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BOOK THE FIRST.

EARLY COLLECTORS:—THE GATHERERS OF THE FOUNDATION COLLECTIONS.

"The reverence and respect your Petitioners bear

to the memory of the most learned Sir Robert Cotton are too great not to mention, in particular, that from the liberal use of his Library sprang (chiefly) most of the learned works of his time, for ever highly to be valued. The great men of that age constantly resorted to and consulted it to shew the errors and mistakes in government about that period. And, as this inestimable Library hath since been generously given and dedicated to the Public use for ever, to be a National Benefit, your Petitioners presume that no expression of gratitude can be too great for so valuable a treasure, or for doing honour to the Memory and Family of Sir Robert Cotton."— 'Petition to the Honourable House of Commons from the Cottonian Trustees' (drawn up antecedently to the Foundation Act of the British Museum); 1752.

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