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Low Fors, in Raydale Side ..........
“ Hear me for my cause, und be silent, that you may hear : believe me for mine honour, and have respect to mine honour, that you may believe : censure me in your wisdom, and awake your senses, that you may the better judge.”
JULIUS CÆSAR: Act iii. Sc. 2.
I know it is a venerable and good usage for an author to introduce his subject to his readers with a few prefatory remarks, intended to excite, according to his ability, a mutual interest—a kindred sympathy in what both are about to explore together; and since I acknowledge that
“ Whate'er with Time hath sanction found
(1) From a Painting in the collection of the Rev. G. C. Tomlinson.
I were unpardonable if I refused compliance with such a custom. And hence arises a difficulty, for if the porch be rude and humble, the majority will pass by without entering the building; if the prologue be barren, many will not trouble themselves with the theme. Yet, on the present occasion, I am led to hope my theme's own interest will redeem any preluding dulness, at least with those to whom it is more especially addressed,—THE MEN OF WENSLEYDALE.
It is natural for the human heart to associate itself, as it were, with the scenes of infancy and youth; with the abodes and sepulchres of our ancestors—the places where “they lived, and loved, and died”—and to retain fond recollections of those haunts through years of separation and wandering. This is the case with all, yes even with those whose natal homes are comparatively devoid of sylvan and picturesque beauty.
“Whether an impulse, that has birth
MARMION: Intr. to Canto III. But the bosoms of mountaineers are still more deeply pervaded by this feeling. They cling with tenacity to the
blue hills and bright streams of their father-land, dwelling with feverish love on the legends attached to crag and fountain, when far away, bustling amid the city's Mammonworshipping multitude or voyaging along the sunny southern seas ;-through manhood, to their last gasp, the latent wish burns within them that some day they may return to their “Highland Home," and sleep amongst their fathers.
If then, as I believe, such is the case with the natives of green WENSLEYDALE, little apology is necessary for offering to their acceptance the brief view of their Vale's history which occupies these pages. Brief, it most certainly and necessarily is; imperfect, I fear it will be judged in many points; neither is it much more than a condensed compilation; but I trust I may be acquitted of vanity in saying, that it will be found more complete of its kind than any yet published.
Some few years ago I announced as forthcoming, “The History and Antiquities of Wensleydale.” Let it be distinctly understood that this is a totally different publication, and of much humbler pretensions. Circumstances have hitherto prevented my completing my original design, but I have by no means abandoned it. Meanwhile, a little book was evidently required, which should furnish a concise account of all the most interesting objects, and to a certain extent, a review of former times, at a price adapted to the poor as well as to the rich man's purse; a book which might equally find its way to the esquire's drawingroom table, and to the humble bookshelf of the hardy peasant dalesman who desires to know something of his “ forelders?” homes and deeds. The deficiency thus felt, I hope my THREE CHAPTERS will, to a great extent, supply.