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OLD ENGLISH BOOKS,
ORIGINAL DISQUISITIONS, ARTICLES OF BIOGRAPHY,
AND OTHER LITERARY ANTIQUITIES.
By SAMUEL EGERTON BRYDGES, Esq.
PRINTED BY T. BENSLEY, BOLT.COURT, FLEET STREET,
FOR LONGMAN, HURST, REES, AND ORME, PATERNOSTER-ROW,
AND J. WHITE, LEET-STREET.
Peelass 5-17-26 NP
I FEEL some satisfaction in having brought this Work to the conclusion of a second volume. From its very nature, it must become more useful in proportion to its extent; and in a moderate course of time, if its progress shall receive as much encouragement as its commencement, will embrace the account of no small Library of curious, or useful publications, of which the lapse of years has latterly confined the knowledge to the diligence of expensive collectors, or of the researchers into forgotten literature.
If the larger part of the scarce books noticed in this volume, belong to the department of Old English Poetry, the reader, who has any acquaintance with my habits, or those of my principal Correspondents, will scarcely wonder at it. By the aid of those Correspondents, I have brought forward a description of some tracts of uncommon rarity, even among the best informed Bibliographers. The “Chips" and the “ Chal
lenge” of Churchyard, the poems of Verstegan, and the Satire of Roy on Cardinal Wolsey, in particular, are of such unusual occurrence, that they may be deemed almost inaccessible. The memorial of these, at least, therefore, and others of the same sort, will, I trust, be considered as a grateful service to all minds embued with a spirit of liberal investigation.
In studying the varieties of the human intellect, every one who reflects deeply, will open old books with the most poignant interest, as the registers of the movements of departed minds. And what a superiority does this circumstance give to authors above all other votaries of Fame! When their bodies are mouldering in the dust, when the eye can no longer beam intelligence, nor the tongue speak, their thoughts still survive; their language yet lives; and their eloquence still exalts our understandings, or melts our hearts !
It is however well-known, that books not unfrequently become first neglected, and then scarce, from causes totally unconnected with want of merit. It is indeed notorious, that the extent, to which a work is originally circulated, too often depends more on the mechanical means used to push
it abroad, than its own intrinsic worth. What is most calculated to be popular, is commonly superficial; and unless where authority supersedes the real taste of the generality, many a curious and many a profound work is first unnoticed, and then lost.
Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathom'd caves of Ocean bear;
And waste its sweetness on the desert air. But the flowers of the mind, the gems of fancy and sentiment, which lie buried in the gloom and dust of ancient libraries, or entombed in the sepulchral pages of BlackLetter Printers, it is my humble, though perhaps Quixotic, endeavour to rescue from undeserved obscurity.
Yet let it not be suspected, that I am so prejudiced as to think that all wisdom, and all genius, were exhausted with the ages that have past away. Every year exhibits proofs, that both Imagination and Learning are still in full vigour in this country. And if I feel a strong delight in discovering to the world the merit of some rare piece of literary antiquity, I open
with at least equal avidity, and zest, the compositions of my cotemporaries, which almost every month produces.