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rangements. The present Preface is not that which I originally wrote; and I fear it has forestalled one or two ideas, which belong to the Introduction. I have omitted many observations that I made on our most ancient charters, confirming what I have hinted relative to their inauthenticity. These, indeed, I afterwards found : but, for the present, I thought it best to suppress them. And in some of the colleges I found gaps, (more particularly in Trinity Hall and Sidney College), which I could not fill up with the first matter : but by closing them with fresh materials, I hope, if they cannot escape the
penetration of the reader, they will obtain his indulgence.
As to errata, I have followed my own discretion, and make no TABLE of them. Should they be more than I am aware of, they must submit to the wholesome castigations of criticism: if only such as are incident to human infirmity, they must shelter themselves under the protection of candour. The variety of the subjects contained in these volumes will, it is hoped, form something of apology.
Some additions, also, have been the consequence
my interruptions : for, as light breaks through chinks, so through the gaps of our own minds, (and what are broken lucubrations on paper, but such gaps ?) fresh thoughts will start
forth; and we may not choose to dismiss them, All the Appendixes are after-thoughts; and, if I may judge from the pains taken to conduct through these accidental openings certain subi. taneous glimmerings to their proper place, so as to illustrate other subjects, these unexpected inter-coruscations of thought will not be reckoned unfavourable interruptions, nor my improvement of them my slightest efforts,
A little irregularity, with regard to chronological order, may be put to the same account, A work thrown into confusion cannot be replaced all at once, nor its parts, perhaps, restored in their natural order; some time must be employed in collecting together the “ disjecti membra,” and aptly to replace them may require considerable care. This will account for a little perturbation in the order of the colleges. The derangements alluded to relate to the second volume; where it was expedient to print the chapters as they could be completed ; and the consequence is, that two or three col. leges of a later date take precedency of the more ancient; a perturbation, indeed, but rather of place, than matter, and but of little consequence, being without any thing incommodious to the narrative.
Jụdging, from the brevity of our Cambridge Historiettes, some, perhaps, may think an apo
logy required for the length of this. If so, let the apology be, that something of conscience was forced into exercise. It is observed by Sir William D'Avenant, “ that those who write from conscience grow commonly the most voluminous ; because the pressures of conscience are so incessant, that she is never satisfied with do. ing enough;" and in a work of this kind, though not wholly for the reasons which he assigns, this is true : for whoever compasses the subject, will find it of a nature not to be compressed. It is true, the early part of our history might have been passed over as insignificant ; some particular class of writings considered as having a claim to notice, and the rest not worth mentioning ; two or three of our eminent men held up, and all the rest thrown into shade: but Conscience remonstrated against such canons for writing Cambridge history. And now, at
, the close, I must apologize to myself for its brevity. The observation of a writer, “ that could he have commanded more time, he would have made a shorter work,”. true in some cases, is not true in this. It is already longer by one half of the last volume, than was intended ; and according to any supposed number of ployed on it, there might have been produced, without any violence to facts, or excess of labour, double the number of volumes.
One apology requires the utmost delicacy. Before I entered on this work, it was not without very serious remonstrances against it in my own mind; and after undertaking it, not without as serious resolutions, as to the mode of conducting it. Nature formed me of a constitution, that obliges me to see things in my own way, and to follow my own light. Hence it was, I did not count upon calling in foreign assistance, and even felt serious difficulties against receiving several offered communications. It is generally true, though certainly with some exceptions, that the same mind that forms a plan, should execute it: but there existed particular circumstances in my case, for abiding by it. My fortune has led me, at different periods of my life, to have intercourse with persons of different pursuits, and of very opposite opinions, relating to the University, and their views might not have been easily combined, on the present occasion, into one interest. The course of proceeding then that I set out with was dictated by prudence. In the work in which I was embarked, I had already a little experience: I knew myself to be under the guidance of justice; and the determination formed certainly delivered me from something of perplexity and embarrassment. At the same time, this predetermined course has created uneasinesses of another and a more delicate kind:
and but for these, I should not probably have mentioned the other. One or two offers of communications were kindly made, which I must certainly have been proud to receive, but which, as certainly, I was not prepared to expect. And a present disposition having to encounter a former resolution, might occasion me to hesitate, at first, on the proposal; though I soon recovered the proper tone of feeling : for in the cases alluded to, in spite of all my rules and resolutions, a cheerful acceptance would evidently have been the pre-eminent prudence, as there would have been in it an indisputable propriety. But owing, I apprehend, to something like an air of hesitation in me, not rightly understood, no such favours have been received. I wish those whom it may concern, (and the less 'others know to what I allude the better) to understand, that I speak from the strongest feelings, sensible as I am of the numerous defects of these volumes, and that certain respectable communications would have been duly acknowledged by me, as they must have been among my greatest recommendations.
With respect to subjects purely of a literary nature, I have not held myself bound by rules of rigid restraint; for though, in matters on which party is apt to fly into extremes, inconsistent with the moderation of history, it seemed