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ticular historians, whose accounts are, perhaps, generally more exact, by being less extensive, and more interesting, by being more particular.
Nor has less regard been paid to the different nations of the Germanic empire, of which, neither the Bohemians, nor Hungarians, nor Austrians, nor Bavariaus, have been neglected; nor have their antiquities, however generally disregarded, been less studiously searched, than their pre
The northern nations have supplied this collection, not only with history, but poetry, with Gothic antiquities, and Runic inscriptions; which at least have this claim to veneration, above the remains of the Roman magnificence, thąt they are the works of those heroes, by whom the Roman empire was destroyed, and which may plead, at least in this nation, that they ought not to be neglected by those that owe to the men whose memories they preserve, their constitution, their properties, and their liberties.
The curiosity of those collectors extended equally to all parts of the world; nor did they forget to add to the northern the southern writers, or to adorn their collection with chrom picles of Spain, and the conquest of Mexico.
Even of those nations with which we have less intercourse, whose customs are less accurately kuown, and whose history is iess distinctly recounted, there are in this library reposited such accounts, as the Europeans have been hitherto able to ohtain; nor are the Mogul, the Tartar, the Turk, and the Saracer, without their historians.
That persons so inquisitive, with regard to the transactions of other nations, should inquire yet more ardently after the history of their own, may be naturally expected; and, indeed, this part of the library is no common instance of diligence and accuracy. Here are to be found with the ancient chronicles, and larger histories of Britain, the narratives of single reigns, and the accounts of remarkable revolutions, the topographical histories of counties, the pedigrees of families, the antiquities of churches aud cities, the proceedings of parliaments, the records of monasteries, and the lives of particular men, whether eminent in the church or the sielte, or remarkable in private life; whether exemplary for their virtues, or detestable for their crimes; whether persecuted for religion, or executed for rebellion.
That memorable period of the English history, which begins with the reign of King Charles the First, and ends with the Hestoration, will almost furnish a library alone, such is the number of volumes, pamphlets, and papers, which were published by either party, and such is the care with which they have been preserved. · Nor is history without the necessary preparatives and attendants, geography and chronology; of geography, the hest writers and delineators have been procured, and pomp and accuracy have been both regarded. The student of chronology may here find likewise those authors who searched the records of time, and fixed the periods of history.
With the historians and geographers, niay be ranked the writers of voyages and travels, which may be read here in the Latin, English, Dutch, German, French, Italian, and Spanish languages.
The laws of different countries, as they are in themselves equally worthy of curiosity with their history, have, in this collection, been justly regarded; and the rules, by which the various communities of the world are governed, may be here examined and compared. Here are the ancient editions of the Papal decretals, and the commentators on the civil law, the edicts of Spain, and the statutes of Venice.
But, with particular industry, have the various writers on the laws of our own country been collected, from the most ancient to the present time, from the bodies of the statutes, to the minutest treatise; not only the reports, precedents, and readings of our own courts, but even the laws of our West Indian colonies will be exhibited in our catalogue.
But neither history nor law have been so far able to engross this library, as to exclude physic, philosophy, or criticism. Those have been thought, with justice, worthy of a place, who have examined the different species of animals, delineated their form, or described their properties and instincts, or who have penetrated the bowels of the earth, treated on its different strata, and analysed its metals; or who have amused themselves with less laborious speculations, and planted trees, or cultivated flowers.
Those that have exalted their thoughts above the minuter parts of the creation, who have observed the motions of the heavenly bodies, and attempted systems of the universe, have not been denied the honour which they deserved by so great an attempt, whatever has been their success. Nor have those mathematicians been rejected, who have applied their science to the common purposes of life, or those that have devrated into the kindred arts, of tactics, architecture, and fortification.
Even arts of far less importance have found their authors, nor have these authors been despised by the boundless curiosity of the proprietors of the Harleian Library. The writers on horsemanship and fencing are more numerous, and more bulky, than could be expected, by those who
eflect how seldom those excel in either, whom their education has qualified to compose books.
The admirer of Greek and Roman literature will meet, in this collection, with editions little known to the most inquisitive critics, and which have escaped the observation of those whose great employment has been the collation of copies; nor will he find only the most ancient editions of Faustus, Jenson, Spira, Sweynheim, and Pannartz, but the most accurate likewise and beautiful of Colinæus, the Juntæ, Plantin, Aldus, the Stephens, and Elzevir, with the commentaries and observations of the most learned editors.
Nor are they accompanied only with the illustrations of those who have confined their attempts to particular writers, but of those likewise who have treated on any part of the Greek or Roman antiquities, their laws, their customs, their dress, their buildings, their wars, their revenues, or the rites and ceremonies of their worship, and those that have endeavoured to explain any of their authors from their statues or their coins.
