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In the following story, of which the scene is laid in England during the twelfth century, I have purposely abstained from the introduction of obsolete words, or quaint and antique forms of expression, which are commonly supposed to give an air of truth and character to the scenes depicted in what has been called “ historical fiction.” In my opinion, these archaisms, unless employed by a first-rate genius, are only an affectation of antiquarian knowledge, and tend rather to embarrass the general reader than to increase the interest of the narrative. Besides, a vast amount of labour would be utterly lost to any one who should attempt to write dialogues in the language

any writer

spoken in England in the twelfth century, inasmuch as few readers would readily understand the old Norman French then used by the upper class, and still fewer would be able to comprehend the Saxon of the common people. In reference to the time of Henry the Second, the old diction of Chaucer would be almost as great an anachronism as the phrases of our own day. It follows therefore, that, should desire to represent imaginary conversations of so remote an epoch as that of the present tale, he must necessarily do so in the manner of a translator, and deliver the words of his dramatis personæ in current modes of speech. It is for this reason that in my simple tale of the trials and sorrows of “Fair Rosamond” I have told every thing in my own words, and the knights and the ladies at least speak a language intelligible to all.



July, 1851.




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