A Brief Outline of the History of Libraries/Reader

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TO THE READER

YOU have before you my brief outline of the history of libraries, that is, of books. Where shall we who are constantly making use of books look for a worthier subject for our pen? Yet I never should have dreamed of writing this outline had I not been inspired thereto by the zeal in such matters of the noble Prince to whom I have just dedicated it.

That such as he should labour to encourage and inspire men to good deeds and high endeavour—this I think a thing most helpful to us all. And how few do give themselves generously to this task! All thoughts seem now to turn to low and sordid things. Scorning the ancient and holy truths, how eagerly to-day do men search out doctrines whose only charm is that they seem new!

To these one might well repeat the ancient line: "Though broad and well known is the highway, you choose a narrow and obscure path."

For ourselves, we hold fast to the old and the established; and we study, we point out the way, and we set forth examples—often, so I hope and trust, to some useful purpose.

And may you, O Gentle Reader, look with favour upon our work.