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THE EDITOR deeply regrets that he has been compelled to delay for so long a period the publication of the Works of Archbishop Ussher. When he undertook the task at the request of the Provost and Senior Fellows of Trinity College, Dublin, he was not aware of the difficulties which he had to encounter, and he entertained hopes of some leisure being afforded to him, which have not been realized. A combination of unexpected circumstances threw upon him a quantity of public business, which was sufficient to occupy the time of the most diligent, while the duties of his Professorship alone were pressing upon him with increased severity from the interruptions of long-continued and repeated illness, which obliged him at different periods to seek relief in another country. The Editor is very unwilling to speak so much of himself, but he feels great anxiety to make a sufficient apology for the delay to those, who must be unacquainted with the difficulties which impeded the progress of the work.
In editing the works of Archbishop Ussher the great difficulty arose from the unusual number of quotations to be found in them. The Editor has endeavoured to verify all these quotations, and he has changed the references to the more modern and more generally used editions. The numerous quotations from the Fathers he has referred to the Benedictine editions, whenever they existed, unless, as it sometimes happened, the Archbishop quoted a passage from spurious writings, which they rejected altogether. In other cases he has named the edition. in the place where the quotation from an author first occurred. The labor and time necessary for such a work can be estimated only by those who have been engaged in similar undertakings. There are, no doubt, many omissions, and for these the Editor can only plead the excuse of the Roman poet:
Verum opere in longo fas est obrepere somnum.
He fears, too, that in some places errors of the Press have occurred. For this his apology must be, that he was at a considerable distance from the printing office when most of the work was printed, and that the printers had to struggle against the difficulties of very bad writing, more particularly in the Eastern languages.
A more agreeable duty now remains for him to discharge, to return his grateful thanks for assistance afforded him during the work. The first place must be appropriated to his valued friend, the Rev. James H. Todd, D. D., who, amidst numerous avocations, has
assisted him with his advice and varied information through every part of the work. He must next express his gratitude to the Rev. Henry Cotton, D. C. L., Archdeacon of Cashel, whose knowledge of books, and kindness in communicating it, are too well known to need his panegyric.
To the Rev. Dr. Bandinel, the learned Librarian of the Bodleian Library at Oxford, he is deeply indebted for indefatigable exertions in examining the various MSS. of the magnificent collection intrusted to his care, and communicating numerous letters, and other documents, which have been published in different parts of the work.
To the Rev. William Jacobson, Vice-Principal of Magdalen Hall, Oxford, he gladly acknowledges his obligation for assistance in procuring copies of many MSS. preserved at Oxford, more particularly of the Sermons, which were obtained from the Library of Balliol College, through the kindness of the Master, the Rev. Dr. Jenkyns.
TRINITY COLLEGE, Dublin,
Nov. 1, 1847.
JAMES USSHER, D. D.,
ARCHBISHOP OF ARMAGH.
JAMES USSHER was born in the parish of St. Nicholas, in the city of Dublin, on the 4th day of January, 1580–1. His father, Arnold Ussher, was one of the Six Clerks in the Court of Chancery, and was descended from an English family of the name of Neville. The first of this family who settled in Ireland was usher to King John, and, coming over with that prince, changed the name of his family for that of his office, a practice not unusual at that period. His mother was Margaret, daughter of James Stanihurst, one of the Masters in Chancery, Recorder of Dublin, and Speaker of the Irish House of Commons in three successive Parliaments.
Of the early life of James Ussher only a few anecdotes have been transmitted. It is not a little remarkable that he was taught to read by two aunts who had been blind from their infancy. Of these relatives he always spoke with the greatest affection and respect, and from them he appears to have imbibed his first religious impressions.
a From this circumstance most writers spell the name of the Archbishop, Usher; but he appears himself always to have written it Ussher. In the Appendix will be found a genealogy written by the Archbishop himself; and another more detailed one, for which I am indebted to the kindness of Sir William Betham, Ulster King of Arms.