Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Library by Andrew Lang

Part 1 out of 2

Adobe PDF icon
Download The Library pdf
File size: 0.2 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

This etext was prepared by David Price, email ccx074@coventry.ac.uk
from the 1881 Macmillan and Co. edition.




Books, books again, and books once more!
These are our theme, which some miscall
Mere madness, setting little store
By copies either short or tall.
But you, O slaves of shelf and stall!
We rather write for you that hold
Patched folios dear, and prize "the small,
Rare volume, black with tarnished gold."
A. D.


The pages in this volume on illuminated and other MSS. (with the
exception of some anecdotes about Bussy Rabutin and Julie de
Rambouillet) have been contributed by the Rev. W. J. Loftie, who has
also written on early printed books (pp. 94-95). The pages on the
Biblioklept (pp. 46-56) are reprinted, with the Editor's kind
permission, from the Saturday Review; and a few remarks on the moral
lessons of bookstalls are taken from an essay in the same journal.

Mr. Ingram Bywater, Fellow of Exeter College, and lately sub-
Librarian of the Bodleian, has very kindly read through the proofs
of chapters I., II., and III., and suggested some alterations.

Thanks are also due to Mr. T. R. Buchanan, Fellow of All Souls
College, for two plates from his "Book-bindings in All Souls
Library" (printed for private circulation), which he has been good
enough to lend me. The plates are beautifully drawn and coloured by
Dr. J. J. Wild. Messrs. George Bell & Sons, Messrs. Bradbury,
Agnew, & Co., and Messrs. Chatto & Windus, must be thanked for the
use of some of the woodcuts which illustrate the concluding chapter.
A. L.


"All men," says Dr. Dibdin, "like to be their own librarians." A
writer on the library has no business to lay down the law as to the
books that even the most inexperienced amateurs should try to
collect. There are books which no lover of literature can afford to
be without; classics, ancient and modern, on which the world has
pronounced its verdict. These works, in whatever shape we may be
able to possess them, are the necessary foundations of even the
smallest collections. Homer, Dante and Milton Shakespeare and
Sophocles, Aristophanes and Moliere, Thucydides, Tacitus, and
Gibbon, Swift and Scott,--these every lover of letters will desire
to possess in the original languages or in translations. The list
of such classics is short indeed, and when we go beyond it, the
tastes of men begin to differ very widely. An assortment of
broadsheet ballads and scrap-books, bought in boyhood, was the
nucleus of Scott's library, rich in the works of poets and
magicians, of alchemists, and anecdotists. A childish liking for
coloured prints of stage characters, may be the germ of a theatrical
collection like those of Douce, and Malone, and Cousin. People who
are studying any past period of human history, or any old phase or
expression of human genius, will eagerly collect little contemporary
volumes which seem trash to other amateurs. For example, to a
student of Moliere, it is a happy chance to come across "La Carte du
Royaume des Pretieuses"--(The map of the kingdom of the
"Precieuses")--written the year before the comedian brought out his
famous play "Les Precieuses Ridicules." This geographical tract
appeared in the very "Recueil des Pieces Choisies," whose authors
Magdelon, in the play, was expecting to entertain, when Mascarille
made his appearance. There is a faculty which Horace Walpole named
"serendipity,"--the luck of falling on just the literary document
which one wants at the moment. All collectors of out of the way
books know the pleasure of the exercise of serendipity, but they
enjoy it in different ways. One man will go home hugging a volume
of sermons, another with a bulky collection of catalogues, which
would have distended the pockets even of the wide great-coat made
for the purpose, that Charles Nodier used to wear when he went a
book-hunting. Others are captivated by black letter, others by the
plays of such obscurities as Nabbes and Glapthorne. But however
various the tastes of collectors of books, they are all agreed on
one point,--the love of printed paper. Even an Elzevir man can
sympathise with Charles Lamb's attachment to "that folio Beaumont
and Fletcher which he dragged home late at night from Barker's in
Covent Garden." But it is another thing when Lamb says, "I do not
care for a first folio of Shakespeare." A bibliophile who could say
this could say anything.

No, there are, in every period of taste, books which, apart from
their literary value, all collectors admit to possess, if not for
themselves, then for others of the brotherhood, a peculiar
preciousness. These books are esteemed for curiosity, for beauty of
type, paper, binding, and illustrations, for some connection they
may have with famous people of the past, or for their rarity. It is
about these books, the method of preserving them, their enemies, the
places in which to hunt for them, that the following pages are to
treat. It is a subject more closely connected with the taste for
curiosities than with art, strictly so called. We are to be
occupied, not so much with literature as with books, not so much
with criticism as with bibliography, the quaint duenna of
literature, a study apparently dry, but not without its humours.
And here an apology must be made for the frequent allusions and
anecdotes derived from French writers. These are as unavoidable,
almost, as the use of French terms of the sport in tennis and in
fencing. In bibliography, in the care for books AS books, the
French are still the teachers of Europe, as they were in tennis and
are in fencing. Thus, Richard de Bury, Chancellor of Edward III.,
writes in his "Philobiblon:" "Oh God of Gods in Zion! what a rushing
river of joy gladdens my heart as often as I have a chance of going
to Paris! There the days seem always short; there are the goodly
collections on the delicate fragrant book-shelves." Since Dante
wrote of -

"L'onor di quell' arte
Ch' allumare e chiamata in Parisi,"

"the art that is called illuminating in Paris," and all the other
arts of writing, printing, binding books, have been most skilfully
practised by France. She improved on the lessons given by Germany
and Italy in these crafts. Twenty books about books are written in
Paris for one that is published in England. In our country Dibdin
is out of date (the second edition of his "Bibliomania" was
published in 1811), and Mr. Hill Burton's humorous "Book-hunter" is
out of print. Meanwhile, in France, writers grave and gay, from the
gigantic industry of Brunet to Nodier's quaint fancy, and Janin's
wit, and the always entertaining bibliophile Jacob (Paul Lacroix),
have written, or are writing, on books, manuscripts, engravings,
editions, and bindings. In England, therefore, rare French books
are eagerly sought, and may be found in all the booksellers'
catalogues. On the continent there is no such care for our curious
or beautiful editions, old or new. Here a hint may be given to the
collector. If he "picks up" a rare French book, at a low price, he
would act prudently in having it bound in France by a good
craftsman. Its value, when "the wicked day of destiny" comes, and
the collection is broken up, will thus be made secure. For the
French do not suffer our English bindings gladly; while we have no
narrow prejudice against the works of Lortic and Cape, but the
reverse. For these reasons then, and also because every writer is
obliged to make the closest acquaintance with books in the direction
where his own studies lie, the writings of French authorities are
frequently cited in the following pages.

This apology must be followed by a brief defence of the taste and
passion of book-collecting, and of the class of men known
invidiously as book-worms and book-hunters. They and their simple
pleasures are the butts of a cheap and shrewish set of critics, who
cannot endure in others a taste which is absent in themselves.
Important new books have actually been condemned of late years
because they were printed on good paper, and a valuable historical
treatise was attacked by reviewers quite angrily because its outward
array was not mean and forbidding. Of course, critics who take this
view of new books have no patience with persons who care for
"margins," and "condition," and early copies of old books. We
cannot hope to convert the adversary, but it is not necessary to be
disturbed by his clamour. People are happier for the possession of
a taste as long as they possess it, and it does not, like the demons
of Scripture, possess them. The wise collector gets instruction and
pleasure from his pursuit, and it may well be that, in the long run,
he and his family do not lose money. The amusement may chance to
prove a very fair investment.

As to this question of making money by collecting, Mr. Hill Burton
speaks very distinctly in "The Book-hunter:" "Where money is the
object let a man speculate or become a miser. . . Let not the
collector ever, unless in some urgent and necessary circumstances,
part with any of his treasures. Let him not even have recourse to
that practice called barter, which political philosophers tell us is
the universal resource of mankind preparatory to the invention of
money. Let him confine all his transactions in the market to
purchasing only. No good comes of gentlemen-amateurs buying and
selling." There is room for difference of opinion here, but there
seems to be most reason on the side of Mr. Hill Burton. It is one
thing for the collector to be able to reflect that the money he
expends on books is not lost, and that his family may find
themselves richer, not poorer, because he indulged his taste. It is
quite another thing to buy books as a speculator buys shares,
meaning to sell again at a profit as soon as occasion offers. It is
necessary also to warn the beginner against indulging extravagant
hopes. He must buy experience with his books, and many of his first
purchases are likely to disappoint him. He will pay dearly for the
wrong "Caesar" of 1635, the one WITHOUT errors in pagination; and
this is only a common example of the beginner's blunders.
Collecting is like other forms of sport; the aim is not certain at
first, the amateur is nervous, and, as in angling, is apt to
"strike" (a bargain) too hurriedly.

I often think that the pleasure of collecting is like that of sport.
People talk of "book-hunting," and the old Latin motto says that
"one never wearies of the chase in this forest." But the analogy to
angling seems even stronger. A collector walks in the London or
Paris streets, as he does by Tweed or Spey. Many a lordly mart of
books he passes, like Mr. Quaritch's, Mr. Toovey's, or M.
Fontaine's, or the shining store of M.M. Morgand et Fatout, in the
Passage des Panoramas. Here I always feel like Brassicanus in the
king of Hungary's collection, "non in Bibliotheca, sed in gremio
Jovis;" "not in a library, but in paradise." It is not given to
every one to cast angle in these preserves. They are kept for dukes
and millionaires. Surely the old Duke of Roxburghe was the happiest
of mortals, for to him both the chief bookshops and auction rooms,
and the famous salmon streams of Floors, were equally open, and he
revelled in the prime of book-collecting and of angling. But there
are little tributary streets, with humbler stalls, shy pools, as it
were, where the humbler fisher of books may hope to raise an
Elzevir, or an old French play, a first edition of Shelley, or a
Restoration comedy. It is usually a case of hope unfulfilled; but
the merest nibble of a rare book, say Marston's poems in the
original edition, or Beddoes's "Love's Arrow Poisoned," or Bankes's
"Bay Horse in a Trance," or the "Mel Heliconicum" of Alexander Ross,
or "Les Oeuvres de Clement Marot, de Cahors, Vallet de Chambre du
Roy, A Paris, Ches Pierre Gaultier, 1551;" even a chance at
something of this sort will kindle the waning excitement, and add a
pleasure to a man's walk in muddy London. Then, suppose you
purchase for a couple of shillings the "Histoire des Amours de Henry
IV, et autres pieces curieuses, A Leyde, Chez Jean Sambyx (Elzevir),
1664," it is certainly not unpleasant, on consulting M. Fontaine's
catalogue, to find that he offers the same work at the ransom of 10
pounds. The beginner thinks himself in singular luck, even though
he has no idea of vending his collection, and he never reflects that
CONDITION--spotless white leaves and broad margins, make the market
value of a book.

