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In presenting a new edition of the Catalogue of the Library to the Fellows, the Council have thought it desirable that, according to the custom adopted in former editions, some explanatory remarks should be drawn up upon the general system and the special principles of its construction. As the new Catalogue consists of that compiled in 1854–55, and published in 1856, with the additions which have accumulated during the past five and twenty years, the plan remains nearly the same; and therefore the explanations given in the former preface are here repeated, with some additional remarks, on points in which changes have been adopted, preceded by a short account of the earlier Catalogues of the Society.
CATALOGUE OF AUTHORS.
The formation of the Library commenced with the institution of the Society in 1805, and it at once assumed an important position and became a special feature in the Society's operations.
The first printed Catalogue was published in 1816, under the care of Dr. Thomas Bateman, who was the first Honorary Librarian of the Society, on the institution of the office in 1813. It was followed by a second volume or supplement, which appeared in 1819, when Mr. Samuel Cooper was Dr. Bateman's coadjutor in the office, and of these two Catalogues a Library copy was formed, which continued in use for many years. In a short preface to the first volume we are told that “the object has been to render it a more useful index of the contents of the Library
than it would otherwise have been, by copying the title-page of every book at length, and by inserting in the alphabetical arrangement the separate treatises of the various collections (of Academical Dissertations, &c.] which it contains.”
As in both these particulars the system of the Catalogue has been subsequently changed, it may be remarked that the plan of giving entire title-pages causes an expense which, though not of much moment in the earlier years of the Society when the Library was in its infancy, would have now become a matter for serious consideration, as it would have increased the present Catalogue to double its size.
The copying of entire title-pages into a Catalogue as advocated by some is, however, on other than economical grounds of questionable utility, as it is rather in the judicious selection of such portions of the title as are really of importance that the art of cataloguing consists. All who have made acquaintance with the literature of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are well aware of the enormous amount of unimportant matter with which the title-pages of books are often elaborately filled,-caused either by the wish of the author to set fully before his readers the contents of his work, or of the author and publisher alike to lay an appetising bill of fare before the purchasing public; which redundant verbiage, moreover, loses when confined within the close regular type of a Cataloguetitle that comparative lucidity which it possessed from variety of type in its original position. There are many of these titles which would occupy from a half to an entire page of this Catalogue.* In more recent times, however, conciseness has
* Specimen long title.-OCCULT PHYSICK or the three Principles in Nature Anatomized by a Philosophical Opperation, taken from Experience, in three Books. The First of BEASTS, TREES, HERBS, and their Magical and Physical Vertues. The Second Book containeth most Excellent and Rare Medicines for all Diseases happening to the Bodies of both Men and Women, which never yet saw the Light; an Incomparable Piece. The Third and Last Book, is a Denarian Tract, shewing how to Cure all Diseases with ten Medicaments; and the Mystery of the Quaternary, and Quinary Number opened; with a Table shewing the Sun's Rising, Setting, Hours of the Day, Hours of the Night, and how many Minutes are contained in a Planetary Hour both Day and Night; with a Table on the Signs Continuance on the Ascendent, fitted for Magical Uses, as
been so much more studied in the construction of titles, that there is little need to curtail them.
With regard to the second question of the insertion of the .contents of the different collections of Dissertations and Theses, viz. those of Haller, Schlegel, Linnæus, and others; although it is a desideratum that a separate complete Catalogue of them should be compiled, which would be useful for all Medical Libraries, yet to repeat in the Catalogues of each Library a list of these tracts, which are now but little referred to, seems somewhat to savour of the “crambe repetita ” of Juvenal. The necessity for consulting them is generally caused by a reference to a dissertation in some work, in which the volume and page of the collection are both given, so that the entry of the general title of the Collection under the editor's name is all that is required to show the presence of the dissertation in the library.*
In the year 1844 these two original Catalogues were reprinted under the editorial pruning-knife of Mr. Benjamin Phillips, who was Hon. Librarian at the time, and who cut out much of the extraneous matter above referred to. A few years after the publication of this edition, viz. in 1847, a Committee was appointed to inquire into the deficiencies of the Library,t and its members, having arranged themselves in six sections representing comparative anatomy, anatomy and physiology, materia medica, medicine, surgery, and midwifery, prepared long lists of books which they considered desiderata in each of these departments; Gathering of Herbs, Roots and the like with their uses. WHEREUNTO is added a necessary Tract, shewing how to Judge of a Disease by the Affliction of the Moon, upon the sight of the Patient's Urine, with an Example; also you are taught how to Erect a Figure of Heaven for any time given. By W. W[illiams] Philosophus; Student in the Cælestial Sciences. London, Printed by Tho. Leath for H. Marsh, at the Prince's Arms in Chancery Lane, and for W. Palmer, at the Palm Tree near St. Dunstan's Church in Fleet Street, 1660.
* An enumeration of all the collections which are in the possession of the Society will be found at pages 336-37 of vol. i, under “ Dissertationes Academicæ."
+ The Committee consisted of Drs. Benj. Babington, William Baly, Arthur Farre, John Hennen, Bence Jones, Henry Lee, H. A. Pitman, William Sharpey, Seth Thompson, and Charles West ; and Messrs. W. Bowman, George Busk, White Cooper, Campbell De Morgan, Jas. Dixon, John Erichsen, Prescott Hewett, Richard Owen, James Paget, Richard Quain, and H. Spencer Smith.