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too indiscriminate respect and flattery. His conipitations therefore are miserably wanting in all those higher traits of biography and history, which convey the most amusement and the most instruction.
These are the ingredients which the present Editor has endeavoured to infuse into the work now offered to the Public. He is aware how perilous a task he has undertaken, and how impossible it has often been, without decomposing the whole, to give life and light to the inanimate mass. Too large a portion of it he therefore fears still retains its original character. Yet the intelligent and candid reader will duly appreciate the vast storehouse of important facts and characters which it furnishes; in addition to a collection of authentic genealogies, which are deduced with the greatest labour and clearness, and are so numerous and extensive, as to embrace almost all the honourable alliances of the kingdom in past as well as present times.
The pen of the general historian cannot stop to de tail those private connections of his heroes, which often give a clue to their public conduct and characters. On this account such a work as the present is of the greatest use to every Briton who desires to be thoroughly and deeply conversant with the political story of his country.
The constitution of the government, or at least the practice of late times is such, that every eminent man in
' the state, and all who have distinguished themselves in the law, navy, or army, have aspired to nobility, and generally for themselves or their posterity obtained it. Hence a Peerage embraces an account of almost all that has been illustrious in public life.
It is not for him who has taken this task upon himself to criticise the profusion with which these honours have been sometimes conferred. The station of an hereditary senator, clothed with rank and privileges, is no
light boon. It is due to splendid abilities exercised in exalted and commanding situations; it is due to brilliant descent combined with large fortune and virtuous and pa riotic conduct. But there are pretensions of a less eminent sort, to which enlightened and unprejudiced minds do not think it often due. It is odious to the gentry and the people to have men so lifted above them without an adequate cause!
The materials of this work have been sought for in an extensive range of literature, by one, whose inordinate love of reading, unconfined to any track, has been unceasing from the age of twelve years. He has drawn many of his notices from places whither the mere genealogist never travels; and has brought not only history, biography, and anecdote, but all the belles lettres, and much of the minutiae of black-letter learning to his aid. It is true, that the calls of the press, and a variety of distracting circumstances, did not always allow him to apply his materials as he would have wished: and above all, he regrets that he had seldom time to form those original delineations of the characters of great men, which he most delights to revolve in his mind and to attempt to pourtray. He would in days of less hurry and perplexity, have drawn every great man's portrait with his own pen; and thus at least have claimed the praise of being an original writer rather than a compiler. But he has still this consolation, that he has brought together the materials for a more able designer; and that there is little now to do but to combine them into perfect shapes.
What a vast fund here is for those who love to study the complexity and the course of human affairs, must be apparent to every cultivated eye! And though the world has been apt to treat Peerages with contempt as they have been formerly conducted: (a prejudice which it will
be difficult at once to efface, while the felicity with which Burke characterized the pages of Collins as setting up no other tests of merit than honours, and judging equally of all who possessed equal titles and places, is remembered), yet the truth will prevail at last; and the value of the instruction which such a compilation is calculated to convey, will be perceived and acknowledged.
Arthur Collins, the original compiler, was born in 1682; and according to a Memoir of him written by Mr. Stephen Jones, and published in Gent. Mag. vol. Ixix. p. 282, was son of William Collins, Esq. Gentleman Usher to Queen Catharine in 1669, by Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Blythe, Esq. Mr. Jones adds, that he re ceived a liberal education, but it is clear, that at one time he carried on the trade of a bookseller at the Black Boy, opposite St. Dunstan's church in Fleet-street, from the advertisement of books printed and sold by him annexed to the edition of his Peerage in 1712.
He married about 1708, and dying in 1760, aged seventy-eight, was buried in the church of Battersea in Surry. His son, Major-General Arthur Tooker Collins, died January 4th, 1799, leaving issue David Collins, Esq. author of The Account of the English Settlement in New South Wales
· The first edition of his Peerage was published in one vol. 8vo. about 1709; the arms miserably cut on wood.
The second edition was in 1712, one vol. 8vo; collected as well from our best Historians, Public Records, and other sufficient authorities, as from the personal informations of most of the Nobility. Two more volumes containing the extinct Peerage were added about 1715.
But the first complete edition of the existing Peerage was published in four vols. 8vo. with the same copper
a The Editor has a large paper presentation-copy now before him.
plates, as were afterwards used, London, 1735. This was called the second edition.
To this were afterwards added two volumes of Supplement, 1741.
The next edition, called the third, was published in six vols. 8vo. 1756.
After his death the fourth edition came out in 1767, in seven vols. 8vo.
The fifth and last edition was published in 1778, in eight vols. 8vo. by Mr. Barak Longmate, who in 1785 added a Supplemental Volume.
Collins also published a quarto volume, being part of a larger Baronage, 1727.
A Baronetage (incomplete) in two vols. 8vo. 1720, which he reprinted and completed in 1741, in five vols. 8vo. an admirable work,
Besides these he gave to the world, Historical Collections of the Noble Families of Cavendish, Holles, Vére, Harley, and Ogle, fol. 1752.
Letters and Memorials of the Sydneys, two vols. fol. 1746.
A Collection of Cases of Baronies in Fee, fol. 1784.
These works are sufficient proofs of his uncommon industry. The indefatigable skill with which he searched into records, wills, deeds, epitaphs, MS genealogies, .can be properly ascertained only by those, who have been engaged in similar pursuits. How much he added to the account of those later families, of whom Dugdale treated at the close of his Baronage, may be seen by a reference to that great antiquary's work. In matters of pedigree, subsequent investigations have seldom found him to be
• Barak Longmate, engraver, an excellent genealogist, and inge. nious man, died July 23d, 1793, aged fifty-five.
erroneous. His flattery displayed itself in praises of character; in reverential estimates of talents and integrity; and not in genealogical untruths. This arose rather from the nature and discipline of his mind than from any wilful misrepresentations. History itself had not then risen to its present philosophic character; and who could expect it of a mere genealogist?
For himself, the present Editor owes it to a just pride, to disclaim the undue influence of titles or birth on his mind. He feels no dazzle from them, that can destroy, or affect his powers of discrimination. He thinks them a disgrace to him, to whom they do not prove incentives to liberal conduct, cultivated pursuits, and honourable ambition. For those, whose insolence is founded upon the possession of their privileges, but who turn with a stupid or affected aversion from an inquiry into their history, every sensible and rational mind must feel not only disapprobation, but contempt. If they will not look back with curiosity and respect on those merits, which have procured them their present enviable station, on what just grounds can they imagine themselves placed where they are? It is observable, that the most insolent and haughty of the nobility are uniformly those who are least conversant about its history. Perhaps they are right: every page would teem with reproaches to their own sensual lives!
A young British Peer, who cultivates his mind, and refines his manners; who studies the public affairs of his country, and takes a virtuous part in them, is in a situation as desirable as a chastised and enlightened ambition can form a wish for. Even though his estate should be moderate, the senate opens a field for his exertions, where they will be tried only by their merit, whether of intention or talent. His rank will procure him respect, and a due attention to all his suggestions ;