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The impression of this Book is strictly limited to 525 copies, of which 25 only are on Large Paper.






Ir is now, as you know, some four and twenty years since I first entered on my bibliographical career. You entertained grave misgivings as to the prudence of the step; and I now have no hesitation in confessing, that of the magnitude of the enterprise which I was proposing to myself, I was lamentably ignorant. But I had formed my resolution, and nothing could deter me. Eight or nine years elapsed in the accumulation of material for a New Bibliography of Early English Literature; I matured my plan carefully and thoughtfully; no collection of books, public or private, large or small, fell in my way without increasing my stores and at the same time sharpening my appetite; and, at length, in 1867, I felt justified in sending what I had so far done to the Printer. The volume then published is tolerably familiar nowadays to all interested in such matters under the denomination of HAZLITT'S HANDBOOK; it is a thick octavo of 714 pages, in two columns, and supplies descriptions of about 10,000 articles, as far as possible from the originals.

This book of mine, at present fifteen years' old, I must say that I continue to regard without shame and without regret. I see its shortcomings and its weaknesses; but such drawbacks are incidental to every mortal undertaking, superlatively so to one where minutia govern, and where of the numerous constituent atoms so many are obscured from the view or placed above the reach of an investigator like myself.

A very marked proportion of the HANDBOOK of 1867, indeed, consisted of titles and collations drawn from the fountain-head, and after all deductions the residuum of sound matter was creditably large.



Still I felt sorry that I had permitted my work to be leavened to any extent whatever with second-hand ware; and I made up my mind to a New Departure. Perceiving that the policy by which I had adopted information from other works was false, and that progress made in that way was worse than specious, I resolved thenceforward to construct my bibliographical edifice on the only sure and enduring foundation— to catalogue each book with the book under my eyes. Another interval of nine years followed, however, before I submitted to the public the result of my new doctrine and experiment. The First Series of BIBLIOGRAPHICAL COLLECTIONS AND NOTES, a volume of 500 pages, in two-column form, was printed in 1876.

This, my second, progeny of the kind, was a fusion of old faulty titles and collations redone with a large mass of fresh gatherings, the fruit of many a weary day's, and week's, and month's literary research, coupled with sheer manual toil. Sometimes the labour grew so irksome and so exhausting, from the frequency of sales and the apparently endless deluge of books and tracts, that I thought of abandoning my self-imposed task; for I had, it must be understood, not only substituted my old mode of treatment for another more healthy and more solid, but I had had the courage or temerity to set back the narrow limits of the original scheme of 1867, and to transform a Monograph into a Cyclopædia. The HANDBOOK professed to confine itself to certain sections of our early literature; but the BIBLIOGRAPHICAL COLLECTIONS manifested the far more ambitious and formidable design of embracing the whole of it, except such commodities as mere sermons and the technicalities of controversial theology.

It may be freely allowed that my undertaking was, in its inception, too limited and too special, and appealed to a too select circle of enthusiasts. But in the Bibliographical Collections of 1876, I turned my back completely on the errors of my apprenticeship, and whatever verdict may be delivered on my revised project, the merit and the praise due to comprehensive breadth must not, I think, be withheld from it. Between 1867, the birth-year of the Handbook, and 1876, that of the Bibliographical Collections and Notes, an increasing ardour for the pursuit which I had made so much my own, tempted me to wander into other fields, and the dispersion of a series of valuable private libraries, year by year, kept my pen busy, and enlarged insensibly the scope and volume of my labours. From aspiring at first to gather into my hands an account of such works only as belonged to Early English poetry and folklore, I became by degrees the possessor of an imposing and proud assemblage of Descriptive Notes, comprising (so far as our own literature goes) every branch of human learning, and



all the shades and forms which speculation and thought have taken through ages.

Among the collections which the hammer has dissolved since 1867 may be enumerated those formed by Mr. George Smith, of Whitechapel, rich in Old English Miscellanies; the Rev. Thomas Corser, especially distinguished by its profuse wealth in our Early Poetry; Mr. Kershaw, rich in Plays; Dr. Rimbault, both in them and in Music; Dr. David Laing, unexampled in its almost inexhaustible mine of Scotish Literary Antiquities; Mr. Way, very useful to me for a few undescribed items; Mr. Comerford, surpassing all recent auctions in the department of English Topography; the Duke of Marlborough; and a host of miscellaneous dispersions. Nor should I overlook the very serviceable legacies to South Kensington in this interval of the libraries of Dyce and Forster; and I also made a second inspection of the Grenville and Lambeth Palace treasures. But all our libraries, public and private, are so imperfect, even collectors of strict specialities never meeting with certain items, that, in order to secure even an approach to completeness, one is obliged to resort to a process of amalgamation. For example, no person or institution can at present boast that he or it possesses an unbroken series of the original editions. of Shakespear.

Immense gain has, doubtless, accrued from the periodical scattering of bibliographical hoards, as well as from the propensity of individuals to collect on particular lines-the narrower those lines, the better for me. The large stores formed by Bliss, Bandinel, Mitford, Tyrrel the City Remembrancer, Daniel of Canonbury, and others, were of signal service to me in their time. Many articles, I found, were of little interest or importance in themselves; but they acquired value by aggregation, and by being grouped and classified under subjects or localities. Union est la Force.

My design, in fact, in its more catholic aspect, as it presents itself in the Bibliographical Collections and Notes, 1876, exhausts nearly the entire domain of literature and science. The succeeding pages only follow the precedent of the FIRST SERIES in dealing with the undermentioned subjects:

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