« AnteriorContinuar »
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 forins, or described their properties and instincts ; or who have penetrated the bowels of the earth, treated on its different strata, and analysed its me-tals; 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 az atiempt, 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 deviated 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 reflect 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 criticks, and which have escaped the observation of those whose great employment has been the collation of copies ; nór 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 au: thors 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 style 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
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, have paid an equal regard to the other; and therefore it may be easily inagined, zhat the collection of prints is numerous in an unVOL. II.
common 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 Nanteuil, Hollar, Collet, Edelinck, and Dorigay, and other engravers of equal reputation.
There is also a great collection of original draw, ings, 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 ut, most accuracy, in their
colours. As the value of this
con. ceived from this account, however imperfect, as the variety of subjects must engage the curiosity of men of different studies, inclinations, and employ. ments, 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 alt others, not more in the number and excellence, than in the splender of its volumes.
We may now surely be allowed to hope, that our catalogue will not be thought unworthy of the publick 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, he may have been instrumental in continuing to this nation the advantage of it. The sale of Vossius' 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 lea ning
ORIGIN AND IMPORTANCE
SMALL TRACTS AND FUGITIVE PIECES,
Written for the INTRODUCTION to
THE HARLEIAN MISCELLANY.
THOUGH the scheme of the following Miscellany is so obvious, that the title alone is sufficient to explain it ; and though several collections have been formerly attempted upon plans, as to the method, very little, but, as to the capacity and execution, very different from ours; we, being possessed of the greatest variety for such a work, hope for a more general reception than those confined scheines had the fortune to meet with ; and, therefore, think it not wholly unnecessary to explain our intentions, to display the treasure of materials out of which this Miscellany is to be compiled, and to exhibit a general idea of the pieces which we intend to insert in it.
There is, perhaps, no nation in which it is so necessary, as in our own, to assemble, from time to