Setting aside such bare considerations of profit, the sport given by
bookstalls is full of variety and charm. In London it may be
pursued in most of the cross streets that stretch a dirty net
between the British Museum and the Strand. There are other more shy
and less frequently poached resorts which the amateur may be allowed
to find out for himself. In Paris there is the long sweep of the
Quais, where some eighty bouquinistes set their boxes on the walls
of the embankment of the Seine. There are few country towns so
small but that books, occasionally rare and valuable, may be found
lurking in second-hand furniture warehouses. This is one of the
advantages of living in an old country. The Colonies are not the
home for a collector. I have seen an Australian bibliophile
enraptured by the rare chance of buying, in Melbourne, an early work
on--the history of Port Jackson! This seems but poor game. But in
Europe an amateur has always occupation for his odd moments in town,
and is for ever lured on by the radiant apparition of Hope. All
collectors tell their anecdotes of wonderful luck, and magnificent
discoveries. There is a volume "Voyages Litteraires sur les Quais
de Paris" (Paris, Durand, 1857), by M. de Fontaine de Resbecq, which
might convert the dullest soul to book-hunting. M. de Resbecq and
his friends had the most amazing good fortune. A M. N- found six
original plays of Moliere (worth perhaps as many hundreds of
pounds), bound up with Garth's "Dispensary," an English poem which
has long lost its vogue. It is worth while, indeed, to examine all
volumes marked "Miscellanea," "Essays," and the like, and treasures
may possibly lurk, as Snuffy Davy knew, within the battered
sheepskin of school books. Books lie in out of the way places.
Poggio rescued "Quintilian" from the counter of a wood merchant.
The best time for book-hunting in Paris is the early morning. "The
take," as anglers say, is "on" from half-past seven to half-past
nine a.m. At these hours the vendors exhibit their fresh wares, and
the agents of the more wealthy booksellers come and pick up
everything worth having. These agents quite spoil the sport of the
amateur. They keep a strict watch on every country dealer's
catalogue, snap up all he has worth selling, and sell it over again,
charging pounds in place of shillings. But M. de Resbecq vows that
he once picked up a copy of the first edition of La Rochefoucauld's
"Maxims" out of a box which two booksellers had just searched. The
same collector got together very promptly all the original editions
of La Bruyere, and he even found a copy of the Elzevir "Pastissier
Francais," at the humble price of six sous. Now the " Pastissier
Francais," an ill-printed little cookery-book of the Elzevirs, has
lately fetched 600 pounds at a sale. The Antiquary's story of
Snuffy Davy and the "Game of Chess," is dwarfed by the luck of M. de
Resbecq. Not one amateur in a thousand can expect such good
fortune. There is, however, a recent instance of a Rugby boy, who
picked up, on a stall, a few fluttering leaves hanging together on a
flimsy thread. The old woman who kept the stall could hardly be
induced to accept the large sum of a shilling for an original quarto
of Shakespeare's "King John." These stories are told that none may
despair. That none may be over confident, an author may recount his
own experience. The only odd trouvaille that ever fell to me was a
clean copy of "La Journee Chretienne," with the name of Leon
Gambetta, 1844, on its catholic fly-leaf. Rare books grow rarer
every day, and often 'tis only Hope that remains at the bottom of
the fourpenny boxes. Yet the Paris book-hunters cleave to the game.
August is their favourite season; for in August there is least
competition. Very few people are, as a rule, in Paris, and these
are not tempted to loiter. The bookseller is drowsy, and glad not
to have the trouble of chaffering. The English go past, and do not
tarry beside a row of dusty boxes of books. The heat threatens the
amateur with sunstroke. Then, says M. Octave Uzanne, in a prose
ballade of book-hunters--then, calm, glad, heroic, the bouquineurs
prowl forth, refreshed with hope. The brown old calf-skin wrinkles
in the sun, the leaves crackle, you could poach an egg on the cover
of a quarto. The dome of the Institute glitters, the sickly trees
seem to wither, their leaves wax red and grey, a faint warm wind is
walking the streets. Under his vast umbrella the book-hunter is
secure and content; he enjoys the pleasures of the sport unvexed by
poachers, and thinks less of the heat than does the deer-stalker on
the bare hill-side.

There is plenty of morality, if there are few rare books in the
stalls. The decay of affection, the breaking of friendship, the
decline of ambition, are all illustrated in these fourpenny
collections. The presentation volumes are here which the author
gave in the pride of his heart to the poet who was his "Master," to
the critic whom he feared, to the friend with whom he was on terms
of mutual admiration. The critic has not even cut the leaves, the
poet has brusquely torn three or four apart with his finger and
thumb, the friend has grown cold, and has let the poems slip into
some corner of his library, whence they were removed on some day of
doom and of general clearing out. The sale of the library of a late
learned prelate who had Boileau's hatred of a dull book was a scene
to be avoided by his literary friends. The Bishop always gave the
works which were offered to him a fair chance. He read till he
could read no longer, cutting the pages as he went, and thus his
progress could be traced like that of a backwoodsman who "blazes"
his way through a primeval forest. The paper-knife generally ceased
to do duty before the thirtieth page. The melancholy of the book-
hunter is aroused by two questions, "Whence?" and "Whither?" The
bibliophile asks about his books the question which the
metaphysician asks about his soul. Whence came they? Their value
depends a good deal on the answer. If they are stamped with arms,
then there is a book ("Armorial du Bibliophile," by M. Guigard)
which tells you who was their original owner. Any one of twenty
coats-of-arms on the leather is worth a hundred times the value of
the volume which it covers. If there is no such mark, the fancy is
left to devise a romance about the first owner, and all the hands
through which the book has passed. That Vanini came from a Jesuit
college, where it was kept under lock and key. That copy of Agrippa
"De Vanitate Scientiarum" is marked, in a crabbed hand and in faded
ink, with cynical Latin notes. What pessimist two hundred years ago
made his grumbling so permanent? One can only guess, but part of
the imaginative joys of the book-hunter lies ' in the fruitless
conjecture. That other question "Whither?" is graver. Whither are
our treasures to be scattered? Will they find kind masters? or,
worst fate of books, fall into the hands of women who will sell them
to the trunk-maker? Are the leaves to line a box or to curl a
maiden's locks? Are the rarities to become more and more rare, and
at last fetch prodigious prices? Some unlucky men are able partly
to solve these problems in their own lifetime. They are constrained
to sell their libraries--an experience full of bitterness, wrath,
and disappointment.

Selling books is nearly as bad as losing friends, than which life
has no worse sorrow. A book is a friend whose face is constantly
changing. If you read it when you are recovering from an illness,
and return to it years after, it is changed surely, with the change
in yourself. As a man's tastes and opinions are developed his books
put on a different aspect. He hardly knows the "Poems and Ballads"
he used to declaim, and cannot recover the enigmatic charm of
"Sordello." Books change like friends, like ourselves, like
everything; but they are most piquant in the contrasts they provoke,
when the friend who gave them and wrote them is a success, though we
laughed at him; a failure, though we believed in him; altered in any
case, and estranged from his old self and old days. The vanished
past returns when we look at the pages. The vicissitudes of years
are printed and packed in a thin octavo, and the shivering ghosts of
desire and hope return to their forbidden home in the heart and
fancy. It is as well to have the power of recalling them always at
hand, and to be able to take a comprehensive glance at the emotions
which were so powerful and full of life, and now are more faded and
of less account than the memory of the dreams of childhood. It is
because our books are friends that do change, and remind us of
change, that we should keep them with us, even at a little
inconvenience, and not turn them adrift in the world to find a dusty
asylum in cheap bookstalls. We are a part of all that we have read,
to parody the saying of Mr. Tennyson's Ulysses, and we owe some
respect, and house-room at least, to the early acquaintances who
have begun to bore us, and remind us of the vanity of ambition and
the weakness of human purpose. Old school and college books even
have a reproachful and salutary power of whispering how much a man
knew, and at the cost of how much trouble, that he has absolutely
forgotten, and is neither the better nor the worse for it. It will
be the same in the case of the books he is eager about now; though,
to be sure, he will read with less care, and forget with an ease and
readiness only to be acquired by practice.

But we were apologising for book-hunting, not because it teaches
moral lessons, as "dauncyng" also does, according to Sir Thomas
Elyot, in the "Boke called the Gouvernour," but because it affords a
kind of sportive excitement. Bookstalls are not the only field of
the chase. Book catalogues, which reach the collector through the
post, give him all the pleasures of the sport at home. He reads the
booksellers' catalogues eagerly, he marks his chosen sport with
pencil, he writes by return of post, or he telegraphs to the vendor.
Unfortunately he almost always finds that he has been forestalled,
probably by some bookseller's agent. When the catalogue is a French
one, it is obvious that Parisians have the pick of the market before
our slow letters reach M. Claudin, or M. Labitte. Still the
catalogues themselves are a kind of lesson in bibliography. You see
from them how prices are ruling, and you can gloat, in fancy, over
De Luyne's edition of Moliere, 1673, two volumes in red morocco,
double ("Trautz Bauzonnet"), or some other vanity hopelessly out of
reach. In their catalogues, MM. Morgand and Fatout print a
facsimile of the frontispiece of this very rare edition. The bust
of Moliere occupies the centre, and portraits of the great actor, as
Sganarelle and Mascarille (of the "Precieuses Ridicules"), stand on
either side. In the second volume are Moliere, and his wife
Armande, crowned by the muse Thalia. A catalogue which contains
such exact reproductions of rare and authentic portraits, is itself
a work of art, and serviceable to the student. When the shop of a
bookseller, with a promising catalogue which arrives over night, is
not too far distant, bibliophiles have been known to rush to the
spot in the grey morning, before the doors open. There are
amateurs, however, who prefer to stay comfortably at home, and pity
these poor fanatics, shivering in the rain outside a door in Oxford
Street or Booksellers' Row. There is a length to which enthusiasm
cannot go, and many collectors draw the line at rising early in the
morning. But, when we think of the sport of book-hunting, it is to
sales in auction-rooms that the mind naturally turns. Here the
rival buyers feel the passion of emulation, and it was in an
auction-room that Guibert de Pixerecourt, being outbid, said, in
tones of mortal hatred, "I will have the book when your collection
is sold after your death." And he kept his word. The fever of
gambling is not absent from the auction-room, and people "bid
jealous" as they sometimes "ride jealous" in the hunting-field.
Yet, the neophyte, if he strolls by chance into a sale-room, will be
surprised at the spectacle. The chamber has the look of a rather
seedy "hell." The crowd round the auctioneer's box contains many
persons so dingy and Semitic, that at Monte Carlo they would be
refused admittance; while, in Germany, they would be persecuted by
Herr von Treitschke with Christian ardour. Bidding is languid, and
valuable books are knocked down for trifling sums. Let the neophyte
try his luck, however, and prices will rise wonderfully. The fact
is that the sale is a "knock out." The bidders are professionals,
in a league to let the volumes go cheap, and to distribute them
afterwards among themselves. Thus an amateur can have a good deal
of sport by bidding for a book till it reaches its proper value, and
by then leaving in the lurch the professionals who combine to "run
him up." The amusement has its obvious perils, but the presence of
gentlemen in an auction-room is a relief to the auctioneer and to
the owner of the books. A bidder must be able to command his
temper, both that he may be able to keep his head cool when tempted
to bid recklessly, and that he may disregard the not very carefully
concealed sneers of the professionals.

