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In submitting the First Part of the Bibliographer's MANUAL, the Compiler deems it necessary to state briefly the objects and plan of the work.
Although there is no country in Europe where early literature is so highly appreciated as in England, nothing, which can bear a comparison with the bibliographical publications in France, Italy, and Germany, has hitherto been done to render that literature known and available. With the exception of that monument of human industry, Watt's “ Bibliotheca Britannica,” no general work on English literature has appeared; but useful as those important volumes unquestionably are, there can be no doubt that they are incomplete and unsatisfactory, since they do not contain any account of the characters, collations, and prices of books. To afford this information, is the chief object of the Bibliographer's Manual, which has been formed on the plan of Mons. Brunet's well known “ Manuel du Libraire.” The Editor has, in every instance, endeavoured to give the titles of works relating to English History, published either in this country or abroad; and also of every work of importance printed in England from the invention of Printing to the present time, including Theology, Poetry, the Drama,
Biography, Heraldry, Voyages, Travels, &c. pf the scarce Books it is often stated in what public or private collections copies are preserved, and as a knowledge of the value of the Books noticed must be of considerable service both 10 Collectors and Booksellers, the prices at which they have sold at public sales during the present century are stated, but where the articles produced a few shillings only, the average price is inserted. Collations are given of most of the very early books, as well as of those of which a list of the plates is not inserted in the works themselves, as for example, Anderson's House of Yvery, Ashmole's Order of the Garter, Atkyns' Glocester, &c. The short critical notices which are added have been copied from the various Reviews, or from the sources cited.
Considerable trouble has been taken to ascertain the authors of works which appeared anonymously, under initials, or with assumed names, but they are not attributed to the individuals to whom the Editor has assigned them, without sufficient authority.
The BIBLIOGRAPHER'S MANUAL will extend to Three Volumes, Octavo, and will comprize upwards of Thirty Thousand Articles ; at the conclusion, the Editor purposes giving an Alphabetical List of Catalogues of Public Sales in this Country, from the earliest period, with their respective
Upon the judgment which may be pronounced on his labours, the Editor is aware that it is extremely difficult for him to speak with propriety, for he could not anticipate the opinion of his readers without presumption, or be wholly silent without injustice to himself. He is sensible that there will be a diversity of opinions as to the manner in which he has noticed the numerous publications referred to; and that some persons will consider that books have been passed over, which ought to have been mentioned. To such criticism he will not only submit with deference, but he will gratefully receive any suggestions on the subject. He is very far from believing that the present undertaking is not liable to objections, or free from inaccuracies; but at the same time that he offers his best apologies for its imperfections, he hopes he may be allowed to observe, that in a compilation of this nature, omissions and errors were unavoidable. As he is deeply impressed with the difficulty of his task, he throws himself upon the indulgence of a candid and liberal public, who are ever more ready to applaud the little which may be done to contribute to a knowledge of the early literature of their country, than by a withering censure, to discourage all future efforts, because a first attempt does not contain every thing that may be desirable.
Should the present undertaking meet with the approval of the public, the Editor hereafter purposes publishing another work, on the same principle, for which he has been many years collecting materials, which will include works published abroad, from the invention of Printing to the present century.
W. T. LOWNDES.