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FROM THE EARLIEST DATE IN 1480 TO THE PRESENT TIME.

BY JOHN DONALDSON,

AUTHOR OF VARIOUS WORKS ON AGRICULTURE, AND OF PRIZB ESSAY8.

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" A GROUP OF BIOGRAPHICAL MEMOIRS, CHRONOLOGICALLY ARRANGED, FORMS A VERY USEFUL APPENDIX

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P R E F A CE.

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The writer of a preface has been called “ an accomplished liar,” from the exaggerated statement generally made of the labour that has been incurred, and an over-estimate of the value of the work that has been produced. The preface to a book is as the porch of a house, denoting the good entertainment that is provided within the edifice; and an unadorned porch may be the most proper entrance to a simple work, of which the interior furniture may not possess a splendour to justify an elegant approach. A splendid preface and an ill-written book should not come together : yet such junctions or “ marriages are held to be allowable, as they are not “ of kin.” A sincere feeling and a truthful modesty must occupy the place of all other expressions, and vindicate the estimation of their value. On these grounds, a few observations are given at risk.

The author of this biography has laboured for more than thirty years in the field of the most enlightened practical agriculture, and in the closet of its illustrations. On closely examining the records of the art, it appeared there was no biography of its writers from the earliest date to the present day, nor any estimate made of the merits of the authors as the progress of circumstances enabled the development. Two lists only are found—one by Weston, which ends in 1772, and contains the names and writings of the authors on agriculture and gardening; the other by the late Mr. Loudon, commencing in 1500, and ending in 1830, with the names and works of the British authors on agriculture, but containing no observations of any kind, nor any biographical sketch. The author was induced to consolidate these two works, and to enlarge them by the access to the national libraries, which revealed several names that had not occurred to these compilers, and afforded the means of continuing the list of authors to the present time. An opportunity was also thereby given to the author of examining the books themselves, as only some few works are not found in the library, which are mentioned in the biography. This circumstance confers a special value on the compilation, and the extracts from the works will show that the opportunity has not been neglected. No labour has been spared in searching every available record of titles and authors: the King's Library, in the British Museum, has rendered very great assistance, and, with the Bibliotheca Britannica, afforded much information not elsewhere to be found. The shops and stalls of old books have been examined, and volumes have been there

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