The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Book-Hunter at Home, by P. B. M. Allan

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Title: The Book-Hunter at Home

Author: P. B. M. Allan

Release Date: September 22, 2007 [EBook #22716]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Suzanne Lybarger, Brian Janes and the booksmiths





Of this edition 500 copies have been printed,
and 50 upon fine paper.















First Edition—1920
Second Edition—1922




To the Honourable and Vertuous Lady Mistress E. K. A.


It would be churlish indeed were I to send this book into the world without some acknowledgment of the share which you have had in its making. Indeed, I feel that you are chiefly responsible for it: without your encouragement, your active help, your patience with me at all times (at which I marvel constantly), it would never have arrived at completion. Truly it is your name, not mine, that should appear upon the title-page; for although mine may have been the hand that penned the words, certain it is that yours was the mind that guided my pen throughout. It is to your sympathy, your judgment, your excellent taste, that I am indebted for every good thing that I have penned; and where I have put down aught that is trite or insipid, it is[vi] due to my own natural obstinacy in refusing, or carelessness in neglecting, to defer the matter to your better judgment. Thus it is only right that whatever praise may be bestowed upon this book should be accorded to you; my shoulders alone must bear the censure of the discerning reader.

I am, Madam, your very dutiful,      
and loving husband,            

The Author.  



In placing this second edition before his fellow book-lovers, the author would like to take the opportunity of thanking the numerous correspondents who have written to him from all parts of the world. In truth book-collecting establishes a bond between its devotees that is effected by no other pursuit.

The first edition was put forth only after much hesitation, and with a good deal of fear and trembling: that a second edition would ever be required was unthinkable. But since the book has so obviously been the means of bringing pleasure to so many, the author feels that it is his duty to bring this second edition 'up to date,' to make it as perfect as his poor skill allows. Accordingly the volume has been revised throughout, a number of additions have been made, both to the text and in the matter of footnotes, and the prices of books have been amended according to present conditions. Three illustrations have been added.

  Quality Court,
    July, 1921.



chap page
VI.THE CARE OF BOOKS (Continued)126










'Thou shalt make castels thanne in Spayne.' Chaucer.



t is a sad truth that bargains are met with more frequently in our youth than in our age. The sophist may argue that age begets philosophy, and that philosophy contemns all worldly things; yet certain it is that the book-hunter, one of the most philosophical of beings, remains on the look-out for bargains to the very end of his career. Nevertheless, it is a fact that in youth alone do we make those great bargains which lay the foundations of our careers as book-hunters.

It is this sad truth which fosters in most of us the belief that we live in a decadent age, and that the days of our youth were infinitely more seemly than those which we now endure. But it is we who have changed: the bargains are still there, and may still be had at the cost of youthful energy and enthusiasm.

'Ah, but you can't get the bargains nowadays that you could when I was a young man,' says the elderly bookseller, with a knowing shake of his head. Can't you! Then mankind must have changed strangely since the period of this sage's youth. Bargains, and rich ones too, in everything that is bought and sold, are made every day and will continue to[2] be made so long as human nature endures, bargains in books no less among them.

The rich finds of which the aged bookseller dreams are bargains only in the light of present-day prices. As a matter of fact, the great majority of them were not really bargains at all. He may bitterly lament having parted with a copy of the first edition of the 'Compleat Angler,' in the 'sixties for twenty guineas, but he overlooks the fact that that was then its market value. Had he asked a thousand pounds for it, his sanity would certainly have been open to question. 'Why, when I was a boy,' he says, 'you could buy first editions of Shelley, Keats, or Scott for pence.' Precisely: which was their current value; by no stretch of the imagination can they be considered bargains. His business is, and has always been, to buy and sell; not to hoard books on the chance that they will become valuable 'some day.' Neither can it be urged that 'people' (by which he means collectors) 'did not know so much about books fifty years ago.' Collectors know, and have ever known, all that they need for the acquisition of their particular desiderata. If they were ignorant of the prices which volumes common in their day would realise at some future period, why, so were the dealers and every one else concerned! Judging by analogy, we have every reason to believe that many volumes which we come across almost daily on the bookstalls, marked, perhaps, a few pence, will be fought for one day across the auction-room table.

The chief reason why the elderly bookseller no longer comes across these advantageous purchases is that he has passed the age (though he does not know it) at which bargains are to be had. But bargains are not encountered, they are made. It is the youthful vigour and enthusiasm of the young collector, prompting him into the byways and alleys of book-land, that bring bargains to his shelves.

So, if you are young and enthusiastic, and not to be deterred by a series of wild-goose chases, happy indeed will be your lot. For over the post-prandial pipe you will be able to hand[3] such and such a treasure to your admiring fellow-spirit, saying: 'This I picked up for n-pence in Camden Town; this one cost me x-shillings at Poynder's in Reading: Iredale of Torquay let me have this for a florin; I found this on the floor in a corner of Commin's shop at Bournemouth; this was on David's stall at Cambridge, and I nearly lost it to the fat don of King's'; and so on and so on.

Bargains, forsooth! Our book-hunter was once outbid at Sotheby's for a scarce volume which he found, a week later, on a barrow in Clerkenwell for fourpence! The same year he picked up for ten shillings, in London, an early sixteenth-century folio, rubricated and with illuminated initials. It was as fresh as when it issued from the press, and in the original oak and pig-skin binding. He failed to trace the work in any of the bibliographies, nor could the British Museum help him to locate another copy. David's stall at Cambridge once yielded to him a scarce Defoe tract for sixpence. But this being, as Master Pepys said, 'an idle rogueish book,' he sold it to a bookseller for two pounds, 'that it might not stand in the list of books, nor among them, to disgrace them, if it should be found.' A copy has recently fetched twenty guineas.

Doubtless every bibliophile is perpetually on the look-out for treasures, and it is essential that he learn, early in his career, to make up his mind at once concerning an out-of-the-way book. He who hesitates is lost, and this is doubly true of the book-collector. More than once in his early days of collecting has our book-hunter hesitated and finally left a book, only to dash back—perhaps a few hours later, perhaps next day—and find it gone.

Once upon a time a spotlessly clean little square octavo volume of Terence, printed in italics, caught his eye upon a bookstall. One shilling was its ransom, but it was not the price that deterred him so much as the fact that every available nook and corner of his sanctum was already filled to overflowing with books. 'A nice clean copy of an early-printed[4] book,' he mused. But early-printed books were not in his line—then; had they been in those early days of book-hunting, his library would have been slow indeed of growth. So he passed on and left it.

All that evening the memory of the little square volume would keep recurring most absurdly. He didn't want it, it was not in his line, he would never read it, and so on and so on. But over his pipe that evening the colophon '. . . . studio & impensis Philippi de Giunta florentini . . ., 1505,' came back to his memory; he must have been mad not to have bought it at that price, and such a fine copy too. And so to bed, sorely harassed in his bibliophilic mind.

Next morning he awoke sane and conscious of his folly. An early visit to the bookstall followed, but the little volume had gone; and it was not comforting to learn that it had been sold shortly after our bookman saw it, to a man who 'knew a lot about that kind of books.' Let us hope that the purchaser treasures the little square volume, printed in italics, as much as our friend would.

What poignant memories they are, these memories of rare books which we have found and failed to secure! Two prominent instances of our bookman's folly stand out with bitter clearness, ever fresh in his memory as a reminder of the criminal stupidity of procrastination. One was an exceedingly scarce work by Lawrence Humphrey, entitled 'Optimates sive De Nobilitate eiusque Antiqua Origine,' printed in small octavo at Basle in 1560, which he once saw in a catalogue for five shillings. He sent for it three days after the receipt of the catalogue, and of course it had gone. The other was an unknown, or at least undescribed, edition of Osorio's 'De Gloria et Nobilitate,' printed at Barcelona in the early part of the sixteenth century. He lost this in the same manner, at two shillings! Perhaps, however, you too have been guilty of these lapses, reader? Semel insanivimus omnes. Experience is better than advice, and for his part our book-hunter will not be caught napping again. The following[5] incident will show you, moreover, that it is not always safe to order books from a catalogue even by return of post.

For many years he had searched in vain for that rarest of all English heraldry books (though not properly English, for it is in the Latin tongue), the 'De Studio Militari, Libri Quatuor' of Master Nicholas Upton. It was edited by Sir Edward Bysshe, and printed in folio at London in 1654. The numerous booksellers in London and the country from whom he sought it had never seen it; indeed, most of them were unaware of its existence, though it is well known to all heralds.

At length, coming home late one night, our book-hunter found on his table a catalogue from a bookseller who seems to garner more out-of-the-way books than any of his fellows. His catalogues are issued very frequently, for he has a large and quick sale, pricing most of his wares at less than five shillings. Moreover, the fact that the books described therein are thrown together without any attempt at classification, even alphabetical, serves but to add a zest to the repast. But our book-hunter was tired, and his evil star was in the ascendant, for he went to bed leaving the catalogue unopened.

Reading it over a late breakfast next morning, upon the last page he came across the following entry:—

Uptoni (Nich.) De Studio Militari. Johan de Bado Aureo, Tractatus de Armis. Henrici Spelmanni Aspilogia. Folio, calf. Scarce. 8s. 6d.

Scarce, indeed! In less than five minutes he was driving hot-haste to the shop.

Of course it was sold: sold by telegram dispatched the night before. He was allowed to see it, even to handle it, and he frankly confesses that murderous thoughts rose within him as he held it in his hands. . . . The bookseller was an old man . . . the shop was very dark . . . just a push, and perhaps one firm application super caput of a large-paper copy of Camden's 'Britannia' which lay handy upon the table. . . . But I am glad to say that our bookman's better nature prevailed, and sorrowfully he returned the volume to the[6] dealer's hands. Did he know the customer, and if so would he try to buy it back? Certainly he would. A week later came a letter saying that the customer was also a collector of these things, but that he was willing to part with it 'at a price.' Unfortunately his price was not our book-hunter's, and he failed to secure the treasure—then.

Now comes the more pleasant sequel. About a year later, coming home in the small hours from a dance, our bookman found a catalogue from this same bookseller on his table. Although tired out, his previous bitter experience had taught him a lesson; so pulling up a chair before the remains of the fire he proceeded to skim through the catalogue. He had reached the last page, and was already beginning to nod, when suddenly his weariness vanished in a flash: he was wide awake and on his feet in an instant, for his eyes had met the same entry that had thrilled him a year ago. This time it was described as 'very scarce,' and the price was considerably enhanced; but he had his coat on and was in the street almost immediately.

The nearest telegraph office likely to be open at such an hour was a mile away, and it was a miserable night, snowing and blowing; but no weather would have deterred him. So the telegram was safely dispatched, and he returned to bed, pinning a notice on the bedroom door to the effect that he was to be called, without fail, at seven o'clock.

That night he was obsessed by Uptons of all shapes and sizes. Some he beheld with agony, cut down by the ruthless binder to duodecimo size; others there were no larger than Pickering's Diamond Classics; some (on his chest) were of a size which I can only describe as 'Atlas,' or, perhaps more appropriately, 'Elephant Folio,' large-paper copies with hideous margins.

Next morning our bookman was at the shop betimes. Yes! his wire had arrived; Upton was his at last! Should the dealer send it for him by carrier? Carrier, forsooth! As well entrust the Koh-i-noor to a messenger boy. Of course it was[7] the same copy that our friend had missed previously, the owner having sold his books en bloc in the meantime.

Why Upton is so scarce it is hard to say; perhaps very few copies were printed, or perhaps a fire at the printer's destroyed most of them. Certain it is that the premises of James Allestry and Roger Norton, who published the book, were both burnt in the great fire twelve years after its publication. Besides the two copies in the British Museum, there are examples of it in several of the ancient libraries throughout the kingdom; but it is very rarely indeed to be met with in the London salerooms.[1] Dallaway mentions two copies as being, in 1793, in the library of Lord Carlisle at Naworth; and probably there are examples in some of the libraries of our older nobility. There would seem to be copies, also, in France; for several writers upon chivalry, such as La Roque and Sainte Marie, make mention of it. The writer bought a portion of it, some forty-eight pages, a few years ago for four shillings. But take heart, brother bibliophile; it is quite possible that you may unearth a copy some day—if indeed the book be in your line—long buried in the dust of some old country bookshop.

Upton died in 1457, and his work was so popular that numerous copies of the manuscript were made. The treatise on coat-armour, or 'cootarmuris,' as it is quaintly spelt, which comprises the third part of the 'Book of Saint Albans' (first printed in 1486), is, for the greater part, a literal translation of the second half of the fourth book of the 'De Studio Militari' as printed by Bysshe. Ames, in his 'Typographical Antiquities,' asserts that Upton's work was reprinted from[8] the St. Albans book in folio, 1496, 'with the King's Arms and Caxton's mark printed in red ink.' But he gives no authority for his assertion, and it seems doubtful whether such a volume ever existed. At all events there does not appear to be any trace of such a book beyond this mention, and Herbert, editing Ames, omitted the whole passage. Hain,[2] probably copying Ames, calls this supposititious work 'De Re Heraldica,' and states that it was printed at Westminster in 1496 'Anglice.' So much for worthy Master Nicholas, Canon of Salisbury and protégé of the 'good duke Humfrey.'

There is a curious phenomenon of not infrequent occurrence among book-collectors, and that is the enforced acquisition of certain volumes solely by means of the passive persuasion of their presence. In other words, it is possible to bully the bibliophile into purchasing a book merely by obtruding it continually before his gaze, till at length its very presence becomes a source of annoyance to him. To escape from this incubus he purchases the volume.

In nine cases out of ten, books so acquired never attain the same status as their fellow-volumes. They are invariably assigned either to the lowest or topmost shelves of the library, and are, in fact, pariahs. Their owner did not really want them, and he can never quite forgive their presence on his shelves. Generally their stay in any one home is not a long one, for they are weeded out at the first opportunity, and find no permanent rest until they come finally to that ultimate goal of books, the paper mills. I confess that in my early days of collecting this phenomenon was of not infrequent occurrence, being associated, probably, with the indecision of youth. And in this connection a bookseller once told me an interesting story.

A certain young man of the working class, on his way to work every day, used to pass a bookstall situated in a narrow alley. Every day he glanced at the books, and as custom was scanty he would notice what books were sold and with[9] what works the bookseller filled the empty places on the shelves. In this way all of the books which the young man had first noticed gradually disappeared, with one exception. This was a volume bound in calf, containing some rather curious poems, and no one seemed to want it. At length, after some weeks, the young man could stand it no longer. He approached the bookseller, and for sixpence the volume became his.

The verses seemed to him rather poor, though one entitled 'Hans Carvel' amused him rather. The title-page bore the date 1707, and he wondered who was the 'E. Curll at the Peacock without Temple-Bar,' for whom the work was printed. Some time afterwards he read in the newspaper that a certain book had been sold for a large sum because of a misprint in it. This set him wondering . . . 'at the Peacock without Temple-Bar . . .' Temple-Bar without a peacock he could imagine: surely this was a misprint! Perhaps the book was valuable, and others had not 'spotted' the error!

And now he bethought him of an acquaintance who kept a bookshop in the West End of the town, a man who knew a lot about old books. He would take it to him and ask his advice. So, one Saturday afternoon he carried his 'treasure' to the shop in question. Inside, an elderly man was examining a calf-bound volume.

'. . . the first authentic edition, seventeen hundred and nine,' he was saying.

The young man glanced at the volume under discussion, and as a page was turned he caught sight of the heading 'Hans Carvel.' Good gracious; this volume was the same as his! Just then the elderly man looked up, and the young fellow handed his volume to the bookseller, saying: 'Here's another one, same as that, but mine's got something wrong on the front page.'

The bookseller opened the newcomer's volume, looked at the title-page, and handed it without a word to his customer, who took it with a look of surprise.

[10] 'Something wrong?' said he, 'why, bless me, what's this—1707—that rascal Curll's edition—where did you get this?'

The young man told him, adding that he gave sixpence for it.

'Sixpence, did you?' said the connoisseur; 'well, I'll give you six guineas for it': which he did, there and then.

It was a copy of the rare 'pirated' collection of his poems, published without Matt Prior's knowledge, some two years before the first authentic edition appeared. Some years later, when the elderly collector died, this volume came to the saleroom with the rest of his books. It realised forty pounds! So much for the ugly duckling.

What an absorbing topic is that of 'lost books'! There is a fascination about the subject that every bibliophile must have experienced. 'Hope springs eternal in the human breast,' and it is impossible to read of books long lost without making a mental note of their titles in the hope that some day we may come across them. Perhaps it is these memories, pigeon-holed in our mind, that add a zest to anticipation whenever we go book-hunting on our travels. But alas! the reward for the bibliophile's hope in this direction is rare as the blossoming of the aloe.

It is curious to think of the thousands of books that have completely disappeared. Nowadays the Act which assures the preservation in our greater libraries of every book published in this country will doubtless prevent the disappearance of a good many English books of lesser importance, such as school books and other works that are quickly superseded. But before the passing of this Act there was nothing to prevent an unpopular or useless work from becoming extinct, and vast numbers must have disappeared in this country alone. There are many books, however, important books even, and books which we know to have been immensely popular in their day, of which so much as a glimpse has been denied us. The 1606 octavo of 'The Passionate Pilgrim,' the first issue[11] of John Barclay's satirical romance 'Euphormionis Lusinini Satyricon,' published at London in 1603, the 'Famous Historie of the Vertuous and Godly Woman Judith,' London, 1565 (of which a title-page has been preserved), what would not every book-collector give for copies of these?

Then there are such early-printed works as Caxton's translation of the Metamorphoses of Ovid, probably published by him about 1480, 'The Life of St. Margaret' (known by three leaves preserved in the Bodleian), the 'goste of guido' or Ghost of Guy, and the Epitaph of the King of Scotland, all printed by Pynson, as well as that mysterious volume ycleped 'The Nigramansir,' said to be by John Skelton the poet-laureate who lived under five kings and died in 1529. Many of Skelton's works, perhaps even the majority of his writings, are known to us by title and hearsay alone; but who shall say that his 'Speculum Principis,' or 'the Commedy Achademios callyd by name,' which he himself mentions, are lost beyond all hope of recovery? 'The Nigramansir' was actually seen by Thomas Warton, the poet-laureate, in the 'fifties of the eighteenth century, and is described by him in some detail. His account is so interesting that it deserves quoting.

'I cannot quit Skelton,' he writes, 'without restoring to the public notice a play, or morality, written by him, not recited in any catalogue of his works, or annals of English typography; and, I believe, at present totally unknown to the antiquarians in this sort of literature. It is, The nigramansir, a morall enterlude and a pithie written by Maister skelton laureate and plaid before the king and other estatys at Woodstock on Palme Sunday. It was printed by Wynkin de Worde in a thin quarto, in the year 1504.'

Against this Warton makes the following note: 'My lamented friend Mr. William Collins . . . . shewed me this piece at Chichester, not many months before his death (Collins died in 1759), and he pointed it out as a very rare and valuable curiosity. He intended to write the History of the Restoration[12] of Learning under Leo the Tenth, and with a view to that design had collected many scarce books. Some few of these fell into my hands at his death. The rest, among which, I suppose, was this Interlude, were dispersed.'

Warton then goes on to describe the book in detail, and this circumstance, together with the fact that he quotes one of the stage directions ('enter Balsebub with a Berde') seems to point to the fact that he actually had the volume in his hands. It concerned the trial of Simony and Avarice, with the Devil as Judge. 'The characters are a Necromancer or Conjurer, the Devil, a Notary Public, Simonie, and Philargyria or Avarice. . . . There is no sort of propriety in calling this play the Necromancer: for the only business and use of this character is to open the subject in a long prologue.'[3] Unfortunately there is no other mention of this interesting work, and of recent years its very existence has been doubted.

'It was at Chichester,' wrote Hazlitt, 'that the poet Collins brought together a certain number of early books, some of the first rarity; his name is found, too, in the sale catalogues of the last century as a buyer of such; and the strange and regrettable fact is that two or three items which Thomas Warton actually saw in his hands, and of which there are no known duplicates, have not so far been recovered.' Mr. Gordon Duff, in his 'English Provincial Printers,' mentions seventeen books described by Herbert at the end of the eighteenth century, of which no copies are now known to exist. Another rare volume is known to have existed about the same time. A copy, the only one known, of 'The Fabulous Tales of Esope the Phrygian' by Robert Henryson, published at London in 1577, was formerly in the library of Syon College; for it is included in Reading's catalogue of that college library, compiled in 1724. But its whereabouts is now unknown. Fortunately in this case a later edition has survived.

[13] Another mysterious volume is the treatise concerning Elizabeth Barton, the Maid of Kent, who was burnt at Tyburn in 1534. Cranmer, describing her story to a friend, writes: 'and a boke (was) written of all the hole storie thereof, and putt into prynte, which euer syns that tyme hath byn comonly sold and goone abrod amongs all people.' From the confession of John Skot, the printer of this work, at the trial, it seems that seven hundred copies were printed; but no copy is now known to exist.

Other works there are as yet unseen by bibliographer, such as Markham's 'Thyrsis and Daphne,' a poem printed in 1593, and the 1609 and 1612 quartos of Ben Jonson's 'Epicœne or the Silent Woman.' This last was seen by William Gifford a century ago, but neither is now known to exist. Or is a copy extant of Horace's 'Art of Poetry' english'd by Jonson and published so late as 1640. Alas! the list of works by 'rare Ben Jonson' now lost to us, it is feared, for ever, is quite a lengthy one. Who has seen the original issue of 'Gude and Godlie Ballatis,' printed at Edinburgh in 1546? Of this book it has been said that, after the Bible, it did more for the spread of Reformation doctrines in Scotland than any other volume; so presumably a fairly large edition was printed.

That the editions of some of these early-printed books, now with us no more, were of considerable size may be judged from contemporary evidence of their widespread popularity. Speaking of the 'Morte d'Arthur,' Mr. E. G. Duff remarks: 'Of the popularity of the book we have striking evidence. Of Caxton's edition two copies are known, of which one is imperfect.[4] The second edition, printed by Wynkin de Worde[14] in 1498, is known from one copy only, which is imperfect; while the third edition, also printed by de Worde is, again, only known from one imperfect copy. It may well be, considering these facts, that there were other intervening editions which have entirely disappeared.'

Of the thirteen early editions of Shakespeare's 'Venus and Adonis' only twenty-two copies have so far been traced. Yet if each of these editions comprised only 250 copies, the tale of survivors is not large out of a total of 3,250. 'Printers and publishers . . . strained their resources to satisfy the demands of eager purchasers,' remarks Sir Sidney Lee; so presumably the estimate of 250 per edition is a conservative one.

Where are these volumes now? It is difficult to believe they have been utterly destroyed, leaf by leaf, so that no vestige of them any longer exists. Surely they will turn up at an auction sale some day, for they may well be safely ensconced, at this very moment, on the shelves of some neglected country library. Mr. Duff himself records the discovery recently of a copy of Caxton's 'Speculum,' 'amongst some rubbish in the offices of a solicitor at Birkenhead.'

What a vast number of books there is, also, of which only one copy is known to exist. Of the early editions of Shakespeare's plays alone, more than a dozen are known by solitary examples. Of such books Hazlitt remarks that he 'has met in the course of a lengthened career with treasures which would make a small library, and has beheld no duplicates.' Probably many of these incognita and rarissima perished in the great fire of London; others again met their fate solely through their own popularity, being 'thumbed' to pieces. In 1494 Pynson thought well enough to reprint Caxton's 'Book of Good Manners'; but of this once popular book one copy only—that which was formerly in the Amherst Library—now survives.

Then there is that ancient romance of European popularity 'The four Sons of Aymon.' One of the great cycle of[15] Charlemagne romances, such was its popularity that by the end of the thirteenth century it had penetrated even to Iceland. Many and various were the editions that issued from the early presses. Caxton printed it about 1489, but of this thick quarto impression one imperfect copy only has survived. A second edition, as we learn from the colophon of the third edition, was 'imprinted at London by Wynken de Worde, the viii daye of Maye, and the year of our lorde M.CCCCC. iiii'; but a solitary leaf, discovered in the binding of an ancient book, is the sole representative of an edition that ran probably into several hundreds.

In the case of some at least of these early books there is another reason for their disappearance and scarcity. Stephen Vaughan, the indefatigable agent of Mr. Secretary Cromwell, writing to his master from Antwerp, mentions that he is 'muche desirous t'atteyne the knowlage of the Frenche tonge,' but that he is unable to obtain a copy of the only primer which he knows to exist. This volume, called 'L'Esclarcissement de la Langue Francoyse,' was 'compose par Maistre Jehan Palsgraue, Angloys, natyf de Londres et gradue de Paris,' and was printed by Pynson, though it was finished and published by Hawkins in 1530.

Palsgrave, the author, seems to have been determined that his book should not fall into the hands of other teachers of French (he was 'scolemaster' to the Princess Mary, sister of Henry viii., in 1513, at a stipend of £6 13s. 4d.); and although Vaughan writes that he 'made not a letle labour to Mr. Palsgrave to have one of his books,' yet 'in no wise he wolde graunt for no price.' So Vaughan entreats Thomas Cromwell to obtain a copy for him, 'not doubtyng but though he unkyndly denyd me one, he will not denye youe one.'

Apparently Palsgrave had entered into some kind of arrangement with the printer, for Vaughan writes that he 'hathe willed Pynson to sell none of them to any other person than to suche as he shall comaunde to have them, lest his proffit by teching the Frenche tonge myght be mynished by[16] the sale of the same to suche persons as, besids hym, wern disposed to studye the sayd tongue.'

From this premise it is easy to understand why 'L'Esclarcissement' is such a rare book. Very few copies indeed are known to exist. Yet one cannot help wondering what became of the copies that had not been disposed of at the author's death. Possibly a very small number was printed, and perhaps 'Johan Haukyns,' faithful to his pact, destroyed those on hand. That the book was in high esteem may be gathered from the fact that, in spite of his rebuff, Vaughan says: 'If I had one, I wolde no less exteme it then a Jewell.' The letter ends with a delightful burst of ingenuousness. 'Syr, I remember Mr. Palsgrave gave youe one of his books, which if it please you to geve me I wer muche bounde to youe.' Whether he obtained a copy in the end history does not relate; but if our book-hunter is ever so fortunate as to come across one, like Vaughan he will certainly 'no less exteme it then a Jewell.'

Very many, indeed the vast majority, of the popular jest-books which appeared in such numbers during Queen Elizabeth's reign are now lost to us. Some are known by later quotation of their titles, others by later editions, such as 'The Life of Long Meg of Westminster,' 'A Lytle and Bryefe Treatyse called the Defence of Women,'[5] etc. But these were small volumes of few pages, and were doubtless considered as little worthy of preservation as is the modern 'penny dreadful.' 'But, when we consider how very many of these early books have come down to our time only in single copies or even fragments out of an edition of some hundreds, it is only natural to suppose that a great number must have utterly disappeared.'[6]

It is not for want of enterprise that so many of these books have not so far been recovered. The smaller and more remote towns, even villages, of these islands and the[17] Continent have been, and are being, ransacked by dealers as well as collectors. The number of works hitherto undescribed that has been brought to light during the last sixty years must be considerable; and one still hears every now and then of some rich trover that has been unearthed. In 1887 a small octavo manuscript volume, in a worn brown binding, was offered at the end of a sale at Sotheby's. It had stood, for how long no man knows, on the shelf of a small parish library in Suffolk; and it was offered for sale 'presumably as being unreadable to country folk, and capable of being turned into hard cash wherewith a few works of fiction might be purchased.' Acquired by the Bodleian Library for £6, it proved, by perhaps one of the most romantic chains of evidence ever attached to a book,[7] to be the favourite devotional volume and constant companion of Saint Margaret, Queen of Scotland, who died in 1093. It was not until 1905 that the original quarto edition (1594) of Shakespeare's 'Titus Andronicus' was known to exist, when a copy was discovered and sold for £2000.

Books travel far afield. At the dissolution of the monasteries the rich libraries that many of them possessed were scattered far and wide. One of these religious houses was famed for its rich store of books; and that the report was not exaggerated we know from its ancient library catalogue, still extant. In this case some of the books were taken by the inmates with them into exile in Flanders; and when the small community migrated thence to Portugal, the precious tomes were carried reverently with them. A fire at their convent in 1651 destroyed a large number of the volumes, and when some of the nuns returned to England in 1809 they brought the remaining books with them. Some were sold, but three cases of these ancient books were sent back to the nuns who stayed behind in Portugal, and of these cases two were lost in transit.

[18] London, however, has always been the centre of book production in this country, and it is there that any existing copies of these forgotten books are most likely to re-appear. Was not a priceless manuscript, a Household Book of the Black Prince, discovered only a few years ago in the office of a city lawyer? Once, in the course of his rambles by the bookstalls of the Farringdon Road,[8] our book-hunter caught a glimpse of an old box almost covered by books and prints on one of the stalls. Being unearthed, it proved to be a veritable gem of a trunk, about two feet by one, and nine inches deep. It had a convex lid, and was covered with shaggy horsehide, bound with heavily studded leather. The proprietor stated that he had found it in a cellar, full of old books, most of which had already been sold (his listener promptly pictured Caxtons among them); and he was amused to think that any one could be so foolish as to offer him two shillings for such a dirty old box. However, it was carried home in triumph, regardless of the great interest shown by fellow-travellers in the train. A year or two ago the same vender produced a similar trunk, rather larger, which was full of ancient deeds relating to property in Clerkenwell. These he sold for a shilling or two shillings apiece, according to size and seals. The box was larger than our bookman wanted, but apparently it soon found a purchaser.

Surely such instances must be common in this great city, and many a trunk must yet linger in cellars and attics in the old parts of the town. Not many years ago our book-hunter chanced to visit an ancient house at the end of a small court off Fleet Street. Inside, it seemed to be entirely lined with oak planking, and it was occupied, or at least that part into which he penetrated was, by a printer in a small way of business. The staircase was magnificent, of massive coal-black oak; and when our book-hunter remarked upon it, the[19] printer informed him he had discovered that the house had once been the town residence of a famous bishop of Tudor times.[9] How the occupant discovered this fact our bookman does not remember; possibly the house is well known to antiquaries, and the occupier may have read about it or have been told by the previous tenant. But it is also within the bounds of possibility that he unearthed some deed or papers relating to the premises. It is strange, too, that one of the few letters of this bishop which have been preserved refers to books. 'Ye promised unto me, long agone,' he writes to Secretary Cromwell, 'the Triumphes of Petrarche in the Ytalion tonge. I hartely pray you at this tyme by this beyrer, . . . to sende me the said Boke with some other at your deuotion; and especially, if it please you, the boke called Cortigiano in Ytalion.'[10]

There must be many such houses still extant in London, and who knows what there may be in their long-disused attics? Hidden away in the darkness beneath their tiles, between joists and under the eaves, it is possible that books till now unknown to us, by sight at least, may still exist. Or who has explored the lumber accumulated in many a disused cellar within a quarter of a mile of the Mansion House? The very existence of the trunks which we have mentioned proves that such things do still linger in the nooks and crannies of this great city.

And I would not confine my surmise in this direction to London alone. Two ancient libraries there are, one in the North Countrie, the other in the West, that to my certain[20] knowledge have never been explored by modern bibliographer. The latter is spurned and neglected, the books are deep in dust and even mildew; the former is also neglected, but at least the house is inhabited. The owner, an old, old woman, will never permit of any volume being disturbed. It is said that her father collected the books many years ago, and that she still guards them jealously for him.

Perhaps one day a copy of the 'Nigramansir' will emerge from its long sleep in some such house as these. Indeed, it is not so much a matter of surprise that such books should have disappeared, as that they should have remained hidden for so long. In 1909 an ancient volume was accidentally discovered in an old manor-house in the North of England, where it had lain undisturbed for generations. It proved to consist of no less than five of Caxton's publications bound up together. Moreover, it was in the original binding, and was bound, probably, by one of Caxton's workmen, whose initials it bore. On being put up for sale at Sotheby's, it changed hands at £2,600.

The account which Gairdner gives in the Introduction to his last edition of the Paston letters, of the loss and rediscovery of those historic documents, is also a striking example of the manner in which books may lie hidden for years. For nearly a century the originals of Sir John Fenn's compilation were utterly lost. 'Even Mr. Serjeant Frere who edited the fifth volume . . . declared that he had not been able to find the originals of that volume any more than those of the others. Strange to say, however, the originals of that volume were in his house all the time. . . .' Gairdner then applied to the owner of Roydon Hall for the remainder of the manuscripts, but received answer 'that he did not see how such MSS. should have found their way to Roydon.' Yet there they were discovered (with many others) eight years later! Even then the whereabouts of the letters forming Fenn's first and second volumes, which he had presented in 1787 to King George iii., was still unknown. 'The late Prince Consort . . . caused a[21] careful search to be made for them, but it proved quite ineffectual.' No wonder, for in 1889 they came to light in a Suffolk manor-house!

It is difficult to portray in words the sensations of the book-collector when engaged in searching some ancient building or library—especially if he be upon a 'hot scent.' The thrills that he experiences as he handles some rich volume that has lain hid for years, the delicious excitement that pervades him while exploring some huge charter chest or ancient oaken press, these are feelings not to be described in words. 'It was discovered in the library at such and such a place,' we read, and we barely stop to picture the scene of its finding or to imagine the sensations of its finder. The very finding at Syon by 'Master Richard Sutton, Esq.,' of the manuscript containing the 'revelacions' of St. Katherin of Siena, from which de Worde printed his edition, conjures up a whole romance in itself; yet in his eulogy of the work Wynkyn dismisses the matter briefly, merely stating that it was found 'in a corner by itself.' 'We were shipwrecked,' says the mariner, relating his adventures; and in those three words what a world of incident and sensations is comprised!

Our book-hunter confesses frankly to having had much good luck in book collecting. Some years ago he made up his mind to start collecting Elzeviers, more with the intention of gathering a representative collection of books printed by that great family of printers than with any idea of specialising in them. Probably he was urged thereto by reading that wholly delightful book 'The Library' by Andrew Lang, wherein the author discourses so pleasantly on these rare pygmies of the book world. 'The Pastissier François,' we read, 'has lately fetched £600 at a sale'; and the 'Cæsar' of 1635 seemed nearly as rare, provided it were a copy of that impression wherein the 149th page is misprinted '153.' A little later our bookman was dipping, for the n-th time, into that bibliophile's bible 'The Book Hunter,' by John Hill Burton, whose opinion of the Cæsar seemed even higher, for he devotes nearly half[22] a page to the little volume which Brunet describes as 'une des plus jolies et plus rares de la collection des Elsevier.'

That decided our friend. He would collect Elzeviers. Moreover, he would continue to collect them until he had acquired both the 'Pastissier François' and the 1635 'Cæsar.' Such was the confidence of youth! So he sallied forth straight away, determined to ransack the nooks and corners of certain shops of his acquaintance.

He didn't find the 'Pastissier François' that afternoon, but he found the 1635 'Cæsar' in Charing Cross Road for two shillings. Moreover, it had the requisite misprint and certain other distinctions which proclaim it to be of the rare impression, and it is no less than 126 millimetres in height! He has not yet come across the Pastissier, but doubtless he will find a copy one day, provided his luck holds good.

The little 'Pastissier' is a far more interesting volume than the 'Cæsar.' The latter is a dainty book, beautifully printed upon fine paper, with folding maps and plans of castramentation. The 'Pastissier,' on the other hand, is a disappointing little book in appearance, for it is but indifferently printed upon poor paper. It cannot even claim the merit of originality, being merely a pirated reprint of a volume that appeared in Paris some two years previously.[11] But it is very, very rare, and it has been celebrated by many distinguished pens.

'"Monsieur," said I, "pray forgive me if my question seems impertinent, but are you extremely fond of eggs?"'

Such were the words with which Alexandre Dumas first addressed Charles Nodier, the famous dramatist and bibliophile, whom he found sitting next to him at the Théâtre Porte-Saint-Martin. Dumas' curiosity as to the little volume that was engrossing his neighbour's attention more than the[23] play was at length allayed, and it was a view of the title-page that prompted his unusual question. Looking over his neighbour's shoulder, he read, opposite the engraved frontispiece, as follows:—



Où eſt enſeigné la maniere de
faire toute ſorte de Paſtiſſerie,
tres-utile à toute ſorte
de perſonnes.


Le moyen d'apreſter toutes ſortes d'oeufs
pour les jours maigres & autres,
en plus de ſoixante façons.


Chez Louys & Daniel Elzevier


But Nodier was far from being the gourmet that Dumas supposed him to be. He was merely a bookhunter devouring a rare 'find'; and the little book, he explained to Dumas,[24] was one of those tiny volumes published in the seventeenth century by the house of the Elzeviers at Leyden and Amsterdam; and of all the many productions of that press, this was the most sought for by collectors.

Elzeviers, however, are no longer fashionable, in this country at least. The Cæsar might possibly bring five pounds if it came to the notice of an Elzevier specialist, but I doubt it.[12] Only the Pastissier has retained its exalted price, probably on account of its notoriety. A copy, in modern calf binding, sold recently (1917) at Sotheby's for so much as £130; but Lord Vernon's copy, choicely bound by Capé, realised only £70 at the Sudbury sale in June 1918. However, it was a poor copy and much cut down.

Railway-trains, among other things, have killed Elzeviers. Nothing could be more convenient for saddle-bag or knapsack, or the restricted luggage which one could stow in the boot of a coach. But who makes a practice nowadays of putting books into his suit-case or gladstone-bag?[13] Besides, before the advent of railways, there was not the same facility for distributing books, and one might travel many leagues and visit many villages without coming to a place where there would be a bookshop. In travelling nowadays one is continually in the presence of cheap books.

The fate of the little Pastissier was probably that of many popular books. There must have been thousands of copies of it printed. Dumas, in that delightful chapter of 'Mes Mémoires' which we have just quoted, makes Nodier say, 'Techener declares that there were five thousand five hundred copies issued, and I maintain that there were more than ten thousand printed'; and he goes on to declare that 'there are probably only ten examples of it left in Europe.' Willems, however, in his bibliography of the Elzeviers published in 1880, enumerates some thirty copies, and states that the[25] highest price yet paid for the Pastissier was 10,000 francs. But that was for a quite exceptional copy. From 4,500 francs to 5,500 francs seems to have been the average value of the book in Willems' time, and, enthusiast as he is, he hesitates not to describe it as a 'bouquin insignifiant et médiocrement imprimé.'

Its scarcity at the present day is, perhaps, not surprising; for, from the very nature of its contents, its habitat must always have been the kitchen rather than the library. How long would such a tiny volume, with its 130 thin paper leaves, bear the rough and greasy handling of chefs and 'pastissiers'? Book-shelves are rare in kitchens, and the little book must have been continually moved from pillar to post. Besides, it is unlikely that copies for kitchen use would be strongly bound in morocco. The very printing and paper of the book sufficiently indicate the use to which its producers at least expected it to be put. So the little 'French pastrycook' gradually disappeared. Those for whose benefit it had been written would soon learn its secrets by heart and confide them verbally to their apprentices; and it would not be long ere the tattered and greasy booklet found its way into the dustbin.

Of all the rarae aves sought by book-collectors this little volume is perhaps the most widely known. That copies may still exist in this country is shown to be possible by the fact (recorded by Willems) that one was sold at an auction in Belfast. Another was found at Brighton, and occasionally one appears in the London salerooms, as we have shown. It requires little imagination to picture merchants and travellers, whose paths led through the Low Countries at that time, slipping copies into their pockets or holsters for use in the household across the water. Many a courtly exile during the Protectorate, glancing through the bookshops of Amsterdam, must have chanced upon the little volume as a gift for wife or daughter.

Numbers, also, must have found their way to France. Some years ago our book-hunter happened to stay at an ancient[26] hostel in Rouen. From the outside the building was everything that could possibly be desired by bibliophile or antiquary. It was situated in one of those quaint narrow back streets that lead towards the Place Henri Quatre; and the courtyard was so small as scarcely to allow a baker's cart to turn round in it. Like many of the houses in this ancient town, its crookedness was such that it seemed impossible for it to remain standing much longer. Misgivings arose within him as he ascended the staircase, which seemed to sway as he avoided the broken treads. But the sight of the bedroom he was to occupy, furnished with such furniture and such a bed, all spotlessly clean and polished, sent him into the seventh heaven of delight. Here he could read and write undisturbed for as long as he chose to stay. Surely pleasant surprises must be in store for one in every way in such surroundings as these!

It was not long before he got one.

'Will Monsieur require anything to be cooked for him to-night?' inquired the trim hostess.

It was rather late and our bookman was disinclined to seek a restaurant. Besides, he was anxious to explore his lodging before it got too dark. An omelette would be delicious, provided she could make one properly.

'Eggs, perhaps, and tea, with bread and butter'—could she turn the eggs into an omelette?

'Why certainly,' with a merry laugh, 'of course—I can prepare eggs in more than sixty ways.'

To say that our book-hunter started would be to put it mildly. A certain title-page instantly rose before his eyes. There was only one way in which anybody could possibly learn to cook eggs in sixty different ways, and that was by studying the 'Pastissier François.' Without the slightest doubt the hostess possessed a copy, and he was at last to look upon the tiny volume that he had sought for so long. But as she seemed so proud of her achievement, could she be induced to part with the precious tome? These and many other[27] kindred thoughts passed rapidly through his mind as he repeated slowly 'en plus de soixante façons?'

She laughed again. Ah yes, but she couldn't repeat them d'abord, she would have to refer to her book.

He had difficulty in controlling his voice sufficiently to inquire what her book was.

Oh, it was just a little book which her mother had given her, a little book of la cuisine. Could he see it? Why certainly, but it could not possibly interest monsieur, it was only a common little book, and dirty.

Ah, as usual it would be soiled, perhaps badly, for it was evidently still in constant use; but so long as it were complete one might possibly be able to clean it. What delightful thoughts and anticipations passed through his mind as the hostess slowly descended the rickety stairs to fetch her treasure! At last he had found it, and just in the very sort of house and town where he had always expected to come across it. Well, well, if you make up your mind to have a thing and search eagerly enough for it, you are bound to obtain it in the long run.

Then another thought entered his mind: how much should he offer her for it? Probably she would not part with it unless he named a sum which she could not resist; yet if the sum were at all large she might suspect the book's value and refuse. Ten francs, twenty-five, a hundred? While he was deliberating this important point she was ascending the stairs. Should he turn his back to her, shut his eyes, and tell her to place the volume on the middle of the table, then suddenly turn about and gloat upon the little treasure?

Before he could make up his mind she came in and he got his second surprise that day. It was not as pleasant as the first, for in her hands she held a thick octavo volume bound in shiny black leather. Heavens! . . . a large-paper copy? . . . No, no, impossible. . . .

'Le voici, m'sieu.'

Our poor book-hunter's feelings almost overcame him, and[28] he opened the dirty manuscript volume mechanically, feebly muttering 'très intéressant.' She watched him closely, and from that moment considered him slightly mad. However, the book certainly did contain sixty-two recipes for cooking eggs as well as receipts for making fancy pastry and cakes. Whether it was copied out of the 'Pastissier' I know not; but certain it is that the hostess had no knowledge of, nor had ever seen, that volume.

There must be many book-treasures lying hid in all these ancient towns of Northern France, towns also that lie far off the restless tourist's track, small country towns in which the majority of the houses are slipshod timbered relics of a bygone age. No striking or unusual feature can they offer to the curious, and so for the most part they are dismissed in brief by the guide book. Yet there is many an aged building in Brittany where old books do still lie hid, as our bookman knows from the library of a friend who lives in Finisterre. St. Brieuc, Guingamp, Morlaix, Quimper, even Brest, all these must harbour long-forgotten books.

But there are other towns which no power on earth shall force our book-hunter to disclose. One there is far off the beaten track, where the houses, painted with bright colours, lean all askew, supporting each other and sometimes almost toppling across the narrow winding streets. So that, entering it, one seems to have stepped suddenly into some such fairy town as exists in the pages of Grimm or Hans Andersen; and, half ashamed, one peers curiously at the dwellers in this goblin town, as though expecting to find that they have pointed ears and narrow elfin feet. They never seem to move about, and, sitting at almost every doorstep, watch one intently from weird nooks and crannies. Hurry and bustle are here unknown, and though they will reply to you in the best of French, yet to each other the townsfolk speak a strange and uncouth tongue.

Once, rambling in the narrow alleys about the ancient church, our book-hunter ventured through a gothic doorway[29] along a broad passage that was guarded by a huge and ancient iron grille and presently he found himself in a small courtyard paved with moss-grown cobbles. About it was a timbered gallery, roofed, once doubtless level, now gently and gracefully undulating so that it seemed about to fall from off the wall to which it was attached. But the walls had also subsided with the gallery, so that the whole still showed a symmetry that was pleasing to the eye. Above the gallery and across the front of the building had been painted the legend hotel du lion d'or, and a dim weatherbeaten shield above the doorway still bore the trace of a rampant lion. It seemed a large building, judging by the number of its windows, far larger than its present-day custom could possibly warrant.

