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The Biographia Britannica, is indeed much more an historical work than Bayle's, but is written upon a much less extensive plan; it contains the Lives of those eminent persons only who were born in Great Britain and Ireland, and of these the chief alone are selected, though many others have a degree of eminence sufficient to render them objects of general curiosity.
The Athena Oxonienses is written upon a plan still more contracted, for it contains an account of such authors only, as received their academic education at the University of Oxford.
Mr. Collier's Great Historical, Geographical, Genealogical, Poetical Dictionary may possibly seem, by the pretended universality of its plan, to have answered every purpose, which can be proposed from any new work: but this Dictionary is, as its title shews, filled with Geographical and Poetical descriptions, which are no part of our design, and with tedious uninteresting Genealogies which have neither use nor entertainment in them. It is exceedingly defective both as to the number of the lives, and the fullness of the accounts: that is, its accounts of men are too general, too superficial, and indeed too short to give fatisfaction. We would not have the reader to conclude from this, that it is any part of our
intention to be more than ordinarily nice and cris tical : on the contrary, we have for the most part purposely avoided mere criticism, minute enquiries and discussions, and all those trifling
points, which constitute the dry part of Bio• graphy ; but then we have endeavoured to be at
least so particular and fo accurate in our accounts, as to convey a sufficient knowledge of the persons we have recorded; which certainly can by no means be said of Mr. Collier. So that upon the whole, neither any nor all of these performances, however voluminous and expensives contain what ought to be found in an Universal Biographical Dictionary; and such is the work which we now offer to the publick,
This contains some account of every life that has been sufficiently distinguished to be recorded; not indeed a list of all the Names that are to be found in chronological and regal tables, for of many nominal rulers both of the Church and State it can only be said that they lived and died; but a judicious narrative of the actions or writings, the honours and disgraces of all those whose Virtues, Parts, Learning, or even Vices, have preserved them from oblivion in any records, of whatever age, and in whatever language.
This work will therefore naturally include a
ever, notwithstanding the extent of our undertaking, and the labour and expence necessary to the execution of it, comprize this work within Twelve volumes in octavo, and fell them for Six shillings a volume; so that the price of the whole will be no more than Three pounds twelve shillings when bound.
In a work so various, the materials of which are so numerous, diffused and diffimilar, we have endeavoured to select in every instance, what was in itself most eligible; we hope therefore that when our Readers consider what we have done, they will not withhold their approbation, upon a mere supposition that we might have done more. Those who are acquainted with the pains and attention requisite for the compiling of great works, will readily excuse any small defects that may have escaped us. The authors hope for success from the candid and judicious only, whose recommendation of this, it is their utmost ambition to obtain, as it has been their earnest endeavours to merit.
ARON, high priest of the Jews, and brother to
command, he met Moses at the foot of Mount