« PreviousContinue »
knowledge, the patience, the perseverance, and the industry of the true bibliographer will take their true rank, and he be rewarded according to his aim and his labours. Nay, it must be so, or we shall soon be papered up and smothered in print. Were the sheets of The Times spread out like maps and piled one upon another, we might behold every Saturday a pyramid of world-wide intelligence overtopping the London Monument. Just face this then my indifferent reader, and imagine for a moment what comes and has come from all the teaming and steaming presses of the world during this and the last two centuries! Knowledge is booked, and therefore bibliography has become a necessity. Catalogues are multiplying, and a demand for better ones is increasing. Even now a catalogue of catalogues is required, so that the writer upon any given topic may readily ascertain what has been written upon it, and thus avoid going over ground already sufficiently explored. Many a good historian, less tough than a Gibbon or a Robertson, in amassing his materials has broken down before he has taken up his pen, so that one may now fairly consider his work half written when he knows what and where are his materials.
The BIBLIOGRAPHY of AMERICA is the subject I had the youthful presumption, twenty years ago, to choose. There is not, perhaps, in the whole range of modern history, a more gigantic theme for the future historian than the story of the discovery, conquest, planting, and development of the New World. From the embarcation of Columbus at Palos in 1492, to the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia in 1862, is a period worthy the genius of a master-mind, nay, of many master-minds, for so numerous, scattered, and crude are the materials, that it will require the energies of many collaborators to work up the innumerable minor topics before the master historian
can with advantage digest and combine them into one harmonious whole.
The impulse which the valuable and well-known BIBLIOTHECAs of Mr. Warden, M. Ternaux-Compans (not to mention the previous excellent works of Leon Pinelo, Barcia, Eguira, White Kennet, Alcedo, Homar, Berestein de Souza and others) and more especially of my late and lamented friend Mr. O. Rich, gave to the collection of books relating to America, shows how highly such works are appreciated. More recently, however, the indefatigable researches of many collectors, both public and private, in Europe as well as in America, combined with the unprecedented high prices of books and manuscripts of this class, have been the means of bringing to light so many works hitherto uncatalogued and undescribed, that a larger, a more comprehensive, and a more accurate Bibliotheca is now mueh needed. Following therefore my own inclination, but at first little dreaming of the amount of labour undertaken, I many years since volunteered to devote my humble energies to the bibliography of the American Continent. In other words, my aim was and still is, according to the best of my powers to afford (as far as one poor painstaking life can do it) to the future historians of my country and continent, a' BiblioGRAPHIA AMERICANA; or, a Bibliographical Account of the Sources of American History from the earliest period to the present time.'
PLAN OF THE WORK.
1. A BRIEF biography will, whenever practicable, precede the list of each author's works.
2. The work will contain a descriptive list of all historical books relating to America (North and South, and the West India Islands) and of all such books printed therein, from the earliest period to the present time, which may be found in the principal public and private libraries of Europe and America, or which are described in other works; together with notices of many of the more important unpublished manuscripts.
3. The descriptions will be made, as far as possible, from an examination of the books themselves. If any be taken from other sources of information they will be distinguished by some peculiar mark.
4. The titles including the imprint or colophon will, in all cases, be given in full, word for word, and letter for letter, together with a translation into English of all titles in other languages.
5. The collation of each book will be given; that is, such a description as will indicate a perfect copy.
6. The market value of the books, with the prices at which they have been sold at public or private sales, wil, whenever possible, be given.
7. Different editions and various translations of the principal works will be diligently compared with each other, and their variations and relative merits pointed out, especially of such works as the Collections of Voyages and Travels by Grynæus, Ramusio, Leon d'Afrique, Hakluyt, Colyn, De Bry, Hulsius, Purchas, Hartgerts, Thevenot and others; the corresponding parts of which will be compared, not only with each other, but with the editions of the works from which they were translated, abridged, or
ed. 8. Bibliographical notes will be appended when deemed necessary, containing abstracts of the contents of the works where the titles fail to give a proper idea of them; anecdotes of authors, printers, engravers, etc.; important items of historical and geographical information; notices of peculiarities of copies, as large paper, MS, notes, vellum, cancelled leaves, etc.; the number of copies printed; suppressed editions; together with the comparative rarity and intrinsic value of the works.
9. The notes upon the books printed in America will comprise a full history of the origin and progress of printing in North and South America from the year 1543 to the present time.
10. Under the title of every work will be designated one or more libraries in which it may be found.
11. The titles will be arranged alphabetically, under the names of the authors, or the leading word of the title, with cross references from other names or words when deemed necessary.
12. The work will contain a full Introductory Memoir upon the Materials of early American History, together with an account of the principal collections of them which have been made in Europe and America.
13. Three indexes to the contents of the work will be given, viz. (1) A chronological index, in which the titles briefly given, will be arranged according to the years in which the works were printed; (2) An index of the subjects treated in the books ; (3) A general alphabetical index of the persons and subjects mentioned in the notes and introductory memoirs.
14. Facsimile woodcuts, maps, and other early pictorial illustrations will be given when deemed essential.
15. The work will be printed in the form, style, and fashion best suited to such a production, and most approved at the day of its completion; and may we continue in health and vigour till then.
Now, in all these years of research and cataloguemaking, I have advanced sufficiently far in the BibLIOGRAPHIA AMERICANA, to feel that my love of accuracy has been so far taken out of me as to compel me to admit that it is perfectly impossible to prepare the copy with sufficient accuracy to print from at a time and place when and where the rare books described cannot be referred to. It has therefore been found necessary to make this preliminary issue of the more difficult parts of the work by throwing into type the titles of each work in full, correcting the proofs from the books themselves as they pass through my hands, or are found in the library of the British Museum or elsewhere. By this means I shall not only record the materials for the Bibliographia as I meet with them, but, what is of the greatest importance to me and to the work, I shall be enabled to receive the kind co-operation of librarians and bibliographers in the examination and collation of rare books in libraries remote from each other.
The materials thus collected it is proposed to re-arrange and elaborate according to the plan detailed above. Brief collations of each book will be given, with occasional notes, illustrations, etc.; but desiring to interfere as little as possible with the BIBLIOGRAPHIA AMERICANA, nothing will be printed in this which can as well be printed, for the first time, in the larger work. Although no expense or pains will be spared to secure accuracy in this preliminary issue, yet, as it is but a mere stepping-stone to a larger and better work, I deem it expedient to print but very few copies, and shall think myself fortunate if they fall into the hands of collectors and librarians interested in the subject, who will kindly point out to me such inaccuracies and variations as they may from time to time detect in comparing my titles with their own. Lest this comparatively private and very imperfect edition may hereafter be mistaken for, and confounded with, the BIBLIOGRAPHIA AMERICANA, I have purposely given it a name more forcible, perhaps, than elegant, “ HISTORICAL Nuggets.' The name is, however, to me a matter of no sort of consequence, provided it answers the purpose for which it is in