Imatges de pÓgina

the refined sentiments to a body of youth more numerous, and of a destination more important to the general offices of life than the greatest and most frequented university of Europe nourishes with science. Nor is the rising usefulness of our association far from a point at which its well-attended lectures and its rapidly-augmented collection will become of important aid to men of science themselves, and to all who, more maturely than our immediate members can yet pretend to do, cultivate the better studies. The additions to our library go on at a pace which bids fair to render it, in a few year , one of the best in the country.

The catalogues heretofore published, at intervals of three or four years, were, except the last, mere unmethodized alphabetic lists of our books; such as, for any purpose of assisting study, were almost destitute of any utility. That of 1834 was of far better design, and has done not a little towards giving some shape and form to the knowledge which our associates obtain from their books. The impression of this has now become exhausted ; and additions almost equal to half the library of that time having since occurred, a fresh publication lately became every way indispensable. In devising its form, the directors were led to adopt the idea to which, as far as the necessity of very rapidly preparing it permitted, execution has been given in the present performance. This idea was, of a list in which the books should be enumerated according to the scientific classification of knowledge, and each in that minuter division to which it more directly relates; in such sort that the student may, with no. assistance but his catalogue, find, in a body, all that is proper to each matter of learning, and whatever the collection contains to elucidate it. An aid of this kind is indispensable to the usefulness of every collection the instant it reaches a size permitting it to be useful at all. Without this, even he who is most versed in books is forced laboriously to search out and collect, from the mere chaos of volumes, those which relate to the immediate object of his inquiries ; while he whose knowledge is yet to form wanders through a labyrinth without a clew. The directors, in a word, were led to consider that a library is useful just in proportion as it possesses a guide to its contents ; an index, that, to the savant, saves his time and pains; and to the young adventurer in knowledge, going to sea for the first time, supplies a compass and a chart.

The bibliographic notes attached to nearly all the chapters of the main catalogue form its next feature, and were its chief labour. These will be found to point out the books not possessed by the collection, which, in each matter, are held by the best critics as of leading merit. Such a series of indications was regarded as useful towards shaping the future additions to the library, and as capable of rendering the catalogue serviceable, as a book of reference and a guide in reading, to those no longer possessing access to our collection, or even those attached to other institutions.

The general index at the close affords a key to the systematic list, and enables one to ascertain, at the name of each author, or the title of each anonymous book, whether a particular work belongs or not to the collection; or to what class it is to be assigned.

In the very brief critical remarks which the character of particular works seemed occasionally to demand, the compiler of the catalogue must not be understood to hazard merely an individual judgment. In such cases, he has aimed not to set up his own authority, but simply to give the general sense of the literary world. For the former, this would have been no place ; the latter, however, he felt himself competent to state.

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