The book begins: "N the following pages an attempt has been made to concentrate into limited dimensions that which has generally been treated very voluminously. Few authors, who have tried both, will feel inclined to deny, that it is a much more difficult task to compress a great subject into a little book successfully, than it is to expand a little subject into a great book. Where materials of the highest interest, historically, artistically, and intellectually, abound, the danger is lest suppression and condensation may not break the links essential to bind a perspicuous narrative together. I must, therefore, on these grounds claim the indulgence of the reader, who may, I trust, be induced by the very imperfections of my story, to recur to the pages of those more copious and learned writers on the subjects, who have bestowed upon its elucidation long lives of exemplary and pertinacious industry." According to Wikipedia: "Sir Matthew Digby Wyatt (28 July 1820 – 21 May 1877) was a British architect and art historian who became Secretary of the Great Exhibition, Surveyor of the East India Company and the first Slade Professor of Fine Art at the University of Cambridge. From 1855 until 1859 he was honorary secretary of the Royal Institute of British Architects, and in 1866 received the Royal Gold Medal, as mentioned in Oxford DNB."