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Title: The Reformed Librarie-Keeper (1650)

Author: John Dury

Release date: February 28, 2005 [eBook #15199]
Most recently updated: December 14, 2020

Language: English


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Distributed Proofreading Team.





Introduction by




Publication Number 220


University of California, Los Angeles


  DAVID STUART RODES, University of California, Los Angeles

  CHARLES L. BATTEN, University of California, Los Angeles
  GEORGE ROBERT GUFFEY, University of California, Los Angeles
  MAXIMILLIAN E. NOVAK, University of California, Los Angeles
  NANCY M. SHEA, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
  THOMAS WRIGHT, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library

  RALPH COHEN, University of Virginia
  WILLIAM E. CONWAY, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
  VINTON A. DEARING, University of California, Los Angeles
  PHILLIP HARTH, University of Wisconsin, Madison
  LOUIS A. LANDA, Princeton University
  EARL MINER, Princeton University
  JAMES SUTHERLAND, University College, London
  NORMAN J.W. THROWER, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
  ROBERT VOSPER, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
  JOHN M. WALLACE, University of Chicago

  NANCY M. SHEA, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library

  BEVERLY J. ONLEY, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library

  FRANCES MIRIAM REED, University of California, Los Angeles


This work, with its quaint sentiments and its grim picture of what librarians were like in the mid-seventeenth century, is more than a curiosity. John Dury was a very important figure in the Puritan Revolution, offering proposal after proposal to prepare England for its role in the millennium. The Reformed Librarie-Keeper is an integral part of that preparation. To appreciate it one must look at it in terms of the plans of Dury and his associates, Samuel Hartlib and Johann Amos Comenius, to reform the intellectual institutions of England so that the prophecies in the books of Daniel and Revelation could be fulfilled there.

John Dury (1596-1680), the son of a Scottish Puritan, was raised in Holland.[1] He studied at the University of Leiden, then at the French Reformed seminaries at Sedan and Leiden, and later at Oxford. He was ordained a Protestant minister and served first at Cologne and then at the English church in the West Prussian city of Elbing. There he came in contact with Samuel Hartlib (?-1662), a merchant, who was to devote himself to many religious and scientific projects in England, and with Johann Amos Comenius (1592-1670), the leader of the Moravian Brethren, as well as with other great educational reformers of the Continent. The three of them shared a common vision—that the advancement of knowledge, the purification of the Christian churches, and the impending conversion of the Jews were all antecedent steps to the commencement in the foreseeable future of the millennium, the thousand-year reign of Christ on earth. They saw the struggles of the Thirty Years' War and the religious conflict in England as part of their development of providential history.

In terms of their common vision, each of them strove during the decade 1630-40 to help the world prepare for the great events to come. Comenius started redoing the educational system through his textbooks and set forth plans for attaining universal knowledge. Hartlib moved from Germany to England, where he became a central organizing figure in both the nascent scientific world and the theological world. He was in contact with a wide variety of intellectuals and brought their ideas together. (For instance, he apprised Dury of the millenarian theory of Joseph Mede, which was to be so influential in the Puritan Revolution, and he spread Comenius's ideas in England.) Dury devoted himself principally to trying to unite all of the Protestant churches in Europe and to this end began his peregrinations from Sweden and Germany to Holland, Switzerland, France, and England. These travels were to continue throughout the rest of his life, as he tried to negotiate an agreement on the essentials of Christianity in preparation for Jesus' return.

In 1640, as the Puritan Revolution began, Hartlib, Comenius, and Dury saw the developments in England as the opportunity to put their scientific-religious plans into effect. They joined together in London in 1641 and, with strong support, offered proposals to prepare England for the millennium. They proposed setting up a new university in London for developing universal knowledge. In spite of the strong backing they had from leaders of the State and Church, Parliament was unable to fund the project because of the turmoil of the time. Comenius left for the Continent, while Hartlib and Dury advanced other projects and involved themselves in the Westminster conference to reform the Church.[2]

Hugh Trevor-Roper has called Hartlib, Dury, and Comenius "the real philosophers, the only philosophers, of the English Revolution."[3] They combined a long list of practical plans with an overall vision of how these fitted into the needed antecedent events to the millennium. They made proposals for improving and reforming many aspects of human activities and human institutions. The advancement of knowledge, the improvement of human life, and the purification of religion, which included bringing the Jews and Christians together, would prepare England for its role when God chose to transform human history. In a long series of pamphlets and tracts, Hartlib and Dury turned Comenius's theory into practical applications to the situation then prevailing in England.[4]

Dury outlined this program in a sermon he gave before Parliament on 26 November 1645 entitled Israels Call to March Out of Babylon unto Jerusalem. He pointed out that England, the new Israel, had a special role in history, "for the Nations of great Britain have made a new thing in the world; a thing which hath not been done by any Nation in the world, since the preaching of the Gospel in it, a thing which since the Jewish Nation, in the daies of Nehemiah, was never heard of in any Nation, that not only the Rulers, but the whole multitude of the people should enter into a Covenant with their God, … to walk in the waies of his Word, to maintain the Cause of Religion, and to reform themselves according to his will" (pp. 23-24).

Since England was to be God's agent in history, Dury proclaimed at the end of his sermon that "The Schooles of the Prophets, the Universities[,] must be setled, purged and reformed with wholsom constitutions, for the education of the sonnes of the Prophets, and the government of their lives and with the soundnes and purity of spirituall learning, that they may speak the true language of Canaan, and that the gibberidge of Scholastical Divinity may be banished out of their society" (p. 48).

In the same year that he delivered this sermon, Dury married an aunt of Lady Catherine Ranelagh and was brought in closer contact with Lady Catherine's brother, Robert Boyle, and the young scientists of the so-called Invisible College. Dury and Hartlib pressed for reforms that would promote a better, more useful education from the lowest grades upward. Convinced by the passage in Daniel 12:4 that knowledge shall increase before the end of history, Dury and Hartlib sought various opportunities to bring about this increase in knowledge through better schools, better religious training, and better organization of knowledge. Such organization would necessarily affect libraries since they were an all-important component of the premillennial preparation.