The place was curiously still, for the noise of carts and footsteps could never penetrate into that silent court, and it must have been many years since chaise or horseman clattered across its now mossy pavé. The stillness was almost uncanny, forbidding, and our book-hunter hesitated to cross the courtyard lest the sound of his footsteps should disturb the slumber of the ancient building. Presently a rat squealed somewhere along the gallery, and a voice called out sharply within. The spell was broken, and entering the house he called for a 'petit verre' preparatory to finding out something of the inn's history.

Yes, it was very old, and madame had been born in it; but now that she was left alone with Jeanne it was very lonely, and there was little custom. Did they have many travellers there? Oh no, not for a long time, the house was not easy to find, and as the old customers died none came to fill their places. But sometimes Messieurs So and So came in of an evening and took a 'petit verre,' and then the neighbours were very friendly, so it was not so bad.

So the hostess prattled on, only too pleased to impart the news of her little world to a newcomer from the greater one, while all the time fantastic visions rose before him. He[30] pictured old hide-bound trunks that had been left behind by travellers who had never returned, trunks which, opened, would prove to contain priceless black-letter books: boxes, stored in attics and cellars and in concealed presses, which would contain ancient apparel with copies of the 'Pastissier' in the pockets: small travelling bags, tendered by needy scholars in lieu of payment, which he would find stuffed with rare Elzeviers: rusty iron-bound chests enclosing missals, books of hours and antiphonals: in short to such heights did his imagination soar that he resolved to sojourn there till he had explored the old house from attic to cellar.

Then a rat squealed again, near at hand. Oh yes, they were everywhere, ever since Monsieur Gautier rented the left wing of the house to store grain in; and they were so tame and so large that Madame was obliged to keep miou-miou in her bedroom every night.

That decided our book-hunter. Enthusiasm can be carried too far. Even the possibilities of a rich trover would not compensate for having rats running about one's bed at night. Moreover the vermin would surely have gnawed, if not devoured, any copies of the 'Pastissier' that might have been lying about, even if these were innocent of bacon-grease stains. And so consoling himself, he took another 'petit verre' and departed, casting more than one regretful glance backwards at the old Lion d'Or.


[1] Apparently there is only one copy of Upton's work in the United States at present—that which was formerly in the Huth Library. It was purchased at Sotheby's in July, 1920, by a well-known New York dealer, Mr. G. D. Smith, for ten guineas, the writer of these lines being the underbidder. Mr. Smith had sent "an unlimited commission" to secure it. An announcement in The Bookman's Journal (1920) asking for information respecting other copies elicited but one response.

Since writing the above, the author has secured the splendid presentation copy given by Upton's editor (Bysshe) to the great Parliamentary leader, Sir Humphrey Mackworth, of Neath, in Glamorganshire. It had remained at Glen Uske until the dispersal of the Mackworth Library in 1920.

[2] No. 16096. See page 164.

[3] Possibly the title was Nigromanser, from niger, black, and manser, a bastard.

[4] The perfect copy was purchased by Mr. Pierpont Morgan at the sale of the Hoe Library, in 1911, for £8,560. It formed originally one of the twenty-two Caxtons which were dispersed in 1698 with the library of Dr. Francis Bernard, Physician to King James the Second, when it realised two and tenpence! It became the property of the great Robert Harley, Earl of Oxford, and was acquired later by the Countess of Jersey for two and a half guineas. Passing thus into the Osterley Park collection, it was purchased, when that library was sold in 1885, by Bernard Quaritch for £1,950, becoming the property, the same year, of Mrs. Abby E. Pope, of Brooklyn, U.S.A.

[5] By Edward More of Hambledon, Bucks.

[6] Mr. E. G. Duff.

[7] For this romantic story see Books in Manuscript, by Mr. Falconer Madan, 8vo, 1893, p. 107 et seq.

[8] Book-collectors always speak of The Farringdon Road; why, I know not, but the definite article certainly gives it an old-world tang.

[9] Alas for romance! Truth compels me to add that as the Great Fire swept across this very court, the existing house must date at earliest from King Charles' reign. But the site and tradition as to its former owner may well be true.

[10] The Courtier, by Baldassare Castiglione, was first printed at Venice in 1528, folio. This letter was written by the fearless churchman, then of Wolsey's household, on the great Cardinal's 'last lingering journey north.' There is, perhaps, a certain significance in his wish to study a volume which treats of the art of living in courts, and of becoming useful and agreeable to princes, for he was shortly to transfer his services to a royal master.

[11] At the sale of Baron Seillière's books in 1887, a copy of this prototype of the Elzevier volume, printed at Paris 'chez Jean Gaillard,' 1653, brought only £6, 10s. It was described as 'a beautiful copy, red morocco, super extra, gilt edges, by Petit.' It is exceedingly rare, but—it is not an Elzevier.

[12] A recent (1920) catalogue offers a copy for thirty-five shillings.

[13] I confess that I do, but then I am hopelessly out of date, or I shouldn't be fond of Elzeviers.






'Unto their lodgings then his guestes he riddes:
Where when all drownd in deadly sleepe he findes,
He to his studie goes.'— Spenser.



hat magic there is for the book-lover in that word 'library'! Does it not instantly conjure up a vision of happy solitude, a peaceful seclusion where we may lie hidden from our fellow-creatures, an absence of idle chatter to distract our thoughts, and countless books about us on either hand? No man with any pretensions to learning can possibly fail to be impressed when he enters an ancient library, older perhaps by generations than the art of printing itself.

'With awe, around these silent walks I tread,
These are the lasting mansions of the dead:
"The dead!" methinks a thousand tongues reply,
"These are the tombs of such as cannot die!"
Crowned with eternal fame, they sit sublime,
And laugh at all the little strife of time.'

They are delicious retreats, abodes of seasoned thought and peaceful meditation, these ancient homes of books. 'I no sooner come into the library,' wrote Heinz, that great literary counsellor of the Elzeviers, 'than I bolt the door, excluding Lust, Ambition, Avarice, and all such vices, whose nurse is Idleness, the mother of Ignorance and Melancholy. In the[32] very lap of Eternity, among so many divine souls, I take my seat with so lofty a spirit and sweet content, that I pity all great men and rich to whom this happiness is unknown.'

Happy indeed are those days when the book-lover has been accorded the freedom of some ancient library. A delicious feeling of tranquillity pervades him as he selects some nook and settles himself to read. Presently the mood takes him to explore, and he wanders about from case to case, now taking down some plump folio and glancing at the title-page and type, now counting the engravings of another and collating it in his mind, now comparing the condition of a third with the copy which he has at home, now searching through the text of some small duodecimo to see whether it contains the usual blanks or colophon. But presently he will chance upon some tome whose appeal is irresistible. So he retires with it to his nook, and is soon absorbed once more with that tranquillity which is better than great riches.

Dearly, however, though we may treasure the benefits and conveniences which these libraries of ancient foundation afford, for most of us there is another library that is nearer to our hearts; that cosy chamber with which we are accustomed to associate warmth, comfort, soft chairs and footrests, a wide writing-table that we may pile high with books, with scribbling-paper, foolscap and marking-slips in plenty. In short, a room so far removed from earthly cares and noise, that the dim occasional sounds of the outside world serve but to accentuate our absolute possession of ease. Here we may labour undisturbed though surrounded by a thousand friends. Or, if the mood take us, we may abandon ourselves to idle meditation

'Where glowing embers through the room
Teach light to counterfeit a gloom,'

and, lying back at our ease, may gaze contentedly upon the faithful companions of our crowded solitude, gathering inspiration from their silent sympathy.

Each to his taste. Whether we be student, book-hunter,[33] librarian, or precentor,[14] no earthly abode can be compared with that garden of our choice wherein we labour so contentedly. It may be a small room in our own house, it may be an ancient university or college library, but it is all one: it is a library, that haven of refuge from our worldly cares, where troubles are forgotten and sorrows lightened by the gently persuasive experience of the wise men that have gone before us.

But, mark you, it must be literally removed from cares and noise, for it is impossible to study at all deeply while exposed to interruption. How terribly most of us have suffered from this form of mental torture, for it is little else! What trains of lucid thought, what word-pictures have been destroyed by thoughtless breakings of the chain of sequence! 'I have never known persons who exposed themselves for years to constant interruption who did not muddle away their intellects by it at last,' wrote Miss Florence Nightingale. Hamerton, quoting her, is equally emphatic upon this point.

'If,' he writes, 'you are reading in the daytime in a house where there are women and children, or where people can fasten upon you for pottering details of business, you may be sure that you will not be able to get to the end of the passage without in some way or other being rudely awakened from your dream, and suddenly brought back into the common world. The loss intellectually is greater than any one who had not suffered from it could imagine. People think that an interruption is merely the unhooking of an electric chain, and that the current will flow, when the chain is hooked on again, just as it did before. To the intellectual and imaginative student an interruption is not that; it is the destruction of a picture.'

Who has not suffered from the idle chatter, or even worse—the lowered voice, that often assails the ear when working in our larger public libraries? Some innocent-looking individual[34] will be reading quietly some paces away, so quietly and decorously in fact that one's heart goes out to him as a sympathetic fellow-bookman. Then enters some one whom he knows. In a flash he becomes a fiend incarnate. A word or two of greeting spoken in an ordinary voice one would pardon; but a long conversation is carried on in a monotonous forced undertone, terrible in its intensity. It is impossible to read so long as the conversation lasts, and murder surges in one's heart. O for the power to drop ten atlas folios in a pile upon their heads! People do not realise the carrying power of a strained and lowered voice. Generally the volume of sound is the same as when speaking aloud, for the tone is merely lowered and the same amount of breath is used. But often more force is required to vibrate the slackened vocal chords, and the maddening sound reaches to every corner of the building.

In the Reading Room of the British Museum one is constantly aware of this buzzing going on all over the room. Would that the rule enforced at one of our older monasteries were applied: 'In the Chafynghowys al brethren schal speke latyn or els keep silence.' This would indeed ensure quietness nowadays. The rule for nuns, however (who, presumably, were not so well acquainted with Latin) would be better still. They were not to speak at all.[15]

So, if it be possible, see to it that your library, study, sanctum, or whatever you may call that one room in the house which is sacred to the daughters of Mnemosyne, is really your own: that it be a close closet to which you (and you alone) may retire at all seasons, certain in the knowledge that by closing the door you may shut out effectually all earthly cares and interruptions. Whether you are engaged in research merely for the gratification of your desire to possess knowledge, or whether literary production be your aim, unless you may study undisturbed your labours will[35] never bear their full fruit. Interrupted, your knowledge will be scanty, diverse, and generally inapplicable, your literary output sketchy, incoherent, and disconnected.

Perhaps it is this incubus of interruption that drives so many men to working late at night. Doubtless those whose habit it is to work at that season produce just as good work in those hours as at any other time; possibly better, for habit may have accustomed them to put forth their finest intellectual efforts at that time of day. But the mind that has been brought up to rise at seven and go to bed at ten, is undoubtedly at its best before noon. Night working is not a natural tendency, it is an acquired habit; and though the expression 'burning the midnight oil' is taken to be synonymous with the acquisition of learning, yet in the long run it is but a poor economy of time, for the wisdom so acquired is often obtained at the cost of health and eyesight.

And what is freedom from interruption but another name for solitude? It may be temporary, it may be prolonged, it may be permanent, but for the intellectual man it is absolutely essential. No one would be so foolish as to deny that literary work of the highest rank can be, and has been frequently, accomplished amid the bustle and noise of cities; witness the works of those literary giants who have passed their lives as town-dwellers. Doubtless they obtained the necessary solitude by spiritual detachment. But on the other hand, for intense and prolonged meditation, for the communing with one's innermost soul on the immense principles of life and nature, for the production of such deep soul-searching work as we see in the compositions of à Kempis, Dante, Milton, and Wordsworth, absolute solitude for some seasons is essential. There must be complete freedom from the daily distractions caused by one's fellow-beings.

'Believe me, upon my own experience,' wrote St. Bernard, 'you will find more in the woods than in books; the forests and rocks will teach you what you cannot learn of the greatest masters.' It is not necessary, however, for us to take up our[36] abode in a cave that we may meditate undisturbed. Let us rather follow Wordsworth's example when he pours forth gratitude

'For my own peaceful lot and happy choice;
A choice that from the passions of the world
Withdrew, and fixed me in a still retreat;
Sheltered, but not to social duties lost,
Secluded, but not buried; and with song
Cheering my days, and with industrious thought;
With the ever-welcome company of books;
With virtuous friendship's soul-sustaining aid,
And with the blessings of domestic love.'

It is sufficient if we can withdraw at will into the solitudes. The younger Pliny, moralising to his friend Minutius (I should like to think him the progenitor of Aldo Manuccio), describes the delights of seclusion at his villa on the shore of the Adriatic. 'At such a season,' says he, in a retrospect of the day's work, 'one is apt to reflect how much of my life has been lost in trifles! At least it is a reflection that frequently comes across me at Laurentum, after I have been employing myself in my studies, or even in the necessary care of the animal machine; for the body must be repaired and supported if we would preserve the mind in all its vigour. In that peaceful retreat I neither hear nor speak anything of which I have occasion to repent. I suffer none to repeat to me the whispers of malice; nor do I censure any man, unless myself, when I am dissatisfied with my compositions. There I live undisturbed by rumour, and free from the anxious solicitudes of hope or fear, conversing only with myself and my books. True and genuine life! Pleasing and honourable repose! More, perhaps, to be desired than the noblest employments! Thou solemn lea and solitary shore, best and most retired scene for contemplation, with how many noble thoughts have you inspired me! Snatch then, my friend, as I have, the first occasion of leaving the noisy town with all its very empty pursuits, and devote your days to study, or even resign them to ease. For, as my ingenious friend Attilius pleasantly said, 'It is better to do nothing than to be doing nothings!''

The great Cardinal Ximenes, in the zenith of his power,[37] built with his own hands a hut in a thick unfrequented wood, where he could retire occasionally from the busy world. Here he used to pass a few days, every now and then, in meditation and study. These he was wont to describe as the happiest days of his life, and declared that he would willingly exchange all his dignities for his hut in the chestnut wood. Thomas Aquinas, coming to visit the learned Bonaventura, asked him to point out the books which he used in his studies. The monk led him into his cell and showed him a few common volumes upon his table. Thomas explained that the books he wished to see were those from which the learned master drew so many wonders. Thereupon Bonaventura showed him a small oratory. 'There,' he said, 'are my books; that is the principal book from which I draw all that I teach and write.'

To the thoughtless and those of shallow intellect solitude is inseparable from loneliness. There is, for them, something terrible in the thought of being debarred, even temporarily, from the society of their fellow-beings. 'Retirement,' says Disraeli, 'to the frivolous is a vast desert; to the man of genius it is the enchanted garden of Armida.' And for 'man of genius' I would substitute 'man of literary pursuits.'

There is a pleasant story told of a monk who lived in the monastery of St. Honorat, which is situated on one of the Lerine Islands, off the coast of Provence. Possessed of a mind which, in the larger world, would indubitably have become an influence in the artistic progress of mankind, he found the sole outlet for its expression in the painting of those exquisite miniatures which are at once the delight and the despair of a more modern age. But it was not in the scriptorium nor was it in the bestiaries or the examples of his predecessors that he acquired his art. Every year, in the spring and autumn, he would go alone to one of the delicious islands of Hyères, where there was a small hermitage. Here he would spend the weeks, not altogether in prayer and fasting, but in making friends with the birds and small animals that[38] resorted there; studying their gestures, plumage, and colours, that he might reproduce them faithfully on the vellum of his missals and devotional books. Surely he learnt more on this deserted island than was possible at that time in the richest library in France.

There is another kind of solitude, however, which can afford consolation to the soul as deep and as lasting as that afforded by the woods, the hills, the moors, the islands, those

And solitary places; where we taste
The pleasure of believing what we see
Is boundless, as we wish our souls to be'—

and that is, the solitude engendered by a deep communion with books. For, if our paths lie amid the toil and turmoil of the world, and if it be impossible for us to seek seclusion amid the wastes, where else than in a library can we obtain that mental solitude so necessary for the nourishing of our literary spirit?

Roger Ascham, sick at heart with long parting from his beloved books, writes to Sir William Cecil from Brussels in 1553, to beg that 'libertie to lern, and leysor to wryte,' which his beloved Cambridge alone could afford him. 'I do wel perceyve,' he says, 'their is no soch quietnesse in England, nor pleasur in strange contres, as even in S. Jons Colledg, to kepe company with the Bible, Plato, Aristotle, Demosthenes, and Tullie.' And he goes on to say, 'Thus I, first by myn own natur, . . . lastly caulled by quietnesse, thought it good to couche myself in Cambridge ageyn.'

Yet although we may seek solitude among our books, how far removed are we from being really alone! 'A man is never less alone than when he is alone,' said the noble Scipio[16]; and this is especially true of the book-lover. What bibliophile does not prefer the companionship of his books to that of all other friends? What friends so steadfast, so[39] reliable in their friendship, so helpful in our difficulties, so apt upon all occasions, as the books which form our library? They are never elated at our mistakes, they are never 'superior' when we display ignorance. Human friendships are limited; but to the number of our most intimate acquaintances in cloth, vellum, and morocco, there is no end.

It is this universal sympathy afforded by our books that makes our sanctum such a delicious retreat. Here we need never be bored, for we can put aside the tedious or insipid at will, and turn to whatever subject or companion our fancy indicates. We are not bound to talk with persons or on themes that have no interest for us. There is no clashing of ideas, and complete harmony reigns amid our comfort.

To the man of literary tastes there are few things more depressing than the conversations of 'small-talk' which an exacting society occasionally demands. Who has not suffered from their enervating effects? We are not all possessed of that mental abstraction which La Fontaine succeeded in carrying with him throughout life, forming a buffer from which all idle talk rebounded. He was once asked to dinner by a 'fermier-général' to amuse the guests. Thoroughly bored, La Fontaine ate much and said little, and rising very early from the table said that he had to go to the Academy. 'Oh,' said his host, 'but you are much too early for it.' 'Oh well,' replied Jean, 'I shall go the longest way to it.' Poor Jean was really very absent-minded. He had a son whom he confided at the age of fourteen to a friend to educate. Not having seen the youth for a long time, he met him one day at the house of a savant without knowing him. Afterwards he happened to mention that he thought him a youth of wit and taste. Some one told him that the lad was his own son. 'Is he indeed,' said Jean, 'well I'm very glad to hear it.'

There is no end to the delightful hobbies that we may cultivate in a library. Here we may go fishing or whaling, fighting battles or exploring new countries, tracing pedigrees or going on crusade, cutting our way through virgin forests or[40] filling herbaceous borders in our mind, or we may even descend into the pyramid of Cheops.

Our book-hunter has a friend whose hobby takes the form of tracing the parentage and posterity of men who lived long years ago. They are mostly unknown to fame, and their names are only to be found in ancient peerages and suchlike books. Whether they were good or bad, religious or wicked, useful to their country or indifferent, handsome or ugly, is immaterial to him. In some cases they founded families that have endured, in others they perished with all their kindred within a century of the Norman Conquest. But to our genealogist they are very living people. He is intimately acquainted with the most of them, no less than with their wives and children, their fathers and grandfathers, their uncles and their aunts. As to the personal characteristics of Reginald Fitz-Ranulf lord of Bosham Castle in Com. Ebor, or his deeds or memorable actions (if, indeed, he ever perpetrated any) this student is unable to enlighten us. But that his wife was called Gunnora and that she was a daughter and co-heir of Richard de Tourville, he is quite positive. Apparently they had two sons, Fulk and Waleran, but our friend is strongly of opinion that Hamon FitzReginald (who had a moiety of the manor of Worthleys and was co-parcener with Payn FitzGeoffrey lord of Buncombe) was really a son of Reginald by a former wife.

The memory of this eager student is little short of marvellous. He can remember not only names and marriages, but at least several of the families which owned any manor that you like to mention. He would certainly have put to the blush Pierre d'Hozier, the great French genealogist whose memory was so wonderful that it was said he must surely have been present at all the marriages and baptisms in Christendom!

The library of this genealogist is a most interesting room. Many of the books necessary for his researches are of folio size and must be ready to hand; so they are ranged round the apartment at the level of one's waist. On entering the[41] room one is struck by this belt of massive volumes, the more so when their owner takes them up casually and turns to page after page without ever troubling to refer to the index.

An evening spent with him is quite exciting. He asks the book-hunter's assistance over a knotty point. Several huge sheets of paper are laid upon the table, and each step in the pedigree is debated graphically. Volume after volume is referred to. At the slightest hitch out come Patent Rolls, Close Rolls, Fine Rolls, Pipe Rolls, and records of almost every description. Presently the room has the appearance of having been struck by a tornado. Volumes are lying about everywhere, and in every conceivable position. The floor is covered with them, all the chairs are in use, three Patent Rolls are lying open and face downwards on the mantelpiece, there are several on the hearthrug. In fact it is now impossible to move. Yet our host, accustomed to these things, in his search for a volume jumps from spot to spot with the agility of an antelope. The book-shelves are half-emptied, some of the remaining volumes have fallen down. My coffee cup lies on a pile composed of Rotuli Hundredorum, a Placita Abbreviatio, and a Testa de Nevil. But it is good fun, if exhausting, and a sovereign cure for insomnia. Our book-hunter usually leaves him about one o'clock in the morning, and the genealogist is genuinely sorry when he goes.

But to tell the truth our bookman is not a bit the wiser as to Reginald FitzRanulf!

One day friend Brown (for so he is called) came to see the book-hunter in great distress. He had but lately become a parent, and was still slightly excited about it.

''Pon my word,' said he, 'I don't know what to do. You know how proud I am of my family, and how I hoped all along that it would be a boy so that I could give it the name that generations of my ancestors possessed. And now Mary says she won't hear of it.'

The bookman sympathised with him, but asked what was the proposed name.

[42] 'Turchetil,' said he; 'they were all called that for generations. But of course the name wasn't Brown then, Le Brun was the family name in the twelfth century.'

'A fine lofty name,' replied his friend, 'but wouldn't Turchetil Brown sound rather funny nowadays?'

'I don't see why,' said he stiffly; 'they're both good old names.'

The bookman assented, though inwardly he could not but agree with Mrs. Brown. Turchetil Le Brun was one thing, and Turchetil Brown quite another. Perhaps, however, a compromise might be reached.

'Is there no other ancient name in your family that would do?' he suggested.

'Yes,' said the genealogist, 'there are two others, but not so good as Turchetil. They are Baldric and Bigod . . .'

Truly the study of genealogy has its disadvantages. There must have been great bitterness in the Brown household before its mistress obtained her own way, and even more in the heart of our poor friend as he stood at the font and heard his firstborn son irrevocably named—George.

Another friend and brother collector with whom our book-hunter sometimes passes an evening is a medical man of no small talent. But attached as he is to his profession, archæology is for ever striving with medicine for the first place in his affections, and his knowledge of herbals and the literature of alchemy is immense. His collection of works dealing with these subjects is well known to the booksellers, and the book-hunter sometimes receives a line from him asking him to pay a visit for the purpose of examining some recently acquired treasure.

Of late his hobby has taken a curious turn. A chance conversation induced him to inquire into the death of Queen Anne. He professed to discover, in the accounts of her demise, certain symptoms which indicated a different disease from that usually assigned to her. So now he must needs hold an inquest upon the death of each one of our sovereigns,[43] from the time of King William the Conqueror. He is exceedingly enthusiastic about it, and is preparing a paper to read before the local antiquarian society. In this he hopes to prove conclusively the impossibility of lampreys having had any share in the death of Henry the First, which was clearly due to appendicitis.

Sometimes when the book-hunter visited his medical friend he would find another collector there already, deep in bookish or scientific talk. Like the doctor, the biologist was a specialist in books no less than in science, and his hobby comprised a field till recent times untilled. Keen though he was in his pursuit, it was the sea that claimed his every day of leisure. An active mind, eager in the elucidation of the more abstruse problems of physiology, yet his alert bearing, his quickness of movement and springy step, spoke more of the quarterdeck than the laboratory. Denied the sea as a profession, his heart was for ever in ships; and when at length preferment took him inland to one of the ancient seats of learning, the ordered training of his mind turned his hobby towards the history and evolution of all craft that sail upon the waters.

He is a great authority upon all matters pertaining to the rigging of mediæval ships. The history of their hulls he leaves to the attention of the important societies of nautical research. But on the evolution of the sky-topsail or fore-top-gallant-backstays his word carries much weight. He will travel a hundred miles in a week-end to see an illumination or carving of a ship, and his vacations he spends touring France and Flanders in search of stained glass windows that may throw some light upon his hobby. His collection of seals incised with ancient ships is a fine one, and the proceedings of more than one society are the richer for his researches.

Not long ago I came across another example of the manifold uses to which a private library can be put. A friend had given me a letter of introduction to a collector with whom he[44] desired me to become acquainted. I was given to understand that the fellow-spirit was an exceedingly well-read man, and something of a wanderer.

'He's a great traveller,' said my friend with a laugh, 'there's hardly a country in the world that he has not visited.'

'What an interesting man he must be,' I replied, 'but why do you laugh?'

'Oh, you'll see all right presently,' said he; 'but go and spend an evening with him; you will certainly be entertained—provided you are sympathetic and content to let him do all the talking.'

So a few days later I called at the house of the traveller. He welcomed me in his study, a fine large room yet possessed of that cosiness imparted by the presence of many books. The walls were entirely covered with bookcases to a height of about eight feet; and these contained, he told me, about three thousand volumes. At the end of this long room was a wide bay window, and here was placed a comfortable easy chair with twin oak tables, very strong and low, at either arm. Close at hand were a revolving bookcase and a stand containing five or six japanned cylinders about three feet long, and some six inches across, such as are used to contain nautical charts.

'You are fond of travel, are you not?' I remarked, as soon as I was settled. 'Jones told me that there are few countries with which you are unacquainted.'

'That is so,' he replied; 'travel has always been my passion from my youth up, and of all the volumes which you see around you, there are scarcely a hundred that do not treat of some foreign country or voyage.'

'How interesting,' I replied; 'it is a wise old dictum that there is nothing like travel to broaden one's mind. Unless we acquaint ourselves with the opinions held by men of other nations, men whose everyday life differs so widely from our own, who see things consequently from a different standpoint, how can we expect to regard any subject from all its various[45] aspects, which is essential if we are to pronounce an opinion which——'

'Quite so,' he interrupted, eyeing me suspiciously, and obviously fearing from my verbiage that he was about to be beset by a bore. (To tell the truth, I was rather glad of his interruption, for the sentence was beginning to get out of hand.) 'As you say, there's nothing like travel to broaden the mind. Why,' he went on hurriedly, 'before I was eighteen I had been up Aconcagua with Conway.'

'Really?' I said, trying to associate the two with a country and a date. (Of course I knew where Aconcagua was—it was one of the most familiar names in my geography, only for the moment memory was a little refractory. Obviously it was a mountain, because he spoke of having been 'up' it. The name had a Spanish ending—of course! now I knew.) 'A wonderful country, Mexico,' I went on.

'Mexico?' said he; 'yes, I know Mexico too. Been right through it, from Chihuahua to Tehuentepec and Campeachy.' (This was unfortunate, but apparently he didn't notice the mistake, for he went on at once.) 'But as I was saying, I'd been up Aconcagua before I left school.'

'Good gracious,' I replied, amazed at his intrepidity, 'that must have been an experience!'

'Rather,' said he: 'Haven't you read Conway's book? Published in '02, I think.' He strode across the room and brought back a volume. 'Yes, 1902: capital book; well worth reading. But Mexico,' he continued, without giving me time to display the knowledge that I suddenly recollected as I turned the pages of the book, 'Ah! there's a country for you! How I enjoyed my first visit! Ever been there?'

'Alas! no,' I replied; 'but one of my fondest dreams has been to visit the ancient cities of the new world.' (I thought that was rather nicely put.)

'Charnay,' he said; 'you know Charnay, then? It was he who took me there first. Early 'eighties, I think.' He pulled out another volume and turned to the title-page. 'Here we[46] are, "The Ancient Cities of the New World," '87. My copy is only the translation, published two years after the original appeared.'

This puzzled me rather. If he had been eighteen in 1902, he must have been a mere babe in 1885.

'Rather young, were you not, when you were there?' I ventured.

'Young? Why?' he replied.

'Oh, only because you said that you were eighteen when you ascended Aconcagua in 1902, so I thought that you must have been rather young when you were in Mexico in 1885.'

He stood still and stared at me, a puzzled look on his face.

'Good gracious,' he said, 'didn't Jones tell you? Didn't he explain to you about me and my travels?'

'Oh yes,' I hastened to reassure him, fearful that I had given offence; 'he told me that you were a widely-travelled man; and, if you will permit me to say so, I think he understated——'

'Yes, yes,' he went on, 'but didn't he tell you how I travelled? Didn't he tell you that I had never been out of Europe? This is my world,' he continued, waving his arm round the bookcases; 'here are my Americas, my Africa, my Asia, my Europe, and my Australia. There (pointing to a case by the window) is my West Indies, here (indicating another one) is my Polynesia, there my Arctic and Antarctic. Here (patting the back of the big easy chair) is my steamboat, my mule, and my camel. No weather can delay me, no storm prevent my setting out. Though it snow a blizzard, still can I cross the very summits of the Andes: be there a year-old drought, still may I journey from Sydney to Port Darwin overland.'

I could only marvel at the man. No world-wide traveller could have been prouder or have found greater satisfaction in the contemplation of his travels. And a further conversation assured me that, assisted by a good memory, he knew more, far more, of the countries about which he had read so many[47] books than did ninety-nine out of a hundred of the tourists who had actually visited those lands.

'Don't think,' he said, 'that I merely pass my time reading promiscuously all manner of books of travel. I do nothing of the sort. At the beginning of each year I map out the countries I intend to visit during that year. So much time is allotted to each, according to the size of the country and that of its travel literature. Then I compile a list of the books that I intend to read, and the order in which they should be read. I have a fine collection of maps, and those tin cylinders over there contain charts, by means of which I am enabled to follow more accurately and minutely the different journeys and voyages that I make.

'Let me give you an example.' Here he took a thin octavo book from one of the cases. 'This is Commodore John Byron's narrative of the loss of H.M.S. Wager, one of Anson's squadron, on the coast of Chili, in 1740. It was published in 1768, and is, in my opinion, one of the most thrilling tales of shipwreck and suffering that has ever been written. I dare say you remember Campbell's beautiful lines in "The Pleasures of Hope"; they are pencilled on the fly-leaf of my copy:—

'"And such thy strength-inspiring aid that bore
The hardy Byron to his native shore—
In horrid climes, where Chiloe's tempests sweep
Tumultuous murmurs o'er the troubled deep,
'Twas his to mourn misfortune's rudest shock,
Scourg'd by the winds, and cradled on the rock,
To wake each joyless morn and search again
The famish'd haunts of solitary men."

'There is no map in the volume, much less a chart, to show where the ship struck, though we are told that the land was "on the larboard beam, bearing n.w.," and that they landed "in the latitude of between 47 and 48° South." But without charts and maps how can one possibly follow the journey of the four poor sufferers along the coast on that terrible march from Mount Misery (as they named the inhospitable promontory where they landed) to civilisation on the island of Chiloe? With my maps I can follow their every footstep,[48] with my chart I may visit each inlet that their frail canoe entered. Nor need I refer to these aids whenever I may turn to the volume again, for here (he unfolded a beautifully drawn map bound at the end of the volume) I have copied a chart which shows with a red line the whole of their terrible journey. I have done this with several of the older works on travel which I possess, books that were published without maps.'

To me at least it was a new aspect of book-collecting, and an interesting one. But I confess to having been impressed more by its originality and the patient perseverance of its devotee than by the knowledge which it had enabled him to accumulate. His was a vast knowledge, yet limited; for it was confined almost entirely to the topography and early exploration of the countries which he studied, together with such sociology as he would glean midst travellers' accounts of adventures and sport. Development, resources, industry, had little place in it. He was thoroughly conversant with the early history of Australia, could recite the names of all the early pioneers, and could plot Burke's expedition or Phillip's voyage to Botany Bay. But of Melbourne or Sydney to-day, their size, commerce, exports, the principal industries or railways, of these he knew nothing. On the other hand, with those countries which have come less quickly under the hand of civilisation, such as New Guinea or West Africa, he was well acquainted. He had followed the history of this last down to fairly modern times, knew the story of every settlement from Bathurst to the Bight and to Benguela, with their principal exports; and could talk interestedly with any dweller on 'the Coast.'

He is still comparatively a young man. If ever he sets out to see the world for himself, his pleasures will far exceed those of the ordinary tourist. Wherever he may go, he will need no guide-book to instruct him, in history at least. And he will visit out-of-the-way spots unnoticed by these authorities, but dear to him by reason of their mention in the pages of his fireside Mentors, their association with some thrilling though[49] unimportant event of which he has read. Harbours, villages, buildings, will be familiar to him through some old print or coloured engraving; and he will eagerly compare the actual appearance with the mental picture he has borne for so long. Disappointment sometimes there will be, but a delightful anticipation always.

I hope, however, that I shall never be his travelling companion!

And here I cannot forbear to mention one other book-collecting acquaintance. A bosom friend of the genealogist, he was at one time a fellow-worker, and they would sit closeted for hours debating the parentage of Henry ap John. But he lacked that determination which prevented his friend from being constantly side-tracked, and the minutiæ of history had a fatal attraction for him. As to whether Hugo de Beauchamp of Com. Wigorn. (which was their pleasant way of saying that he lived in Worcestershire) held his manor by serjeanty of the condimentum was of small moment to him compared with the price which King Edward paid him for a couple of goshawks or a greyhound; and he wondered of what sort was the tun of wine which he had from that sovereign as a Christmas present. And so his book-buying became more and more confined, for it was restricted now to those curious and uncommon works which treat of the byways of history; such as the Accounts of the Wardrobe and Hanaper, the reports of the lords marchers of the realm, books on feudal customs and offices, and the like.

During the great war our friend busied himself with His Majesty's ordnance. Hitherto he had always associated the term with cast-iron cannon, and had vague recollections of the number of 'ordnance' carried by the Great Harry or fired from the Tower of London during Sir Thomas Wyatt's insurrection. But even when these dreams were dispelled, his thoughts still harped on mediæval equipment and harness while checking cases of boots or mess-tins; and he wondered how such things were managed before the days of railways.[50] Released at length from this employ, his interest increased with leisure to pursue his investigations.

His passion now is the method in which the ancient campaigns of this country were conducted. He is quite an authority upon mediæval transport, by sea as well as by land, and he can tell you at once the quantities of bowstrings and quarrels 'indented for' during the Crécy and Poictiers campaigns. Not long ago, poring over an ancient roll of parchment in the Record Office, he came across a list of the ships requisitioned for the Agincourt expedition, with their names, ports, and tonnage, inscribed on the back of one of the membranes. Great was his delight, and it will be some time before his friends will be allowed to forget this important discovery.

How valuable are these researches of our book-collecting friends! Do they not add a zest to those delightful evenings when, with curtains drawn and blazing fire, our favourite pipe aglow, a tall glass at our elbow, we hunt our treasures o'er again in comfort, roaming the bookstalls of our fancy? It is well, however, that our humours in book-lore are not all alike, else how tedious would some of these conferences become. Elation and jealousy would be hard to banish at times when we held some coveted volume in our hands. But with divergence of tastes such feelings cannot exist, and we eagerly share our friends' enthusiasm in their treasures and their delight in some newly-found gem.

It is a very serious business, this book-collecting. Whether we are contented now to let our library be slow of growth, or whether we are still imbued with the ardour of our early youth, we are none the less under the spell of books. Our paths may lie outside the pale of book-land for years, but the chance handling of a valuable or scarce volume will instantly awaken all our bibliophilic desires. Book-collecting is not like other pursuits. In after years we may realise that many of our hobbies are but vanities, but the love of good books is something far beyond all these ephemeral pursuits.

[51] Doubtless few of us realised at the outset of our careers as book collectors how completely we should be mastered by this love of books. Who did not think that it comprised but occasional visits to the book-shops and bookstalls, perhaps even to an auction-room, and the reading of nondescript catalogues? But it is like all other hobbies: ridden at first with too little restraint, it soon gets the upper hand, and off it goes, bit between teeth, carrying its rider ever farther and farther afield. And no man of spirit would think of seeking to curb his hobby's gallop. We have mounted of our own free will, determined to pursue the chase, and never shall it be said that we were too timid to face the difficulties of the country ahead. The greater the difficulties the greater the sport, and in our enthusiasm we are determined to overcome all obstacles. So that, though our hobby may at length become our master, so enthralled are we in the pursuit that there is little danger of it assuming the semblance of a nightmare.

The farther we go, the wider the fields which open to our view, and there is interest for us in all of them. We roam at our pleasure over vast fields of literature, digressing here and there just as our fancy takes us. There is no danger, moreover, in being side-tracked, for such divagations in the realms of bibliography as we may make will serve but to increase our knowledge of books in the right direction. The only risk that we shall incur is that of becoming specialists, which is precisely what we should most desire.

And how delightful are these digressions in the world of books! There is no other occupation in which one may wander so innocuously. In most of the learned professions digressions are fatal to success. Anthony Despeisses was a lawyer who used frequently to digress. Beginning one day in Court to talk of Ethiopia, an attorney who sat behind him remarked 'Heavens! He is got into Ethiopia, he will never come back.' Despeisses, we are told, was so abashed with the ridicule that he chose rather to leave off pleading than to[52] correct himself of this unfortunate habit, and quitted the Bar for ever. Doubtless he found solace among his books, for here at least he could digress to his heart's content.

Although, from a worldly point of view, side-tracks are fatal to success, yet they are as necessary a part of our literary education as is the application to study itself. Without digressing as we applied ourselves to books, narrow indeed would be the views that we acquired. Of what value is a vast acquaintance with the material details of a war, if we are ignorant as to the causes which brought it about, or the reasons why the nations were warring? 'Ah yes,' perhaps you may exclaim, 'but politics and history are all one, for the former creates the latter.' Precisely: so that in order to obtain a knowledge of the one, we must deviate to the other. Sharon Turner in his 'History of England during the Middle Ages' passes abruptly from the death of King Henry the Second to the military spirit of Mohammedanism, from the Troubadours to the early dissipations of King John, and devotes two of his five volumes to the Literature of England with copious examples of early poetry. It is all history, yet how indispensable are the side-tracks.

It is a subtle art, however, this knowledge of how and when to digress, and not easy to be learnt. Gerard de St. Amand died of grief in his middle age because Louis xiv. could not bear his reading of a poem on the Moon, in which he praised the King for his skill in swimming. On the other hand Madame de Staël obtained almost all the material for her literary work by a consummate skill in directing the digressions of conversation. Upon whatever subject her pen was engaged, that was the theme to which she led all talk.

Sir Thomas Browne's famous letter 'To a friend upon occasion of the death of his intimate friend' is a masterpiece of the art of digressing. Surely it is one of the quaintest letters of condolence ever written, if indeed it were ever intended to be such, for it has that stamp of careful literary composition which is usually so apparent in all[53] letters written with a view to publication. The friend in question died of a consumption, and Sir Thomas recapitulates his disease, symptoms and death; contrasting each feature with the celebrated examples of history; moralising and discussing the opinions of the ancients upon these points as he goes along; and showing by his own experience that a man 'after a cough of almost fifty years, in whom all the lobes adhered unto the Pleura,' might yet die of stone in the bladder. Doubtless the friend to whom the letter was indited was highly edified by the aged doctor's learning, yet one cannot conceive that he would be greatly consoled by being informed, when discussing the patient's cough, that 'in cetaceous Fishes, who have large and strong lungs, the same is not observed; nor yet in oviparous Quadrupeds.' Digressing in this manner is a risky business, and if the grief were still fresh, it is more than likely that the bereaved one would exclaim 'A fig for your fishes, Sir.' But Sir Thomas was a wise and worldly man, and would know from experience precisely when to administer his soothing draught.

The attractions of digressing are far more insidious than would appear at first sight. It is so easy, one finds such delightful things, it is all in the daily task of gathering knowledge, it may be useful to us some day, and so on. But, unwisely employed, it is a more terrible thief of time even than Young's 'procrastination.' Worse still, it is a waster; for the scrappy knowledge so often acquired by this means becomes invariably the 'little learning' which is so dangerous—and useless—a thing. So that unless we are strongly imbued with the spirit of scholarly research, determined that we will not deviate one iota from the particular side-track which we are exploring, we are in grave danger of becoming lost in the maze of paths. Digressions in conversation and books can be of immense value, but he must be a man of iron will who can utilise to permanent advantage his resources in this direction. Constant and purposeless digressions, in reading no less than in talk, are just as injurious as interrup[54]tions. The mind is switched from one subject to another, and an entire sequence of reasoning which we may have been building up by the study of some days is destroyed in a few moments by the opening up of an unexplored tract of thought.

For many years there was a learned man at work in one of our ancient abbey libraries, cataloguing the manuscripts and monastic charters of the ancient foundation. Their number runs into many thousands, and at the outset the Keeper[17] realised that if this task of providing an index and précis of the entire collection (which would be of incalculable value to the historical students who came after him) were to be accomplished in his lifetime, it would be necessary to adhere rigidly to his plan. Any deviation, however slight, would mean the loss of valuable time. To the historian and antiquary such a determination must have cost more than we can imagine; for every now and again he came across some charter of great historical interest. 'Ah,' he would sigh, reading it through, 'and now I suppose you must go back again into the obscurity in which you have lain for eight hundred years.' He quietly made his précis, indexed the document, and replaced it in the oaken press. There, thanks to his labours, it will be turned to at some future date to add laurels to the 'researches' of another man.

Perhaps the most innocuous way in which we may digress is by compiling one of those delectable literary hotch-potches known as 'commonplace books.' Here, with careful selection, we may garner those delightful thoughts, those gay conceits or[55] pithy stories, that strike our fancy as we read. And though perhaps it may be urged that such collections resemble a casket of loose jewels plucked from their settings, yet they are jewels none the less. We may store all our collections within one cover, or we may preserve separately our extracts from the poets, our biographies, our meditations, or our anecdotes.

The first 'commonplacer' of whom I have seen mention was one Photius, a colonel in the Life Guards at Constantinople during the ninth century, or—as he was then called—Protospatharius. Later he became ambassador to the court of Baghdad, and amused himself by compiling a volume which he called Myriobiblon, a collection of extracts of the authors which he had read. He was a man, we are told, of extraordinary vigour of mind, and of encyclopædical knowledge, and he was so devoted to reading that he passed whole nights without sleep. Accordingly we are not surprised to find that the Myriobiblon, with its Latin translation, forms a folio volume of some 1500 pages. When on an embassy to Assyria, he carried his library—some 300 rolls—with him, presumably on camels. Thus, we suppose, he could bestride his dramatic camel, his poetic camel, or his theological camel as the mood took him. The Myriobiblon was compiled merely as a handbook for his brother Tarasius, that the latter might enjoy a brief synopsis of what the ambassador read on his travels. Several authors are now known only by the extracts in this book; and among them may be mentioned a writer named Conon, who is said to have written fifty novels, which Photius condensed to his liking. All this, of course, was merely pour passer le temps; the really important works of this bookworm being a lexicon and a number of books on theology. Needless to say in due course he became Patriarch of Constantinople.

Who nowadays keeps a commonplace book? Doubtless a good many readers of to-day have neither time nor inclination to indulge this pleasing fashion, at one time so popular; but[56] to anyone whose delight is the reading of good books as opposed to modern novels, there can be no more interesting amusement.

