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Read, not to contradiel and confute ; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to
find talk and discourse; but to weigh and confider.—Bacon.
PREFACE BY THE COMPILERS.
THE PHILOSOPHICAL INSTITUTION was founded in the year 1846. Its plan embraced a Library, Reading Room, News Room, and the delivery of Popular Lectures. The Library has kept pace with the general prosperity of the Institution. The following is a statement of the number of volumes it contains, and of the extent to which they have been used by the Members during each year :
Statement of the number of Volumes added during each year, from
January 1848, to September 1857; with the number of volumes circulated in each year.
Vols. in the Library, I Circulation from June
1847 to Jan. 1, 1848 5
8,951 Vols. added in 1848 .. 995 Circulation in 1848. . | 21,758
1850.. 39,800 , , 1851 .. 649
1851.. 44,960 „ „ 1852. | 852
48,248 „ „ 1853 .. 718 „ „ 1853. 51,451 1854 ..
54,988 » 1855 ..
1855 57,970 „ „ 1856 .. 1321
, 1856. . 58,985 Vols. added from Jan. U to September, 1857$
TOTAL ..... 10,402
As was to be expected, the Library is still very far from coming up to Lord Macaulay's idea of what it should be—“ a complete and truly rich collection of English literature, in which it will be impossible to seek in vain for any English book which is valuable either by reason of its subject, of its style, or of the light it may throw upon our civil, ecclesiastical, intellectual, or social history; a collection, in fact, of everything in the English language which can afford either useful instruction, or harmless amusement.” The classified Lists in the following Catalogue will show the deficiencies in many departments of English literature; but they will also assist the Directors in supplying them. While the Directors are careful to add nearly all that is valuable in current general literature, they also expend a considerable portion of the annual funds at their disposal in purchasing, as opportunities occur, older books of a standard character. This is a work requiring time; as they are anxious to be guided by economy in the expenditure of their funds, as well as judgment in the selection of books; and, unless a library is formed with reckless expenditure, it is necessary to wait for many books till they occur at a fair and moderate price.
The rapid increase of the Library which the above table exhibits, called for a Catalogue more full and accurate than the meagre and unsatisfactory lists which had hitherto been in the hands of the members ; and in 1855 the Directors resolved on the preparation of “a complete alphabetical Catalogue, combining, as far as might be thought convenient, a classified Catalogue of subjects.” This duty was entrusted to the Compilers ; and its execution has occupied nearly the whole of their leisure since.
It is believed that the Catalogue now laid before the Members presents some features which are not common, and others which are quite unique, in works of this class in this country, and which will add considerably to its interest and utility. Among these may be noticed
1. The Biographical information which follows the names of the various authors. This contains some original matter obtained from private sources, and some facts gleaned from foreign catalogues and from biographical works. There are a few bibliographical notes interspersed through the volume, which may be found of some interest and value. The number of these notes might have been largely increased, but it was feared this would add unduly to the bulk and cost of the volume.
2. About nine-tenths of the books have been classified; embracing all works on history, science, and other subjects on which a student may be supposed anxious to know what books are contained in the Library. These classified lists, in place of being put at the end (as in most catalogues) where they are apt to be overlooked, and printed in such a confused manner as to render it an uninviting labour to consult them, have been inserted in their proper places in the alphabetical arrangement, and printed so that their contents can be seen at a glance. With the view of increas . ing their utility, the Compilers have, in the historical lists, added the period over which each work of history extends; and in the lists of voyages and travels, the date of each voyage, etc., is generally given.
3. A classification “ Biography” has been prepared, in which the memoirs will be found under the name of the person written of, not under that of the author. A list of “ Trials” has also been