In book-hunting the nature of the quarry varies with the taste of
the collector. One man is for bibles, another for ballads. Some
pursue plays, others look for play bills. "He was not," says Mr.
Hill Burton, speaking of Kirkpatrick Sharpe, "he was not a black-
letter man, or a tall copyist, or an uncut man, or a rough-edge man,
or an early-English dramatist, or an Elzevirian, or a broadsider, or
a pasquinader, or an old brown calf man, or a Grangerite, {1} or a
tawny moroccoite, or a gilt topper, or a marbled insider, or an
editio princeps man." These nicknames briefly dispose into
categories a good many species of collectors. But there are plenty
of others. You may be a historical-bindings man, and hunt for books
that were bound by the great artists of the past and belonged to
illustrious collectors. Or you may be a Jametist, and try to gather
up the volumes on which Jamet, the friend of Louis Racine, scribbled
his cynical "Marginalia." Or you may covet the earliest editions of
modern poets--Shelley, Keats, or Tennyson, or even Ebenezer Jones.
Or the object of your desires may be the books of the French
romanticists, who flourished so freely in 1830. Or, being a person
of large fortune and landed estate, you may collect country
histories. Again, your heart may be set on the books illustrated by
Eisen, Cochin, and Gravelot, or Stothard and Blake, in the last
century. Or you may be so old-fashioned as to care for Aldine
classics, and for the books of the Giunta press. In fact, as many
as are the species of rare and beautiful books, so many are the
species of collectors. There is one sort of men, modest but not
unwise in their generations, who buy up the pretty books published
in very limited editions by French booksellers, like MM. Lemerre and
Jouaust. Already their reprints of Rochefoucauld's first edition,
of Beaumarchais, of La Fontaine, of the lyrics attributed to
Moliere, and other volumes, are exhausted, and fetch high prices in
the market. By a singular caprice, the little volumes of Mr.
Thackeray's miscellaneous writings, in yellow paper wrappers (when
they are first editions), have become objects of desire, and their
old modest price is increased twenty fold. It is not always easy to
account for these freaks of fashion; but even in book-collecting
there are certain definite laws. "Why do you pay a large price for
a dingy, old book," outsiders ask, "when a clean modern reprint can
be procured for two or three shillings?" To this question the
collector has several replies, which he, at least, finds
satisfactory. In the first place, early editions, published during
a great author's lifetime, and under his supervision, have authentic
texts. The changes in them are the changes that Prior or La Bruyere
themselves made and approved. You can study, in these old editions,
the alterations in their taste, the history of their minds. The
case is the same even with contemporary authors. One likes to have
Mr. Tennyson's "Poems, chiefly Lyrical" (London: Effingham Wilson,
Royal Exchange, Cornhill, 1830). It is fifty years old, this little
book of one hundred and fifty-four pages, this first fruit of a
stately tree. In half a century the poet has altered much, and
withdrawn much, but already, in 1830, he had found his distinctive
note, and his "Mariana" is a masterpiece. "Mariana" is in all the
collections, but pieces of which the execution is less certain must
be sought only in the old volume of 1830. In the same way "The
Strayed Reveller, and other poems, by A." (London: B. Fellowes,
Ludgate Street, 1849) contains much that Mr. Matthew Arnold has
altered, and this volume, like the suppressed "Empedocles on Etna,
and other Poems, by A." (1852), appeals more to the collector than
do the new editions which all the world may possess. There are
verses, curious in their way, in Mr. Clough's "Ambarvalia" (1849),
which you will not find in his posthumous edition, but which "repay
perusal." These minutiae of literary history become infinitely more
important in the early editions of the great classical writers, and
the book-collector may regard his taste as a kind of handmaid of
critical science. The preservation of rare books, and the
collection of materials for criticism, are the useful functions,
then, of book-collecting. But it is not to be denied that the
sentimental side of the pursuit gives it most of its charm. Old
books are often literary relics, and as dear and sacred to the lover
of literature as are relics of another sort to the religious
devotee. The amateur likes to see the book in its form as the
author knew it. He takes a pious pleasure in the first edition of
"Les Precieuses Ridicules," (M.DC.LX.) just as Moliere saw it, when
he was fresh in the business of authorship, and wrote "Mon Dieu,
qu'un Autheur est neuf, la premiere fois qu'on l'imprime." All
editions published during a great man's life have this attraction,
and seem to bring us closer to his spirit. Other volumes are
relics, as we shall see later, of some famed collector, and there is
a certain piety in the care we give to books once dear to
Longepierre, or Harley, or d'Hoym, or Buckle, to Madame de
Maintenon, or Walpole, to Grolier, or Askew, or De Thou, or Heber.
Such copies should be handed down from worthy owners to owners not
unworthy; such servants of literature should never have careless
masters. A man may prefer to read for pleasure in a good clear
reprint. M. Charpentier's "Montaigne" serves the turn, but it is
natural to treasure more "Les Essais de Michel Seigneur de
Montaigne," that were printed by Francoise le Febre, of Lyon, in
1595. It is not a beautiful book; the type is small, and rather
blunt, but William Drummond of Hawthornden has written on the title-
page his name and his device, Cipresso e Palma. There are a dozen
modern editions of Moliere more easily read than the four little
volumes of Wetstein (Amsterdam, 1698), but these contain reduced
copies of the original illustrations, and here you see Arnolphe and
Agnes in their habits as they lived, Moliere and Mdlle. de Brie as
the public of Paris beheld them more than two hundred years ago.
Suckling's "Fragmenta Aurea" contain a good deal of dross, and most
of the gold has been gathered into Miscellanies, but the original
edition of 1646, "after his own copies," with the portrait of the
jolly cavalier who died aetatis suae 28, has its own allurement.
Theocritus is more easily read, perhaps, in Wordsworth's edition, or
Ziegler's; but that which Zacharias Calliergi printed in Rome
(1516), with an excommunication from Leo X. against infringement of
copyright, will always be a beautiful and desirable book, especially
when bound by Derome. The gist of the pious Prince Conti's
strictures on the wickedness of comedy may be read in various
literary histories, but it is natural to like his "Traite de la
Comedie selon la tradition de l'Eglise, Tiree des Conciles et des
saints Peres," published by Lovys Billaine in 1660, especially when
the tract is a clean copy, arrayed in a decorous black morocco.

These are but a few common examples, chosen from a meagre little
library, a "twopenny treasure-house," but they illustrate, on a
minute scale, the nature of the collector's passion,--the character
of his innocent pleasures. He occasionally lights on other literary
relics of a more personal character than mere first editions. A
lucky collector lately bought Shelley's copy of Ossian, with the
poet's signature on the title-page, in Booksellers' Row. Another
possesses a copy of Foppens's rare edition of Petrarch's "Le Sage
Resolu contre l'une et l'autre Fortune," which once belonged to Sir
Hudson Lowe, the gaoler of Napoleon, and may have fortified, by its
stoical maxims, the soul of one who knew the extremes of either
fortune, the captive of St. Helena. But the best example of a book,
which is also a relic, is the "Imitatio Christi," which belonged to
J. J. Rousseau. Let M. Tenant de Latour, lately the happy owner of
this possession, tell his own story of his treasure: It was in 1827
that M. de Latour was walking on the quai of the Louvre. Among the
volumes in a shop, he noticed a shabby little copy of the "Imitatio
Christi." M. de Latour, like other bibliophiles, was not in the
habit of examining stray copies of this work, except when they were
of the Elzevir size, for the Elzevirs published a famous undated
copy of the "Imitatio," a book which brings considerable prices.
However, by some lucky chance, some Socratic daemon whispering, may
be, in his ear, he picked up the little dingy volume of the last
century. It was of a Paris edition, 1751, but what was the name on
the fly-leaf. M. de Latour read a J. J. Rousseau. There was no
mistake about it, the good bibliophile knew Rousseau's handwriting
perfectly well; to make still more sure he paid his seventy-five
centimes for the book, and walked across the Pont des Arts, to his
bookbinder's, where he had a copy of Rousseau's works, with a
facsimile of his handwriting. As he walked, M. de Latour read in
his book, and found notes of Rousseau's on the margin. The
facsimile proved that the inscription was genuine. The happy de
Latour now made for the public office in which he was a functionary,
and rushed into the bureau of his friend the Marquis de V. The
Marquis, a man of great strength of character, recognised the
signature of Rousseau with but little display of emotion. M. de
Latour now noticed some withered flowers among the sacred pages; but
it was reserved for a friend to discover in the faded petals
Rousseau's favourite flower, the periwinkle. Like a true Frenchman,
like Rousseau himself in his younger days, M. de Latour had not
recognised the periwinkle when he saw it. That night, so excited
was M. de Latour, he never closed an eye! What puzzled him was that
he could not remember, in all Rousseau's works, a single allusion to
the "Imitatio Christi." Time went on, the old book was not rebound,
but kept piously in a case of Russia leather. M. de Latour did not
suppose that "dans ce bas monde it fut permis aux joies du
bibliophile d'aller encore plus loin." He imagined that the
delights of the amateur could only go further, in heaven. It
chanced, however, one day that he was turning over the "Oeuvres
Inedites" of Rousseau, when he found a letter, in which Jean
Jacques, writing in 1763, asked Motiers-Travers to send him the
"Imitatio Christi." Now the date 1764 is memorable, in Rousseau's
"Confessions," for a burst of sentiment over a periwinkle, the first
he had noticed particularly since his residence at Les Charmettes,
where the flower had been remarked by Madame de Warens. Thus M.
Tenant de Latour had recovered the very identical periwinkle, which
caused the tear of sensibility to moisten the fine eyes of Jean
Jacques Rousseau.

We cannot all be adorers of Rousseau. But M. de Latour was an
enthusiast, and this little anecdote of his explains the sentimental
side of the bibliophile's pursuit. Yes, it is SENTIMENT that makes
us feel a lively affection for the books that seem to connect us
with great poets and students long ago dead. Their hands grasp ours
across the ages. I never see the first edition of Homer, that
monument of typography and of enthusiasm for letters, printed at
Florence (1488) at the expense of young Bernardo and Nerio Nerli,
and of their friend Giovanni Acciajuoli, but I feel moved to cry
with Heyne, "salvete juvenes, nobiles et generosi; [Greek text]."

Such is our apology for book-collecting. But the best defence of
the taste would be a list of the names of great collectors, a
"vision of mighty book-hunters." Let us say nothing of Seth and
Noah, for their reputation as amateurs is only based on the
authority of the tract De Bibliothecis Antediluvianis. The library
of Assurbanipal I pass over, for its volumes were made, as Pliny
says, of coctiles laterculi, of baked tiles, which have been
deciphered by the late Mr. George Smith. Philosophers as well as
immemorial kings, Pharaohs and Ptolemys, are on our side. It was
objected to Plato, by persons answering to the cheap scribblers of
to-day, that he, though a sage, gave a hundred minae (360 pounds)
for three treatises of Philolaus, while Aristotle paid nearly thrice
the sum for a few books that had been in the library of Speusippus.
Did not a Latin philosopher go great lengths in a laudable anxiety
to purchase an Odyssey "as old as Homer," and what would not Cicero,
that great collector, have given for the Ascraean editio princeps of
Hesiod, scratched on mouldy old plates of lead? Perhaps Dr.
Schliemann may find an original edition of the "Iliad" at
Orchomenos; but of all early copies none seems so attractive as that
engraved on the leaden plates which Pausanias saw at Ascra. Then,
in modern times, what "great allies" has the collector, what
brethren in book-hunting? The names are like the catalogue with
which Villon fills his "Ballade des Seigneurs du Temps Jadis." A
collector was "le preux Charlemaigne" and our English Alfred. The
Kings of Hungary, as Mathias Corvinus; the Kings of France, and
their queens, and their mistresses, and their lords, were all
amateurs. So was our Henry VIII., and James I., who "wished he
could be chained to a shelf in the Bodleian." The middle age gives
us Richard de Bury, among ecclesiastics, and the Renaissance boasts
Sir Thomas More, with that "pretty fardle of books, in the small
type of Aldus," which he carried for a freight to the people of
Utopia. Men of the world, like Bussy Rabutin, queens like our
Elizabeth; popes like Innocent X.; financiers like Colbert (who made
the Grand Turk send him Levant morocco for bindings); men of letters
like Scott and Southey, Janin and Nodier, and Paul Lacroix; warriors
like Junot and Prince Eugene; these are only leaders of companies in
the great army of lovers of books, in which it is honourable enough
to be a private soldier.


The Library which is to be spoken of in these pages, is all unlike
the halls which a Spencer or a Huth fills with treasure beyond
price. The age of great libraries has gone by, and where a
collector of the old school survives, he is usually a man of
enormous wealth, who might, if he pleased, be distinguished in
parliament, in society, on the turf itself, or in any of the
pursuits where unlimited supplies of money are strictly necessary.
The old amateurs, whom La Bruyere was wont to sneer at, were not
satisfied unless they possessed many thousands of books. For a
collector like Cardinal Mazarin, Naude bought up the whole stock of
many a bookseller, and left great towns as bare of printed paper as
if a tornado had passed, and blown the leaves away. In our modern
times, as the industrious Bibliophile Jacob, says, the fashion of
book-collecting has changed; "from the vast hall that it was, the
library of the amateur has shrunk to a closet, to a mere book-case.
Nothing but a neat article of furniture is needed now, where a great
gallery or a long suite of rooms was once required. The book has
become, as it were, a jewel, and is kept in a kind of jewel-case."
It is not quantity of pages, nor lofty piles of ordinary binding,
nor theological folios and classic quartos, that the modern amateur
desires. He is content with but a few books of distinction and
elegance, masterpieces of printing and binding, or relics of famous
old collectors, of statesmen, philosophers, beautiful dead ladies;
or, again, he buys illustrated books, or first editions of the
modern classics. No one, not the Duc d'Aumale, or M. James
Rothschild himself, with his 100 books worth 40,000 pounds, can
possess very many copies of books which are inevitably rare. Thus
the adviser who would offer suggestions to the amateur, need
scarcely write, like Naude and the old authorities, about the size
and due position of the library. He need hardly warn the builder to
make the salle face the east, "because the eastern winds, being warm
and dry of their nature, greatly temper the air, fortify the senses,
make subtle the humours, purify the spirits, preserve a healthy
disposition of the whole body, and, to say all in one word, are most
wholesome and salubrious." The east wind, like the fashion of book-
collecting, has altered in character a good deal since the days when
Naude was librarian to Cardinal Mazarin. One might as well repeat
the learned Isidorus his counsels about the panels of green marble
(that refreshes the eye), and Boethius his censures on library walls
of ivory and glass, as fall back on the ancient ideas of librarians
dead and gone.

