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FROM THE GERMAN
FREDERIC ADOLPHUS EBERT,
LIBRARIAN TO THE KING OF SAXONY,
&c. &c. &c.
IN FOUR VOLUMES.
VOL. I. A-E.
AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS.
REPUBLISHED BY GALE RESEARCH COMPANY, BOOK TOWER, DETROIT, 1968
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
Nec sane aut nunc me pudeat, aut in posterum unquam pudebit, dum prodesse multis possum, etiam culpam prodere meam, quam nec aliis occupationibus, nec festinationi etiam librariorum imputem. Homo sum. Egnatius in præf. Script. hist. Aug. Venet. 1516. 8°.
WHEN an individual prefixes to his work the title of a general bibliographical dictionary, he at least lays claim to some merit. I have exposed myself to the charge of doing this, in order to explain clearly the principle on which my undertaking is founded, and also the method in which a work should be executed, which would really deserve such a title.
Bibliography in its wider extent is the codex diplomaticus of literary history, and the most certain means of ascertaining the state of literature; it is only when confined by a scientific, chronological, or national view, which does not concern us in this place, that it becomes a mere directory for objects of some particular kind. In the above extended sense it acknowledges no other limitations than those which either the intrinsic value or historical interest of the literary productions of all ages and nations affixes to it. That which is destitute of either of these two qualifications may notwithstanding possess a local or a more special interest; but does not belong to bibliography as a science, and it must be acknowledged to have been a weakness of mind, even disregarding the insuperable external impediments, that some literary persons dreamed of a general bibliography, in which no compendium, no pamphlet or collection of verses should be passed over. A bibliography directed to the above objects, and executed within such limitations, could only be effected by a mere nomenclature, in which the text itself would be the literary history and we might term it pure in opposition to restricted bibliography, which has developed itself in later times owing to the technical formation of a science of books.
pure bibliography, for instance, now that authorship has become general, must gradually enter into those details, which hitherto it was not used to consider (we refer here only to the knowledge of different editions, in so far as these, particularly of the ancient classics, afford a scale to ascertain the greater or less influence of, or the different method of treating, certain works in any age or country), so has the daily increasing quantity of books prepared the way for a restricted bibliography, in having rendered a more careful selection necessary to the scholar,
and convenient to the general reader, who in the mean time had come forward as a collecting dilettante. If the former has now begun to be more observant of correct printing, or of complete and unmutilated editions, so has the latter suffered himself to be determined in this selection not merely by the contents or form of what is offered, but also, and often in a still higher degree, by external and incidental circumstances. This luxurious attention to externals on the part of collectors, the speculation of printers and publishers awakened thereby, and large public sales, have rendered books an article of merchandise, while those external accidents have supplied too often very attractive motives for collecting on the one hand, and for fixing the price on the other. These considerations and these principles of buying and selling, which were first reduced into a system in Holland, and have been advanced in France and England to their present complete and connected form, are what we here term restricted bibliography. Similar to pure bibliography in its generality, it differs from it in considering the inclinations of collectors, the actual demand, and the marketable value, as its chief points of view. So far as it has also regard to scientific or historical interest, although only in a subordinate degree and merely as influencing the price, so far we consider the name, which has sometimes been given to it, of material bibliography, to be inappropriate. This latter appellation would more properly designate that method of treating the subject which essentially differs from the mere nomenclature of pure bibliography, in fully specifying the grounds and conditions on which a book is of value to the collector or the dealer.
The highly meritorious Conrad Gesner in his Bibliotheca has contributed almost all we have in pure bibliography in the abovementioned extent of the word; his Pandecta and the worthless compendium of Lipenius are, by their reference to the studies of the period, and their arrangement grounded on that circumstance, foreign to pure bibliography, and Hamberger's work is of far too confined limits. Restricted bibliography has been as yet attended to in its entire extent by the French alone (at first by Debure in the Bibliographie instructive), and Brunet's Manuel du libraire is on the whole the most useful and successful work, which we possess in this branch of bibliography. The English, Italians, and Germans must not be mentioned here, when we speak of a whole, since they have advanced bibliography only by monographies, or, as is particularly the case with the Germans, having a particular reference to other objects.
In Germany, where with the single exception of the Austrian states, there are neither collectors by profession nor large book-markets, bibliography belongs to literature alone, and is treated as its handmaid and attendant. And the more this strict application protects it from the
dangers with which a dealing in trifles and a search after curiosities so easily surround the inexperienced, I am the more ready to confess that my earlier bibliographical studies proceeded from what was wanted in the science; and even in their subsequent enlargement they have not exceeded the limits of historical interest. Moreover, as on my first connexion with a library, the want of a practical knowledge of books, especially for my use as a librarian, perceptibly forced itself upon me, and was the real cause of my first stirring in the matter, so did what was scientifically important continue to receive the greatest part of my attention. But when my present office placed me in a position, where I found works valuable in themselves and a rich abundance of the treasures of collectors combined, presenting to my notice all the French works on bibliography, previously known by me only in title, and where I almost daily had opportunity of observing the different bibliographical inclinations and interests of foreigners who were disposed to exhibit them, it then became completely evident to me that there should be one bibliography for scholars and another for common use, neither of which would dispense with the assistance of the other; and I made it my purpose in the more zealous continuation of the work I had commenced, to attempt a combination of these two sorts of bibliography. I had already worked some years on this new and extended plan, when M. Brockhaus, knowing as little of my labours as I of his intention, greatly surprised me by proposing an edition of Brunet for Germany.
In this way Brunet's work was the proximate though not the first occasion of the present enterprise; but I also brought to my undertaking too much independence and earnestness, to be able to take his book as the exclusive basis of my own. I acknowledge with sincere gratitude, that Brunet was my instructor in method and form, and that I am indebted to him for a great part of my notices; but it does not detract from the obligation which I am consequently under to him, it is rather a no less just regard to myself, if I on the other hand claim the greatly extended plan of my work, and more than half of the contents; while even that which I took directly from Brunet, has been, I think, by important augmentations, corrections, and alterations, so adapted to the different plan of my work, and interwoven into it, that my own exertions can by no means appear to be merely partial or supplementary.
That Brunet's plan, so far as it was retained by him in the execution of his work, could not suffice for me, is evident from what I have observed above, both respecting the signification of bibliography in Germany, for which country my work is more immediately designed, and also respecting my own bibliographical education. His work is solely