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NOTICE TO PART THE SECOND.
and not rather make a new and perfect book in my own name. To these I reply, that the labour required to make anything like a perfect Manual of Bibliography, is, both physically and mentally, far beyond what would be conceived by those who have not engaged in such duties, while the requital of even a successful achievement would be below what might be derived from the most ordinary pursuit. Dr. Watt, author of the Bibliotheca Britannica,' exhausted in health and pocket by his herculean labour, died on the eve of its completion, nor did it yield any benefit either to his successors or publishers; and Lowndes, after years of unwearied exertion, died in distress. Many more such examples might be adduced.
There would be no difficulty in making a perfect book,-as far as anything human can be perfect-were the appliances sufficient; but nothing less than a liberal and independent appointment from the Crown can ever provide a stimulus adequate to the desired object. It would be possible to register and describe, under one alphabet, every book known to literature, and to indicate the particular libraries where they are to be found; and, if undivided attention could be bestowed on such an object, it might be accomplished in a very few years. Manuscripts might be treated in the same manner, and classed Indexes to the whole follow. But such a happy consummation is rather to be sighed for than expected: meanwhile the literary public will, it is hoped, take in good part the installment now made in a right direction.
The present part is enlarged and corrected on every page, as will be evident on comparison. Among the articles which have undergone more especial attention may be enumerated: British Museum, Britton, Brougham, Brydges (Sir Egerton), Bunyan, Butler (Sam.), Byron, Caxton, Chaucer, Coleridge, Costume, Cook (Capt.), Cooke (W. B.), Cowper, Crabbe, Crighton, &c. All continuations and new editions of books mentioned by Lowndes, have, as far as possible, been indicated, and frequent additions made of the auction prices of rare and early printed volumes. Indeed, all has been done that could well be done, without reconstructing the whole work, and the Publisher only hopes that he may be able to go through his task with as little cause of complaint as he has yet encountered. The publication was undertaken, more as a boon to his confrères and to literary men, than as an object of mercantile profit, and he trusts it will be received as such.
WRITTEN JANUARY 1, 1834.
In proportion to the advancement and general diffusion of literature ought to be the publication of references to, and accounts of, the multifarious works with which the genius of past and of the present times has enlightened and benefited mankind. BIBLIOGRAPHY, or a knowledge of particular books, the peculiarities of editions, their value, and what may be termed an intimate acquaintance with the history and character of a work, has, however, been singularly neglected in this country; and rich as our literature is in most departments, that particular class, on which all others are in a great degree dependent, is confessedly deficient. In France, Spain, Italy, Germany, and Holland, numerous volumes have been written on the literary history of those several countries, together with others on universal literature; but in England, excepting a few catalogues of books on particular subjects, no general Bibliographical work deserving the name was ever published until the appearance of the “ Bibliotheca Britannica" by Watt, which will be again alluded to. It is not intended to explain the cause of the low state of Bibliographical knowledge in England; but it may, perhaps, be partly ascribed to the folly of acquiring, at enormous prices, works which are no otherwise valuable than for their rarity, consisting, as that rarity. sometimes does, in a colophon or the name of a printer, the texture or colour of the paper, the width of the margin, the occurrence or omission of a date, or even in an obvious defect. Mankind are disposed to remember the abuse rather than the utility of pursuits in which few are deeply interested; and in the ridicule which the enthusiastic zeal of bibliomaniacs has cast on Bibliography, they lose sight of the fact, that all accurate knowledge is in a greater or less degree absolutely dependent thereon.
The accumulated wisdom of ages is deposited in Books; can there, then, be more useful information than that by which these repositories of knowledge are rendered available to the world by proper classification, separating the valuable from the worthless, and presenting the student with a convenient and trustworthy
guide to the respective sources? Bibliography is, in truth, the mariner's compass of learning; for without it the student would be floating on the immense ocean of literature, with no other means than what chance afforded of attaining the object of his voyage. To pursue the simile, it may be said that the art of navigation is not more indispensable to a mariner than is a certain acquaintance with Bibliography to him who passes any part of his life in intellectual pursuits.
Dr. Johnson has observed, with his usual elegance and propriety, "by the means of Catalogues only can be known what has been written on every part of learning, and the hazard avoided of encountering difficulties which have already been cleared, discussing questions which have already been decided, and digging in mines of literature which former ages have exhausted;" but a bare Catalogue, though the most laborious, is the humblest part of a Bibliographer's duty. Mere industry may enable him to copy titles, names, and dates; but to classify and arrange works into the several divisions and subdivisions, which a student requires - to describe the merits of each work, and the peculiarity of each edition-to point out the true from the spurious edition-and to give such a collation of works which do not either by signatures, pagination, or otherwise, present the means of ascertaining whether it be complete or imperfect-to trace rare works from library to library, in order that those who wish to consult them may know where they are deposited-and to give the different prices at which books have at various times been sold, that an idea may be formed of their value-require a combination of talent, research, and industry, which entitle the labours of a Bibliographer to much more respect than has hitherto been conceded to them.