Between 1645 and 1650, Dury wrote a great many tracts on improving the Church and society. These include an as yet unpublished one, dated 16 August 1646, giving his views on the post of library keeper at Oxford. The poor state of Oxford's library led Dury to observe that the librarian is to be "a factor and trader for helpes to learning, a treasurer to keep them and a dispenser to apply them to use, or to see them well used, or at least not abused."[5] During his travels on the Continent, Dury had visited Duke Augustus of Brunswick and was obviously very impressed by the great library the Duke was assembling at Wolfenbuttel. In his important Seasonable Discourse of 1649 on reforming religion and learning, Dury had proposed establishing in London the first college for Jewish studies in the modern world. In this proposal, he saw as a basic need the procurement of a collection of Oriental books. Such a library was not just to store materials, but to make them available and thereby increase knowledge. Hartlib, in a pamphlet entitled Considerations tending to the Happy Accomplishment of England's Reformation in Church and State, written in 1647 and published in 1649, had proposed a central "Office of Addresse," an information service dispensing spiritual and "bodily" information to all who wished it. The holder of this office should, he said, correspond with "Chiefe Library-Keepers of all places, whose proper employments should bee to trade for the Advantages of Learning and Learned Men in Books and MS[S] to whom he may apply himselfe to become beneficiall, that such as Mind The End of their employment may reciprocate with him in the way of Communication" (p. 49).

Events surrounding the overthrow and execution of Charles I led Dury to become more personally involved in library matters. After the king fled from London, the royal goods were subject to various proposals, including selling or burning. These schemes of disposal extended to his books and manuscripts, which were stored in St. James's Palace. John Selden is credited with preventing the sale of the royal library. Bulstrode Whitelocke was appointed keeper of the king's medals and library, and on 28 October 1650 Dury was appointed his deputy. According to Anthony à Wood, Dury "did the drudgery of the place."[6] The books and manuscripts were in terrible disorder and disarray, and Dury carefully reorganized them. As soon as he took over, Dury stopped any efforts to sell the books and ordered that the new chapel, built originally for the wedding of King Charles I, be turned into a library. He immediately ordered the printing of the Septuagint copy of the Bible in the royal collection.

In the same year that he became deputy keeper, Dury wrote the following tract, one of a dozen he composed in 1650 on topics ranging from the educational to the ecclesiastical. Among the latter was his introduction to Thomas Thorowgood's book contending that the American Indians are descended from the Israelites, a work that also served as promotional material for New England colonization.

That Dury's The Reformed Librarie-Keeper is part of his reform program preparatory to the onset of the millennium is apparent both from its setting and its content. It was published in 1650 along with two other tracts (not reprinted here)[7] and Dury's supplement to his Reformed School, which itself had appeared a few months earlier. The Reformed School was a basic presentation of the ideas of Comenius, Hartlib, and Dury for transforming the nature of education in such a way that from infancy people would be directed in their striving toward universal knowledge and spiritual betterment. The Supplement to the Reformed School deals with the role that universities should take in preparing for the Kingdom of God, a role making them more actively part of the world.

Having placed educational institutions in the scheme of things preparatory to the millennium, Dury then proceeds to place library keeping and libraries in this scheme as well. Unfortunately, according to Dury, library keepers had traditionally regarded their positions as opportunities for profit and gain, not for "the service, which is to bee don by them unto the Common-wealth of Israel, for the advancement of Pietie and Learning" (p. 15). Library keepers "ought to becom Agents for the advancement of universal Learning" and not just mercenary people (p. 17). Their role ought not to be just to guard the books but to make them available to those seeking universal knowledge and understanding of the Kingdom of God.

The library and the library keeper can play important roles in making knowledge available. As Dury points out, Oxford and Heidelberg have failed to do so. Dury's work enumerates very practical problems that need to be solved and integrates them into an overall picture of the library keeper, the library, the school, and the church—all fundamental components of a better world, if properly reformed. Reforming involves practical changes directed by the spiritual goal of preparing for the millennium. And it should be noticed that while Dury had time to worry about how much librarians should be paid and how books should be classified, and while he was occupied in getting the king's books in their proper place on the shelf, he was also convinced that the penultimate events before the onset of the millennium were about to take place. A month after his official appointment as deputy library keeper, Dury wrote the preface, dated 28 November 1650, to Abraham von Franckenberg's Clavis Apocalyptica. This work in Dury's translation of 1651 states on the title page that it offers a key to the prophecies in the books of Daniel and Revelation and "that the Prophetical Numbers com to an end with the year of our Lord 1655." The work, which Dury strongly endorses, lists as events "which are shortly to com to pass, collected out of the XI and XVI Chapters of the REVELATION," the destruction of the city of Rome, the end of the Turkish Empire, the conversion of the Jews, and the ruin of the whole papacy. Thereupon, the Devil will be cast out and shut up in the bottomless pit, and the Son of God will take "possession of the Kingdom" and reign for the millennium (pp. [164-65]).

As is all too evident, Dury's reform projects did not lead to the millennium. He was active in England until sent abroad in 1654 as Cromwell's unofficial agent. Again he traveled all over Protestant Europe negotiating to reunite the churches. After the Restoration he was unable to return to England and lived out his life on the Continent trying to bring about Christian reunion. One of his last works, which has not been located, was a shady Touchant l'intelligence de l'Apocalypse par l'Apocalypse même of 1674. His daughter married Henry Oldenburg, who became a secretary of the Royal Society of England and who helped bring about some of the scientific reforms Dury had advocated.

Richard H. Popkin Washington University

* * * * *

John Dury's place in the intellectual and religious life of seventeenth-century England and Europe is amply demonstrated in the preceding part of the introduction. This section focuses on The Reformed Librarie-Keeper itself, which was printed in 1650 with the subheading Two copies of Letters concerning the Place and Office of a Librarie-Keeper (p. 15). The first letter concentrates on practical questions of the organization and administration of the library, the second relates the librarian's function to educational goals and, above all else, to the mission of the Christian religion. The work's two-part structure is a clue to a proper understanding of the genesis of The Reformed Librarie-Keeper and to its meaning and puts in ironic perspective its usefulness for later academic librarianship.

