Agnes Sorel by G P R James Page 1 of 507
How strange the sensation would be, how marvelously interesting the scene, were we to wake up from some quiet night's rest and find ourselves suddenly transported four or five hundred years back--living and moving among the men of a former age!
To pass from the British fortress of Gibraltar, with drums and fifes, red coats and bayonets, in a few hours, to the coast of Africa, and find one's self surrounded by Moors and male petticoats, turbans and cimeters, is the greatest transition the world affords at present; but it is nothing to that of which I speak.
How marvelously interesting would it be, also, not only to find one's self brought in close contact with the customs, manners, and characteristics of a former age, with all our modern notions strong about us, but to be met at every turn by thoughts, feelings, views, principles, springing out of a totally different state of society, which have all passed away, and moldered, like the garments in which at that time men decorated themselves.
Such, however, is the leap which I wish the reader to take at the present moment; and--although I know it to be impossible for him to divest himself of all those modern impressions which are a part of his identity--to place himself with me in the midst of a former period, and to see himself surrounded for a brief space with the people, and the things, and the thoughts of the fifteenth century.
Let me premise, however, in this prefatory chapter, that the object of an author, in the minute detail of local scenery and ancient customs, which he is sometimes compelled to give, and which are often objected to by the animals with long ears that browse on the borders of Parnassus, is not so much to show his own learning in antiquarian lore, as to imbue his reader with such thoughts and feelings as may enable him to comprehend the motives of the persons acting before his eyes, and the sensations, passions, and prejudices of ages passed away.