Next to the ancients, those writers deserve to be mentioned, who, at the restoration of literature, imitated their language and their stile with so great success, or who laboured with so much industry to make them understood : such were Philelphus and Politian, Scaliger and Buchanan, and the poets of the age of Leo the Tenth; these are likewise to be found in this library; together with the Deliciæ, or collections of all nations.
Painting is so nearly allied to poetry, that it cannot be wondered that those who have so much esteemed the one, hare paid an equal regard to the other; and therefore it may be easily imagined, that the collection of prints is numerous in an uncommon degree; but surely the expectation of every man will be exceeded, when he is informed that there are more than forty thousand engraven from Raphael, Titian, Guido, the Carraches, and a thousand others, by Nautueil, Hollar, Callet, Edelinck, and Dorigny, and other engravers of equal reputation.
There is also a great collection of original drawings of which three seem to deserve a particular mention, the first exhibits a representation of the inside of St. Peter's church at Rome; the second, of that of St. John Lateran; and the third, of the high altar of St. Ignatius, all painted with the utmost accuracy in their proper colours.
As the value of this great collection may be conceived from this account, however imperfect; as the variety of subjects must engage the curiosity of men of different studies, inclinations, and employments, it may be thought of very little use to mention any slighter advantages, or to dwell on the decorations and embellishments which the generosity of the proprietors has bestowed upon it; yet, since the compiler of the Thuanian catalogue thought not even that species of elegance below his observation, it may not be improper to observe, that the Harleian library, perhaps, excels all others, not more in the number and excellence, than in the splendour of its volumes.
We may now surely be allowed to hope, that our catalogue will be thought not unworthy of the public curiosity; that it will be purchased as a record of this great collection, and preserved as one of the memorials of learning.
The patrons of literature will forgive the purchaser of this library, if he presumes to assert some claim to their protection and encouragement, as he may have been instrumental in continuing to this nation the advantage of it. The sale of Vossius's collection into a foreign country is, to this day, regretted by men of letters; and, if this effort for the prevention of another loss of the same kind should be disadvantageous to him, no man will hereafter willingly risque his fortune in the cause of learning.
III. Account of the Harleian Collection of Manuscripts, in the
British Musæum.* This collection was begun near the end of the last century, by Robert Harley, of Brampton Bryan, in Herefordshire, Esq. afterwards Earl of Oxford, and Lord High Treasurer; and was conducted upon the plan of the great Sir Robert Cotton.
He purchased his first considerable collection in August 1705, and in less than ten years he got together near 2,500 curious and rare MSS. among which were those of Sir Simon D'Ewes, the Suffolk antiquary; Mr. John Stow, author of the Survey of London; Mr. Charles Lancaster, Herald; and John Fox, the Martyrologist.
* Rrom the Preface to the new Index to that Collec ion compiled by Mr.
Soon after, the celebrated Dr. George Hicks; Mr. Anstis, Garter King at Arms ; Bishop Nicholson, and many other eminent antiquaries, not only offered him their assistance in procuring MSS. but presented him with several that were very valuable.
Being thus encouraged to perseverance by his success, he kept many persons employed in purchasing MSS. for him abroad, giving them written instructions for their con• duct.
By these means, the MS. Library was in the year 1721 increased to near 6,000 books; 14,000 original charters, and 500 rolls.
On the 21st of May 1724, Lord Oxford died; but his son Edward, who succeeded to his honours and estate, still farther enlarged the collection; so that when he died, June 16, 1741, it consisted of 8,000 volumes, several of them containing distinct and independent treatises, besides many loose papers, which have been since sorted and bound up in volumes; and above 40,000 original rolls, charters, letters patent, grants, and other deeds and instruments of great antiquity.
The principal design of making this collection was the establishment of a MS. English Historical Library, and the rescuing from destruction such records of our national antiquities as had eluded the diligence of preceding collectors: but Lord Oxford's plan was more extensive; for his collection abounds with curious MSS. in every science.
A general idea of the contents of this collection may be conceived from the following articles.
Of Bibles and Biblical Books, 300 copies in the Hebrew, Chaldee, Greek, Arabic, and Latin languages, many of great antiquity, particularly,
A Hebrew bible several hundred years old, to which are prefixed the various readings of the Eastern and Western copies, a syllabus of the Parashoths and Haphtaroths for the whole year, and two remarkable drawings in gold highly embossed, of the sacred vessels and utensils of the ancient Jews.
A Hebrew bible, with small Masoretic notes, adorned with miniature paintings, written in the 14th century.
A Latin bible, with St. Paul's epistle to the Laodiceans finely illuminated, written in the 11th century, and formerly belonging to the cathedral of Anjou.