Because The Reformed Librarie-Keeper appeared in the same year that Dury became deputy librarian of the King's Library in St. James's Palace, it has been assumed that he probably wrote the pamphlet as a form of self-promotion to secure the job. An anonymous article in The Library in 1892, for instance, speculates that the pamphlet may have been "composed for the special purpose of the Author's advancement" and that Milton and Samuel Hartlib urged its production "to forward his claims" while the Council of State was debating what to do with Charles I's books.[8] Certainly the final sentence of the tract, with its references to "the Hous" and "the Counsels of leading men in this Common-wealth" (p. 31), suggests a connection with the debate, but the tone of religious zeal that permeates the work, and especially the second letter, seems to transcend any specific occasion. Moreover, Hartlib, Dury's longtime friend and associate in millenarian causes and the recipient and editor of these letters, claims that they and the other, disparate works he selected for the volume are all "fruits of som of my Solicitations and Negotiations for the advancement of Learning" and as such "are but preparatives towards that perfection which wee may exspect by the advancement of the Kingdom of Christ, wherein the Communion of Saints, by the graces of the Spirit, will swallow up all these poor Rudiments of knowledg, which wee now grope after by so manie helps" (sig. A2r-v).

There is, in fact, no way of knowing with certainty if Dury's motives were "impure," especially since the exact date of the tract cannot be determined, no entry existing for it in the Stationers' Register. According to one of Dury's biographers, but with no reference to source, the pamphlet was printed by William Dugard "shortly after" the latter's release from prison in the early spring of 1650.[9] The Calendar of State Papers and the records of Bulstrode Whitelocke indicate that Dury was not officially considered for the library post before late summer and not appointed until 28 October.[10]

The contents of the letters themselves reveal Dury far ahead of his time in his conception of the Complete Librarian, but later commentators have generally not understood that the administrative reforms he advocated were inseparable from his idea of the sacramental nature of the librarian's office—and so have tended to dismiss the second letter because it "merely repeats the ideas of the first with less practical suggestion and in a more declamatory style."[11] Such a comment illustrates how far we are from Dury's (and the age's) purposes and hopes, and it shows a great misunderstanding of the religious and moral context within which, for Dury, all human activity took place. As Professor Popkin has shown, Dury considered libraries fundamental to the preparation for the millennium: they housed the texts indispensable to the spread of learning, which in turn was prerequisite to religious unity and peace on earth and ultimately to the millennium itself; for with enough of the right books, the Christian world could convert the Jews, that final step which was to herald the reign of Christ on earth. When, in the second letter, Dury refers to the "stewardship" of the librarian he is speaking literally, not metaphorically.

But if libraries were to serve their purpose in the grand scheme—that is, to make texts easily available—extensive reforms were necessary, and that is the burden of the first letter. Dury's cardinal principle is that libraries should be useful to people: "It is true that a fair Librarie, is … an ornament and credit to the place where it is [the 'jewel box' concept]; … yet in effect it is no more then a dead Bodie as now it is constituted, in comparison of what it might bee, if it were animated with a publick Spirit to keep and use it, and ordered as it might bee for publick service" (p. 17, my emphasis). The public that Dury refers to is an academic faculty and not the general public. To insure fullest use he goes on to advocate the necessity of a printed catalogue with yearly manuscript supplements to be issued as a cumulative printed supplement every three years. He does not reach the point of proposing a call-number system but stresses the importance of shelf-location guides in the catalogue. He believes in aggressive acquisition policies and the necessity of good faculty-librarian relations, with the former advising the latter of the important books in their fields of specialization. He urges what might now be called "interlibrary loan" and other forms of sharing. To keep the librarian on the straight and narrow, apparently a recurrent problem in Dury's day, he recommends an annual meeting of a faculty board of governors where the librarian will give his annual report and put on an exhibition of the books he has acquired. To allay the temptation to make a little money on the side by "trading" (Dury's obsessive term) in the library's books for his personal profit, the librarian is to receive administrative support for his various expenses during the year and, as a scholar working with other scholars within his university instead of as a mere factotum, the librarian is to receive an adequate salary (perhaps the only one of Dury's reforms that must wait until the millennium).

The question remains to what extent Dury's duties as the deputy librarian of the King's Library allowed him to implement the reforms he advocated on paper. The probable answer is, not very much. The librarian's duties and responsibilities described by Dury are those of an academic, university librarian, interacting with the faculty and participating fully in the intellectual life of a scholarly community. The role of the librarian of the King's Library would have been that of keeper of a static and isolated collection, and Dury is particularly critical of a merely custodial role: "… their emploiment," he writes of the typical librarian of his day, is "of little or no use further, then to look to the Books committed to their custodie, that they may not bee lost; or embezeled by those that use them: and this is all" (p. 16).

The King's Library was unquestionably magnificent; Charles's father and brother Henry had been particularly zealous in building it up, acquiring such collections as that of Isaac Casaubon. And Charles had been the recipient in 1628 of perhaps its greatest single treasure, the Codex Alexandrinus, a fifth-century manuscript of the Bible in Greek, certainly an item that would have interested Dury. The library had, in fact, great scholarly potential, but its continued existence was apparently an embarrassment to the Commonwealth, and the Puritan government merely wanted an overseer. So, by the determination of others, the post of deputy keeper of the King's Library was little but a sinecure for Dury, leaving him free to pursue his many other interests but powerless to implement the reforms he advocated in his pamphlet within the only library over which he ever had direct control. Though he retained the post until the Restoration, he left the library itself early in 1654, never to return.