It can be a risky thing, however, this commonplacing, and he would be a bold man who dared to assign unto any one writer a popular phrase for no other reason than that this one has first expressed it in writing. There is no new thing under the sun, and by continued expression a familiar maxim becomes at last a proverb. Ask at a dinner-table who first wrote 'God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb.' The knowing ones will puzzle their brains in silence; some lady with religious tendencies will claim it for the Holy Writ, inclining towards Isaiah; but the quiet bookish man at the end of the table will smile in a superior way, and offer to wager that he can name the author. You may safely accept his bet, for it is a hundred pounds to a penny that he will proclaim Laurence Sterne to have written it—he may even quote the context. Granted that Sterne did write it, but Sterne was a widely-read man and a plagiarist of no mean ability. So you may ask the bookish man how he doth account for this saying occurring in that quaint collection of 'Outlandish Proverbs' entitled 'Jacula Prudentum,' by Master George Herbert, compiled from ancient sources full a hundred years before the birth of the 'Sentimental Journey.'[18]

Sometimes in ancient literature one comes across an expression which is in the vocabulary of everybody to-day, and one realises how very ancient some of these popular aphorisms must be. 'It is not alle golde that glareth,' wrote Chaucer, and the same theme was sung in Provençal by Amanieu des Escas near a hundred years before. But, like 'A bird in the hand,' it is so applicable to the failings to[57] which mankind is prone, that its origin must surely have been far beyond even the classics of the old world, back in the dim ages of man's history. Common also to all nations must some at least of these primitive sayings be, for there is a primæval simplicity about them that knows nothing of race or civilisation. 'A soft answer turns away wrath,' 'Pride goes before a fall,' 'Spare the rod and spoil the child,' are not all these and many others, collected by King Solomon from the wisdom of the East, as applicable to our everyday life in this age as they have ever been in the whole history of mankind?[19] Enough of moralising, however; or else, convinced of the futility of attempting to assign originality to any man, you will come to agree with the young lady of fifteen who, priding herself on the possession of a literary flair, once remarked to the writer: 'In fact there is little doubt that Junius never wrote the letters attributed to him at all!'


[14] Usually the precentor was also archivist and librarian.

[15] In one monastery, however, they were allowed to speak 'passing soft.' We know that 'passing soft!'

[16] 'Nunquam minus solus quam cum solus.' Alfonso d'Este (born 1476) had it carved on the mantelpiece of his study at Belvedere.

[17] Dr. E. J. L. Scott of Westminster Abbey, sometime Egerton Librarian of the British Museum. He calendared no less than 57,000 documents at the Abbey, but alas! a long life was insufficient to enable him to complete his task. The whole working portion of his latter years was spent in the muniment room, and it was there that he was seized with the illness which ended his life the same day (1918). The work which he accomplished (now being ably continued, on the lines which he laid down, by his successor, the present Custodian of the Abbey) has been utilized by scholars from universities all over the world. However busily employed, he was always ready instantly to lay aside his work in order to assist a student over some difficult point, whether of history or palæography.

[18] Edition of 1651, 12mo, page 52. 'To a close shorne sheep, God gives wind by measure.' First printed in Witts Recreations, 1640. Sterne might have reflected that it is not usually the custom to shear lambs.

Since the above was written, a correspondent has brought to the writer's notice a sixteenth century French version:—Au brébis tondue, dieu donne le vent par mesure.

[19] It is curious to note how some of these famous sayings have been wrongly assigned. A recently published Dictionary of Quotations, assigns Scipio's famous dictum, 'A man is never less alone than when he is alone,' to Swift—a slight error of some nineteen centuries. W. C. Hazlitt in his Book-Collector makes an even more delightful howler, tracing the well-known verse in Ecclesiastes (xii. 12): 'Of making many books there is no end . . .' etc., 'back at least to the reign of Elizabeth' (sic), assigning it to a preacher at Paul's Cross in 1594.






'He that walketh with wise men shall be wise.'—
Proverbs xiii. 20.



t is one of the tragedies of the book-collector's life that he is made aware continually of the deficiencies of his collection. Every bookseller's catalogue that he takes up reveals these lacunæ; and even after many years of diligent book-hunting, when he can look upon his library with no small pride and has come to regard it as being more or less complete (for his own purposes, that is), some intimate friend to whom he is displaying his treasures will ask to see some well-known book, and he will be obliged to confess that he does not possess a copy. The reason probably is either that he has collected books upon no definite system, or that he has lost sight of the many works which his library should contain, through having confined himself too rigidly to specialism.

Both practices are bad, though the former is infinitely the worse. To collect books indiscriminately tends to develop the dread bibliomania. To specialise in a particular class of books should be the object of every collector; but to adhere so rigidly to that one class of literature as to exclude from our library the great books of the world, is to deprive ourselves[59] of all the advantages which a library can offer. 'There are some books, as Homer, Virgil, Horace, Milton, Shakespeare, and Scott, which every man should read who has the opportunity; should read, mark, learn and inwardly digest. To neglect the opportunity of becoming familiar with them, is deliberately to sacrifice the position in the social scale which an ordinary education enables its possessor to reach.'[20] What a number of famous names one can add, without which no library worthy the name can be complete! We are not all such sages as that great man Philip Melanchthon, whose library is said to have consisted of four authors only, namely, Plato, Pliny, Plutarch, and Ptolemy the geographer. But then, these are whole libraries in themselves.

Who, beside ourselves, shall decide what we shall read? 'A man's reading, to be of any value,' wrote Professor Blackie, 'must depend upon his power of association; and that again depends upon his tendencies, his capacities, his surroundings, and his opportunities.' But there are some authors whom the world has decided are great, whom we cannot possibly afford to neglect in the course of our literary education. There can be no doubt as to our decision here; and although it has been said truly that 'a lifetime will hardly suffice to know, as they ought to be known, these great masterpieces of man's genius,'[21] yet these great classics should form the nucleus of our library, and to them we may add the other famous and approved books of the world as opportunities occur.

It is not without diffidence that I venture to approach this important question as to what we should read. Perhaps there is nothing more irritating to the real book-lover than to be told, usually by some well-meaning person, that he or she should read this or that. In nine cases out of ten the book or author recommended is one that we can safely afford to neglect. It is one of the commonest of human failings to imagine that a book which pleases us must necessarily please[60] all others too, and we recommend it blindly to the first friend we come across, regardless of age, disposition, intellectual capacity, opportunity, surroundings, or even sex. It never even occurs to us to consider these matters, these vital qualities upon which the whole question of like or dislike depends.

'To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven'; and again, 'A wise man's heart discerneth both time and judgment,' wrote the Preacher of Judah. Yet mindful though we be of these ancient words of wisdom, how rarely do we apply them to our everyday reading! If we be in the mood for reading we pick up any book at random; if it please us at the moment, we continue to read it. If it be distasteful to us, we put it aside immediately. Possibly we recollect, next time that our eyes light upon a volume so discarded, that it was once displeasing, and we never take it up again. So, it may be urged, our mind exercises the power of selection for us: we can only absorb at any given time the class of literary food for which our mind then happens to be hungry.

But the truth is far otherwise. If we take up and read a book at random, in nine cases out of ten we continue to read it simply because it entails no mental effort. We do not have to think of what we are reading; our eyes gallop over sentence after sentence, and so long as the language is colloquial and the facts are bald, all is well, and we can go on and on. It is not only the body that, unchecked, is inclined to be slothful. Unless we have as complete a control over our minds as we have over our limbs, it is quite impossible that our reading shall benefit us to its full extent.

There is another point of view also. 'Every book that we take up without a purpose is an opportunity lost of taking up a book with a purpose.'[22] And this does not mean that we should always be reading 'improving' books, that we must never read for recreation alone; for, I repeat, 'there[61] is a time to every purpose under heaven.' But it does insist most emphatically that there should be a rhyme and a reason for reading any book at any time. There is a time for work and a time for play in reading no less than in the daily cycle of our lives. As to what shall constitute recreative reading, that is a matter which every man must decide for himself. I will venture to prophesy, however, that, by judicious selection and thoughtful reading, there will come a time when he will consider the reading of the great books to constitute the finest mental recreation in the world.

To return, however, to the great writers, those giants of whom we have said that it behoves us all to know something at least. Must we read them all? Let us leave 'must' out of the question; for our lifetime, however long it may be, will be scarcely sufficient to know and appreciate to the full these great masters of human thought. Yet at least it can be our aim ever to feed our minds only upon food of the finest quality and of a permanent nutritive value. But alas! How terribly limited are our capacities both as regards time and opportunity! How narrow the bounds which confine our reading abilities! Though a list of the great writers contain all the constituents of an Epicurean feast, yet to most of us it resembles the menu of a Gargantuan banquet.

As to the classics of the old world, surely, it may be urged, in such an essentially practical age we can afford to neglect books so hopelessly out of date? Yet there can be no greater mistake than to imagine that the wisdom of the old world can ever be out of date, for it is the wisdom that has created the civilisation of the newer world. Countless generations of men may pass away and be utterly forgotten, but the principles of morality inherent in man's nature will endure for ever. And it is these great principles of all that is good and noble in our nature that is brought out and developed insensibly by the study of the classics in our youth. Moreover they are books that have been accepted by all the nations of Europe as containing the bases of human thought. Something at[62] least we should all know of these great writers common to all civilised nations.

To most of us, however, there is an insurmountable barrier surrounding them, the matter of language. The knowledge of Greek and Latin that we acquired at school has become painfully rusty. Is it worth while slogging away laboriously with grammar and dictionary at the expense of valuable time which might otherwise be devoted to the more modern classics in our own tongue? Candidly, it is not. If we have retained sufficient of our Greek and Latin to read it at sight with but an occasional reference to the dictionary well and good; but otherwise it is a painful waste of time. Hamerton recommends that we read the ancients with the help of literal translations beside the original, in which way, he says, we 'may attain a closer acquaintance with ancient literature than would be possible by translation alone.' But to many, an English version must be the only door by which they may enter Attica and Rome.

After all, it is for each one of us to decide how widely our time and opportunities shall permit us to wander on the slopes of Mount Parnassus. 'The best time-savers are the love of soundness in all we learn to do, and a cheerful acceptance of inevitable limitations.'[23] Yet it is better to have wandered on the lowermost slopes of the mountain than never to have entered ancient Greece at all.

Who nowadays, outside the universities, reads these ancient classics? Where will you find a business man of thirty years of age whose delight in his leisure time is the reading of Horace or Homer? Here and there, perhaps, you may come across a man of classical education who still retains the love of ancient Greece and Rome, instilled into him in his youth, sufficiently to influence the course of his reading; but he is a rarity indeed. Among the many thousands of young men employed in business in the great cities, most of whom have[63] learnt something at least of the classics in their youth, scarcely will you find one who will confess to having time for such literature. Yet all these thousands read many books each year, and can always find time to devour the latest popular novel.

It is chiefly a question of recreation versus education. Tired and jaded with the day's business, the young man of to-day has little inclination to devote his leisure time to study. Light frothy literature removes his thoughts from worldly cares, and by a complete change of subject stimulates a mind that has been enervated by concentration for hours on one particular theme. No effort is required, and, more important still, it does not make one think.

For daily reading in the train or over meals, with this purpose always in view, so far so good. But what of the many hours of leisure in every man's life, when no mental recreation is needed? What does the average man read then? It must be confessed that in nine cases out of ten his literature remains precisely the same. Doubtless the reason is simply because, having always been accustomed to reading the same kind of books, he knows no other sort. Mention Shakespeare, Milton, Shelley, and he stares at you aghast. 'Good gracious,' he exclaims, 'I'm not going to read stuff like that; I should get the hump for a week; give me something cheerful.' And he picks up 'The Bauble,' by Mrs. Risquet Trashe.

And he is quite right. To anyone whose literature has consisted for years of nothing but novels of the circulating library type, a sudden application to the great writers would indeed be depressing. Is it necessary, however, or indeed wise, that any man's mental pabulum should consist entirely of novels? Nothing is further from my mind than to decry the taste for novel-reading; for, wisely employed, novels can become one of the joys of life. One can but agree with Miss Austen when she inveighs, in 'Northanger Abbey,' against those who belittle the productions of the novelist. But would she have been so emphatic had she lived to witness[64] the printing-presses spouting forth that frothy flood which effervesces round the more serious writings of to-day? Would that every novel we take up had the delightful 'genius, wit, and taste' of Jane Austen to recommend it. How few and far between are the really good novels that we read!

There can be no finer recreation for a tired mind than a good novel. There is, however, one habit of reading which has become almost a social evil; and that is the habit of reading newspapers which many indulge in, morning, noon, and night. It is difficult to imagine anything more calculated to destroy consecutive and considered thought than the enormous variety of inconsequential topics that assails one every time one opens a newspaper. The mind becomes completely fuddled with the heterogeneous patchwork of entirely useless information. The only method I have discovered by which one can acquire the important news and yet retain the serenity of one's mind is that of having such news only as she knows will be of use read out by one's wife at breakfast. And this does not mean that the mental discomforts of the newspaper are relegated to one's better-half, for women are usually interested in the smaller details of everyday life.

No wonder that a large number of 'city men' live out their lives without ever opening a book that is worth reading meditatively; for newspaper-reading in course of time must completely undermine one's mental stability. After a few years, a book that is not composed of headlines, short chapters, small paragraphs and ejaculatory sentences, is unreadable without mental effort. So that long before he is middle-aged the city man has acquired the habit of 'glancing at' a news-sheet or magazine whenever he has nothing to do for a few minutes: a kind of reading that is about as advantageous to the mind as that which we indulge in when fingering the antique periodicals in the dentist's waiting-room. In later years he may or he may not overcome the repugnance he has acquired to anything deep or 'solid' (by which he generally[65] means 'unparagraphed'): but I venture to think that, having once taken the plunge, there must be moments when he marvels at his foolishness in not having entered, years before, the City of the golden streets.

Perhaps it is unwise to use the word 'education' in speaking of the benefits to be derived from reading the great books, for to many people the term is synonymous with 'school,' where one is obliged frequently to do things against one's will. Good books, that is the books that 'live,' are no mere education, they are steps up the path of civilisation itself. They are just as necessary for the advancement of knowledge as are the letters and numerals which we learnt at school. The greatest books of the world do not teach us; they help us to teach ourselves, a very different matter. 'They are masters who instruct us without rod or ferule,' wrote an early book-lover[24]; 'if you approach them they are not asleep; if you inquire of them they do not withdraw themselves; they never chide when you make mistakes; they never laugh if you are ignorant.' And the books which would be available to him would be chiefly the works of the Early Fathers, professedly books of moral instruction. But the books of our library 'are so many faithful and serviceable friends, gently teaching us everything through their persuasive and wise experience.'[25]

And that is precisely the point. Good books do not instruct us so much as they persuade us; so that we come to be of the same mind as the great man who had deliberated and debated the matter so thoroughly for us. Perchance we disagree and take a different standpoint. Then can one almost see the spirit of the sage chuckling with delight at having found someone with whom to cross swords. 'I have made him think, I have made him think,' he repeats gleefully; and, sure of his point, he delights in having held our attention so intently as to cause us to debate the issue with ourselves.

[66] It were foolish, however, to suppose that all the great books of the world are at once suitable to every reader. Time, above all other considerations, decides what we shall read; and the book which makes its greatest impression upon one man at thirty will fail to appeal to his neighbour till he be fifty or more. 'A man loves the meat in his youth that he cannot endure in his age,' says Benedick, and the converse is equally true. What a mistaken notion it is that puts into the hands of boys such classics as 'The Pilgrim's Progress' and 'Don Quixote'; for they are books which a knowledge of the world and of human nature alone can enable us to appreciate to the full. Their very foundations are built upon the rock of experience, every page exhibits the thoughts and deeds of men. No wonder that nine boys out of ten grow up with a dislike of Bunyan and all his works, and a contempt for the adventures of the immortal Don. Generally, however, all recollection of Quixote, except that he had a rotten old horse and charged some windmills, has (mercifully) disappeared long before the reader has attained his eighteenth year.

In later life, perhaps, we take up these books again, and are surprised to find that they have completely changed. There is hardly an incident in them that we remember, and we marvel how such and such a glorious passage could possibly have escaped us before. Our book-hunter's experience must have been that of many others. Long after his school-days were ended he took up, for the first time, 'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.' How wistfully he thought of the enjoyment that would have been his when at school, had but some kind chance put into his hands this and similar books in which boys, and real human boys, played the principal parts, not strange outlandish men, the like of whom he had never met.

This unwise reading, this plunging, as it were, in medias res, is, I am inclined to think, the reason why to so many men the library of great authors is for ever locked. After a lengthy course of 'light' reading, they take up, all at once, some such work as 'Bacon's Essays' or the 'Paradise Lost,' determined[67] 'to give the classics a chance.' They wade conscientiously through a good many pages, and then retire beaten, simply because they have failed to recognise that in reading, as in every other business, profession, craft, or pursuit, practice makes perfect. Who is there, outside Olympus, that can master any of these at sight? It is only by a continuous and continual course of reading that one comes at length to appreciate these great masters. 'The proper appreciation of the great books of the world is the reward of lifelong study. You must work up to them, and unconsciously you will become trained to find great qualities in what the world has decided is great.'[26]

'That's all very well,' says the newspaper-reader, taking the word 'study' in its first dictionary sense; 'but I, for one, haven't got time—or inclination—for this lifelong application.' And yet, I reply, you have both time and inclination to apply yourself assiduously to newspapers, magazines, and suchlike reading. If you read at all, why not read good healthy stuff, which will be of permanent use to you in your journey through the world? Why devour garbage when rich meats are constantly about you? 'To stuff our minds with what is simply trivial, simply curious, or that which at best has but a low nutritive power, this is to close our minds to what is solid and enlarging and spiritually sustaining.'[27] Look at it which way you will, the man who purposely neglects the great books deliberately closes the channels of knowledge flowing to his brain, sentences himself to intellectual exile, bolts and bars in his own face the only door which can lead him into the society of the wisest and greatest men this world has known.

And what are the great books of the world? They are those which, from their native excellences, have been approved by generations of wise men as beneficial for mankind—not for their generation alone. Times change and manners with them, but countless centuries are powerless to effect the[68] slightest change in man's essence. Do not the characters in the oldest book in the world still live in our everyday life, and are not they possessed of the very thoughts and reasonings that are our portion to-day? Tastes may change vastly in even a short period, but it is only fashion, the constant craving for something new:—

'Manners with fortunes, humours turn with climes,
Tenets with books, and principles with times.'

But the books which by common consent have been assigned places in the library of the immortals can never be out of fashion: for they contain the essences of human nature.

How then shall we start to make acquaintance with these classics? With what books shall we begin, with what continue? These are questions which it is impossible to answer without a knowledge of those qualities so necessary in recommending books. But at least it is possible to indicate the general line to be followed. It would be foolish, for example, for the man whose reading hitherto has consisted entirely of the modern novels of a circulating library, to turn at once to the Paradise Lost, Bacon's Essays, or the poems of Wordsworth. He would probably acquire a distaste for good literature which might never be overcome.

It is like everything else that counts: we set the greatest store by those things that we have come by through difficulties. The longer the journey and the more beautiful the scenes we pass through, the greater our pleasure and subsequent recollection of it. Let us begin our systematic reading by turning at first to those books which we shall appreciate immediately. Have novels been our reading hitherto? Then let us turn at once to some of the greater novelists, both living and dead. Here the field is wide, and we may quickly find writers to our taste. Thus we shall gradually work up to some name or names in the list of the immortals. In the same way we shall approach, step by step, the essayists, the moralists, the dramatists and (lastly) the poets.

It cannot be emphasised too strongly that Time above all[69] other considerations decides what we shall read. Moreover, there are passages in many of the greatest writers that appeal to a man before he has really arrived at the time of their understanding. So that, reading some such passage (e.g. Addison's description of the Widows' Club in the 'Spectator') as this, and finding the remainder not to his taste, he concludes that he has discovered the kernel and that the rest can be cast aside. Practice alone makes perfect: macte nova virtute, puer, sic itur ad astra.

With regard to editions, it were needless to specify them; the great books of the world are reprinted and re-edited every few years. But our editions should be good ones. 'A good edition should be a complete edition, ungarbled and unabridged.'[28] Perchance you may prefer to have them, if it be possible, in the original editions? If so, you will be wise in your generation, but your purse will need to be a long one indeed.

Remember that the first edition is not necessarily the best. It may be, but in the great majority of cases it is not. In addition to the inevitable clerical mistakes and printer's errors which are almost always corrected in the second and subsequent editions, the author or editor frequently interpolates matter which the publication de ipso has brought to his notice by reviews or correspondence. This is notably the case in large and important works. 'Scott's Last Expedition,' published in two large octavo volumes in 1914, rapidly passed through five editions the same year, corrections being incorporated in each successive edition (thereby distinguishing them from mere 'impressions'); so that the fifth edition remains the best, being the most correct. On the other hand, in the second edition an author sometimes omits passages or makes drastic emendations from prudential reasons. Then it is that the first edition is to be sought for in preference to all others, for this alone contains the author's[70] true opinions on certain subjects. Such instances the book-lover gradually learns in his journey through the world of books.

But I repeat that, apart from this question of first or later issue, our editions should be good ones. Good editions are not merely luxuries. The better the type and paper, the greater our ease in reading, and—most important of all—the consequent safeguarding of our eyesight.

It is not only type and paper, however, that constitute a good edition. In addition to these requisites it must contain the recognised text complete, it must be in a seemly and convenient shape, neither extravagant nor blatant, and it must not contain a long list of errata. Of the many qualities that go to make up a good edition, after paper and print, these are perhaps the most important. But there is another immediate consideration: shall it have notes? And this raises such a momentous point that I almost hesitate to approach it. The answer must be qualified. Provided always that the edition has been superintended (I use the word advisedly) by a recognised scholar, and that the notes are few, short, and concise, it is well. But who has not suffered under the tedious and tiresome verbosity of editors? The writer possesses an edition of Pope in which page after page contains two lines of the poet and thirty-four lines of editor. Reed's Shakespeare (1813) frequently contains a solitary line of text with forty of notes. Fortunately, however, such things are now numbered with the past.

As to our editions of the Greek and Latin Classics, whether we can read them in the original tongue or whether we must have recourse to translations, we have already debated. But without wishing to discourage the book-lover in any possible way from making (or renewing, as the case may be) acquaintance with these great writers, it must be borne in mind that few indeed are the translations from any language that are wholly in the spirit of the original. In recommending the following translations of some of the greater world-classics,[71] literary and animate qualities have been had in view no less than scholarly translation.

Aeschylus and Sophocles have been admirably rendered in English verse by Mr. E. D. A. Morshead. Of the first, 'The House of Atreus' (being the 'Agamemnon,' 'Libation-Bearers,' and 'Furies') was first published by him in 1881, an octavo volume which was reprinted in 1890 and 1901. 'The Suppliant Maidens,' 'The Persians,' 'The Seven against Thebes,' and 'Prometheus Bound' were collected in one octavo volume in 1908. His version of Sophocles' 'Oedipus the King' was published in 1885, while the 'Ajax' and 'Electra' were printed in prose, 1895.

The Plays of Aristophanes are, perhaps, best known to English readers by Hookham Frere's excellent translations. His first volume, containing the 'Acharnians,' the 'Knights,' and the 'Birds,' was originally printed at Malta in 1839, in which year a similar quarto volume containing the 'Frogs' was also issued. But there are several later editions of both these volumes, and almost any bookseller can provide one. In addition to these plays, the 'Clouds' and the 'Wasps' were included in Thomas Mitchell's version first published in two octavo volumes dated 1820 and 1822. But we may have a complete set of the eleven plays which have come down to us, in Mr. B. B. Rogers' scholarly translation in verse. This beautiful edition in eleven small quarto volumes was published by Messrs. George Bell and Sons between 1902 and 1916, and has the Greek and English on opposite pages. For the plays of Euripides we must turn to the metrical versions of Professor Gilbert Murray, published by Mr. George Allen between 1905 and 1915. Perhaps it is not too much to say that this great scholar-poet has done more than any other to bring the Greeks of old before those to whom a classical education has been denied.

Needless to say, the translation into English of the immortal Homeric cycle has tempted many pens. Among the best known versions are those of Pope, Chapman, and[72] Cowper. But this matter has been so thoroughly debated by Mr. Frederic Harrison in his delightful volume 'The Choice of Books,' that I will refrain from poaching upon his preserve, and will content myself by remarking that the recommendations of this excellent judge are the 'Iliad' of Lord Derby and the 'Odyssey' of Philip Worsley. This last is a beautiful translation in the Spenserian stanza, of which a second edition appeared in 1868, in two octavo volumes. But if you are not already acquainted with Mr. Harrison's work you will do well to obtain it, and to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest all that he has to say therein upon 'The Poets of the Old World.'

With regard to the Latin classics, if we are unacquainted with the language there is greater difficulty; for it is next to impossible to render in English the light and vivacious lilt of the Italian poets. Our translations may be fine, scholarly, dignified and the rest of it, but they bear little semblance to the originals. Dryden's version of the 'Aeneid' may be read, not as a translation but as an epic in the English of a great poet; and to those who are masters of sufficient Latin to explore the ancients by the help of commentaries, Conington's translation will be of assistance. Horace is utterly untranslatable, and prose translations afford little clue to the music of his songs.

Perhaps it goes without saying that in reading these ancient classics we shall necessarily lose much of their sentiment and allusion unless our memory has retained that atmosphere of classic times which we obtained by constant intercourse with these ancients during our years at school. We may refresh our memory, however, and at the same time glean the most modern thought upon those times, by having recourse to certain useful volumes, companions to our study of these classic writers.

J. A. St. John's 'Manners and Customs of Ancient Greece,' three octavo volumes which appeared in 1842, is a perfect encyclopædia in itself. Of Mr. Leonard Whibley's 'Com[73]panion to Greek Studies' a third edition, with more than 200 illustrations and maps, was published by the Cambridge University Press in 1916. The fellow volume is by Sir J. E. Sandys, and is entitled 'A Companion to Latin Studies.' The second edition, very fully illustrated, appeared in 1913—a large octavo also published at a guinea by the same press. Professor Mahaffy's 'Social Life in Greece from Homer to Menander' has gone through a number of editions. For the theatre of the Greeks we must turn to 'The Attic Theatre' by A. E. Haigh. The third edition, edited by Mr. A. W. Pickard-Cambridge, was issued by the Clarendon Press, 1907. It is the standard work upon this subject; and therein one can find all about everything pertaining to the Greek theatre and the actual presentation of the play. A useful little guide to the study of ancient Greece and Italy is Dr. J. B. Mayer's 'Guide to the Choice of Classical Books,' a small octavo of which a third edition appeared in 1885. In 1896 a 'new supplement' was published, and this contains fifty pages of 'Helps to the Study of Ancient Authors'—the best books which had appeared up to 1896 on the Art, Coins, Law, History, Philosophy, Religion, Science, Domestic Life, Amusements, and almost every aspect of life in ancient Rome and Athens. Copies of this invaluable reference book are probably in most of the public libraries throughout the kingdom.

With regard to some of the other great world-classics, Boccaccio has been attempted by many translators, none of whom can be said to have succeeded, and I forbear to recommend any English version. He is straightforward and not difficult to read in the original, and it is well worth learning sufficient Italian to enable one to explore his rich charm for oneself.

As to Calderon, eight of his plays have been rendered in English by that prince of translators Edward Fitzgerald, though his version is not, nor did he pretend it to be, a close translation. Yet it is more in the spirit of the dramatist than[74] one would deem possible in an English version of a Spanish author. Six of these plays were first published by Fitzgerald in 1853, and this volume was reprinted in the series known as 'The King's Classics' in 1903. The complete set of eight may be obtained in one small octavo volume, in the beautiful 'Eversley' series published by Macmillan. But you may read seventeen of Calderon's plays, in the French of Damas Hinard, in the 'Chef d'œuvre du Théâtre Espagnol,' 1841-3, which also includes the works of Lope de Vega: in all five small octavo volumes—if you are so lucky as to find them.

With regard to Don Quixote, as a boy our book-hunter made more than one attempt to explore 'the ingenious gentleman' but always gave it up after proceeding less than half-way through the first volume. It was all so dry and outlandish, and the version he possessed was written in such stilted language. There were no notes to his edition, and whole passages and allusions were beyond his comprehension. Looking back now I more than suspect that they were beyond the comprehension of the translator as well. 'Rocinante,' spelt 'Rosinante,' he thought was rather a pretty name for the Don's charger; but he saw no humour in it until he discovered, many years later, that rocin means a 'cart-horse' and ante, 'previously.' Nor could he see anything amusing in the landlord's boast that he too had been a knight-errant in his time, roaming the Isles of Riaran in quest of adventures—until he learnt that this was a city slum, the resort of thieves and cut-throats. The whole work abounds with local and topical allusions, and it is essential that our edition be well supplied with notes. There is one which fulfils this condition and in addition provides a most scholarly text, more closely approaching the original than any other which has appeared hitherto. This is the masterly translation of John Ormsby, which appeared in four octavo volumes in 1885. It contains a valuable history of the work, together with a life of Cervantes, and the appendices to the last volume contain a bibliography of the immortal book.

[75] Dante must be read in the original tongue. There is a lofty and spiritual grandeur in the language of the three great epics which one can never hope to realise in reading translations, be they never so good. Nevertheless those versions which are most in favour among students are of considerable value as commentaries, and are of great assistance in reading the original. One cannot do better at the outset of one's acquaintance with the great poet than to procure Dr. J. A. Carlyle's excellent version of the 'Inferno.' A third edition was published in 1882. It has explanatory notes and a prose translation, in measured, dignified language, above the text of the original; forming in all respects a handy and convenient volume. Dr. A. J. Butler's versions of the 'Purgatory' and 'Paradise' were issued, in octavo, in 1880 and 1885 respectively. Aids to the study of Dante are legion. The fourth edition of Professor J. Addington Symond's 'Introduction to the Study of Dante' appeared in 1899; whilst Lord Vernon's 'Readings in Dante,' six octavo volumes, is said to have occupied that great scholar for more than twenty-five years of his life.

Goethe is known to English readers chiefly by the immortal Faust; and this work alone has engaged the attention of numerous scholars. A volume containing seven of Goethe's plays in English was published in Bohn's Standard Library in 1879. It included Sir Walter Scott's version of 'Goetz von Berlichingen,' the remainder being translated by Miss Swanwick and E. A. Bowring. Miss Swanwick's 'Faust' is well known and has often been reprinted; a beautiful edition illustrated by Mr. Gilbert James appeared in 1906. There is a version, however, which stands far above the rest, a version which the writer for his part has always considered to rank with the greatest translations. This is the 'Faust' of Bayard Taylor, which indeed may be read as a poem in itself. But then Taylor had advantages possessed by few translators. An American by birth, his mother was a German, and he spent a part of his life in Germany. From his birth he was[76] bilinguous; and added to this linguistic advantage were his profound scholarship and poetic gift. There are numerous editions of his work, but only one—so far as I am aware, in this country at least—worthy of its great merit, namely, that which appeared in two octavo volumes in 1871. It is an edition somewhat hard to obtain.

For Schiller's dramatic works we must have recourse to Coleridge, who has given us versions of both parts of the 'Wallenstein' and 'William Tell.' The Poems and Ballads were rendered in English by Sir E. Bulwer Lytton (Lord Lytton): two volumes, 1844. Heine's short four-line verses do not lend themselves to translating and though many have attempted it, the results are almost always a jingle, often approaching doggerel. The prose works have recently been translated by Mr. C. G. Leland, and the 'Atta Troll' by Miss Armour, both forming part of a twelve volume edition published between 1892 and 1905.

The mention of Rabelais conjures up one of those extremely rare instances where a translation constitutes as great a classic as the original work. Whether it was the difficulty of translation, or the despair of eclipsing so notable a success as had been achieved by their predecessor, that deterred other scholars from making the attempt, we know not; but certain it is that the version put forth by Sir Thomas Urquhart in 1653 has remained, and seems likely to remain, the standard representation of the fantastic 'Doctor in Physick' in this language. Urquhart, that polished and gifted Scottish d'Artagnan, translated the first three books only; the last two were added by Motteux, a French refugee, in 1694. Urquhart's work, 'precise, elegant, and very faithful,' comes as near perfection as any translation can hope to be. Motteux's rendering was revised by Ozell; but unfortunately it falls far short of the version of Sir Thomas, who, with a longer life, might perhaps have undertaken these last two books as well.

Of these five books of Master Francis Rabelais thus[77] english'd, there have been, of course, numerous editions. Our book-hunter prefers that which appeared in three quarto volumes in 1904, with photogravure illustrations by M. Louis Chalon. Both from a scholarly and a bibliographical standpoint it is all that can be desired, and one can have a copy for less than a pound.

Why is it that we all have some acquaintance at least with the Arabian Nights? What have these purely Eastern tales to do with us? Both questions may be answered at once. It is because they contain the very essence of oriental thought, manners, customs, habits, speech, and deeds: because we can learn from them more of the everyday life of the orient, both of to-day and of a thousand years ago, than an entire library of travels can teach us. Surely it is more than mere curiosity that urges us to know something at least of the manner in which so many millions of our fellow-beings live.

Who has not read at least some of these glorious tales? Who has not heard of Sinbad or the Roc, of Scheherazade or of Haroun al Raschid? Truly they are

'The tales that charm away the wakeful night
In Araby, romances';

Wordsworth himself came early under their spell. He tells how as a young child

'A precious treasure had I long possessed,
A little yellow, canvas-covered book,
A slender abstract of the Arabian tales;
And, from companions in a new abode,
When first I learnt that this dear prize of mine
Was but a block hewn from a mighty quarry—
That there were four large volumes, laden all
With kindred matter, 'twas to me, in truth,
A promise scarcely earthly.'

And so he makes a covenant 'with one not richer than myself' that each should save up until their joint savings were sufficient to purchase the complete work. But alas!

'Through several months,
In spite of all temptation, we preserved
Religiously that vow; but firmness failed,
Nor were we ever masters of our wish.'

There must be few books in the world from which we may learn so much while being so rapturously entertained.[78] Burton's edition is perhaps the best known to English readers, though Lane's version is much to be preferred. Of the latter there are many editions.[29]

How much has been written on the Art of Reading, and what scanty knowledge of that art have the most industrious of readers! Outside the Universities, reading is apt nowadays to be looked upon as a light form of recreation, generally to be indulged in on a rainy day. 'There's nothing to do but sit indoors and read,' one frequently hears remarked in country houses when the weather is too inclement to permit of motoring. Novel-reading has indeed become a part of our fashionable life.

How often, too, does one come across readers of both sexes who possess, seemingly, a wide knowledge of books, even of the great books of the world. Yet in nine cases out of ten such knowledge is of the most superficial kind, acquired by 'dipping into' such and such an author to ascertain whether he be to his or her taste. Frankly, the great author is almost invariably not to the modern reader's taste; but the scanty knowledge acquired by perusing the first chapter, the headings of the remaining chapters, and the last chapter, enables the reader (save the mark!) to discourse at large on this particular writer among his own coterie. Perchance one of his friends has similarly insulted the great author, and they are enabled to discuss the book for nearly a minute by the[79] clock, each thinking the other a devilish well-read fellow. Truly it has been said that 'just as profligacy is easy within the strict limits of the law, a boundless knowledge of books may be found with a narrow education.'[30]

More rarely one comes across a man who, being the fortunate possessor of a truly wonderful memory, is enabled to retain the bulk of the information which he has acquired by wide reading. There is a story told of a certain don at one of our older universities who, being possessed of an insatiable thirst for knowledge coupled with an excellent memory and an inexhaustible capacity for work, passed as a well-read if not a very learned man. There seemed to be few topics upon which he could not discourse on equal terms even with those who had made that subject their own.

Now it happened that there were two young Fellows at the same college who, wearied of his constant superiority in conversation, determined to take Brown (for such was his name) 'down a peg or two.' So each night at dinner in hall they skilfully turned the conversation to unusual topics, hoping to light upon some chink in the redoubtable Brown's intellectual armour. Once they tried him on the rarer British hemipterous homoptera, but soon discovered that he was a very fair entomologist. Next evening the conversation veered to ancient Scandinavian burial rites, but here again he could give them points. The Byzantine coinage of Cyprus was, of course, well known to him while he had himself worked on the oolitic foraminifera of the blue marl at Biarritz. His experiments on the red colouring matter of drosera rotundifolia had formed the subject of a monograph, and he was particularly interested in the hagiological folk-lore of Lower Brittany.

It seemed almost hopeless. Try as they would they could find no subject with which he was unacquainted. Every night some fresh outlandish topic was introduced. Brown looked[80] very bored, and proceeded to tell them all there was to be said upon the subject. But one night a casual remark put them on the right track. Someone happened to ask Brown a question about Indian music. He answered shortly, and remarked that it was a subject upon which a good deal of work was yet to be done. The conspirators looked across the table at each other, left the common-room early, and retired to Jones's rooms.

'Did you notice?' said Jones.

'Yes,' said Smith; 'he evidently doesn't know much about oriental music.'

'But he will by to-morrow,' replied the astute Jones. 'As soon as ever he gets to his rooms to-night, he'll read up everything he possibly can on Indian music, and he'll continue in the Library to-morrow. By dinner-time he'll be stuffed full of tom-toms and shawms and dulcimers, or whatever they play in India.'

'We must ride him off,' said Smith. 'How about Chinese music? He won't know anything about that.'

This seemed such a promising topic that they got out the encyclopædia and found to their joy that there was quite a lengthy and learned disquisition on the subject. So they read it again and again, even learning the more abstruse sentences by heart. Next day they were observed to chuckle whenever they caught each other's eye, and at lunch they were unusually cheerful and more than ordinarily attentive to the unsuspecting Brown.

That night at dinner they could hardly restrain their impatience, and Smith introduced the topic, rather clumsily, as soon as the fish appeared. Brown stared at them and said nothing. Jones, plucking up courage, presently asked him a question about the dominant fifth of the scale used by the natives of Quang-Tung. He answered evasively. They could hardly conceal their delight, and their voices rose so that presently the whole table was looking at them. At some of their recondite utterances Brown fairly winced, and it soon[81] became evident to all what was afoot. Upstairs in the common-room they pursued their unhappy victim. The senior tutor and the dean, secretly enjoying the fun, stood near. At last, flushed with victory, Jones proceeded to administer the coup de grâce.

'You really ought to read something about Chinese music, Brown, it's a most interesting topic, and I'm sure you'd like to be able to talk about it. There are quite a number of good books on the subject. For a start you couldn't do better than study the article in the "Encyclopædia Academica." It's clear and concise, evidently written by a man who knows what he's talking about.'

'I have read it,' said Brown patiently; 'in fact I—er—wrote it, but I'm afraid it's quite out of date now.'

We are not all the lucky possessors of such a capacity for acquiring knowledge. Wide reading may be good from an educational point of view, but unless we are able to assimilate what we read better a thousand times to restrict our reading. Gibbon's advice is bad, for it indicates merely the system he employed in compiling his monumental work. 'We ought not,' he remarks, 'to attend to the order of our books so much as (to the order) of our thoughts.' So, in the midst of Homer he would skip to Longinus; a passage in Longinus would send him to Pliny, and so on. General reading upon this plan, with no idea of collection in view, would in time reduce most of us to idiocy.

Let our reading be, above all things, well ordered and systematic. Let us imitate Ancillon rather than Gibbon. Ancillon never read a book throughout without reading in his progress many others of an exegetic nature; so that 'his library table was always covered with a number of books for the most part open.'[31] An excellent habit, provided that we can resist the temptation to be side-tracked. The list of books by this industrious student, however, shows by their[82] curious variety that he at least was not sufficiently strong-minded to resist wandering, during the compilation of his historical works, in the byways of literature.

If we read the good solid books at all, let us at least read them with the aim of acquiring the maximum amount of information they afford. To read sketchily and diversely is not only a most painful waste of time, but it abuses our brains. Suppose now that our bookman has decided to 'read up' the French Revolution, a subject to which we all turn at some period of our lives. He has been led thereto, perhaps, by having lighted upon a translation of someone's memoirs, the recollections of some insignificant valet-de-chambre or dissolute curé (for such memoirs abound), more interesting by reason of its piquancy than its historical accuracy. He reads of persons and events that he recollects vaguely to have heard of before, and so he goes on and on.

At the end, he has an ambiguous and temporary knowledge of names and events. He has become acquainted with certain facts that he may possibly remember; such as that the name of the French King was Louis and that his Queen was Marie Antoinette, that they tried to escape and got as far as Varennes (wherever that may be), but were brought back and executed; that there were various politicians named Mirabeau, Danton, Robespierre, Desmoulins, and a curious party called the Girondins, et cetera. As to the causes which led up to the Revolution, the condition of the country and people, the ministry of Turgot, the characters of the King and Queen, Necker's policy, the Abbé Siéyès, the Tennis Court, the composition of the Assembly, and the host of essential facts, his knowledge is precisely nil. The terms Right Centre, Extreme Left, the Jacobins, the White Terror, Assignats, Hébertists and Dantonists, the Montagnards, the Old Cordelier, are so much 'Hebrew-Greek' to him. At the end of six months he will not be at all sure whether it was Louis xiv., xv., or xvi. who was beheaded.

Surely his reading of these dubious memoirs has been a[83] most mistaken course and a lamentable waste of time? He has gained nothing that has benefited him intellectually, and he has loaded his mind with an indigestible hotch-potch of unclassified information. How then should he have approached the subject? Obviously he should have begun at the threshold, or rather at the outer gate. To plunge straight away into Louis Blanc's twelve volumes or Lamartine's 'History of the Girondins' would be as great a mistake as the reading of the unprofitable memoirs. A good beginning is half done. So, having prepared the way by a short study of the economic condition of France immediately prior to the Revolution, that he may readily understand the causes of that event, let our reader begin with some elementary school text-book which will give him a short and concise view of the Revolution as a whole. Having laid the foundations he will confine himself at the outset to works in his own tongue; choosing his literature for each succeeding phase of the Revolution in turn. But until he has obtained a thorough groundwork and has acquired sufficient knowledge to enable him to explore the more famous works in French, it were profitless to devour the scraps afforded by dubious memoir writers.

If we read three books consecutively on any one subject, we know not merely three times as much as if we had read one only, but thirty times. And our knowledge of the subject will not be vague, inaccurate and fleeting, but it will be concise, accurate and permanent. To acquire a correct and lasting knowledge of any subject, whether it be an event or an epoch of history, a science or an art or craft, it is essential that we read consecutively and comparatively as many books upon that subject as our opportunities and time allow. It should also be borne in mind that if we are content to read one volume only, it is quite possible that we may chance upon an author who is inaccurate or biased, or whose work does not represent the latest stage of our knowledge upon that subject.


[20] J. H. Burton.

[21] Mr. Frederic Harrison.

[22] Mr. Frederic Harrison.

[23] P. G. Hamerton.

[24] Richard of Bury (lived 1281-1345).

[25] M. Octave Uzanne.

[26] Mr. A. L. Humphreys.

[27] Mr. Frederic Harrison.

[28] Mr. A. L. Humphreys.

[29] There is no doubt that Burton was largely indebted to Payne for his 'translation'; indeed he is said merely to have paraphrased and rearranged the version which Payne had just previously prepared for the Villon Society, adding explanatory notes of a character which renders it essential that his edition be kept under lock and key. It was issued to subscribers by Burton himself in London (though ostensibly 'by the Kamashastra Society at Benares'), being printed, and probably bound, by Brill at Leyden. The Kamashastra Society was a myth. The ten volumes (1885-6) were sold to the subscribers at ten guineas the set, and the entire edition (1000) was subscribed for before publication. (Ex inform: E. H.-A., one of the original subscribers and a friend of Burton.) Six volumes of Supplemental Nights were issued by Burton between 1886 and 1888. A set of the sixteen volumes now costs about forty pounds. It was reprinted (by H. S. Nichols) in 1894, in twelve volumes, only slightly expurgated, the present price being about twelve pounds. A supplementary volume of illustrations was issued with this last edition.

[30] Mr. Frederic Harrison.

[31] Isaac Disraeli.






'Mekely, lordynges gentyll and fre,
Lysten awhile and herken to me.'
Hue de Rotelande.



nce upon a time, long long before the Venerable Bede had completed that famous last chapter in his cell at Jarrow, there lived in the ancient capital of Sampsiceramus, a holy man named Heliodorus. Now in his youth Heliodorus (as is not uncommon with the young) had turned his thoughts to worldly things; and being of a romantic nature, wearied by the eternal sameness of the books available to him, had conceived the extraordinary notion of writing an untrue book, a book that should never instruct or point a moral or show you where you are wrong, but should be all joyousness and enchantment. Possessed with this great idea, timidly yet sure of himself, he set to work.

The very first thing he did was sufficiently startling for those days. Instead of selecting some great man for his central figure and putting his dialogue into the mouths of learned men, fathers of the church, philosophers, orators, or famous poets, he chose deliberately a young and handsome man of no particular learning, and—a woman! It was[85] unheard of! A book, a voluminous roll closely written, containing nothing but the adventures of a pair of lovers! Monstrous! Yet it was done at last, and the roll, finding favour in the eyes of a bosom friend, was quickly passed from hand to hand. All were entranced by it. Here was a book that had characters one could understand, for whom one could even feel affection. The loves of dashing young Theagenes and his dear Chariclea found an echo in many a youthful breast.