The amateur, then, is the person we have in our eye, and especially
the bibliophile who has but lately been bitten with this pleasant
mania of collecting. We would teach him how to arrange and keep his
books orderly and in good case, and would tell him what to buy and
what to avoid. By the LIBRARY we do not understand a study where no
one goes, and where the master of the house keeps his boots, an
assortment of walking-sticks, the "Waverley Novels," "Pearson on the
Creed," "Hume's Essays," and a collection of sermons. In, alas! too
many English homes, the Library is no more than this, and each
generation passes without adding a book, except now and then a
Bradshaw or a railway novel, to the collection on the shelves. The
success, perhaps, of circulating libraries, or, it may be, the Aryan
tendencies of our race, "which does not read, and lives in the open
air," have made books the rarest of possessions in many houses.
There are relics of the age before circulating libraries, there are
fragments of the lettered store of some scholarly great-grandfather,
and these, with a few odd numbers of magazines, a few primers and
manuals, some sermons and novels, make up the ordinary library of an
English household. But the amateur, whom we have in our thoughts,
can never be satisfied with these commonplace supplies. He has a
taste for books more or less rare, and for books neatly bound; in
short, for books, in the fabrication of which ART has not been
absent. He loves to have his study, like Montaigne's, remote from
the interruption of servants, wife, and children; a kind of shrine,
where he may be at home with himself, with the illustrious dead, and
with the genius of literature. The room may look east, west, or
south, provided that it be dry, warm, light, and airy. Among the
many enemies of books the first great foe is DAMP, and we must
describe the necessary precautions to be taken against this peril.
We will suppose that the amateur keeps his ordinary working books,
modern tomes, and all that serve him as literary tools, on open
shelves. These may reach the roof, if he has books to fill them,
and it is only necessary to see that the back of the bookcases are
slightly removed from contact with the walls. The more precious and
beautifully bound treasures will naturally be stored in a case with
closely-fitting glass-doors. {2} The shelves should be lined with
velvet or chamois leather, that the delicate edges of the books may
not suffer from contact with the wood. A leather lining, fitted to
the back of the case, will also help to keep out humidity. Most
writers recommend that the bookcases should be made of wood close in
the grain, such as well-seasoned oak; or, for smaller tabernacles of
literature, of mahogany, satin-wood lined with cedar, ebony, and so
forth. These close-grained woods are less easily penetrated by
insects, and it is fancied that book-worms dislike the aromatic
scents of cedar, sandal wood, and Russia leather. There was once a
bibliophile who said that a man could only love one book at a time,
and the darling of the moment he used to carry about in a charming
leather case. Others, men of few books, preserve them in long boxes
with glass fronts, which may be removed from place to place as
readily as the household gods of Laban. But the amateur who not
only worships but reads books, needs larger receptacles; and in the
open oak cases for modern authors, and for books with common modern
papers and bindings, in the closed armoire for books of rarity and
price, he will find, we think, the most useful mode of arranging his
treasures. His shelves will decline in height from the lowest,
where huge folios stand at case, to the top ranges, while Elzevirs
repose on a level with the eye. It is well that each upper shelf
should have a leather fringe to keep the dust away.

As to the shape of the bookcases, and the furniture, and ornaments
of the library, every amateur will please himself. Perhaps the
satin-wood or mahogany tabernacles of rare books are best made after
the model of what furniture-dealers indifferently call the "Queen
Anne" or the "Chippendale" style. There is a pleasant quaintness in
the carved architectural ornaments of the top, and the inlaid
flowers of marquetry go well with the pretty florid editions of the
last century, the books that were illustrated by Stothard and
Gravelot. Ebony suits theological tomes very well, especially when
they are bound in white vellum. As to furniture, people who can
afford it will imitate the arrangements of Lucullus, in Mr. Hill
Burton's charming volume "The Book-hunter" (Blackwood, Edinburgh,
1862).--"Everything is of perfect finish,--the mahogany-railed
gallery, the tiny ladders, the broad winged lecterns, with leathern
cushions on the edges to keep the wood from grazing the rich
bindings, the books themselves, each shelf uniform with its facings,
or rather backings, like well-dressed lines at a review." The late
Sir William Stirling-Maxwell, a famous bibliophile, invented a very
nice library chair. It is most comfortable to sit on; and, as the
top of the back is broad and flat, it can be used as a ladder of two
high steps, when one wants to reach a book on a lofty shelf. A kind
of square revolving bookcase, an American invention, manufactured by
Messrs. Trubner, is useful to the working man of letters. Made in
oak, stained green, it is not unsightly. As to ornaments, every man
to his taste. You may have a "pallid bust of Pallas" above your
classical collection, or fill the niches in a shrine of old French
light literature, pastoral and comedy, with delicate shepherdesses
in Chelsea china. On such matters a modest writer, like Mr. Jingle
when Mr. Pickwick ordered dinner, "will not presume to dictate."

Next to damp, dust and dirt are the chief enemies of books. At
short intervals, books and shelves ought to be dusted by the amateur
himself. Even Dr. Johnson, who was careless of his person, and of
volumes lent to him, was careful about the cleanliness of his own
books. Boswell found him one day with big gloves on his hands
beating the dust out of his library, as was his custom. There is
nothing so hideous as a dirty thumb-mark on a white page. These
marks are commonly made, not because the reader has unwashed hands,
but because the dust which settles on the top edge of books falls
in, and is smudged when they are opened. Gilt-top edges should be
smoothed with a handkerchief, and a small brush should be kept for
brushing the tops of books with rough edges, before they are opened.
But it were well that all books had the top edge gilt. There is no
better preservative against dust. Dust not only dirties books, it
seems to supply what Mr. Spencer would call a fitting environment
for book-worms. The works of book-worms speak for themselves, and
are manifest to all. How many a rare and valuable volume is spoiled
by neat round holes drilled through cover and leaves! But as to the
nature of your worm, authorities differ greatly. The ancients knew
this plague, of which Lucian speaks. Mr. Blades mentions a white
book-worm, slain by the librarian of the Bodleian. In Byzantium the
black sort prevailed. Evenus, the grammarian, wrote an epigram
against the black book-worm ("Anthol. Pal.," ix. 251):-

Pest of the Muses, devourer of pages, in crannies that lurkest,
Fruits of the Muses to taint, labour of learning to spoil;
Wherefore, oh black-fleshed worm! wert thou born for the evil thou
Wherefore thine own foul form shap'st thou with envious toil?

The learned Mentzelius says he hath heard the book-worm crow like a
cock unto his mate, and "I knew not," says he, "whether some local
fowl was clamouring or whether there was but a beating in mine ears.
Even at that moment, all uncertain as I was, I perceived, in the
paper whereon I was writing, a little insect that ceased not to
carol like very chanticleer, until, taking a magnifying glass, I
assiduously observed him. He is about the bigness of a mite, and
carries a grey crest, and the head low, bowed over the bosom; as to
his crowing noise, it comes of his clashing his wings against each
other with an incessant din." Thus far Mentzelius, and more to the
same purpose, as may be read in the "Memoirs of famous Foreign
Academies" (Dijon, 1755-59, 13 vol. in quarto). But, in our times,
the learned Mr. Blades having a desire to exhibit book-worms in the
body to the Caxtonians at the Caxton celebration, could find few men
that had so much as seen a book-worm, much less heard him utter his
native wood-notes wild. Yet, in his "Enemies of Books," he
describes some rare encounters with the worm. Dirty books, damp
books, dusty books, and books that the owner never opens, are most
exposed to the enemy; and "the worm, the proud worm, is the
conqueror still," as a didactic poet sings, in an ode on man's
mortality. As we have quoted Mentzelius, it may not be amiss to
give D'Alembert's theory of book-worms: "I believe," he says, "that
a little beetle lays her eggs in books in August, thence is hatched
a mite, like the cheese-mite, which devours books merely because it
is compelled to gnaw its way out into the air." Book-worms like the
paste which binders employ, but D'Alembert adds that they cannot
endure absinthe. Mr. Blades finds too that they disdain to devour
our adulterate modern paper.

"Say, shall I sing of rats," asked Grainger, when reading to Johnson
his epic, the "Sugar-cane." "No," said the Doctor; and though rats
are the foe of the bibliophile, at least as much as of the sugar-
planter, we do not propose to sing of them. M. Fertiault has done
so already in "Les Sonnets d'un Bibliophile," where the reader must
be pleased with the beautiful etchings of rats devouring an
illuminated MS., and battening on morocco bindings stamped with the
bees of De Thou. It is unnecessary and it would be undignified, to
give hints on rat-catching, but the amateur must not forget that
these animals have a passion for bindings.

The book-collector must avoid gas, which deposits a filthy coat of
oil that catches dust. Mr. Blades found that three jets of gas in a
small room soon reduced the leather on his book-shelves to a powder
of the consistency of snuff, and made the backs of books come away
in his hand. Shaded lamps give the best and most suitable light for
the library. As to the risks which books run at the hands of the
owner himself, we surely need not repeat the advice of Richard de
Bury. Living in an age when tubs (if not unknown as M. Michelet
declares) were far from being common, the old collector inveighed
against the dirty hands of readers, and against their habit of
marking their place in a book with filthy straws, or setting down a
beer pot in the middle of the volume to keep the pages open. But
the amateur, however refined himself, must beware of men who love
not fly leaves neither regard margins, but write notes over the
latter, and light their pipes with the former. After seeing the
wreck of a book which these persons have been busy with, one
appreciates the fine Greek hyperbole. The Greeks did not speak of
"thumbing" but of "walking up and down" on a volume ([Greek text]).
To such fellows it matters not that they make a book dirty and
greasy, cutting the pages with their fingers, and holding the boards
over the fire till they crack. All these slatternly practices,
though they destroy a book as surely as the flames of Caesar's
soldiers at Alexandria, seem fine manly acts to the grobians who use
them. What says Jules Janin, who has written "Contre l'indifference
des Philistins," "il faut a l'homme sage et studieux un tome
honorable et digne de sa louange." The amateur, and all decent men,
will beware of lending books to such rude workers; and this
consideration brings us to these great foes of books, the borrowers
and robbers. The lending of books, and of other property, has been
defended by some great authorities; thus Panurge himself says, "it
would prove much more easy in nature to have fish entertained in the
air, and bullocks fed in the bottom of the ocean, than to support or
tolerate a rascally rabble of people that will not lend."
Pirckheimer, too, for whom Albert Durer designed a book-plate, was a
lender, and took for his device Sibi et Amicis; and Jo. Grolierii et
amicorum, was the motto of the renowned Grolier, whom mistaken
writers vainly but frequently report to have been a bookbinder. But
as Mr. Leicester Warren says, in his "Study of Book-plates"
(Pearson, 1880), "Christian Charles de Savigny leaves all the rest
behind, exclaiming non mihi sed aliis." But the majority of
amateurs have chosen wiser, though more churlish devices, as "the
ungodly borroweth and payeth not again," or "go to them that sell,
and buy for yourselves." David Garrick engraved on his book-plate,
beside a bust of Shakspeare, these words of Menage, "La premiere
chose qu'on doit faire, quand on a emprunte' un livre, c'est de le
lire, afin de pouvoir le rendre plutot." But the borrower is so
minded that the last thing he thinks of is to read a borrowed book,
and the penultimate subject of his reflections is its restoration.
Menage (Menagiana, Paris, 1729, vol. i. p. 265), mentions, as if it
were a notable misdeed, this of Angelo Politian's, "he borrowed a
'Lucretius' from Pomponius Laetus, and kept it for four years."
Four years! in the sight of the borrower it is but a moment. Menage
reports that a friend kept his "Pausanias" for three years, whereas
four months was long enough.

"At quarto saltem mense redire decet."

There is no satisfaction in lending a book; for it is rarely that
borrowers, while they deface your volumes, gather honey for new
stores, as De Quincey did, and Coleridge, and even Dr. Johnson, who
"greased and dogs-eared such volumes as were confided to his tender
mercies, with the same indifference wherewith he singed his own
wigs." But there is a race of mortals more annoying to a
conscientious man than borrowers. These are the spontaneous
lenders, who insist that you shall borrow their tomes. For my own
part, when I am oppressed with the charity of such, I lock their
books up in a drawer, and behold them not again till the day of
their return. There is no security against borrowers, unless a man
like Guibert de Pixerecourt steadfastly refuses to lend. The device
of Pixerecourt was un livre est un ami qui ne change jamais. But he
knew that our books change when they have been borrowed, like our
friends when they have been married; when "a lady borrows them," as
the fairy queen says in the ballad of "Tamlane."

"But had I kenn'd, Tamlane," she says,
"A lady wad borrowed thee,
I wad ta'en out thy twa gray een,
Put in twa een o' tree!

"Had I but kenn'd, Tamlane," she says,
"Before ye came frae hame,
I wad ta'en out your heart o' flesh,
Put in a heart o' stane!"

Above the lintel of his library door, Pixerecourt had this couplet
carved -

"Tel est le triste sort de tout livre prete,
Souvent il est perdu, toujours il est gate."