The DNB notes that Dury's life was "an incessant round of journeyings, colloquies, correspondence, and publications." The account might also have added that, sadly, it was a life of many failures and frustrations, since his visionary scheme for the wholeness of life was so out of touch with the jealousies and rivalries of those he encountered. But if the larger vision that underlay The Reformed Librarie-Keeper is now merely a historical curiosity, the specific reforms that Dury advocated, as seemingly impractical in his own time as his other schemes, proved to be of lasting importance. Shorn of the millenarian vision that gave them their point in Dury's own day, his ideas have become the accepted standards of modern librarianship. Dury himself would not have been heartened by his secular acceptance: "… For except Sciences bee reformed in order to this Scope [of the Christian and millenarian vision], the increas of knowledg will increas nothing but strife, pride and confusion, from whence our sorrows will bee multiplied and propagated unto posteritie…." (p. 31).

Thomas F. Wright William Andrews Clark Memorial Library


[Footnote 1: For Dury's biography, see J. Minton Batten, John Dury, Advocate of Christian Reunion (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1944).]

[Footnote 2: On the relation of Dury, Hartlib, and Comenius, see G.H.
Turnbull, Hartlib, Dury and Comenius (Liverpool: University Press of
Liverpool, 1947).]

[Footnote 3: Hugh Trevor-Roper, "Three Foreigners: The Philosophers of the Puritan Revolution," in his Religion, the Reformation, and Social Change, and Other Essays, 2d ed. (London: Macmillan, 1972), 240.]

[Footnote 4: On the philosophical and theological theories of Dury,
Hartlib, and Comenius, see Richard H. Popkin, "The Third Force in
Seventeenth-Century Philosophy, Scepticism, Science, and Biblical
Prophecy," Nouvelles de la République des Lettres (Spring 1983), and
Charles Webster, The Great Instauration: Science, Medicine, and Reform,
(London: Duckworth, 1975).]

[Footnote 5: Quoted in Turnbull, 257.]

[Footnote 6: Athenae Oxonienses, vol. 2 (London, 1692), col. 400.]

[Footnote 7: The omitted works are An Idea of Mathematicks by John Pell (pp. 33-46) and The description of one of the chiefest Libraries which is in Germanie, attributed either to Julius Scheurl or J. Schwartzkopf (pp. [47]-65, in Latin). This seems to be the first printing of The description, which was published separately at Wolfenbuttel in 1653. John Pell's essay was written around 1630-34 and was prepared for publication in 1634 by Hartlib, but was only actually published as an addition to The Reformed Librarie-Keeper. It was of some importance in making mathematics better known at the time.]

[Footnote 8: "John Durie's Reformed Librarie-Keeper and Its Author's
Career as a Librarian," The Library, 1st ser. 4 (1892), 82.]

[Footnote 9: Ruth Shepard Granniss, "Biographical Sketch," The Reformed
(Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co., 1906), 31-32.]

[Footnote 10: See "John Durie's Reformed Librarie-Keeper," 83.]

[Footnote 11: Richard Garnett, "Librarianship in the Seventeenth
Century," in his Essays in Librarianship and Bibliography (New York:
F.P. Harper, 1899), 187.]


The Reformed Librarie Keeper With a Supplement to the Reformed School (1650) is reproduced from the copy in the Folger Shakespeare Library (Shelf Mark D2882/Bd w/D2883). A typical type page (p. 7) measures 107 x 56 mm. Not reproduced here are two additional parts in the original volume: An Idea of Mathematicks by John Pell and The description of one of the chiefest Libraries which is in Germanie, attributed either to Julius Scheurl or J. Schwartzkopf.


With a Supplement to the


As subordinate to Colleges in Universities.



Whereunto is added

I. An idea of Mathematicks.

II. The description of one of the chiefest Libraries which is in Germanie, erected and ordered by one of the most Learned Princes in Europe.


Printed by William Du-Gard, and are to bee sold by Rob. Littleberrie at the sign of the Unicorn in Little Britain. 1650.

To the Reader.

Learned Reader!

These Tracts are the fruits of som of my Sollicitations and Negotiations for the advancement of Learning. And I hope they may in time becom somwhat effectual to rais thy Spirit to the exspectation of greater things, which may bee raised upon such grounds as these. All which are but preparatives towards that perfection which wee may exspect by the advancement of the Kingdom of Christ, wherein the Communion of Saints, by the graces of the Spirit, will swallow up all these poor Rudiments of knowledg, which wee now grope after by so manie helps; and till then in those endeavors I rest in the Truth.

Thy faithfull and unwearied servant


A SUPPLEMENT TO THE Reformed School.

Loving freind!

You have offered to mee that which I confess I did not reflect upon, when I wrote the discours you have Published under the name of a Reformed School; which is, that som may think by the waie of Education, which I propose all Universities and eminent places of Learning might subtilly bee undermined and made useless, becaus therein a waie is shew'd how to initiate youths not onely to the Principles of all Religious and Rational knowledg, and in the Exercises of all Moral virtues, but in the grounds of all Civil emploiments, so far, as will make them fit for all profitable undertakings in humane societies, whence this will follow (in their apprehensions) that they shall have no advantage by beeing sent to anie Universities, to attein anie further perfection: becaus the Universities will not bee able to add anie thing unto them, which by their own Industrie, they may not afterward attein anie where els, as well as there. Truly it never came into my thoughts, either directly or indirectly to make Universities useless; nor can it bee rationally infer'd from anie thing in the matter form or end of that discours of mine: but I will grant that such as can see no farther then what wee now ordinarily attein unto; and withal think that there is no Plus ultra in nature atteinable above that which they have conceived, such as I saie may frame to themselv's this jealousie against that discours: but if they would rais their thoughts with mee a little above the ordinarie pitch, and consider what the Nature of man is capable off: and how far it may, by diligent instruction, by Method and Communication, bee improved: they might rather bee induced to make this inference, if the natural abilities of youths in a School (when reformed) may bee thus far improved: how far more may they bee improved, when they are past the age of Youth, and com to Manhood in Colleges and Universities, if namely Colleges and Universities, could in the sphere of their activities bee proportionally Reformed, as the Schools may bee in their sphere: for it is rational to conclude thus: if the first step of our Reformation will lead us thus far, how far will the second and third lead us? and if Scholastical Exercises in Youths of eighteen or twentie years, will advance them to that perfection of Learning and Virtues, which few of double their age or none almost ever attein unto, what will Collegial and Academical Exercises (if reformed and set upon their proper Objects) bring them unto? I shall therefore to eas you, or such as may have this scruple and jealousie over mee, declare that my purpose is so far from making Colleges and Universities useless, that if I might have my desire in them, they should becom a thousand times more useful then now they are, that is, as far above the ordinarie State wherein they are set, as this School is above the ordinarie waie of Schooling: for if wee look upon the true and proper ends of School, College and Universitie-studies and Exercises, wee shall see that as in nature they are in a gradual proportion, distant from, and subordinate unto each other, so they ought to rise one out of another, and bee built upon each other's Foundations.

