These tales are written in an English dialect—none the less a dialect for that it lacks uniformity in the misplacement of aspirates, and lacks, too, strange words misunderstanded of the reader.
In South Kent villages with names ending in 'den,' and out away on the Sussex downs where villages end in 'hurst,' live the plain people who talk this plain speech—a speech that should be sweeter in English ears than the implacable consonants of a northern kail-yard, or the soft one-vowelled talk of western hillsides.
All through the summer nights the market carts creak along the London road; to London go the wild young man and the steady young man who 'betters' himself. To London goes the girl seeking a 'place.' The 'beano' comes very near to this land—so near that across its marches you may hear the sackbut and shawm from the breaks. Once a year come the hoppers. And so the cup of the hills holds no untroubled pool of pastoral speech. This book therefore is of no value to a Middle English scholar, and needs no glossary.
Kent, March 1896.
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