Meanwhile Heliodorus disappears from view, and for many years we hear nothing of him until suddenly he reappears as a bishop in Thessaly! Now comes the sequel to his audacious design, but for which it is doubtful if we should ever have heard of him. A synod was convened, and Heliodorus was condemned because in his youth he had written a novel. He was given his choice between bishopric and book, to retain the one he must destroy the other by word as well as by deed.

At first sight the choice appears not difficult to make, for although so laical and original a work had proved to be popular, yet such popularity was hardly of a nature to appeal to so devout a Christian as one who had already attained episcopal rank. But to Heliodorus his work (which may well have been the employment of some years) stood for all that he held most dear. It was his conception of the ideal in worldly—as opposed to spiritual—life. Less austere, perhaps, than many of the fathers of the early Church whose works had seemed so tedious to him in his youth, his devoutness was tempered largely with a charity and forgiveness that were not unworthy of his creed. It was impossible to deny those principles of chivalric virtue and chastity which his novel preached, so he chose to stand by his book rather than by his benefice, and quitted Thessaly.

So runs the pleasing tale of Nicephorus. But alas! the relentless voice of modern research will have it that the real author was not the bishop at all, but a Sophist who lived in the third century of our era. Be it as it may, I for my part[86] shall go on believing the old romantic tale until a better one is invented for the Sophist.

The work itself is called 'Ten Books of Aethiopian History,' for the first and last scenes are laid in Egypt, but it is better known by the name of its hero and heroine. Its popularity was immense, and it was soon translated into 'almost all languages.' Later Père Amyot published a version in French for Francis i., who was so delighted with the result that he made the translator abbé of Belozane. Racine tells us it was this ancient romance that first fired his imagination with the desire to write. His tutor discovered him absorbed in its contents, and snatching it from his hand angrily consigned it to the fire. Racine bought another copy, which suffered a like fate. But so strong a hold upon him had the story, that he purchased a third, and devoured it in secret, offering it to his master with a smile when he had thoroughly mastered its contents.

It seems that this ancient Greek romance was lost for many centuries. At the sack of Buda in 1526, however, a manuscript of it was discovered in the royal library, where it had once formed part of the vast library amassed by Matthias Corvinus, the great King of Hungary. Matthias is said to have 'spoken almost all the European languages,' so doubtless he had passed many a pleasant hour with the tale. This manuscript (others have since been discovered) was printed at Basel 'in officina Ioan Hervagii' in 1534, a small quarto printed with Greek types.[32]

That the early romances of chivalry possess a charm for the book-collector it is impossible to deny. They are 'a series of books,' writes Mr. John Ormsby, 'which, complete, would be a glory to any library in the world; which, in first editions, would now probably fetch a sum almost large enough[87] to endow a college; and which . . . . is perhaps . . . . as worthless a set of books as could be made up out of the refuse novels of a circulating library.' Times without number they have been derided and decried, even in the days when they were popular. The curate of La Mancha was not the only one who disapproved of them. 'In our fathers tyme,' wrote old Roger Ascham, judging the flock by a few black sheep, 'nothing was red, but bookes of fayned cheualrie, wherein a man by redinge, shuld be led to none other ende, but onely to manslaughter and baudrye.' Possevino, a learned Jesuit and famous preacher of the sixteenth century, used to complain that for the last five hundred years the princes of Europe had read nothing but romances. René d'Anjou listened to his chaplain inveighing against Launcelot, Amadis, and the romances of which he was particularly fond; but, says Villeneuve, while respecting the preacher for his boldness, the king continued to read them, and even composed new volumes in imitation of them.[33]

Full of monstrous fictions some of these ancient stories undoubtedly are. It were foolish to expect that all of them should attain the high level of those great legends which centre about the Holy Grail. Good things have ever been imitated indifferently; and it was only the later series of tales which had to do chiefly with enchantments and fairies and 'giaunts, hard to be beleeved.' But alas! all alike have come under the ban of those who decry reading for recreation's sake. Good and bad have been damn'd indifferently. One cannot help wondering however that so much has been written against them, and that so many have[88] been at pains to point out their unreasonableness. One would have thought that the very fact of them all abounding with incidents that are not only impossible but preposterous, would have given these critics pause, and have urged them to ask themselves why and wherefore such things were repeated.

To anyone possessed of imagination the answer, of course, is obvious. The better tales all had the exaltation of the chivalric spirit in view, and sought to achieve this end by allegory as well as by parable. He must be a dullard indeed who fails to understand their symbolism. Malory, describing the entry of Tristram into the field, wishes to impress upon us the fact that he was indeed a 'preux chevalier, sans peur et sans reproche,' the model of a Christian knight; so he mounts him on a white horse and arrays him in white harness, and he rides out at a postern, 'and soo he came in to the feld as it had ben a bryght angel.' Doubtless those to whom understanding has been denied would argue hotly as to whether there is any authority for a knight painting his armour white. What sane man, reading 'The Faerie Queene,' could think that it purported to depict actual scenes or incidents? Yet time and again the 'sheer impossibility' of these stories has been urged in condemnation of them. Truly it is not every man who should turn to these ancient books which

'In sage and solemn tunes have sung
Of Turneys and of Trophies hung,
Of Forests, and inchantments drear,
Where more is meant than meets the ear.'

Gavaudan, a troubadour of the twelfth century, meets the undiscerning critic more than half-way. Let none judge, he writes, till he be capable of separating the grain from the chaff; 'for the fool makes haste to condemn, and the ignorant only pretends to know all things, and muses on the wonders that are too mighty for his comprehension.'

'Romances,' says Sharon Turner, 'are so many little Utopias, in which the writer tries to paint or to inculcate something which he considers to be more useful, more happy[89] or more delightful, more excellent or more interesting, than the world he lives in, than the characters he surveys, or the events or evils which he experiences.' Yet Dunlop, who examined the romances of chivalry at some length in his 'History of Fiction,' seems never to have suspected that these tales were written with any other intention than to amuse or that the events which they related were looked upon by their readers as other than facts. For Arthur he has scant respect, 'nor,' says he, 'as we advance, do we find him possessed of a single quality, except strength and courage, to excite respect or interest.' Surely the remark of one who must have been dead to all sense of imagination and romance—although purporting to be an authority upon them! The teaching of the whole Arthurian cycle of romances was 'that noble men may see and lerne the noble actes of chyualrye, the Ientyl and vertuous dedes that somme Knyghtes vsed in tho dayes, by whyche they came to honour; and how they that were vycious were punysshed and ofte put to shame and rebuke.' The quest of the Holy Grail, motive of the most exquisite series of mystic tales that has ever been written, was, we are expressly informed, 'the hygh way of our Lord Jhesu Cryst, and the way of a true good lyver, not that of synners and of mysbelievers.' Godfrey de Bouillon, the hero of another cycle, was 'moult preudhomme et sage et moult aymant Dieu et gens d'esglise,' as we read in 'Le Triomphe des Neuf Preux' (folio, Abbeville 1487). Preposterous tales? Perhaps; yet, as regards their moral side, not suffering greatly by comparison with our modern fiction.

Those whose reading is confined to the literature of to-day can have no idea of the influence which these romances had upon the lives of our forefathers. It was not merely a system of morality which they taught, it was a civilisation of a very high order. When we are inclined to mock at these 'preposterous tales' we should never forget that to them we owe a debt so immense that we are lost in the contemplation of it. It cannot be gainsaid that it was as much by the study[90] and teaching of these romances as it was by the spirit which gave them birth, that our ancestors came to mould their lives in such a sort as to influence the civilisation of the whole of the western world.

That the romances were the outcome of chivalry cannot be urged, though doubtless in a later age they helped to keep the spirit of knighthood alive. Edward the Black Prince, the very model of mediæval chivalry, avowedly studied the ancient romances for patterns. When Pedro the Cruel had prevailed upon the prince to defend his cause, the princess bitterly bewailed her husband's decision. 'I see well,' said the prince, to whom her expressions were related, 'that she wishes me to be always at her side and never to leave her chamber. But a prince must be ready to win renown and to expose himself to all kinds of danger, as in days of old did Roland, Oliver, Ogier, the four sons of Aimon, Charlemagne, the great Leon de Bourges, Juan de Tournant, Lancelot, Tristan, Alexander, Arthur and Godfrey whose courage, bravery, and fearlessness, both warlike and heroic, all the romances extoll. And by Saint George, I will restore Spain to the rightful heir.'

Occleve, a little later, has no doubt as to the beneficial effects of perusing the romances. Indeed he goes so far as to exhort his friend, Sir John Oldcastle, to leave off studying Holy Writ, and to read 'Lancelot de lake, Vegece, or the Siege of Troie or Thebes.' 'What do ye now,' says Caxton in 'The Order of Chivalry,' 'but go to the baynes and playe atte dyse? . . . Leve this, leve it, and rede the noble volumes of Saynt Graal, of Lancelot, of Galaad, of Trystram, of Perseforest, of Percyval, of Gawayn, and many mo. Ther shalle ye see manhode, curtosye, and gentylnesse.'

What other system in this world could have bestowed that absolute serenity of mind which those who practised chivalry retained amid the tumults of their life? The Saracens, abashed by the tranquil spirit of their royal prisoner, Louis ix., mistook his humility for pride. In vain did they threaten him with torture: the king only replied 'Je suis prisonnier[91] du Sultan, il peut faire de moi à son vouloir.' And when at last the Sultan's murderer rushed into his prison, his hands dripping with blood, and crying, 'What will you give me for having destroyed him who would have put you to death?' the king was more struck with horror at the crime than with fear for his own safety, and remained motionless, disdaining to answer. Thereupon the Saracen, maddened by a tranquillity which he rightly attributed to the immense power of Christian chivalry, presented the point of his blood-stained sword to the king's breast, crying, 'Fais moi chevalier, ou je te tue.' 'Fais toi Chrestien,' replied the intrepid king, 'et je te ferai chevalier.'

We are accustomed nowadays to look upon chivalry merely as a knightly institution which had to do solely with tournaments, banquets, knight-errantry, and the rescuing of encastled maidens. The modern acceptance of the term omits all those gentle qualities of mind which go to make the true chivalric disposition. We associate chivalry with 'fair play' combined with 'manliness'; and humility has no part in it. Indeed it never enters into our mind that it was a system of 'humanyte, curtosye, and gentylnesse.' More, it was a religion deeply ingrained in the hearts of men, a religion which spread through all grades of society, and one which consisted in the beatifying of the noblest qualities of human nature; and it has left an indelible mark upon our national character. Chivalry is not dead to-day as thoughtless people so often exclaim; it will never die so long as our national characteristics endure, though to-day it passes under a different name. 'Sport' we call it now, and we pride ourselves in being 'sporting' even in the hour of death—witness the countless instances brought about by the late great war.

Bertrand du Guesclin, one of the greatest and most fearless exponents of the chivalric spirit, and the Black Prince's most redoubtable enemy, fell at last into the hands of the English. One day at Bordeaux the Prince summoned him from his prison, and asked him how he fared. 'Par may foy,[92] monseigneur,' replied Bertrand, 'il m'ennuye de n'entendre que le chant des Souris de Bourdeaux; je voudrois bien ouyr les Rossignols de nostre pais'; but he added that he loved honour better than aught else and never had anything brought him more glory than his prison, seeing that, as all the other prisoners had been ransomed, he was kept there only through fear of his prowess. The Prince of Wales, touched in his honour (or rather pride) at du Guesclin's words, agreed to liberate Bertrand upon payment of seventy thousand florins of gold.[34] 'But what was more extraordinary in this adventure,' says a French chronicler, 'was that the Princess of Wales gave him thirty thousand, and Sir John Chandos, who had taken him prisoner, took upon himself to pay what was wanting to make the sum complete.' 'Sporting,' was it not? Truly we are a marvellous race, and it is not to be wondered that other nations, from whom this spirit has long passed away, despair of ever being able to understand us.

England has always been the home of chivalry. La Colombière in his 'Vray Théatre d'Honneur et de Chevalerie ou le Miroir Heroique de la Noblesse' remarks that the greatest number of the old romances have been more particularly employed in celebrating the valour of the knights of this kingdom than that of any other; because, in fact, they have always loved such exercises in an especial manner. 'The city of London,' writes Francisco de Moraes in the 'Palmerin de Inglaterra,' 'contained in those days all, or the greater part, of the chivalry of the world.' In Perceforest a damozel says to his companion 'Sire chevalier, I will gladly parley with you because you come from Great Britain; it is a country which I love well, for there habitually (coustumierement) is the finest chivalry in the world; c'est le pays au[93] monde, si comme je croy, le plus remply des bas et joyeulx passetemps pour toutes gentilles pucelles et jeunes bacheliers qui pretendent a honneur de chevalerie.'[35]

The entire cycle of legends which has the Holy Grail for its centre is concerned with Britain and Britain alone. Caerleon and Winchester, Tintagel and Glastonbury, these are the chief stages in this great romance of perfect knighthood; and whether related by a scribe of Hainault in the thirteenth century or sung by a Welsh bard before the Norman Conquest or praised at the court at Paris by the favourite troubadour of Philip Augustus, it is all one as regards the setting and the chief characters. 'Whether for goodly men or for chivalrous deeds, for courtesy or for honour,' wrote the Norman chronicler Wace in the middle of the twelfth century, 'in Arthur's day England bore the flower from all the lands near by, yea from every other land whereof we know. The poorest peasant in his smock was a more courteous and valiant gentleman than was a belted knight beyond the sea.'

There is a pleasing story which relates how Robert Bruce, marching with his army in the mountains of Ireland, heard a woman crying during one of the halts. He inquired immediately what was the matter, and was told that it was a camp-follower, a poor laundress, who was taken in child-bed; and as it was impossible to take her with them, she bemoaned her fate in being left behind to die. The king replied that he is no man who will not pity a woman then. He ordered[94] that a tent should be pitched for her immediately, and that she should be attended at once by the other women; and there he tarried his host until she had been delivered and could be carried along with them. 'This,' says the Chronicler, 'was a full great courtesy.' Chivalry? In the very highest sense of the word.

We must be careful lest, losing sight of the many attributes of chivalry, we incline towards the erroneous view that it was confined entirely to the upper classes. That the manuscript volumes of the romantic tales which were so eagerly purchased and treasured by the educated classes could never possibly come into the hands of the rude illiterate peasants is a fallacious argument. Scanty indeed would be our folk-lore had it all been transmitted graphically. Chaucer bears evidence of the widespread popularity of these heroic tales in his day:

'Alexaundres storie is so commune
That every wight that hath discrecioune
Hath herde somewhat or al of his fortune.'

The incidents of these immortal tales were as well known to the humblest as to the highest in the land. We have abundant evidence of their popularity when recounted in front of the fire in hostel or homestead. Even so late as Milton's day it was the custom to recount knightly adventures and fairy tales about the evening fireside. When

the live-long daylight fail
Then to the Spicy Nut-brown Ale,
With stories told of many a feat,
How Faery Mab the junkets eat,
· · · · · ·
Where throngs of Knights and Barons bold,
In weeds of Peace high triumphs hold,
With store of Ladies, whose bright eyes
Rain influence, and judge the prise,

until at length

Thus done the Tales, to bed they creep,
By whispering Winds soon lull'd asleep.

How great a part of the pleasures of this world have they missed whose pulses are never stirred by the Spirit of Romance! Content and Peace of Mind may be had by all[95] who will offer up sacrifices to obtain them; but Imagination is not to be had at any price unless it be a part of our birthright. Content may yield a tranquillity of mind that refreshes the soul, but it is Imagination alone that can produce that spiritual exaltation which takes our minds from worldly things, carries us backwards or forwards through countless ages of the past or æons of futurity, and enables us to ride in the chariot of Phœbus. It is a vast library in itself.

'He had small need of books; for many a tale
Traditionary round the mountains hung,
And many a legend, peopling the dark woods,
Nourished Imagination in her growth.'

It was the fortune of our book-hunter once to spend an afternoon in June upon the downs near Winchester. To southward of the old town there is a deep grassy hollow, crescent-shaped, its southern slope fringed with wood; and here in the shade he lay reading the 'Morte d'Arthur' of old Malory. Coming at length to the Noble Tale of the Sangreal, he read how King Arthur, having come 'unto Camelot by the houre of undorn on Whytsonday,' and feasting with the fellowship of the Round Table, was told of the marvel wrought unto Balin's sword by Merlin.

You will remember that Balin fought unbeknown with his brother Balan, that each wounded the other unto death, and that they were buried by Merlin in the same tomb. Then Merlin 'lete make by his subtylyte that Balyn's swerd was put in a marbel stone standyng up ryght as grete as a mylle stone, and the stone hoved alweyes above the water, and dyd many yeres, and so by adventure it swam doun the streme to the Cyte of Camelot that is in Englysshe Wynchestre.'

To the west the downs slope steeply into the river valley, and set in the rich green meadows like a skein of silver threads the book-hunter could discern the Itchen with its attendant rivulets. So he gazed across to the stream and pondered over this marvellous stone which 'hoved' always above the water, a sword set in it so that the pommel alone could be seen, 'and in the pomel therof were precyous stones[96] wrought with subtyle letters of gold.' It was the symbol which was to prove the youthful Galahad the haut prince who should achieve the Sangreal.

That same evening, wandering along the river's bank below the city, his head full of the wondrous tale, an adventure befell him. It was dusk, and he had crossed the stream at a ford, when suddenly he saw the stone. It was lying upon its side, not a dozen paces from the water. There was no doubt whatever about it. It was roughly five feet long, about half as wide and thick, and of a curious reddish-brown—the colour of dried blood.

'Sir,' said the squire who brought the news to the King and his Knights, 'there is here bynethe at the Ryver a grete stone which I saw flete above the water, and therin I sawe styckyng a swerd. The Kynge sayde, I wille see that marveill. Soo all the Knyghtes went with hym. And whanne they came unto the ryver they fonde there a stone fletyng, as hit were of reed marbel, and therin stack a fair ryche swerd.'

I confess that not a little awe was mingled with delight as our book-hunter gazed upon the stone, walked round it, touched it! Then suddenly away in the old city a bell tolled, and he recollected that it was Whitsun Eve! That walk home in the twilight was something not easily to be forgotten, and neither supper nor a pipe could bring him back to earth and the twentieth century again. Next morning he was up early, anxious to see if any trace were left of the spot where this marvel had occurred, for it was scarcely possible that the whole adventure was other than a dream. But the spot was soon found, and sure enough there was the stone or peron,[36] and he could examine it in the sunshine at his leisure. How it got there or whence it came it were impossible to guess; the chalk for miles around contains nothing but flints, and the peron was smooth and polished 'as a mill-stone.'



[97] That Winchester is not Camelot antiquaries have told us often enough. The city of the Knights may have been in the West Country or in Wales for aught our bookman cares; but until they can produce a likelier site and a better peron he will continue to take Sir Thomas's word for it.

One other point. I have said that the stone lay some few paces from the water. You will notice when you pay a pilgrimage to the stone (it lies at the ford, hard by a church) that the ground about it is almost level with the water, so that when the river is in flood the stone must be almost submerged: in other words, it would then hove above the water. It is easy to see from the bank on the other side that the river has changed its course by a few yards, leaving the stone now high and dry. If you dispute this, why then I can only say that the stone, as 'by adventure it swam down the stream,' must have been cast there by the river when in flood. That there is a cleft in the stone whence Galahad withdrew the sword I can neither affirm nor deny; it may have closed up, for with perons of this nature all things are possible, or the stone itself may have got turned over.[37] At all events I for one shall not be so rash as to cast suspicion upon so historic a relic.

For those materialists who doubt that such an event ever took place, I will propound a theory. That the first twelve books of the 'Morte d'Arthur' were translated from the French by Sir Thomas Malory seems probable. Caxton says as much in his Preface, and the Epilogue to Book xii. reads, 'Here endeth the second book of Syr Tristram that was drawen oute of Frensshe in to Englysshe. But here is no rehersal of the thyrd book. And here foloweth the noble tale of the Sancgreal that called is the hooly vessel.' It has been shown[38] that the stories of the Holy Grail are probably of Welsh origin, and—Sir Thomas is said to have been a[98] Welshman. Is it possible that he was ever at Winchester, that he wandered on Whitsun Eve (as did our book-hunter) along the Itchen, that he came to and roused over the stone (smooth and polished as a mill-stone), so different from any to be seen hereabout, and that as he wandered back to Camelot he wove the delicious romance about it? At all events, if he were ever there, it is at least possible that the spot was in his mind when adapting the Welsh legends for his book. Mark how well the events which I relate accord with the topography of the spot. The stone was 'beneath at the river,' the damozel who comes to view the marvel 'came rydynge doune the ryver . . . . on a whyte palfroy toward them,' and there is mention of the river meads. It is hard to believe that Sir Thomas would definitely assert that Camelot 'is in English Winchester,' and make it the chief scene of his romance, had he never visited the town.

The book was finished, Caxton tells us, 'the ix yere of the reygne of king edward the fourth,' 1469; but was not 'chapytred and emprynted and fynysshed in th'abbey Westmestre' until 'the last day of July the yere of our lord m.cccc.lxxxv.,' 1485. Three weeks later a fateful battle was fought—that of Bosworth, which placed the crown upon Harry Tudor's head. The facts that the new king was a great benefactor to Winchester, that he held the castle to have been built by King Arthur, and that he brought hither his queen to be delivered of his first-born (whom he named Arthur), point to something more than a chance connection between the city and the book.

Henry Tudor was also a Welshman, and possibly Malory was of the king's acquaintance, if not actually of his retinue. Bale asserts that Malory was occupied with affairs of state. But conclusions are dangerous things. The preface to the 'Morte d'Arthur' ascribes the ordering of the book to Edward the Fourth. '. . . I made a book unto th'excellent prynce and kyng of noble memorye kyng Edward the fourth. The sayd noble Ientylmen instantly requyred me t'emprynte[99] thystorye of the sayd noble kyng and conquerour king Arthur and of his knyghtes, wyth thystorye of the saynt greal, and of the deth and endynge of the sayd Arthur; Affermyng that . . . there ben in frensshe dyvers and many noble volumes of his actes and also of his knyghtes.'[39] Which looks rather as if Edward the Fourth (who had no reason to love the Welsh—you will remember that he had beheaded Owen Tudor, Richmond's grandfather) had heard of or read Malory's work, and was anxious to possess it in print, though unwilling to credit it to a follower of the Lancastrian party. It is a pleasant field for surmise, and, however wrongly, it is good to picture old Sir Thomas strolling along those pleasant meads beside the river, weaving his immortal cycle of tales.

There is a connection somewhere between Malory and Caxton too. In 1469 Malory finished his book, and in March of that year Caxton began to translate le Fevre's 'Recueil des Histoires de Troyes.' Where and when did Malory meet Caxton, who lived for some years about that time at Bruges, discovering that they possessed the same literary tastes? Did Malory hand the manuscript of his work to Caxton, in the service of the Duchess of Burgundy, sister of Edward the Fourth, and did the great printer (or the Duchess) show it to that king? We shall never know, and only Imagination can fill the gap.

But to continue. It was Whitsunday, and as the last notes of the voluntary echoed away among those 'antick pillars massy proof' of the great church, our book-hunter's thoughts turned once more to King Arthur and his knights. For was it not upon this very day that the vision of the Holy Grail was vouchsafed to them as they sat at meat within the castle hall?

[100] 'And thenne the kynge and al estates wente home unto Camelot, and soo wente to evensonge to the grete mynster. And soo after upon that to souper. . . . Thenne anone they herd crakynge and cryenge of thonder, that hem thought the place shold alle to dryve. . . . Not for thenne there was no knyght myghte speke one word a grete whyle. . . . Thenne ther entred in to the halle the holy graile coverd with whyte samyte, but ther was none myghte see hit,[40] nor who bare hit. . . . And whan the holy grayle had be borne thurgh the halle thenne the holy vessel departed sodenly, that they wyste not where hit becam: thenne had they alle brethe to speke.'

So the man of books climbed the hill and presently stood within the beautiful hall with its glorious black marble pillars, sole remnant of the ancient stronghold. The round table (barbarously painted) now hangs upon the western wall, but it needed little imagination to picture it set down in the midst, covered with a fair silken cloth ('the Kynge yede unto the syege Peryllous and lyfte vp the clothe, and fonde there the name of Galahad'), and on it set rich flagons and dishes, strangely wrought and worked with precious stones, and all about the table the famous knights in costumes strange to our eyes. . . . Launcelot upon the king's left,[41] now glancing with fatherly pride upon the youthful Galahad (occupying the Siege Perilous), now smiling up at Queen Guenevere seated in the gallery with her maidens . . . . the walls hung with coarse dull-red cloth and bundles of sweet-smelling herbs hanging here and there, the floor strewn with fresh green rushes, gathered early that morning in the meadows below . . . . by the king's side a snow-white brachet, a golden collar about its neck . . . . and so on and so on. Imagination forsooth! He must be dull indeed who, reading the book and standing in the hall, cannot picture the scene for himself.

[101] It is useless to declaim that the great hall of the castle was not completed until the time of Henry the Third, that it did not exist at all before the Norman Conquest, that the castle occupied by King Arthur is more likely to have been on the site of the more ancient one which stood near the river (now known as Wolvesey), and that the great round table (eighteen feet in diameter, of stout old English oak, cunningly bolted together) was made during the former king's reign and was never used by Arthur at all. What are such crude exactitudes to us? As well object to the heavy plate-armour worn by the knights—everybody knows this to be an anachronism of nigh a thousand years. Romantic phantasy and scientific data are as far apart as the poles, and none but a fool would try to reconcile them. King Arthur feasted in the castle hall, says Malory, and so far as our book-hunter is concerned he shall feast there as often and as long as he likes.

There is a romance, too, about the name of this older castle. Wolvesey its scanty ruins are called to-day, and the antiquarians tell us that this was originally WULF'S EY, or 'the wolf's isle.' Was it once the scene of a battue by the young bloods of the tribe to drive out some wolves that had established themselves there, a fierce fight with axes and spears at close quarters whilst the rest of the tribe lined the opposite banks and prevented any escape? Or was it the scene of some homeric combat seul à seul? Perhaps some day a wolf's skull will be dug up there, with a stone axe sticking in it. But the history of it has gone for ever, had gone, probably, long centuries before King Kynegils found it a strong site for his castle.

It was at Wolvesey that King Alfred himself is said to have penned some part of the Saxon Chronicle now treasured in the library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. He was a true book-lover, this great English king, and it is to the school of illuminators which arose later in the 'new minster' by St. Swithun's that we are indebted for some of the most beautiful examples of mediæval art that have come down to[102] us. The Golden Book of Edgar, Bede's 'Ecclesiastical History'—in the Cathedral library—and the exquisitely illuminated 'benedictional' of St. Æthelwold possessed by the Duke of Devonshire, all these were produced before the end of the tenth century by the artists who laboured so patiently in the Scriptorium beside those peaceful meadows. For two centuries the Winchester school of illuminators was renowned throughout the western world.

It is a pleasant spot, this ancient city of Camelot, and I like to read that among the aldermen who assembled at the Tun Moot in bygone days were a pinder, a mole-catcher, and an ale-conner. A stout fellow, this last, for without his permission not a single barrel of beer could be broached. The business transacted at the Moot, we are told, was little more than to receive taxes, provide for the defence of the city, and settle disputes. After which the aldermen (with the permission of the ale-conner, it is to be presumed) proceeded to consume the ale allowed to them by custom immemorial at the rate of two gallons a man at each sitting. O tempora, O mores!

At one time, however, that kill-joy Edgar came near to causing an insurrection, for he ordained that all drinking-horns should have pegs set in them at regular intervals and that no man might drink below his peg. Thus were practically abolished those friendly drinking-bouts between Danes and English that did so much to rid the town of its northern intruders. Floreat Wintonia, and may it stand for ever to book-lovers and lovers of romance as the ideal of all that is knightly and kingly and romantic—and hospitable.

It is to be feared, however, that the Spirit of Romance is now moribund—if, indeed, it has not already passed away; and with it we are losing one of the most ennobling qualities in our nature. We pride ourselves nowadays in living in a 'matter-of-fact' age, by which we mean a practical, unromantic age. But is it a matter for so much pride after all? Granted that the benefits which have accrued to man[103]kind during the past century and a half are worth all the Romance in the world; but is the relegation of Romance to the domain of History a sine qua non so far as progress is concerned? In our haste to get on we have tried to drive Romance and Progress in tandem, with steady-going Progress in the shafts; but having found that together they need skilful handling, we have unharnessed the leader and hitched him on behind, to be dragged along anyhow in our wake.

There must be many who regard the loss of romantic ideals as a matter for more than passing regret. Reverence, too, not only for our elders and betters but even for the great works of our predecessors, is going the way of its cousin, Romance. Recently, rambling over the Hampshire downs, our bookman toiled up the grassy bosom of this rolling land to a still loftier height whence on a clear day the Isle of Wight, nigh thirty miles away, can be distinguished. As he neared the top a mound came into view, one of those unmistakable monuments raised o'er the graves of the great chieftains of our ancient race. It was a most impressive spot, the highest point for many miles round, and the book-hunter wondered who he was that lay there in solemn majesty keeping watch through the long centuries over the land that once was his. On approaching closer the wayfarer was horrified to see that on the top of the mound, in the centre, there was a deep hole. Its import was obvious. The mortal remains of one who had lain for centuries in a grandeur befitting his lordly rank had been torn from their sepulchre, probably by some irreverent commoner, and were now doubtless exhibited to the vulgar gaze, in a glass case.

Doubtless the ghoul (for he that rifles tombs is none other) who perpetrated this enormity described himself as an archæologist. Possibly he was of gentle birth and had received a University education. If so, so much the greater his crime, for he could not plead ignorance. Surely no seriously minded person can urge that the knowledge thus gained as to ancient methods of burial, age of the remains,[104] and so on, warranted such sacrilege.[42] We can only hope that the chieftain was granted five minutes with the archæologist when that individual at length entered the land of shadows. Doubtless the archæologist had no qualms whatever, and slept soundly in the belief that by his 'researches' he had wrought great things for mankind; but when he encountered the chieftain it is unlikely that they would see eye to eye. 'Happy are they who deal so with men in this world that they are not afraid to meet them in the next,' and happier still are they who deal so reverently with the earthly memorials of the dead, that there may be many to speak in their favour when they approach the Great Tribunal.



This particular form of irreverence, however, has been a byword throughout all the ages; civilisation and education have done little to check it, possibly because the romantic spirit which forbids such crimes is born, not made. King Arthur's bones were dug up in the twelfth century. 'Mummie is become Merchandise, Mizraim cures wounds, and Pharoah is sold for balsoms,' wrote Sir Thomas Browne five hundred years later. In 1788 the massive stone coffin which held the remains of our illustrious King Alfred was discovered facing the High Altar at Hyde Abbey, Winchester, whither they had been translated in 1110. The coffin was broken in pieces, the bones found in it were scattered, and the lead enveloping the remains was sold by the workmen. A stone from the wrecked tomb, bearing the name ÆLFRED, was carried off to Cumberland as a curio. Hyde Abbey was razed to make way for a county Bridewell. 'At almost every stroke of the mattock,' relates an eye-witness, 'some antient sepulchre or other was violated.' Examples of such desecrations can be multiplied without number. The Great Alaric was wise indeed when he had the course of a river changed so that his[105] bones, when lying at the bottom of it, might never be disturbed.

Our ancient laws dealt sternly with this matter. 'If any man shall dig up a body that has already been buried,' ruled Henry the First, 'he shall be wargus,' that is, banished from his district as a rogue. 'Malice provoketh not to dig up tombes and graves,' wrote an unknown Elizabethan scholar, commenting on this; 'and though it should, yet religion doth now restraine it, by reason it is counted sacriledge to violate anythinge in churches or churchyards. Covetousness made some to dig up the dead, because ornaments, jewels, or money, were in times past buried with many; but now that custome seasing, no man for desire of gaine is invited to commit this offence, and it now being generally reputed a most vile acte, no man will presume to transgresse these lawes, and every man is a law to himself therein.' But in this 'enlightened' age, when we are held to be above the need of such legislation, there is nothing to prevent the archæologist from practising his hobby where and when he please—so long as he avoids the churchyards. 'Tush,' he cries, 'here lies an ancient heathen who was not even buried in consecrated ground. We may find some curious relics buried with him. Up with his bones.'

'Freedom for all men' may be a glorious motto, yet when we view these crimes (and the carved initials which deface so many of our most sacred monuments) we cannot but muse that there are many who should never be free—at least from the restraint of discipline. 'None can love freedom heartily, but good men: the rest love not freedom, but licence.'[43]


[32] There are 242 pages in this editio princeps, after which should come a leaf with (a) blank (b) device of John Hervey or Hervagius. It was english'd by Thomas Underdowne, and published in small octavo by Frauncis Coldocke, at the sign of the greene Dragon in Paules churchyeard, in 1587.

[33] "Il estoit bon musicien, tres-bon Poëte François et Italien, se delectant singulierement a lire les belles et naifues rithmes de nos Poëtes Prouençaux . . . . . . . tellement qu'il a compose en son temps plusieurs beaux et gracieux Romans comme La conqueste de la douce mercy, et Le mortifiement de vaine plaisance . . . . . Mais sur toutes choses aimoit il d'un amour passionnez la peinture . . . . . qu'il estoit en bruit et reputation entre les plus excellents Peintres et Enlumineurs de son temps." (Nostradamus). He had a fine library which contained all the most celebrated compositions of the Provençal poets and troubadours.

[34] It was quite a dramatic scene. Bertrand taunted the Prince until the latter named a sum; and to his surprise De Guesclin at once cried "Done!" and all at the table sprang to their feet. "Oh Sir," they cried to the Prince, "what have you done!" "I hold you to your word," cried Du Guesclin—and so it was. See Hay du Chastelet, Claude Menard, and other biographers, also the Inventaire des Chartres, tome VI. (See also footnote on page 216.)

[35] This great romance does not appear ever to have been translated into English, which is somewhat strange, for its hero, Perceforest, was King of England, and we are told at the outset that the volume had an English origin. Philippe Comte de Hainault having accompanied Marguerite daughter of Philippe III. (le hardi) to England in order to be present at her nuptials with Edward I. (1299), the Count made an excursion to the north of England. Chancing to harbour at a monastery 'on the banks of the Humber,' he was shown an ancient manuscript which had been discovered in a vault under the ancient (? Saxon) part of the building. One of the monks had translated it into Latin. Philippe borrowed it and took it back with him to Hainault, where it was reduced into French. It is every whit as good as the Morte d'Arthur, and still awaits its Malory. The 1531 Paris edition consists of six folio volumes, the page in double columns of black letter type, with 53 lines to the column. The whole book contains rather more than six hundred thousand words. Here is a chance for some enthusiast! At the least he would learn patience, carefulness—and a deal of mediæval French.

[36] O. Fr. pierron.

[37] That there is a distinct crack on its upper side, you may see from the photograph here reproduced.

[38] Sir J. Rhys, 'Studies in the Arthurian Legend,' Oxford, 1891, pp. 300-327.

[39] In the list of books at the Louvre belonging to Charles v. of France, drawn up by Gilles Malet, his librarian, in 1373, there is a volume 'Du roy Artus, de la Table Ronde, et de la Mort dudit roy, tres bien escript et enlumine.' It would be interesting to compare this manuscript (if it is still in existence) with Malory's work, and to see whether the incident of the peron is described therein.

[40] i.e. the golden vessel, because of the samite (silken) covering.

[41] As the table is painted at present, 'S. Galahallt' is upon the King's immediate left.

[42] Of one of these enterprising antiquaries (a clergyman) it is proudly related that in the course of three years "he opened no less than a hundred and six tumuli and graves, and obtained from them a large proportion of that valuable collection of antiquities now in possession of Mr. Meyer, of Liverpool." See A Corner of Kent, by J. R. Planché, 1864, page 115.

[43] Milton.






'Wher so ever y be come over all
I belonge to the Chapell of gunvylle hall;
He shal be cursed by the grate sentens
That felonsly faryth and berith me thens.
And whether he bere me in pooke or sekke
For me he shall be hanged by the nekke,
(I am so well beknown of dyverse men)
But I be restored theder agen.'
(Written in a breviary in the Library
  of Gonville and Caius College.)



herein lies the charm of an old book? In its contents? Not altogether, for then would the reprint be just as acceptable; perhaps more so, for it would be possibly more legible, probably cleaner, certainly in a more convenient shape. In its scarcity, then? Partly, perhaps; yet not necessarily, for there are many 'old' books that are always eagerly bought up by collectors, though quite frequent in occurrence. Then wherein lies the old book's charm? It is chiefly in its appearance.

It is the spiritual appearance rather than the material aspect of a book, however, that draws the book-lover to it. To the true bibliophile there is an intangible something about an old book which it is impossible to describe. That this feeling is closely akin to the impressive influence of antiquity there can be no doubt; for you may prove it by taking your book-lover successively to a modern free library and to a[107] collection of ancient books, and noting carefully his expression in each. Though he be surrounded by thousands of volumes issued from the press during the last half-century, rich and luxurious works even, yet the probability is that he will be merely bored. But watch him as he stands before the thick oak shelves eagerly scrutinising the dim lettering on ancient calf and vellum back! See how his eye flashes as he takes down an ancient quarto, gently and reverently lest the headband be grown weak with age, and, carefully blowing the dust from its top edge, turns eagerly to title-page and colophon!

And this feeling is not influenced by the surroundings which one is accustomed to associate with old books. Whether they be in a cathedral or college library, in a bookshop or the most modern of cases, it is all one to your true collector. It is the books and the books only about which he cares. No sooner does he feel the ancient tome within his hands than his soul is borne rapidly away upon the wings of fancy, far far back into the dim ages, high above all worldly considerations; caring, understanding, feeling, in tune with the magic so wondrously locked up in this ancient volume, to which his love of books alone has provided the key.

It is no wonder that he is impressed, for the soul of the true book-collector is ever in communion with the manes of those who gave birth to his books. He is brother to author, paper-maker, compositor, publisher, and binder, understanding all their hopes, doubts, and fears, in sympathy with all the thoughts that gave his volumes their shape, size, and appearance. Have you not often realised, brother collector, the spirit that is hidden in every old book, the concentrated thoughts that have been materialised in giving it birth? Surely thoughts never die. 'Our thoughts are heard in heaven' wrote a neglected poet, and are not books 'sepulchres of thought'?

Happier is the book-collector than he who acquires ancient pieces of furniture, old vases, or pewter mugs. For, unlike[108] the old book, these things can be reproduced in facsimile so that you may not tell the difference between old and new, and the reproduction may be stronger and more serviceable than the original. Moreover he is not troubled with qualms as to their genuineness, undergoing agonies of apprehension while each treasure—or otherwise—is submitted to the scrutiny of friends and experts.

There is a lasting charm about a book of our choice which the antique-collector can never hope to experience. His treasure may be grotesque or it may be beautiful, in either case it may please the eye every time that he behold it, through many years. But beyond pleasure to the eye and perhaps a smug complacency in its possession, there is nothing else. He knows it inside-out, as it were, within a few minutes of its acquisition. Very different, however, is the case with a book. After the attraction exercised by its ancient appearance, the exterior aspect is in reality but a secondary consideration, and when we have expressed ourselves as to whether it be a fine or a poor copy, we turn at once to its contents. The very wording of the title-page gives us an inkling of the writer's character, places us upon his plane, and tunes our thoughts in harmony with his.

What book-lover does not sympathise with that great man Lenglet du Fresnoy? Perhaps few men have come so completely under the spell of books; for he devoted a long life entirely to consuming the fruits of the master minds that had gone before him. In spite of the gossip concerning him, not always to his credit, that has come down to us, it is undeniable that by sheer love and knowledge of books he piled up a monument that will ever keep his name in memory among bibliophiles for he is numbered with such giants as Hain, Brunet, and Lowndes. The 'Methode pour étudier l'Histoire' alone is sufficient to show his extraordinary knowledge of books; indeed, they were the very inspirers of his being and though his paths led him to high places, 'a passion for study for ever crushed the worm of ambition.' Having[109] spent the greater part of his eighty-two years among old books, it was a modern one which caused his end; for, slumbering over its dulness, he fell into the fire and was burned to death!

It is said of him that he refused all the conveniences offered by a rich sister, that he might not endure the restraint of a settled dinner-hour; preferring to browse undisturbed among his beloved tomes. His immense knowledge of ancient books is shown by the vast number of diverse works which he wrote and edited; but so forcible and controversial were his writings that he was sent to the Bastille some ten or twelve times. It is even related of him that he got to know the prison so well, that when Tapin (one of the guards who usually conducted him thither) entered his chamber, he did not wait to hear his commission but began himself by saying 'Ah! Bonjour, Monsieur Tapin,' then turning to the woman who waited on him, 'Allons vite, mon petit paquet, du linge et du tabac,' and went along gaily with M. Tapin to the Bastille. Verily the true bibliophile is not as other men, and a modern world looks upon him askance. Yet his portion is a happiness that riches cannot purchase, for his soul has found lasting comfort and contentment in a knowledge of the innermost recesses of human thought. There is no aspect or phase of the human mind with which he is unacquainted; and it is a knowledge that books alone can impart.

Yet our true book-lover is not of those whose very religion is the preservation of the pristine appearance of their books, who deem it sacrilege to destroy one jot of the contemporary leather in which their treasures are clothed: liking rather to glue, varnish, and patch, preferring even a grotesque effect rather than sacrifice an inch of decayed calf. Their point of view is wholly admirable: that the only form in which we are justified in possessing a book is that in which it was originally issued to the world: that the men who bestowed great thought in giving it birth, to wit, author and publisher, know better what is meet and seemly for it than can any man of a different[110] age: that one man's choice is another man's abhorrence: and so on, and so on. Granted these things are so; but surely he who possesses the volume may have some say in its appearance, since it exists upon his shelf solely for his own delight and for no other man's?

'It is mine,' says Praktikos, 'may I not clothe it in the colours of the rainbow if it please me?'

'Then you are a vandal,' replies Phulax, 'for you will ruin your book, and it will not be worth ten shillings when it returns from the binder.'

And there's the rub: rebind your book and—in nine cases out of ten—you will lower its market value. Therefore, if the book-collector have any eye to the purely commercial value of his library, he will do well to become an 'original-boards-uncut' man at once. Handsome his library will never be, for here there will be a whole set of paper-bound volumes lacking backs, here a folio strangely patched and mended, there a book in rather dirty vellum somewhat cockled by damp, and so on. But he will have the satisfaction of knowing that his volumes retain, in their appearance at least, something of the spirit of the time in which they first saw light. Perhaps they will create for him the more easily that stimulating yet peaceful atmosphere imparted by a collection of old books.

Is there not, then, any alternative to preserving one's volumes in a disreputable condition? Assuredly there is—there are two alternatives. Either the collector will be so wise (and, incidentally, so wealthy) as never to purchase a dilapidated book, or else he must exercise great common sense and much good taste, putting fancy entirely to one side.

You possess a copy of Cotton's translation of the Commentaries of Messire Blaize de Montluc, folio 1674. It is a good, clean, tall copy, but clothed in tattered contemporary brown calf. Half of the back is missing, two of the corners are badly broken, and a piece of the leather upon the under cover is torn off. Perchance you elect to send it to your binder, with strict instructions that it is to be repaired with[111] plain calf. In due course the volume is returned to you, and it now presents a fearful and marvellous appearance. It is the proud possessor of a new back, nearly but not quite matching the sides in colour, and upon this the remaining upper half of the original back has been pasted. The corners bulge strangely, and you can discern new leather underneath the old and wherever the old was deficient. The sides shine with polishing, and a patch—again not quite matching the original, for it is next to impossible to do this—has been inserted on the under cover. The whole volume shines unnaturally, and has rather a piebald appearance. In short, it reminds one of Bardolph's face—'all bubukles and whelks and knobs.'

But perchance you possess another copy in precisely the same condition inside and out, and this you have decided must be rebound. It goes to your binder, always with your very definite instructions, and in due course returns, modestly attired in morocco of, let us say, a dark sage-green hue. On each side there is a plain double panel, 'blind' tooled; the back is simply lettered


and there are 'blind' lines at the sides of each band; but, beyond the lettering, there is no gilding whatever on the back. The edges have not been trimmed, much less cut, but have been left precisely as they were originally.

Suppose now for an instant that you do not possess either copy, but that both are offered to you by a bookseller at precisely the same price. What will be your feelings as you handle the repaired copy? It is more than probable that you will sigh 'Poor thing' as you open it gently for fear of cracking the old piece pasted on to the back. But, 'What a nice clean copy' you will say as you take up the other; and it is improbable that you will hesitate long in making choice.