The true and proper end of Schooling is to teach and Exercise Children and Youths in the Grounds of all Learning and Virtues, so far as either their capacitie in that age will suffer them to com, or is requisite to apprehend the principles of useful matters, by which they may bee made able to exercise themselvs in everie good Employment afterwards by themselvs, and as the Proverb is, sine Cortice natare. The true and proper end of Colleges should bee to bring together into one Societie such as are able thus to Exercise themselvs in anie or all kind of Studies, that by their mutual Association, Communication, and Assistance in Reading, Meditating and conferring about profitable matters, they may not onely perfit their own Abilities, but advance the superstructures of all Learning to that perfection, which by such means is attainable. And the true and proper End of Universities, should bee to publish unto the World the Matters, which formerly have not been published; to discover the Errors and hurtfulness of things mistaken for Truths; and to supplie the defects and desiderata, which may bee servicable to all sorts of Professions.

Now according to those aimes and ends, I suppose it may bee inferred, that none should bee dismissed out of the Schools, till they are able to make use of all sorts of Books, and direct themselvs profitably in everie cours of Studie or Action, whereunto their Genius shall lead them; and that none should bee admitted into anie Colleges, but such as will join with others, to elaborate som profitable Tasks, for the Advancement and facilitating of superstructures in things already by som discovered, but not made common unto all; And that none should bee made Publick Professors in Universities, but such as have not onely a Publick aim, but som approved Abilities, to supply som defects and to Elaborate som desiderata of usefull knowledg, or to direct such as are studious, how to order their thoughts in all Matters of search and Meditation, for the discoverie of things not hitherto found out by others; but which in probabilitie may bee found out by rational searching.

Thus then I conceiv, that in a well-Reformed Common wealth, which is to bee subordinate unto the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, wherein the Glorie of God, the happiness of the nature of man: and the Glorious libertie of the Sons of God is to bee revealed; all the subjects thereof should in their Youth bee trained up in som Schools fit for their capacities, and that over these Schools, som Overseers should bee appointed to look to the cours of their Education, to see that none should bee left destitute of som benefit of virtuous breeding, according to the several kinds of emploiments, whereunto they may bee found most fit and inclinable, whether it bee to bear som civil Office in the Common-wealth, or to bee Mechanically emploied, or to bee bred to teach others humane Sciences, or to bee imploied in Prophetical Exercises. As for this School, which at this time I have delineated, it is proper to such of the Nobilitie, Gentrie and better sort of Citizens, which are fit to bee made capable to bear Offices in the Common-wealth: the other Schools may bee spoken off in due time, so far as they are distinct from this, but that which now I have to suggest is chiefly this, that as out of the Schools the chois, which ought to bee made for Colleges, ought, Cæteris paribus, onely to bee of such as are most fit to Advance the Ends of a Collegial Association; so out of Colleges a chois ought to bee made of Professors for the Universitie onely, of such as are fitted to advance the Ends of Publick teaching in Universities, which are not to Repeat and Compendiate that which others have published twentie times already, over and over again, but to add unto the Common stock of humane knowledg, that which others have not observed, to the end that all these degrees of Studies and Exercises of the minde of man, beeing subordinate unto the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, the happiness of Man by all Rational and Spiritual waies of improving humane Abilities, may bee advanced unto it's perfection in this life so far as may bee.

