« AnteriorContinuar »
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED WITH HIS POSTHUMOUS WORKS IN
Most of these Tracts were (as Archbishop Tenison remarks in his preface,) Letters, in reply to enquiries addressed to the author, by various, and some very eminent correspondents. The second, “Of Garlands, fc.,” was written to Evelyn, as I find from his own hand-writing, in the margin of his copy of the original edition. On the same authority, (probably from the information of Sir Thomas himself,) we learn that the greater number were addressed to Sir Nicholas Bacon. See MS. Note in first page. The ninth, “Of Artificial Hills," was in reply to Sir William Dugdale.
Such enquiries he delighted to satisfy; and the immense stores of information amassed during a long life of curious reading, and inquisitive research, eminently qualified him for resolving questions on subjects the most dissimilar. Scarcely any could be brought before him, upon which he could not bring to bear the results of reiterated experiments, or of an extensive acquaintance with the most singular and recondite literature; and, where these treasures failed him, there remained the inexhaustible resources of his own matchless fancy.
The first and second Tracts have been collated with MS. Sloan. No. 1841; the eighth, tenth, and eleventh, with Nos. 1827 and 1839: the thirteenth with No. 1874; the twelfth with MS. Rawlinson, No. 58, in the Bodleian—and all the others with MS. Sloan. No, 1827. Whatever discrepancies seemed of sufficient importance have been preserved in notes.
The second edition were published with the folio edition of his works, in 1686 ; and none have since been re-printed, except Museum Clausum, which, with Hydriotaphia, and the
by Mr. Crossley, of Manchester.
For the sake of keeping distinct the whole of the unpublished works, I have added to the Miscellany Tracts, his remarks on Iceland, together with some miscellaneous observations, which made their appearance in that ill-assorted collection, the Posthumous Works, in 1712.
THE PUBLISHER TO THE READER.
THE papers from which these Tracts were printed, were, a while since, delivered to me by those worthy persons, the lady and son of the excellent author. He himself gave no charge concerning his manuscripts, either for the suppressing or the publishing of them. Yet, seeing he had procured transcripts of them, and had kept those copies by him, it seemeth probable, that he designed them for public use.
Thus much of his intention being presumed, and many who had tasted of the fruits of his former studies being covetous of more of the like kind; also these Tracts having been perused and much approved of by some judicious and learned men; I was not unwilling to be instrumental in fitting them for the press.
To this end, I selected them out of many disordered papers, and disposed them into such a method as they seemed capable of; beginning first with plants, going on to animals, proceeding farther to things relating to men, and concluding with matters of a various nature.
Concerning the plants, I did, on purpose, forbear to range them (as some advised) according to their tribes and families; because, by so doing, I should have represented that as a studied and formal work, which is but a collection of occasional essays. And, indeed, both this Tract, and those which follow, were rather the diversions than the labours of his pen: and, because he did, as it were, drop down his thoughts of a sudden, in those little spaces of vacancy which he snatched from those very many occasions which gave him hourly interruption. If there appears, here and there, any incorrectness in the style, a small degree of candour sufficeth to excuse it.
If there be any such errors in the words, I am sure the press has not made them fewer; but I do not hold myself obliged to answer for that which I could not perfectly govern.