The repairing of moderately old bindings is an excellent thing so long as it is not carried to extremes. Obviously[112] there are many cases where it would be sheer foolishness to rebind the volume, slight repairs at the hands of an experienced binder being all that is necessary to enable the book to be described as a fine, tall, clean copy, in the original binding, neatly repaired. And this is where one's carefully considered judgment and good taste must be exercised.

But advice is easier to give than to follow. If our purse be a slender one, it is next to impossible to confine our purchases to perfect copies in choice condition. And so it is unavoidable that a certain number of our volumes should be in a more or less dilapidated state. A book that we have long sought for crops up; it is a perfect copy, more or less clean inside, but in a sad state of decay as regards the binding. On this account it is offered to us at one-half the price which a sound copy would fetch, perhaps even less. Of course we buy it, and many others like it; so that at length we are faced with the choice between a formidable binder's bill and the alternative of harbouring a collection of wrecks.

This temptation to acquire imperfect books and poor copies is a most insidious one, and few collectors can withstand it altogether. Andrew Lang, than whom there was never a more genuine book-lover, seems to have been as susceptible as most of us. 'I believe no man,' he writes in 'Books and Bookmen,' 'has a library so rich in imperfect works as the author of these pages.' Yet although the purchasing of a volume in a state of decay (externally, that is) is sometimes unavoidable, it should be every collector's endeavour, however modest his means, to avoid buying dilapidated books. If a book be at all frequent in occurrence it is far better to bide our time until a better copy turns up, even though we may have to pay a few shillings more for it, than to rest content with the possession of a sorry example in which we can take no pride, and one that will never be worth a penny more than we gave for it until it has passed through the binder's hands. Remember also that although the choicest binder in Europe may lavish his art upon our volume, yet a taller and cleaner[113] copy in the original, or contemporary, binding, and in perfect condition, will ever command a better price in the sale-room. Our choice in binding—however appropriate to the book—may not be the choice of him who next possesses the volume.

As an example of this discretion which one must exercise in rebinding one's volumes, here is an incident that occurred in a London sale-room a few years ago. A copy of Jane Austen's 'Mansfield Park' in three volumes, 1814, was put up for auction and realised £20. It was bound in boards and was entirely uncut. Nevertheless it was not in the original binding, but it had been rebound in precisely the same style as that in which it was originally published. The paper labels had been reprinted in facsimile, and the edges had not been tampered with in any respect, not even 'trimmed.' The best price that had been realised previously for an uncut copy in the original boards was £18 10s.

The owner was indeed wise in his generation. Had he sent the volumes to his binder to be bound in full morocco 'extra,' at a cost of, perhaps, twenty shillings apiece, the work would have realised, probably, seven or eight pounds. But by good judgment (and, in the writer's opinion at least, good taste) his expenditure would not exceed fifteen shillings for the three, his profit being four times as great. Not long ago two copies of the first edition of Keats' 'Endymion' appeared at an auction-sale in London. Both were 'uncut,' but one was in the original form in which it issued from the press, the other was bound in morocco. The former realised £41, the latter £17, 5s. Dictum sapienti sat est.

Old books, by which I intend sixteenth and early seventeenth century volumes, are always best left alone as regards the binding. If they be at all dilapidated, it is as well to have a case[44] made for them which can be lettered on[114] the back, and they can then stand upon the shelf among one's other books. Nothing is more unseemly and incongruous than an ancient volume in a modern cover, and, try as the most skilful binder may, it is impossible to imitate an ancient binding so closely as to deceive the eye even momentarily. Do not seek to make them presentable by patching and repairing, unless they be too far gone for their value to be of any consideration.

In the case of early-printed books and works of great rarity, never, upon any account, tamper with your copy or seek to improve it in any way. Not only, as I have said, is it quite impossible to impart a contemporary appearance to a fifteenth-century book however famous and skilful the binder, but age leaves its mark upon the constitutions of books as surely as it does upon mankind. No volume of that age will stand the handling of a casual reader, still less the pulling, patting, and pressing that re-sewing and re-covering necessitate, however gently such processes be carried out.

There is a terrible story (I hope it is untrue) told of a certain peer who decided to send to the auction-room the six or seven Caxtons which had descended to him with a noble library from his ancestors. As, however, the volumes were bound in fifteenth-century sheepskin (probably in Caxton's house) he thought that their appearance would be rendered rather more attractive if they were rebound first of all. So he sent them forthwith to the local binder; and on their return, now gorgeously clothed in 'calf gilt extra' (à la school prize), he despatched them to the London sale-room. The result may be imagined. His foolishness must have robbed him of a sum running well into four figures!

There is another point also to be considered, and that is the pedigree of a volume. The solitary impression of a binder's tool upon a fragment of binding may identify a volume and its previous owners. Some years ago the writer purchased an ancient folio without title-page and colophon, bound in tattered fragments of ancient calf covering stout oak boards.[115] There was, apparently, nothing to indicate when, where, or by whom the volume was printed or bound, or whence it came. But from a certain peculiarity in the type (which he noticed when studying the early printers of Nürnberg) he now knows the name of the printer and the town in which he plied his trade; while from a certain woodcut which that printer used also in two other dated works only, both printed the same year, he discovered when the volume in all probability was printed.

A scrutiny of the remains of the binding revealed the blind impressions of four different stamps. As these occur frequently in conjunction upon the bindings executed by the monks at a certain monastery in Germany in the sixteenth century, there is little difficulty in assigning a provenance to the volume. Furthermore the initial H in a heart-shaped impression identifies the binder as a monk whose initials H.G. (on two heart-shaped tools) are of frequent occurrence on contemporary volumes at that time in the possession of the monastery.

Needless to say, it has not been rebound. The tattered pieces of skin have been carefully pasted down, and a case—lettered on the back—now contains the book upon his shelf.[45]

In the case, however, of more recent books bound in tattered or perished calf, books of which one may obtain duplicates at any time, except they be works of extreme value there is no reason why they should not be re-bound. Even here, however,[116] the collector must tread warily; for should he send his copy of Tim Bobbin's Lancashire dialogue of Tummus and Meary to the binders with brief instruction that it is to be bound in full morocco, it may be returned to him in all the splendour of a sixteenth-century Florentine binding.

With regard to books published in cardboard covers with paper backs and paper labels, what is to be done with these when the backs are dirty or torn off, the labels of some volumes missing? Must they be re-bound in leather or cloth? Not necessarily, and I for my part maintain that the delightful ease which one experiences in handling them when reading the early editions of Byron, Scott, or Irving, and those writers who flourished in the first few decades of the nineteenth century when books were commonly issued in this form, is sufficient excuse for retaining them in their original shape. Such volumes may easily be made presentable at the cost of a little time and trouble, as I shall presently show.

An appearance of antiquity is never a desideratum to the honest book-collector. I say 'honest' advisedly, for there have been—and doubtless are—persons so misguided as to stoop to the fabrication of certain small and excessively valuable books. To such, an appearance of age is no doubt indispensable in their wares. But these are torments which afflict the wealthy only; and for this I at least am sincerely thankful.

There is no doubt, however, that in the collection of many things antiquity in appearance is desirable: witness the modern fabrication of 'antique' furniture and pottery. Our book-hunter was once acquainted with a certain country gentleman, a learned man and most excellent companion, whose passion for rare things once got the better of his judgment. It was not books that he collected, but butterflies; and he was inordinately proud of a rather seedy-looking 'Large Copper' which his cabinet contained. For the benefit of his admiring entomological friends he would recite how his grandfather had caught it with his hat when on a holiday in[117] the Fens. It grew to be quite an exciting tale. One day, however, in the course of a country ramble they fell to discussing the romancer, or man who resorts to fiction that his adventures may be the more interesting. And as (for the sake of argument) the man of books affected to praise him, remarking that any soulless fool can tell the bald truth whereas it requires an artistic temperament to adorn a tale with realistic embellishment (!), his friend turned to him eagerly. Being encouraged, he confessed that his Large Copper was not all that it appeared to be. In short, the bookman discovered that he had secured it himself while on a summer tour in Switzerland, and with the aid of a camel's-hair brush had succeeded in reducing it to a venerable state.

'Of course,' the entomologist hastened to explain, 'no one could possibly tell that it was not my grandfather's. He had a very fine collection, and probably there was more than one Large Copper in it, though there was only the one in the cabinet that came to me. I shall never forget my feelings when it happened. I had taken it out of the drawer to show to a friend, when we both saw, outside the window, what we thought was an Antiopa. We rushed out, and when we came back we found that the cat. . . . Dear me; I was quite overcome. . . . But that summer I caught the one you have seen in Switzerland; and as my dear friend was no more and nobody else knew of the catastrophe, I thought there would be no harm in merely restoring a specimen to my grandfather's collection.'

But the bookman pointed out to him that when he died and his collection was sold his family would benefit by some pounds through his indiscretion; for it was now known to all his friends as a genuine English specimen. This troubled the entomologist greatly, for it was a point of view that had never occurred to him, and, like the rich young man, 'he went away grieved.'

So it is sometimes in book-collecting: there is a temptation to 'restore' an incomplete book. Should the collector find[118] that his copy of a certain work lacks a portrait, what is more natural than to go to the print-shop and purchase a portrait of the same individual for insertion in his copy? And in this there may be little harm, provided that the book is of no value and that he makes a note in ink inside the front cover as to what he has done. But occasionally some unscrupulous book-fiend—he is, of course, no true book-collector—substitutes for a damaged page a page from another copy, or perhaps of a later edition; sometimes he supplies his volume with a spurious title-page or other leaf; and, worst of all, substitutes in his copy of the second edition, whereof the title-page is damaged, the title-page of a first edition, of which he possesses an incomplete copy.

And here let me utter a word of warning. Apparently it is the practice of certain cheap second-hand booksellers to abstract the engraved plates from folio books, occasionally also removing the 'List of Plates' that the theft may remain undiscovered, and to sell the works thus mutilated as sound and perfect copies. Needless to say to the print collector such plates are invariably worth a shilling or two apiece, if portraits considerably more. I know to my cost one London bookseller who habitually removes the engraved portraits with which certain seventeenth-century folios, especially historical ones, are wont to be embellished. How many rare volumes this ghoul has ruined it is impossible to say, probably some hundreds. Our book-hunter confesses to having been caught by him three times, discovering the reason for the cheapness of his bargains (!) some time later. A friend has also suffered from his attentions. I need hardly add that his shop is now avoided, by two book-hunters at least, as something unclean.

Occasionally, also, one comes across scarce volumes bereft of title-pages, these having been torn out by some vampire to adorn his scrapbook. Surely no fate can be too bad for the man who dismembers books. His proper place is certainly in the Inferno, where, in company with Bertrand de Born,[119] he will be condemned for ever to carry his own head, after it has been separated from his body, in the shape of a lantern.[46]

As soon as ever you reach home with your purchases from a ramble along the bookstalls, and whenever you receive books that you have ordered through a bookseller's catalogue, collate your acquisitions carefully. Whenever it is possible refer to a bibliography to see that your copy is all that it should be. Nothing is more annoying than to discover, perhaps years afterwards, that your copy of a rare book, which you fondly imagined to be a fine one in every respect, lacks a page or so, or a leaf of index or errata, or a plate. It is a good plan to make a point of keeping books upon your table until they have been properly collated and catalogued, when—and not before—they may be placed upon the shelves.

Frequently you will discover that a second book, or even a third, has been bound up with your volume, and you would have overlooked these but for collating. It was a common practice at one time (as, indeed, it is with some collectors nowadays) to bind up thin books with thicker ones to save the expense of binding. Probably this is the reason why certain sixteenth and seventeenth century works which consist of but fifty or sixty leaves are so hard to find, being bound at the end of larger works and thus commonly escaping the cataloguer's eye.

It is necessary for the collector to exercise the greatest caution in acquiring a valuable old book from any but a reputable bookseller. The fabrication of a page or so—especially a title-page—is a comparatively small matter to the nefarious dealer who hopes by this means to obtain for his copy the price which a perfect one would command. 'Perfect' copies of rare fifteenth-century works are made up from two or more imperfect ones, title-pages and leaves are reproduced in facsimile, blank leaves and engravings are inserted: for all these the collector must be continually upon his guard. Other books there are which have certain passages frequently[120] mutilated, or a genealogical tree or a table generally missing.

Hazlitt gives two examples of this species of knavery. One, in which a reproduction of the scarce portrait of Milton usually attached to the first edition of his 'Poems,' 1645, had been actually split and laid down on old paper to make it resemble the original print: the other, a case in which a copy of Lovelace's 'Lucasta,' 1649, lacked a plate representing Lucy Sacheverell (which makes a good deal of the value of the book), and a copy of the modern reproduction of this plate to be found in Singer's 'Select Poets' had been soaked off and 'lined' to give it the appearance of a genuine impression mounted, and then bound in.

And these mutilations are not the only things of which the collector must beware. Early in the history of books, the reputation that hall-marked the publications of certain famous presses became a source of envy to less fortunate printers. Type and imprints were soon counterfeited, and the fine editions of the Classics printed at Venice by the great Aldine press were reproduced at Lyons and elsewhere. In this matter of forgery and pirated reprints, you will find Gustave Brunet's 'Imprimeurs Imaginaires et Libraires Supposés' of value. It is a catalogue of books printed with fictitious indication of place or with wrong dates, an octavo volume published in 1866.

These things, however, cannot be learnt at once, and it is only by the continual study of catalogues and bibliographies that one comes to know them. Needless to say, however, all reputable booksellers will take back a work which is discovered to be imperfect, provided that the volume be returned without delay.

Books, like those who gave them birth, are of all conditions; but from the collector's point of view they may be divided conveniently into five classes. To the First Class belong those volumes which are described by booksellers and auctioneers as 'fine copies.' Ever since their publication they have been in the possession of wealthy men, often peers, and[121] (sometimes like their owners!) have passed their lives for the most part undisturbed amid luxurious surroundings. They are invariably richly bound, often in historic bindings, and are clean and fresh inside. Frequently they are sumptuous works and presentation copies, and they always command high prices. In a word, they are aristocrats among books. They are not necessarily rare volumes, though frequently they are large-paper copies, and for the true collector they do not offer so much attraction as the Second Class, in which we place those books that are more eagerly sought after. These are generally rare books, such as incunabula and the higher class English literature of the seventeenth century, and are to be found in the libraries of wealthy collectors who are also learned men. They are always well bound and in good condition, though sometimes they have their headlines shaved, occasionally they are slightly imperfect, or have been cleaned and repaired. But they are always desirable books, and evoke spirited bidding whenever they appear in the auction-room.

Class Three comprises the great army of what may be termed 'middle-class books.' They are bound usually in half-bindings, when they are not in the publisher's cloth, and are good, clean, sound, copies of such works as county histories, antiquarian books, sets of the learned societies' publications and of 'standard authors.' They are such stable and solid books as you will usually find in the libraries of the well-to-do middle classes. In short they are gilt-edged securities, and command a steady price in the market.

To Class Four may be assigned the volumes contained in the average second-hand bookseller's shop in this country. They are the ὃι πολλοί among books, and for the most part they include the more frequent and more modern English works. Usually they are quite desirable copies, though frequently they lack a portrait or other plate, sometimes they have a torn or mounted title-page, or other imperfection. They are generally in cloth or calf bindings which are almost invariably somewhat decrepit, being either rubbed or perished,[122] or cracked at the joints. They are dusty and rather unkempt, and fox-marks are common, for such volumes have passed through many hands and have not always been accorded the care that is due to good books. But it is here that one comes across books 'in the original boards uncut,' and, if expense be no object to you, you may often raise such purchases to a higher class.

Books in Class Five are the outcasts of the book-world, being those decrepit volumes which stack the bookstalls and barrows in the larger towns. They are the weedings of auction sales and shops, books that are not worth cataloguing by the dealer. Like human beings they have drifted through life with all its vicissitudes, knowing many masters and earning the gratitude of none. And so at length, deprived even of a home, they find their way into the streets, where they are soon reduced to wreckage.

At first sight it would seem that they owe their situation to their quality, both intrinsic and extrinsic—that they are valueless either as literature or as specimens of book-production, or that they are imperfect or odd volumes. In many cases this may be true, but in general it is not so. The wrecks of handsomely produced books of high-class literature are common on the bookstalls and barrows, as all collectors of modest means are aware. They owe their situation chiefly to inconsiderate handling and to the carelessness of their successive owners.

As to the practice of inserting illustrations in books that are published without them, 'Grangerising,' as it is called, it is perhaps best left alone. At first sight there appears to be small harm in providing, let us say, a volume of travels or the description of a town with an appropriate engraved frontispiece, or adorning your biography of So-and-so with a portrait. But the temptation to overstep the bounds of seemliness is so great that it is seldom the collector stops at a mere frontispiece. In most cases the Grangerite soon loses his self-control, and develops an acute mania for embellishing[123] his volume with all and every print upon which he can lay his hands, apposite in the slightest degree to the subject of the book. Every year the sale-rooms witness these monstrosities. Biographies issued in a single volume are 'extended' ('rended asunder' would be a better term) to fifteen or twenty volumes by the insertion of hundreds of engravings depicting every place mentioned in the text and every man or woman that the subject of the biography ever met. I have seen an octavo volume multiplied into twenty-five folio ones in this fashion, the leaves being inlaid to suit the size of the huge portraits and views stuffed into the disjointed sections of the wretched book. Nor is it only engravings that are used. Play-bills, lottery-tickets, tradesmen's advertisements, autograph letters, maps, charts, broadsides, street ballads, bills even, all are grist for the Grangerite's mill.

It is a singularly futile hobby, and it is certainly a pernicious form of bibliomania, for it is responsible for the destruction of many good books. Whether its devotee imagines that any one is ever going to wade through his twenty monstrosities, turning, perhaps, six illustrations between page and page of text, we have not discovered. His completed labours form a compilation about as valuable as a scrap-book. If it were possible to gather into one volume, or rather portfolio, every portrait, let us say, of a certain celebrity that has ever been published, one would possess a valuable storehouse for reference purposes; and such a volume, from its completeness, would be invaluable in the British Museum. But these limits are too narrow for the true Grangerite. He desires a wider field of action. So he embarks upon a task which he can never hope to complete. Though he labour all his life there will always be some one or more engravings that he has failed to secure; and so far from being 'invaluable,' his collection becomes merely of passing interest. As a book it is, of course, grotesque.

The fate of most of these collections is probably the same. So long as the binding remains in good condition they are[124] ensured a niche on some neglected shelf; but once the marks of age or wear and tear manifest themselves their fate is sealed. They come speedily into the hands of those booksellers who deal also in prints, and beneath such ruthless hands the labour of years is undone in a few minutes. At least it is pleasant to think that the poor pages, separated for so many years, come together again if only for a few hours before they reach the paper-mill!

Whether the sober-minded collector whose pride is the well-being of his books is justified in adding a frontispiece and, say, half-a-dozen good engravings to a book that he appreciates, is a moot question. Doubtless the correct view is that books should not be meddled with by amateur book-producers, that both publisher and author know best what is most fitting for the volume they produce, that any book which has been tampered with internally in any way becomes a monster and is to be avoided. But this brings up again the old question, 'May we not do what we like with our own volumes?'

Personally I am of opinion that the judicious and extremely moderate adornment of certain books is justified by the result. There is no doubt that the insertion in an unillustrated volume of travel of, let us say, six engraved plates depicting scenes mentioned in the text, adds a charm to the volume and enhances both its appearance and the pleasure of its perusal. Similarly the addition of an authentic portrait to a biography certainly lends an added interest, whilst the addition of a map is often of the greatest assistance to the reader. But that books should be mutilated, torn apart, and stuffed with play-bills, lottery-tickets, and the like, no sane book-lover will admit.

There are some books that seem to ask for illustration. Who has handled the three folio volumes which comprise the first edition of Clarendon's 'History of the Rebellion' without feeling that by rights they should contain fine mezzotint portraits of the chief actors in that great drama? But they[125] must be mezzotints, mark you—mere line engravings would be out of place among those bank-note paper leaves with their handsome great-primer type. This question of seemliness, too, must be considered carefully ere we add a single plate to any volume. Not every engraving, however beautiful in design and impression, is at once suitable to every book that treats of the subject it depicts. That the illustrations be contemporary with the text goes without saying. No one would be so foolish as to insert modern 'half-tone' illustrations in a seventeenth-century book.

That heading 'Extra-illustrated,' so dear to certain booksellers, must send a shudder through many of the discerning readers of their catalogues. Books that are extra-illustrated should be avoided by the collector on principle. There is something foolishly egotistical in seeking (by those who have no knowledge of book-production) to 'improve' the work of other men whose business is the making of books. There can be no necessity for it; the author is quite sure to have added the illustrations that are requisite for the volume. It is only books that were published without illustrations that we are justified in attempting to embellish. Illustrations in a book are invariably a question of the author's and publisher's tastes; the cost of their production is not usually an all-important item: it is the setting up of the type, the paper, and the binding that count—not the illustrations.

It was the fashion in the early decades of the last century to issue volumes of engravings suitable for illustrating the works of contemporary writers, such as Byron and Scott: and these illustrations can be used when you have your editions rebound. There is no particular merit about the greater part of them, but they depict incidents described in the text, so at least they are apposite. Each to his taste; our book-hunter for his part needs no second-rate illustrations to help him visualise the glories of Childe Harold or Don Juan; and he has long since confined his Grangerising to the sparing addition of finely engraved portraits to biographical volumes.


[44] With regard to these cases, the collector will use his own judgment as to whether they be of the 'slip-in' variety, by which means the binding is rubbed every time that he withdraws and inserts his volume; whether such cases be lined with velvet, and roomy enough to obviate this friction; or whether they shall open with a flap at the side.

[45] If you are interested in the pedigrees of your volumes (by which we mean the identification of their previous owners) you will find M. Guigard's 'Nouvel Armorial du Bibliophile,' octavo, Paris, 1890, useful where armorial bindings are concerned. It is an interesting volume, and appeared first of all in four parts (large octavo, Paris), between 1870 and 1872. There are cuts of every coat of arms identified, but these are almost entirely French. Mr. Cyril Davenport's 'English Heraldic Book-stamps' was published in large octavo, in 1909. For early book-plates you must consult the numerous works upon this subject that have appeared in recent years. An excellent series of articles entitled "Books on Book-plates," by F.C.P., appeared in 'The Bookman's Journal and Print Collector' between February and July, 1920 (Nos. 15-18, 20-23, 25, 34, and 40). There is also 'A Bibliography of Book-Plates,' by Messrs. Fincham and Brown, in which the plates are arranged chronologically. The Ex-Libris Society issues a journal, and there are numerous other volumes upon this subject, which you will find mentioned in Mr. Courtney's 'Register of National Bibliography.'

[46] Canto xviii.






'In the name of Christ all men I pray,
No wight this book doth carry away,
By force or theft or any deceit.
Why not? Because no treasure so sweet
As my books, which the grace of Christ display.'
(Written in Latin hexameters at the end of
      the Leechbook of Bald.)



here can be no subject of such prime importance to the collector as the housing of his books. In most cases the books themselves have small say in the matter, for a certain room in the house is allotted to them without any consideration as to its suitability for storing books, and there they must abide, making such shift as their possessor shall determine. This must always be the case where their owner is in lodgings or in any temporary abode, where it is not considered worth while going to the expense of putting up permanent shelves for his books. But, after careless handling, there is nothing that ruins books more quickly than an indifference to their well-being; and unless our volumes are constantly placed in their proper position, that is upon their feet, they will age speedily and visibly both inside and out.

'The surest way to preserve your books in health is to treat them as you would your own children,' wrote that great[127] bibliophile, William Blades; and the care which should ever be bestowed upon ancient volumes cannot be too strongly emphasised. And it is not only 'ancient' volumes that require attention. Cloth bindings are hardly so durable as leather, and without proper care a library of modern books can be reduced to wreckage in a year. It is just as easy to provide proper accommodation for one's books, wherever one may be living, as it is to provide comforts for oneself. Treat your books well and they will last you all your life, giving pleasure every time that you may take them in your hands. Remember also that although one may judge the propensities of a collector from the titles of his volumes and his character from their contents, yet there is nothing which indicates his habits so surely as the external appearance of his books. Whenever our book-hunter enters the library of a fellow-bookman he can gauge at once the depths of his feelings towards books, let alone the extent of his bibliographical knowledge.

Surely no man is such a giant among his fellows that he may allow the life-works of the greatest geniuses of this world to be spurned underfoot? 'Take thou a book into thine hands,' wrote Thomas à Kempis, 'as Simeon the Just took the Child Jesus into his arms to carry him and kiss him.'

What true book-lover could find it in his heart wantonly to injure a good book? '. . . as good almost kill a Man as kill a good Book,' wrote Milton in that oft-quoted passage in his Areopagitica; 'who kills a Man kills a reasonable creature, God's Image; but hee who destroyes a good Booke kills Reason itselfe, kills the Image of God, as it were in the eye. Many a man lives a burden to the Earth; but a good Booke is the pretious life-blood of a master spirit, imbalm'd and treasur'd up on purpose to a Life beyond Life.'

It is not only the critic who destroys books, for neglect may approach dangerously near to wanton destruction. At the least, he who regards not the welfare of his books is an accessory before the fact of their destruction. 'Books,' says[128] that veteran bibliophile M. Octave Uzanne, 'are so many faithful and serviceable friends, gently teaching us everything through their persuasive and wise experience.' Surely if good books are so much to us, such a great part of our lives, it behoves us to respect them not a little. Have they not taught us, guided us, advised us, soothed us, and amused us from our youth up? And is it meet that we should repay their constant friendship with indignity?

'Thou, whosoever thou art that studiest in this book,' wrote an unknown book-lover many centuries ago upon the margin of a favourite volume, 'take heed to turn the leaves lightly and smoothly, that thou mayest avoid tearing them on account of their thinness; and seek to imitate the example of Jesus Christ who, when He had gently opened the book of Isaiah and read it with attention, at length closed it reverently and returned it to the minister.'

On this subject of shelving our book-hunter can speak from experience, for he has provided proper accommodation for a thousand to three thousand volumes in three temporary abodes.[47] It takes a little time, a fair amount of trouble, and an outlay of three or four pounds; but when once accomplished such shelving is a thing of no small pride to oneself, and the object of a good deal of admiration by one's friends. Briefly, the plan he has always adopted is to erect shelves of pine or deal stained brown, nine inches wide and five-eighths or three-quarters of an inch thick, along the entire walls of his sanctum. It is firmly made and will last a lifetime, yet it can readily be taken to pieces in a few minutes.



In erecting such shelving the first thing to do is to estimate how many feet of it you will require. On an average one foot will contain ten octavo or quarto volumes or six folio ones. There should be ten inches between the shelves for[129] octavos, twelve inches for quartos, and fourteen inches for folios: while at the bottom you may have a shelf sixteen inches in height for such large folios as you may acquire or already possess. Should the huge folios (almost folissimos) published by the Record Commission in the early years of the nineteenth century fall within the category of your collecting activities, you will require one shelf at least no less than nineteen inches in height. If only for the sake of your peace of mind I would strongly advise you not to begin collecting early Spanish antiphonaries, such as you may see in the Escurial; for these are frequently six feet high and four feet wide, and are really out of place in the small domestic library. I forget for the moment their precise dimensions in millimetres.

It is a mistake to have the top shelves too high. Not to speak of the inconvenience of having to stretch upon tip-toe or mount a chair in order to obtain a volume, your books will be subjected to a higher temperature the nearer they are to the ceiling. Blades, in his 'Enemies of Books,' is emphatic upon this point. 'Heat alone,' he says, 'without any noxious fumes is, if continuous, very injurious to books; and, without gas, bindings may be utterly destroyed by desiccation, the leather losing all its natural oils by long exposure to much heat. It is, therefore, a great pity to place books high up in a room where heat of any kind is used, for it must rise to the top, and if sufficient to be of comfort to the readers below is certain to be hot enough above to injure the bindings.'

Gas is one of the greatest enemies of books, the sulphur in the gas fumes attacking the leather bindings readily, so that in time they are reduced to tinder. So if gas be the illuminant in your study, see to it that no volume of yours be above the level of the burner. In any case, if space will permit, the highest shelf should not be more than six feet from the ground. For similar reasons of temperature, the bottom shelves should be six inches above the floor.

As to the actual length of the shelves, if constructed of[130] wood five-eighths of an inch thick when planed, they should not exceed two feet two inches in length between supports. If made longer they will gradually bend in the middle under the weight of the books and soon look unsightly. But if made of three-quarter-inch wood, they may well be three feet long.

Now as to the actual construction of the cases. We will suppose that the entire case, that is shelves and uprights, is to be made of planks five-eighths of an inch thick when planed. The first thing to do is to estimate how many feet of timber you will require. Measure your wall space. In calculating the length of shelving remember that each upright is five-eighths of an inch thick; and in estimating the height of the uprights, don't forget to add the thicknesses of the shelves to the spaces between them. Perhaps the following example will be useful.

To find height of upright:—

Top shelf space9½in.
2nd shelf space10 in.
3rd shelf space10 in.
4th shelf space10 in.
5th shelf space12 in.
6th shelf space14 in.
Height of lowest shelf from floor6 in.
Thickness of 6 shelves, each ⅝in.3¾in.
 Height of upright—6ft., 3¼in.

The top shelf will be 5ft. 5in. from the ground.

The uprights must be two inches wider than the shelves in order that the latter may not rest against the wall. There must always be a space between shelves and wall to allow a free circulation of air about the books. Therefore, let your uprights be eleven inches and your shelves nine inches in[131] width. In estimating the amount of timber required, don't forget the top.

The manner in which the shelves are supported by the uprights is as follows. Strips of wood five-eighths of an inch square and nine inches long are screwed across the uprights, and on these the shelves rest. So when you order the wood from your carpenter or timber merchant see that he sends you also a sufficiency of these strips, two for each shelf.

The fixing of these strips will entail a certain amount of carpentry, and in addition to bradawl, screwdriver, and footrule you will need a hard pencil and a carpenter's square, as well as some stout iron screws one inch long. Two screws are sufficient for each strip. If you are anything of a carpenter you will countersink the holes for the heads of the screws; this will also prevent a possible splitting of the strip.

When your carpentering is completed, the whole case must be stained to your taste. For this purpose our book-hunter has found nothing so good as the solution known as 'Solignum,' which may be purchased at any ironmonger's. In addition to being a wood-preservative, it has the advantage of being obnoxious to insects. It dries a pleasing brown, not unlike old oak. The only objection to its use that he has discovered is that it smells strongly, though not unpleasantly, for about a fortnight. One coat is quite sufficient, and after a few days you may rub the shelves with an old duster to remove any of the solution that has not yet been absorbed.

The case should now be put together, the tops (which are in one piece, the entire width of the case) and lowest shelves being screwed to the uprights. The other shelves are merely rested on the strips. You will find that if your floor be level, and you have sawn the bottoms of the uprights squarely, there will be no necessity to affix the case to the wall: the weight of the books alone will keep it in position. If the floor proves uneven, small wedges underneath the uprights will be sufficient.

You will find it an advantage to cover the shelves and their[132] sides with green baize. This protects the bindings of the books considerably, and it is easily stuck on with glue. It has also the advantage of holding the dust which collects, and with the aid of a small 'vacuum-cleaner' such as most households possess nowadays, the cases may be cleaned thoroughly without removing a single shelf.[48] Felt would be better, but it is, of course, much more expensive. Sir John Cheke, tutor to Edward the Sixth, that learned man who, says Milton, 'taught Cambridge and King Edward Greek,' used buckram. 'Among other lacks,' he writes from Cambridge in 1549 to a friend in London, 'I lack painted bucram to lai betweyne bokes and bordes in mi studi, which I now have trimd. I have need of XXX yardes. Chuse you the color.' But the buckram of his day was probably a very different material from the cloth which we are accustomed to associate with the binding of books. At all events I certainly should not recommend its use when you trim your studi.

On no account must you paint or varnish your shelves, unless, of course, you intend to cover them with baize or felt. However good the paint, however hard the varnish, heavy leather-bound books will adhere to them in course of time. So that when you come to remove a volume which you have treasured in its ancient calf, you will find that the leather at the bottom edges of the boards remains behind with the shelf. Therefore, unless you intend to line them, let your shelves be stained or sparingly polished only.

Care must be taken not to place any volume near wet or even damp 'Solignum.' Make sure that it is thoroughly dry or covered with baize before you place a single volume on the shelves. Should you wish your work to look particularly neat, you may putty over the heads of the screws before you begin staining operations. An additional 'finish' is given by numbering the cases with Roman numerals in gold upon[133] small stained blocks (about 2 inches by 1¼ inches) affixed to the top of each case. The shelves may also be lettered with letters of the alphabet cut out of gold paper.

But perhaps you may prefer to designate the cases of your library by the names of ancient Rome, as was the practice followed notably in these days in the library of Sir Robert Cotton. It is a pleasant conceit, and there is certainly something more dignified about 'Vespasian, VII, 7,' or 'Cleopatra, IV, 26' than there is about a mere 'B, VI, 8,' or 'XIV, C, 16.' Asinius Pollio, that great warrior, historian, and book-lover of the Augustan age, is said to have been the first to adorn his library with portraits and busts of celebrated men as well as with statues of Minerva and the Muses, an example that was soon followed by others. Pollio was the first to found a public library at Rome, which he endowed with the money obtained in his Illyrian campaign, says Pliny: but in how many public libraries at the present day will you find a memorial of this great patron of Virgil and Horace?

The effect of placing statuettes of marble or plaster, about sixteen inches high, on the top of one's book-cases is singularly pleasing; and there is an appropriateness about it to the eye that it is impossible to describe. One may have beautiful reproductions of all the most famous classical statues and busts for a few shillings. What can be more appropriate than for Calliope to preside over your case containing Homer and Virgil, Dante and Milton; or that Euterpe should be enthroned above Theocritus and Horace, Shelley and Swinburne? You may carry your fancy on these lines as far as you like, and you may include any figure that pleases you, from the well-known 'Discobolus' (over your case of sporting books!) to the exquisite statue which many still persist in calling the 'Venus de Milo.'[49]

[134] A friend of our book-hunter has adopted a somewhat similar plan. Above each case in his library he has placed an oaken shield on which are emblazoned the arms of one of the ancient historic families of England, such as Warren, Clare, Mortimer, or Doyly. The effect is striking, and the bold colouring of fesses and chevrons lightens the sombre tone of the mahogany cases. The shields are chosen for their distinctive features, and, once learnt, it would be impossible in seeking 'Warr. C, 21' to mistake the scarlet chevrons of Clare for the blue and white chess-board coat of Warren.

On the matter of cases with glass doors we need not touch here; it has been thoroughly debated by such masters as Blades and Lang. For the storing of valuable books and bindings such cases are excellent, provided always that there is a free circulation of air about the volumes, or that the doors are opened every day. But for one who is at work continually in his library, and is referring constantly to his books, the repeated opening and closing of glass doors would be something more than irritating. Charles v. of France had grilles of brass wire put in the windows of his library in the Louvre, to preserve the books from the attacks of 'birds and other beasts.' The document recording the payment for this work makes the sinister remark that the books were in the tower 'devers la Fauconnerie.' Precisely what the clerk of the works thought we shall never know; possibly he pictured a goshawk pouncing upon the 'veluyau ynde' in which some chubby duodecimo was clothed. In the end, however, the 'oyseaux et autres bestes' had to make room for the books; and the Tour de la Fauconnerie, known thenceforth as the Tour de la Librairie, was panelled throughout with 'bois d'Irlande,' carved and inlaid (as it seems) with cypress wood. However, this was so long ago as 1368.

We must now turn to another important matter—perhaps the most important subject to the collector after the housing of his volumes—namely, the binding of his books. It is a subject that is naturally of the greatest moment to the[135] bibliophile, for it is as essentially a part of his volumes as are their leaves and print. It is constantly before him, and will continue to occupy his thoughts to the end of his book-collecting career. So often, however, has it been treated, so many are the books upon it by skilled craftsmen, that it were needless (and, indeed, presumptuous for the writer) to enter into any details here concerning its methods. I would strongly urge every young collector, however, to make himself thoroughly acquainted with the craft so far as can be done without actually becoming apprentice to a bookbinder. Bookbinding is taught nowadays at most of the County Council Schools of Technics throughout the kingdom; and there are opportunities in this direction for the young bibliophile to-day which his elder brethren regard with envy.

Even where such practical instruction is unobtainable it is possible to acquire a quite considerable knowledge of the craft by a diligent study of practical text-books and the scrutinous handling of volumes bound in all ages. As he reads each page, each section of his manual, the collector should examine repeatedly the volumes lying by his side. Our book-hunter began his study of bookbinding with a small and excellent text-book by Mr. Joseph Zaehnsdorf, a member of the well-known firm of binders (sm. 8vo, 3rd ed. 1897); but it has perhaps been superseded by the more recent work of Mr. Douglas Cockerell, namely, 'Bookbinding and the Care of Books,' a perfectly invaluable little book to the collector (sm. 8vo, 4th ed. 1915, published by Mr. John Hogg, Paternoster Row). A diligent application to this book and constant reference to bound volumes during his perusal will teach the collector sufficient about the binding of books for his purpose. He will be able to distinguish between a cased and a bound book, a well-bound and a badly-bound volume, good and bad sewing, tooling, etc.; and he will learn the advantages of the solid back.

Now he may turn to the valuable work by Mr. H. P. Horne entitled 'The Binding of Books' (8vo, 1894) from which he[136] will learn a great deal that is of interest concerning the history of binding. An excellent pamphlet on bookbinders and the history of their craft, by Mr. W. H. J. Weale, was issued in 1898 by the authorities of the Victoria and Albert Museum at South Kensington. It was published at one shilling, and consists of 130 pages with illustrations of binders' stamps and tools, and has an excellent index. At the time of writing it is still in print. But you will find valuable lists of works on the history and practice of bookbinding in Mr. Cyril Davenport's delightful volume 'The Book: its History and Development' (8vo, 1907, Messrs. Constable and Co.). And there are two small volumes on the qualities of the modern book-binding leathers which the collector will do well to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest at the outset of his bibliopegic studies. They are 'Leather for Libraries' (8vo, London 1905), by a committee of the Library Association, and the Report of the Committee of the Society of Arts on Leather for Bookbinding, also octavo, London 1905.

Now as to the practical application of his knowledge of bookbinding. He will have realised at the outset of his career that unless a book be strongly bound in leather at the first, much use will quickly reduce it to the condition of a wreck. The British Museum authorities, recognising this, wisely rebind in leather certain volumes published in cloth covers which are to be placed on the shelves of the Reading Room. Where much use is accorded to the volumes doubtless the ideal way, if one were possessed of sufficient means, would be to purchase new books in quires only, and to have them bound in vellum, pigskin or morocco straight away. With regard to second-hand books (by which I mean old-time literature) these would be rebound, similarly, before they were assigned places on the shelves.

Fortunately, however, in the private library our volumes are immune from that careless handling usually accorded to books by those who love not learning for learning's sake, but look upon it as a necessary part of their worldly education.[137] Usually there is no need to rebind these ancient tomes whose 'joints' are so delicately described by the bookseller as 'tender': their very infirmity will ensure that they be accorded careful handling. But there comes a time when the old fellow succumbs to his arthrodial trouble, and there is nothing for it but to send him to the binder that he may acquire a second youth. Then it is that the collector's learning in the art of binding will prove of the greatest use. He will take the patient in his hands, examine him minutely, and write a long prescription which he will slip into the volume opposite the title-page, before proceeding to wrap him up for the journey. It will run something like this:

M. Pasquier's 'Recherches de la France'
Fo: Paris 1633.



Pigskin, vellum, and morocco (by which I intend goatskin): there are no alternatives if durability be our aim; calf, of course, we have learnt long ago to eschew. No leather, except Russia, perishes more quickly or more easily. Rather have a book bound in cloth than in calf any day. Buckram is[138] good and stands fairly rough handling; it is useful for binding catalogues and cheap books. See that your binder gives you good thick boards when he clothes your books in buckram.

Years ago, when books were most commonly bound in calf, a custom arose of stamping the lettering on thin pieces of leather of a different colour from the binding, and these were stuck on to the back of the book. There is no doubt that these leather labels have sometimes a pleasing effect, and for a time the custom was very popular. But it is a bad habit. Besides the meretricious effect generally produced, the paste which holds the label to the back of the book perishes in time, and the label drops off. A visit to any large second-hand bookshop will afford an admirable illustration of the result of this habit. Here one may see sets of Shakespeare's works and other classics which present a most woebegone appearance owing to several of the volumes having shed their labels. The only excuse for this custom that I have ever heard urged, is that one always knows when to rebind volumes so adorned: it is when the labels begin to fall.

As to the merits and demerits of the different coloured moroccos, you will find these fully dealt with in the bookbinding manuals. White and black we are warned against especially. The bookbinding authorities tell us that vellum, if exposed to a strong light, perishes and chips off like egg-shell; and we are warned to place vellum bound volumes with their backs to the wall, lettering the fore-edge with pen and ink, as was often done of old. But if kept away from the windows this precaution seems to be unnecessary. The beautiful brown vellum used for binding and repairing old books by Messrs. John Ramage and Son is very attractive and is, perhaps, as durable a binding as it is possible to have. Possibly other bookbinders use it, though I do not remember to have seen it used by any other firm. So far as I am aware this firm is the only one in London capable of executing work of the very highest class at a price within the means of the modest collector.

[139] It has been said that there are only four bookbinders in London who may be trusted not to mutilate a book, and that there are only two who have any sense of design and harmony of colour. But this is not to be wondered at when we consider that the majority of the bookbinders' customers know nothing whatever of bookbinding good or bad, requiring only that their volumes shall present a gorgeous appearance to the eye. Consequently the ordinary binder is rarely called upon to pay those minute attentions to detail demanded by a hypercritical collector. Bibliophiles are born, not made, and it were foolish to expect that every bookbinder has the love of books at heart. In nine cases out of ten it is our own fault if the binder goes wrong, for it means that our instructions have been either too meagre or lacking in a knowledge of technical detail.

When sending a book to the binder, definite instructions should always be enclosed. The details should be set forth clearly on a slip accompanying the volume. It should be stated:

(i) Whether the book is to be bound in pigskin, vellum, or morocco (Levant, Niger, smooth or rough grained).

(ii) The colour.

And here let me say that it is always better to choose the leather (the actual skin) oneself. The binder will make up two little books, lettered with the collector's name on the cover, containing moroccos of different hues; one he will give to the collector, the other he will retain. As every sample in these books is numbered, when ordering it is merely necessary to give the number (written very distinctly!). It is perhaps superfluous to add that, at the outset, the collector will have obtained a guarantee from his binder that only acid-free skins shall be used in binding his books. And he will also be careful to avoid selecting the very bright tints, such skins not being so durable as those of more sombre hue.


(iii) Whether quarter, half, or whole binding.

(iv) If quarter or half binding, whether the sides are to be covered with cloth (buckram or linen, and colour) or paper (marbled or plain, and colour).

(v) Treatment of the edges: whether top edge gilt (t.e.g.), all edges gilt, gilt on red, gilt on the rough, marbled, sprinkled, yellow, red, or blue edges (the last two very effective on folio books bound in pigskin), edges trimmed or untrimmed, uncoloured, etc.

(vi) Round or square back.

(vii) Solid or hollow back.

(viii) Round or square raised bands, big or small, or 'no bands' (i.e. not showing).

(ix) End-papers (white, plain coloured or marbled).

(x) Whether, in the case of a large book, it is to have cloth joints (inside the covers).

(xi) Design in gold or blind tooling on sides and back.

(xii) Lettering on back. This should be given in capital letters precisely as it is desired to appear. If any lettering is required in a panel other than the title-panel (second from top), it should be stated which one; the number of the volume or the author's name is put sometimes in the third panel from the top and sometimes in the fourth.

(xiii) Leaves to be mended, cleaned, or pressed; and any directions regarding illustrations, maps, etc.

A goodly list? Yes, but a necessary one unless one is content to leave these things to the binder's discretion. He may be one of the two who are said to possess 'a sense of design and harmony of colour'; but unless the collector has enclosed instructions as to all these points, if on its return the appearance of the book displease him he has only himself to blame.

The care which the book-lover bestows upon his volumes should not end, however, when they return from the binder. Unless attended to from time to time a leather binding—however good the leather—will perish, probably, within a lifetime. Vellum, apparently, is everlasting, provided it be[141] kept away from the light and not exposed to great changes of weather or temperature. But pigskin, goatskin, and of course calf, in time lose by evaporation certain fats which are inherent in the leather. Some collectors use furniture-polish or brown boot-polish to brighten up dingy old bindings, and this certainly has a pleasing (and often surprising) effect. But it is a bad practice, for the polish hardens the leather, which soon cracks worse than before. 'It would add immensely to the life of old leather bindings,' writes Mr. Cockerell, 'if librarians would have them treated, say once a year, with some preservative.' And he goes on to recommend that the bindings be rubbed over with a solution of paraffin wax dissolved in castor oil. Our book-hunter has used a preparation of glycerine for some years with success, but the paraffin wax promises to evaporate less rapidly. Old calf bindings should be treated at least once every year.