In thus stating the acquirements necessary for a Bibliographer, the Editor has in view rather to deprecate severity of criticism on whatever defects may be found in this work, than, with unseemly presumption, to exaggerate the merit of its compilation. No one can be insensible to the errors which are incidental to the first edition of a work of this nature: for, as it is well remarked by Monsieur Renouard, whose reputation as a Bibliographer proves that he must be well aware of the difficulties incidental to the pursuit :-"Si bien préparé soit-on, et quelques
soins que l'on apporte à la composition d'un ouvrage bibliographique, il est encore presque impossible de ne pas laisser dans sa première publication une multitude d'erreurs, de lacunes, de suppositions, de mensonges involuntaires." After these imperfect observations on the utility and difficulties of Bibliography, the Editor will proceed to allude, in as few words as possible, to the plan and contents of Watt's "Bibliotheca Britannica," to show in what points these volumes supply information which is not contained in that valuable compilation. In speaking of the Bibliotheca Britannica, no praise can be too high; for, notwithstanding its imperfections, it contains a mass of most valuable matter, disposed in such form as to be of great assistance to persons desirous of ascertaining what works have been written on a particular subject, or by a particular author. It is obvious, however, that, from the very extensive plan adopted by Watt, his work must necessarily be incomplete in various points, which, though of minor detail, are of great importance. Thus, for instance, he gives neither the collation nor prices of books; nor does he afford a guide to the best authors on any particular subject, or to the best editions-information of the highest value to foreigners and students.
THE BIBLIOGRAPHER'S MANUAL was undertaken to supply a desideratum in English Literature, by presenting the Collector, the Author, and the Bookseller with a notice, in alphabetical order, under the names of their respective authors, of the principal works in the various departments of Divinity, Ecclesiastical and Civil History, more particularly of Great Britain, Biography, Voyages and Travels, Antiquities, Heraldry, Jurisprudence, Sciences, the Arts and Belles Lettres, &c.
It was stated in the prospectus that these notices would exceed twenty thousand; but as the Editor proceeded, he was insensibly compelled to extend the limits which he had prescribed to himself; and the work does, in fact, contain notices of upwards of fifty thousand distinct books, published in, or relating to, Great Britain and Ireland, from the invention of printing to the present time. He deceives himself, if this fact will not be deemed a sufficient apology for the work having exceeded what was originally contemplated. To these notices are annexed,
First. A concise account of the merits of the work, taken
occasionally from Reviews, but more generally from writers of established reputation.
Secondly. Its peculiar bibliographical character, such as the mode in which it was originally published, its contents, limited number printed, rarity, whether the name of the author was real or fictitious, and occasionally supplying the name of the author of a work published anonymously; if an early work, to whom dedicated; the merits and variations of the different editions; where and when printed; also notices of reprints of rare works, and of tracts, whether in the Somers and Harleian Miscellanies, or similar publications, and likewise of those early Voyages and Travels which appear in Pinkerton's, Churchill's, the Harleian and other Collections:-in a word, all the points which belong to the "history" of a book are stated.
Thirdly. Collations of the contents of the rarer and more important articles, including a list of the plates.
Fourthly. References to the number in the catalogues of cele brated sales, specifying the price for which the work was sold. Upon the utility of such information it is scarcely necessary to insist without a Manual of this nature the collector may indeed, as is happily remarked by a French Bibliographer, form a collection, but not a library, since the one consists simply of a mass of books purchased without knowledge or discrimination of subjects or editions; but a library, by which is meant a selection of the best writers, and of the best editions, depends more upon the erudition, judgment, and taste of the possessor, than upon his wealth or liberality.
No doubt can be entertained of the utility of attaching to the title of a book the opinion entertained of its merits by those who have undertaken to pronounce a critical opinion upon them, either in reference to the collector or to the student: to both they serve as a guide. But with respect to the various criticisms which will be found scattered throughout the work, the Editor wishes to be understood, that when no authority is given, he states the general character of the works, rather than offers an opinion of his own. In the case of works of a religious nature, the criticism will of course be understood as expressing the estimation in which the work is held by the particular sect to which the author belonged.