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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 worthy 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 ignorance have given way in the dawn of science, and how learning has languished and decayed for want of patronage and regard, or been overborne by the prevalence of fashionable ignorance, or lost amidst the tumults of invasion, 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 has 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 Septu. agint, and the Latin Vulgate ; with the versions which are now used in the remotest parts of Europe, in the coun
try 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 which 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 the 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 Mosorabic missal and breviary, that raised such commotions 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 small treatises; which, however worthy to be preserved, are, perhaps, to be found in no other place.
The regard which was always paid, by 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 th at study by which the manners are most easily formed; and from which the most efficacious instruction is received ; nor will the most extensive curiosity fail of gratification in this library ; from which no writers have been excluded, that relate either to the religious or civil affairs of any nation.
Not only those anthors of ecclesiastical history have been procured, that 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 martyrs, or monks, or
The civil history of all nations has been amassed to gether; 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 have 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 neglecte ed by those that owe to the men whose memories they preserve, their constitution, their properties, and their liberties.
The curiosity of these collectors extends 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, indeed, this part of the library is no common instance of diligence 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 begins 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 both been 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.