« السابقةمتابعة »
Iuch Writings may be seen how the Mind has been opened by Degrees, how one Truth has led to an. , other, how Error has been disentangled, and Hints improved to Demon&ration, which Pleasure, and many others, are lost by him that only reads the larger Writers, by whom these scattered Sentiments are collected, who will see none of the Changes of Fortune which every Opinion has passed through, will have no Opportunity of remarking the transient. Advantages which Error may sometimes obtain, by the Artifices of its Patron, or the succefsful Rallies, by which Truth regains the Day, after a Repulse ; but will be to him, who traces the Dispute through into particular Gradations, as he that hears of a Victory, to him that sees the Battle..
Since the Advantages of preserving these small Tracts are so numerous, our Attempt to unite them in Volumes cannot be thought either useless or unseasonable ; for there is no other Method of securing them from Accidents ; and they have already been so long neglected, that this Design cannot be delayed, without hazarding the Loss of many Pieces, which deserve to be transmitted to another Age.
The Practice of publishing Pamphlets on the most important Subjects, has now prevailed more than two Centuries among us; and therefore it cannot be doubted, but that, as 'no large Collections have been yet made, many curious Tracts must have perished; but it is too late to lament that Loss; nor * ought we to reflect upon it, with any other View, than that of quickening our Endeavours, for the Preservation of those that yet remain ; of which we have now a greater Number, thạn was, perhaps, ever amassed by any one Person.
The first Appearance of Pamphlets among us, is generally thought to be at the new Opposition raised against the Errors and Corruptions of the Church of Rome. Those who were first convinced of the
Reasonableness of the new Learning, as it was then called, propagated their Opinions in small Pieces, which were cheaply printed; and, what was then of great Importance, easily concealed. These Treatises were generally printed in foreign countries, and are not, therefore, always very correct. There was not then that Opportunity of printing in private ; for, the Number of Printers were small, and the Preffes were easily overlooked by the Clergy, who spared no La?" bour or Vigilance for the Suppression of Herefy. There is, however, Reason to suspect, that fome Attempts were made to carry on the Propagation of Truth by a secret Press; for one of the first Treatifes. in Favour of the Reformation, is said, at the End, to be printed at Greenwich,' by the. Permission of the Lord of Hofts.
In the Time of King Edward the Sixth the Preffes were employed in Favour of the Reformed Religion, and small Tracts were dispersed oyer the Nation, to reconcile them to the new Forms of Worship. In this Reign, likewise, Political Pamphlets may be faid to have been begun, by the Address of the Rebels of Devonshire; all which Means of propagating the Sentiments of the People fo disturbed the 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, intirely prohibited all Preffes, but what should be licensed by them; which Charter is that by which the Corpo ration of Stationers, in London, is at this Time in corporated.
Under the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, when Liberty again began to flourish, the Practice of writ
* Which begins thus, Know ye, that We, confidering, and manifestly perceiving, that several seditious and beretical Books or Tratis-againft bo Faith and found Catholic Deatrine of boly Mother, the Chureb, &c.
ing Pamphlets became more general; Preffes were multiplied, and Books were dispersed; and, I believe, it may properly be said, that the Trade of Writing began at that Time, and that it has ever fince 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 ifsued most of the Pamphlets againt Whitgift and his Affociates, in the Ecclefiaftical 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 Diturbance of the World, have been engrossed by War, were employed in Controversy; and Writings of all kinds were multiplied among us. 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 fold. .
The next Reign is too well known to have been a Time of Confusion, and Disturbance, and Disputes of every Kind; and the Writings, which were pro-, duced, bear a natural Proportion to the Number of Questions that were discussed at that Time; each Party had its Authors and its Preffes, and no Endeayours were omitted to gain Proselytes to every Opinion. I know not whether this may not properly be - B4
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 fame Differences, in Religious Opinions, are well known to have subGifted, and the fame Political Struggles to have been frequently renewed; and, therefore, a great Nume ber 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 Miscela lany shall be compiled; for which it cannot be sup: posed that Materials will be wanting; and, there. fore, 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 Re gard 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 Ma. terials, 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.. - Ofthe 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 nei. ther of these Ways can be conveniently followed.
muft neceffarily publish those Pieces first, which least engage the Curiosity of the Bulk of Mankind; and our Design muftfall to the Ground, for Want of Encou:
ragement, before it can be so far advanced as to ob. tain 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 Objece, tion of equal Force, against both these Methods, that we shall preclude ourselves from the Advantage of any future Discoveries ; and we cannot hope to afsemble 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 Public, 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 ob-. scure 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 geperous Subscription: