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AN ACCOUNT OF THE

HARLEIAN LIBRARY.

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10 folicit a Subscription for a Catalogue of

Books exposed to Sale, is an Attempt for which fome Apology cannot but be necessary; for few would willingly contribute to the Expence of Volumes, by which neither Instruction nor Entertainment could be afforded, from which only the Bookseller could expect Advantage, and of whichi the only Use mult cease, at the Dispersion of the Library

Nor could the Reafonableness of an universal Rejection of our Proposal be denied, if this Catalogue were to be compiled with no other View, than that of promoting the Sale of the Books which itenumerates, and drewn up with that Innacuracy and Confufion which may be found in those that are daily published.

But our Design, like our Proposal, is uncommon, add to be prosecuted at a very uncommon Expence; it being intended, that the Books shall be distributed into their distinct Claffes, and every Class ranged with some Regard to the Age of the Writers; that every Book shall be accurately described ; that the Peculiarities of Editions shall be remarked, and Observations from the Authors of Literary History occasionaily intersperfed; that, by this Catalogue, we may inform Pofterity of the Excellence and Value of this great Collection, and promote the Know! ge of scarce Books, and elegant Editions. For this Purpose Meu of Letters are engaged, who cannot

even be fupplied with Amanuenfes, but at an Expence above that of a common Catalogue.

To shew that this Collection deserves a particular Degree of Regard from the Learned and the Studious, that it excels any Library, that was ever yet offered to public Sale in the Value as well as Num. ber of the Volumes which it contains ; and that therefore this Catalogue will not be of less Use to Men of Letters, than those of the Thuanian, Heinfian, or Barberinian Libraries, it may not be impro. per to exhibit a general Account of the different Clafles, as they are naturally divided by the several Sciences.

By this Method we can indeed exhibitorly ageneral Idea, at once magnificent and confused ; an Idea of the Writings of many Nations, collected from dif tant Parts of the World, discovered sometimes by Chance, and sometimes by Curiosity, amidft the Rubbish of forsaken Monasteries, and the Repog. tories of ancient Families, and brought hither from every Part, as to the universal Receptacle of Learning

It will be no unpleasing Effect of this Account, if thofe, that shall happen to peruse it, fhould be inclined by it to reflect on the Character of the late Proprietors, and to pay fome Tribute of Venera. tion to their Ardor for Literature, to that generous and exalted Curiofity which they gratified with incel. fant Searches and immenfeExpence,and to which they dedicated that Time, and that Superfluity of Fortune, which many others of their Rank employ in the Puro suit of contemptible Amusements, or the Gratification of guilty Passions. And, surely, every Man, who con. liders Learning as ornamental and advantageous to the Community, mult allow them the Honour of public Benefactors, who have introduced amongst us Authors not hitherto well-known, and added to the Literary Treasures of their native Country

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- 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 Conver fation of the Learned, and the Satisfaction of extenfive Knowledge, we are very far from presuming to hope ; but shall make no Scruple to affert, that, if any Man should happen to be seized with such laud. able Ambition, he may find in this Catalogue Hints and Informations wbich are not easily to be met with; he will discover, that the boalted Bodleian Library is very far from a perfect Model, and that even the learned Fabricius cannot completely inftrućt. him in the early Editions of the Classic Writers.

But the Collectors of Libraries cannot be nume. rous; and, therefore, Catalogues cannot very pro. perly be recommended to the Public, if they had not a more general and frequent Ufe, an Use which every Student bas experienced, or neglected to his Lofs. 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, difcuffing 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 Obfervations, which have long fince been published, and of which the World therefore willrefufe them the Praise; nor can the Refusal be censured as any enormous Violation of Justice; for, why should they not for.. feit by their Ignorance, what they might claim by their Sagacity.

To illustrate this Remark, by the Mention of obscure Names, would not much confirm it; and to vilify for this purpose the Memory of Men truly,

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great, would be to deny them the Reverence which they may juftly claim from those whom their Writ ings have instructed. May the Shade at least, of one great English Critic rest without Difturbance; and may no Man presume to insult his Memory, who wants his Learning, his Reason, or bis Wit.. 2. From the "vexatious Disappointment of meeting Reproach, where Praile 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 receive Informations of the Labours of his Predeceffors, such as a Catalogue of the Har leian Library will copiously afford him. I.;! for

Nor is the Use of Catalogues of less Importance to those whom Curiofity 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 Defolation of Kingdoms, the Rout of Armies, and the Fallof Empires. Those whoare pleased with observing the first Birth of new Opinions, their Struggles a gainst Oppofition, their filent Progress under Perfen cution, their general Reception, and their gradual Decline, or fudden Extinction; thofe 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, fot Want of Patronage and Regard, or been overborne by the Prevalence of falhjonable Ignorance, or loft amidft the Bumults of Invasion, and the Storms of Violence. *- All thofe #bo desire any Knowledge of the literary Transactions of past 'Ages, may find in Catalogues like this at least, such an Account as isgiren by Annalists, and Chronologers of Civil History out in : We hayrets sti: 9300i it How

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How the knowledge of the Sacred Writings has been diffufcdy will be obferved from the Catalogue 3of the various Editions of the Bible,from the first Impression by Fuft, 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; with the Verfions which are now used in the remotest Parts of Europe, in the Country of the Grifons, in Lithuania, Bohemia, Finland, and Iceland.

With regard to the Attempts of the fame Kind snade 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 fingle Paflage. With the fame Care have the various Editions of the Book of Common-Prayer been selected, from which all the Alterations which have been made an it may be easily remarked.

Amongst a great Namber of Roman Miffals and Breviaries, remarkable for the Beauty of their Cuts and Illuminations, will be found the Mofarabic Miffal and Breviary, that raised such Commotions in the Kingdom of Spain.

The Controversial. Treatifes written in England, about the time of the Reformation, have been di. Jigently 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 Col. lectors of this Liberary, to that remarkable Period of Time, in which the Art of Printing was invented, determined them to accumulate the ancient Impresfions of the Fathers of the Church; to which the later 2

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