities of the county; and also, though more briefly, did Daniel and Samuel Lysons in their Magna Britannia, and Grose in his Antiquities. "The History and Topography of Ashbourn " was published at Ashbourne in 1839, and is a careful and exhaustive octavo of 380 pages, containing many original woodcuts and drawings on stone. E. Rhodes's "Peak Scenery," published in 1824, abounds in pleasant descriptions of journeys taken at various times through different parts of the shire. Of modern books there are none better than Mr. John Leyland's "Peak of Derbyshire," and Mr. Edward Bradbury's "All About Derbyshire." The last-named volume, with Mr. M. J. B. Baddeley's "Peak District," I found most helpful and thoroughly accurate. Nor is there a better written book on the county than Mr. John Pendleton's Popular History of Derbyshire. Among less pretentious works may be mentioned, Mr. William Smith's "Derbyshire: its Ballads, Poesy, Humourists and Scenery"-a bright and spicy pamphlet, originally read before the Sheffield Literary and Philosophical Society; the Rev. Francis Jourdain's "Guide to Ashbourne Parish Church" -admirably gotten up and illustrated; Mr. T. Thornley's edition of the Rev. John Hamilton Gray's "Bolsover Castle"-without which I should have been unable to say much of that famous stronghold; Mr. A. E. Cokayne's "Day in the Peak," and "Bakewell and its Vicinity "-two books which are deservedly