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tist, of the frequent suspensions and the tedious minuteness of his story.
I observed, that Notes had not then been discovered. Had Lord CLARENDON known their use, he had preserved the unity of design in his text. His Lordship has unskilfully filled it with all that historical furniture his diligence had collected, and with those minute discussions his anxiety for truth, and his lawyer-like mode of scrutinizing into facts and substantiating evidence, had induced him. Had these been cast into Notes, and were it now possible to pass them over in the present text, how would the story of the noble historian clear up! The greatness of his genius will appear when disencumbered of its unwieldy, and misplaced accompaniments.
If this observation be just, it will apply with greater force to Literary History itself, which, being often the mere history of the human mind, has to record opinions as well as events; to discuss as well as to narrate ; to shew how accepted truths become suspicious; or to confirm what has hitherto rested in obscure uncertainty ; and to balance contending opinions and opposite facts, with critical nicety. The multiplied means of our kaowledge now opened to us, have only rendered our curiosity more urgent in its claims, and raised up the most diversified objects. These, though accessaries to the leading one of our inquiries, can never melt together in the continuity of a Text. It is to prevent all this disorder, and to enjoy all the
usefulness and the pleasure of this various knowledge, which has produced the invention of Notes in Literary History. All this forms a sort of knowledge peculiar to the present more enlarged state of Literature. Writers who delight in curious and rare extracts, and in the discovery of new facts and new views of things, warmed by a fervour of research which brings every thing nearer to our eye and close to our touch, study to throw contemporary feelings in their page. Such rare extracts, and such new facts, BAYLE eagerly sought, and they delighted Johnson: but all this luxury of literature can only be produced to the public eye, in the variegated forms of Notes. *
My present inquiries have been promoted by many literary favours from various quarters. To JAMES BINDLEY, Esq. they are more particularly indebted; a name to which the Public are accustomed in all works connected with our native literature: Critical as well as curious, and possessing knowledge as ample as the liberality which imparts it, he preserves among us the spirit of the Bodleys and the SLOANES.-Of my old and respected friend Mr. John Nichols, who has devoted a life to Literature, and who aided the researches of Johnson, it is no common gratification for me to add, that he has even as zealously, aided mine.
* It may be advisable for some readers of the present work to read the text in continuity.
CONTENTS OF VOLUME I.