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finished, and that his Lordship must decline to let any person have unlimited access to the papers (which was not exactly asked), but as soon as they are completely arranged, his Lordship would let me know how far he could contribute to my object.
My next application was to the Marquis of Exeter, who was supposed as likely to be in possession of documents connected with Drake or his family; his reply was that he had sent all his papers to Lord Salisbury. Thus then these memorials, whatever they may be, are and have been closed up for two centuries and a half, since the death of this extraordinary man, as it were in a mare clausum, in or out of which he, when living, never suffered himself to be confined or excluded.
In speaking of the too common practice of hoarding up manuscripts, and more particularly such as relate to history, where they remain unread and unseen, a writer in a popular journal observes, “ though approaching tender ground, the interests of history, nevertheless, incline us to ask, whether the possessors of important historical documents act wisely in concealing them from the sight, not merely of the curious, but of the learned ? For any useful purpose, these treasures might almost as well be destroyed. To hoard, and neither to enjoy ourselves, nor permit others to enjoy, however odious in the instance of wealth, is far more reprehensible with
regard to information; and we confess we feel little respect for the mind or disposition of him, who, by placing a seal on the true sources of knowledge, allows error to be perpetuated in the national annals.”
In transcribing the autograph letters of the Lord High Admiral and of Sir Francis Drake, I have as much as possible rigidly adhered to the phraseology and the spelling, which can scarcely be called systematic orthography, the same words being frequently written differently, at different times, and in the same letter. I thought it best to give a fac-simile to all of these documents, without any change, with the exception only of the writing, which is inimitably obscure, and so difficult to read, that a good deal of practice is necessary to be able to do even that, as will appear by inspecting the letter, which is a lithographic fac-simile of that of Drake, printed in page 300, and which is a correct specimen of his usual hand-writing, and among the best, that is, the most legible, I could find.