But how far short wee com now of all these designs, I need not to relate unto you: the Colleges as they are now Conformed, can scarce reach to the half of that which the Schools might bring us unto: and the Professors of the Universities com not up to that, which the Collegial Associations might elaborate, if they were rightly directed to set their Talents at work; and if the publick Spirit of Christian love and ingenuitie did possess those, that are possessed of publick places in the Colleges of the Universities. For if this Spirit did rule their Aims and Endevors, there would bee no self-seeking, no partialitie, no envie, nor anie cross actings for private ends, to the prejudice of the Publick; but the generous love of virtue and of profitable Learning, would swaie all their inclinations to a free conjunction; and make all their endeavors subordinate unto the publick good of the Common-wealth of Israël in the Communion of Saints. But how far this Principle of acting is now wanting amongst us all, I shall not need to mention: you have considered it long ago, and wee have together lamented that defect, and the doleful effects thereof: our endevor must bee to seek out the best means of a Reformation therein, and to make use of them as God shall give us opportunities. And truly somthing of this kinde might bee don, without anie great alteration or stir, even as matters now are formed in the Colleges; if God would bee so gracious to us, as to beget in the mindes of those that understand those things, a heartie Aim and Resolution to benefit the Christian Common-wealth of Learning, by their Collegial Relations and Associations one to another. For if men that are ingenuous will call to minde the end first, for which God doth give them all their Talents, and then also for which men of publick Spirits have erected Colleges and Universities, and endowed the same with long and competent maintenances; that such as are fit for Studies, and called to bee Instrumental in the propagation of Truth and Virtue, might not bee distracted with the care of the World, in reference to outward matters, but might have all the conveniences which are imaginable to improve those Talents to the utmost, either singly, or conveniently with others, if (I saie) ingenuous Christians would minde these ends, for which the benefit of their Talents from God and of their accommodations from men to improve those Talents are bestowed upon them: it would not bee possible for them; to be so unthankful towards God, and avers from the rule of Christianitie, and from the love of doing good to the generation wherein they live; that they should intend to lead a Collegial life onely for their own private eas and conveniencie in outward things; that beeing accommodated with all necessarie helps of the Bodie, they may pleas themselvs onely in the cours of their Studies, with that Reservation and Retiredness, which is proper to a Monkish life in Popish Cloisters; wherein the Spirit of Mutual envie, of detraction and division is more irreconcilably entertained, then in anie other Societies of the World. For their Cloister-constitutions, obliging them onely to the observation of som formal works as an opus operatum; for which their maintenance is allowed them; they not knowing anie further design of their life, or any greater happiness in this World, then to pleas themselvs; bestow all the rest of their time and thoughts, as their natural inclinations lead them, which is commonly to nothing els but to self-love and Pride, which became a Provocation unto others, to discover mutually their corruptions, which by reaction make them all full of envie, of hatred, of evil surmises, and of malicious practices one against another: so that no where Satan doth dwel and rule more effectually, then in those Religious Houses, as they are falsly so called. How much of this Monkish disposition doth remain as yet in the formal Constitutions of Colleges, or in the Spirits of those that partake of Collegial accommodations, is not a thing which I shall take upon me to Judg; but I shall leav it to God, and to his daie to discover; onely I would bee glad that all such as are true Israelites, and know the end of their calling unto Christ, and are not willing to burie their Talents, or to make them useless unto others, for whose fakes they have received them would laie this matter to heart, that their Aim in a Collegial life, should not bee to enjoie an easie careless waie of subsistence by and for themselvs, to follow private fancies in their Studies about matters of Learning; but that they should minde the stewardship of their gifts and places, and the advantages of their Association, whereby they might bee, (if they would make use of it) able to elaborate som tasks, which otherwise cannot bee brought to anie perfection, for the building up of the Citie of God in our generations. There is no want of parts and abilities in the Spirits of our men, but the waie to order them for publick life, and to bring them together as stones fitly compacted to make up a perfect Palace, is that which make's us all useless one to another; wee finde that now and then, as it were by chance, som exquisite pieces of Learning, which som have been hatching all their life time drop out; wherein appear's, besides the usefulness of the Subject, or the uselesness thereof, som inclination to bee found extraordinarie; but these endevors, disjointed from publick Aims, advance little or nothing, the Happiness, which true Learning rightly ordered in all the parts thereof; and Subordinate unto Christianitie, is able to bring unto Mankind. Such pieces therefore serv onely as a witness, to shew what wast there is of profitable time and abilities, for want of loving combinations for publick Designs. It is the observation of Forreigners concerning our Universities, that they finde in them men of as great learning as any where els; but that they lie as it were dead and unknown to the whole world of other men of Learning; becaus they delight to live a retired and unsociable life: this humor therefore amongst other parts of our Reformation, must by som Gospel-principles and Rational inducements bee Reformed, not onely in Colleges but in other Associations. The Lord teach us the waie of Truth and Righteousness, that wee may profit in all things to advance the glorie of his name in the Kingdom of his Son, in whom I rest

Your friend and servant.





Printed by William Du-gard,

Anno Dom. 1650.

THE Reformed Librarie-Keeper:


Two copies of Letters concerning the Place and Office of a

The first Letter.

The Librarie-Keeper's place and Office, in most Countries (as most other places and Offices both in Churches and Universities) are lookt upon, as Places of profit and gain, and so accordingly sought after and valued in that regard; and not in regard of the service, which is to bee don by them unto the Common-wealth of Israël, for the advancement of Pietie and Learning; for the most part, men look after the maintenance, and livelihood setled upon their Places, more then upon the end and usefulness of their emploiments; they seek themselvs and not the Publick therein, and so they subordinate all the advantages of their places, to purchase mainly two things thereby viz. an easie subsistence; and som credit in comparison of others; nor is the last much regarded, if the first may bee had; except it bee in cases of strife and debate, wherein men are over-heated: for then indeed som will stand upon the point of Honor, to the hazard of their temporal profits: but to speak in particular of Librarie-Keepers, in most Universities that I know; nay indeed in all, their places are but Mercenarie, and their emploiment of little or no use further, then to look to the Books committed to their custodie, that they may not bee lost; or embezeled by those that use them: and this is all.

I have been informed, that in Oxford (where the most famous Librarie now exstant amongst Protestant-Christians is kept,) the setled maintenance of the Librarie-keeper is not above fiftie or sixtie pound per annum; but that it is accidentally, viis & modis somtimes worth an hundred pound: what the accidents are, and the waies by which they com, I have not been curious to search after; but I have thought, that if the proper emploiments of Librarie-keepers were taken into consideration as they are, or may bee made useful to the advancement of Learning; and were ordered and mainteined proportionally to the ends, which ought to bee intended thereby; they would bee of exceeding great use to all sorts of Scholars, and have an universal influence upon all the parts of Learning, to produce and propagate the same unto perfection. For if Librarie-keepers did understand themselvs in the nature of their work, and would make themselvs, as they ought to bee, useful in their places in a publick waie; they ought to becom Agents for the advancement of universal Learning: and to this effect I could wish, that their places might not bee made, as everie where they are, Mercenarie, but rather Honorarie; and that with the competent allowance of two hundred pounds a year; som emploiments should bee put upon them further then a bare keeping of the Books. It is true that a fair Librarie, is not onely an ornament and credit to the place where it is; but an useful commoditie by it self to the publick; yet in effect it is no more then a dead Bodie as now it is constituted, in comparison of what it might bee, if it were animated with a publick Spirit to keep and use it, and ordered as it might bee for publick service. For if such an allowance were setled upon the emploiment as might maintain a man of parts and generous thoughts, then a condition might bee annexed to the bestowing of the Place; that none should bee called thereunto but such as had approved themselvs zealous and profitable in som publick waies of Learning to advance the same, or that should bee bound to certain tasks to bee prosecuted towards that end, whereof a List might bee made, and the waie to trie their Abilities in prosecuting the same should bee described, least in after times, unprofitable men creep into the place, to frustrate the publick of the benefit intended by the Doners towards posteritie. The proper charge then of the Honorarie Librarie-Keeper in a Universitie should bee thought upon, and the end of that Imploiment, in my conception, is to keep the publick stock of Learning, which is in Books and Manuscripts to increas it, and to propose it to others in the waie which may bee most useful unto all; his work then is to bee a Factor and Trader for helps to Learning, and a Treasurer to keep them, and a dispenser to applie them to use, or to see them well used, or at least not abused; And to do all this, First a Catalogue, of the Treasurie committed unto his charge is to bee made, that is all the Books and Manuscripts, according to the Titles whereunto they belong, are to bee ranked in an order most easie and obvious to bee found, which I think is that of Sciences and Languages; when first all the Books are divided into their subjectam materiam whereof they Treat, and then everie kinde of matter subdivided into their several Languages: And as the Catalogue should bee so made, that it may alwaies bee augmented as the stock doth increas; so the place in the Librarie must bee left open for the increas of the number of Books in their proper Seats, and in the Printed Catalogue, a Reference is to bee made to the place where the Books are to bee found in their Shelvs or repositories. When the stock is thus known and fitted to bee exposed to the view of the Learned World, Then the waie of Trading with it, both at home and abroad, is to bee laid to heart both for the increas of the stock, and for the improvement of it to use. For the increas of the stock both at home and abroad, correspondencie should bee held with those that are eminent in everie Science, to Trade with them for their profit, that what they want and wee have, they may receiv upon condition, that what they have and wee want, they should impart in that facultie where their eminencie doth lie; As for such as are at home eminent in anie kinde, becaus they may com by Native right to have use of the Librarie-Treasure, they are to bee Traded withal in another waie, viz. that the things which are gained from abroad, which as yet are not made common, and put to publick use should bee promised and imparted to them for the increas of their private stock of knowledg, to the end that what they have peculiar, may also bee given in for a requital, so that the particularities of gifts at home and abroad, are to meet as in a Center in the hand of the Librarie-keeper, and hee is to Trade with the one by the other, to caus them to multiplie the publick stock, whereof hee is a Treasurer and Factor.

