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of confusion and disturbance, and disputes of every kind; and the writings, which were produced, bear a natural proportion to the number of the questions that were discussed at that time; each party had its authors and its presses, and no endeavours were omitted to gain proselytes to every opinion. I know not whether this may not properly be 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 same differences, in religious opinions, are well known to have subsisted, and the same political struggles to have been frequently renewed; and, therefore, a great number 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 miscellany shall be compiled, for which it cannot be supposed that materials will be wanting; and, therefore, 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 regard 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 materials; 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.
Of the different methods which present themselves, upon the first view of the great heaps of pamphlets which the Harleian library exhibits P, the two which merit most attention are, to distribute the treatises according to their subjects, or their dates; but neither of these ways can be conveniently followed. By ranging our collection in order
P The pamphlets in the Harleian collection amounted in number to about 400,000. See Gough's Brit. Topog. 1669.
of time, we must necessarily publish those pieces first, which least engage the curiosity of the bulk of mankind; and our design must fall to the ground, for want of encouragement, before it can be so far advanced as to obtain 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 objection of equal force, against both these methods, that we shall preclude ourselves from the advantage of any future discoveries; and we cannot hope to assemble 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 publick, 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 obscure 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 generous subscription.
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.