This work is part of the "Book-Lovers Library" series which was edited by Henry B. Wheatley (1838 - 1917). Wheatley was a historian, librarian and scholar of repute and editor of the Book-Lovers Library series. Quoted from the author's first Chapter.
"One of the Anglo-Saxon kings gave the manor of Walworth to his jester Nithardus; and we have all heard how the magnificent benefaction of St. Bartholomew's Hospital, subsequently repaired by Sir Richard Whittington, was founded by Rahere, the joculator and favourite of a
later monarch of this isle. In former days, to be a fool within certain lines or a buffoon of a special type, was a walk of life not to be despised either by a man or by his friends. The jokes which he made were negotiable securities of first-class value. Not a five-pound note, but
broad lands and the smiles of a prince, awaited the fortunate utterer of the bon-mot and the fountain of merriment and good humour."
"Anecdote-literature, in which I always desire to understand as included the Jest, seems to me fairly resonant with the life of other days — in larger measure than has been usually supposed, simply because on a superficial view we are very apt to content ourselves with the foregone conclusion, that a story, whether humorous or otherwise, is nothing but a story."
"The accidental formation, more than twenty years ago, of this acquaintance with our own jocular literature, and the periodical renewal of it in an editorial capacity, have naturally led me to pay rather close attention to the JEST in its numerous varieties and stages of growth,
and to cast from time to time a scrutinising eye over the contents of the extensive series of works in this class which has come under my notice."