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THE AUTHOR'S PREFACE.
HE prelate who is the subject of the fol
lowing work, has long been deservedly ranked among the most eminent promoters of religion and learning, which this country has produced; and the benefits derived from his judicious and exalted munificence, during more than three centuries, and which it is hoped will ever continue to flow from the same source, give him a just claim to an ample share of public gratitude and veneration.
The renown of a person studious of doing good without ostentation, who provides no panegyrist, nor is his own biographer, soon decays; and after a few years, only a general and indistinct knowledge remains, even of such as have been most famous in their generation, who have performed bril
liant actions, or (which confers an higher title to regard) have been the benefactors of mankind. Distinguished as Waynflete was, when living, in the latter class of worthies, the common fate attended his posthumous reputation; though we are told, as a proof of its former greatness, that a period of an hundred and fourteen years had been scarcely able to extinguish it.
When Waynflete had been dead about the time specified, it became the pious care of the society of Magdalen college, Oxford, not to suffer his renown to perish, but to rescue him from oblivion, and recall him into celebrity, as a tribute due from them to so generous a founder; and at their desire a Life of him was undertaken by Dr. Budden, which he printed in quarto in 1602, dedicated to the president Dr. Nicholas Bond and his other employers.
The Life of Waynflete by Budden, or his
New Birth (ayy) as it has been called, is written in Latin; and it appears, as he has asserted, with fidelity and industry. He had struggled as it were with time, he tells us, had dug in the mines of antiquity, and searched among recondite authors for genuine and untouched information; but his style is declamatory, and his performance an oration rather than a narrative. It is particularly defective in dates; the natural order of events, as they happened, is not observed; and from their transposition, and the frequent introduction of extraneous matter, an indistinct and unsatisfactory idea only, is conveyed of the great prelate, whose history it was intended to deliver from the oppression of that silence, under which it had been so long concealed. The reception from the public was favourable, the author has had his encomiast, and his work was reprinted at London in 1681.
An opinion seems to have prevailed that Budden had exhausted the subject: and Dr. Peter Heylin, in his "Memorial of the Life, Actes, and Death of Waynflete," written in English verse about the year 1619, professedly follows him, and has added nothing to our information. The subsequent accounts of Waynflete consist almost entirely of meagre abstracts from Budden; and even in the Biographia Britannica, where a fuller detail might naturally be expected, the story of this eminent and meritorious prelate is compressed into a note, and appended to the Life of Wykeham.
The compiler of the present work, while he had the happiness of being a member of Waynflete's college at Oxford, had frequent occasion, as well to regret his own ignorance, as that an accurate knowledge of their great benefactor, was not more generally diffused through the society; and that no better idea could be obtained of him, by
those who were willing to seek for information, than that which it has been observed, Budden's performance is calculated to convey. Being engaged in some researches into ancient registers and the writings of the college, at the request of a learned friend, whose curiosity he felt desirous of gratifying, he thereby considerably increased his own concerning Waynflete. The ex
tracts he made, together with some communications from another friend, chiefly references to authors whom he consulted, furnished materials which appeared to him worthy of arrangement; and these having been gradually enlarged by subsequent diligence, he conceived the design of remedying the defect lamented, by committing the whole of what he had thus collected and formed, to the society and the public.
Amongst the registers and writings of the college, he has to mention as particularly useful to him, the Account-books of Dr.