What shall we do with our volumes in 'original boards, uncut' when their paper backs become tattered, their labels illegible? Is there no other treatment for them than a visit to the binder's? That depends entirely upon one's energy, one's capacity for taking pains, one's neatness of finger, and the time at one's disposal. As I have said, the pleasure in handling volumes so attired is sufficient excuse for a desire to retain them in their original condition as long as possible. There is a facility in opening, a lightness in holding, and a simple charm in their appearance that is unknown to their more richly clad brethren. Our book-hunter for his part has long since given up sending such volumes to the binder's. Let the adept exercise his craft upon tomes in worn-out leather bindings; with the repairing of books in their original boards our amateur himself will deal.

It is not a difficult matter, and it can be done by the bibliophile at home. The first requisites are some sheets of strong, tough paper, brown and coloured. These can be procured for a few pence from any paper-merchant or place where they sell wrapping-paper. A pot of 'Stickphast'[142] paste, a pencil, a ruler, a pocket-knife, and a pair of scissors are the accessories. Sometimes it is necessary only to re-back the volume. This is a simple matter. First of all the tattered paper on the back is scraped off, then a strip of brown or coloured paper is cut the required width and an inch and a half longer than the height of the volume. Cover the strip with paste, then take the volume in your left hand and paste the back and half an inch on to the sides, having first of all placed a sheet of clean paper, slightly larger than the book, inside the cover at each end (i.e. under the boards). This is to prevent soiling.

Now press the back of the book on to the strip, lying on the table ready pasted, so that it adheres; and with your right hand press the sides of the strip over on to the sides of the book. Experience will quickly teach you that if you use too much paste you will make a mess; whilst if you use too little the strip will not stick. If the paper is very thick it is necessary to rub the paste well into it.

Next put the back of the book upon the table (which we trust you have covered with a newspaper) and allow the boards to fall flat, holding the leaves upright. Now comes the tricky part of the business: you have got to fold the projecting ends of the new back over the top and bottom of the boards and under the body of the book. If this is not quite lucid, get a volume in boards and hold it as we have directed, you will soon see what is meant. It is a ticklish operation and the paper is easily torn if too thin or too damp. It also requires some patience, for probably you will find that the strip has come away from the sides during your manipulations. Press it down again and do the other end. Pressing and pulling gently and kneading are the secrets of success. A small rubber squeegee such as photographers use is useful here. With it you can press out the superfluous paste under the sides of the strip; but it must be used cautiously and not too hard.

Now close the volume, not forgetting to insert sheets of[143] clean paper between boards and leaves at either end, take it up again in your left hand, and pat and finger it carefully till you are satisfied that all is well. Then remove a volume of similar thickness from a rather tightly packed shelf, and insert your patient in its place as far as the strip. Leave it here to dry for at least twenty-four hours.

If the original paper label is legible and intact, it can be easily soaked off the tattered back, though you may have to operate first of all with the pocket-knife to remove it entire from the book. Press it between blotting-paper and allow it to dry naturally. When the new back is dry (not before) the label may be pasted on to it. If, however, the label is missing or too tattered to be of service, there is nothing for it but to write another one with your best penmanship, copying the original, if you have it, in facsimile. Such labels should be written with Indian (waterproof) ink upon rather thin paper of a different colour from the back. Light buff is the most useful colour, though pale blue and light green can be used sometimes with advantage.

Should you wish to make your work look extra neat, and to disguise the fact that the volume has been rebacked, it is possible sometimes to raise the end-papers at the inner corners of the boards, so that the projecting ends of the backing-strip may be tucked under. So much for rebacking.

Sometimes, however, the boards are too dirty or broken to be retained, or some of the boards in a set of volumes are missing. Then there is nothing for it but to provide new boards or patch up and re-cover the old ones. Here again the labour is not very great. New boards may be cut from a cardboard box of suitable size and thickness. Those used by dressmakers are not very suitable, the card being generally too soft. If your volume lacks one or both boards, paste the back with stickphast, and then press on to it a strip of very thin linen (a strip torn from an old cambric handkerchief serves admirably) about two inches wider than the back and an inch shorter than the height of the book. The linen will[144] project an inch on either side of the back. Now put the volume aside to dry.

When the back is dry, having provided suitable boards, paste the linen sides on the underside of each board, i.e. so that when the book is shut, the linen is between leaves and board. The best way to do this is to take a volume of similar thickness, cover it with newspaper, and place it flat upon the table with its fore-edge to the back of the 'patient.' Then lay the board on the supporting volume, and so paste the linen to it. Do one side after the other, stand the book 'ajar,' and allow to dry. Now you may proceed just as in re-backing, covering the boards first of all by pasting over them a rather thin but opaque paper. You will find the squeegee useful here. These side-papers are measured and cut one inch larger than the volume at head, foot, and fore-edge. The projecting edges are folded over the boards and rubbed down with the squeegee. The corners need some attention and pressing.

When you have re-backed your book and all is dry, you will have to provide it with end-papers. Any opaque white paper will do, provided it is not too stiff. That used for lining chests of drawers will answer the purpose, though a paper of slightly better quality is preferable. Measure it carefully about one-eighth of an inch less at head and foot than the height of the book. You need not trouble about the width: so long as the free edge projects beyond the fore-edge when you close the book it can be cut level afterwards. Do not use too much paste, and crease the paper carefully along, and slightly into, the 'joint' with an ivory paperknife. Do not close the book until it is dry.

Whenever you may have occasion to add new end-papers, remember to preserve all indications of the pedigree of your book, by which I mean traces of previous ownership. If there be a bookplate, soak it off, and when dry paste it inside the end cover. If there be autographs of interest on the boards, soak the paper off, cut out the writing and paste it[145] back again when you have finished the book.

When you have provided your volume with new boards, however, you may prefer to clothe it in a 'whole binding'; that is, to use a single piece of paper to cover both back and sides. This is slightly more difficult and some little patience is needed; but when successfully accomplished the effect repays one amply. Lay your book on a sheet of coloured paper, so that the boards are flat whilst you are holding the leaves perpendicularly; then pencil and rule lines all round, leaving a margin of about three-quarters of an inch. Cut out this piece, paste it, paste the back and boards, and lay the book down again on the paper just as you did to begin with. The book is held in this position with either hand whilst the edges are turned up over the boards. It takes a little practice, and one requires some experience in the shrinkage of the paper used. Old boards that have their corners broken can be easily repaired by the use of plenty of paste rubbed well into the breaks, and by using fairly strong covering paper.

There is another matter of which mention must be made here, for it is a necessary adjunct to the binding of books, and that is cleaning, or washing, as it is generally called. Often one comes across leaves in a volume that are stained or spotted in such a manner as to spoil the appearance of the book which otherwise is perfect. Such blemishes can usually be removed when the volume is rebound. Either it is not such a difficult matter as many who have written of these things would have us believe, or else our book-hunter has been singularly fortunate. For he confesses to having achieved considerable success in this direction. Like all other matters involving care and thoroughness, it takes a good deal of time, and no small amount of trouble; but apart from these considerations there is no reason why any bibliophile endowed with patience and a capacity for taking pains, should not attend to the washing of his more 'grubby' volumes himself.

It is not the writer's intention here to go into the various processes employed, for that has been done already by[146] experienced bookbinders; but perhaps the methods which he has employed successfully may be of interest and, possibly, of some use to beginners.

Perhaps it is hardly necessary to say that your first experiments should be made upon books of no value whatever, preferably volumes that have been picked out of the penny tub for this purpose. You will also have procured (if indeed you do not already possess) a copy of Mr. Douglas Cockerell's invaluable little book which I have already mentioned, and have studied it as has been suggested above. Mr. Zaehnsdorf's work also contains a chapter on this subject.

The paraphernalia required are not numerous or expensive, for they consist merely of three or four wide-mouthed glass-stoppered bottles in which to store your chemicals, and a few photographer's developing dishes (the deep ones, of white porcelain) of a suitable size for octavo, quarto, or folio leaves.

Obviously the first thing to do is to remove from the book the leaf or leaves that require cleaning. Unless, like Gerard de Leew, the Antwerp printer, you are 'a man of grete wysedom in all maner of kunnyng,' you will not attempt to clean the leaves of a book in situ. In fact he would be a very brave (or foolish) man who, without great experience, tried to remove any sort of stain from a page without removing the leaf first of all. Our own experience is that it is better to pull the whole book to pieces—or rather take it to pieces, for the word 'pull' in this connection makes one shudder. Carefully cut the threads that hold the quires to the bands, and little by little remove each quire. If the book is in an old leather binding, with a solid back, your task will be no easy one, for it is necessary to scrape away the glue from the back after it has been damped. A cloth dipped in very hot water and wrung out tightly is sometimes of use here, but you must use the greatest caution.

Having removed the leaf, or rather sheet of four pages (we will suppose that the volume has been 'cut') that requires cleaning, you have now to diagnose its complaint and prescribe[147] the correct remedy, which you will have learnt from the text-books we have mentioned. But if the leaf is not merely stained in part, but altogether brown and discoloured, the following treatment probably will prove efficacious. Put half an ounce of permanganate of potash in a jug that holds about a pint and a half, and fill it up with hot water. Stir with a piece of wood until the permanganate is dissolved. Then lay your sheet in a developing dish and pour the hot solution in gently, taking care that there are no bubbles and that the leaf is completely covered. At the end of five minutes (or ten if the paper is thick and heavily sized) pour back the liquid into the jug, and, holding the dish over a sink, let cold water run across it in a gentle stream until all the permanganate is washed away.

The leaf will now be stained a deep brown. Stand the dish on end (the leaf of course sticks to the bottom of the dish) to drain while you prepare the bleaching part of the operation. Now take a similar jug, put half an ounce of oxalic acid into it, and again fill up with hot water. Pour this (hot but not boiling) over the leaf as before. When the leaf is as white as the dish itself, which will take from five minutes to a quarter of an hour, pour off the solution and wash the surplus fluid away. Then let the leaf wash in gently running water for one hour. Our book-hunter always uses the bath for this purpose, but a tin foot-bath under a tap does excellently. The best way to dry the leaf is to press it gently between two sheets of unused blotting-paper, then remove the upper sheet and allow the leaf to dry naturally. Remember, however, that after any washing or bleaching, leaves must always be 'sized' to give back to the paper that substance which the washing has taken out. You will find full instructions for doing this in the text-books I have mentioned. It is quite a simple matter.

Mr. Cockerell recommends that the permanganate bath be only 'warmed slightly,' and that the leaf be left in it for 'about an hour.' Our book-hunter has found (fortunately not[148] to his cost, for the volumes which he used for experimental purposes were valueless) that this sometimes rots the paper, and on one occasion the leaves at the end of an hour came to pieces when the solution was poured off. If used hot and quickly it does not seem to injure the paper, but the water must never be so hot that you cannot bear your finger in it, and you must take care never to use a stronger solution. A strong solution of permanganate will reduce paper to pulp in a few minutes. For similar reasons our bookman prefers oxalic to sulphurous acid, but this too must never be used stronger than I have indicated. I hasten to add, however, in deference to such an excellent authority, that our book-hunter does not recommend, but merely states the methods with which he personally has been successful.

The most difficult stains to remove that the writer has yet come across are those made by a child's paint-box. Some colours are easily removed, but seventeenth-century gamboge is a perfect beast. The only successful way to deal with these 'stains' is by studying the chemistry of the 'colours,' and the re-actions of the chemicals of which they are made. With a little experimenting there is no reason why any of these pigments should not be removed successfully, and at some future period of leisure our book-hunter hopes to record his own experiences in this matter.

Here a word of warning. Do not handle permanganate of potash in the room where your bleached leaves are drying. If you do probably you will be annoyed to find small purple specks on the leaves where the fine permanganate dust has settled. It is unpleasant stuff to use, and stains everything with which it comes into contact. Undoubtedly it is at its best in a closely stoppered bottle. Rubber gloves would be useful, if they did not make one 'all thumbs.' Remember that oxalic acid will remove the stains from your hands just as well as from paper—also that it bleaches carpets. (Item, don't conduct your operations in the dining-room.) The best thing with which to handle the leaves when wet is a broad[149] flat bone paper-knife with smooth edges. On various occasions when our bookman has not had time to complete the bleaching process, he has dried the leaves in their brown state and put them aside for a week before bleaching. So far he has not found this to have any ill effect on the paper, though possibly if kept for a longer period—especially if they got damp—the permanganate might rot them.

A very hot and strong solution of alum I have used with success for leaves that are more dirty than stained, and do not really require bleaching. Ether is excellent for stains of a greasy nature, though some may prefer the stains to the vapour which it gives off. With hydrochloric acid, so strongly recommended by some, I have never had any success. If used strong it destroys the paper, and if used weak the leaf has to be left in it for so long as to reduce the paper almost to a pulp. Remember that as a general rule, the shorter the process of washing the better. Long immersion tends to rot the fibres of the paper. With regard to staining the leaf so as to match the rest of the book, our book-hunter generally uses a solution of cigarettes (Virginians are quite the best). Possibly this is a very bad practice, but at least it is effective, the stain diffuses easily, and it can be regulated to any shade. Coffee is recommended by some.

Thumb-marks and the stains of dirty fingers are best removed by rubbing them lightly (and very carefully) with one of those disc-shaped erasers used by typists. These erasers remove the surface of the paper, so they must be used with extreme caution.[50]

There is yet another byway of book-collecting which we must study before we may graduate in book-lore. To the[150] uninitiated the word 'bibliography' conveys little more than a mere writing about books. But it is a vast study, and, if we are to become proficient in it, one that will occupy us for many years.

For the specialist there is no more delightful pursuit than the compilation of a bibliography upon the subject of his choice. Not only will it give him a sound bibliographical knowledge of the books which he desires and hopes ultimately to possess, but it will enable him to collate immediately every volume that he acquires. It will also open up a new field of interest for the young collector, for he will be constrained to study books from their material aspect; and with a knowledge of the 'natural history' of the book will come a regard for the well-being of his volumes. So also will he be brought into touch with modern methods of bibliography, and he will certainly find an additional interest in his books.

The main objects of bibliography are, briefly, to determine

(i) Whether a book is genuine.

(ii) Whether it is complete and perfect.

(iii) Whether it is in its original condition, i.e. as it issued from the press.

(iv) Whether it has been made up by the insertion of leaves or quires from another copy or edition.

(v) To provide a standard collation (i.e. an accurate description of the book in its original state) with which other copies may be compared. For the purpose of the specialist we may add

(vi) To provide a bibliographical catalogue of those books in which he is especially interested.

All this may sound very simple, but it must be borne in mind that where no standard collation is available, the only method of providing one is by a diligent, thorough, and precise study of the leaves, quires, watermarks and 'make up' of a number of copies. As these things frequently vary considerably in different copies of the same book, the task of standardising a collation is by no means an easy one. The[151] difficulties that beset one in the case of early-printed books are immense; but with the inconstancies of incunabula we are not concerned here.

It is easily begun, this making of a bibliography, and it is a delightful hobby, though necessarily it takes up a good deal of time. The plan which our book-hunter adopted is as follows, and it has been so successful and valuable to him that he has no hesitation in recommending it. First of all he procured a card-index box capable of holding about a thousand cards. Upon these he entered the books as he came across them in catalogues of all sorts, under the authors' names. Thus:

Historia de los Antiquos Condes de Barcelona
Fo: Barcelona, 1603.

After each he generally pencils the price and bookseller, or other authority for the book's existence; but this is for his own guidance only, and is by the way. A fresh card is used for every book. This forms a rough index of every work upon his subject with which he is acquainted.

Now for the bibliography proper. For this our bookman uses single sheets of paper, eight inches by five, ruled with feint lines. These are contained in a 'spring-back' portfolio, thus forming a handy volume in which pages can be inserted anywhere at will. At the top of the page he writes the author's name, just as for the index, and beneath this (leaving a line blank) he copies the title-page of the book in extenso, using red ink for red print, capitals where capitals occur, and underlining those words which are in italics. The end of each line is indicated by a vertical stroke. Then follows a complete collation of the book. The following illustration, however, will convey a better idea than can be given in words. It will be noticed that after the size (which is given in the English notation) the measurement of the title-page in[152] millimetres is added within parentheses. If more than one copy has been examined this measurement is of the largest. The reason why the form-notation is given as well as the actual size, is because it is easier to carry the form-notation in one's head.


DISSERTATION | HISTORIQUE | SUR LES DUELS | ET LES ORDRES | DE | CHEVALERIE. | PAR MONSIEUR B... | (printer's device) | A AMSTER DAM, | chez PIERRE BRUNEL, sur le Dam | a la Bible d'or. | M.DCC.XX.

12o (155 × 95), Amsterdam, 1720. pp: xvi, 163, x.

Title. 'Avertissement' (10pp.). Contents (4pp.). Pp: 1-163 Text. Then ten pages (unnumbered) containing the 'Table des Matières,' which begins on page 163 (b). At the end is a blank leaf, completing quire L. Reg: Prelim: *——* 8; Text and Index A——L8, in eights. [A].

The author, Jacques Basnage de Franquenet, was born at Rouen in 1653, studied at Saumur, Geneva, and Sedan, and became a Protestant minister in his native town. On the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes he retired to Rotterdam, where he devoted his life to literary researches. He died at the Hague in 1723. For his great reputation as a skilful diplomatist, see Voltaire's 'Age of Louis xiv.'

Another edition of this work was published in octavo at Basle in 1740.

Whenever our book-hunter has an afternoon to spare, pocketing a handful of cards from the index he sets off for the British Museum (or wherever he may happen to be working at the time, where access may be had to the volumes he requires) and settles himself to collate and copy title-pages. But it must be borne in mind that the collation of any volume[153] cannot be considered as 'standard' until at least three copies of the book have been examined, all of which are identical. The majority of the common books printed after the year 1600 vary not at all in their make up; and having once collated such a volume, the comparison with it of other copies takes but a very few minutes. Sixteenth-century books, however, especially those printed in the first half of the century, vary sufficiently in their collations to demand a much more careful scrutiny. If the volume under examination is a book of which different copies vary considerably, you must naturally be exceedingly cautious in declaring that your collation represents the form in which the book was issued from the press. It is quite possible that you will find differences in each of six copies.

At the end of each collation our book-hunter puts a letter or letters in brackets to denote the habitations of the copies he has examined, the tallest copy (of which the title-page's measurements are given) being distinguished by an asterisk; thus: A, B*, N. 'A' represents our book-hunter's own copy, 'B' that in the Bodleian Library, 'N' that in the Bibliothèque Nationale; and so on. Mention, of course, from which copy the collation has been taken is made in the text; or, if you prefer it, you may denote this, so that it may be seen at a glance, by entering the necessary distinguishing letter in red ink.

As I have said, it is a fascinating pursuit, but unless the subject in which you specialise is a narrow one, you may be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task. Take heed that you do not undertake more than you have time or opportunity to complete; or else, embarking upon a labour of Hercules you may liken yourself to Sisyphus. Mazzuchelli began 'Gli Scrittori d'Italia,' but succeeded in finishing only the first two letters of the alphabet. The temptation to leave behind us some great work by which our name will become in time a household word, is doubtless a great one; but gigantic though our magnum opus may be in our own estimation, it[154] does not follow that others will set a like value upon it, or, indeed, upon the labours of its author. Jean de la Haye, the preacher in ordinary to Anne of Austria, published his Biblia maxima in nineteen folio volumes; but, says the bibliographer, 'no part of it is esteemed except the Prolegomena, and even they are too diffuse.' Louis Barbier gained the confidence of the Duke of Orleans by his great tact (which probably amounted to servility) and skill in repeating the tales of Rabelais. Mazarin appointed him Bishop of Langres for having betrayed his master. When he died in 1670, he left a hundred crowns to whoever would write an epitaph worthy of him. So Bernard de la Monnoye wrote the following:

'Ci git un très grand personnage,
Qui fut d'un illustre lignage,
Qui posseda mille vertus,
Qui ne trompa jamais, qui fut toujours fort sage,
Je n'en dirai pas d'avantage,
C'est trop mentir pour cent écus.'

But whether Bernard got the legacy history does not relate.

It is astonishing, however, what can be accomplished in this direction by diligence. Le Clerc, not content with having produced a 'Bibliothèque Universelle et Historique,' laboured till he had given to the world a 'Bibliothèque Choisie' and a 'Bibliothèque Ancienne et Moderne,' in all eighty-two duodecimo volumes! Beausobre and L'Enfant compiled a 'Bibliothèque Germanique,' comprising the period 1720-40; and published it in fifty volumes. Baillet's 'Catalogue des Matières' occupies thirty-five folio volumes. But of course all these were mere lists and criticisms of books, not detailed bibliographies of carefully collated works.

It is a great gift, this gift of 'finding time.' 'When I see how much Varro wrote,' says St. Augustine in his 'De Civitate Dei,' 'I marvel much that ever he had any leisure to read; and when I perceive how many things he read, I marvel more that ever he had any leisure to write.' The[155] creation of opportunity is no lesser gift. 'A wise man,' says Bacon, 'will make more opportunities than he finds.' Tomaso de Andrada, a Portuguese Jesuit, wrote his magnum opus in a dungeon, in chains, without clothes, with little food, writing only in the middle of the day by the help of a faint light which he received through an air-hole.

The compilation of bibliographies began early in the history of books, and doubtless grew out of the catalogues which the early printers put forth. Conrad von Gesner compiled a 'Bibliotheca Universalis' which was printed at Zurich in four volumes between 1545 and 1555. François Grudé published a 'Bibliothèque Françoise' in 1584. It is a catalogue of French authors and is not confined to any particular subject, but at least it is a step in the direction of classification. From that date the number of these invaluable works has steadily increased, and about the middle of the seventeenth century L'Abbé put forth the first (?) of those useful book-collector's aids, a 'Bibliotheca Bibliothecarum.' This interesting little volume is really a list of books (under their authors' names) which also contain lists of authors. As L'Abbé says in the preface to his volume, so pleasantly dedicated 'Lectoribus Philobiblis,' he designs his book to be a 'Bibliothecam Bibliothecarum, Catalogum Catalogorum, Nomenclatorem Nomenclatorum, Indicem Indicum, et quid non?' The only edition which I have seen was printed at Paris in 1664, but the licence is dated 1651. Another edition was printed at Rouen in 1672, a third at Leipzig in 1682, and a fourth some years later, all in duodecimo or small octavo.

Grudé's book is a choice one. It is entitled 'Le Premier Volume de La Bibliothèque du Sieur de la Croix-du-Maine: Qui est un catalogue général de toutes sortes d'Autheurs, qui ont escrit en François depuis cinq cents ans et plus jusques à ce iourd'huy,' and was published at Paris 'Chez Abel L'Angelier' in 1584. It is one of those folio volumes printed in large pica on thick paper that delight the heart of the bibliophile and are a joy to handle. At the back of the[156] title-page is an oval portrait of Henry of Navarre, dated 1581. He was not a handsome man, if one may judge by this portrait, in fact it would be difficult to draw a more repellent face; yet the book was dedicated to the king in a long 'Epistre au Roy' which ends with the author's quaint anagram 'Race du mans, si fidel a son Roy' (François de la Croix du Maine). But perhaps the portrait was omitted in the royal copy. The work was to have been completed in three volumes, of which the first two were to contain works published in the vernacular, and the third those printed in Latin. But alas! the author left only this first volume, which contains some three thousand authors, with short biographies of them. One hesitates to connect this premature end of the book (or, indeed, the author's assassination six years later) with the unlucky portrait! Altogether a very delightful volume.

Nowadays a bibliography that is not at once complete, detailed, and meticulously accurate is of no value. In this critical age when the methods of modern science are applied to books, it behoves the bibliographer to be careful, thorough, and precise. Unless he can bring these three attributes to bear upon his work, far better that he should never undertake it; for the result will be not only valueless but misleading, and he will certainly fail to obtain 'that lasting fame and perpetuity of praise which God and good men have consented shall be the reward of those whose published labours advance the good of mankind.'

There is one small appendage of the private library which must be mentioned before we close the chapter. A list of the prices which he has paid for his books forms a record that is indispensable to the book-collector. It is impossible to carry all one's 'bargains' in one's head, and if pencilled inside the book itself it is exposed to that publicity which one naturally shuns. Such a record is of something more than curious interest, for a knowledge of the rise or fall in the price of those books in which he is interested is essential to the collector. Whenever he comes across, in a bookseller's[157] catalogue, a book that he already possesses, he will like to know how the present price compares with that which he gave for his copy.

A convenient shape for this useful book is an ordinary folio account book (our book-hunter's measures 15 inches × 9½ inches), and it should be ruled for 'cash,' with an inner margin. Between the inner margin and (outer) cash column he rules two lines, dividing the middle of the page into three columns, of which the left-hand one is the widest. The illustration over-page will show you precisely what is meant. At the top of each page is placed a letter of the alphabet, and, immediately beneath or alongside this, the date of a year. In the inner margin each line is numbered down the page. In the next column is written the author and short title of the book—sufficient to identify it—then the place where it was bought, then the date when purchased, and in the cash column the price which was paid for it.

In our book-hunter's ledger the first few pages are headed


(Books presented to me)

and the next heading is


(Books published by instalments, extending over several years)

Then comes



and so on, each year having a letter assigned to it.[51]

Now for the practical use of this ledger. Inside the front cover of every one of his volumes our book-hunter affixes a book-plate; and in the left-hand bottom corner of this he[158] writes the year-letter and number of the book's entry in his ledger: e.g. A 24, L 7, etc. Thus supposing that one wishes to find out when and where one acquired a certain book and how much was paid for it, one has only to raise the front cover of the volume in question, and find its index mark. Suppose it to be 'E 28.' Turning to our ledger we find that E represents the year 1904, and No. 28 is the volume in question. Similarly A 24 signifies No. 24 of 1900, L 7 is No. 7 of 1911, and so on. If your library be a large one, and a search for the volume would entail trouble, you may conveniently pencil this index mark against the book's entry in your catalogue, but in such a way that it cannot be mistaken for the shelf-mark.

It is as well to write the entries in the ledger upon the recto of the leaves only, so that the verso (being numbered like the opposite recto) may be used for recording the bindings, published prices, previous owners, etc., of the volumes opposite. When all the letters of the alphabet have been used up, they may be repeated doubled, as AA 4, DD 32, etc.



C 1902 C


[47] It may be that you are contemplating the erection of shelves for your books? If so, perhaps the writer's experience may save you some little time and trouble. But if your treasures are already housed in a manner fitting, then he will claim your indulgence and ask that you be so good as to skip the next few pages.

[48] But as the shelves are not fixed to the uprights, it is a simple matter to remove each shelf in turn from the room, and brush out the dust with a stiff clothes-brush.

[49] It does not represent the Roman Venus, and there is no place named 'Milo.' Were the statue anywhere else than in the Louvre, probably it would be known generally (as it is to scholars) by its proper name—the Aphrodite of Melos.

[50] The writer possesses a copy of the first edition of "Mr. Sponge's Sporting Tour," which is a perfect museum. At some period of its existence it was relegated to the harness-room; and its leaves bear the insignia of almost every known preparation used in dressing boots, harness, saddles, buckles, dogs, horses' hoofs, and human hair. Not for all the wealth of the Indies would he remove a single stain. Most of them have been identified by his friends (it is feared with more regard for humour than accuracy) in marginal notes. Sherlock Holmes would certainly have considered it worthy of a monograph.

[51] I will not venture to suggest that you follow the example of a book-collecting acquaintance who has an extra heading for 'Books that I have acquired!'






'To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.'—Proverbs, i. 4.



ust as anyone who sets out to collect prints or antiques must provide himself at the outset with certain books necessary for obtaining a knowledge of the subject, so the book-collector must gather to himself those works which, if studied carefully, will enable him to become thoroughly conversant with the objects of his favourite pursuit. To the real collector there is no more delightful reading than the literature which deals with the subject he has made his own; and the more ample and specialised it be, the greater will be his delight.

What bibliophile has not read, and read again, such delightful works as Burton's 'Book Hunter,' Blades' 'Enemies of Books' and 'Life and Typography of William Caxton,' 'The Library' and 'Books and Bookmen' by Andrew Lang, Harrison's 'Choice of Books' and 'Among my Books,' Clark's 'Care of Books,' Edwards' 'Libraries and Founders of Libraries,' and many others of equal charm? Indeed, these volumes may well be among the first that he who embarks upon the peaceful sea of book-collecting gathers to[161] himself. Nor is there any less fascination in the more specialised works, such as Mr. Gordon Duff's 'Early Printed Books,'[52] 'English Provincial Printers,' and 'The Printers of Westminster and London to 1535,' Bradshaw's 'Collected Papers,' Mr. A. W. Pollard's 'Early Illustrated Books,' Wheatley's 'Prices of Books,' Professor Ferguson's 'Aspects of Bibliography,' and the publications of the Bibliographical Society. All these and many others are necessary if we are to acquire a thorough knowledge of old books. They are, or should be, in every large public library; and we may read them through and through at our leisure, learning more from each perusal.

There are certain works, however, which the book-collector should himself possess, for he will have continual recourse to them throughout his book-collecting career. Doubtless some of them will make an inroad upon his purse, but it will be money well spent, and the knowledge which he will gain from them will save him many a shilling. Their acquisition must be looked upon in the same light as the shelves and fittings of the library.

General Bibliographies.

First of all we will take those bibliographies which deal with books published in the English language, and there are certain of these volumes that are indispensable to the book-collector. Among them are Lowndes' 'Bibliographer's Manual,' in six octavo volumes, last published in 1869[53] (alas! sadly deficient, but still of considerable use), which one can have for about a pound, and Hazlitt's valuable 'Bibliographical Collections and Notes[162] on Early English Literature,' complete in eight octavo volumes, published between 1867 and 1903. The Bibliographical Society's publications, from 1893 onwards, are of the greatest value, comprising lists of English printers, early editions of rare books, lists of early English plays, tales, and prose romances, with numerous bibliographies. For recourse to these, probably it will be necessary to visit the nearest important public library, though one may purchase individual numbers from time to time at the second-hand booksellers'.

Arber's 'Term Catalogues,' published in three quarto volumes between 1903 and 1906, gives a complete list of works entered at Stationers' Hall from 1668 to 1709. It followed the same author's 'Transcripts of the Registers of the Worshipful Company of Stationers of London, 1554-1640,' which was privately printed in five volumes between 1875 and 1894. A second 'Transcript' of these registers, from 1640 to 1708, was issued similarly in 1913-14, in three more volumes.

Sir Egerton Brydges' 'British Bibliographer' (in which he was assisted by Joseph Haslewood) was published in four octavo volumes, 1810-14, and is an entertaining work, though not one which it is necessary that the collector should acquire. The second edition of his 'Censura Literaria' appeared in ten volumes in 1815, and the 'Restituta; or Titles, Extracts, and Characters of Old Books in English Literature revived,' was published in four volumes, 1814-16. All these afford interesting reading; but they are for the armchair and fireside rather than the desk: and the information that they contain must not always be regarded as infallible. Payne Collier's 'Account of the Rarest Books in the English Language,' which appeared in two volumes in 1865, is rather more dull than its title suggests. Karslake's 'Notes from Sotheby's' is useful, being a compilation of 2032 notes from catalogues of book-sales between 1885 and 1909.

Quaritch's 'General Catalogue of Books' is useful for reference. It comprises short descriptions of more than 38,000 works, and was published in 1887 in six volumes. An[163] additional volume containing an index to the whole was issued in 1892. The catalogue of the Huth Library, five large octavo volumes published in 1880, is also valuable. Then there is, of course, the British Museum catalogue, which was printed in 1884 under the title 'A Catalogue of Books in the Library of the British Museum, printed in England, Scotland, and Ireland, and of Books in English printed abroad, to the year 1640': three octavo volumes.

For an actual list of the published works of all British authors of note, one must consult the 'Dictionary of National Biography': while the more detailed bibliographies to each volume of the 'Cambridge History of English Literature' are of great assistance, though they vary considerably, and do not pretend to be complete. Allibone's 'Critical Dictionary of English Literature and British and American Authors,' in three volumes, was published by Lippincott (Philadelphia) between 1859 and 1871. There is a supplement to it by J. F. Kirk, which appeared in two volumes in 1891. It is a work of considerable value to the bibliographer.

With regard to the books printed abroad (as well as in England), it is essential that the collector procure a copy of Brunet's 'Manuel de Libraire et de l'Amateur de Livres,' a most valuable work dealing with the literature of all countries. The last (fifth) edition of this great work was published in six octavo volumes at Paris, 1860-65. In 1870 a companion volume by Pierre Deschamps was issued, entitled 'Dictionnaire de Géographie Ancienne et Moderne à l'Usage du Libraire,' a dictionary of the Latin and Greek names of places with their modern equivalents and some account of the first presses at those places. There is a modern-ancient index. A supplement to the 'Manuel' was published by MM. P. Deschamps and Gustave Brunet in two volumes, 1878 and 1880. The complete work, in all nine large octavo volumes, 1860-1880, cost formerly about £18; however, a reprint of the fifth edition—an exact facsimile in type and size—was issued by Brockhaus of Leipzig (at ten pounds the set) in 1920.[164] Graesse's 'Trésor de Livres Rares et Précieux' is also valuable. It comprises books in all tongues and contains a mass of bibliographical information. Published in six quarto volumes (vol. 6 is in two parts) between 1859 and 1867, a supplement was issued in 1869: in all seven volumes.[54]

Of all the older general bibliographies, however, there are few that can compare with old David Clement's 'Bibliothèque Curieuse Historique et Critique, ou Catalogue Raisonné de Livres Dificiles à Trouver.' Not, I hasten to add, for its accuracy or even the amount of information it contains. But there is a charm about these nine old quarto volumes with their handsome type and title-pages in red and black that appeals irresistibly to the collector. He was a true bibliophile, this worthy Lutheran pastor, and his gradations of rarity are delightfully expressive and concise. 'Rare,' 'très-rare,' 'fort-rare,' he describes his treasures, and occasionally 'peu-commun'; but he does not hesitate to condemn as 'rare et mauvaise' an edition that disturbs his bibliographical soul. Alas! his work was only carried as far as the letter H (Hesiod).

Early-Printed Books.

For early-printed books the collector will require Ludwig Hain's 'Repertorium Bibliographicum . . . usque ad annum 1500,' which was published at Stuttgart in four octavo volumes, 1826-38, and is still the standard work upon this subject. For those who collect fifteenth-century books this work is essential, for all catalogues and descriptions of books of that period refer to it. Generally the mere number of the work in Hain's monumental list is referred to, such as 'H 3234,' which means that the volume offered for sale is as described by Hain, number 3234 in the 'Repertorium.' In 1891 Dr. Konrad Burger added an Index of Printers to this great work, while between 1898 and 1902 Dr. W. Copinger published a supplement, adding some 7,000 new entries to Hain's 16,299. Dr. Burger added a further[165] supplement in 1908, and between 1905 and 1910 Dr. Dietrich Reichling published appendices, additions and emendations to all of these, adding an index thereto in 1911. For early German books, Panzer's 'Annalen der altern Deutschen Litteratur' to 1526, which appeared at Nürnberg in two volumes between 1788 and 1805, has not yet been entirely superseded; though considerable additions have been made by Mozler, Weller, and Petzholdt.

Mr. C. E. Sayle's 'List of Early English Printed Books in the University Library at Cambridge, 1475 to 1640,' in four octavo volumes, was published by that university between 1900 and 1907; while for books printed at Oxford from the establishment of the first press there in 1478 to 1640, you must consult Mr. Falconer Madan's 'The Early Oxford Press,' published in 1895.

Blades' 'Life and Typography of William Caxton' I have already mentioned; and although many of us may never behold a Caxton save through a sheet of glass, yet every book-collector should be acquainted with the work of this great father of the English press. Blades' work first appeared in two quarto volumes, published respectively in 1861 and 1863, and is much to be preferred to 'The Biography and Typography of William Caxton' which is practically a reprint in a cheaper form issued in one octavo volume in 1877. A second edition of this last appeared in 1882. In the Preface to the 1877 reprint, Blades states that 'only one additional fact of any importance has been added, viz. that Caxton was married . . .' and that 'the bibliography has been curtailed.'

Proctor's 'Index to the Early Printed Books in the British Museum from the Invention of Printing to the Year MD.,' begun in 1898, was cut short by his untimely death. The Museum authorities have now in course of publication an important work entitled 'A Catalogue of Books printed in the Fifteenth Century now in the British Museum,' which is being compiled by Mr. A. W. Pollard and his assistants; it will be completed in six folio (really atlas quarto) volumes.[166] Of these the first part, dealing with block-books and the productions of German presses, appeared in 1908; Part ii., also German-printed books, in 1912; Part iii., Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Hungary, in 1913: while Part iv., the productions of Italy, appeared in 1916. Parts v. and vi. will contain the works of England, France, and other countries, Part vi. also containing a general index to the entire work. The Introduction to Part i. gives a valuable résumé of the study of scientific bibliography from Panzer in 1793. Mr. Gordon Duff's great work on the English incunabula, 'Fifteenth Century Books,' was issued by the Bibliographical Society in 1917. It contains fifty-three facsimiles, and records the existence of 439 books or fragments issued in English, or by the printers in this country, before the end of the year 1500.

In France much valuable work has been done on the early presses of that country. M. Anatole Claudin has put forth some extremely useful books on the early printers of Poitiers, Limoges, Rheims, and of many other towns; whilst for the Exposition Universelle of 1900 he prepared a monumental work upon the early printers of Paris. This sumptuous book, entitled 'Histoire de l'Imprimerie en France au XVe et au XVIe Siècle,' was printed in two large quarto (atlas quarto) volumes, copiously adorned with illuminated and other illustrations. The chapter on Antoine Verard is delightful.

There is a large number of books, too, on the incunabula of various European towns and districts, such as Augsburg, Bavaria, Belgium, Bohemia, Ferrara, Mainz, Lyons, Mantua, Nürnberg, Rome, Rouen, Toulouse, to mention only a few. For the incunabula printed with Greek characters Legrand's 'Bibliographie hellénique,' which appeared in two octavo volumes in 1885, is useful.

For a description of the early 'block-books,' the prototype of printing, the collector must have recourse to Sotheby's beautiful work entitled 'Principia Typographica,' published in three large quarto volumes in 1858. It contains no less[167] than a hundred and twenty full-page facsimiles, some in colour, of block-books, early types, paper-marks, etc., and is one of the most important works on the history of printing that has ever been produced.[55] He will do well also to acquire Bigmore and Wyman's 'Bibliography of Printing,' a valuable work which appeared in three quarto volumes, 1880-86; and there is an immense amount of information concerning individual printers and stationers with their productions in 'The Library' (in progress), the three large volumes of 'Bibliographica' published in twelve parts between 1895 and 1897, and the transactions of the Bibliographical Society.


If early wood-engravings interest you, there are several works to which you may turn for guidance. Lippman's 'Wood Engraving in Italy in the Fifteenth Century,' of which an English edition was published in 1888, and Kristeller's 'Early Florentine Woodcuts' which appeared in 1897, treat of illustrated Italian books. Venetian books of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries are dealt with by Prince d'Essling in his 'Bibliographie des Livres à Figures Vénitiens 1469-1525,' of which a new edition appeared in 1906. The works of Dutch and Belgian artists are dealt with by Sir W. M. Conway in 'The Woodcutters of the Netherlands in the Fifteenth Century.' This was published in 1884. M. Claudin's 'Histoire de l'Imprimerie en France' contains many illustrations of early Parisian woodcuts and illuminations, while Muther's 'Die Deutsche Bücherillustration der Gothik und Frührenaissance,' published in 1884, is also useful. For English engravers you will find Sir Sidney Colvin's 'Early Engraving and Engravers in England' (1905) useful, as well as Lewine's 'Bibliography[168] of Eighteenth Century Art and Illustrated Books,' which appeared in 1898. A very delightful work on the eighteenth-century French engravers is M. H. Cohen's 'Guide de l'Amateur de Livres à Gravures du XVIIIe Siècle,' of which the fifth edition was published in 1886. Bewick's work has been dealt with by Mr. Austin Dobson in his 'Thomas Bewick and his Pupils,' octavo, 1884; and 'A Descriptive and Critical Catalogue of Works Illustrated by Thomas and John Bewick' was published by E. J. Selwyn in 1851. Mr. A. W. Pollard's 'Early Illustrated Books,' of which a new edition appeared in 1917, is of value from the historical point of view.

Place-Names and Dates.

Cotton's 'Typographical Gazetteer,' of which the second (and better) edition was printed at Oxford in 1831, is valuable for the identification of ancient Latin place-names. A second series was published in 1866. J. Hilton's 'Chronograms' (1882) and 'Chronograms Continued' (1885) are often of great assistance with regard to dates. In 1895 this indefatigable collector published a third volume, quarto, containing more than four thousand additional examples. For mere lists of works upon definite subjects one may consult Sargant and Whishaw's 'Guide-Book to Books' (1891) and 'The Best Books,' by W. S. Sonnenschein.


For the identification of authors who wrote under a pseudonym you will find 'A Handbook of Fictitious Names,' by 'Olphar Hamst' (which was the pseudonym of Ralph Thomas) useful. It was published in 1868. But this has been partly superseded by Cushing's 'Initials and Pseudonyms,' large octavo, London, 1886; and the valuable work of Emil Weller, entitled 'Lexicon Pseudonymorum,' of which the second edition was published at Regensburg the same year, in octavo. This contains thousands of pseudonyms of all nations and all ages. Cushing also published 'A Dictionary of Revealed Authorship,' in two volumes, 1890. Then there is the valuable 'Dictionary of the Anonymous and Pseudonymous Literature of Great Britain,'[169] by Halkett and Laing, which appeared in four octavo volumes between 1882 and 1888. Mr. F. Marchmont's 'Concise Handbook of Literature issued Anonymously under Pseudonyms or Initials,' appeared in 1896.

Antoine Barbier's 'Dictionnaire des Ouvrages Anonymes et Pseudonymes' was published first in four octavo volumes at Paris so long ago as 1806-8. A second edition was put forth in 1822-27. But between 1869 and 1879 a third edition, revised and enlarged, was incorporated with 'Les Supercheries Littéraires Dévoilées' of Joseph Marie Quérard (the second edition), the whole being edited by MM. Gustave Brunet and Olivier Barbier, and issued in seven large octavo volumes. The first three volumes (1869-70) appeared under the title of Quérard's work, the last four (1872-9) under that of Barbier. Quérard's work, which first appeared in four octavo volumes, 1847-52, is, as its title indicates, a dictionary of those books in French which have been published under fictitious names, are spurious, or have been wrongly ascribed. It is valuable for the identification of many fictitious memoirs and like books. Barbier's work deals with French anonymous and pseudonymous books. De Manne's 'Nouveau Dictionnaire des Ouvrages Anonymes et Pseudonymes,' octavo, Lyon, 1862, deals chiefly with contemporary French works. For pseudonymous books in Italian one must consult the work of Vincenzo Lancetti, which appeared at Milan, in octavo, 1836, as well as the 'Dizionario di Opere Anonime e Pseudonime di Scrittori Italiani,' by G. M. (Gaetano de' Conti Melzi), also published at Milan in three octavo volumes, 1848-59. A supplement, by G. Passano, was issued at Ancona in 1887.

Dibdin's rather sumptuously produced works are perhaps of more interest than bibliographical value, though his edition (vols. 1-4, 1810-19) of the 'Typographical Antiquities,' begun by Ames (1749), and augmented by Herbert (3 vols., 1785-90), is useful, in spite of the fact that it was never completed. For illustrations of the early printers' devices you must still have recourse to the 'Bibliographical Decameron,' three large[170] octavo volumes, published in 1817. For the devices of French printers there is a more recent work entitled 'Marques Typographiques des Libraires et Imprimeurs de France, 1470-1600,' by M. Silvestre, which was printed in two octavo volumes at Paris, 1853-1867. It contains illustrations of more than 1300 devices. Every year witnesses the production of these indispensable aids to book-collecting, and the modern trend of such works is towards a constricted specialism. By this means it is possible to realise a minuteness and accuracy unobtainable in wider fields. The 'Bibliografia Aragonesa del Siglo XVI' of Señor Sanchez, a sumptuous work with illustrations of title-pages, colophons, etc., which was published in two folio volumes in 1913-14, is a striking example of this.

