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K I N G.
HE Honour of laying my Book at the
foot of Majesty constitutes the smallest part of my pleasure, on receiving YOUR ROYAL PERMISSION for this Address.
I glory in the conscious satisfaction of dedicating it, to the Munificent Encourager of Knowledge in general; to the Avowed Patron of that particular Branch of it, the Antiquities of Thefe Kingdoms; to a Prince, Who has no cause to blush at the Idea, that Pofterity
may read, in the private Letters of the present Age, the undisguised Opinion which His Subjects entertained of His most secret Actions.
A Permission to dedicate to such a King, is an Honour fo highly flattering, that it will ever be remembered with the utmost Gratitude.
Condescend, MOST GRACIOUS SOVEREIGN, to accept this humble Testimony of profound Respect, from
P R E F A CE.
LL civilized Nations have been anxious to preserve Nations
every authentic record of their former transactions, Records. both public and private; and with the greatest reason, since even the proof of their existence, as a nation of consequence in the estimation of the real historian, who pays no attention to fabulous narratives, entirely depends upon such undoubted memorials.
Whenever, therefore, any particular period of a great Defective nation is imperfectly known, from the want of real and supplied. authentic records ; every one, who wishes to see anounbroken chain of national events, will with the greatest eagerness seize any information of undoubted authority, which presents itself, from which either new matter may arise, or the truth of accounts now existing may be ascertained, and confirmed. That our own kingdom has fewer authentic records Few Records
of the Reigos of the transactions, during the reigns of Henry VI. of Henry VI. Edward IV. and Richard III. than of many other earlier Rich. III. periods of our History, is a truth known to, and lamented by, every man of historical knowledge.
This deficiency of information in the above period The Reasons. arises from the following causes.
1. The civil contentions between the houses of York and Lancaster.
II. The slaughter of our nobility and gentry in the field, and on the scaffold.
III. The unsettled state of property.
The operation of the three first causes is very obvious ; but as it may seem paradoxical to assert, that an invention to which learning owes its present wide diffusion, should, in its infancy, have had a contrary effect, a few words of
explanation on the fourth may not be improper. Employment
At the beginning of the art of printing, those who pracof our early tised it, were solicitous to perpetuate things already com
mitted to writing, relative to past times and past occurrences; not regarding recent transactions as of equal consequence.
This art likewise probably prevented the writers of manuscripts from multiplying their copies; they foreseeing that the new invention would, in time, supply a sufficient number at a much less price, by which means the value of their manual labour would be greatly diminished: and the early printers being busy in preparing for the press old Histories, Legends, Diets and Sayings of Philosophers, Translations, &c. &c. could not find time for printing the then modern history, which being preserved by few, the manuscripts containing it were easily lost, or destroyed, and so never came down to us.
The Destruction which overwhelmed our manuscripts and records at the Reformation, is not here considered ; as that affected all the preceding ages, equally with that which is now under our confideration.