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Books and Bookmen by Andrew Lang

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library of books about books,--the 'Bibliophile Francais,' in seven
large volumes, 'Les Sonnets d'un Bibliophile,' 'La Bibliomanie en
1878,' 'La Bibliotheque d'un Bibliophile' (1885) and a dozen other
works of Janin, Nodier, Beraldi, Pieters, Didot, great collectors
who have written for the instruction of beginners and the pleasure
of every one who takes delight in printed paper.

The passion for books, like other forms of desire, has its changes
of fashion. It is not always easy to justify the caprices of taste.
The presence or absence of half an inch of paper in the "uncut"
margin of a book makes a difference of value that ranges from five
shillings to a hundred pounds. Some books are run after because
they are beautifully bound; some are competed for with equal
eagerness because they never have been bound at all. The
uninitiated often make absurd mistakes about these distinctions.
Some time ago the Daily Telegraph reproached a collector because his
books were "uncut," whence, argued the journalist, it was clear that
he had never read them. "Uncut," of course, only means that the
margins have not been curtailed by the binders' plough. It is a
point of sentiment to like books just as they left the hands of the
old printers,--of Estienne, Aldus, or Louis Elzevir.

It is because the passion for books is a sentimental passion that
people who have not felt it always fail to understand it. Sentiment
is not an easy thing to explain. Englishmen especially find it
impossible to understand tastes and emotions that are not their
own,--the wrongs of Ireland, (till quite recently) the aspirations
of Eastern Roumelia, the demands of Greece. If we are to understand
the book-hunter, we must never forget that to him books are, in the
first place, RELICS. He likes to think that the great writers whom
he admires handled just such pages and saw such an arrangement of
type as he now beholds. Moliere, for example, corrected the proofs
for this edition of the 'Precieuses Ridicules,' when he first
discovered "what a labour it is to publish a book, and how GREEN
(NEUF) an author is the first time they print him." Or it may be
that Campanella turned over, with hands unstrung, and still broken
by the torture, these leaves that contain his passionate sonnets.
Here again is the copy of Theocritus from which some pretty page may
have read aloud to charm the pagan and pontifical leisure of Leo X.
This Gargantua is the counterpart of that which the martyred Dolet
printed for (or pirated from, alas!) Maitre Francois Rabelais. This
woeful ballade, with the woodcut of three thieves hanging from one
gallows, came near being the "Last Dying Speech and Confession of
Francois Villon." This shabby copy of 'The Eve of St. Agnes' is
precisely like that which Shelley doubled up and thrust into his
pocket when the prow of the piratical felucca crashed into the
timbers of the Don Juan. Some rare books have these associations,
and they bring you nearer to the authors than do the modern
reprints. Bibliophiles will tell you that it is the early READINGS
they care for,--the author's first fancies, and those more hurried
expressions which he afterwards corrected. These READINGS have
their literary value, especially in the masterpieces of the great;
but the sentiment after all is the main thing.

Other books come to be relics in another way. They are the copies
which belonged to illustrious people,--to the famous collectors who
make a kind of catena (a golden chain of bibliophiles) through the
centuries since printing was invented. There are Grolier (1479-
1565),--not a bookbinder, as an English newspaper supposed (probably
when Mr. Sala was on his travels),--De Thou (1553-1617), the great
Colbert, the Duc de la Valliere (1708-1780), Charles Nodier, a man
of yesterday, M. Didot, and the rest, too numerous to name. Again,
there are the books of kings, like Francis I., Henri III., and Louis
XIV. These princes had their favourite devices. Nicolas Eve,
Padeloup, Derome, and other artists arrayed their books in morocco,-
-tooled with skulls, cross-bones, and crucifixions for the
voluptuous pietist Henri III., with the salamander for Francis I.,
and powdered with fleurs de lys for the monarch who "was the State."
There are relics also of noble beauties. The volumes of Marguerite
d'Angouleme are covered with golden daisies. The cipher of Marie
Antoinette adorns too many books that Madame du Barry might have
welcomed to her hastily improvised library. The three daughters of
Louis XV. had their favourite colours of morocco, citron, red, and
olive, and their books are valued as much as if they bore the bees
of De Thou, or the intertwined C's of the illustrious and ridiculous
Abbe Cotin, the Trissotin of the comedy. Surely in all these things
there is a human interest, and our fingers are faintly thrilled, as
we touch these books, with the far-off contact of the hands of kings
and cardinals, scholars and coquettes, pedants, poets, and
precieuses, the people who are unforgotten in the mob that inhabited
dead centuries.

So universal and ardent has the love of magnificent books been in
France, that it would be possible to write a kind of bibliomaniac
history of that country. All her rulers, kings, cardinals, and
ladies have had time to spare for collecting. Without going too far
back, to the time when Bertha span and Charlemagne was an amateur,
we may give a few specimens of an anecdotical history of French
bibliolatry, beginning, as is courteous, with a lady. "Can a woman
be a bibliophile?" is a question which was once discussed at the
weekly breakfast party of Guilbert de Pixerecourt, the famous book-
lover and playwright, the "Corneille of the Boulevards." The
controversy glided into a discussion as to "how many books a man can
love at a time;" but historical examples prove that French women
(and Italian, witness the Princess d'Este) may be bibliophiles of
the true strain. Diane de Poictiers was their illustrious
patroness. The mistress of Henri II. possessed, in the Chateau
d'Anet, a library of the first triumphs of typography. Her taste
was wide in range, including songs, plays, romances, divinity; her
copies of the Fathers were bound in citron morocco, stamped with her
arms and devices, and closed with clasps of silver. In the love of
books, as in everything else, Diane and Henri II. were inseparable.
The interlaced H and D are scattered over the covers of their
volumes; the lily of France is twined round the crescents of Diane,
or round the quiver, the arrows, and the bow which she adopted as
her cognisance, in honour of the maiden goddess. The books of Henri
and of Diane remained in the Chateau d'Anet till the death of the
Princesse de Conde in 1723, when they were dispersed. The son of
the famous Madame de Guyon bought the greater part of the library,
which has since been scattered again and again. M. Leopold Double,
a well-known bibliophile, possessed several examples. {15}

Henry III. scarcely deserves, perhaps, the name of a book-lover, for
he probably never read the works which were bound for him in the
most elaborate way. But that great historian, Alexandre Dumas,
takes a far more friendly view of the king's studies, and, in 'La
Dame de Monsoreau,' introduces us to a learned monarch. Whether he
cared for the contents of his books or not, his books are among the
most singular relics of a character which excites even morbid
curiosity. No more debauched and worthless wretch ever filled a
throne; but, like the bad man in Aristotle, Henri III. was "full of
repentance." When he was not dancing in an unseemly revel, he was
on his knees in his chapel. The board of one of his books, of which
an engraving lies before me, bears his cipher and crown in the
corners; but the centre is occupied in front with a picture of the
Annunciation, while on the back is the crucifixion and the breeding
heart through which the swords have pierced. His favourite device
was the death's-head, with the motto Memento Mori, or Spes mea Deus.
While he was still only Duc d'Anjou, Henri loved Marie de Cleves,
Princesse de Conde. On her sudden death he expressed his grief, as
he had done his piety, by aid of the petits fers of the bookbinder.
Marie's initials were stamped on his book-covers in a chaplet of
laurels. In one corner a skull and cross-bones were figured; in the
other the motto Mort m'est vie; while two curly objects, which did
duty for tears, filled up the lower corners. The books of Henri
III., even when they are absolutely worthless as literature, sell
for high prices; and an inane treatise on theology, decorated with
his sacred emblems, lately brought about 120 pounds in a London

Francis I., as a patron of all the arts, was naturally an amateur of
bindings. The fates of books were curiously illustrated by the
story of the copy of Homer, on large paper, which Aldus, the great
Venetian printer, presented to Francis I. After the death of the
late Marquis of Hastings, better known as an owner of horses than of
books, his possessions were brought to the hammer. With the
instinct, the flair, as the French say, of the bibliophile, M.
Ambroise Firmin Didot, the biographer of Aldus, guessed that the
marquis might have owned something in his line. He sent his agent
over to England, to the country town where the sale was to be held.
M. Didot had his reward. Among the books which were dragged out of
some mouldy store-room was the very Aldine Homer of Francis I., with
part of the original binding still clinging to the leaves. M. Didot
purchased the precious relic, and sent it to what M. Fertiault (who
has written a century of sonnets on bibliomania) calls the hospital
for books.

Le dos humide, je l'eponge;
Ou manque un coin, vite une allonge,
Pour tous j'ai maison de sante.

M. Didot, of course, did not practise this amateur surgery himself,
but had the arms and devices of Francis I. restored by one of those
famous binders who only work for dukes, millionnaires, and

During the religious wars and the troubles of the Fronde, it is
probable that few people gave much time to the collection of books.
The illustrious exceptions are Richelieu and Cardinal Mazarin, who
possessed a "snuffy Davy" of his own, an indefatigable prowler among
book-stalls and dingy purlieus, in Gabriel Naude. In 1664, Naude,
who was a learned and ingenious writer, the apologist for "great men
suspected of magic," published the second edition of his 'Avis pour
dresser une Bibliotheque,' and proved himself to be a true lover of
the chase, a mighty hunter (of books) before the Lord. Naude's
advice to the collector is rather amusing. He pretends not to care
much for bindings, and quotes Seneca's rebuke of the Roman
bibliomaniacs, Quos voluminum suorum frontes maxime placent
titulique,--who chiefly care for the backs and lettering of their
volumes. The fact is that Naude had the wealth of Mazarin at his
back, and we know very well, from the remains of the Cardinal's
library which exist, that he liked as well as any man to see his
cardinal's hat glittering on red or olive morocco in the midst of
the beautiful tooling of the early seventeenth century. When once
he got a book, he would not spare to give it a worthy jacket.
Naude's ideas about buying were peculiar. Perhaps he sailed rather
nearer the wind than even Monkbarns would have cared to do. His
favourite plan was to buy up whole libraries in the gross,
"speculative lots" as the dealers call them. In the second place,
he advised the book-lover to haunt the retreats of Libraires
fripiers, et les vieux fonds et magasins. Here he truly observes
that you may find rare books, broches,--that is, unbound and uncut,-
-just as Mr. Symonds bought two uncut copies of 'Laon and Cythna' in
a Bristol stall for a crown. "You may get things for four or five
crowns that would cost you forty or fifty elsewhere," says Naude.
Thus a few years ago M. Paul Lacroix bought for two francs, in a
Paris shop, the very copy of 'Tartuffe' which had belonged to Louis
XIV. The example may now be worth perhaps 200 pounds. But we are
digressing into the pleasures of the modern sportsman.

It was not only in second-hand bookshops that Naude hunted, but
among the dealers in waste paper. "Thus did Poggio find Quintilian
on the counter of a wood-merchant, and Masson picked up 'Agobardus'
at the shop of a binder, who was going to use the MS. to patch his
books withal." Rossi, who may have seen Naude at work, tells us how
he would enter a shop with a yard-measure in his hand, buying books,
we are sorry to say, by the ell. "The stalls where he had passed
were like the towns through which Attila or the Tartars had swept,
with ruin in their train,--ut non hominis unius sedulitas, sed
calamitas quaedam per omnes bibliopolarum tabernas pervasisse
videatur!" Naude had sorrows of his own. In 1652 the Parliament
decreed the confiscation of the splendid library of Mazarin, which
was perhaps the first free library in Europe,--the first that was
open to all who were worthy of right of entrance. There is a
painful description of the sale, from which the book-lover will
avert his eyes. On Mazarin's return to power he managed to collect
again and enrich his stores, which form the germ of the existing
Bibliotheque Mazarine.

Among princes and popes it is pleasant to meet one man of letters,
and he the greatest of the great age, who was a bibliophile. The
enemies and rivals of Moliere--De Vise, De Villiers, and the rest--
are always reproaching him--with his love of bouquins. There is
some difference of opinion among philologists about the derivation
of bouquin, but all book-hunters know the meaning of the word. The
bouquin is the "small, rare volume, black with tarnished gold,"
which lies among the wares of the stall-keeper, patient in rain and
dust, till the hunter comes who can appreciate the quarry. We like
to think of Moliere lounging through the narrow streets in the
evening, returning, perhaps, from some noble house where he has been
reading the proscribed 'Tartuffe,' or giving an imitation of the
rival actors at the Hotel Bourgogne. Absent as the contemplateur
is, a dingy book-stall wakens him from his reverie. His lace
ruffles are soiled in a moment with the learned dust of ancient
volumes. Perhaps he picks up the only work out of all his library
that is known to exist,--un ravissant petit Elzevir, 'De Imperio
Magni Mogolis' (Lugd. Bat. 1651). On the title-page of this tiny
volume, one of the minute series of 'Republics' which the Elzevirs
published, the poet has written his rare signature, "J. B. P.
Moliere," with the price the book cost him, "1 livre, 10 sols." "Il
n'est pas de bouquin qui s'echappe de ses mains," says the author of
'La Guerre Comique,' the last of the pamphlets which flew about
during the great literary quarrel about "L'Ecole des Femmes."
Thanks to M. Soulie the catalogue of Moliere's library has been
found, though the books themselves have passed out of view. There
are about three hundred and fifty volumes in the inventory, but
Moliere's widow may have omitted as valueless (it is the foible of
her sex) many rusty bouquins, now worth far more than their weight
in gold. Moliere owned no fewer than two hundred and forty volumes
of French and Italian comedies. From these he took what suited him
wherever he found it. He had plenty of classics, histories,
philosophic treatises, the essays of Montaigne, a Plutarch, and a

We know nothing, to the regret of bibliophiles, of Moliere's taste
in bindings. Did he have a comic mask stamped on the leather (that
device was chased on his plate), or did he display his cognizance
and arms, the two apes that support a shield charged with three
mirrors of Truth? It is certain--La Bruyere tells us as much--that
the sillier sort of book-lover in the seventeenth century was much
the same sort of person as his successor in our own time. "A man
tells me he has a library," says La Bruyere (De la Mode); "I ask
permission to see it. I go to visit my friend, and he receives me
in a house where, even on the stairs, the smell of the black morocco
with which his books are covered is so strong that I nearly faint.
He does his best to revive me; shouts in my ear that the volumes
'have gilt edges,' that they are 'elegantly tooled,' that they are
'of the good edition,' . . . and informs me that 'he never reads,'
that 'he never sets foot in this part of his house,' that he 'will
come to oblige me!' I thank him for all his kindness, and have no
more desire than himself to see the tanner's shop that he calls his

Colbert, the great minister of Louis XIV., was a bibliophile at whom
perhaps La Bruyere would have sneered. He was a collector who did
not read, but who amassed beautiful books, and looked forward, as
business men do, to the day when he would have time to study them.
After Grolier, De Thou, and Mazarin, Colbert possessed probably the
richest private library in Europe. The ambassadors of France were
charged to procure him rare books and manuscripts, and it is said
that in a commercial treaty with the Porte he inserted a clause
demanding a certain quantity of Levant morocco for the use of the
royal bookbinders. England, in those days, had no literature with
which France deigned to be acquainted. Even into England, however,
valuable books had been imported; and we find Colbert pressing the
French ambassador at St. James's to bid for him at a certain sale of
rare heretical writings. People who wanted to gain his favour
approached him with presents of books, and the city of Metz gave him
two real curiosities--the famous "Metz Bible" and the Missal of
Charles the Bald. The Elzevirs sent him their best examples, and
though Colbert probably saw more of the gilt covers of his books
than of their contents, at least he preserved and handed down many
valuable works. As much may be said for the reprobate Cardinal
Dubois, who, with all his faults, was a collector. Bossuet, on the
other hand, left little or nothing of interest except a copy of the
1682 edition of Moliere, whom he detested and condemned to "the
punishment of those who laugh." Even this book, which has a curious
interest, has slipped out of sight, and may have ceased to exist.

If Colbert and Dubois preserved books from destruction, there are
collectors enough who have been rescued from oblivion by books. The
diplomacy of D'Hoym is forgotten; the plays of Longepierre, and his
quarrels with J. B. Rousseau, are known only to the literary
historian. These great amateurs have secured an eternity of gilt
edges, an immortality of morocco. Absurd prices are given for any
trash that belonged to them, and the writer of this notice has
bought for four shillings an Elzevir classic, which when it bears
the golden fleece of Longepierre is worth about 100 pounds.
Longepierre, D'Hoym, McCarthy, and the Duc de la Valliere, with all
their treasures, are less interesting to us than Graille, Coche and
Loque, the neglected daughters of Louis XV. They found some pale
consolation in their little cabinets of books, in their various
liveries of olive, citron, and red morocco.

A lady amateur of high (book-collecting) reputation, the Comtesse de
Verrue, was represented in the Beckford sale by one of three copies
of 'L'Histoire de Melusine,' of Melusine, the twy-formed fairy, and
ancestress of the house of Lusignan. The Comtesse de Verrue, one of
the few women who have really understood book-collecting, {16} was
born January 18, 1670, and died November 18, 1736. She was the
daughter of Charles de Luynes and of his second wife, Anne de Rohan.
When only thirteen she married the Comte de Verrue, who somewhat
injudiciously presented her, a fleur de quinze ans, as Ronsard says,
at the court of Victor Amadeus of Savoy. It is thought that the
countess was less cruel than the fleur Angevine of Ronsard. For
some reason the young matron fled from the court of Turin and
returned to Paris, where she built a magnificent hotel, and received
the most distinguished company. According to her biographer, the
countess loved science and art jusqu'au delire, and she collected
the furniture of the period, without neglecting the blue china of
the glowing Orient. In ebony bookcases she possessed about eighteen
thousand volumes, bound by the greatest artists of the day.
"Without care for the present, without fear of the future, doing
good, pursuing the beautiful, protecting the arts, with a tender
heart and open hand, the countess passed through life, calm, happy,
beloved, and admired." She left an epitaph on herself, thus rudely

Here lies, in sleep secure,
A dame inclined to mirth,
Who, by way of making sure,
Chose her Paradise on earth.

During the Revolution, to like well-bound books was as much as to
proclaim one an aristocrat. Condorcet might have escaped the
scaffold if he had only thrown away the neat little Horace from the
royal press, which betrayed him for no true Republican, but an
educated man. The great libraries from the chateaux of the nobles
were scattered among all the book-stalls. True sons of freedom tore
off the bindings, with their gilded crests and scutcheons. One
revolutionary writer declared, and perhaps he was not far wrong,
that the art of binding was the worst enemy of reading. He always
began his studies by breaking the backs of the volumes he was about
to attack. The art of bookbinding in these sad years took flight to
England, and was kept alive by artists robust rather than refined,
like Thompson and Roger Payne. These were evil days, when the
binder had to cut the aristocratic coat of arms out of a book cover,
and glue in a gilt cap of liberty, as in a volume in an Oxford
amateur's collection.

When Napoleon became Emperor, he strove in vain to make the troubled
and feverish years of his power produce a literature. He himself
was one of the most voracious readers of novels that ever lived. He
was always asking for the newest of the new, and unfortunately even
the new romances of his period were hopelessly bad. Barbier, his
librarian, had orders to send parcels of fresh fiction to his
majesty wherever he might happen to be, and great loads of novels
followed Napoleon to Germany, Spain, Italy, Russia. The conqueror
was very hard to please. He read in his travelling carriage, and
after skimming a few pages would throw a volume that bored him out
of the window into the highway. He might have been tracked by his
trail of romances, as was Hop-o'-my-Thumb, in the fairy tale, by the
white stones he dropped behind him. Poor Barbier, who ministered to
a passion for novels that demanded twenty volumes a day, was at his
wit's end. He tried to foist on the Emperor the romances of the
year before last; but these Napoleon had generally read, and he
refused, with imperial scorn, to look at them again. He ordered a
travelling library of three thousand volumes to be made for him, but
it was proved that the task could not be accomplished in less than
six years. The expense, if only fifty copies of each example had
been printed, would have amounted to more than six million francs.
A Roman emperor would not have allowed these considerations to stand
in his way; but Napoleon, after all, was a modern. He contented
himself with a selection of books conveniently small in shape, and
packed in sumptuous cases. The classical writers of France could
never content Napoleon, and even from Moscow in 1812, he wrote to
Barbier clamorous for new books, and good ones. Long before they
could have reached Moscow, Napoleon was flying homeward before
Kotousoff and Benningsen.

Napoleon was the last of the book-lovers who governed France. The
Duc d'Aumale, a famous bibliophile, has never "come to his own," and
of M. Gambetta it is only known that his devotional library, at
least, has found its way into the market. We have reached the era
of private book-fanciers: of Nodier, who had three libraries in his
time, but never a Virgil; and of Pixerecourt, the dramatist, who
founded the Societe des Bibliophiles Francais. The Romantic
movement in French literature brought in some new fashions in book-
hunting. The original editions of Ronsard, Des Portes, Belleau, and
Du Bellay became invaluable; while the writings of Gautier, Petrus
Borel, and others excited the passion of collectors. Pixerecourt
was a believer in the works of the Elzevirs. On one occasion, when
he was outbid by a friend at an auction, he cried passionately, "I
shall have that book at your sale!" and, the other poor bibliophile
soon falling into a decline and dying, Pixerecourt got the volume
which he so much desired. The superstitious might have been excused
for crediting him with the gift of jettatura,--of the evil eye. On
Pixerecourt himself the evil eye fell at last; his theatre, the
Gaiete, was burned down in 1835, and his creditors intended to
impound his beloved books. The bibliophile hastily packed them in
boxes, and conveyed them in two cabs and under cover of night to the
house of M. Paul Lacroix. There they languished in exile till the
affairs of the manager were settled.

Pixerecourt and Nodier, the most reckless of men, were the leaders
of the older school of bibliomaniacs. The former was not a rich
man; the second was poor, but he never hesitated in face of a price
that he could not afford. He would literally ruin himself in the
accumulation of a library, and then would recover his fortunes by
selling his books. Nodier passed through life without a Virgil,
because he never succeeded in finding the ideal Virgil of his
dreams,--a clean, uncut copy of the right Elzevir edition, with the
misprint, and the two passages in red letters. Perhaps this failure
was a judgment on him for the trick by which he beguiled a certain
collector of Bibles. He INVENTED an edition, and put the collector
on the scent, which he followed vainly, till he died of the sickness
of hope deferred.

One has more sympathy with the eccentricities of Nodier than with
the mere extravagance of the new haute ecole of bibliomaniacs, the
school of millionnaires, royal dukes, and Rothschilds. These
amateurs are reckless of prices, and by their competition have made
it almost impossible for a poor man to buy a precious book. The
dukes, the Americans, the public libraries, snap them all up in the
auctions. A glance at M. Gustave Brunet's little volume, 'La
Bibliomanie en 1878,' will prove the excesses which these people
commit. The funeral oration of Bossuet over Henriette Marie of
France (1669), and Henriette Anne of England (1670), quarto, in the
original binding, are sold for 200 pounds. It is true that this
copy had possibly belonged to Bossuet himself, and certainly to his
nephew. There is an example, as we have seen, of the 1682 edition
of Moliere,--of Moliere whom Bossuet detested,--which also belonged
to the eagle of Meaux. The manuscript notes of the divine on the
work of the poor player must be edifying, and in the interests of
science it is to be hoped that this book may soon come into the
market. While pamphlets of Bossuet are sold so dear, the first
edition of Homer--the beautiful edition of 1488, which the three
young Florentine gentlemen published--may be had for 100 pounds.
Yet even that seems expensive, when we remember that the copy in the
library of George III. cost only seven shillings. This exquisite
Homer, sacred to the memory of learned friendships, the chief
offering of early printing at the altar of ancient poetry, is really
one of the most interesting books in the world. Yet this Homer is
less valued than the tiny octavo which contains the ballades and
huitains of the scamp Francois Villon (1533). 'The History of the
Holy Grail' (L'Hystoire du Sainct Greaal: Paris, 1523), in a
binding stamped with the four crowns of Louis XIV., is valued at
about 500 pounds. A chivalric romance of the old days, which was
treasured even in the time of the grand monarque, when old French
literature was so much despised, is certainly a curiosity. The
Rabelais of Madame de Pompadour (in morocco) seems comparatively
cheap at 60 pounds. There is something piquant in the idea of
inheriting from that famous beauty the work of the colossal genius
of Rabelais. {17}

The natural sympathy of collectors "to middle fortune born" is not
with the rich men whose sport in book-hunting resembles the battue.
We side with the poor hunters of the wild game, who hang over the
fourpenny stalls on the quais, and dive into the dusty boxes after
literary pearls. These devoted men rise betimes, and hurry to the
stalls before the common tide of passengers goes by. Early morning
is the best moment in this, as in other sports. At half past seven,
in summer, the bouquiniste, the dealer in cheap volumes at second-
hand, arrays the books which he purchased over night, the stray
possessions of ruined families, the outcasts of libraries. The old-
fashioned bookseller knew little of the value of his wares; it was
his object to turn a small certain profit on his expenditure. It is
reckoned that an energetic, business-like old bookseller will turn
over 150,000 volumes in a year. In this vast number there must be
pickings for the humble collector who cannot afford to encounter the
children of Israel at Sotheby's or at the Hotel Drouot.

Let the enthusiast, in conclusion, throw a handful of lilies on the
grave of the martyr of the love of books,--the poet Albert Glatigny.
Poor Glatigny was the son of a garde champetre; his education was
accidental, and his poetic taste and skill extraordinarily fine and
delicate. In his life of starvation (he had often to sleep in
omnibuses and railway stations), he frequently spent the price of a
dinner on a new book. He lived to read and to dream, and if he
bought books he had not the wherewithal to live. Still, he bought
them,--and he died! His own poems were beautifully printed by
Lemerre, and it may be a joy to him (si mentem mortalia tangunt)
that they are now so highly valued that the price of a copy would
have kept the author alive and happy for a month.


Nothing can be plainer, as a rule, than a modern English title-page.
Its only beauty (if beauty it possesses) consists in the arrangement
and 'massing' of lines of type in various sizes. We have returned
almost to the primitive simplicity of the oldest printed books,
which had no title-pages, properly speaking, at all, or merely gave,
with extreme brevity, the name of the work, without printer's mark,
or date, or place. These were reserved for the colophon, if it was
thought desirable to mention them at all. Thus, in the black-letter
example of Guido de Columna's 'History of Troy,' written about 1283,
and printed at Strasburg in 1489, the title-page is blank, except
for the words,

Hystoria Troiana Guidonis,

standing alone at the top of the leaf. The colophon contains all
the rest of the information, 'happily completed in the City of
Strasburg, in the year of Grace Mcccclxxxix, about the Feast of St.
Urban.' The printer and publisher give no name at all.

This early simplicity is succeeded, in French books, from, say,
1510, and afterwards, by the insertion either of the printer's
trademark, or, in black-letter books, of a rough woodcut,
illustrative of the nature of the volume. The woodcuts have
occasionally a rude kind of grace, with a touch of the classical
taste of the early Renaissance surviving in extreme decay.

[Illustration with title page: Les demandes tamours auec les
refpofesioyeufes. Demade refponfe.]

An excellent example is the title-page of 'Les Demandes d'amours,
avec les responses joyeuses,' published by Jacques Moderne, at Lyon,
1540. There is a certain Pagan breadth and joyousness in the figure
of Amor, and the man in the hood resembles traditional portraits of

There is more humour, and a good deal of skill, in the title-page of
a book on late marriages and their discomforts, 'Les dictz et
complainctes de trop Tard marie' (Jacques Moderne, Lyon, 1540),
where we see the elderly and comfortable couple sitting gravely
under their own fig-tree.

[Illustration of 'Les dictz et complainctes...]

Jacques Moderne was a printer curious in these quaint devices, and
used them in most of his books: for example, in 'How Satan and the
God Bacchus accuse the Publicans that spoil the wine,' Bacchus and
Satan (exactly like each other, as Sir Wilfrid Lawson will not be
surprised to hear) are encouraging dishonest tavern-keepers to stew
in their own juice in a caldron over a huge fire. From the same
popular publisher came a little tract on various modes of sport, if
the name of sport can be applied to the netting of fish and birds.
The work is styled 'Livret nouveau auquel sont contenuz xxv receptes
de prendre poissons et oiseaulx avec les mains.' A countryman clad
in a goat's skin with the head and horns drawn over his head as a
hood, is dragging ashore a net full of fishes. There is no more
characteristic frontispiece of this black-letter sort than the
woodcut representing a gallows with three men hanging on it, which
illustrates Villon's 'Ballade des Pendus,' and is reproduced in Mr.
John Payne's 'Poems of Master Francis Villon of Paris' (London,
1878). {18}

Earlier in date than these vignettes of Jacques Moderne, but much
more artistic and refined in design, are some frontispieces of small
octavos printed en lettres rondes, about 1530. In these rubricated
letters are used with brilliant effect. One of the best is the
title-page of Galliot du Pre's edition of 'Le Rommant de la Rose'
(Paris, 1529). {19} Galliot du Pre's artist, however, surpassed
even the charming device of the Lover plucking the Rose, in his
title-page, of the same date, for the small octavo edition of Alain
Chartier's poems, which we reproduce here.

[Illustration of title page]

The arrangement of letters, and the use of red, make a charming
frame, as it were, to the drawing of the mediaeval ship, with the

Title-pages like these, with designs appropriate to the character of
the text, were superseded presently by the fashion of badges,
devices, and mottoes. As courtiers and ladies had their private
badges, not hereditary, like crests, but personal--the crescent of
Diane, the salamander of Francis I., the skulls and cross-bones of
Henri III., the marguerites of Marguerite, with mottoes like the Le
Banny de liesse, Le traverseur des voies perilleuses, Tout par
Soulas, and the like, so printers and authors had their emblems, and
their private literary slogans. These they changed, accordinging

[Another illustration titled: Le Pastissier Francois, MDCLV, title

to fancy, or the vicissitudes of their lives. Clement Marot's motto
was La Mort n'y Mord. It is indicated by the letters L. M. N. M. in
the curious title of an edition of Marot's works published at Lyons
by Jean de Tournes in 1579. The portrait represents the poet when
the tide of years had borne him far from his youth, far from
L'Adolescence Clementine.

[Another illustration titled: Le Pastissier Francois, 1655, showing
a kitchen scene]

The unfortunate Etienne Dolet, perhaps the only publisher who was
ever burned, used an ominous device, a trunk of a tree, with the axe
struck into it. In publishing 'Les Marguerites de la Marguerite des
Princesses, tres illustre Royne de Navarre,' Jean de Tournes
employed a pretty allegorical device. Love, with the bandage thrust
back from his eyes, and with the bow and arrows in his hand, has
flown up to the sun, which he seems to touch; like Prometheus in the
myth when he stole the fire, a shower of flowers and flames falls
around him. Groueleau, of Paris, had for motto Nul ne s'y frotte,
with the thistle for badge. These are beautifully combined in the
title-page of his version of Apuleius, 'L'Amour de Cupido et de
Psyche' (Paris, 1557). There is probably no better date for
frontispieces, both for ingenuity of device and for elegance of
arrangement of title, than the years between 1530 and 1560. By
1562, when the first edition of the famous Fifth Book of Rabelais
was published, the printers appear to have thought devices wasted on
popular books, and the title of the Master's posthumous chapters is
printed quite simply.

In 1532-35 there was a more adventurous taste--witness the title of
'Gargantua.' This beautiful title decorates the first known
edition, with a date of the First Book of Rabelais. It was sold,
most appropriately, devant nostre Dame de Confort. Why should so
glorious a relic of the Master have been carried out of England, at
the Sunderland sale? All the early titles of Francois Juste's Lyons
editions of Rabelais are on this model. By 1542 he dropped the
framework of architectural design. By 1565 Richard Breton, in
Paris, was printing Rabelais with a frontispiece of a classical dame
holding a heart to the sun, a figure which is almost in the taste of
Stothard, or Flaxman.

The taste for vignettes, engraved on copper, not on wood, was
revived under the Elzevirs. Their pretty little title-pages are not
so well known but that we offer examples. In the essay on the
Elzevirs in this volume will be found a copy of the vignette of the
'Imitatio Christi,' and of 'Le Pastissier Francois' a reproduction
is given here (pp. 114, 115). The artists they employed had plenty
of fancy, not backed by very profound skill in design.

In the same genre as the big-wigged classicism of the Elzevir
vignettes, in an age when Louis XIV. and Moliere (in tragedy) wore
laurel wreaths over vast perruques, are the early frontispieces of
Moliere's own collected works. Probably the most interesting of all
French title-pages are those drawn by Chauveau for the two volumes
'Les Oeuvres de M. de Moliere,' published in 1666 by Guillaume de
Luynes. The first shows Moliere in two characters, as Mascarille,
and as Sganarelle, in 'Le Cocu Imaginaire.' Contrast the full-blown
jollity of the fourbum imperator, in his hat, and feather, and wig,
and vast canons, and tremendous shoe-tie, with the lean melancholy
of jealous Sganarelle. These are two notable aspects of the genius
of the great comedian. The apes below are the supporters of his

The second volume shows the Muse of Comedy crowning Mlle. de Moliere
(Armande Bejart) in the dress of Agnes, while her husband is in the
costume, apparently, of Tartuffe, or of Sganarelle in 'L'Ecole des
Femmes.' 'Tartuffe' had not yet been licensed for a public stage.
The interest of the portraits and costumes makes these title-pages
precious, they are historical documents rather than mere

These title-pages of Moliere are the highwater mark of French taste
in this branch of decoration. In the old quarto first editions of
Corneille's early plays, such as 'Le Cid' (Paris 1637), the printers
used lax and sprawling combinations of flowers and fruit. These, a
little better executed, were the staple of Ribou, de Luynes, Quinet,
and the other Parisian booksellers who, one after another, failed to
satisfy Moliere as publishers.

The basket of fruits on the title-page of 'Iphigenie,' par M. Racine
(Barbin, Paris, 1675), is almost, but not quite, identical with the
similar ornament of De Vise's 'La Cocue Imaginaire' (Ribou, Paris
1662). Many of Moliere's plays appearing first, separately, in
small octavo, were adorned with frontispieces, illustrative of some
scene in the comedy. Thus, in the 'Misanthrope' (Rihou 1667) we see
Alceste, green ribbons and all, discoursing with Philinte, or
perhaps listening to the famous sonnet of Oronte; it is not easy to
be quite certain, but the expression of Alceste's face looks rather
as if he were being baited with a sonnet. From the close of the
seventeenth century onwards, the taste for title-pages declined,
except when Moreau or Gravelot drew vignettes on copper, with
abundance of cupids and nymphs. These were designed for very
luxurious and expensive books; for others, men contented themselves
with a bald simplicity, which has prevailed till our own time. In
recent years the employment of publishers' devices has been less
unusual and more agreeable. Thus Poulet Malassis had his armes
parlantes, a chicken very uncomfortably perched on a rail. In
England we have the cipher and bees of Messrs. Macmillan, the Trees
of Life and Knowledge of Messrs. Kegan Paul and Trench, the Ship,
which was the sign of Messrs. Longman's early place of business, and
doubtless other symbols, all capable of being quaintly treated in a


Thomas Blinton was a book-hunter. He had always been a book-hunter,
ever since, at an extremely early age, he had awakened to the errors
of his ways as a collector of stamps and monograms. In book-hunting
he saw no harm; nay, he would contrast its joys, in a rather
pharisaical style, with the pleasures of shooting and fishing. He
constantly declined to believe that the devil came for that renowned
amateur of black letter, G. Steevens. Dibdin himself, who tells the
story (with obvious anxiety and alarm), pretends to refuse credit to
the ghastly narrative. "His language," says Dibdin, in his account
of the book-hunter's end, "was, too frequently, the language of
imprecation." This is rather good, as if Dibdin thought a gentleman
might swear pretty often, but not "TOO frequently." "Although I am
not disposed to admit," Dibdin goes on, "the WHOLE of the testimony
of the good woman who watched by Steevens's bedside, although my
prejudices (as they may be called) will not allow me to believe that
the windows shook, and that strange noises and deep groans were
heard at midnight in his room, yet no creature of common sense (and
this woman possessed the quality in an eminent degree) could mistake
oaths for prayers;" and so forth. In short, Dibdin clearly holds
that the windows did shake "without a blast," like the banners in
Branxholme Hall when somebody came for the Goblin Page.

But Thomas Blinton would hear of none of these things. He said that
his taste made him take exercise; that he walked from the City to
West Kensington every day, to beat the covers of the book-stalls,
while other men travelled in the expensive cab or the unwholesome
Metropolitan Railway. We are all apt to hold favourable views of
our own amusements, and, for my own part, I believe that trout and
salmon are incapable of feeling pain. But the flimsiness of
Blinton's theories must be apparent to every unbiassed moralist.
His "harmless taste" really involved most of the deadly sins, or at
all events a fair working majority of them. He coveted his
neighbours' books. When he got the chance he bought books in a
cheap market and sold them in a dear market, thereby degrading
literature to the level of trade. He took advantage of the
ignorance of uneducated persons who kept book-stalls. He was
envious, and grudged the good fortune of others, while he rejoiced
in their failures. He turned a deaf ear to the appeals of poverty.
He was luxurious, and laid out more money than he should have done
on his selfish pleasures, often adorning a volume with a morocco
binding when Mrs. Blinton sighed in vain for some old point
d'Alencon lace. Greedy, proud, envious, stingy, extravagant, and
sharp in his dealings, Blinton was guilty of most of the sins which
the Church recognises as "deadly."

On the very day before that of which the affecting history is now to
be told, Blinton had been running the usual round of crime. He had
(as far as intentions went) defrauded a bookseller in Holywell
Street by purchasing from him, for the sum of two shillings, what he
took to be a very rare Elzevir. It is true that when he got home
and consulted 'Willems,' he found that he had got hold of the wrong
copy, in which the figures denoting the numbers of pages are printed
right, and which is therefore worth exactly "nuppence" to the
collector. But the intention is the thing, and Blinton's intention
was distinctly fraudulent. When he discovered his error, then "his
language," as Dibdin says, "was that of imprecation." Worse (if
possible) than this, Blinton had gone to a sale, begun to bid for
'Les Essais de Michel, Seigneur de Montaigne' (Foppens, MDCLIX.),
and, carried away by excitement, had "plunged" to the extent of 15
pounds, which was precisely the amount of money he owed his plumber
and gasfitter, a worthy man with a large family. Then, meeting a
friend (if the book-hunter has friends), or rather an accomplice in
lawless enterprise, Blinton had remarked the glee on the other's
face. The poor man had purchased a little old Olaus Magnus, with
woodcuts, representing were-wolves, fire-drakes, and other fearful
wild-fowl, and was happy in his bargain. But Blinton, with fiendish
joy, pointed out to him that the index was imperfect, and left him

Deeds more foul have yet to be told. Thomas Blinton had discovered
a new sin, so to speak, in the collecting way. Aristophanes says of
one of his favourite blackguards, "Not only is he a villain, but he
has invented an original villainy." Blinton was like this. He
maintained that every man who came to notoriety had, at some period,
published a volume of poems which he had afterwards repented of and
withdrawn. It was Blinton's hideous pleasure to collect stray
copies of these unhappy volumes, these 'Peches de Jeunesse,' which,
always and invariably, bear a gushing inscription from the author to
a friend. He had all Lord John Manners's poems, and even Mr.
Ruskin's. He had the 'Ode to Despair' of Smith (now a comic
writer), and the 'Love Lyrics' of Brown, who is now a permanent
under-secretary, than which nothing can be less gay nor more
permanent. He had the amatory songs which a dignitary of the Church
published and withdrew from circulation. Blinton was wont to say he
expected to come across 'Triolets of a Tribune,' by Mr. John Bright,
and 'Original Hymns for Infant Minds,' by Mr. Henry Labouchere, if
he only hunted long enough.

On the day of which I speak he had secured a volume of love-poems
which the author had done his best to destroy, and he had gone to
his club and read all the funniest passages aloud to friends of the
author, who was on the club committee. Ah, was this a kind action?
In short, Blinton had filled up the cup of his iniquities, and
nobody will be surprised to hear that he met the appropriate
punishment of his offence. Blinton had passed, on the whole, a
happy day, notwithstanding the error about the Elzevir. He dined
well at his club, went home, slept well, and started next morning
for his office in the City, walking, as usual, and intending to
pursue the pleasures of the chase at all the book-stalls. At the
very first, in the Brompton Road, he saw a man turning over the
rubbish in the cheap box. Blinton stared at him, fancied he knew
him, thought he didn't, and then became a prey to the glittering eye
of the other. The Stranger, who wore the conventional cloak and
slouched soft hat of Strangers, was apparently an accomplished
mesmerist, or thought-reader, or adept, or esoteric Buddhist. He
resembled Mr. Isaacs, Zanoni (in the novel of that name), Mendoza
(in 'Codlingsby'), the soul-less man in 'A Strange Story,' Mr. Home,
Mr. Irving Bishop, a Buddhist adept in the astral body, and most
other mysterious characters of history and fiction. Before his
Awful Will, Blinton's mere modern obstinacy shrank back like a child
abashed. The Stranger glided to him and whispered, "Buy these."

"These" were a complete set of Auerbach's novels, in English, which,
I need not say, Blinton would never have dreamt of purchasing had he
been left to his own devices.

"Buy these!" repeated the Adept, or whatever he was, in a cruel
whisper. Paying the sum demanded, and trailing his vast load of
German romance, poor Blinton followed the fiend.

They reached a stall where, amongst much trash, Glatigny's 'Jour de
l'An d'un Vagabond' was exposed.

"Look," said Blinton, "there is a book I have wanted some time.
Glatignys are getting rather scarce, and it is an amusing trifle."

" Nay, buy THAT," said the implacable Stranger, pointing with a
hooked forefinger at Alison's 'History of Europe' in an indefinite
number of volumes. Blinton shuddered.

"What, buy THAT, and why? In heaven's name, what could I do with

"Buy it," repeated the persecutor, "and THAT" (indicating the
'Ilios' of Dr. Schliemann, a bulky work), "and THESE" (pointing to
all Mr. Theodore Alois Buckley's translations of the Classics), "and
THESE" (glancing at the collected writings of the late Mr. Hain
Friswell, and at a 'Life,' in more than one volume, of Mr.

The miserable Blinton paid, and trudged along carrying the bargains
under his arm. Now one book fell out, now another dropped by the
way. Sometimes a portion of Alison came ponderously to earth;
sometimes the 'Gentle Life' sunk resignedly to the ground. The
Adept kept picking them up again, and packing them under the arms of
the weary Blinton.

The victim now attempted to put on an air of geniality, and tried to
enter into conversation with his tormentor.

"He DOES know about books," thought Blinton, "and he must have a
weak spot somewhere."

So the wretched amateur made play in his best conversational style.
He talked of bindings, of Maioli, of Grolier, of De Thou, of Derome,
of Clovis Eve, of Roger Payne, of Trautz, and eke of Bauzonnet. He
discoursed of first editions, of black letter, and even of
illustrations and vignettes. He approached the topic of Bibles, but
here his tyrant, with a fierce yet timid glance, interrupted him.

"Buy those!" he hissed through his teeth.

"Those" were the complete publications of the Folk Lore Society.

Blinton did not care for folk lore (very bad men never do), but he
had to act as he was told.

Then, without pause or remorse, he was charged to acquire the
'Ethics' of Aristotle, in the agreeable versions of Williams and
Chase. Next he secured 'Strathmore,' 'Chandos,' 'Under Two Flags,'
and 'Two Little Wooden Shoes,' and several dozens more of Ouida's
novels. The next stall was entirely filled with school-books, old
geographies, Livys, Delectuses, Arnold's 'Greek Exercises,'
Ollendorffs, and what not.

"Buy them all," hissed the fiend. He seized whole boxes and piled
them on Blinton's head.

He tied up Ouida's novels, in two parcels, with string, and fastened
each to one of the buttons above the tails of Blinton's coat.

"You are tired?" asked the tormentor. "Never mind, these books will
soon be off your hands."

So speaking, the Stranger, with amazing speed, hurried Blinton back
through Holywell Street, along the Strand, and up to Piccadilly,
stopping at last at the door of Blinton's famous and very expensive

The binder opened his eyes, as well he might, at the vision of
Blinton's treasures. Then the miserable Blinton found himself, as
it were automatically and without any exercise of his will, speaking

"Here are some things I have picked up,--extremely rare,--and you
will oblige me by binding them in your best manner, regardless of
expense. Morocco, of course; crushed levant morocco, double, every
book of them, petits fers, my crest and coat of arms, plenty of
gilding. Spare no cost. Don't keep me waiting, as you generally
do;" for indeed book-binders are the most dilatory of the human

Before the astonished binder could ask the most necessary questions,
Blinton's tormentor had hurried that amateur out of the room.

"Come on to the sale," he cried.

"What sale?" said Blinton.

"Why, the Beckford sale; it is the thirteenth day, a lucky day."

"But I have forgotten my catalogue."

"Where is it?"

"In the third shelf from the top, on the right-hand side of the
ebony book-case at home."

The stranger stretched out his arm, which swiftly elongated itself
till the hand disappeared from view round the corner. In a moment
the hand returned with the catalogue. The pair sped on to Messrs.
Sotheby's auction-rooms in Wellington Street. Every one knows the
appearance of a great book-sale. The long table, surrounded by
eager bidders, resembles from a little distance a roulette table,
and communicates the same sort of excitement. The amateur is at a
loss to know how to conduct himself. If he bids in his own person
some bookseller will outbid him, partly because the bookseller
knows, after all, he knows little about books, and suspects that the
amateur may, in this case, know more. Besides, professionals always
dislike amateurs, and, in this game, they have a very great
advantage. Blinton knew all this, and was in the habit of giving
his commissions to a broker. But now he felt (and very naturally)
as if a demon had entered into him. 'Tirante il Bianco
Valorosissimo Cavaliere' was being competed for, an excessively rare
romance of chivalry, in magnificent red Venetian morocco, from
Canevari's library. The book is one of the rarest of the Venetian
Press, and beautifully adorned with Canevari's device,--a simple and
elegant affair in gold and colours. "Apollo is driving his chariot
across the green waves towards the rock, on which winged Pegasus is
pawing the ground," though why this action of a horse should be
called "pawing" (the animal notoriously not possessing paws) it is
hard to say. Round this graceful design is the inscription [Greek
text] (straight not crooked). In his ordinary mood Blinton could
only have admired 'Tirante il Bianco' from a distance. But now, the
demon inspiring him, he rushed into the lists, and challenged the
great Mr. -, the Napoleon of bookselling. The price had already
reached five hundred pounds.

"Six hundred," cried Blinton.

"Guineas," said the great Mr. -.

"Seven hundred," screamed Blinton.

"Guineas," replied the other.

This arithmetical dialogue went on till even Mr. -- struck his flag,
with a sigh, when the maddened Blinton had said "Six thousand." The
cheers of the audience rewarded the largest bid ever made for any
book. As if he had not done enough, the Stranger now impelled
Blinton to contend with Mr. -- for every expensive work that
appeared. The audience naturally fancied that Blinton was in the
earlier stage of softening of the brain, when a man conceives
himself to have inherited boundless wealth, and is determined to
live up to it. The hammer fell for the last time. Blinton owed
some fifty thousand pounds, and exclaimed audibly, as the influence
of the fiend died out, "I am a ruined man."

"Then your books must be sold," cried the Stranger, and, leaping on
a chair, he addressed the audience:-

"Gentlemen, I invite you to Mr. Blinton's sale, which will
immediately take place. The collection contains some very
remarkable early English poets, many first editions of the French
classics, most of the rarer Aldines, and a singular assortment of

In a moment, as if by magic, the shelves round the room were filled
with Blinton's books, all tied up in big lots of some thirty volumes
each. His early Molieres were fastened to old French dictionaries
and school-books. His Shakespeare quartos were in the same lot with
tattered railway novels. His copy (almost unique) of Richard
Barnfield's much too 'Affectionate Shepheard' was coupled with odd
volumes of 'Chips from a German Workshop' and a cheap, imperfect
example of 'Tom Brown's School-Days.' Hookes's 'Amanda' was at the
bottom of a lot of American devotional works, where it kept company
with an Elzevir Tacitus and the Aldine 'Hypnerotomachia.' The
auctioneer put up lot after lot, and Blinton plainly saw that the
whole affair was a "knock-out." His most treasured spoils were
parted with at the price of waste paper. It is an awful thing to be
present at one's own sale. No man would bid above a few shillings.
Well did Blinton know that after the knock-out the plunder would be
shared among the grinning bidders. At last his 'Adonais,' uncut,
bound by Lortic, went, in company with some old 'Bradshaws,' the
'Court Guide' of 1881, and an odd volume of the 'Sunday at Home,'
for sixpence. The Stranger smiled a smile of peculiar malignity.
Blinton leaped up to protest; the room seemed to shake around him,
but words would not come to his lips.

Then he heard a familiar voice observe, as a familiar grasp shook
his shoulder,--

"Tom, Tom, what a nightmare you are enjoying!"

He was in his own arm-chair, where he had fallen asleep after
dinner, and Mrs. Blinton was doing her best to arouse him from his
awful vision. Beside him lay 'L'Enfer du Bibliophile, vu et decrit
par Charles Asselineau.' (Paris: Tardieu, MDCCCLX.)

If this were an ordinary tract, I should have to tell how Blinton's
eyes were opened, how he gave up book-collecting, and took to
gardening, or politics, or something of that sort. But truth
compels me to admit that Blinton's repentance had vanished by the
end of the week, when he was discovered marking M. Claudin's
catalogue, surreptitiously, before breakfast. Thus, indeed, end all
our remorses. "Lancelot falls to his own love again," as in the
romance. Much, and justly, as theologians decry a death-bed
repentance, it is, perhaps, the only repentance that we do not
repent of. All others leave us ready, when occasion comes, to fall
to our old love again; and may that love never be worse than the
taste for old books! Once a collector, always a collector. Moi qui
parle, I have sinned, and struggled, and fallen. I have thrown
catalogues, unopened, into the waste-paper basket. I have withheld
my feet from the paths that lead to Sotheby's and to Puttick's. I
have crossed the street to avoid a book-stall. In fact, like the
prophet Nicholas, "I have been known to be steady for weeks at a
time." And then the fatal moment of temptation has arrived, and I
have succumbed to the soft seductions of Eisen, or Cochin, or an old
book on Angling. Probably Grolier was thinking of such weaknesses
when he chose his devices Tanquam Ventus, and quisque suos patimur
Manes. Like the wind we are blown about, and, like the people in
the AEneid, we are obliged to suffer the consequences of our own


The Books I cannot hope to buy,
Their phantoms round me waltz and wheel,
They pass before the dreaming eye,
Ere Sleep the dreaming eye can seal.
A kind of literary reel
They dance; how fair the bindings shine!
Prose cannot tell them what I feel,--
The Books that never can be mine!

There frisk Editions rare and shy,
Morocco clad from head to heel;
Shakspearian quartos; Comedy
As first she flashed from Richard Steele;
And quaint De Foe on Mrs. Veal;
And, lord of landing net and line,
Old Izaak with his fishing creel,--
The Books that never can be mine!

Incunables! for you I sigh,
Black letter, at thy founts I kneel,
Old tales of Perrault's nursery,
For you I'd go without a meal!
For Books wherein did Aldus deal
And rare Galliot du Pre I pine.
The watches of the night reveal
The Books that never can be mine!


Prince, bear a hopeless Bard's appeal;
Reverse the rules of Mine and Thine;
Make it legitimate to steal
The Books that never can be mine!


The biographer of Mrs. Aphra Behn refutes the vulgar error that "a
Dutchman cannot love." Whether or not a lady can love books is a
question that may not be so readily settled. Mr. Ernest Quentin
Bauchart has contributed to the discussion of this problem by
publishing a bibliography, in two quarto volumes, of books which
have been in the libraries of famous beauties of old, queens and
princesses of France. There can be no doubt that these ladies were
possessors of exquisite printed books and manuscripts wonderfully
bound, but it remains uncertain whether the owners, as a rule, were
bibliophiles; whether their hearts were with their treasures.
Incredible as it may seem to us now, literature was highly respected
in the past, and was even fashionable. Poets were in favour at
court, and Fashion decided that the great must possess books, and
not only books, but books produced in the utmost perfection of art,
and bound with all the skill at the disposal of Clovis Eve, and
Padeloup, and Duseuil. Therefore, as Fashion gave her commands, we
cannot hastily affirm that the ladies who obeyed were really book-
lovers. In our more polite age, Fashion has decreed that ladies
shall smoke, and bet, and romp, but it would be premature to assert
that all ladies who do their duty in these matters are born romps,
or have an unaffected liking for cigarettes. History, however,
maintains that many of the renowned dames whose books are now the
most treasured of literary relics were actually inclined to study as
well as to pleasure, like Marguerite de Valois and the Comtesse de
Verrue, and even Madame de Pompadour. Probably books and arts were
more to this lady's liking than the diversions by which she beguiled
the tedium of Louis XV.; and many a time she would rather have been
quiet with her plays and novels than engaged in conscientiously
conducted but distasteful revels.

Like a true Frenchman, M. Bauchart has only written about French
lady book-lovers, or about women who, like Mary Stuart, were more
than half French. Nor would it be easy for an English author to
name, outside the ranks of crowned heads, like Elizabeth, any
Englishwomen of distinction who had a passion for the material side
of literature, for binding, and first editions, and large paper, and
engravings in early "states." The practical sex, when studious, is
like the same sex when fond of equestrian exercise. "A lady says,
'My heyes, he's an 'orse, and he must go,'" according to Leech's
groom. In the same way, a studious girl or matron says, "This is a
book," and reads it, if read she does, without caring about the
date, or the state, or the publisher's name, or even very often
about the author's. I remember, before the publication of a novel
now celebrated, seeing a privately printed vellum-bound copy on
large paper in the hands of a literary lady. She was holding it
over the fire, and had already made the vellum covers curl wide open
like the shells of an afflicted oyster.

When I asked what the volume was, she explained that "It is a book
which a poor man has written, and he's had it printed to see whether
some one won't be kind enough to publish it." I ventured, perhaps
pedantically, to point out that the poor man could not be so very
poor, or he would not have made so costly an experiment on Dutch
paper. But the lady said she did not know how that might be, and
she went on toasting the experiment. In all this there is a fine
contempt for everything but the spiritual aspect of literature;
there is an aversion to the mere coquetry and display of morocco and
red letters, and the toys which amuse the minds of men. Where
ladies have caught "the Bibliomania," I fancy they have taken this
pretty fever from the other sex. But it must be owned that the
books they have possessed, being rarer and more romantic, are even
more highly prized by amateurs than examples from the libraries of
Grolier, and Longepierre, and D'Hoym. M. Bauchart's book is a
complete guide to the collector of these expensive relics. He
begins his dream of fair women who have owned books with the pearl
of the Valois, Marguerite d'Angouleme, the sister of Francis I. The
remains of her library are chiefly devotional manuscripts. Indeed,
it is to be noted that all these ladies, however frivolous,
possessed the most devout and pious books, and whole collections of
prayers copied out by the pen, and decorated with miniatures.
Marguerite's library was bound in morocco, stamped with a crowned M
in interlacs sown with daisies, or, at least, with conventional
flowers which may have been meant for daisies. If one could choose,
perhaps the most desirable of the specimens extant is 'Le Premier
Livre du Prince des Poetes, Homere,' in Salel's translation. For
this translation Ronsard writes a prologue, addressed to the manes
of Salel, in which he complains that he is ridiculed for his poetry.
He draws a characteristic picture of Homer and Salel in Elysium,
among the learned lovers:

qui parmi les fleurs devisent
Au giron de leur dame.

Marguerite's manuscript copy of the First Book of the Iliad is a
small quarto, adorned with daisies, fleurs de-lis, and the crowned
M. It is in the Duc d'Aumale's collection at Chantilly. The books
of Diane de Poitiers are more numerous and more famous. When first
a widow she stamped her volumes with a laurel springing from a tomb,
and the motto, "Sola vivit in illo." But when she consoled herself
with Henri II. she suppressed the tomb, and made the motto
meaningless. Her crescent shone not only on her books, but on the
palace walls of France, in the Louvre, Fontainebleau, and Anet, and
her initial D. is inextricably interlaced with the H. of her royal
lover. Indeed, Henri added the D to his own cypher, and this must
have been so embarrassing for his wife Catherine, that people have
good-naturedly tried to read the curves of the D's as C's. The D's,
and the crescents, and the bows of his Diana are impressed even on
the covers of Henri's Book of Hours. Catherine's own cypher is a
double C enlaced with an H, or double K's (Katherine) combined in
the same manner. These, unlike the D.H., are surmounted with a
crown--the one advantage which the wife possessed over the
favourite. Among Diane's books are various treatises on medicines
and on surgery, and plenty of poetry and Italian novels. Among the
books exhibited at the British Museum in glass cases is Diane's copy
of Bembo's 'History of Venice.' An American collector, Mr. Barlow,
of New York, is happy enough to possess her 'Singularitez de la
France Antarctique' (Antwerp, 1558).

Catherine de Medicis got splendid books on the same terms as foreign
pirates procure English novels--she stole them. The Marshal
Strozzi, dying in the French service, left a noble collection, on
which Catherine laid her hands. Brantome says that Strozzi's son
often expressed to him a candid opinion about this transaction.
What with her own collection and what with the Marshal's, Catherine
possessed about four thousand volumes. On her death they were in
peril of being seized by her creditors, but her almoner carried them
to his own house, and De Thou had them placed in the royal library.
Unluckily it was thought wiser to strip the books of the coats with
Catherine's compromising device, lest her creditors should single
them out, and take them away in their pockets. Hence, books with
her arms and cypher are exceedingly rare. At the sale of the
collections of the Duchesse de Berry, a Book of Hours of Catherine's
was sold for 2,400 pounds.

Mary Stuart of Scotland was one of the lady book-lovers whose taste
was more than a mere following of the fashion. Some of her books,
like one of Marie Antoinette's, were the companions of her
captivity, and still bear the sad complaints which she entrusted to
these last friends of fallen royalty. Her note-book, in which she
wrote her Latin prose exercises when a girl, still survives, bound
in red morocco, with the arms of France. In a Book of Hours, now
the property of the Czar, may be partly deciphered the quatrains
which she composed in her sorrowful years, but many of them are
mutilated by the binder's shears. The Queen used the volume as a
kind of album: it contains the signatures of the "Countess of
Schrewsbury" (as M. Bauchart has it), of Walsingham, of the Earl of
Sussex, and of Charles Howard, Earl of Nottingham. There is also
the signature, "Your most infortunat, ARBELLA SEYMOUR;" and "Fr.

This remarkable manuscript was purchased in Paris, during the
Revolution, by Peter Dubrowsky, who carried it to Russia. Another
Book of Hours of the Queen's bears this inscription, in a sixteenth-
century hand: "Ce sont les Heures de Marie Setuart Renne.
Marguerite de Blacuod de Rosay." In De Blacuod it is not very easy
to recognise "Blackwood." Marguerite was probably the daughter of
Adam Blackwood, who wrote a volume on Mary Stuart's sufferings
(Edinburgh, 1587).

The famous Marguerite de Valois, the wife of Henri IV., had
certainly a noble library, and many beautifully bound books stamped
with daisies are attributed to her collections. They bear the
motto, "Expectata non eludet," which appears to refer, first to the
daisy ("Margarita"), which is punctual in the spring, or rather is
"the constellated flower that never sets," and next, to the lady,
who will "keep tryst." But is the lady Marguerite de Valois?
Though the books have been sold at very high prices as relics of the
leman of La Mole, it seems impossible to demonstrate that they were
ever on her shelves, that they were bound by Clovis Eve from her own
design. "No mention is made of them in any contemporary document,
and the judicious are reduced to conjectures." Yet they form a most
important collection, systematically bound, science and philosophy
in citron morocco, the poets in green, and history and theology in
red. In any case it is absurd to explain "Expectata non eludet" as
a reference to the lily of the royal arms, which appears on the
centre of the daisy-pied volumes. The motto, in that case, would
run, "Expectata (lilia) non eludent." As it stands, the feminine
adjective, "expectata," in the singular, must apply either to the
lady who owned the volumes, or to the "Margarita," her emblem, or to
both. Yet the ungrammatical rendering is that which M. Bauchart
suggests. Many of the books, Marguerite's or not, were sold at
prices over 100 pounds in London, in 1884 and 1883. The Macrobius,
and Theocritus, and Homer are in the Cracherode collection at the
British Museum. The daisy crowned Ronsard went for 430 pounds at
the Beckford sale. These prices will probably never be reached

If Anne of Austria, the mother of Louis XIV., was a bibliophile, she
may be suspected of acting on the motive, "Love me, love my books."
About her affection for Cardinal Mazarin there seems to be no doubt:
the Cardinal had a famous library, and his royal friend probably
imitated his tastes. In her time, and on her volumes, the
originality and taste of the skilled binder, Le Gascon, begin to
declare themselves. The fashionable passion for lace, to which La
Fontaine made such sacrifices, affected the art of book decorations,
and Le Gascon's beautiful patterns of gold points and dots are
copies of the productions of Venice. The Queen-Mother's books
include many devotional treatises, for, whatever other fashions
might come and go, piety was always constant before the Revolution.
Anne of Austria seems to have been particularly fond of the lives
and works of Saint Theresa, and Saint Francois de Sales, and John of
the Cross. But she was not unread in the old French poets, such as
Coquillart; she condescended to Ariosto; she had that dubious
character, Theophile de Viaud, beautifully bound; she owned the
Rabelais of 1553; and, what is particularly interesting, M. de
Lignerolles possesses her copy of 'L'Eschole des Femmes, Comedie par
J. B. P. Moliere. Paris: Guillaume de Luynes, 1663.' In 12
[degree sign], red morocco, gilt edges, and the Queen's arms on the
covers. This relic is especially valuable when we remember that
'L'Ecole des Femmes' and Arnolphe's sermon to Agnes, and his comic
threats of future punishment first made envy take the form of
religious persecution. The devout Queen-Mother was often appealed
to by the enemies of Moliere, yet Anne of Austria had not only seen
his comedy, but possessed this beautiful example of the first
edition. M. Paul Lacroix supposes that this copy was offered to the
Queen-Mother by Moliere himself. The frontispiece (Arnolphe
preaching to Agnes) is thought to be a portrait of Moliere, but in
the reproduction in M. Louis Lacour's edition it is not easy to see
any resemblance. Apparently Anne did not share the views, even in
her later years, of the converted Prince de Conty, for several
comedies and novels remain stamped with her arms and device.

The learned Marquise de Rambouillet, the parent of all the
'Precieuses,' must have owned a good library, but nothing is
chronicled save her celebrated book of prayers and meditations,
written out and decorated by Jarry. It is bound in red morocco,
double with green, and covered with V's in gold. The Marquise
composed the prayers for her own use, and Jarry was so much struck
with their beauty that he asked leave to introduce them into the
Book of Hours which he had to copy, "for the prayers are often so
silly," said he, "that I am ashamed to write them out."

Here is an example of the devotions which Jarry admired, a prayer to
Saint Louis. It was published in 'Miscellanies Bibliographiques' by
M. Prosper Blanchemain.


Grand Roy, bien que votre couronne ayt este des plus esclatantes de
la Terre, celle que vous portez dans le ciel est incomparablement
plus precieuse. L'une estoit perissable l'autre est immortelle et
ces lys dont la blancheur se pouvoit ternir, sont maintenant
incorruptibles. Vostre obeissance envers vostre mere; vostre
justice envers vos sujets; et vos guerres contre les infideles, vous
ont acquis la veneration de tous les peuples; et la France doit a
vos travaux et a vostre piete l'inestimable tresor de la sanglante
et glorieuse couronne du Sauveur du monde. Priez-le incomparable
Saint qu'il donne une paix perpetuelle au Royaume dont vous avez
porte le sceptre; qu'il le preserve d'heresie; qu'il y face toujours
regner saintement vostre illustre Sang; et que tous ceux qui ont
l'honneur d'en descendre soient pour jamais fideles a son Eglise.

The daughter of the Marquise, the fair Julie, heroine of that "long
courting" by M. de Montausier, survives in those records as the
possessor of 'La Guirlande de Julie,' the manuscript book of poems
by eminent hands. But this manuscript seems to have been all the
library of Julie; therein she could constantly read of her own
perfections. To be sure she had also 'L'Histoire de Gustave
Adolphe,' a hero for whom, like Major Dugald Dalgetty, she cherished
a supreme devotion. In the 'Guirlande' Chapelain's verses turn on
the pleasing fancy that the Protestant Lion of the North, changed
into a flower (like Paul Limayrac in M. Banville's ode), requests
Julie to take pity on his altered estate:

Sois pitoyable a ma langueur;
Et si je n'ay place en ton coeur
Que je l'aye au moins sur ta teste.

These verses were reckoned consummate.

The 'Guirlande' is still, with happier fate than attends most books,
in the hands of the successors of the Duc and Duchesse de

Like Julie, Madame de Maintenon was a precieuse, but she never had
time to form a regular library. Her books, however, were bound by
Duseuil, a binder immortal in the verse of Pope; or it might be more
correct to say that Madame de Maintenon's own books are seldom
distinguishable from those of her favourite foundation, St. Cyr.
The most interesting is a copy of the first edition of 'Esther,' in
quarto (1689), bound in red morocco, and bearing, in Racine's hand,
'A Madame la Marquise de Maintenon, offert avec respect,--RACINE."

Doubtless Racine had the book bound before he presented it. "People
are discontented," writes his son Louis, "if you offer them a book
in a simple marbled paper cover." I could wish that this worthy
custom were restored, for the sake of the art of binding, and also
because amateur poets would be more chary of their presentation
copies. It is, no doubt, wise to turn these gifts with their sides
against the inner walls of bookcases, to be bulwarks against the
damp, but the trouble of acknowledging worthless presents from
strangers is considerable. {20}

Another interesting example of Madame de Maintenon's collections is
Dacier's 'Remarques Critiques sur les OEuvres d'Horace,' bearing the
arms of Louis XIV., but with his wife's signature on the fly-leaf

Of Madame de Montespan, ousted from the royal favour by Madame de
Maintenon, who "married into the family where she had been
governess," there survives one bookish relic of interest. This is
'OEuvres Diverses par un auteur de sept ans,' in quarto, red
morocco, printed on vellum, and with the arms of the mother of the
little Duc du Maine (1678). When Madame de Maintenon was still
playing mother to the children of the king and of Madame de
Montespan, she printed those "works" of her eldest pupil.

These ladies were only bibliophiles by accident, and were devoted,
in the first place, to pleasure, piety, or ambition. With the
Comtesse de Verrue, whose epitaph will be found on an earlier page,
we come to a genuine and even fanatical collector. Madame de Verrue
(1670-1736) got every kind of diversion out of life, and when she
ceased to be young and fair, she turned to the joys of "shopping."
In early years, "pleine de coeur, elle le donna sans comptes." In
later life, she purchased, or obtained on credit, everything that
caught her fancy, also sans comptes. "My aunt," says the Duc de
Luynes, "was always buying, and never baulked her fancy." Pictures,
books, coins, jewels, engravings, gems (over 8,000), tapestries, and
furniture were all alike precious to Madame de Verrue. Her snuff-
boxes defied computation; she had them in gold, in tortoise-shell,
in porcelain, in lacquer, and in jasper, and she enjoyed the
delicate fragrance of sixty different sorts of snuff. Without
applauding the smoking of cigarettes in drawing-rooms, we may admit
that it is less repulsive than steady applications to tobacco in
Madame de Verrue's favourite manner.

The Countess had a noble library, for old tastes survived in her
commodious heart, and new tastes she anticipated. She possessed
'The Romance of the Rose,' and 'Villon,' in editions of Galliot du
Pre (1529-1533) undeterred by the satire of Boileau. She had
examples of the 'Pleiade,' though they were not again admired in
France till 1830. She was also in the most modern fashion of to-
day, for she had the beautiful quarto of La Fontaine's 'Contes,' and
Bouchier's illustrated Moliere (large paper). And, what I envy her
more, she had Perrault's 'Fairy Tales,' in blue morocco--the blue
rose of the folklorist who is also a book-hunter. It must also be
confessed that Madame de Verrue had a large number of books such as
are usually kept under lock and key, books which her heirs did not
care to expose at the sale of her library. Once I myself (moi
chetif) owned a novel in blue morocco, which had been in the
collection of Madame de Verrue. In her old age this exemplary woman
invented a peculiarly comfortable arm-chair, which, like her novels,
was covered with citron and violet morocco; the nails were of
silver. If Madame de Verrue has met the Baroness Bernstein, their
conversation in the Elysian Fields must be of the most gallant and
interesting description.

Another literary lady of pleasure, Madame de Pompadour, can only be
spoken of with modified approval. Her great fault was that she did
not check the decadence of taste and sense in the art of
bookbinding. In her time came in the habit of binding books (if
binding it can be called) with flat backs, without the nerves and
sinews that are of the very essence of book-covers. Without these
no binding can be permanent, none can secure the lasting existence
of a volume. It is very deeply to be deplored that by far the most
accomplished living English artist in bookbinding has reverted to
this old and most dangerous heresy. The most original and graceful
tooling is of much less real value than permanence, and a book bound
with a flat back, without nerfs, might practically as well not be
bound at all. The practice was the herald of the French and may
open the way for the English Revolution. Of what avail were the
ingenious mosaics of Derome to stem the tide of change, when the
books whose sides they adorned were not really BOUND at all? Madame
de Pompadour's books were of all sorts, from the inevitable works of
devotions to devotions of another sort, and the 'Hours' of Erycina
Ridens. One of her treasures had singular fortunes, a copy of
'Daphnis and Chloe,' with the Regent's illustrations, and those of
Cochin and Eisen (Paris, quarto, 1757, red morocco). The covers are
adorned with billing and cooing doves, with the arrows of Eros, with
burning hearts, and sheep and shepherds. Eighteen years ago this
volume was bought for 10 francs in a village in Hungary. A
bookseller gave 8 pounds for it in Paris. M. Bauchart paid for it
150 pounds; and as it has left his shelves, probably he too made no
bad bargain. Madame de Pompadour's 'Apology for Herodotus' (La
Haye, 1735) has also its legend. It belonged to M. Paillet, who
coveted a glorified copy of the 'Pastissier Francois,' in M.
Bauchart's collection. M Paillet swopped it, with a number of
others, for the 'Pastissier:'

J'avais 'L'Apologie
Pour Herodote,' en reliure ancienne, amour
De livre provenant de chez la Pompadour
Il me le soutira! {21}

Of Marie Antoinette, with whom our lady book-lovers of the old
regime must close, there survive many books. She had a library in
the Tuileries, as well as at le petit Trianon. Of all her great and
varied collections, none is now so valued as her little book of
prayers, which was her consolation in the worst of all her evil
days, in the Temple and the Conciergerie. The book is 'Office de la
Divine Providence' (Paris, 1757, green morocco). On the fly-leaf
the Queen wrote, some hours before her death, these touching lines:
"Ce 16 Octobre, a 4 h. 0.5 du matin. Mon Dieu! ayez pitie de moi!
Mes yeux n'ont plus de larmes pour prier pour vous, mes pauvres
enfants. Adieu, adieu!--MARIE ANTOINETTE."

There can be no sadder relic of a greater sorrow, and the last
consolation of the Queen did not escape the French popular genius
for cruelty and insult. The arms on the covers of the prayer-book
have been cut out by some fanatic of Equality and Fraternity.


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