Thus hee should Trade with those that are at home and abroad out of the Universitie, and with those that are within the Universitie, hee should have acquaintance to know all that are of anie parts, and how their vein of Learning doth lie, to supplie helps unto them in their faculties from without and from within the Nation, to put them upon the keeping of correspondencie with men of their own strain, for the beating out of matters not yet elaborated in Sciences; so that they may bee as his Assistants and subordinate Factors in his Trade and in their own for gaining of knowledg: Now becaus in all publick Agencies, it is fit that som inspection should bee had over those that are intrusted therewith, therefore in this Factorie and Trade for the increas of Learning, som tie should bee upon those Librarie-keepers to oblige them to carefulness.

I would then upon this account, have an Order made that once in the year, the Librarie-keeper should bee bound to give an account of his Trading, and of his Profit in his Trade (as in all humane Trades Factors ought, and use to do to their principals at least once a year) and to this effect I would have it ordered, that the chief Doctors of each facultie of the Universitie, should meet at a Convenient time in a week of the year, to receiv the Accounts of his Trading, that hee may shew them wherein the stock of Learning hath been increased, for that year's space; and then hee is to produce the particulars which he hath gained from abroad, and laie them before them all, that everie one in his own facultie may declare in the presence of others, that which he thinketh fit to bee added to the publick stock, and made common by the Catalogue of Additionals, which everie year within the Universities is to bee published in writing within the Librarie it self, and everie three years (or sooner as the number of Additionals may bee great, or later, if it bee smal) to bee put in Print and made common to those that are abroad. And at this giving up of the accounts, as the Doctors are to declare what they think worthie to bee added to the common stock of Learning, each in their Facultie; so I would have them see what the Charges and Pains are whereat the Librarie-Keeper hath been, that for his encouragement, the extraordinarie expences in correspondencies and transcriptions for the publick good, may bee allowed him out of som Revenues, which should bee set a part to that effect, and disposed of according to their joint-content and judgment in that matter. Here then hee should bee bound to shew them the Lists of his correspondents, the Letters from them in Answer to his, and the reckoning of his extraordinarie expence should bee allowed him in that which hee is indebted, or hath freely laid out to procure Rarities into the stock of Learning. And becaus I understand that all the Book-Printers or Stationars of the Common-wealth are bound of everie Book which is Printed, to send a Copie into the Universitie Librarie; and it is impossible for one man to read all the Books in all Faculties, to judg of them what worth there is in them; nor hath everie one Abilitie to judg of all kinde of Sciences what everie Autor doth handle, and how sufficiently; therefore I would have at this time of giving accounts, the Librarie-keeper also bound to produce the Catalogue of all the Books sent unto the Universitie's Librarie by the Stationars that Printed them; to the end that everie one of the Doctors in their own Faculties should declare, whether or no they should bee added, and where they should bee placed in the Catalogue of Additionals; For I do not think that all Books and Treaties which in this age are Printed in all kindes, should bee inserted into the Catalogue, and added to the stock of the Librarie, discretion must bee used and confusion avoided, and a cours taken to distinguish that which is profitable, from that which is useless; and according to the verdict of that Societie, the usefulness of Books for the publick is to bee determined; yet becaus there is seldom anie Books wherein there is not somthing useful, and Books freely given are not to bee cast away, but may bee kept, therefore I would have a peculiar place appointed for such Books as shall bee laid aside to keep them in, and a Catalogue of their Titles made Alphabetically in reference to the Autor's name, with a note of distinction to shew the Science to which they are to bee referred. These thoughts com thus suddenly into my head, which in due time may bee more fully described, if need bee, chiefly if, upon the ground of this account, som competencie should bee found out and allowed to maintein such charges as will bee requisite, towards the advancement of the Publick good of Learning after this manner.

The second Letter.


In my last I gave you som incident thoughts, concerning the improvement of an Honorarie Librarie-keeper's place, to shew the true end and use thereof, and how the keepers thereof should bee regulated in the Trade, which hee is to drive for the Advancement of Learning, and encouraged by a competent maintenance, and supported in extraordinarie expences for the same. Now I wish that som men of publick Spirits and lovers of Learning, might bee made acquainted with the Action, upon such grounds as were then briefly suggested; who know's but that in time somthing might bee offered to the Trustees of the Nation, with better conceptions then these I have suggested.

