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fuch Writings may be seen how the Mind has been opened by Degrees, how one Truth has led to an. other, how Error has been disentangled, and Hints improved to Demonstration, which Pleasure, and many others, are loft by him that only reads the Jarger Writers, by whom thefe fcattered Sentiments · are collected, who will fee none of the Changes of · Fortune which every Opinion has passed through, will have no Opportunity of remarking the transient. Advantages which Error may sometimes obtain, by the Artifices of its Patron, or the fuccefsful Rallies, by which Truth regains the Day, after a Repulse ; but will be to him, who traces the Difpute through into particular Gradations, as he that hears of a Victory, to him that fees the Battle.
Since the Advantages of preferving these small Tracts are so numerous, our Attempt to unite them in Volumes cannot be thought either useless or unfeafonable ; for there is no other Method of securing them from Accidents; and they have already been fo long neglected, that this Design cannot be deJayed, without hazarding the Loss of many Pieces, which deferve to be transmitted to another Age.
The Practice of publishing Pamphlets on the most important Subjects, has now prevailed more than two Centuries among us; and therefore it cannot be doubted, but that, as no large Collections have been yet made, many curious 'Tracts must have pe- . rished; but it too late to lament that Lofs; nor ought we to reflect upon it, with any other View, than that of quickening our Endeavours, for the Preservation of those that yet remain of which we havē now a greater Number, than was, perhaps, ever amaffed by any one Person.
The first Appearance of Pamphlets among us, is generally thought to be at the new Opposition raised against the Errors and Corruptions of the Church of Rome. Thofe who were firft convinced of the
Reasonablenefs of the new Learning, as it was then called, propagated their Opinions in small Pieces, which were cheaply printed; and, what was then of great Importance, easily concealed. Thefe Treatises were generally printed in foreign Countries, and are not, therefore, always very correct. There was not then that Opportunity of printing in private ; fur, the Number of Printers were small, and the Presses were easily overlooked by the Clergy, who fpared no La bour or Vigilance for the Suppression of Herefy. There is, however, Reason to suspect, that some Attempts were macic to carry on the Prona gation of Truth by a tecret Preis; for one ci tic tirit Trcatiles in Favour of the Reformation, is laid, at the End, to be printed at Greenwich, by the Permiston of the Lord of Hofts.
In the Time of King Edward the Sixth the Preffes were employed in favour of the Reformed Religion, and fmall Tracts were dispersed over the Nation, to reconcile them to the new Forms of Worship. In: this Reign, likewise, Political Pamphlets may be said to have been begun, by the Address of the Rebels of Devonshire; all which Means of propagating the Sen! timents of the People fo disturbed the Court, that ina fooner was Queen Mary resolved to reduce her Subjects to the Romish Superstition, but she artfully, by a Charter * granted to certain Freemen of London, in whose Fidelity, no doubt, she confided, intirely pro hibited all Presses, but what should be licensed by them; which Charter is that by which the Corpo ration of Stationers, in London, is at this Time in. corporated
. Under the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, when Lir! berty again began to flourish, the Practice of writ,
# Which begins thus, Know ye, that Wc, confidering, and manifestly eble Faith and found Catbolic Doktrine of boly Morber, the Chureb, &c.
mg Pamphlets became more generala Preffes were multiplied, and Books were difperfeds and, I be. heve, it may properly; be faid, that the Trade of Writing began at that Time, and that it has ever Gnce gradually increased in the Number, though, perhaps, not in the Style of those that followed it.
In thie Reign was erected the first secret Press against the Church as now etablifhed, of which I have found any certain Account. It was employed by the Puritans, and conveyed from one Part of the Națion to another, by them, as they found them.
elves in Danger of Discovery. From this Press is: fued most of the Pamphlets against Whitgift and his Affociates, in the Ecclefiaftical Government; and, swhen it was at Jak seized at Manchester, it was em: ployed upon a Pamphlet called More Work fona Ceopen.
In the peaceable Reign of King James, those Minds which might, perhaps, with less Difturbarice of the World, have been engroffed by War, were employed in Controversy; and Writings of all kinds were multiplied among us. The Press, however, was not wholly engaged in Polemical Performances, for more innocent Subjects were sometimes treated; and it deserves to be remarked, becaute it is not generally known, that the Treatises of Husbandry and dyriculture, which were publifhed about that Time, are fo numerous, that it can scarcely be imagined by whom they were written, or to whom they were fuld.
The next Reign is too well known to have been a Time of Confusion, and Disturbance, and Disputes of every Kind; and the Writings, which were produced, bear a natural Proportion to the
Number of Questions that were discussed at that Time; each Party kad its Anthors and its Preses, and no Endeavours were omitted to gain Profelytes to every Opi. aion. I know not whether this may not properly be
called, The Age of Pamphlets; for, though thay perhaps, may not arise to such Multitudes as Mr. Rawlinfon imagined; they were, undoubtedly, more numerous than can be conceived by any who have not had an Opportunity of examining them. 5.
After the Restoration, the fame Differences, in Religious Opinions, are well known to have fubfifted, and the fame Political Struggles to have been frequently renewed; and, therefore, a great Number of Pens were employed, on different Occasions, till, at length, all other Disputes were absorbed in the Popish Controversy.
From the Pamphlets which these different Periods of Time produced, it is proposed, that this Miscellany shall be compiled; for which it cannot be fup. posed that Materials will be wanting; and, there. fore, the only Difficulty will be in what Manner to dispose them.
Those who have gone before us, in Undertakings of this Kind, have ranged the Pamphlets, which Chance threw into their Hands, without any Regard either to the Subject on which they treated, or the Time in which they were written ; a Practice in no wife to be imitated by us, who want for no Materials; of which we shall choose those we think best for the particular Circumstances of Times and Things, and most instructing and entertaining to the Reader.
Of the different Methods which present themselves, upon the first View of the great Heaps of Pamphlets which the Harieian Library exhibits, the two which merit most Attention are, to distribute the Treatises according to their Subjects, or their Dates; but neither of these Ways can be conveniently followed. By ranging our Collection in Order of Time, we muft neceffarily publish those Pieces first, which least engage the Curiosity of the Bulk of Mankind; and our Pefign must fall to the Ground, for Want of Encou,
ragement, ragement, before it can be so far advanced as to obe tain general:Regards By confining ourselves for any long Time to any fingle Subject, we fhall reduce our Readers to one Class; and, as we shall lose all the Grace of -Variety, thall disgust all those who read chiefly to be diverted. -There is likewise one Objection of equal Force, against both these Methods, that we shall preclude ourselves from the Advantage of any future Discoveries ; and we cannot hope to affem ble at once all the Pamphlets which have been written in any Age, or on any Subject.
It may be added, in Vindication of our intended Practice, that it is the same with that of Photius, whofe Collections are no less Miscellaneous than ours ; and who declares, that he leaves it to his Reader, to reduce his Extracts under their proper Heads.
Most of the Pieces, which shall be offered in this Collection to the Public, will be introduced by thort Prefaces, in which will be given some Account of the Reasons for which they are inserted; Notes will be fometimes adjoined, for the Explanation of obfcure Passages, or obsolete Expressions; and Care will be taken to mingle Use and Pleasure through the whole Collection. Notwithstanding every Subject may not be relished by every Reader; yet the Buyer may be aflured that each Number will repay his gc. . perous Subscription.