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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
day of sale, either to return them in exchange for books, or to send them back, and receive their money.
Since, therefore, I have absolutely debarred myself from receiving any advantage from the sale of the catalogue, it will be reasonable to impute it rather to necessity than choice, that I shall continue it to two volumes more, which the number of the single tracts which have been discovered, makes indispensably requisite. I need not tell those who are acquainted with affairs of this kind, how much pamphlets swell a catalogue, since the title of the least book may be as long as that of the greatest.
Pamphlets have been for many years, in this nation, the canals of controversy, politicks, and sacred history, and, therefore, will, doubtless, furnish occasion to a very great number of curious remarks. And I take this opportunity of proposing to those who are particularly delighted with this kind of study, that, if they will encourage me, by a reasonable subscription, to employ men qualified to make the observations, for which this part of the catalogue will furnish occasion, I will procure the whole fifth and sixth volumes to be executed in the same manner with the most laboured part of this, and interspersed with notes of the same kind.
If any excuse were necessary for the addition of these volumes, I have already urged in my defence the strongest plea, no less than absolute necessity, it being impossible to comprise in four volumes, however large, or however closely printed, the titles which yet remain to be mentioned.
But, I suppose, none will blame the multiplication of volumes, to whatever number they may be continued, which every one may use without buying them, and which are, therefore, published at no expense but my own.
There is one accusation still remaining, by which I am 'more sensibly affected, and which I am, therefore, desirous to obviate, before it has too long prevailed. I hear that I
This scheme was never executed; the fifth volume, the only one subsequently published, was a mere shop catalogue.
am accused of rating my books at too high a price, at a price which no other person would demand. To answer this accusation, it is necessary to inquire what those who urge it, mean by a high price. The price of things, valuable for their rarity, is entirely arbitrary, and depends upon the variable taste of mankind, and the casual fluctuation of the fashion, and can never be ascertained, like that of things only estimable according to their use.
If, therefore, I have set a high value upon books: if I have vainly imagined literature to be more fashionable than it really is, or idly hoped to revive a taste well nigh extinguished, I know not why I should be persecuted with clamour and invective, since I only shall suffer by my mistake, and be obliged to keep those books, which I was in hopes of selling.
If those who charge me with asking a high price, will explain their meaning, it may be possible to give them an answer less general. If they measure the price at which the books are now offered, by that at which they were bought by the late possessor, they will find it diminished at least three parts in four; if they would compare it with the demands of other booksellers, they must first find the same books in their hands, and they will be, perhaps, at last reduced to confess, that they mean, by a high price, only a price higher than they are inclined to give.
I have, at least, a right to hope, that no gentleman will receive an account of the price from the booksellers, of whom it may easily be imagined that they will be willing, since they cannot depreciate the books, to exaggerate the price: and I will boldly promise those who have been influenced by malevolent reports, that, if they will be pleased, at the day of sale, to examine the prices with their own eyes, they will find them lower than they have been represented.
VIEW OF THE CONTROVERSY BETWEEN
MONS. CROUSAZ AND MR. WARBURTON,
ON THE SUBJECT OF
MR. POPE'S ESSAY ON MAN,
In a Letter to the Editor of the Gentleman's Magazine, vol. xiii. 1743.
It would not be found useless in the learned world, if in written controversies as in oral disputations, a moderator could be selected, who might, in some degree, superintend the debate, restrain all needless excursions, repress all personal reflections, and, at last, recapitulate the arguments on each side; and who, though he should not assume the province of deciding the question, might at least exhibit it in its true state.
This reflection arose in my mind upon the consideration of Mr. Crousaz's commentary on the Essay on Man, and Mr. Warburton's answer to it. The importance of the subject, the reputation and abilities of the controvertists, and, perhaps, the ardour with which each has endeavoured to support his cause, have made an attempt of this kind necessary for the information of the greatest number of Mr. Pope's readers.
Among the duties of a moderator, I have mentioned that of recalling the disputants to the subject, and cutting off the excrescences of a debate, which Mr. Crousaz will not suffer to be long unemployed, and the repression of