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that shall happen to peruse it, should be inclined by it to reflect on the character of the late proprietors, and to pay some tribute of veneration to their ardor for literature, to that generous and exalted curiosity which they gratified with incessant searches and immense expense, and to nich they dedicated that time and that superfluity of fortune which many others of their rank employ in the pursuit of contemptible amusements, or the gratification of guilty passions. And, surely, every man, who considers Tearning as ornamental and advantageous to the community, must allow them the honour of public benefactors, who have introdued amongst us authors hitherto not well known, and added to the literary treasures of their native country.
That our catalogue will excite any other man to emulate the collectors of this library, to prefer books and manuscripts to equipage and luxury, and to forsake noise and diversion for the conversation of the learned, and the satisfaction of extensive knowledge, we are very far from presuming to hope; but shall inake no scruple to assert, that, if any man should happen to be seized with such laudable ambition, he may find in this catalogue hints and informations which are not easily to be met with; he will discover, that the boasted Bodleian library is very far from a perfect model, and that even the learned Fabricius cannot completely instruct him in the early editions of the classic writers.
But the collectors of libraries cannot be numerous, and, therefore, catalogues could not very properly be reconimended to the public, if they had not a more general and frequent use, an use which every student has experienced, or neglected to his loss. By the means of catalogues only can it be known, what has been written on every part of learning, and the hazard avoided of encountering difficulties which have already been cleared, discussing questions which have already been decided, and digging in mines of literature which former ages have exhausted.
How often this has been the fate of students, every man of letters can declare, and, perhaps, there are very few who have not sometimes valued as new discoveries, made by themselves, those observations which have long since been published, and of which the world therefore will refuse them the praise; nor can that refusal be censured as any enormous violation of justice; for, why should they not forfeit by their ignorance, what they might claim by their sagacity?
To illustrate this remark, by the mention of obscure pames, would not much confirm it, and to villify for this purpose the memory of men truly great, would be to deny them the reverence which they may justly claim from those whom their writings have instructed. May the shade at least of one great English critic rest without disturbance, and may no man presume to insult his memory who wants his learning, his reason, or his wit.
From the vexatious disappointment of meeting reproach, where praise is expected, every man will certainly desire to be secured, and therefore that book will have some claim to his regard from which he may neceive informations of the labours of his predecessors, such as a catalogue of the Harleian library will copiously afford him. « Nor is the use of catalogues of less importance to those whom curiosity has engaged in the study of literary history, and who think the intellectual revolutions of the world more aworthy of their attention, than the ravages of tyrants, the desolation of kingdoms, the rout of armies, and the fall of empires. Those who are pleased with observing the first birth of new opinions, their struggles against opposition, their silent progress under persecution, their general reception, and their gradual decline, or sudden extinction; those that amuse themselves with remarking the different periods of human knowledge, and observe how darkness and light succeed each other, by what accident the most gloomy nights of iguorance have given way to the dawn of science, and how learning bas languished and decayed for want of
patronage and regard, or been overborne by the prevalence : of fashionable ignorance, or dost amidst the tunults of inva
sion and the storms of violence; all those, who desire any knowledge of the literary transactions of past ages, may find in catalogues, like this, at least, such an account as is given by annalists and chronologers of civil history.
How the knowledge of the sacred writings bas been diffused, will be observed from the catalogue of the various editions of the Bible, from the first impression by Fust, in *1462, to the present time, in which will be contained the Polyglot editions of Spain, France, and England, those of the original Hebrew, the Greek Septuagint, and the Latin Vulgate, tvith the versions which are now used in the remotest parts of Europe, in the country of the Grisons, in Lithuania, Bohemia, Finland, and Iceland.
With regard to the attempts of the same kind made in our own country, there are few whose expectations will not be exceeded by the number of English Bibles, of wbich not one is forgotten, whether valuable for the pomp and beauty of the impression, or for the notes with which the text is accompanied, or for any controversy or persecution that it
produced, or for the peculiarity of any single passage. With ihe same care have the various editions of the book of Common Prayer been selected, from which all the alterations which have been made in it may be easily remarked.
Amongst a great number of Roman missals and breviaries, remarkable for the beauty of their cuts and illuminations, will be found the Mosarabic missal and breviary, that raised such cominotions in the kingdom of Spain.
The controversial treatises written in England, about the time of the Reformation, have been diligently collected, with a multitude of remarkable tracts, single sermons, and sinal! treatises, which, however worthy to be preserved, are perhaps to be found in no other place.
The regard which was always paid, hy the collectors of this library, to that remarkable period of time, in which the art of printing was invented, determined them to accumulate the ancient impressions of the fathers of the church, to which the later editions are added, lest antiquity should have seemed more worthy of esteem than accuracy.
History has been considered with the regard due to that study by which the manners are most easily formed, and from which the most efficacious instruction is received, nor will the inost'extensive curiosity fail of gratification in this library, from which no writers have been excluded that re: Jate either to the religious or civil affairs of any nation
Not only those authors of ecclesiastical history have been procured, who treat of the state of religion in general, or deliver accounts of sects or nations, but those likewise who have confined themselves to particular orders of men in every church, who have related the original, and the rules of every society, or recounted the lives of its founder and its members; those who have deduced in every country the succession of bishops; and those who have employed their abilities in celebrating the piety of particular saints, or inartyi's, or monks, or nuns.
The civil history of all nations has been amassed together, nor is it easy to determine, which has been thought most worthy of curiosity.
Of France, not only the general histories and ancient chronicles, the accounts of celebrated reigns, and narratives of remarkable events; but even the memorials of single families, the lives of private men, the antiquities of particular cities, churches, and monasteries, the topography of provinces, and the accounts of laws, customs, and prescriptions, are here to be found.
The several states of Italy have, in this treasury, their particular historians, whose accounts are, perhaps, generally more exact, by being less extensive; and more interesting, by being more particular.
Nor has less regard been paid to the different nations of the Germanic empire, of which, neither the Bohemians, nor Hungarians, nor Austrians, nor Bavarians, have been neglected; nor have their antiquities, however generally disregarded, been less studiously searched, than their present state.
The northern nations have supplied this collection, not only with history, but poetry, with Gothic antiquities, and Runic inscriptions; which at least bave this claim to veneration, above the remains of the Roman magnificence, that they are the works of those heroes, by whom the Roman empire was destroyed, and which may plead, at least in this nation, that they ought not to be neglected by those that owe to the men whose memories they preserve, their constitution, their properties, and their liberties.
The curiosity of those collectors extended equally to all parts of the world; nor did they forget to add to the northern the southern writers, or to adorn their collection with chronicles of Spain, and the conquest of Mexico.
Even of those nations with which we have less intercourse, whose customs are less accurately known, and whose history is less distinctly recounted, there are in this library reposited such accounts, as the Europeans have been hitherto able to obtain; nor are the Mogul, the Tartar, the Turk, and the Saracen, without their historians.
That persons so inquisitive, with regard to the transactions of other nations, should inquire yet more ardently after the history of their own, may be naturally expected; and, in, deed, this part of the library is no common instance of dili, gence and accuracy. Here are to be found with the ancient chronicles, and larger histories of Britain, the narratives of single reigns, and the accounts of remarkable revolutions, the topographical histories of counties, the pedigrees of families, the antiquities of churches and cities, the proceedings of Parliaments, the records of monasteries, and the lives of particular men, whether eminent in the church or the state, or remarkable in private life: whether exemplary for their virtues, or detestable for their crimes; whether persecuted for religion, or executed for rebellion.
That memorable period of the English history, which be. gins with the reign of King Charles the First, and ends with the Restoration, will almost furnish a library alone, such is the number of volumes, pamphlets, and papers, which were
published by either party, and such is the care with which they have been preserved.
Nor is history without the necessary preparatives and attendants, geography and chronology; of geography, the best writers and delineators have been procured, and pomp. and accuracy have been both regarded. The student of chronology may here find likewise those authors who searched the records of time, and fixed the periods of history.
With the historians and geographers, may be ranked the writers of voyages and travels, which may be read here in the Latin, English, Dutch, German, French, Italian, and Spanish languages.
The laws of different countries, as they are in themselves equally worthy of curiosity with their history, have, in this collection, been justly regarded; and the rules, by which the various communities of the world are governed, may be here examined and compared. Here are the ancient editions of the papal decretals, and the commentators on the civil law, the edicts of Spain, and the statutes of Venice.
But, with particular industry, have the various writers on the laws of our own country been collected, from the most ancient to the present time, from the bodies of the statutes, to the minutest treatise; not only the reports, precedents, and readings of our own courts, but even the laws of our West Indian colonies will be exhibited in our catalogue.
But neither history nor law has been so far able to engross this library, as to exclude physic, philosophy, or criticism. Those have been thought, with justice, worthy of a place, who have examined the different species of animals, delineated their form, or described their
properties and instincts, or who have penetrated the bowels of the earth, treated on its different strata, and analysed its metals; or who have amused themselves with less laborious speculations, or planted trees, or cultivated flowers.
Those that have exalted their thoughts above the minuter parts of the creation, who have observed the motions of the heavenly bodies, and attempted systems of the universe, have not been denied the honour which they deserved by so great an attempt, whatever has been their success. Nor have those inathematicians been rejected, who have applied their science to the common purposes of life, or those that have deviated into the kindred arts of tactics, architecture, and fortification.
Even arts of far less importance have found their authors,