Upon the completion of the First Volume of the present extensive and
arduous work, it may not seem unseasonable to offer a few observations
relative to its design and prosecution. The immediate aim of its Author
has been to supply, in some measure, a deficiency in topographical
literature by an humble essay to illustrate the History and Antiquities of
the County of Suffolk, towards which so little, except in a few favoured
spots, has hitherto been done. But although his undertaking dares not
aspire to the character of a complete and general History, yet his object
has been to convey, within reasonable limits, a detailed account of every
parish in the county,—to record the actions, characters, and family
history of its past generations, and to perpetuate the memorials of their
taste, their patriotism, and their devotion.
In pursuance of this design he has endeavoured to avoid, as much as
possible, all digressions, and to confine himself within the narrowest
limits consistent with adequate information,—to seek the middle way
between superficial notice and too lengthened detail,—a task more
difficult than they can justly estimate, who have never ventured on the
The materials for this design,—which even thus limited is of vast
extent,—have been drawn from the most authentic sources: from
the national records and from public documents; in conjunction with
the Author's own collections, conducted through the leisure of above
twenty years. These have been invariably noted, in the progress of
the work, by marginal references, as authorities for facts, and acknowledgments of assistance.
How well he has succeeded in arranging the vast mass of these
materials, it is not in his power, neither is it his province, to
determine. He may, possibly, be considered a dull and heavy compiler,
and should public opinion so determine, he respectfully submits. To
industry and zeal, he flatters himself, he may fairly lay claim, and these
he can, confidently, promise as accompaniments to his future labours.
From the local nature of the subject, he entertains no expectation
that his work will excite any great degree of public attention; neither
has a prospect of fame or profit urged him to the prosecution of his task.
It has formed an employment in the days of declining life, and a solace
in the hours of sadness; though not to the exclusion of more serious
thoughts, nor to the neglect of parochial duties.
In selecting from the abundance of his matter, the writer believes
he has in no one instance warped or suppressed the truth: and unless
his head and heart both deceive him, he has wounded the feelings of no
individual by prejudice, preference, or partiality, nor by unfavourable
introduction of family anecdotes. Every parish, in succession, has been
illustrated to the full extent which the cost of elucidation will permit.
More favoured districts will, unquestionably, furnish subjects of greater
pictorial beauty and architectural interest, which will augment the
elegance of the work as it progresses, and afford additional gratification
to its patrons.
To many kind and indulgent friends the Author begs to express
his obligations for ready access to family documents, regretting that
inert or fastidious considerations should have, in a few cases, rejected his
respectful applications. But such discourtesies will occur in literary, as
in real life; so, like the sturdy pilgrim, who boldly steps onwards,
regardless of the rugged path, and the lowering storm, the Author
proceeds cheerfully and steadily in the prosecution of his task; cherishing
a hope, which he trusts is not wholly unfounded, of liberal support and
favourable recommendation,—for on the extent of these must depend his
ability to bring so expensive a work to a completion. So supported, his
energies will be invigorated to finish what he has thus commenced,
trusting for a continuance of health and reason to the gracious Dispenser
of every good and perfect gift, with whom rest all our issues, "for
neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth, but God
that giveth the increase."
Barsham Rectory, June, 1846.