M. Paul Lacroix says he would not have lent a book to his own
daughter. Once Lacroix asked for the loan of a work of little
value. Pixerecourt frowned, and led his friend beneath the doorway,
pointing to the motto. "Yes," said M. Lacroix, "but I thought that
verse applied to every one but me." So Pixerecourt made him a
present of the volume.

We cannot all imitate this "immense" but unamiable amateur.
Therefore, bibliophiles have consoled themselves with the inventions
of book-plates, quaint representations, perhaps heraldic, perhaps
fanciful, of their claims to the possession of their own dear
volumes. Mr. Leicester Warren and M. Poulet Malassis have written
the history of these slender works of art, and each bibliophile may
have his own engraved, and may formulate his own anathemas on people
who borrow and restore not again. The process is futile, but may
comfort the heart, like the curses against thieves which the Greeks
were wont to scratch on leaden tablets, and deposit in the temple of
Demeter. Each amateur can exercise his own taste in the design of a
book-plate; and for such as love and collect rare editions of
"Homer," I venture to suggest this motto, which may move the heart
of the borrower to send back an Aldine copy of the epic -

[Greek text] {3}

Mr. William Blades, in his pleasant volume, "The Enemies of Books"
(Trubner), makes no account of the book-thief or biblioklept. "If
they injure the owners," says Mr. Blades, with real tolerance, "they
do no harm to the books themselves, by merely transferring them from
one set of book-shelves to another." This sentence has naturally
caused us to reflect on the ethical character of the biblioklept.
He is not always a bad man. In old times, when language had its
delicacies, and moralists were not devoid of sensibility, the French
did not say "un voleur de livres," but "un chipeur de livres;" as
the papers call lady shoplifters "kleptomaniacs." There are
distinctions. M. Jules Janin mentions a great Parisian bookseller
who had an amiable weakness. He was a bibliokleptomaniac. His
first motion when he saw a book within reach was to put it in his
pocket. Every one knew his habit, and when a volume was lost at a
sale the auctioneer duly announced it, and knocked it down to the
enthusiast, who regularly paid the price. When he went to a private
view of books about to be sold, the officials at the door would ask
him, as he was going out, if he did not happen to have an Elzevir
Horace or an Aldine Ovid in his pocket. Then he would search those
receptacles and exclaim, "Yes, yes, here it is; so much obliged to
you; I am so absent." M. Janin mentions an English noble, a "Sir
Fitzgerald," who had the same tastes, but who unluckily fell into
the hands of the police. Yet M. Janin has a tenderness for the
book-stealer, who, after all, is a lover of books. The moral
position of the malefactor is so delicate and difficult that we
shall attempt to treat of it in the severe, though rococo, manner of
Aristotle's "Ethics." Here follows an extract from the lost
Aristotelian treatise "Concerning Books":-

"Among the contemplative virtues we reckon the love of books. Now
this virtue, like courage or liberality, has its mean, its excess,
and its defect. The defect is indifference, and the man who is
defective as to the love of books has no name in common parlance.
Therefore, we may call him the Robustious Philistine. This man will
cut the leaves of his own or his friend's volumes with the butter-
knife at breakfast. Also he is just the person wilfully to mistake
the double sense of the term 'fly-leaves,' and to stick the 'fly-
leaves' of his volumes full of fly-hooks. He also loves dogs'-ears,
and marks his place with his pipe when he shuts a book in a hurry;
or he will set the leg of his chair on a page to keep it open. He
praises those who tear off margins for pipe-lights, and he makes
cigarettes with the tissue-paper that covers engravings. When his
books are bound, he sees that the margin is cut to the quick. He
tells you too, that 'HE buys books to read them.' But he does not
say why he thinks it needful to spoil them. Also he will drag off
bindings--or should we perhaps call this crime [Greek text], or
brutality, rather than mere vice? for vice is essentially human, but
to tear off bindings is bestial. Thus they still speak of a certain
monster who lived during the French Revolution, and who, having
purchased volumes attired in morocco, and stamped with the devices
of the oligarchs, would rip off the leather or vellum, and throw
them into the fire or out of the window, saying that 'now he could
read with unwashed hands at his ease.' Such a person, then, is the
man indifferent to books, and he sins by way of defect, being
deficient in the contemplative virtue of book-loving. As to the man
who is exactly in the right mean, we call him the book-lover. His
happiness consists not in reading, which is an active virtue, but in
the contemplation of bindings, and illustrations, and title-pages.
Thus his felicity partakes of the nature of the bliss we attribute
to the gods, for that also is contemplative, and we call the book-
lover 'happy,' and even 'blessed,' but within the limits of mortal
happiness. But, just as in the matter of absence of fear there is a
mean which we call courage, and a defect which we call cowardice,
and an excess which is known as foolhardiness; so it is in the case
of the love of books. As to the mean, we have seen that it is the
virtue of the true book-lover, while the defect constitutes the sin
of the Robustious Philistine. But the extreme is found in
covetousness, and the covetous man who is in the extreme state of
book-loving, is the biblioklept, or book-stealer. Now his vice
shows itself, not in contemplation (for of contemplation there can
be no excess), but in action. For books are procured, as we say, by
purchase, or by barter, and these are voluntary exchanges, both the
seller and the buyer being willing to deal. But books are, again,
procured in another way, by involuntary contract--that is, when the
owner of the book is unwilling to part with it, but he whose own the
book is not is determined to take it. The book-stealer is such a
man as this, and he possesses himself of books with which the owner
does not intend to part, by virtue of a series of involuntary
contracts. Again, the question may be raised, whether is the
Robustious Philistine who despises books, or the biblioklept who
adores them out of measure and excessively, the worse citizen? Now,
if we are to look to the consequences of actions only (as the
followers of Bentham advise), clearly the Robustious Philistine is
the worse citizen, for he mangles, and dirties, and destroys books
which it is the interest of the State to preserve. But the
biblioklept treasures and adorns the books he has acquired; and when
he dies, or goes to prison, the State receives the benefit at his
sale. Thus Libri, who was the greatest of biblioklepts, rescued
many of the books he stole from dirt and misuse, and had them bound
royally in purple and gold. Also, it may be argued that books
naturally belong to him who can appreciate them; and if good books
are in a dull or indifferent man's keeping, this is the sort of
slavery which we call "unnatural" in our POLITICS, and which is not
to be endured. Shall we say, then, that the Robustious Philistine
is the worse citizen, while the Biblioklept is the worse man? But
this is perhaps matter for a separate disquisition."

This fragment of the lost Aristotelian treatise "Concerning Books,"
shows what a difficulty the Stagirite had in determining the precise
nature of the moral offence of the biblioklept. Indeed, both as a
collector and as an intuitive moralist, Aristotle must have found it
rather difficult to condemn the book-thief. He, doubtless, went on
to draw distinctions between the man who steals books to sell them
again for mere pecuniary profit (which he would call "chrematistic,"
or "unnatural," book-stealing), and the man who steals them because
he feels that he is their proper and natural possessor. The same
distinction is taken by Jules Janin, who was a more constant student
of Horace than of Aristotle. In his imaginary dialogue of
bibliophiles, Janin introduces a character who announces the death
of M. Libri. The tolerant person who brings the sad news proposes
"to cast a few flowers on the melancholy tomb. He was a
bibliophile, after all. What do you say to it? Many a good fellow
has stolen books, and died in grace at the last." "Yes," replies
the president of the club, "but the good fellows did not sell the
books they stole . . . Cest une grande honte, une grande misere."
This Libri was an Inspector-General of French Libraries under Louis
Philippe. When he was tried, in 1848, it was calculated that the
sum of his known thefts amounted to 20,000 pounds. Many of his
robberies escaped notice at the time. It is not long since Lord
Ashburnham, according to a French journal, "Le Livre," found in his
collection some fragments of a Pentateuch. These relics had been in
the possession of the Lyons Library, whence Libri stole them in
1847. The late Lord Ashburnham bought them, without the faintest
idea of Libri's dishonesty; and when, after eleven years, the
present peer discovered the proper owners of his treasure, he
immediately restored the Pentateuch to the Lyons Library.

Many eminent characters have been biblioklepts. When Innocent X.
was still Monsignor Pamphilio, he stole a book--so says Tallemant
des Reaux--from Du Monstier, the painter. The amusing thing is that
Du Monstier himself was a book-thief. He used to tell how he had
lifted a book, of which he had long been in search, from a stall on
the Pont-Neuf; "but," says Tallemant (whom Janin does not seem to
have consulted), "there are many people who don't think it thieving
to steal a book unless you sell it afterwards." But Du Monstier
took a less liberal view where his own books were concerned. The
Cardinal Barberini came to Paris as legate, and brought in his suite
Monsignor Pamphilio, who afterwards became Innocent X. The Cardinal
paid a visit to Du Monstier in his studio, where Monsignor Pamphilio
spied, on a table, "L'Histoire du Concile de Trent"--the good
edition, the London one. "What a pity," thought the young
ecclesiastic, "that such a man should be, by some accident, the
possessor of so valuable a book." With these sentiments Monsignor
Pamphilio slipped the work under his soutane. But little Du
Monstier observed him, and said furiously to the Cardinal, that a
holy man should not bring thieves and robbers in his company. With
these words, and with others of a violent and libellous character,
he recovered the "History of the Council of Trent," and kicked out
the future Pope. Amelot de la Houssaie traces to this incident the
hatred borne by Innocent X. to the Crown and the people of France.
Another Pope, while only a cardinal, stole a book from Menage--so M.
Janin reports--but we have not been able to discover Menage's own
account of the larceny. The anecdotist is not so truthful that
cardinals need flush a deeper scarlet, like the roses in Bion's
"Lament for Adonis," on account of a scandal resting on the
authority of Menage. Among Royal persons, Catherine de Medici,
according to Brantome, was a biblioklept. "The Marshal Strozzi had
a very fine library, and after his death the Queen-Mother seized it,
promising some day to pay the value to his son, who never got a
farthing of the money." The Ptolemies, too, were thieves on a large
scale. A department of the Alexandrian Library was called "The
Books from the Ships," and was filled with rare volumes stolen from
passengers in vessels that touched at the port. True, the owners
were given copies of their ancient MSS., but the exchange, as
Aristotle says, was an "involuntary" one, and not distinct from

The great pattern of biblioklepts, a man who carried his passion to
the most regrettable excesses, was a Spanish priest, Don Vincente,
of the convent of Pobla, in Aragon. When the Spanish revolution
despoiled the convent libraries, Don Vincente established himself at
Barcelona, under the pillars of Los Encantes, where are the stalls
of the merchants of bric-a-brac and the seats of them that sell
books. In a gloomy den the Don stored up treasures which he hated
to sell. Once he was present at an auction where he was out-bid in
the competition for a rare, perhaps a unique, volume. Three nights
after that, the people of Barcelona were awakened by cries of
"Fire!" The house and shop of the man who had bought "Ordinacions
per los gloriosos reys de Arago" were blazing. When the fire was
extinguished, the body of the owner of the house was found, with a
pipe in his blackened hand, and some money beside him. Every one
said, "He must have set the house on fire with a spark from his
pipe." Time went on, and week by week the police found the bodies
of slain men, now in the street, now in a ditch, now in the river.
There were young men and old, all had been harmless and inoffensive
in their lives, and--all had been bibliophiles. A dagger in an
invisible hand had reached their hearts but the assassin had spared
their purses, money, and rings. An organised search was made in the
city, and the shop of Don Vincente was examined. There, in a hidden
recess, the police discovered the copy of "Ordinacions per los
gloriosis reys de Arago," which ought by rights to have been burned
with the house of its purchaser. Don Vincente was asked how he got
the book. He replied in a quiet voice, demanded that his collection
should be made over to the Barcelona Library, and then confessed a
long array of crimes. He had strangled his rival, stolen the
"Ordinacions," and burned the house. The slain men were people who
had bought from him books which he really could not bear to part
with. At his trial his counsel tried to prove that his confession
was false, and that he might have got his books by honest means. It
was objected that there was in the world only one book printed by
Lambert Palmart in 1482, and that the prisoner must have stolen
this, the only copy, from the library where it was treasured. The
defendant's counsel proved that there was another copy in the
Louvre; that, therefore, there might be more, and that the
defendant's might have been honestly procured. Here Don Vincente,
previously callous, uttered an hysterical cry. Said the Alcalde:-
"At last, Vincente, you begin to understand the enormity of your
offence?" "Ah, Senor Alcalde, my error was clumsy indeed. If you
only knew how miserable I am!" "If human justice prove inflexible,
there is another justice whose pity is inexhaustible. Repentance is
never too late." "Ah, Senor Alcalde, but my copy was not unique!"
With the story of this impenitent thief we may close the roll of
biblioklepts, though Dibdin pretends that Garrick was of the
company, and stole Alleyne's books at Dulwich.

