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court, that no sooner was queen Mary resolved to reduce her subjects to the Romish superstition, but she artfully, by a charter, granted to certain freemen of London, in whose fidelity, no doubt, she confided, entirely prohibited ALL presses, but what should be licensed by them; which charter is that by which the corporation of Stationers in London is, at this time, incorporated.
Under the reign of queen Elizabeth, when liberty again began to flourish, the practice of writing pamphlets became more general; presses were multiplied, and books were dispersed; and, I believe, it may properly be said, that the trade of writing began at this time, and that it has, ever since, gradually increased in the number, though, perhaps, not in the style of those that followed it.
In this reign was erected the first secret press against the church, as now established, of which I have found any certain account. It was employed by the Puritans, and conveyed from one part of the nation to another, by them, as they found themselves in danger of discovery. From this press issued most of the pamphlets against Whitgift and his associates, in the ecclesiastical government; and, when it was at last seized at Manchester, it was employed upon a pamphlet called More Work for a Cooper.
In the peaceable reign of king James, those minds which might, perhaps, with less disturbance of the world, have been engrossed by war, were employed in controversy; and writings of all kinds were multiplied among The press, however, was not wholly engaged in polemical performances, for more innocent subjects were sometimes treated; and it deserves to be remarked, because it is not generally known, that the treatises of husbandry and agriculture, which were published about that time, are so numerous, that it can scarcely be imagined by whom they were written, or to whom they were sold.
The next reigu is too well known to have been a time
• Which begins thus," Know ye, that We, considering and manifestly perceiving, that several seditious and heretical books or tracts-against the faith and sound catholick doctrine of holy mother, the Church," &c.
of confusion and disturbance, and disputes of every kind; and the writings, which were produced, bear a natural proportion to the number of the questions that were discussed at that time; each party had its authors and its presses, and no endeavours were omitted to gain proselytes to every opinion. I know not whether this may not properly be called, The Age of Pamphlets; for, though they, perhaps, may not arise to such multitudes as Mr. Rawlinson imagined, they were, undoubtedly, more numerous than can be conceived by any who have not had an opportunity of examining them.
After the Restoration, the same differences, in religious opinions, are well known to have subsisted, and the same political struggles to have been frequently renewed; and, therefore, a great number of pens were employed, on different occasions, till, at length, all other disputes were absorbed in the popish controversy.
From the pamphlets which these different periods of time produced, it is proposed, that this miscellany shall be compiled, for which it cannot be supposed that materials will be wanting; and, therefore, the only difficulty will be in what manner to dispose them.
Those who have gone before us, in undertakings of this kind, have ranged the pamphlets, which chance threw into their hands, without any regard either to the subject on which they treated, or the time in which they were written; a practice in no wise to be imitated by us, who want for no materials; of which we shall choose those we think best for the particular circumstances of times and things, and most instructing and entertaining to the reader.
Of the different methods which present themselves, upon the first view of the great heaps of pamphlets which the Harleian library exhibits", the two which merit most attention are, to distribute the treatises according to their subjects, or their dates; but neither of these ways can be conveniently followed. By ranging our collection in order
P The pamphlets in the Harleian collection amounted in number to about 400,000. See Gough's Brit. Topog. 1669.
of time, we must necessarily publish those pieces first, which least engage the curiosity of the bulk of mankind; and our design must fall to the ground, for want of encouragement, before it can be so far advanced as to obtain general regard: by confining ourselves for any long time to any single subject, we shall reduce our readers to one class; and, as we shall lose all the grace of variety, shall disgust all those who read chiefly to be diverted. There is, likewise, one objection of equal force, against both these methods, that we shall preclude ourselves from the advantage of any future discoveries; and we cannot hope to assemble at once all the pamphlets which have been written in any age, or on any subject.
It may be added, in vindication of our intended practice, that it is the same with that of Photius, whose collections are no less miscellaneous than ours, and who declares, that he leaves it to his reader, to reduce his extracts under their proper heads.
Most of the pieces which shall be offered in this collection to the publick, will be introduced by short prefaces, in which will be given some account of the reasons for which they are inserted; notes will be sometimes adjoined, for the explanation of obscure passages, or obsolete expressions; and care will be taken to mingle use and pleasure through the whole collection. Notwithstanding every subject may not be relished by every reader, yet the buyer may be assured that each number will repay his generous subscription.
PREFACE TO THE CATALOGUE
HARLEIAN LIBRARY, VOL. III.
HAVING prefixed to the former volumes of my catalogue an account of the prodigious collection accumulated in the Harleian library, there would have been no necessity of any introduction to the subsequent volumes, had not some censures, which this great undertaking has drawn upon me, made it proper to offer to the publick an apology for my conduct.
The price, which I have set upon my catalogue, has been represented by the booksellers as an avaricious innovation; and, in a paper published in the Champion, they, or their mercenary, have reasoned so justly, as to allege, that, if I could afford a very large price for the library, I might, therefore, afford to give away the catalogue.
I should have imagined that accusations, concerted by such heads as these, would have vanished of themselves, without any answer; but, since I have the mortification to find that they have been in some degree regarded by men of more knowledge than themselves, I shall explain the motives of my procedure.
My original design was, as I have already explained, to publish a methodical and exact catalogue of this library, upon the plan which has been laid down, as I am informed, by several men of the first rank among the learned. It was intended by those who undertook the work, to make a very exact disposition of all the subjects, and to give an account of the remarkable differences of the editions, and other peculiarities, which make any book eminently valu
able and it was imagined, that some improvements might, by pursuing this scheme, be made in literary history.
With this view was the catalogue begun, when the price was fixed upon it in publick advertisements; and it cannot be denied, that such a catalogue would have been willingly purchased by those who understood its use. But, when a few sheets had been printed, it was discovered, that the scheme was impracticable, without more hands than could be procured, or more time than the necessity of a speedy sale would allow the catalogue was, therefore, continued without notes, at least in the greatest part; and, though it was still performed better than those which are daily offered to the publick, fell much below the original design.
It was then no longer proper to insist upon a price; and, therefore, though money was demanded, upon delivery of the catalogue, it was only taken as a pledge that the catalogue was not, as is very frequent, wantonly called for, by those who never intended to peruse it, and I, therefore, promised that it should be taken again in exchange for any book rated at the same value.
It may be still said, that other booksellers give away their catalogues without any such precaution, and that I ought not to make any new or extraordinary demands. But I hope it will be considered, at how much greater expense my catalogue was drawn up: and be. remembered, that when other booksellers give their catalogues, they give only what will be of no use when their books are sold, and what, if it remained in their hands, they must throw away: whereas I hope that this catalogue will retain its use, and, consequently, its value, and be sold with the catalogues of the Barberinian and Marckian libraries.
However, to comply with the utmost expectations of the world, I have now published the second part of my catalogue, upon conditions still more commodious for the purchaser, as I intend, that all those who are pleased to receive them at the same price of five shillings a volume, shall be allowed, at any time, within three months after the