Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 63.djvu/22

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The Dictionary of National Biography

of the Bodleian and Cambridge University Libraries, and of the Inns of Court, as well as from librarians in all parts of the United Kingdom and from the secretaries of learned societies in the colonies and in America. Many clergymen have, at the request of editors or contributors, consulted their parish registers without charging fees. At both Oxford and Cambridge, not only have the keepers of the University Registers been always ready in answering inquiries, but the heads of many colleges have shown great zeal in making researches in their college archives on behalf of the Dictionary. Particular recognition is due in this regard to the Rev. Dr. Magrath, provost of Queen's College, Oxford, and to Dr. John Peile, master of Christ's College, Cambridge. Information respecting members of the great society of Trinity College, Cambridge, has been freely placed at the Dictionary's disposal by Dr. Aldis Wright, the vice-president, while no inquiry addressed to Mr. R. F. Scott, bursar of St. John's College, Cambridge, or to Dr. John Venn, fellow and lecturer of Caius College, Cambridge, has failed to procure a useful reply. The successive registrars of Dublin University have also shown the readiest disposition to render the information supplied by the Dictionary concerning the graduates of Trinity College as precise as possible.

Criticism or appreciation of the completed enterprise would be out of place here. That there are errors in the Dictionary those who have been most closely associated with its production are probably more conscious than other people. On that subject it need only be said that every effort will be made, as soon as opportunity serves, to correct those errors that have been pointed out to the editor, all of which have been carefully tabulated. But whatever the shortcomings of the work, the Dictionary can fairly claim to have brought together a greater mass of accurate information respecting the past achievements of the British and Irish race than has been put at the disposal of the English-speaking peoples in any previous literary undertaking. Such a work of reference may be justly held to serve the national and the beneficial purpose of helping the present and future generations to realise more thoroughly than were otherwise possible the character of their ancestors' collective achievement, of which they now enjoy the fruits. Similar works have been produced in foreign countries under the auspices of State-aided literary academies, or have been subsidised by the national exchequers. It is in truer accord with the self-reliant temperament of the British race that this ‘Dictionary of’ ‘National Biography’ is the outcome of private enterprise and the handiwork of private citizens.