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by any commonplace standard; but these are pieces of literature, not bric-à-brac, like the effusions of Nicholas Breton and certain other pamphleteers, from whom a few casual allusions, rendered interesting by circumstances or time, are all the purchaser gets in return for what would yield a small annuity. After all said, however, the five or six thousand articles which are comprised within the present volume belong to what was once a current and accepted literature—a literature which fulfilled a certain share in the important duty of instructing our ancestors and amusing them ; and surely a faithful record and full descriptive account of such a body of material cannot be treated as superfluous.

Old English books may be classed under three heads(1) Direct importance; (2) indirect or collateral importance; (3) bibliographical curiosity. Of these it may be said that only the first and second categories repay the attention of literary inquirers ; and even as regards works of which the value consists in some feature not immediately connected with the writer, the interest is often so languid or so fractional, that it is apt to be exhausted in some judicious essay or in a descriptive catalogue. Articles which fall within the third and remaining section-bibliographical curiosities—are to be treated rather as cabinet specimens than as books, and are worth—what they fetch. They are liable to great fluctuations in their marketable worth, for the simple reason that their worth is as uncertain as an unknown quantity in equations.

The counsel which should be tendered to the forthcoming race of bibliophilists by some new Dibdin might with advantage, perhaps, be grounded on the principle of keeping in sight, in the formation of a library, the literary or intrinsic, in preference to the commercial or casual, qualities of the material employed, so to speak, in its construction. Curiosities rise and fall with the caprices of taste and fashion ; but standard books never vary.

An eminent collector, who buys rare and dear books, not because they are rare and dear, but notwithstanding their rarity and dearness, has remarked to the writer that the best books, for the most part,

PREFACE.

are the commonest, and this observation holds true, saving a few isolated and exceptional cases, of the literature which possesses the highest claim to our attention—the literature which is intrinsically and directly important-important, not from, associations which happen to have grown up round it, but in itself and for its own sake.

Bookbinding is indirectly connected with bibliography, in so far as it exerts so. vast an influence over the selling value of copies. But it rather belongs to the Fine Arts than to literature proper, and it is a subject which I have rarely approached. Old English books with early decorated bindings of conspicuous beauty are, in point of fact, of such rare occurrence, that a descriptive account of all known examples would fall far short of filling a volume like that of Libri. Perhaps it is virtually nothing to the purpose that bibliopegy is treated by severely practical book-fanciers as the mere upholstery of the question.

A folio MS. in the library of Mr Henry Huth includes among its multifarious contents a catalogue of old plays, which becomes of curiosity, as it seems to supply the earliest record of the formation of a dramatic collection in England. It is to be presumed that the owner of it was Henry Oxenden of Barham, and it comprised one hundred and twenty-one separate pieces, bound in six volumes. Among them may be recognised some of the most extraordinary rarities in our language, such as Udall's Ralph Roister Doister, the Hamlet of 1603, The Tide tarrieth no Man, Marlowe's Dido, and others, which are entitled from their scarcity to rank as MSS. The list is printed entire in Mr Huth’s forthcoming Catalogue.

In conclusion, I have extreme pleasure in recognising the assistance which has been rendered to me in the course of my nine years' additional labours by several friends, who allowed me to enrich myself at the expense of their information or stores to an extent beyond any claim I had on their kindness. I beg to mention especially my obligations to Mr Henry Huth; Mr Henry Bradshaw, who manifested the warmest interest in my imperfect labours, and

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opened to me freely the too-little-known stores of the Cambridge University Library; the Rev. H. 0. Coxe, Bodley's Librarian; Mr Furnival, who sent me memoranda of everything he considered likely to be serviceable ; Mr Henry Pyne, who afforded me constant access to his valuable collections, as well as the benefit of his still more valuable knowledge; Mr George Bullen, who greatly facilitated my supplementary researches at the British Museum ; Mr Sketchley, with whose kind co-operation I supplied certain important deficiencies in my original work from the treasures of the Dyce Collection at South Kensington; and the Right Honourable the Earl Spencer (through the good offices of the Hon. and Rev. F. J. Ponsonby, Rector of Brington), by whose liberality I have been again enabled to profit, as was the case in 1867. Dr Ingleby also supplied me with the titles and collations of some curious books in his possession.

Nor must I omit to record my gratitude to those well-known firms of auctioneers, Messrs Sotheby, Wilkinson, & Hodge, and Messrs Puttick & Simpson; and to Mr Pearson, Mr Ellis, Mr Pickering, Mr Quaritch, Messrs Nattali & Bond, and other eminent booksellers, for the facilities which they always afforded to me in the course of my researches.

W. C. H. KENSINGTON, January 1876.

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COLLECTIONS AND NOTES.

ABBEY OF THE HOLY GHOST. The A. B. C. With the Catechism, &c.

The Abbave of the Holy Ghost. Col. London: Printed for the Company of Imprynted at Westmestre by wynken de Stationers. 1719. Cum Privilegio. 12°, worde. (Circâ 1500.) 49, black letter, 20 8 leaves. leaves. Br. Museum (no title) and Public Library Cambridge.

ABELL, THOMAS, Priest. On A ij there is the following headline: Invicta Veritas. An answere. That by “Here begynneth a matere spekynge of a no maner of law, it maye be lawfull for place that is named the abbaye of the holy

the moste noble Kinge of Englande, Kinge ghost (yt shall be foūded or groūded in a

Henry the eyght to be diuorsed fro the clene conscyence) in whiche abbaye shall dwelle. xxix. ladyes ghostly.” The present

quenes grace, his lawful and very wyfe. is a short treatise in English in the form of (Col.] Imprinted at Luneberge the yere a sermon. The work is printed in the of oure Lorde God. M.D.XXXII. in Maye. same form, though with a different type, 40, S. in fours. Br. Museum and Lambeth. and is bound up in the British Museum copy with the Exchortatio facta Cartusienti See Maitland's List, 1843, p. 421. bus, said to be by Dean Alcock.

The Abbey was most probably written by A. (C.)
Richard Hampole, to whom it is ascribed in
MS. Lambeth 432. But there is a much

The Vnmasking of the Masse-Priest, with earlier copy in MS. Vernon, written about a Dve and Diligent examination of their 1391.

holy Sacrifice. Shewing how they parABBOT, GEORGE, Archbp. of Canterbury.

take with all the ancient Heretiques, in

their profane, impious, and idolatrous A Briefe Description of the Whole World

worship. London, Printed for Richard ... London, Printed for William Sheares, at the signe of the Harrow in Britaines

Whittaker, &c. 1624. 49, Hh 2 in fours, . Bursse. 1635. 120, A-P in twelves, in

last leaf having the Errata. cluding an engraved title by W. Marshall, The dedication and preface are signed by dated 1634, in the upper centre of which the Rev. John Lewis. is a portrait of the author.

ACADEMY OF COMPLIMENTS. A, B. C.

The Academy of Complements. Wherein The A. B. C. Set forthe by the Kynges

Ladyes, Gentlewomen, Schollers, and maiestie and his Clergye, and commaunded

Strangers may accommodate their Courtly to be taught through out all his Realme.

Practice with most Curious Ceremonies, All other ytterly set a part: as the teachers

Complementall, Amorous, High expresthereof tender his graces fauour. [Col.]

sions, and formes of speaking, or writing. God save the Kynge, the Queene, and the

A Work penned and most exactly perRealme, and send vs peace in Christ.

fected by the Author, with Additions of Amen. Imprinted at London by wyllyam

Witty Amorous Poems. And a Table Powell. [Circa 1545.] 8°, 8 leaves. Br.

expounding the hard English Words. Museum (Grenville).

London, Printed by T. B. for H. Mosley, All the Letters of the A. B. C. ... 1575. and are to be sold at his Shop at the Princes Reprinted in Halliwell's folio Shakespear. | Armes, in S. Pauls Churchyard. 1640.

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