There are bibliographies of almost every class of books, and a great number dealing with the works of individual authors and printers of renown; but these are in the domain of the specialist. There are certain works, however, which will be of assistance to the collector in compiling a list of authorities upon his special subject. Dr. Julius Petzholdt's 'Bibliotheca Bibliographica' was published at Leipzig so long ago as 1866; Sabin's 'Bibliography of Bibliographies' appeared at New York in 1877; while Vallée's 'Bibliographie des Bibliographies' (though neither very accurate nor complete) was published at Paris, in large octavo, in 1883. A supplement to this last was issued in 1887. For the large number of bibliographical works which have issued from the press since that date you must consult Mr. W. P. Courtney's invaluable 'Register of National Bibliography,' in three volumes, 1905 to 1912; which, indeed, for modern purposes has superseded the above-mentioned works. In passing we would remark that the 'national' of its title-page is in the wider sense of the term.

And here a word of warning. Always make a point of entering the errata with a pencil in the margins of every reference-book that you acquire. Do this before you assign[171] a place to the volume on the shelf; otherwise you may quote or condemn a passage or date which has been rendered wrongly owing to a clerical or printer's error, and has been put right in the errata.[56] Need we say that this practice should not necessarily be confined to works of reference? One may even find some amusement here. Was it not Scarron who wrote a poem, 'A Guillemette, chienne de ma sœur,' but quarrelling with his sister just as the volume was about to appear, put in the errata, 'For chienne de ma sœur read ma chienne de sœur'!

All these works will assuredly impart to the book-collector much knowledge of ancient books and their attributes, but he will still be at sea with regard to that most necessary part of their collection, namely, their commercial value. There is only one way in which this knowledge may be obtained, and that is by the study of catalogues. To arrive at a proper estimate of a book's value from the purely financial point of view, a close study of booksellers' catalogues and auction-sale prices through many years is necessary. The divergence in price of identical works is somewhat disturbing at first to the novice, and it is only after some considerable experience and the actual handling of books that one is enabled to arrive at a proper estimate of their worth. 'Continual use gives men a judgment of things comparatively, and they come to fix on what is most proper and easy, which no man, upon cursory view, would determine.'[57]

Before the writer are two catalogues, one from a country bookseller, the other from a well-known London house. Each contains a copy of the 'Thesaurus Cornucopiæ et Horti[172] Adonidis,' printed by Aldus Manutius in 1496. The former offers it for 25s., the latter for £25. Why this extraordinary difference in price?

The reasons are ample. The London copy has this description:

'Fol.; 16th cent. English binding of brown calf, gilt borders and centre-pieces, g.e. (by Thomas Berthelet, the Royal binder), in fine condition: beautiful copy, perfectly clean and large, 320 × 215 m.m., enclosed in case.'

The country bookseller's copy, on the other hand, is described as follows:

'Folio, russia (joints broken), has the 270 ll. of text complete, but wants the 10 ll. unnumbered, of preliminary matter.'

In other words, one copy is a very choice specimen of the book, tall, clean, and perfect; while the other is an undesirable copy of ordinary size, imperfect, and in poor condition.

There is another point also. The London dealer specialises in such books, in fact deals only in ancient and scarce works, and has a definite clientèle of rich and well-known collectors. He can 'place' certain rare books at once, for he knows the desiderata of each of his customers and the deficiencies of their collections. The countryman, on the other hand, deals in all manner of books, ancient and modern, has few rich purchasers among his customers, and knows nothing whatever of their book-buying propensities. Any volume that he offers for sale may remain on his hands for an indefinite time.

Then there are such volumes as 'association books,' by which is meant books possessing an additional interest by reason of their former association with some notability, such association being evident by autographs, corrections, annotations, additions, or binding. Such volumes often exceed enormously the price of ordinary copies. The first Edinburgh[173] edition (1787) of Burns' Poems is worth usually about £5; but a copy realised £75 at auction a few years ago. The reason for this extraordinary price was that in this volume all those lines in which asterisks occur were filled in with the full names in the handwriting of the poet. Moreover it contained an additional stanza on 'Tam Samson' in Burns' autograph. For such a jewel one cannot consider the figure excessive, and it will doubtless run well into three figures if it ever appear in the sale-room again. Similarly, each year witnesses the sale of certain of these 'association' volumes; and unless you are aware of the reasons causing these high prices to rule, such records will be worse than useless to you. A superficial study of all auction-sale prices is apt to be intensely misleading. Unless you are actually on the spot or have handled the volume in question, the price that it realises will tell you little as to the stable value of the work. A torn page, a shaved headline, the underlining of a line or two with ink, a 'mounted' frontispiece, a missing plate, or even a worn impression of it, all these things affect the price of a volume.

Then there are considerations outside the book itself. A scarce volume included in a sale of unimportant books is unlikely to realise so high a price as it might have done had it appeared in a Huth or Ashburnham sale; for important books attract important bidders. The prices paid for poor copies at the Frere sale in 1896 were enormous; the reason being, probably, that this library had long been known to contain desiderata for which public and private collections alike had hitherto thirsted in vain; the sale was something of a battue, and the room was thronged with buyers from all parts of the kingdom.

It is a ticklish question, this matter of the price which the collector pays, and should pay, for his books, and one that may not be resolved early in his career. In addition to exercising your memory when perusing the catalogues which reach you, you will do well to obtain and study 'Prices of[174] Books: an Enquiry into the Changes in the Price of Books which have occurred in England at Different Periods,' an interesting volume by that great connoisseur, Henry B. Wheatley. It was published in octavo in 1898.

Most of the catalogues that one receives from the booksellers are of little use when read, and no useful purpose is served by preserving them. But there are certain dealers who specialise in a definite class of books, and their catalogues are always of value, for they contain only works upon a definite subject or of a definite class. Such catalogues form most useful reference works, and even bibliographies of that particular subject. By all means preserve them; you may have them plainly bound in buckram (when you have collected a sufficient number of them) at the cost of a shilling or two, or you may keep them in a small portfolio on your shelf.

Sotheby's auction-sale catalogues are also valuable. They are nicely produced, and have fine margins for making notes. It is well worth obtaining these regularly, which one may do by paying a small subscription. Most of them contain a miscellaneous assortment of books, and are not worth keeping, but on the other hand most of the famous libraries that are dispersed in this country pass through the Bond Street house, and the catalogues of these are of the greatest value.

The history of booksellers' catalogues is an interesting one, and as yet we have no authoritative work upon this intermediary between publisher and reader. The earliest catalogue so far known was printed at Mainz by Peter Schoeffer in 1469. It was a catalogue of books for sale by himself or his agent, and consisted of a single sheet, probably intended to be used as a poster. It is in abbreviated Latin, and comprises the titles of twenty-one books, being headed—

'Volentes sibi comparare infrascriptos libros magna cum diligentia correctos, ac in huiusmodi littera moguntie impressos, bene continuatos, veniant ad locum habitationis infrascriptum.'

[175] and at the foot is printed in large type—


—a specimen of the type with which the Psalter mentioned in the list was printed. Beneath this would be written the name of the place where the books could be obtained, this being the case with the only copy of this advertisement that has come down to us, Schoeffer's traveller having written at the foot, 'Venditor librorum repertibilis est in hospicio dicto zum willden mann'—'the bookseller is to be found at the sign of the Wild Man.'

Caxton adopted the same expedient with regard to his Sarum Ordinale. This advertisement, which is in English, is as follows:

'If it plese ony man spirituel or temporal to bye ony pyes of two and thre comemoracions of salisburi use enpryntid after the forme of this present lettre whiche ben wel and truly correct, late hym come to Westmonester in to the almonesrye at the reed pale and he shal haue them good chepe.'

At the foot of this was printed 'Supplico stet cedula'—Please don't tear down the bill. The 'pyes' of this advertisement (the English form of the Latin Pica) were the guides by which one might learn the proper combinations of collects and prayers for Saints' days, at certain epochs, according to the Salisbury Ritual. The 'reed pale,' or red pale, was the heraldic sign which Caxton adopted for his printing-house.[58]

Other printers soon followed Schoeffer's example; notably Johan Mentelin of Strasbourg. But these were mere lists of books, sometimes eulogies of an individual work, printed for the most part by one particular press and issued by the actual[176] printer. In 1480 Anton Koberger of Nürnberg issued a catalogue of the books which he had for sale, twenty-two in all, though not all of them were printed by himself. Koberger was perhaps the most important printer and publisher of the fifteenth century. He is said to have employed twenty-four presses at Nürnberg, besides having books printed for him in other towns.[59] He it was who introduced the printing-press into Nürnberg in 1470. His enterprise, however, was not limited to the mere printing of books. He is said to have had sixteen shops where his books were sold, and agents in every city in Christendom! Truly he was the father of booksellers.

Another German printer, Erhart Ratdolt, printed at Venice, before 1488, a handsome sheet in red and black in which he enumerates some forty-six books arranged under six headings, which he had for sale. They comprised the productions of several presses, the list being headed 'Libri venales Venetiis impressi.' Some thirty or more of these catalogues of German printers,[60] produced before the end of the fifteenth century, are known.

In 1485 Antoine Verard, one of the most important figures in the annals of French printing, began business at Paris by putting forth an edition of the Decameron. From this date he continued as a publisher, and has been called 'the most important Paris publisher of the fifteenth century.' So far as I am aware no catalogue of the books which he had for sale has yet been discovered; though from the fact that our King Henry vii. purchased a number of his volumes it would seem that his agents or travellers were in possession of lists.

Beckmann, in his 'History of Inventions and Discoveries,' says: 'It appears that the printers themselves first gave up the bookselling part of the business, and retained only that of printing; at least this is said to have been the case with that[177] well-known bookseller John Rainman, who was born at Oehringen and resided at Augsburg'; and goes on to say that he was at first a printer and letter-founder, and supplied Aldus with his types. But this offset of the main business of book-production began still earlier: witness the catalogues of Koberger and Ratdolt already quoted. Many other printers also there were, before 1490, who were acting as agents or 'booksellers' to other firms. This was the case, too, with many of the Parisian houses.

'Printing therefore gave rise[61] to a new and important branch of trade, that of bookselling, which was established in Germany chiefly at Frankfort-on-the-Main, where, at the time of the fairs particularly, there were several large booksellers' shops in that street which still retains the name of "book street."'[62] This ancient custom of having bookstalls in the streets (particularly about the church or cathedral) upon fair-days still survives in more than one old-world town upon the Continent. Indeed it is this very custom that gave rise to the term 'stationer.' The early booksellers were wont to erect their stalls or 'stations' against the very walls of the cathedrals, whence they were known as 'stacyoneres.'

Beckmann mentions two other of these early booksellers at Augsburg—Joseph Burglin and George Diemar. 'Sometimes,' he continues, 'they were rich people of all conditions, particularly eminent merchants, who caused books which they sold to be printed at their own expense.' George Willer, a bookseller who kept a large shop at Augsburg, was the first, says, Beckmann, who hit upon the plan of causing a catalogue of all the new books to be printed, in which the size and printers' names were marked. His catalogues from 1564 to[178] 1592 were printed by Nicholas Bassé at Frankfort. Beckmann relates that a collection of these sixteenth-century German book-catalogues was in the library of Professor Baldinger of Göttingen; possibly it still reposes in the fine library of that university.

'In all these catalogues, which are in quarto and not paged,' continues Beckmann, 'the following order is observed. The Latin books occupy the first place . . . and after these, books of jurisprudence, medicine, philosophy, poetry and music. The second place is assigned to German works, which are arranged in the same manner.'

Bassé's collection is entitled 'Collectio in unum corpus omnium librorum Hebraeorum, Graecorum, Latinorum necnon Germanice, Italice, Gallice, et Hispanice scriptorum, qui in nundinis Francofurtensibus ab anno 1564 usque ad nundinas Autumnales anni 1592 . . . . desumpta ex omnibus Catalogis Willerianis singularum nundinarum, & in tres Tomos distincta . . . . Plerique in aedibus Georgij Willeri ciuis & Bibliopole Augustani, venales habentur.' It was printed in quarto at Frankfort 'ex officina Typographica Nicolai Bassaei, MDXCII.' Part 2 (which has a separate pagination and title) is in German, and contains German books only. Part 3, also a distinct work, has a title-page in both Latin and French, and contains books in Italian, Spanish, and French. This title reads: 'Recueil en un corps des livres Italiens, Espagnols, et François, qui ont este exposez en vente en la boutique des Imprimeurs frequentans les foires de Francfort depuis l'an 1568 jusques à la foire de Septembre 1592. Extraict des Catalogues des dictes foires, et reduict en method conuenable, et tres utile.' An exceedingly interesting work, this last part.

A priced catalogue of the books printed by Christian Wechel is extant. It was printed at Paris in 1543, a duodecimo of twelve leaves, containing about three hundred books. These are classed under the headings Grammatica, Dialectica, Rhetorica, Historica, Poetica, Moralia, Physica, et Mathematica, Theologia, Legalis, and Medica. Under each of[179] these headings the books are divided into 'Graece' and 'Latine,' but 'Grammatica' and 'Theologia' have each the additional subheading 'Hebraice.' The prices are interesting. They vary from twopence (the Ars versificatoria of Ulric von Hutten and a Nicholas Beroald) to 80s.—a Hippiatria in French. There are six at 3d., ten at 4d., forty-five at 6d., none at 5d. or 7d., twenty-two at 8d., four at 9d., seventeen at 10d., and thirty-seven at 1s. There are ten at 1s. 3d., twenty-three at 1s. 6d., and twelve at 1s. 8d.; whilst from 2s. to 6s. the prices rise by 6d. But only one volume is priced at 4s. 6d., and two each at 5s. 6d. and 6s. There are from two to four volumes at 7s., 8s., 12s., 15s., 16s., and 18s.; whilst six are priced at 10s., and five at 20s.

The more expensive works are chiefly illustrated 'standard' authors, such as Modestus ('De Vocabulis Rei Militaris,' 18s.), Vegetius (gallice, cum picturis, 16s., or in Latin permultis picturis, 20s.), and several medical works such as Galen (two at 20s.) and Jo. Tagaultius (20s.). A Vegetius 'in minore forma' but also 'picturis' is priced at 4s. At the end is, in Latin: 'And these are the books, printed with our types, which we offer you. Moreover there are others of all kinds for sale in our shop (Taberna), both in Italian and German and French.' Then comes the announcement of a forthcoming edition of Eustathius' Commentary on the first book of Homer's Iliad.

There is extant a list, printed in 1472, of books published at Subiaco and Rome by Sweynheim and Pannartz, the German printers who first established the printing-press in Italy. This list is contained in a letter written by the printers to Pope Sixtus iv., asking for assistance. It mentions twenty-eight works, and comprises 11,475 volumes,[63] which looks as if the book-buyers of Rome had combined to procure a reduction in the price of books; and there were no book[180]sellers at that time to whom the publishers could dispose of their volumes as 'remainders.' No wonder that they described themselves as struggling 'sub tanto cartharum fasce'—beneath so great a load of paper. It must have been circumstances such as these that induced the early publishers to put forth a 'bad seller' from time to time adorned with a fresh title-page. Notices of such cases abound, and they are not entirely confined to the first publishers. 'But,' invariably remarks the astute and relentless bibliographer, 'it is all the same edition.'

In 1602 there appeared a compilation from all the catalogues published at the different fairs in Germany from 1500 to 1602, by Johann Cless, and it was published in quarto at Frankfort. Unfortunately the original form of the catalogues from which this compilation was made was neglected, so that the work presents merely a list of books catalogued under their subjects; and only occasionally is the name of the printer given. The first volume consists of those published in Latin, the second volume those which appeared in the German tongue. The books are entered under the Christian name of the author, which does not facilitate reference; but date, place, and size are given. Another writer, George Draud, produced in 1611 a 'Bibliotheca Librorum Germanicorum Classica'; but this also is merely a catalogue of all kinds of books printed in German up to 1610. This was republished in two quarto volumes at Frankfort in 1625. Beckmann remarks, however, that many books are mentioned by Draud which never were printed, and many titles, names, and dates are given incorrectly. Grudé's work, published in 1584, has already been mentioned.[64]

In the same way other countries were putting forth catalogues throughout the sixteenth century. Occasionally one comes across them bound with various works, and sometimes, more commonly, beneath the calf or vellum covers of the books of that period.

[181] In this country for many decades after the introduction of printing, the output of the English presses was not sufficiently large to keep pace with the demand for books; so that there grew up a considerable trade in the importation of books from abroad. In London François Regnault received a continuous supply of foreign-printed works from his Paris shop, while others such as the Birckmanns, who had shops in Cologne, Antwerp, and other large towns, kept up the number.

Doubtless these, and many others like them, issued catalogues of the books they had for sale. In 1595 Andrew Maunsell published his Catalogue of English Printed Books in two parts, and in April 1617 John Bill, a leading London bookseller, issued the first number of his 'Catalogus Universalis,' a translation of the half-yearly Frankfort Mess-Katalog, and continued this enterprise twice a year for eleven years at least. From October 1622 he added a supplement of books printed in English. A book-catalogue of William Jaggard of 1618 is also known. The title of this catalogue states that—like Bill's—it is 'to be continued for every half-year,' but so far no further issue has come to light.[65] You will find a list of the catalogues published by English booksellers since 1595 in Mr. A. Growoll's 'Three Centuries of English Book-Trade Bibliography,' which was issued in octavo at New York in 1903.

In 1628 Henry Fetherstone, another London stationer, published a catalogue of books which he had recently purchased in Italy. Among these was the famous library of Giacomo Barocci, a gentleman of Venice, consisting of two hundred and forty-two manuscript volumes, now in the Bodleian Library. Writing to the Archbishop of Armagh in 1629, Sir Henry Bourchier says, 'I doubt not but your Grace hath heard of the Greek Library brought from Venice by Mr. Fetherston, which the Earl of Pembroke hath bought[182] for the University Library of Oxford; it cost him £700; there are of them two hundred and fifty volumes. Dr. Lindsell, now Dean of Litchfield, tells me that it is a great Treasure, far exceeding the catalogue.' As this collection formed but a part of the books which Fetherstone brought from Venice to this country, one cannot but marvel at such an intrepid stroke of business. Presumably the volumes were transported by ship.

The history of booksellers has been attempted more than once,[66] so I will content myself with remarking that in addition to being 'rich people of all conditions,' some at least of these early booksellers were—like the early printers—men of great learning. William Goeree, the bookseller of Amsterdam, was a student by nature, but it was his fortune to be brought up by a step-father to whom letters were unknown. His great desire, a university education, was denied him, and he was forced to choose some business. So he elected to embark upon a career where he would at least enjoy the conversation of the learned, and would be free to pursue his studies undisturbed by the strictures of his step-sire. As a bookseller he prospered, and profiting by the atmosphere of learning in which his paths lay, he found time between the hours of business to produce several valuable works upon such diverse subjects as Architecture, Sculpture, Painting, Engraving, Botany, Physic, and Antiquities!

Fabert, the bookseller of Metz and author of 'Notes sur la Coutume de Lorraine,' which he published in folio in 1657, was esteemed so highly both for his learning and abilities, that his son Abraham Fabert was thought not unworthy of[183] being educated with the Duc d'Epernon. Abraham rose to be Marshal of France: but in spite of his great talents and still greater attainments, the bookseller's son ever retained that natural modesty inherent only in great minds. Offered the Order of the Holy Ghost by Louis xiv. he refused it on the ground that it should be worn only by the ancient nobility. Whereupon the King wrote to him 'No person to whom I may give this Order will ever receive more honour from it than you have gained by your noble refusal, proceeding from so generous a principle.' One can only meditate O si sic omnes!

There are two reference-books that will be of use to you if you are interested in this subject. Both were published by the Bibliographical Society. The first, by Mr. Gordon Duff, is entitled 'A Century of the English Book Trade,' and is a list of early English stationers. It appeared in 1905. The other, compiled by nine members of the Society under the editorship of Mr. R. B. McKerrow, was published in 1910, and is called 'A Dictionary of Printers and Booksellers in England, Scotland, and Ireland, and of Foreign Printers of English Books, 1557-1640.'

To the collector all catalogues are interesting, and although one may not readily come across publishers' catalogues of the sixteenth century, yet seventeenth-century ones are not so rare, and those of the eighteenth century comparatively common. What interesting reading these old catalogues provide! Often it is worth while purchasing the flotsam of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries from the penny tub merely for the sake of the catalogues which one frequently comes across bound at the end of such volumes. The desecration of a book is anathema to the bibliophile; but provided always that when you have paid your penny the volume proves to be but common trash and of no value whatever, you need not hesitate to remove the desired leaves and consign the wreckage to the waste-paper basket.

[184] Perhaps nothing shows so clearly the change in manners and sentiments of each age as do these ancient catalogues. Doubtless many of the works therein described are to be found among the pages of any modern bookseller's list. But there they are scattered among works of all times, and strike the imagination as being merely the curiosities of a bygone age. Here, gathered together in one list, they are exhibited in company with their fellows, and there is little diversity of sentiment to distract one's attention. Though they treat of the most diverse subjects under the sun, yet there is a strange similitude about them which is characteristic of their age. And this impression is not due to the language in which their titles are couched; they are just the sort of books which we should expect our forefathers of that period to read. Whatever their subjects, whatever their titles, they are clearly all birds of a feather.

Take the following, all of which occur in 'A Catalogue of some Books Printed for Henry Brome, since the Dreadful Fire of London.'

Who could hesitate to assign a period to these? Is not 'The Civil War and Restoration' writ big about them all? Plainer, indeed, would it be were we to analyse each separate item; for the tastes of the age and trend of men's thoughts as depicted in the pages of Master Pepys are amply reflected here.

Beware, however, lest you come across a catalogue of some such rogue as Edmund Curll, that shameless rascal who gloried in the obscene productions of his minions, hesitating not to assign them to the greatest writers of the day. Though fined and pilloried for his scandalous publications, he regarded such 'accidents' merely as a medium of advertisement, and had no hesitation in calling attention to the fact that he had suffered corporal punishment on account of a book that he wished to sell.

In the course of his crooked career he fell foul of Pope by publishing a book entitled 'Court Poems,' which he ascribed to 'the laudable translator of Homer.' Pope promptly retorted by putting forth an essay with the delightful title 'A Full and True Account of a Horrid and Barbarous Revenge by Poison on the Body of Mr. Edmund Curll, Bookseller; with a faithful copy of his Last Will and Testament.' Neither words nor deeds, however, could repress a man so destitute of moral worth; and, later, he came once more under the poet's lash in the 'Dunciad,' where we read—

'Obscene with filth the miscreant lies bewray'd.'

Yet even the devil must have his due, and Curll certainly was concerned in the production of a number of works of general and abiding interest. Here is a curious example of his wares, from one of his catalogues dated 1726. It is a version of Sallengre's 'L'Elogie de l'Ivresse,' a humorous (and scarce) little volume first published in 1714.

[186]Ebrietatis Encomium—or, The Praise of Drunkenness. Wherein is authentically and most evidently proved the Necessity of frequently getting drunk; and that the practice of getting drunk is most Ancient, Primitive, and Catholic. Confirm'd by the example of Heathens, Turks, Infidels, Primitive Christians, Saints, Popes, Bishops, Doctors, Philosophers, Poets, Free-Masons, and other Men of Learning in All Ages. By a Person of Honour, price 2s. 6d.[67]

How it intrigues one to know who were the Saints, Popes, and Bishops thus addicted to tippling! Truly a chronique scandaleuse, and one which would surely have appealed to Louis Maimbourg, that ingenious Jesuit historian, had it but appeared in his day. We are told that he never took up his pen till he had heated his imagination by wine, nor ever attempted to describe a battle till he had drunk two bottles—lest, as he said jestingly, the horrors of the combat should enfeeble his style! Perhaps this trait in his character also explains how it was that 'he signalised himself by strange descriptions and burlesque sallies of humour in the pulpit,' and that his works exhibit 'great fire and rapidity in their style.'[68] At all events he lived to be seventy-six, which is some consolation to those who seek to impart originality to their work by this means.

Here is another volume that I should like to possess, from the same catalogue.

The Court Gamester: Or, Full and Easy Instructions for playing the Games now in vogue, after the best Method, as they are Played at Court, and in the Assemblies, viz. Ombre, Picquet, and the Royal Game of Chess. Wherein the Frauds in Play are detected, and the Laws of each Game annex'd, to[187] prevent Disputes. Written for the Use of the young Princesses.[69] By Richard Seymour, Esq. price 2s.

Evidently Richard Seymour, Esq., had some experience of the young princesses' play. One wonders whether the disputes were frequent and heated, and whether Richard was the detector or detected with regard to the 'Frauds in Play'!

Enough, however, of examples: you will find abundance in these old catalogues to keep you interested and amused for many an hour. Moreover, your natural inquisitiveness will enable you to discover a great deal about books and authors which you would otherwise never, perhaps, come across. For certain titles will excite your interest and curiosity, so that you will 'look up' the volume in your bibliography. Then you will turn to your biographical dictionary and find out all that you can about the author. So it is that your knowledge of books and their writers will grow. It is a pleasant pastime, this fireside book-hunting, and of the greatest value to the collector. Let me add, as a note, that you will find the 'Cambridge History of English Literature' valuable for acquiring a contemporary knowledge of books.

With regard to book-auctions (which seem to have been introduced into Europe by the Elzeviers) and sale-catalogues, you will find all the information that you may require upon this subject in so far as Great Britain is concerned, in Mr. John Lawler's excellent little volume 'Book Auctions in England in the Seventeenth Century,' of which a new edition was published in 1906. The fashion of selling books to the highest bidder is, in this country, of comparatively recent date; for the first auction of books held in London was presided over in 1676 by one William Cooper, an enterprising bookseller, who disposed in this manner of the library belonging to the Rev. Dr. Lazarus Seaman. With regard to the book-auctions held by the Elzeviers, you must consult that great authority, M. Alphonse Willems.

[188] Before leaving this subject of catalogues I cannot forbear quoting from one to whom I am already indebted:

'In perusing these old catalogues one cannot help being astonished at the sudden and great increase of books; and when one reflects that a great, perhaps the greater, part of them no longer exists, this perishableness of human labours will excite the same sensations as those which arise in the mind when one reads in a church-yard the names and titles of persons long since mouldered into dust. In the sixteenth century there were few libraries, and these, which did not contain many books, were in monasteries, and consisted principally of theological, philosophical, and historical works, with a few, however, on jurisprudence and medicine: while those which treated of agriculture, manufactures, and trade, were thought unworthy of the notice of the learned and of being preserved in large collections. The number of these works was, nevertheless, far from being inconsiderable; and at any rate many of them would have been of great use, as they would have served to illustrate the instructive history of the arts. Catalogues, which might have given occasion to inquiries after books that may be still somewhere preserved, have suffered the fate of tomb-stones, which, being wasted and crumbled to pieces by the destroying hand of time, become no longer legible. A complete series of them, perhaps, is now nowhere to be found.'[70]

There is yet another side of book-collecting with which it is essential that the bibliophile become acquainted, and that is a knowledge of the scarce and valuable editions of the more modern classic writers. By 'modern' I intend those authors who flourished during the nineteenth and latter part of the eighteenth centuries, and include such writers as Arnold, the Brontës, the Brownings, Burns, Byron, Carlyle, Coleridge, Dickens, Keats, Lamb, Shelley, Stevenson, Swinburne, Tennyson, Thackeray, and other famous contemporaries.[189] You may meet with their works continually, and many a prize may slip through your hands unless you are acquainted with the collector's desiderata regarding each of these authors. Many of them, perhaps the majority, published their earliest works anonymously or under a nom de plume, and when once you have become aware of the titles of such books or their writers' pseudonyms, you are not likely to forget them.

A few years ago (1911) Messrs. Hodgson the auctioneers discovered a thin folio consisting of an illustrated title-page and eight lithographed plates depicting scenes in the life of a ballet-girl, among a portfolio of engravings which had been sent to them for disposal. There was no letterpress, but the title ran 'Flore et Zephyr, Ballet Mythologique par Theophile Wagstaffe,' and it was published in London and Paris, 1836. The owner thought it unworthy of notice in a lengthy catalogue of his books, but in spite of its Gallic title its author was none other than Thackeray, and it was one of his first publications. On being offered for sale, it was knocked down at £226.

'Poems by Two Brothers,' a small octavo published at London in 1827, will bring you twenty pounds if you are so fortunate as to come across it. The brothers were Alfred and Charles Tennyson. Then there is a slim octavo of some 150 pages which appeared at Newark in 1807, entitled 'Poems on Various Occasions.' It is by Lord Byron, and is worth fifty pounds at least; if in the original boards, more than double that amount. 'King Glumpus: an Interlude in one Act,' a pamphlet consisting of some twenty pages, was probably by John Barrow; but it was illustrated by Thackeray, and is usually to be found under the heading 'Thackerayana.' It was printed in 1837, on blue writing paper, and issued privately in buff wrappers. Recently it has fetched £153, but you may have a hundred for it any day.[71]

Shelley's 'Adonais: An Elegy on the Death of John[190] Keats' was first published at Pisa in 1821, a large quarto in blue wrappers. It has recently fetched 2,050 dollars in America, and you may have even more for a perfect copy, in the original state, of his 'Queen Mab,' printed by the author at 23, Chapel Street, Grosvenor Square, in 1813. Both are exceedingly scarce. Another rare book of Shelley's is 'Original Poetry,' by Victor and Cazire, which was put forth at Worthing in 1810. The poet wrote it in his youth, and although it was known that such a volume had been printed and that it had been suppressed by its author immediately before publication, it was considered a lost work until its rediscovery in 1897.

Byron's 'English Bards and Scotch Reviewers' one can purchase in the second, third, or fourth editions (all in octavo) in the original boards, for as many pence; though the first edition, in duodecimo, undated, is scarce. It was published in 1809, and has but fifty-four pages of verse. The fourth edition appeared in 1811, though some copies are dated 1810, and has one thousand and fifty-two lines of verse in eighty-five pages. But the next year another edition was put forth containing eighteen additional lines. For this (fifth) edition the title-page of the fourth edition was used. It was not merely rigidly suppressed by the author, but immediately prior to publication it was destroyed by him, and, so far as I am aware, only one copy has, till now, been recovered.[72]

For Burns' 'Poems, chiefly in the Scottish Dialect,' published at Kilmarnock in 1786, you may have two hundred pounds at least; if in the original boards, and perfect, considerably more. A copy has changed hands at a thousand. Of Shelley's 'Alastor: or the Spirit of Solitude, and other[191] Poems,' octavo 1816, Keats' 'Endymion,' 1818, Fitzgerald's 'Omar Khayyám,' published by Quaritch in 1859, and a large number of others, you will learn from time to time. Mr. J. H. Slater's 'Early Editions . . . of Modern Authors,' which appeared in 1894, will be of value to you, though like all works which deal with current prices it now needs revision. From the bibliographical standpoint it is excellent, but the safest guides to mere market values are the quarterly records of auction-sale prices entitled 'Book-Auction Records,' and the bi-monthly publication known as 'Book-Prices Current' issued by Mr. Elliot Stock. In addition there are bibliographies of almost all the greatest Victorian writers.

There is no doubt that the early editions of the English classics will get more and more valuable as time goes on. In the case of many it may be years before any decided rise in their sale-room price takes place; but as the number of book-collectors increases with the population, while the number of copies of these desiderata tends to become less owing to the absorption of certain of them in the public libraries, so it is only natural that increased competition should result in a corresponding increase in their value.

The early editions of Massinger, Beaumont and Fletcher, and of the later Elizabethan and Stuart dramatists, which command but a few pounds to-day, will run, in all probability, well into three figures during the next half-century. A good copy of the first issue of Milton's 'Comus,' printed in 1637, could be had for £36 in 1864. In 1898 one with the title-page mended brought £150. Ten years later £317 was not thought excessive for it, whilst in 1916 a fine and perfect copy made £800. $14,250 was the ransom of a copy at New York in 1919.

Other books there are which have had similar meteoric rises in value. The first edition of Walton and Cotton's 'Compleat Angler' was published in 1653 at one and sixpence. At the beginning of the nineteenth century the average price for a fine copy seems to have been between[192] three and four pounds. In 1850 so much as fifteen pounds was paid for a copy in a similar state. Thirty years later it had risen to eighty-five pounds, and during the few years following, the demand for it seems to have increased its value considerably, for in 1887 a copy realised no less than £200. But eight years later even this sum was easily doubled. Then came the Van Antwerp sale at Sotheby's. A perfect copy, in the original sheepskin binding, was offered; the hammer fell at the enormous figure of £1,290. This sum has not yet (1921) been eclipsed; but that it was not a fancy price[73] is shown by the fact that in 1909 a copy not in the original binding realised no less than £1,085.

In the collection of these early impressions of the great writers, however, you must exercise considerable caution and judgment. The examples which I have quoted will show you that it is not always immediately, nor even within a lifetime from their death, that the works of our greatest authors become valuable. 'Fame is a revenue payable only to our ghosts,' wrote Sir George Mackenzie, and for literary fame Time is indeed the ordeal by fire. We may look upon the auction-room as a Court of Claims to Literary Fame, but it is public opinion, backing the authorities who sit round the table, that determines each claimant's case. It is the book that makes the price, not the price that makes the book. Doubtless those who, relying upon their own judgment alone, gave fifty pounds for Tennyson's 'Helen's Tower' (1861) some twenty years ago, thought they were safe in their investment. Yet twelve years later it could be had for thirty shillings. Fitzgerald's 'Polonius,' 1852, was once thought cheap at five guineas. To-day you may buy it for little more than a sovereign.

It is a risky business, this collecting of the early editions of authors dead but a generation ago; and he would be a bold man who ventured to assert that the present prices of[193] the first editions of the Victorian authors may be considered as stable. Bargains are bargains, and the temptation to buy is often great. But what constitutes a bargain from the collector's point of view? You cannot define it without reference to price, worth, or value; and if these be unstable it cannot constitute a bargain. 'An advantageous purchase' say the dictionaries; but if the price drop subsequently is it advantageous to you? You may think to play the wise man by collecting early editions of your own or your father's contemporaries, but it is odds on that you will burn your fingers. Yet the works of those great writers, those immortals

'On Fame's eternall beadroll worthie to be fyled'

are stable in our affections as is the sun in the firmament. Whatever fortune may overtake the works of those ephemerals whom by mere fashion we applaud to-day and neglect to-morrow, the works of those great writers who have been accorded a niche in the hall of Fame will ever command our purses no less than our respect.


[52] Of this book, published in octavo in 1893, it is impossible to speak too highly. Both as a text-book for the student and a reference book for the collector it is invaluable. The other two volumes by Mr. Duff are also of the greatest assistance. 'The Printers, Stationers, and Bookbinders of Westminster and London from 1476 to 1535' was published in 1906, and 'The English Provincial Printers, Stationers, and Bookbinders to 1557' in 1912—both by the Cambridge University Press. They are still (1921) in print, and cost six and five shillings respectively.

[53] A stereotyped reprint of the revised edition published between 1857 and 1864. Each of the first five volumes is in two parts, often bound separately. Vol. 6 is an appendix.

[54] Brockhaus of Leipzig has also (1921) published a facsimile reprint of this work—price £12.

[55] The term Incunabula is now applied to all books printed before the year 1500. It is a vast study in itself, this bibliography of fifteenth-century books; and thanks to the labours of a small group of men who have devoted their lives to the subject, it is now upon a definite scientific basis. Carefully prepared monographs are issued from time to time, dealing with the different founts used by the early printers; but as this subject is unlikely to engage the attentions of those for whom this work is written (who, like the writer, are of modest means), I forbear to enter upon it in detail.

[56] It is a tedious game, but a very necessary one, and is a service due to an author. In entering a long list of errata in a folio book which has many lines to the page (Cotton's 'Monluc' has 62 lines, and the 1707 edition of Sandford's 'Genealogical History of the Kings and Queens of England' has nearly 150 errata!) the following method saves a lot of time. Take a strip of paper about an inch wide, place it on a page, and make a dash on the strip at every fifth line of text, numbering the dashes 5, 10, 15, 20, etc. This measurer saves one counting the lines every time.

[57] Dr. John North.

[58] For Schoeffer's list, see Mr. E. G. Duff's 'Early Printed Books,' 1893, p. 31, where there is also an illustration of it. For Caxton's advertisement, see an excellent article upon these early catalogues, by Mr. A. W. Pollard, in 'The Bibliophile' for March 1908 (vol. 1. No. i, p. 22).

[59] Mr. E. G. Duff, op. cit., p. 513.

[60] A collection of thirty-two facsimiles of these fifteenth-century book advertisements was published by Herr Konrad Burger in 1908.

[61] This is not strictly accurate, for there were agents or booksellers (call them what you will) who bought and sold manuscripts at Rome in very early times. A document dated 1349 (quoted by Laborde, 'Les Ducs de Bourgogne,' tom. 1, p. 459) mentions one Thomas de Maubeuge, 'bookseller at Paris,' who sold a volume to the Duke of Normandy for fourteen florins of gold.

[62] Beckmann, op. cit.

[63] Mr. E. G. Duff, op. cit. Beckmann has 12,475, quoting Fabricius' 'Bibliotheca Latina,' ed. 1772, vol. iii. p. 898, where the document is printed in full.

[64] See p. 155.

[65] For more upon this subject, with regard to this country, see The Camb. Hist. Eng. Lit. vol. iv. chap, xviii., 'The English Book-trade,' by Mr. H. G. Aldis.

[66] Curwen's 'History of Booksellers,' 8vo, 1873, deals chiefly with the later English houses; while Mr. E. Marston's 'Sketches of Booksellers of Other Days,' 12mo, 1901, is concerned only with eight London booksellers, from Tonson to Lackington. Mr. F. A. Mumby's 'The Romance of Bookselling,' 8vo, 1910, contains a bibliography of the subject, but says little about the early continental book-marts. Mr. W. Roberts' 'Earlier History of English Bookselling,' 8vo, 1892, deals with London alone, and does not help us. There is a short article on the Frankfort Fairs, by Mr. G. Smith, in 'The Library,' 1900, pp. 167-179.

[67] This was one of the five publications on account of which Curll was set in the pillory in 1725.

[68] L'Advocat: Dict. Histor.

[69] The italics are not mine.

[70] Beckmann, op. cit.

[71] Like many of these rarissima it has been reprinted in facsimile—crown 8vo, 100 copies only, 1898.

[72] The various editions and impressions of this book have given rise to confused accounts respecting them. The British Museum Catalogue gives five distinct impressions of the third edition and five of the fourth edition. Of the fourth edition, some large-paper copies were issued; they are scarce and worth thirty shillings or more. The first edition is undated, but the paper is water-marked '1805'. A copy of this last, in the original boards uncut, realised 205 dollars in New York in March, 1920. It usually fetches about £5 in England.

[73] The three copies which were sold between Dec. 1919 and June 1920, however, fetched 2,200 dollars, £410, and £600. The last was in the original sheepskin.






'The road lies plain before me; 'tis a theme
Single and of determined bounds.'—



ost book-collectors embark upon their life-long hobby without any clearly defined scheme of collecting, buying just those books which take their fancy, and in many cases not realising that they have caught the dread contagion of bibliomania until they suddenly find that more shelf-room is required for their books, and that the expenditure upon their hobby is growing out of all proportion to their means. It is then generally too late to stop, and although they may avoid the book-stalls for some days, nay even weeks, the passion of collecting is only dormant, and will break out with renewed vigour either upon a sudden (though perhaps only temporary) condition of affluence, or upon the receipt of that most insidious of all temptations, a bookseller's catalogue—especially if it be a 'clearance' one.

This passion for collecting books resolves itself at length into two categories. Either the patient grows rapidly worse and plunges headlong into the vortex of auctions, catalogues, and bibliographies, amassing during the process a vast nonde[195]script collection of books; or else he improves slowly but surely, growing daily shrewder in his purchases. So that at length, having completely recovered his composure, he finds himself the possessor of a collection of books valuable alike from commercial and utilitarian standpoints.

The former of these collectors is generally said to suffer from acute bibliomania. His knowledge of books is vast but of a general kind, and for practical purposes it cannot compare with that acquired by his fellow-collector who had seen the folly of a headlong course. His complaint is well known; indeed it was recognised in the first century of our era, when Seneca condemned the rage for mere book-collecting, and rallied those who were more pleased with the outsides than the insides of their volumes. Lucian, too, in the next century, employed his prolific pen in exposing this then common folly.

Even the wise collector, however, runs some risk of being engulfed by his hobby and swept away by the flood of books. There is but one remedy, or rather alleviation, for book-collecting is quite incurable and follows a man to his grave (unless, of course, he be cast upon a desert island), and that is specialism.

Every collector should become a specialist. It will give him a definite ambition, something to look for among other books, something to complete; and there is a thousand times more satisfaction in possessing a select collection of works of a definite class or upon a definite subject, than in the accumulation of a vast heterogeneous mass of books. He will get to know the greater part of the works upon his own subject, become an authority upon it in time, and perhaps will even attempt a bibliography if it be an out-of-the-way subject. He will know precisely what he wants, what to search for, and what price to pay. In short, he will be lifted out of the fog of miscellaneous books into the clear atmosphere of a definite and known class of works.

It is such an easy step, and such an immensely important one, this determination to confine one's collecting activities[196] to a certain class of books. 'What a blessing it is,' said a book-loving friend not long ago, 'not to have to worry about all sorts of books. I have never ceased congratulating myself that I took the resolution to confine myself entirely to Herbals. Before, I had a vast but untrustworthy knowledge of titles and editions which a bad memory did not assist. Now, thank goodness, I have forgotten all that, but I flatter myself that I really do know something about Herbals.'

And what a profitless occupation is the aimless collecting of heterogeneous books. If bibliographical knowledge be our aim, their very diversity tends to confuse us. If recreation be our object, better far to join a circulating library than garner volumes which, once read, are never to be opened again. Learning and study cannot be intended, for the formation of a library of nondescript books collected upon no system or plan can, at best, endow us with but a smattering of knowledge.

There was once a certain bishop who used continually to collect useless luxuries. The Emperor Charlemagne, perceiving this, ordered a merchant who traded in rare and costly objects to paint a common mouse with different colours and to offer it to the bishop, as being a rare and curious animal which he had just brought from Palestine. The bishop is transported with delight at the sight of it, and immediately offers the merchant three silver pounds for such a treasure. But the merchant, acting on his instructions, bargains with the bishop, saying that he would rather throw it into the sea than sell it for so little. Finally the bishop offers twenty pounds for it. The merchant, wrapping up the 'ridiculus mus' in precious silk, is going away when the collector, unable to bear the thought of losing so great a curio, calls him back and says that he will give him a bushel of silver for it. This the merchant accepts: the money is paid; and the merchant returns to the Emperor to give him an account of the transaction.

Then Charlemagne convokes the bishops and priests of all[197] the province, and placing before them the money which the mouse has fetched, reads them a homely lesson on the foolishness of collecting profitless trifles. Sternly he enjoins them in future to use their money in administering to the wants of the poor rather than to throw it away on such unprofitable baubles as a painted mouse. The guilty bishop, now become the laughing-stock of the province, is permitted to depart without punishment.

Doubtless the great majority of book-collectors are not specialists. They may set greater store by a certain class of works which appeals to them from some whimsical reason, but until they have grown middle-aged in their pursuit most of them are but dilettanti.

'Yes,' I can hear you exclaim, 'but if your collecting propensities are to be curbed and countless books passed by, books which your very instinct urges you to acquire, surely you will lose most of the charm of collecting? How dull to be obliged to purchase only those works to which you have vowed to confine yourself.'

Dull! No. I can assure you from my own experience that this restraint will but serve to redouble your eagerness, to sharpen an appetite in danger of becoming blunted by a plethora of desiderata and a shrinkage of your purse. So that whereas before, a short stroll about the book-shops would discover to you abundance, or at least plenty, of books that you would like casually to possess, now that you have become a specialist you must go further afield. Often you will return empty-handed from your rambles, and your sanctum (to the delight of the housemaid) will not be invaded quite so often by stacks of 'dirty old books.' Order will come out of chaos; many works bought upon impulse because they appealed to you at the moment will be weeded out and discarded. Moreover the shillings which this process yields will enable you to send that priceless gem, the chef d'œuvre of your collection, to the binder's, that its extrinsic appearance may be fashioned in keeping with its intrinsic worth.

[198] More important still, you will become a known man. The booksellers will remember you, and one day when you reach home from a long and barren ramble, you will find a postcard awaiting you, announcing the discovery of some book for which you have long sought.

'Sir,—I have found a copy of the Vitruvius fo. Venice, 1535, that you asked me for some time ago. You can have it for 10s. (vellum, clean copy). Shall I send it?—Yours respectfully, John Brown.'