There is a thievish nature more hateful than even the biblioklept.
The Book-Ghoul is he who combines the larceny of the biblioklept
with the abominable wickedness of breaking up and mutilating the
volumes from which he steals. He is a collector of title-pages,
frontispieces, illustrations, and book-plates. He prowls furtively
among public and private libraries, inserting wetted threads, which
slowly eat away the illustrations he covets; and he broods, like the
obscene demon of Arabian superstitions, over the fragments of the
mighty dead. His disgusting tastes vary. He prepares books for the
American market. Christmas books are sold in the States stuffed
with pictures cut out of honest volumes. Here is a quotation from
an American paper:-

"Another style of Christmas book which deserves to be mentioned,
though it is out of the reach of any but the very rich, is the
historical or literary work enriched with inserted plates. There
has never, to our knowledge, been anything offered in America so
supremely excellent as the $5000 book on Washington, we think--
exhibited by Boston last year, but not a few fine specimens of books
of this class are at present offered to purchasers. Scribner has a
beautiful copy of Forster's 'Life of Dickens,' enlarged from three
volumes octavo to nine volumes quarto, by taking to pieces,
remounting, and inlaying. It contains some eight hundred
engravings, portraits, views, playbills, title-pages, catalogues,
proof illustrations from Dickens's works, a set of the Onwhyn
plates, rare engravings by Cruikshank and 'Phiz,' and autograph
letters. Though this volume does not compare with Harvey's Dickens,
offered for $1750 two years ago, it is an excellent specimen of
books of this sort, and the veriest tyro in bibliographical affairs
knows how scarce are becoming the early editions of Dickens's works
and the plates illustrating them. {4} Anything about Dickens in the
beginning of his career is a sound investment from a business point
of view. Another work of the same sort, valued at $240, is Lady
Trevelyan's edition of Macaulay, illustrated with portraits, many of
them very rare. Even cheaper, all things considered, is an extra-
illustrated copy of the 'Histoire de la Gravure,' which, besides its
seventy-three reproductions of old engravings, is enriched with two
hundred fine specimens of the early engravers, many of the
impressions being in first and second states. At $155 such a book
is really a bargain, especially for any one who is forming a
collection of engravings. Another delightful work is the library
edition of Bray's 'Evelyn,' illustrated with some two hundred and
fifty portraits and views, and valued at $175; and still another is
Boydell's 'Milton,' with plates after Westall, and further
illustrations in the shape of twenty-eight portraits of the painter
and one hundred and eighty-one plates, and many of them before
letter. The price of this book is $325."

But few book-ghouls are worse than the moral ghoul. He defaces,
with a pen, the passages, in some precious volume, which do not meet
his idea of moral propriety. I have a Pine's "Horace," with the
engravings from gems, which has fallen into the hands of a moral
ghoul. Not only has he obliterated the verses which hurt his
delicate sense, but he has actually scraped away portions of the
classical figures, and "the breasts of the nymphs in the brake."
The soul of Tartuffe had entered into the body of a sinner of the
last century. The antiquarian ghoul steals title-pages and
colophons. The aesthetic ghoul cuts illuminated initials out of
manuscripts. The petty, trivial, and almost idiotic ghoul of our
own days, sponges the fly-leaves and boards of books for the purpose
of cribbing the book-plates. An old "Complaint of a Book-plate," in
dread of the wet sponge of the enemy, has been discovered by Mr.
Austin Dobson:- {5}

By a Gentleman of the Temple.

While cynic CHARLES still trimm'd the vane
'Twixt Querouaille and Castlemaine,
In days that shocked JOHN EVELYN,
My First Possessor fix'd me in.
In days of Dutchmen and of frost,
The narrow sea with JAMES I cross'd,
Returning when once more began
The Age of Saturn and of ANNE.
I am a part of all the past;
I knew the GEORGES, first and last;
I have been oft where else was none
Save the great wig of ADDISON;
And seen on shelves beneath me grope
The little eager form of POPE.
I lost the Third that own'd me when
French NOAILLES fled at Dettingen;
The year JAMES WOLFE surpris'd Quebec,
The Fourth in hunting broke his neck;
The day that WILLIAM HOGARTH dy'd,
The Fifth one found me in Cheapside.
This was a Scholar, one of those
Whose Greek is sounder than their hose;
He lov'd old Books and nappy ale,
So liv'd at Streatham, next to THRALE.
'Twas there this stain of grease I boast
Was made by Dr. JOHNSON'S toast.
(He did it, as I think, for Spite;
My Master call'd him Jacobite!)
And now that I so long to-day
Have rested post discrimina,
Safe in the brass-wir'd book-case where
I watch'd the Vicar's whit'ning hair,
Must I these travell'd bones inter
In some Collector's sepulchre!
Must I be torn from hence and thrown
With frontispiece and colophon!
With vagrant E's, and I's, and O's,
The spoil of plunder'd Folios!
With scraps and snippets that to ME
Are naught but kitchen company!
Nay, rather, FRIEND, this favour grant me:
Tear me at once; but don't transplant me.

CHELTENHAM, Sept. 31, 1792.

The conceited ghoul writes his notes across our fair white margins,
in pencil, or in more baneful ink. Or he spills his ink bottle at
large over the pages, as Andre Chenier's friend served his copy of
Malherbe. It is scarcely necessary to warn the amateur against the
society of book-ghouls, who are generally snuffy and foul in
appearance, and by no means so insinuating as that fair lady-ghoul,
Amina, of the Arabian Nights.

Another enemy of books must be mentioned with the delicacy that
befits the topic. Almost all women are the inveterate foes, not of
novels, of course, nor peerages and popular volumes of history, but
of books worthy of the name. It is true that Isabelle d'Este, and
Madame de Pompadour, and Madame de Maintenon, were collectors; and,
doubtless, there are other brilliant exceptions to a general rule.
But, broadly speaking, women detest the books which the collector
desires and admires. First, they don't understand them; second,
they are jealous of their mysterious charms; third, books cost
money; and it really is a hard thing for a lady to see money
expended on what seems a dingy old binding, or yellow paper scored
with crabbed characters. Thus ladies wage a skirmishing war against
booksellers' catalogues, and history speaks of husbands who have had
to practise the guile of smugglers when they conveyed a new purchase
across their own frontier. Thus many married men are reduced to
collecting Elzevirs, which go readily into the pocket, for you
cannot smuggle a folio volume easily. This inveterate dislike of
books often produces a very deplorable result when an old collector
dies. His "womankind," as the Antiquary called them, sell all his
treasures for the price of waste-paper, to the nearest country
bookseller. It is a melancholy duty which forces one to introduce
such topics into a volume on "Art at Home." But this little work
will not have been written in vain if it persuades ladies who
inherit books not to sell them hastily, without taking good and
disinterested opinion as to their value. They often dispose of
treasures worth thousands, for a ten pound note, and take pride in
the bargain. Here, let history mention with due honour the paragon
of her sex and the pattern to all wives of book-collecting men--
Madame Fertiault. It is thus that she addresses her lord in a
charming triolet ("Les Amoureux du Livre," p. xxxv):-

"Le livre a ton esprit . . . tant mieux!
Moi, j'ai ton coeur, et sans partage.
Puis-je desirer davantage?
Le livre a ton esprit . . . tant mieux!
Heureuse de te voir joyeux,
Je t'en voudrais . . . tout un etage.
Le livre a ton esprit . . . tant mieux!
Moi, j'ai ton coeur, et sans partage."

Books rule thy mind, so let it be!
Thy heart is mine, and mine alone.
What more can I require of thee?
Books rule thy mind, so let it be!
Contented when thy bliss I see,
I wish a world of books thine own.
Books rule thy mind, so let it be!
Thy heart is mine, and mine alone.

There is one method of preserving books, which, alas, only tempts
the borrower, the stealer, the rat, and the book-worm; but which is
absolutely necessary as a defence against dust and neglect. This is
binding. The bookbinder's art too often destroys books when the
artist is careless, but it is the only mode of preventing our
volumes from falling to pieces, and from being some day disregarded
as waste-paper. A well-bound book, especially a book from a famous
collection, has its price, even if its literary contents be of
trifling value. A leather coat fashioned by Derome, or Le Gascon,
or Duseuil, will win respect and careful handling for one specimen
of an edition whereof all the others have perished. Nothing is so
slatternly as the aspect of a book merely stitched, in the French
fashion, when the threads begin to stretch, and the paper covers to
curl and be torn. Worse consequences follow, whole sheets are lost,
the volume becomes worthless, and the owner must often be at the
expense of purchasing another copy, if he can, for the edition may
now be out of print. Thus binding of some sort not only adds a
grace to the library, presenting to the eye the cheerful gilded rows
of our volumes, but is a positive economy. In the case of our
cloth-covered English works, the need of binding is not so
immediately obvious. But our publishers have a taste for clothing
their editions in tender tones of colour, stamped, often, with
landscapes printed in gold, in white, or what not. Covers like
this, may or may not please the eye while they are new and clean,
but they soon become dirty and hideous. When a book is covered in
cloth of a good dark tint it may be allowed to remain unbound, but
the primrose and lilac hues soon call out for the aid of the binder.

Much has been written of late about book-binding. In a later part
of this manual we shall have something to say about historical
examples of the art, and the performances of the great masters. At
present one must begin by giving the practical rule, that a book
should be bound in harmony with its character and its value. The
bibliophile, if he could give the rein to his passions, would bind
every book he cares to possess in a full coat of morocco, or (if it
did not age so fast) of Russia leather. But to do this is beyond
the power of most of us. Only works of great rarity or value should
be full bound in morocco. If we have the luck to light on a
Shakespeare quarto, on some masterpiece of Aldus Manutius, by all
means let us entrust it to the most competent binder, and instruct
him to do justice to the volume. Let old English books, as More's
"Utopia," have a cover of stamped and blazoned calf. Let the binder
clothe an early Rabelais or Marot in the style favoured by Grolier,
in leather tooled with geometrical patterns. Let a Moliere or
Corneille be bound in the graceful contemporary style of Le Gascon,
where the lace-like pattern of the gilding resembles the Venetian
point-lace, for which La Fontaine liked to ruin himself. Let a
binding, a la fanfare, in the style of Thouvenin, denote a novelist
of the last century, let panelled Russia leather array a folio of
Shakespeare, and let English works of a hundred years ago be clothed
in the sturdy fashion of Roger Payne. Again, the bibliophile may
prefer to have the leather stamped with his arms and crest, like de
Thou, Henri III., D'Hoym, Madame du Barry, and most of the
collectors of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Yet there
are books of great price which one would hesitate to bind in new
covers. An Aldine or an Elzevir, in its old vellum or paper
wrapper, with uncut leaves, should be left just as it came from the
presses of the great printers. In this condition it is a far more
interesting relic. But a morocco case may be made for the book, and
lettered properly on the back, so that the volume, though really
unbound, may take its place with the bound books on the shelves. A
copy of any of Shelley's poems, in the original wrappers, should I
venture to think be treated thus, and so should the original
editions of Keats's and of Mr. Tennyson's works. A collector, who
is also an author, will perhaps like to have copies of his own works
in morocco, for their coats will give them a chance of surviving the
storms of time. But most other books, not of the highest rarity and
interest, will be sufficiently clothed in half-bindings, that is,
with leather backs and corners, while the rest of the cover is of
cloth or paper, or whatever other substance seems most appropriate.
An Oxford tutor used to give half-binding as an example of what
Aristotle calls [Greek text], or "shabbiness," and when we recommend
such coverings for books it is as a counsel of expediency, not of
perfection. But we cannot all be millionaires; and, let it be
remembered, the really wise amateur will never be extravagant, nor
let his taste lead him into "the ignoble melancholy of pecuniary
embarrassment." Let the example of Charles Nodier be our warning;
nay, let us remember that while Nodier could get out of debt by
selling his collection, OURS will probably not fetch anything like
what we gave for it. In half-bindings there is a good deal of room
for the exercise of the collector's taste. M. Octave Uzanne, in a
tract called "Les Caprices d'un Bibliophile," gives some hints on
this topic, which may be taken or let alone. M. Uzanne has noticed
the monotony, and the want of meaning and suggestion in ordinary
half-bindings. The paper or cloth which covers the greater part of
the surface of half-bound books is usually inartistic and even ugly.
He proposes to use old scraps of brocade, embroidery, Venice velvet,
or what not; and doubtless a covering made of some dead fair lady's
train goes well with a romance by Crebillon, and engravings by
Marillier. "Voici un cartonnage Pompadour de notre invention," says
M. Uzanne, with pride; but he observes that it needs a strong will
to make a bookbinder execute such orders. For another class of
books, which our honest English shelves reject with disgust, M.
Uzanne proposes a binding of the skin of the boa constrictor;
undoubtedly appropriate and "admonishing." The leathers of China
and Japan, with their strange tints and gilded devices may be used
for books of fantasy, like "Gaspard de la Nuit," or the "Opium
Eater," or Poe's poems, or the verses of Gerard de Nerval. Here, in
short, is an almost unexplored field for the taste of the
bibliophile, who, with some expenditure of time, and not much of
money, may make half-binding an art, and give modern books a
peculiar and appropriate raiment.

M. Ambrose Firmin Didot has left some notes on a more serious
topic,--the colours to be chosen when books are full-bound in
morocco. Thus he would have the "Iliad" clothed in red, the
"Odyssey" in blue, because the old Greek rhapsodists wore a scarlet
cloak when they recited the Wrath of Achilles, a blue one when they
chanted of the Return of Odysseus. The writings of the great
dignitaries of the Church, M. Didot would array in violet; scarlet
goes well with the productions of cardinals; philosophers have their
sober suit of black morocco, poets like Panard may be dressed in
rose colour. A collector of this sort would like, were it possible,
to attire Goldsmith's poems in a "coat of Tyrian bloom, satin
grain." As an antithesis to these extravagant fancies, we may add
that for ordinary books no binding is cheaper, neater, and more
durable, than a coat of buckram.

The conditions of a well bound book may be tersely enumerated. The
binding should unite solidity and elegance. The book should open
easily, and remain open at any page you please. It should never be
necessary, in reading, to squeeze back the covers; and no book,
however expensively bound, has been properly treated, if it does not
open with ease. It is a mistake to send recently printed books to
the binder, especially books which contain engravings. The printing
ink dries slowly, and, in the process called "beating," the text is
often transferred to the opposite page. M. Rouveyre recommends that
one or two years should pass before the binding of a newly printed
book. The owner will, of course, implore the binder to, spare the
margins; and, almost equally of course, the binder, durus arator,
will cut them down with his abominable plough. One is almost
tempted to say that margins should always be left untouched, for if
once the binder begins to clip he is unable to resist the seductive
joy, and cuts the paper to the quick, even into the printed matter.
Mr. Blades tells a very sad story of a nobleman who handed over some
Caxtons to a provincial binder, and received them back MINUS 500
pounds worth of margin. Margins make a book worth perhaps 400
pounds, while their absence reduces the same volume to the box
marked "all these at fourpence." Intonsis capillis, with locks
unshorn, as Motteley the old dealer used to say, an Elzevir in its
paper wrapper may be worth more than the same tome in morocco,
stamped with Longepierre's fleece of gold. But these things are
indifferent to bookbinders, new and old. There lies on the table,
as I write, "Les Provinciales, ou Les Lettres Ecrites par Louis de
Montalte a un Provincial de ses amis, & aux R.R. P.P. Jesuites. A
Cologne, Ches PIERRE de la VALLEE, M.DC.LVIII." It is the Elzevir
edition, or what passes for such; but the binder has cut down the
margin so that the words "Les Provinciales" almost touch the top of
the page. Often the wretch--he lived, judging by his style, in
Derome's time, before the Revolution--has sliced into the head-
titles of the pages. Thus the book, with its old red morocco cover
and gilded flowers on the back, is no proper companion for "Les
Pensees de M. PASCAL (Wolfganck, 1672)," which some sober Dutchman
has left with a fair allowance of margin, an inch "taller" in its
vellum coat than its neighbour in morocco. Here once more, is "LES
FASCHEUX, Comedie de I. B. P. MOLIERE, Representee sur Le Theatre du
Palais Royal. A Paris, Chez GABRIEL QUINET, au Palais, dans la
Galerie des Prisonniers, a l'Ange Gabriel, M.DCLXIII. Avec
privilege du Roy." What a crowd of pleasant memories the
bibliophile, and he only, finds in these dry words of the title.
Quinet, the bookseller, lived "au Palais," in that pretty old arcade
where Corneille cast the scene of his comedy, "La Galerie du
Palais." In the Geneva edition of Corneille, 1774, you can see
Gravelot's engraving of the place; it is a print full of exquisite
charm (engraved by Le Mure in 1762). Here is the long arcade, in
shape exactly like the galleries of the Bodleian Library at Oxford.
The bookseller's booth is arched over, and is open at front and
side. Dorimant and Cleante are looking out; one leans on the books
on the window-sill, the other lounges at the door, and they watch
the pretty Hippolyte who is chaffering with the lace-seller at the
opposite shop. "Ce visage vaut mieux que toutes vos chansons," says
Dorimant to the bookseller. So they loitered, and bought books, and
flirted in their lace ruffles, and ribbons, and flowing locks, and
wide canons, when Moliere was young, and when this little old book
was new, and lying on the shelves of honest Quinet in the Palace
Gallery. The very title-page, and pagination, not of this second
edition, but of the first of "Les Fascheux," had their own fortunes,
for the dedication to Fouquet was perforce withdrawn. That
favourite entertained La Valliere and the King with the comedy at
his house of Vaux, and then instantly fell from power and favour,
and, losing his place and his freedom, naturally lost the flattery
of a dedication. But retombons a nos coches, as Montaigne says.
This pleasant little copy of the play, which is a kind of relic of
Moliere and his old world, has been ruthlessly bound up with a
treatise, "Des Pierres Precieuses," published by Didot in 1776. Now
the play is naturally a larger book than the treatise on precious
stones, so the binder has cut down the margins to the size of those
of the work on amethysts and rubies. As the Italian tyrant chained
the dead and the living together, as Procrustes maimed his victims
on his cruel bed, so a hard-hearted French binder has tied up, and
mutilated, and spoiled the old play, which otherwise would have had
considerable value as well as interest.

We have tried to teach the beginner how to keep his books neat and
clean; what men and monsters he should avoid; how he should guard
himself against borrowers, book-worms, damp, and dirt. But we are
sometimes compelled to buy books already dirty and dingy, foxed, or
spotted with red, worn by greasy hands, stained with ink spots, or
covered with MS. notes. The art of man has found a remedy for these
defects. I have never myself tried to wash a book, and this care is
best left to professional hands. But the French and English writers
give various recipes for cleaning old books, which the amateur may
try on any old rubbish out of the fourpenny box of a bookstall, till
he finds that he can trust his own manipulations. There are "fat
stains" on books, as thumb marks, traces of oil (the midnight oil),
flakes of old pasty crust left in old Shakespeares, and candle
drippings. There are "thin stains," as of mud, scaling-wax, ink,
dust, and damp. To clean a book you first carefully unbind it, take
off the old covers, cut the old stitching, and separate sheet from
sheet. Then take a page with "fat stains" of any kind of grease
(except finger-marks), pass a hot flat iron over it, and press on it
a clean piece of blotting paper till the paper sucks up the grease.
Then charge a camel-hair brush with heated turpentine, and pass it
over the places that were stained. If the paper loses its colour
press softly over it a delicate handkerchief, soaked in heated
spirits of wine. Finger-marks you will cover with clean soap, leave
this on for some hours, and then rub with a sponge filled with hot
water. Afterwards dip in weak acid and water, and then soak the
page in a bath of clean water. Ink-stained pages you will first dip
in a strong solution of oxalic acid and then in hydrochloric acid
mixed in six times its quantity of water. Then bathe in clean water
and allow to dry slowly.

Some English recipes may also be given. "Grease or wax spots," says
Hannett, in "Bibliopegia," "may be removed by washing the part with
ether, chloroform, or benzine, and placing it between pieces of
white blotting paper, then pass a hot iron over it." "Chlorine
water," says the same writer, removes ink stains, and bleaches the
paper at the same time. Of chloride of lime, "a piece the size of a
nut" (a cocoa nut or a hazel nut?) in a pint of water, may be
applied with a camel's hair pencil, and plenty of patience. To
polish old bindings, "take the yolk of an egg, beat it up with a
fork, apply it with a sponge, having first cleaned the leather with
a dry flannel." The following, says a writer in "Notes and
Queries," with perfect truth, is "an easier if not a better method;
purchase some bookbinder's varnish," and use it as you did the
rudimentary omelette of the former recipe. Vellum covers may be
cleaned with soap and water, or in bad cases by a weak solution of
salts of lemon.

Lastly, the collector should acquire such books as Lowndes's
"Bibliography," Brunet's "Manuel," and as many priced catalogues as
he can secure. The catalogues of Mr. Quaritch, Mr. Bohn, M.
Fontaine, M.M. Morgand et Fatout, are excellent guides to a
knowledge of the market value of books. Other special works, as
Renouard's for Aldines, Willems's for Elzevirs, and Cohen's for
French engravings, will be mentioned in their proper place.
Dibdin's books are inaccurate and long-winded, but may occasionally
be dipped into with pleasure.


The easiest way to bring order into the chaos of desirable books,
is, doubtless, to begin historically with manuscripts. Almost every
age that has left any literary remains, has bequeathed to us relics
which are cherished by collectors. We may leave the clay books of
the Chaldeans out of the account. These tomes resemble nothing so
much as sticks of chocolate, and, however useful they may be to the
student, the clay MSS. of Assurbanipal are not coveted by the
collector. He finds his earliest objects of desire in illuminated
manuscripts. The art of decorating manuscripts is as old as Egypt;
but we need not linger over the beautiful papyri, which are silent
books to all but a few Egyptologists. Greece, out of all her tomes,
has left us but a few ill-written papyri. Roman and early Byzantine
art are represented by a "Virgil," and fragments of an "Iliad"; the
drawings in the latter have been reproduced in a splendid volume
(Milan 1819), and shew Greek art passing into barbarism. The
illumination of MSS. was a favourite art in the later empire, and is
said to have been practised by Boethius. The iconoclasts of the
Eastern empire destroyed the books which contained representations
of saints and of the persons of the Trinity, and the monk Lazarus, a
famous artist, was cruelly tortured for his skill in illuminating
sacred works. The art was decaying in Western Europe when
Charlemagne sought for painters of MSS. in England and Ireland,
where the monks, in their monasteries, had developed a style with
original qualities. The library of Corpus Christi at Cambridge,
contains some of the earliest and most beautiful of extant English
MSS. These parchments, stained purple or violet, and inscribed with
characters of gold; are too often beyond the reach of the amateur
for whom we write. The MSS. which he can hope to acquire are
neither very early nor very sumptuous, and, as a rule, MSS. of
secular books are apt to be out of his reach.

Yet a collection of MSS. has this great advantage over a collection
of printed books, that every item in it is absolutely unique, no two
MSS. being ever really the same. This circumstance alone would
entitle a good collection of MSS. to very high consideration on the
part of book-collectors. But, in addition to the great expense of
such a collection, there is another and even more serious drawback.
It is sometimes impossible, and is often extremely difficult, to
tell whether a MS. is perfect or not.

This difficulty can only be got over by an amount of learning on the
part of the collector to which, unfortunately, he is too often a
stranger. On the other hand, the advantages of collecting MSS. are
sometimes very great.

In addition to the pleasure--a pleasure at once literary and
artistic--which the study of illuminated MSS. affords, there is the
certainty that, as years go on, the value of such a collection
increases in a proportion altogether marvellous.

I will take two examples to prove this point. Some years ago an
eminent collector gave the price of 30 pounds for a small French
book of Hours, painted in grisaille. It was in a country town that
he met with this treasure, for a treasure he considered the book, in
spite of its being of the very latest school of illumination. When
his collection was dispersed a few years ago this one book fetched
260 pounds.

In the celebrated Perkins sale, in 1873, a magnificent early MS.,
part of which was written in gold on a purple ground, and which was
dated in the catalogue "ninth or tenth century," but was in reality
of the end of the tenth or beginning of the eleventh, was sold for
565 pounds to a dealer. It found its way into Mr. Bragge's
collection, at what price I do not know, and was resold, three years
later, for 780 pounds.

Any person desirous of making a collection of illuminated MSS.,
should study seriously for some time at the British Museum, or some
such place, until he is thoroughly acquainted (1) with the styles of
writing in use in the Middle Ages, so that he can at a glance make a
fairly accurate estimate of the age of the book submitted to him;
and (2) with the proper means of collating the several kinds of
service-books, which, in nine cases out of ten, were those chosen
for illumination.

A knowledge of the styles of writing can be acquired at second hand
in a book lately published by Mr. Charles Trice Martin, F.S.A.,
being a new edition of "Astle's Progress of Writing." Still better,
of course, is the actual inspection and comparison of books to which
a date can be with some degree of certainty assigned.

It is very common for the age of a book to be misstated in the
catalogues of sales, for the simple reason that the older the
writing, the plainer, in all probability, it is. Let the student
compare writing of the twelfth century with that of the sixteenth,
and he will be able to judge at once of the truth of this assertion.
I had once the good fortune to "pick up" a small Testament of the
early part of the twelfth century, if not older, which was
catalogued as belonging to the fifteenth, a date which would have
made it of very moderate value.

With regard to the second point, the collation of MSS., I fear there
is no royal road to knowing whether a book is perfect or imperfect.
In some cases the catchwords remain at the foot of the pages. It is
then of course easy to see if a page is lost, but where no such clue
is given the student's only chance is to be fully acquainted with
what a book OUGHT to contain. He can only do this when he has a
knowledge of the different kinds of service-books which were in use,
and of their most usual contents.

I am indebted to a paper, read by the late Sir William Tite at a
meeting of the Society of Antiquaries, for the collation of "Books
of Hours," but there are many kinds of MSS. besides these, and it is
well to know something of them. The Horae, or Books of Hours, were
the latest development of the service-books used at an earlier
period. They cannot, in fact, be strictly called service-books,
being intended only for private devotion. But in the thirteenth
century and before it, Psalters were in use for this purpose, and
the collation of a Psalter is in truth more important than that of a
Book of Hours. It will be well for a student, therefore, to begin
with Psalters, as he can then get up the Hours in their elementary
form. I subjoin a bibliographical account of both kinds of MSS. In
the famous Exhibition at the Burlington Club in 1874, a number of
volumes was arranged to show how persistent one type of the age
could be. The form of the decorations, and the arrangement of the
figures in borders, once invented, was fixed for generations. In a
Psalter of the thirteenth century there was, under the month of
January in the calendar, a picture of a grotesque little figure
warming himself at a stove. The hearth below, the chimney-pot
above, on which a stork was feeding her brood, with the intermediate
chimney shaft used as a border, looked like a scientific preparation
from the interior anatomy of a house of the period. In one of the
latest of the MSS. exhibited on that occasion was the self-same
design again. The little man was no longer a grotesque, and the
picture had all the high finish and completeness in drawing that we
might expect in the workmanship of a contemporary of Van Eyck.
There was a full series of intermediate books, showing the gradual
growth of the picture.

With regard to chronology, it may be roughly asserted that the
earliest books which occur are Psalters of the thirteenth century.
Next to them come Bibles, of which an enormous issue took place
before the middle of the fourteenth century. These are followed by
an endless series of books of Hours, which, as the sixteenth century
is reached, appear in several vernacular languages. Those in
English, being both very rare and of great importance in liturgical
history, are of a value altogether out of proportion to the beauty
of their illuminations. Side by side with this succession are the
Evangelistina, which, like the example mentioned above, are of the
highest merit, beauty, and value; followed by sermons and homilies,
and the Breviary, which itself shows signs of growth as the years go
on. The real Missal, with which all illuminated books used to be
confounded, is of rare occurrence, but I have given a collation of
it also. Besides these devotional or religious books, I must
mention chronicles and romances, and the semi-religious and moral
allegories, such as the "Pelerinage de l'Ame," which is said to have
given Bunyan the machinery of the "Pilgrim's Progress." Chaucer's
and Gower's poetry exists in many MSS., as does the "Polychronicon"
of Higden; but, as a rule, the mediaeval chronicles are of single
origin, and were not copied. To collate MSS. of these kinds is
quite impossible, unless by carefully reading them, and seeing that
the pages run on without break.

I should advise the young collector who wishes to make sure of
success not to be too catholic in his tastes at first, but to
confine his attention to a single period and a single school. I
should also advise him to make from time to time a careful catalogue
of what he buys, and to preserve it even after he has weeded out
certain items. He will then be able to make a clear comparative
estimate of the importance and value of his collection, and by
studying one species at a time, to become thoroughly conversant with
what it can teach him. When he has, so to speak, burnt his fingers
once or twice, he will find himself able to distinguish at sight
what no amount of teaching by word of mouth or by writing could ever
possibly impart to any advantage.

One thing I should like if possible to impress very strongly upon
the reader. That is the fact that a MS. which is not absolutely
perfect, if it is in a genuine state, is of much more value than one
which has been made perfect by the skill of a modern restorer. The
more skilful he is, that is to say the better he can forge the style
of the original, the more worthless he renders the volume.

Printing seems to have superseded the art of the illuminator more
promptly and completely in England than on the Continent. The dames
galantes of Brantome's memoirs took pleasure in illuminated Books of
Hours, suited to the nature of their devotions. As late as the time
of Louis XIV., Bussy Rabutin had a volume of the same kind,
illuminated with portraits of "saints," of his own canonisation.
The most famous of these modern examples of costly MSS. was "La
Guirlande de Julie," a collection of madrigals by various courtly
hands, presented to the illustrious Julie, daughter of the Marquise
de Rambouillet, most distinguished of the Precieuses, and wife of
the Duc de Montausier, the supposed original of Moliere's Alceste.
The MS. was copied on vellum by Nicholas Jarry, the great calligraph
of his time. The flowers on the margin were painted by Robert. Not
long ago a French amateur was so lucky as to discover the MS. book
of prayers of Julie's noble mother, the Marquise de Rambouillet.
The Marquise wrote these prayers for her own devotions, and Jarry,
the illuminator, declared that he found them most edifying, and
delightful to study. The manuscript is written on vellum by the
famous Jarry, contains a portrait of the fair Julie herself, and is
bound in morocco by Le Gascon. The happy collector who possesses
the volume now, heard vaguely that a manuscript of some interest was
being exposed for sale at a trifling price in the shop of a country
bookseller. The description of the book, casual as it was, made
mention of the monogram on the cover. This was enough for the
amateur. He rushed to a railway station, travelled some three
hundred miles, reached the country town, hastened to the
bookseller's shop, and found that the book had been withdrawn by its
owner. Happily the possessor, unconscious of his bliss, was at
home. The amateur sought him out, paid the small sum demanded, and
returned to Paris in triumph. Thus, even in the region of
manuscript-collecting, there are extraordinary prizes for the
intelligent collector.


If the manuscript is of English or French writing of the twelfth,
thirteenth, fourteenth, or fifteenth centuries, it is probably
either--(1) a Bible, (2) a Psalter, (3) a book of Hours, or (4), but
rarely, a Missal. It is not worth while to give the collation of a
gradual, or a hymnal, or a processional, or a breviary, or any of
the fifty different kinds of service-books which are occasionally
met with, but which are never twice the same.

To collate one of them, the reader must go carefully through the
book, seeing that the catch-words, if there are any, answer to the
head lines; and if there are "signatures," that is, if the foot of
the leaves of a sheet of parchment has any mark for enabling the
binder to "gather" them correctly, going through them, and seeing
that each signed leaf has its corresponding "blank."

1. To collate a Bible, it will be necessary first to go through the
catch-words, if any, and signatures, as above; then to notice the
contents. The first page should contain the Epistle of St. Jerome
to the reader. It will be observed that there is nothing of the
nature of a title-page, but I have often seen title-pages supplied
by some ignorant imitator in the last century, with the idea that
the book was imperfect without one. The books of the Bible follow
in order--but the order not only differs from ours, but differs in
different copies. The Apocryphal books are always included. The
New Testament usually follows on the Old without any break; and the
book concludes with an index of the Hebrew names and their
signification in Latin, intended to help preachers to the figurative
meaning of the biblical types and parables. The last line of the
Bible itself usually contains a colophon, in which sometimes the
name of the writer is given, sometimes the length of time it has
taken him to write, and sometimes merely the "Explicit. Laus Deo,"
which has found its way into many modern books. This colophon,
which comes as a rule immediately before the index, often contains
curious notes, hexameters giving the names of all the books,
biographical or local memoranda, and should always be looked for by
the collector. One such line occurs to me. It is in a Bible
written in Italy in the thirteenth century -

"Qui scripsit scribat. Vergilius spe domini vivat."

Vergilius was, no doubt, in this case the scribe. The Latin and the
writing are often equally crabbed. In the Bodleian there is a Bible
with this colophon -

"Finito libro referemus gratias Christo m.cc.lxv. indict. viij.
Ego Lafracus de Pacis de Cmoa scriptor scripsi."

This was also written in Italy. English colophons are often very
quaint--"Qui scripsit hunc librum fiat collocatus in Paradisum," is
an example. The following gives us the name of one Master Gerard,
who, in the fourteenth century, thus poetically described his

"Si Ge ponatur--et rar simul associatur -
Et dus reddatur--cui pertinet ita vocatur."

In a Bible written in England, in the British Museum, there is a
long colophon, in which, after the name of the writer--"hunc librum
scripsit Wills de Hales,"--there is a prayer for Ralph of Nebham,
who had called Hales to the writing of the book, followed by a date-
-"Fes. fuit liber anno M.cc.i. quarto ab incarnatione domini." In
this Bible the books of the New Testament were in the following
order:- the Evangelists, the Acts, the Epistles of S. Peter, S.
James, and S. John, the Epistles of S. Paul, and the Apocalypse. In
a Bible at Brussels I found the colophon after the index:- "Hic
expliciunt interpretationes Hebrayorum nominum Do gris qui potens
est p. sup. omia." Some of these Bibles are of marvellously small
dimensions. The smallest I ever saw was at Ghent, but it was very
imperfect. I have one in which there are thirteen lines of writing
in an inch of the column. The order of the books of the New
Testament in Bibles of the thirteenth century is usually according
to one or other of the three following arrangements:-

(1.) The Evangelists, Romans to Hebrews, Acts, Epistles of S.
Peter, S. James, and S. John, Apocalypse.

(2.) The Evangelists, Acts, Epistles of S. Peter, S. James, and S.
John, Epistles of S. Paul, Apocalypse. This is the most common.

(3.) The Evangelists, Acts, Epistles of S. Peter, S. James, and S.
John, Apocalypse, and Epistles of S. Paul.

On the fly leaves of these old Bibles there are often very curious
inscriptions. In one I have this:- "Haec biblia emi Haquinas prior
monasterii Hatharbiensis de dono domini regis Norwegie." Who was
this King of Norway who, in 1310, gave the Prior of Hatherby money
to buy a Bible, which was probably written at Canterbury? And who
was Haquinas? His name has a Norwegian sound, and reminds us of St.
Thomas of that surname. In another manuscript I have seen

"Articula Fidei:-
Nascitur, abluitur, patitur, descendit at ima
Surgit et ascendit, veniens discernere cuncta."

In another this:-

"Sacramenta ecclesiae:-
Abluo, fumo, cibo, piget, ordinat, uxor et ungit."

I will conclude these notes on MS. Bibles with the following
colophon from a copy written in Italy in the fifteenth century:-

"Finito libro vivamus semper in Christo -
Si semper in Christo carebimus ultimo leto.
Explicit Deo gratias; Amen. Stephanus de
Tantaldis scripsit in pergamo."

2. The "Psalter" of the thirteenth century is usually to be
considered a forerunner of the "Book of Hours." It always contains,
and usually commences with, a Calendar, in which are written against
certain days the "obits" of benefactors and others, so that a well-
filled Psalter often becomes a historical document of high value and
importance. The first page of the psalms is ornamented with a huge
B, which often fills the whole page, and contains a representation
of David and Goliath ingeniously fitted to the shape of the letter.
At the end are usually to be found the hymns of the Three Children,
and others from the Bible together with the Te Deum; and sometimes,
in late examples, a litany. In some psalters the calendar is at the
end. These Psalters, and the Bibles described above, are very
frequently of English work; more frequently, that is, than the books
of Hours and Missals. The study of the Scriptures was evidently
more popular in England than in the other countries of Europe during
the Middle Ages; and the early success of the Reformers here, must
in part, no doubt, be attributed to the wide circulation of the

Facebook Google Reddit Twitter Pinterest