For, if it bee considered that amongst manie Eminencies of this Nation, the Librarie of Oxford is one of the most considerable for the advancement of Learning, if rightly improved and Traded withal for the good of Scholars at home and abroad; If this (I saie) bee rightly considered and represented to the publick Reformers of this age, that by this means this Nation as in other things, so especially for Pietie and Learning, and by the advancement of both, may now bee made more glorious then anie other in the world; No doubt such as in the Parlament know the worth of Learning will not bee avers from further overtures, which may bee made towards this purpose. What a great stir hath been heretofore, about the Eminencie of the Librarie of Heidelberg, but what use was made of it? It was ingrossed into the hands of a few, till it became a Prey unto the Enemies of the Truth. If the Librarie-keeper had been a man, that would have traded with it for the increas of true Learning, it might have been preserved unto this daie in all the rarities thereof, not so much by the shuttings up of the multitude of Books, and the rareness thereof for antiquitie, as by the understandings of men and their proficiencie to improv and dilate knowledg upon the grounds which hee might have suggested unto others of parts, and so the Librarie-rarities would not onely have been preserved in the spirits of men, but have fructified abundantly therein unto this daie, whereas they are now lost, becaus they were but a Talent digged in the ground; And as they that had the keeping of that Librarie made it an Idol, to bee respected and worshipped for a raritie by an implicite faith, without anie benefit to those who did esteem of it a far off: so it was just with God that it should fall into the hands of those that in all things follow an Idolatrous waie, to blinde men with shewes without all realitie of substantial virtue, which is onely eminent in this, that it becometh profitable unto all, by dilating the light of knowledg, and the love of grace and goodness in the hearts of all men, that are fit to receiv the one and the other; And where this Aim is not in those that are intrusted with publick places; there they in the end will bee found unprofitable servants; for the trust which God hath put into their hands to profit withal, they discharge not for the account which everie one is to give unto him of his Stewardship, is not how careful hee hath kept things of use unto himself, to pride himself in the possession of that which others have not, (as the custom of men is, that know not what true glorie is) but how faithfully and diligently hee hath distributed the same to such as were worthie thereof for their good, that they might bee stirred up both to glorifie God for his goodness; and to imitate him in the Communication of all good things unto others for his sake freely. This was Christ's Work on Earth to receiv us, unto the Glorie of God; this was that which hee taught by this practice, that it is more blessed to give, then to receiv. This is that which this envious World cannot rellish, and what stop's the current of true love in the hearts of men? Nothing so much as the self-seeking of men in the waies of Learning, by which they covetously obstruct the fountains of life and comfort, which might overflow and water abundantly the barren and thirstie Souls of those that perish for want of address unto wisdom; which in all the waies of humane and divine Learning might bee mainly advanced, by the industrie of one man in such a place, whose Trade should bee such as I formerly described, to deal with the spirits of all men of parts, to set them a working one by and towards another, upon the subjects which hee should bee intrusted withal to keep in the stock of Learning. It is the Glorie and Riches of Nations and of great Cities, to make themselvs the Center of Trade for all their Neighbors; and if they can finde waies of politie, to oblige their Neighbors to receiv from their Magazines the Commodities whereof they stand in need, it is everie waie a great benefit unto the State, so it may bee in matters of Learning, and by the Trade of Sciences this Church may oblige all the Neighbor Churches, and that Universitie all Forreiners that Trade in knowledg to receiv pretious Commodities, whereof they stand in need, from our Magazines and Storehouses; if a painful Steward and dispenser thereof, bee imploied and mainteined to use industrie for so blessed a work, from whence much Glorie to God in the Gospel, and honor will redound to the Nation. For although the waies of humane Learning are almost infinite and wonderfully various, and have their peculiar uses in the outward life of man, for which most men affect them, yet in one that is to minde the universal good of all, the whole varietie and diversitie of matters useful unto this present life, as they com within the sphere of Learning must bee reduced, and may bee subordinate unto the advancement of the Gospel of Christ, wherein the Glorie of the Nation, at this and all times should bee thought to stand: And truly that is the thing which take's most with mee, for which I would have that Librarie thus improved by a faithful keeper, that when his Trade is set on foot, with all those that are of eminent parts in their several faculties, wee knowing who they are and wherein their eminencies do lie, may have opportunities to provoke them to the right use thereof, by giving them Objects from our store; and furnishing them with tasks and matters to bee elaborated, which cannot bee diverted from the scope of God's glorie to bee made known unto all men in Jesus Christ, for there is nothing of knowledg in the minde of man, which may not bee conveniently referred to the virtues of God in Christ, whereby the humane nature is to bee exalted to that dignitie whereunto hee hath received it, that it should by him rule over the whole Creation. And the want of this Aim to look upon things in order to him, and to set them a working without relation to him, is that which blast's all our endevors, and make's them determin in confusion and disorder; For whatsoever is not directed in it's own place with som reference unto him must bee overthrown; nor is there anie waie left for anie to prosper in that which hee undertaketh, but to learn to know him and respect him in it, for the advancement of the Kingdom over the Souls of men, which by the Sanctified use of all knowledg is chiefly effected. If then the Trade of Learning is to bee set a foot in a publick waie, and regulated to deserv the countenance of a Religious State, this Aim, and the waie of prosecuting of it must bee intended and beaten out; For except Sciences bee reformed in order to this Scope, the increas of knowledg will increas nothing but strife, pride and confusion, from whence our sorrows will bee multiplied and propagated unto posteritie; but if hee, who is to bee intrusted with the managing of this Trade, bee addressed in the waie which leadeth unto this Aim without partialitie, his negotiation will bee a blessing unto this age and to posteritie.

I have no time to inlarge upon this Subject, or to conceiv a formal and regular discours, but the thoughts which thus fall into my minde I impart unto you, that you may give them as hints unto others, who of themselvs will bee able to inlarge them either to the Hous, or to such as can in due time swaie the Counsels of leading men in this Common-wealth.

End of Project Gutenberg's The Reformed Librarie-Keeper (1650), by John Dury