Your ramble may have been on a cold winter's afternoon, it may have been raining and muddy underfoot, but will not this cheer you up and warm you better than any cup of tea? And what will be your sensations as you undo the parcel, take out the treasure (which you once saw in Johnson's catalogue for £3), turn eagerly to its title-page, and collate it as gently as though you were handling some priceless work of art? Don't tell me! The specialist gets a thousand times more pleasure out of his hobby than ever did casual buyer. Besides, what rapture will be his whenever he chance upon some book for which he has long been searching, or upon some work on his very subject and yet unknown to him; for book-collecting is full of surprises.

Some of the booksellers will ask you for a list of your wants. You may safely supply them with one, and it is not necessary to state the maximum price which you are prepared to pay for each. Should you do so, probably it will be taken to indicate that you are prepared to pay the price named, and the book when found will be offered to you at that price (or a few shillings less to give the idea of a bargain) when you might have had it at a considerably lower figure. Remember also that the very fact of a book being sought for enhances its price. Suppose that a country bookseller sees an advertisement in the trade journal asking for a copy of a certain obscure sixteenth-century work, and that he recollects he has a copy somewhere in stock. He finds it among his shelves[199] marked, possibly, five shillings. When he answers the advertisement it is more than likely that he will ask a pound or even two for it. At the same time, however, you must consider whether or not the book is worth as much to you. It may be a little known and, to the world at large, a valueless book, and you may have to wait some years before you are able to secure a copy; whereas by advertising for it you may procure a copy almost immediately. Do you prefer to take the chance of having to wait years for a book which you urgently want, or to pay a longish price and possess it at once?

There is another point to be considered. Should you ever part with your collection en bloc, or should your executors dispose of it, this volume will be an item of the collection of works in which you specialise. As such it will be much more likely to realise the larger than the smaller price, especially as the disposal of a collection of books upon a definite subject attracts to the rostrum other collectors of a like class of works.

Surely every book-collector is in his heart of hearts a specialist. Have you ever taken into your hands some choice gem of your collection without wishing that there were others in your library of the same genus? Is there not some one volume among your books that demands your first consideration when new shelving is put up, when your books are re-arranged; the volume to which you would fly first of all if a fire broke out in your sanctum? Brother bookman, I can almost hear you turn in your chair at the awful prospect of having to make choice between your beloved tomes! Indeed I am with you whole-heartedly, for there are two books, two priceless gems, rescued (the one from Austria, the other France) after years of patient search, two books which ever strive for the ascendancy in my bibliophilic affections. Far from me be it to make distinction between them. Granted, however, that you have made up your mind as to the identity of the treasure, do you not wish to possess other equally choice works of the same[200] class, on the same subject? Suppose some distant relative of yours with great propriety should die, bequeathing you all unexpectedly far more worldly goods than you had ever hoped to possess; supposing also that you were 'without encumbrances' or ties of any description, and that your sole aim and ambition in this world was the collecting unto yourself of the choicest fruits of master minds: what would be your first act, in so far as your hobby is concerned?

I know what our book-hunter would do under such conditions. He would take the next train to Paris, proceed to a certain shop not a great distance from the Rue St. Honoré, mount the step-ladder and hand down to the delighted Henri just precisely what he fancied in his own particular line. This process he would continue elsewhere until he had formed a goodly nucleus round which to amass still scarcer volumes as they came to hand. And I venture to think that you would do the same, though not necessarily in Paris.

What is it that makes a man a specialist? Is it a particular knowledge of a certain subject? Do all book-collecting doctors garner only herbals and early medical works? Does the poet-collector specialise in poetry, the freemason in masonic books, the angler in works dealing only with his pastime?

Not always, perhaps; but doubtless this is the case with the great majority of collectors. Sometimes a chance purchase may shape the entire course of a man's collecting, sometimes he is led to the subject to which he devotes his collecting energies by devious byways. Our book-hunter has a friend who began to collect old French books on Chivalry through a touch of influenza. When convalescent his doctor ordered him a sea-voyage. An hour after the advice was given he met a shipping friend, who offered him a cabin in a ship just about to start on a trading voyage in the Mediterranean. At Crete the ship was detained for some repairs, so he took the opportunity to visit Rhodes in a coasting vessel. He was much struck with the famous Street of the Knights and ancient[201] buildings of the great military Order that once owned the island, and regretted that he knew so little about it. Nor did his scanty knowledge of these things enable him to appreciate to the full the buildings of the Order at Malta.

On his return to this country he spent some time at the British Museum, delving into these knightly records of the past, but was unable even then to discover all that he wished to know. So for a time he took up his abode in Paris, working daily at the Archives, the Arsenal Library, and Bibliothèque Nationale. Then came the Library of the Vatican. To-day his collection of ancient works on La Chevalerie, in most of the languages of Europe, is a thing to be proud of, and his sub-collection on the Hospitallers and their commanderies is especially rich. Probably there are few works upon this subject with which he is unacquainted, and the bibliography upon which he is at work bids fair to become the standard volume.

What an immense part Chance plays in all our lives. Some of the most momentous events in the world's history have turned upon the most trivial happenings. Had not a wild boar run in a certain direction, probably there would have been no Norman Conquest of England! Robert of Normandy, out hunting with his friends, roused a boar which, running a certain course, necessitated the duke's return through the village street where he saw and fell in love with the burgess's daughter who became the mother of William the Conqueror. Had the boar run north instead of south, probably Robert would never have seen Arlette, and William would never have been born. Olaf of Norway, the great sea-king whose name was feared from Brittany to the Orkneys, was converted to Christianity by a chance landing at the Scilly Isles, where haply he visited the cell of a holy man that dwelt there.

Let us now draw up a list of those subjects which generally engage the attention of specialists. The list is a lengthy one and offers an infinite variety. Each heading will comprise various sub-headings, and of these I shall speak more in detail.

From this list are purposely omitted books printed upon vellum, Books of Hours of the Virgin Mary, and illuminated books; for these are rarities within reach of the wealthy only. Nor is 'bindings' included, for the man who collects these is no book-lover in the truest sense of the word, and his hobby does not fall properly within the category of book-collecting, being classed rather under the heading Art and Vertu, Bric-à-Brac, or what you will. Naturally all book-collectors (save perhaps the 'original-boards-uncut' man) are sensible to the charm of a choicely bound copy, provided always that the binding be appropriate and that it is impossible to obtain the book in its original covers; but it is for something more than the mere outsides of his treasures that the real book-lover cares.

Needless to say, there are other subjects which have their devotees. Some collectors specialise in large-paper copies, some prefer certain editions which contain matter suppressed later. Others collect early children's books, gipsy literature, Egyptology, books on inventions, ballooning, etc. But most of these are more in the nature of sub-headings to the subjects in our list, and offer a more restricted field of collecting. Indeed I am in some doubt as to whether the large-paper collector should be included here, for his penchant is as far removed from true book-collecting as is that of the specialist in bindings. His hobby can have nothing to do with literature, since it is only the external characteristics of a book which appeal to him. He may be 'wise in his generation,' but his pursuit approaches closely to bibliomania. This objection may perhaps also be urged against one other subject in our list, namely, privately-printed books. But here there[204] is an ulterior interest beyond the mere singularity of their production; for there are very many books of great merit, chiefly memoirs and family histories, which their authors have designed, from personal and contemporary reasons, to come only into the hands of their own families and acquaintances.

So here is your list, reader, take your choice. But perchance you are already numbered among the elect, one of those magi among bibliophiles who are at once the despair of the booksellers and the wise men of their generation? Is it not to the specialists that we owe the bulk of our knowledge of old books—for who else is it that produce the bibliographies, numerous but not nearly numerous enough, that delight the heart of the collector? All praise to them, and, brother bibliophile, if you are not yet of their number in heart at least, read through the foregoing list once more and put a mark with your pencil against the heading which is most to your taste. If you do not see your chosen subject at once, a scrutiny will probably discover it for you included in another and wider subject.[74] For example, Astronomy and Astrology, inseparably bound up in the ancient works, are included in the heading 'Occult.' Herbals, which deal with the medicinal qualities of plants, you will find under 'Medical.'

Is your purse a long one? Would you not like to garner folios and quartos with weird and heavy types that speak of a craft yet in its infancy; books that perchance have seen or even been handled by the actual combatants of Barnet or of Bosworth Field; books with monstrous crude yet wholly delightful woodcuts that bring before us the actual appearance of our forebears under the King-maker, Richard Crouchback, and Harry Richmond? Or would you like to gather to yourself as many examples as you may, in the finest possible condition, of the exquisite art of Aldo Manuccio the elder? But perhaps the following, from a recent catalogue, represents a class (20) more to your palate.

[205]L'Histoire du tres fameux et tres redoute Palmerin d'Olive . . . . traduite de Castillan en Francoys reueue et derechef mise en son entier, selon nostre vulgaire moderne et usite, par Jean Maugin, dit l'Angeuin. With 45 large spirited woodcuts (some being nearly full-page) representing duels, battles, etc., and 132 large ornamental initial letters. Folio, Paris, 1553.

Is your purse a light one? Then fifteenth-century books are denied you, as are all other esteemed works of the Middle Ages such as romances and classics. But there is hardly another heading in our list, save perhaps the first editions of the great authors, which you may not make your own. Almost every subject has its bibliography, and many fresh volumes are added yearly to the ever-increasing list of 'books about books.' You will find what bibliographies have appeared upon your particular subject, up to 1912, by referring to Mr. W. P. Courtney's 'Register of National Bibliography,' which should be (if indeed it is not) in every public library throughout the kingdom.

Some day an enterprising public body will purchase a building with fifty-five rooms (or thereabouts), each of which will contain a small and carefully selected collection of books on each one of these subjects. Each room will have its own catalogue and its own librarian, who will be an expert in the subject over which he presides. The rooms, of course, will vary in size according to the magnitude of the subject and the number of sub-headings which it comprises. Readers will have access to the shelves in almost every case, books of great value alone being kept under lock and key.

How invaluable such a library would be, and what a vast amount of time would all readers be saved! We should know instantly to whom to turn for expert advice upon any subject—for the sub-librarians would naturally be acquainted with more than the mere outsides of the volumes in their charge.[206] We should be able to handle the latest works upon our subject immediately; and we should have, ready to our hand, a history of its literature from the earliest times to the present day.

As to whether the acquisition of knowledge by this method would not turn us all into journalists, however, is another matter.

With the first heading in our list shall be included several others, namely (2) Africa; (5) Australasia; (55) Travels and Explorations (which heading includes every land under the sun not specially mentioned in our list), and (56) Voyages and Shipwrecks; in short, all those subjects which concern 'foreign parts.' They are subjects which are most likely to engage the attentions of collectors who have been seafaring in their time, though, as has been shown in Chapter II., it is not every traveller who has been far afield.

Books on Arctic and Antarctic exploration, as well as whaling voyages, comprise much reading that is as interesting to the landsman as to the sailor. Most of its literature is within easy reach of the collector of modest means, though the earlier volumes are naturally increasing gradually in price. One of the hardest to obtain is William Scoresby's 'Account of the Arctic Regions,' which was published in two octavo volumes at Edinburgh in 1820. You will be lucky if you find a clean sound copy of it with the plates unspotted. It is now getting very scarce, as is Weddell's 'Voyage towards the South Pole in 1822-24' (octavo, London, 1825).

Each of these headings can be subdivided according to your requirements. Africa you may divide conveniently into West, South, East, and Central; North Africa being best classified under the various countries which it contains, namely, Algiers, Morocco, Tripoli, and Tunis. Egypt, of course, has a vast literature of its own. Similarly books on Australasia may be divided into those which deal with Polynesia, New Guinea, Australia (again divided into its states), Tasmania, and New Zealand; though, properly speaking, the first of these should be classified under the heading 'Voyages.'

[207] There is little doubt that those collectors who have devoted their energies during the past twenty-five years to the collecting of books on Africa, especially the South, will prove at no very distant date to have been wise in their purchases. Just as early Americana are so eagerly bought by our neighbours across the Atlantic at immense prices, far and away out of all proportion to their intrinsic worth as literature or history, so will the day come when those of our kin whose fathers sought a home in the 'great dark continent' will go to any length to procure works which deal with the early history of that newer world; and this will be the case, perhaps even sooner, with our Australasian friends.

The early books on Australia are most interesting. Besides Governor Phillip's 'Voyage to Botany Bay' (1789) and his Letters therefrom (1791) there are such compilations as John Callander's version of the Comte de Tournay's 'Terra Australis Cognita,' or Voyages to the Southern Hemisphere during the Sixteenth, Seventeenth, and Eighteenth Centuries, three octavo volumes published at Edinburgh between 1766 and 1768. Then there is Admiral Hunter's 'Historical Journal of the Transactions at Port Jackson and Norfolk Island' (1793).[75] Hunter sailed with the first fleet in 1787 under Arthur Phillip, the first governor of Botany Bay, as second in command of H.M.S. Sirius, and afterwards became governor-general of New South Wales in succession to Phillip. His journal gives a very valuable account of the early days of the Colony. Barrington's, Mitchell's, and Sturt's handsome volumes, all with fine plates, are still to be had for shillings. They seem a very good investment.

Books on the South Seas have a peculiar interest, for the subject at once conjures up the name of the immortal Captain Cook; and the accounts of his remarkable voyages between 1768 and 1779 are perhaps the most eagerly sought for of all books on Polynesia. The first voyage of discovery in which[208] the great explorer took part was in the years 1768 to 1771. His ship, the Endeavour, was accompanied in the first part of the voyage by the Dolphin and Swallow; and an account of the Endeavour's voyage was published surreptitiously in 1771 by, it is said, certain of the petty officers of Cook's vessel.[76] But the compilation of an authentic account of the voyage, from the rough notes and diaries, was entrusted to Dr. Hawkesworth, and was published in 1773 in three quarto volumes. From this task Hawkesworth gleaned £6000, and although we are told that the book 'was read with an avidity proportioned to the novelty of the adventures which it recorded,' yet the compiler so far offended against the canons of good taste as to cause considerable offence. Cook gained such credit for his intrepidity that he was promptly promoted from lieutenant to commander.

A second expedition was soon planned, and in 1772 the Resolution and the Adventure set sail, the former returning to England in 1775. The results of this voyage were drawn up by Captain Cook himself, and published in 1777 in two quarto volumes. In 1776 he sailed once more in the Resolution, but was destined never to return, for on St. Valentine's Day, 1779, he met his death at the hands of the natives of Hawaii. The expedition returned the next year, and the official account of it was published in 1784, in three quarto volumes, of which the first two were from the pen of Cook, the third volume being written by James King. The following year a second edition appeared, also in three quarto volumes. All these works have maps, charts, and folding plates, which are sometimes bound up separately into folio volumes. A few of these somewhat crude plates were engraved by Bartolozzi. Admiral James Burney's 'Chronological History of Voyages and Discoveries in the South Sea,' was published in five quarto volumes between 1803 and 1817.[209] The author was one of Cook's officers, and the diary of the last voyage which he sailed in company with the great navigator is still (1921) in manuscript. His account of the death of Captain Cook, however, was published in the 'Cornhill Magazine' so lately as November 1914.

During the first half of the nineteenth century many handsome works upon these subjects issued from the press. For the most part they are sumptuous books, many of them having coloured plates and sometimes folding ones. They were published chiefly for subscribers at prices ranging from two guineas to fifteen; and during the last few years they have risen considerably in price. Until the decline of the coloured engraving in the 'fifties of last century they were legion in number, both quartos and octavos, and many are still to be had for a few shillings. But a study of booksellers' catalogues alone will give you an idea of their prices and values. Needless to say, works upon voyages, travels, and explorations issued in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries are becoming increasingly scarce and valuable.

Here a word of warning. Before you purchase any of these illustrated volumes, make sure (by referring to a bibliography or standard collation if possible) that it is intact. Frequently a plate or a map is missing, and sometimes an unscrupulous seller will go so far as to remove the 'list of plates' in order that the blemish may remain undetected. With such defects, books of travel are generally of little worth.

Some of the byways included in these headings of Travel and Foreign Countries are of considerable interest for the bibliographer no less than for the traveller. Who has confined his attentions to the early Saracenic literature of North Africa? There is a number of works dealing with it, chiefly sixteenth-century Spanish books, and all are of considerable value. Luis del Marmol's 'Descripcion general del Affrica' is in three folio volumes, of which the first two were printed at Granada in 1573, the third volume being dated at Malaga, 1599. But though Marmol affixed his own name to it, the[210] work is little more than a translation of the 'Description of Africa,' by Leo Africanus, a fellow-countryman of Marmol, who composed his work in Arabic. Marmol was certainly well qualified for his task, for he was taken prisoner by the Moors in 1546, and was eight years in captivity in Africa. Curio's 'Sarracenicae Historiae' was first published in folio at Basel in 1567; but it was English'd by T. Newton in 1575, quarto, black letter, London—if you are so lucky as to come across it. It is called 'A Notable Historie of the Saracens.' Dan's 'Histoire de la Barbarie,' folio, Paris, 1649, appears in the sale-room from time to time.


3. Americana—what a vast subject in itself! Its very definition signifies the inclusion of everything upon any subject whatsoever that has ever been written upon the Americas! But in the bibliographer's reading this term is generally taken to imply those early works relating to the discovery and settlement of the United States and Canada, though not necessarily in the English language. For the purposes of our list, however, we will confine its meaning solely to the United States; classifying books upon Canada, Alaska, and Mexico under the heading Travels and Exploration. Under the latter heading also, of course, will come the various countries of Central and South America.

Many have been the collections upon the early history of New England, and you will do well to obtain the catalogues of the Huth, Church, Auchinleck, Winsor, Livingston, Grenville, and Hoe collections. The famous collection of Americana from the library at Britwell Court was to have been sold by auction at Sotheby's in August 1916; but it was purchased en bloc to go to New York, where it was dispersed by public auction the following January. The sale catalogue (Sotheby's) is an extremely good one, and contains a large number of works previously undescribed. The well-known library of Americana amassed by Dr. White Kennet, bishop of Peterborough during the latter part of the seventeenth century, and entrusted by him in 1712 to the keeping of the[211] Society for the Propagation of the Gospel 'for their perpetual use,' was sold by order of that Society at Sotheby's in August 1917 and realised very high prices, though most of the items were in poor condition. The gem of the collection, 'New England Canaan,' 1632, and most of the other important volumes (seventy-nine in all) had been presented previously by the Society to the British Museum. The highest price realised was £650, which was paid for 'A True Relation of the late Battell fought in New England between the English and the Salvages,' 1637, a small quarto of sixteen leaves, said to be by the Rev. Philip Vincent.[77]

There are two valuable bibliographies upon this subject, both necessarily large and important works. They are Sabin's 'Dictionary of Books relating to America,' in nineteen octavo volumes published at New York from 1868 to 1891, which, however, comprises only the headings from A to Simms: and Evans' 'American Bibliography,' privately printed in eight quarto volumes at Chicago, 1903 to 1914. Harrisse's 'Bibliotheca Americana Vetustissima' (New York, 1866) with its supplement (Paris, 1872) is a bibliography of the rarest books concerning America that appeared between 1492 and 1551. Mr. W. H. Miner's 'The American Indians, North of Mexico,' published by the Cambridge University Press in 1917, contains a bibliography of works on the aboriginals.


4. Works upon Architecture are, de natura, for the greater part 'art books,' and comprise not only such large works as Furttenbach's massive tomes and the works of Britton and Billing, but the many beautifully illustrated books published by Ackermann at the beginning of last century. Most of them, English and foreign, are books of considerable value, for the plates were often produced by the great masters of engraving, and they readily command high prices whenever they appear in the market. But there[212] is a large and increasing number of smaller works which deal with buildings and designs, as well as those books concerning buildings of an historical interest. There does not seem to be any monumental bibliography of architectural books, but you will find useful lists in Mr. W. P. Courtney's volumes.

The older books upon this subject are necessarily scarce: such as Alberti's 'Libri de Re Ædificatoria Decem,' which appeared first at Florence in 1485. This work, however, was reprinted at Paris in 1512, and you may have a copy of it for a couple of pounds, though the first French translation 'L'Architecture et Art de bien bastir, trad. par deffunct Jan Martin,' folio, Paris, 1553, with fine large woodcuts, will cost you four times as much. It is a fine book, and contains a portrait of the author as well as a three-page epitaph by Ronsard on the deffunct Jan Martin.


6. The collection of Bibles is perhaps one of the commonest subjects to engage the attention of specialists. There is a numerous bibliography, ranging from Anthony Johnson's little tract 'An Historical Account of the English Translations of the Bible,' printed in 1730, down to the Rev. J. L. Mombert's 'English Versions of the Bible,' of which a new edition appeared in 1907. You will find the volumes of Anderson, Cotton, Eadie, Loftie, Dore, Darlow and Moule, Stoughton, and Scrivener of assistance to you here, as well as Westcott's 'General View of the History of the English Bible,' of which a third and revised edition was published in 1905. It contains a useful list of English editions of the Holy Writ. The Huth Collection, that portion of it which was sold in 1911-12, was especially rich in Bibles, as was the Amherst Library, dispersed in 1908-09. This last contained editions from 1455 (the so-called 'Mazarin' Bible) to King Charles the First's own copy of the 1638 Cambridge edition. The sale catalogues of these will be of value to you.

7. Bibliography is perhaps the subject nearest to the heart of every bibliophile. But since the collection of 'books about[213] books' must of necessity be the stepping-stone by which the book-lover attains his knowledge of the extrinsic attributes of his hobby, I have dealt with this subject at some length in the chapter wherein are treated the 'books of the collector.'


8. Biography, Memoirs, Diaries: what a flood of names and memories occur to one under this heading! Not only the immortal Boswell and Pepys, but Fanny Burney, Alexandre Dumas, Mary Wortley-Montague, Lord Herbert of Cherbury, et permulti alii. Also, this heading will comprise that great series of mysterious and 'racy' books ycleped 'Court Memoirs,' and the somewhat less exciting but—to our book-hunter's mind at least—more interesting works which border on the domain of history, such as the Memoirs of Blaise de Montluc and Saint-Simon: works which bring home to us the everyday life of those far-off days more clearly than anything that has ever been written about them since.

How meagre is the stock of valuable historical memoirs with which we may furnish our libraries to-day! There is abundance to be had—after long searching, but the great Memoirs which we may have to hand, such as Froissart and Monstrelet, Waurin and La Marche, must number scarce a couple of dozen. Perhaps some day a philanthropic publisher will give us good editions (unabridged) of Sir James Melvil, Sir Philip Warwick, Edmund Ludlow, Bulstrode Whitlock, Sir Thomas Herbert, Robert Cary, Denzil Lord Holles, and many other valuable contemporary evidences now scarcely to be had, and when found usually in ancient tattered calf. Why is it, too, that the great mass of French chroniclers who bear witness to English doings in the wars of Normandy, Brittany, Burgundy, Anjou and Touraine remain still untranslated and almost unprocurable?

There are so many delightful Memoirs to which one would like to have access at will. Jean de Boucicault, Marshal of France, stands out as one of the most interesting figures in[214] mediæval France and, indeed, Europe. Nicknamed 'le meingre,' he was Vicomte de Turenne, and bore arms at the age of ten. His father[78] also was a Marshal of France. Few men have lived such a stirring life as this paragon of knightly prowess. At Rosebeque in 1382 (where Philip van Artevelde and 20,000 Flemings were slain), being then a page of honour to Charles vi., he fought at the King's side and acquitted himself so well that he received knighthood at the King's hands. Thenceforward he was fighting continually in Flanders, Normandy, Brittany, Languedoc—in short wherever there was fighting to be done. In 1396, marching with the flower of the French chivalry through Bulgaria against the Turks, he was one of the three thousand knights taken prisoner at the disastrous battle of Nicopoli; but was among the twenty-five whose lives were spared by the savage victor. Four years later he was defending Constantinople for the Emperor against his late captor, and here again he distinguished himself greatly by his bravery.

Not long after this he was appointed Governor of Genoa. In command of the Genoese fleet he undertook to chastise the Cypriots for an outrage on some Genoese gentlemen. But calling at Rhodes on the way, the Grand Master of the Hospitallers persuaded him to try the effect of mediation first of all, and proceeded to Cyprus himself for that purpose. Whereupon the Marshal, 'to beguile the time, and give employment to the fiery spirits on board his squadron' (says a later chronicler) 'ran down at a venture to the Syrian city of Scanderoon, which place he carried by assault and plundered.' Encouraged by this success, on the Grand Master's return he persuaded that great personage to accompany him on a further expedition, and together they harried the whole coast of Syria, the Hospitaller confining his attention to the Infidels whilst the Marshal razed the[215] factories which the Venetians (enemies to the Genoese) had established at Baruth and other places. Thus passing a very pleasant summer.

In Italy he took an active part in the turmoil betwixt Guelphs and Ghibellines, and seized Milan for the former (1409). At Agincourt in 1415 he commanded the vanguard of the French army, and was taken prisoner. Being sent to England, he remained there until his death six years later. This great soldier was a man of many accomplishments, an ardent musician as well as a poet; and his leisure was passed chiefly in composing ballads, rondeaux, and virelays. Yet his 'Livre des Faicts' remains unenglish'd.

Another truly great man of a later period was that great warrior of saintly life and death, Henri, Duc de Montmorency. After a long and noble career of arms in the service of his king no less than of his countrymen, he fell a victim to the jealousy of Cardinal de Richelieu. 'Dieu vouloit que sa mort fust aussi admirable que sa vie,' writes his biographer; 'que ses dernieres actions couronnassent toutes les autres; et que ses vertus Chrestiennes jettassent encor plus d'eclat que n'avoient fait les Heroiques.' Brought to the scaffold he refused to avail himself of the indulgence of having his hands at liberty. 'So great a sinner as I,' he said, 'cannot die with too much ignominy.' Of his own accord he took off his splendid dress. 'How can I,' said he, 'being so great a sinner go to my death in such attire when my guiltless Saviour died naked upon the Cross.' Yet save we are contented to turn to a poorly printed seventeenth-century edition of his Life, there is no place (to my knowledge at least) where we can read of this truly great man, and, of course, no version other than that in the French tongue.

Then there is that great and vivacious chronicle of the house of Burgundy during the fifteenth century, the Memoirs of Messire Olivier, Sieur de la Marche. No historian would write of the Flemish wars, from the Peace of Arras in 1435[216] to the taking of Ghent by the Archduke Maximilian in 1491, without constant reference to this invaluable work, for la Marche was often an eye-witness of the events which he records. Yet so far it has not been rendered in English, and I know of no complete edition in modern French. It is the same with the memorials of Bouchet, Chartier, de Coussy, Crillon, Olivier de Clisson, and many other great soldiers, all of whom have much to say of the wars 'contre les Anglois.' The famous history of Bertrand du Guesclin[79] contained in 'Le Triomphe des Neuf Preux' does not seem to have been reprinted after its second appearance in Spanish at Barcelona in 1586, and there is no English version.

Why is it that biography has such a peculiar fascination for most men? Is it but curiosity to know how others have passed their lives, mere idle inquisitiveness? Or is it that we may store up in our minds what these great ones said and did upon occasions that may occur to us some day? This is, perhaps the more likely; for women dislike biographies, and women, we are told, care not a fig for examples, but act upon their native intuition. Be the reason what it may, the fact remains that for one man who looks to the future there are fifty who look to the past. Moreover the sages of all times encourage us to seek examples in the lives of other men, and examples are certainly of more value than idle speculations. 'With what discourses should we feed our souls?' asked one of that pleasant philosopher Maximus of Tyre. 'With those that lead the mind ἐπὶ τὸν πρόσθεν χρόνον—towards former[217] times,' replied the sage—those that exhibit the deeds of past ages.

Possibly it would be better to include biographical dictionaries under this heading than under 'Dictionaries.' Oettinger's 'Bibliographie Biographique Universelle,' published first in quarto at Leipzig, 1850, describes some 26,000 biographies, under their subjects' names. A second edition appeared in two octavo volumes at Brussels four years later. There is a useful catalogue of 174 biographical dictionaries in all languages at the end of the third volume of John Gorton's 'General Biographical Dictionary,' the 1833 edition.

Famous Authors and Books.

9. Celebrated Authors and Books. How interesting it would be to know which individual work, after the Bible, has passed through the greatest number of editions. 'The Pilgrim's Progress,' 'Robinson Crusoe,' 'The Decameron,' 'The Compleat Angler,' 'Paradise Lost,' all these must have been reprinted an immense number of times; while others such as 'Gil Blas' and 'Don Quixote' would not be so very far behind. Then there are the ancients, such as Homer, Horace, Virgil, with the great host of classics of the old world. Perhaps, however, the palm would be awarded to the 'Imitatio Christi' of the saintly Thomas à Kempis. The editions of it, from the presses of almost every country in the old and the new worlds, run well into four figures. An English collector, Edmund Waterton, succeeded in amassing no less than thirteen hundred, and at his death the British Museum acquired all those of his treasures which were not already upon its shelves.

There is another name to couple with this, though (I hasten to add) from a purely bibliographical standpoint—that of the great Dominican Giacomo di Voraggio, or Jacobus de Voragine. Except to the student of Early Fathers, the hagiologist, and the bibliophile, his very name has almost sunk into oblivion; but to these savants he stands forth as the compiler of that marvellous collection of the Lives of the Saints, known as The Golden Legend. The first Latin[218] edition of his great work was printed in folio at Cologne in 1470, and six years later it appeared in French at Lyons and in Italian at Venice. Caxton translated and published an English version, and from that time to the middle of the sixteenth century it is said to have undergone more impressions than any other contemporary work.[80]

It is not only editions of individual works, however, that this heading comprises. Upon reading a book which pleases us greatly it is but natural to seek other works by the same author; and with the book-collector this tendency often becomes the basis of a definite plan of campaign. Who has yet formed a complete collection of the works and editions of Defoe, of Alexandre Dumas, or even of that indefatigable Jesuit antiquary Claude François Menestrier? There are bibliographies of all three, but I do not know of any library that possesses a complete collection of either. Every year sees the addition of bibliographies upon this subject, and we have now excellent accounts of the publications of Bunyan, Cervantes, Defoe, Milton, Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Isaac Newton, Isaac Walton, and many other famous men.

Under this heading also is included the collection of books dealing with a particular author or book, such, for example, as the many published works upon the authorship of the 'Imitatio Christi,' the 'Eikon Basilike,' or the Letters of Junius, and—commonest sub-heading of all—'Shakespeareana.' The British Museum authorities have issued a bibliography (large quarto, 1897), of books in that library relating to Shakespeare, which you may have for a few shillings. If this be your hobby, however, perhaps the first book which you will acquire, at the very outset of your career, will be Sir Sidney Lee's monumental 'Life of William Shakespeare,'[219] which has become a classic in itself. Of this, the first edition appeared in 1898, but a new edition (the seventh) rewritten and greatly enlarged, was published in 1915. It is, at the time of writing, the fullest and best, so is much to be preferred. It contains a full account of the earliest and subsequent editions and editors of the immortal writer. Mr. A. W. Pollard published in 1909 a bibliographical account of 'Shakespeare Folios and Quartos,' and you will find a lengthy list of books upon this subject in Appendix I of Sir Sidney Lee's work (1915). Mr. William Jaggard's 'Shakespeare Bibliography' purports to be 'a dictionary of every known issue of the writings of our national poet and of recorded opinion thereon in the English language.' It was published at Stratford-on-Avon in 1911, a thick octavo volume of more than 700 pages. The fifth volume of the 'Cambridge History of English Literature' contains some 47 pages of Shakespeareana in the bibliographies to Chapters VIII. to XII.

Famous Presses.

10. Celebrated Presses. Of all the famous printers this world has seen, there are two in particular whose productions have engaged the attentions of collectors continually, namely, the Manuccios ('Aldines') and the Elzeviers. The reason for this is not far to seek. Unlike the productions of Caxton or de Worde (whose works, mostly in the vernacular, have usually engaged the attentions of English collectors only), the volumes issued by these two great foreign houses stand out for their conspicuous merit both as specimens of book-production and as examples of scholarly editing. Should you decide, however, to confine your attention to some other of the great printers, then a delightful hobby will be yours; for the field is narrow, and your collecting must take the form of a personal inspection of each volume purchased. It will be book-hunting with a vengeance; the booksellers' catalogues (which rarely give the printers) will be of little use to you except as regards certain specimens with which you are acquainted, and each volume that you acquire will have been unearthed by your own hands.[220] It is a subject which has been chosen so frequently by specialists that there are bibliographies of almost all the well-known printers, most of them, it were needless to add, in French. For a list of them, you must consult the work of Bigmore and Wyman, as well as that of Mr. W. P. Courtney.

There is a chance here, also, for the public librarian. How many of the public libraries in this country possess a collection of books illustrating the history and progress of printing in their particular towns? Most provincial public libraries now possess collections of books relating to the history and topography of their localities; and it should not be difficult to form similar collections of locally-printed books. It would be an interesting hobby for the private collector too, and such a collection would be of the greatest interest and value from the bibliographical standpoint. Similarly it would not be difficult to form a small collection of books printed by, say, the French or German or Italian printers before 1500, or the Paris or Venetian printers up to 1600. There is a considerable field for the collector here.

Ballads and Broadsides.

11. Chapbooks, Broadsides, and Ballads: a curious byway of book-collecting this, for the knowledge to be gleaned from these curiosa is not probably of great value. Nor can a great deal be said in favour of their utility. Perhaps, however, the first two would be classed more properly with No. 22—Facetiae and Curiosa, leaving Ballads only under this heading. The Earl of Crawford and Balcarres' 'Bibliotheca Lindesiana: a Catalogue of a Collection of English Ballads of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, printed for the most part in Black Letter' was printed privately in small quarto in 1890. It is undoubtedly the finest collection of this kind in the world. Ritson's 'Ancient Songs and Ballads' was revised by Hazlitt in 1877. Then there are such volumes as Payne Collier's 'Illustrations of English Popular Literature,' published in 1863-66, Huth's 'Ancient Ballads and Broadsides published in England in the Sixteenth Century' (1867), and others which will be[221] mentioned when discussing Facetiae (22) and Pamphlets and Tracts (45). Lemon's 'Catalogue of a Collection of Printed Broadsides in the Possession of the Society of Antiquaries of London' (1866) and Lilly's 'Black Letter Ballads and Broadsides,' (1867) will also be of use to you here, as will the publications of the Percy, Ballad, and Philobiblon Societies. In 1856 J. Russell Smith, the antiquarian publisher of Soho Square, issued a 'Catalogue of a Unique Collection of Four Hundred Ancient English Broadside Ballads, Printed Entirely in the Black Letter' which he had for sale—a small octavo volume with notes and facsimiles. It is a valuable little book and somewhat hard to obtain. For other reference-books upon this subject, you must turn to the headings 'Ballads' and 'Broadsides' in Mr. W. P. Courtney's valuable 'Register of National Bibliography.'

This heading also includes the collection of proclamations and single sheet posters of all kinds. There is a fine collection of Royal Proclamations in the Library of the Society of Antiquaries, probably the most perfect in existence. 'Bookes' of Proclamations were issued by R. Grafton in 1550 (8vo), R. Barker in 1609 (folio), Norton and Bill in 1618 (folio)—all in black letter—and by several other the king's printers during the seventeenth century. For the purposes of the historian they are simply invaluable. The (26th) Earl of Crawford and Balcarres has printed a bibliography of proclamations, vols. v. and vi. of his 'Bibliotheca Lindesiana.'

Civil War and Commonwealth.

12. Civil War and Commonwealth is properly speaking a sub-heading of No. 30—History; but it is a favourite subject with book-collectors, and the volumes issued during this period are sui generis and mostly of considerable interest. With the abolition of the Star Chamber in 1641 the drastic repression of the printers disappeared, and, freed from all control, the presses now poured forth political tracts and volumes of every description. Needless to say a great number of the books thus issued were anonymous publications. But two years later an Order for[222] the Regulating of Printing came into force, and Cromwell's censorship was reinforced by a further Act in 1649. Nevertheless a large mass of political matter continued, throughout the interregnum, to make its appearance on the stalls and in the shops. What would not Cromwell have given to suppress 'Killing no Murder'! Edwards' 'Catalogue of the Great Rebellion Tracts in the British Museum' was included in his 'Memoirs of Libraries,' which appeared in 1859. George Thomason's famous collection of Royalist tracts will be dealt with under the heading 'Pamphlets.'


13. Of all the subjects in our list perhaps none comprises volumes of greater beauty and printed with greater distinction than this—the Classics of the Old World. It is a rare field for the scholar to-day, for the time when no library could be considered complete without editions of most of the old masters of Greece and Italy is long past; and there is nothing like the competition nowadays to secure the well-known editions which formerly adorned the shelves of our grandfathers. Not long ago our book-hunter witnessed the sale of a sixteenth-century folio Isocrates, bound in ancient green morocco, for seven and sixpence; and similar volumes are described continually in the modern booksellers' catalogues. There is more scope here for the collection of masterpieces of typography than in any other heading in our list. Aldines, Estiennes, Elzeviers, Plantins, Baskervilles, Barbous—all are within the reach of the most modest purse. You need not trouble to study Dibdin's 'Introduction to the Knowledge of Rare and Valuable Editions of the Greek and Latin Classics': if you are sufficiently fond of immortal books and beautiful printing to make this subject your hobby, your own eyes and hands will guide you in the choice of editions—from the bibliographical standpoint.

Cookery Books.

14. The Collection of Cookery Books offers a wider field for the book-collector's activities than would appear at first sight. Besides the considerable number of works of a purely culinary nature, there are many sources whence we can learn[223] much concerning the dietary and table customs of our ancestors. Caxton's (or rather de Worde's) 'Book of Curtesye' is a primer of good manners for a small boy at table and elsewhere, and it may well find a place, in modern shape, on the shelf beside other volumes on household economy. 'Don't dip your meat in the salt-cellar,' the wise man tells Master Jackie, 'lest folk apoynte you of unconnyngnesse.' He must be careful, also, not to expectorate across the table,

'ne at the borde ye shall no naylis pare
ne pyke your teth with knyf.'

Injunctions that are, perhaps, unnecessary nowadays; but all must agree with the great printer that

'it is a tedyous thynge
For to here a chylde multeplye talkyng.'

Are books on table-manners published nowadays? The latest I remember to have seen is Trusler's 'The Honours of the Table, or Rules for Behaviour during Meals, with the Whole Art of Carving,' which appeared in 1788. It has woodcuts by Bewick, and is a curious and scarce little volume.

Even such unlikely volumes as Dugdale's 'Origines Juridiciales' (folio, London 1680), the Egerton and Rutland Papers, and other volumes of household accounts issued by the learned societies contain menus and long lists of foodstuffs and drinks consumed at various feasts. W. C. Hazlitt's account of some 'Old Cookery Books and Ancient Cuisine' appeared in 12mo in 1886. It has a list of some of the older works. There is also a bibliography of books upon this subject in Dr. A. W. Oxford's 'Notes from a Collector's Catalogue' which appeared in 1909. His 'English Cookery Books to the Year 1850' was published in 1913. You will find a useful paper upon old English cookery in the 'Quarterly Review' for January 1894. M. Georges Vicaire's 'Bibliographie Gastronomique,' a handsome octavo volume with facsimiles, appeared at Paris in 1890.

Then there are such books on dieting as Cornaro's[224] 'Discorsi della Vita Sobria' and Lessius on the Right Course of Preserving Health, both english'd in 1634 and printed at Cambridge in a tiny volume entitled 'Hygiasticon'; also Tryon's 'Way to Health,' Sir Thomas Elyot's 'Castel of Helth,' and other works of this nature. 'The Forme of Cury,' compiled about 1390 by the master cook of Richard ii., was published by Samuel Pegge in 1780; and the 'Libre Cure Cocorum,' about 1440, was issued by the Philological Society in 1862. The 'Boke of Cookery' printed by Pynson in 1500, and Buttes' 'Dyets Dry Dinner,' 1599, you will probably have to go without unless your purse be a deep one; indeed so far as I am aware no duplicate is known of the first-mentioned!


15. Books on Costume, like works on Architecture and the Fine Arts, are de natura 'art books.' During the first few decades of the nineteenth century there were published a number of folio volumes containing fine coloured plates, depicting the costumes of various foreign countries. Numerous books of travels issued during the same period also were embellished with similar plates; whilst of late years monographs have appeared on the history of various articles of attire, such as shoes, gloves, hats, etc. It is not a large field for the specialist, and at present I am unaware of any modern bibliography upon this subject. There are lists of costume books in Fairholt's 'Costume in England' (1896 edition), 'The Heritage of Dress' by Mr. W. M. Webb (1907), and a paper on them by Mr. F. W. B. Haworth in the Quarterly Record of the Manchester Public Library for 1903 (vol. vii. pp. 69-72).

Some of the older works on costume are extremely interesting for their curious engravings. For the most part they are valuable works. 'Le Recueil de la diversite des Habits, qui sont de present en usage, tant es pays d'Europe, Asie, Afrique et Isles Sauvages, le tout fait apres le naturel' was put forth by Richard Breton, a Paris printer, in 1564, octavo. It contains 121 full-page wood-engravings of costume; it is a little difficult, however, to see why the[225] 'sauvages' should be included in a book of costume. But perhaps they are covered by the phrase 'apres le naturel.' Beneath each engraving is a rhyming and punning quatrain. Here is the one beneath the portrait of a young lady of demure appearance, entitled 'L'Espousée de France':

'L'espousée est coiffée, aussi vestue
Comme voyez, quant elle prent mary,
A demonstrer sa beauté s'esuertue,
En ce iour la, n'ayant le cueur marry.'

There are other interesting sixteenth-century works by Abraham de Bruyn, Nicolas de Nicolay, Cesare Vecellio, Pietro Bertelli, Ferdinand Bertelli, and others, all with copper and wood engravings.


16. Books dealing with Crimes and Prisons are classed generally under the heading Curiosa (22); but accounts of murders, rogueries, piracies, etc., are so common and so frequently engage the attentions of specialists that I have thought fit to place this subject in a class by itself. Needless to say the majority of works on this subject are in the shape of pamphlets or tracts, though some (such as the 'Trial of Queen Caroline') run to more than one thick volume. You must not expect to come across many of Samuel Rowlands' tracts on roguery, (1600-1620), for they are worth literally their weight in gold, and more. Many of them, however, have been reprinted by the Hunterian Club (1872-86). Nor will you find readily 'The Blacke Dogge of Newgate' by Luke Hutton, which appeared first about 1600, though 'The Life and Death of Gamaliel Ratsey, a Famous Thief of England,' was reprinted by Payne Collier. Mr. F. W. Chandler's two volumes on 'The Literature of Roguery,' published in 1907, will be of great assistance to you here; whilst Payne Collier's 'Illustrations of Early English Popular Literature' contains several murder pamphlets. The Newgate Calendar is well known and may be had, in varying states of completeness, of the booksellers from time to time, together with the many accounts of famous murders and trials.


[226]17. Dictionaries and Etymologies are subjects which generally engross the attentions of 'curious antiquaries.' Some of the older dictionaries are of great interest. A few years ago our book-hunter purchased in London for half a crown a copy of Cooper's 'Thesaurus Linguae Romanae et Britanniae,' a thick folio printed at London by Henry Bynneman in 1584. It is bound in the original sheepskin, a portion of a vellum psalter having been used to strengthen the joints. The worthy bishop's text is delightful (Cooper died bishop of Winchester in 1594), the interpretations being in black letter, and it is full of quaint conceits. At the end is a biographical dictionary which certainly contains some startling statements. Baret's 'Alvearie or Triple Dictionarie,' 1573, and Rider's 'Bibliotheca Scholastica,' 1589, you may still come across, but do not set your heart upon acquiring a copy of Huloet's 'Abcedarium Anglico-Latinum' put forth at London in 1552. Perhaps the finest collection of dictionaries amassed by any one collector in this country was that of the reverend Dr. Skeat of Cambridge; but alas! at his death it was partly dispersed.


18. Shakespeareana has already been dealt with under heading No. 9, and the bibliography of the Drama is a voluminous one. You will find the following works of value to you at the outset, if this be the subject of your choice. Hazlitt's 'Manual for the Collector and Amateur of Old English Plays' was issued in 1892, whilst Mr. F. E. Schelling's 'Elizabethan Drama, 1558-1642,' appeared in two volumes, New York, in 1908. The second volume contains a useful bibliography. Mr. W. W. Greg's 'List of English Plays written before 1643 and printed before 1770' was published by the Bibliographical Society in 1900. There is a supplementary volume which deals with Masques, Pageants, and some additional plays; it appeared in 1902. The bibliography to Chapter IV. in the tenth volume of the 'Cambridge History of English Literature'[227] contains useful lists of works on the drama. The office-book of Sir Henry Herbert, