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no writers have been excluded, that relate either to the religious or civil affairs of any nation.
Not only those authors of ecclesiastical history have been procured, that treat of the state of religion in general, or deliver accounts of sects or nations, but those likewise who have confined themselves to particular orders of men in every church; who have related the original, and the rules of every society, or recounted the lives of its founder and its members; those who have deduced in every country the succession of bishops, and those who have employed their abilities in celebrating the piety of particular saints, or martyrs, or monks, or nuns.
The civil history of all nations has been amassed together; nor is it easy to determine which has been thought most worthy of curiosity.
Of France, not only the general histories and antient chronicles, the accounts of celebrated reigns, and narratives of remarkable events, but even the memorials of single families, the lives of private men, the antiquities of particular cities, churches, and monasteries, the topography of provinces, and the accounts of laws, customs, and prescriptions, are here to be found.
The several states of Italy have, in this treasury, their particular historians, whose accounts are, perhaps, generally more exact, by being less extensive; and more interesting, by being more particular.
Nor has less regard been paid to the different nations of the Germanic empire, of which neither the Bohemians, nor Hungarians, nor Austrians, nor Bavarians, have been neglected; nor have their antiquities, however generally disregarded, been less studiously searched, than their present state.
The northern nations have supplied this collection, not only with history, but poetry, with Gothic antiquities and Runic inscriptions; which at least have this claim to veneration, above the remains of the Roman magnificence, that they are the works of those heroes by whom the Roman empire was destroyed; and which may plead, at least in this nation, that they ought not to be neglected by those that owe to the men whose memories they preserve, their constitution, their properties, and their liberties.
The curiosity of these collectors extends equally to all parts of the world ; nor did they forget to add to the northern the southern writers, or to adorn their collection with chronicles of Spain, and the conquest of Mexico.
Even of those nations with which we have less intercourse, whose customs are less accurately known, and whose history is less distinctly recounted, there are in this library reposited such accounts as the Europeans have been hitherto able to obtain ; nor are the Mogul, the Tartar, the Turk, and the Saracen, without their historians.
That persons so inquisitive with regard to the transactions of other nations, should enquire yet more ardently after the history of their own, may be naturally expected; and, indeed, this part of the library is no common instance of diligence and accuracy. Here are to be found, with the ancient chronicles, and larger histories of Britain, the narratives of single reigns, and the accounts of remarkable revolutions, the topographical histories of counties, the pedigrees of families, the antiquities of churches and cities, the proceedings of parliaments, the records of monasteries, and the lives of particular men, whether eminent in the church or the state, or remarkable in private life; whether exemplary for their virtues, or detestable for their crimes ; whether persecuted for religion, or executed for rebellion.
That memorable period of the English history, which begins with the reign of king Charles the First, and ends with the Restoration, will almost furnish a library alone, such is the number of volumes, pamphlets, and papers, which were published by either party; and such is the care with which they have been preserved.
Nor is history without the necessary preparatives and attendants, geography and chronology: of geography, the best writers and delineators have been procured, and pomp and accuracy have both been regarded : the student of chronology may here find likewise those authors who searched the records of time, and fixed the periods of history.
With the historians and geographers may be ranked the writers of voyages and travels, which may be read here in the Latin, English, Dutch, German, French, Italian, and Spanish languages.
The laws of different countries, as they are in themselves equally worthy of curiosity with their history, have, in this collection, been justly regarded; and the rules by which the various communities of the world are governed, may be here examined and compared. Here are the ancient editions of the papal decretals, and the commentators on the civil law, the edicts of Spain, and the statutes of Venice.
But with particular industry have the various writers on the laws of our own country been collected, from the most ancient to the present time, 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 forms, or described their properties and instincts; or who have penetrated the bowels of the earth, treated on its different strata, and analysed its metals; 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 an attempt, 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
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; nor will he find only the most antient 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 authors 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 age 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 imagined,