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HE LIBRARY, of which a very important Portion is described in the following pages, has long maintained a distinguished
reputation throughout Europe. It has been entirely formed by the present noble owner, within a space of time not exceeding twenty-four years ; and the foundation of that department of it, which these volumes describe, may be said to have been laid by the purchase of the Collection of the late Count Reviczky. But since the acquisition of that Collection, many rare and valuable impressions of Classical Authors have been obtained; and many copies, once the property of the Count, have been exchanged for others of which the condition was more desirable.
The greater Portion of his LORDSHIP's Library, is deposited at Althorp;* in a suite of apartments which contain not fewer than forty-five thousand volumes. The choice, condition, and splendour of the entire Collection, are probably unrivalled. The Public will therefore expect that an attempt to make them acquainted with some of the Principal Treasures of such a Collection, should be particular and
Such indeed are the objects of the present work; which is exclusively confined to an account of BOOKS PRINTED IN THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY, and to some of
* Althorp Park, Northamptonshire: the residence of EARL SPENCER's Ancestors for the last three centuries.
the more important FIRST Editions in the
Such a work, if executed with copiousness and precision, cannot fail to be interesting to the Bibliographer, to the Scholar, and to the Lover of ancient Literature and the Fine Arts. I have therefore endeavoured to give a full and faithful description of each edition, according to its critical or biblio. graphical importance; and have not only consulted the principal Writers who have described it, but have attempted to correct their errors, to reconcile their differences, and to supply their deficiencies, when necessary and practicable: and occasionally to illustrate these descriptions by means of FAC-SIMILES* and EMBELLISHMENTS, so as
* It may
be necessary to apprize the reader that the PAC-SIMILES sometimes vary in their appearances, arising from the same causes which occasion a difference in the originals themselves; namely, an unavoidable inequality in the power, or care, employed during the operation of the press.
The whole of the fac-similes in the first volume, and the greater number of those in the second volume, were