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of “ the Beauties of England,” in the following terms, in a cire cular letter, to many gentlemen of the counties just named.
“ Brevity, perspicuity, and selection, are the most essential desiderata in the present work : which is not intended to inforın the veteran antiquary and topographer, but rather to instruct and please the general reader. It is not to be considered merely as a dry, dull, chronicle of facts, but a popular History and Descriptiou of the Cities, Towns, Chef Seats, and ANTIQUITIES; with the NATURAL and Artificial Curiosties of every county. Its province is to give a pleasing and familiar picture of the geography, statistics, and national peculiarities of England, in the aggregate, and of its parochial characteristics in particular. Such is the idea I have formed of what the work ought to be, and it will be my aim to render the topographical accounts of Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, &c. conformable to this standard."
In regard to that portion of Middlesex, or rather of LONDON, which was written by Mr. Brayley, and in the general work is styled the First and Second Parts of Voluine X. but which actually constitute Volumes in themselves – Mr. Brayley has desired me to say, “ that (with one exception) the only gentleman from whom he obtained any particular written information, was his respected friend, Thomas - Fisher, Esq. For, whatever else appears in those Volumes, up to page 720, of the Second Part, was principally obtained by his own labour, and his own researches. Much oral information, however, was procured during his progress through London, froin divers gentlemen, who declined having their names publicly noticed.
“ The account of HUNTING DONSHIRE was likewise drawn up, chiefly, from his own notes; from the Latin Histories of Ramsey Abbey and Ely, published by Gale, in the Decem Scriptores ; and from what has been called the · Colton Manuscript,' pre. served among Baker's Collections, in the University Library, at Cambridge.”
On reviewing the commencement, and early progress of this work, I cannot but feel greatly astonished at its rapid success
and and popularity ;-at the number and variety of correspondents and friends it called forth from several countics, and at the iufluence it produced on topographical literature. This astonishinent, however, chiefly arises from a knowledge that both myself and my co-adjutor were unknown in the republic of letters-were in very humble stations of life, and consequently without the influence or connexion, calculated to produce those effects. Yet thus circumscribed, we gradually and imperceptibly extended our sphere of commànicativn-increased the reputation and sale of the work, by improving its contents, and by demonstrating a disposition to be sincere, and to impart all the information that was communicated.
Having thus, my dear Sir, detailed all such particulars as occur to me to be material for publication, I would also furvish you with corrections and additiops to the volumes already referred to; but fear that this task would impel you to extend your Introductory remarks much beyond the prescribed limits.--At first, as already noticed, we were very brief; but, in the course of fifteen years, I have made so many additions to each county, that I should feel extreme difficulty in selecting from the mass such materials as would be deemed requisite by the general reader, and still not be regarded as too prolix for supplementary matter. Many corrections are already priuted in the errata to each Volume.
The Introductory Volume, to which it is proposed to annex this statement, I have reason to believe, will be useful and interesting. It is essential to the work, and it was always our intention to have written a preliininary memoir; but, in our calculations, concerning the accounts of Bedfordshire, Berkshire, and Buckinghamshire, we were certainly much deceived by supposing that such a review would make only about half as much again as the letterpress of those counties, and thus constitute a portion of the first Volume. You have very property decided on making it a distinct Volume,
Believe me yours, very truly,
• JOHN BRITTON. Taristock Place, August 24, 1817.
The principal circumstances connected with the design and early progress of this undertaking, are explained with equal candour and accuracy in the preceding comprehensive letter. Such particulars relating to its subsequent procedure, as are necessary to be communicated to the Subscribers, may be stated in the following terms."
On the decease of Mr. Hood, which occurred in the year 1811, wben not more than ten Volumes and a few Numbers had appeared, his successor declined the future management of the work ; and that difficult task was undertaken by Mr. Harris, the present Publisher, in attention to the general wish of the remaining proprietors. In the performance of a duty implicating so many objects, and depending on so great a variety of co-adjutors, he has not failed to meet with inany circumstances productive of delay and perplexity. But, conscious of using indefatigable exertions to hasten, as much as was possible, without hurrying, the completion; and equally conscious of adopting every measure which appeared to promise benefitto the publication; he relies on the candid approvance of the Subscribers, and trusts that the work, in its general character, is executed consistently with their wishes.
Ais exertions would have been unavailing without the co-opera.jon of the other proprietors. He
feels it necessary and desirable to observe, that one sentiment alone has prevailed among the whole of those concerned in the property of this publication. Viewing it as a work calculated to meet with national encouragement, and to form a legitimate source of topographical information in ages subsequent to its first appearance, they determined on considering expense as a secondary object, and on procuring the best local intelligence which pecuniary liberality could command.
It is requisite to state explicitly the different persons who have assisted in the principal divisions of the work, while under the management of the present Publisher. On the secession of Mr. Britton and Mr. Brayley, several writers were engaged to investigate and describe different counties. The following enumeration shews the gentlemen em. ployed for respective districts :
Comprising Northumberland Rev. John Hodge01. Vol 12 Nottinghamshire - - - - F. C. Laird.
> Oxfordshire • • - - . J. Norris Brewer.
Comprising Shropshire, So->
l shire • • • • • •)
( Comprising Suffolk, Surrey, frederic Shoberl. Vol
and Sussex - · · ·
Wiltshire . . . . . . John Britton, F.S.A. . Westmorland - - - - - Rev. Johu Hodgson.
(Worcestershire . . . . F. C. Laird. Vol. 16. Yorkshire . . . . . . J. Biglaud. Vol. 17. North Wales - . . . . Rev. J. Evans. Vol. 18. South Wales ..... Rev. T. Rees, F.S.A.
The completion of the Tenth Volume must be explained by the following brief statement.—This Volume consists of tive Parts, and comprises the History of London and Westminster, together with that of the county of Middlesex. The eighteen first Numbers, (ending at page 720, of the Second Part,) were written by Mr. Brayley. It then became desirable to request other assistance ; and the task of finishing the topographical account of London and Westminster was undertaken by the Rev. J. Nightingal. The Part comprising delineations of Middlesex, as a county separate from the metropolis, was written by Mr. J. Norris Brewer, and contains a notice of every parish in that county. It is presumed that the Public will duly appreciate the difficulty of continuing the pages relating to London and Westminster, on a plan not laid down by the writer. *
In regard to the embellishments, the Publisher can truly aver; that engravers of the greatest eminence, or promise, have been anxiously sought
* The above five Parts, or Volumes, of the “ BEAUTIES OF England, are published separatrly, under the following title : “ London anit Middleses; or an Historical, Commercial, and Descriptive Survey of the Metropolis of Great Britain, including Skelches of its Envirous, and a Topographical Account of the most re:parkable Places in the above County. Illustrated with Engravings.” The price of the Work, in boards, is fl. 5s. sinall paper; and large paper, 101.