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TO THIS NEW EDITION
O the importance of this collection of Tracts and Papers,
for elucidating many historical occurrences, no person who feels interested in the discovery of truth, can be inattentive. A knowledge of the curious facts, which are promiscuously contained in them, independent of their utility as matters of information, must be peculiarly acceptable to the literary world. The difficulty of procuring a set of them has, of late years, however, been so greatly augmented, and the impossibility of purchasing such a valuable store of documents by most of those who are likely to avail themselves of such authorities, for the benefit of the community are a sufficient demonstration of the expediency of a new edition, and the necessity of producing it, for a more extensive circulation, on the most moderate terms. Considering the nature of the trade for some time past, we have adopted the most economical plan which is practicable, to meet the general wishes of the public, as well as to gratify our own particular friends. The two impressions, we hope, will equally meet the sentiments of those who wish for cabinet and library curiosities, as of those who are anxious for so valuable a treasure of records of literary knowledge, on the easiest possible conditions,
The fidelity with which these valuable pieces are reprinted, and the almost unprecedented attention that will be paid to the typography, will be a distinguishing feature of this publication. The credit of the editor has been long established, as fully qualified for so important a task, as that of examining with minute attention every sheet before it is com
mitted to the press, in addition to the printer's usual habit of correctness. The orthography of every paper has been scrupulously preserved, as a criterion of the time when each of them was originally communicated to the public; a distinction, by which their respective value will be fully appreciated, and without which, those papers more especially, that preceded the restoration of monarchy, in being modernized, would lose the greatest part of their value. In the punctuation, considered as a matter of secondary moment only, we are ready to avow that we have taken some liberties, where the sense of the subject seemed to require it; but this is always allowed in printing the most ancient MSS. and we feel no reluctance in declaring, that we have herein varied, what may be deemed, the technical part of the business, whenever it could be done with improvement.
In another respect, indeed, it has been determined, after a few sheets were printed off, to place the rest, as nearly as possible, in a chronological order. To the historian and man of letters, this will prove a very striking advantage ; for at the same time that every document will be given entire, the whole will form a mass of records, though some of them were only the productions of the passing times, of the utmost moment to authenticate the history of each year progressively. To those pieces, contained in a very few only of the first sheets, a reference will be made in their respective places; by which every publication or MS. of every year, included in the collection, will converge to one focal point, and greatly assist every class of readers, no less than the historian and the antiquary. When we add, that this mode has been adopted, on the intimation and at the desire of many of our liberal subscribers, we need not say more to convince the public of our anxious wish to deserve their countenance and support. It equally corresponds with our own ideas; and will remove one very strong objection to the use of the former original edition, from which this is re-printed, of the difficulty of finding a relation of the various occurrences of any particular period. But for such an useful purpose, neither the table of contents prefixed to each volume, nor the copious indexes annexed, nor even both united, are in any degree competent; and much time and labour must be lost to run over the contents of all the volumes to know what is preserved in this collection of the transactions of any specific year. These are obviated by this improved arrangement of the present edition; which, so far as these papers contain any accounts, will form a summary, and, in many instances, a very minute and particular detail, of the bistory of England, not frequente ly to be found in many of our best and most extended annals.
We have only to add, that the same reasons do not occur in the present edition for following the original promiscuous mode. We have all our materials before us, which enables us to digest the whole into a chronological arrangement, for the advantage of our subscribers.
After all our care, it is not in human power to accomplish impossibilities. Some of the pieces are of so genera and miscellaneous a nature, that we cannot catch a single glimpse of any thing to form a criterion in what chronological order to class them; but as these can be of little moment, we have subjoined them at the end, that not a single article should be omitted. A few others, which evidently belong to some particular reign, where they cannot be classed to any particular year, are added respectively at the end of that reign.
We have studiously refrained from introducing any notes of our own, both to avoid the impropriety of swelling the work under the present circumstances, and because we are unwilling to pay so unhandsome a compliment to our readers as to suppose they will not perceive with us, many analogous cases and proceedings of the French in those times to the recent conduct of the rulers of that country ; in which they have unhappily but too much succeeded, though they failed so essentially in earlier times. But we shall close our remarks, with observing only, that we shall not forget to prepare for our subscribers, at the end of each volume, an alphabetical index of the principal contents; as equally useful on many occasions, where the subject may be recollected, though the particular period of it has escaped the memory.
As the editors of the original edition of the Miscellany, after some progress in that work, announced to their numerous friends and subscribers a catalogue of pamphlets, many of which are both interesting and curious, that were found in the Earl of Oxford's Library; we shall embrace an early opportunity of announcing the titles of 548 pamphlets, which the catalogue consists of, classed in like manner in chronological order, the purport of which we shall submit, with the substance of their contents, to the consideration of our readers. Of these, however, more than 50 were at that time introduced into the subsequent volumes of the Miscellany, to which it will only be necessary to make a reference in their order. To these documents we propose to annex some account of the various important MSS. collected by this nobleman in the course of his long and active pursuits in the service of his country. The historian will from these, be supplied with much useful intelligence, hitherto little known; and the antiquary will be no less gratified, by such an accession of materials, to his present stock of knowledge. It shall suffice to say that, as the editor of such an intelligent mass of materials, so classed and so arranged, no labour or pains shall be spared to render it worthy of the public acceptance.
obvious, that the title alone is sufficient to explain it; and though several collections have been formerly attempted upon plans, as to the method, very little, but as to the capacity and execution, very different from ours; we, being possessed of the greatest variety for such a work, hope for a more general reception than those confined schemes had the fortune to meet with : and, therefore, think it not wholly unnecessary to explain our intentions, to display the treasure of materials, out of which this Miscellany is to be compiled, and to exhibit a general idea of the pieces which we intend to insert in it.
There is, perhaps, no nation in which it is so necessary, as in our own, to assemble, from time to time, the small Tracts and fugitive pieces, which are occasionally published. For, besides the general subjects of enquiry, which are cultivated by us, in common with every other learned nation, our constitution in Church and State naturally gives birth to a multitude of performances, which would either not have been written, or could not have been made publick in any other place.
The form of our government, which gives every man, that has leisure, or curiosity, or vanity, the right of enquiring into the propriety of publick measures; and, by consequence, obliges those who are intrusted with the administration of national affairs, to give an account of their conduct to almost every man who demands it; may be reasonably imagined to have occasioned innumerable pamphlets, which would never have appeared under arbitrary governments, where every man lulls himself in indolence under calamities, of which he cannot promote the redress, or thinks it prudent to conceal the uneasiness, of which he cannot complain without danger.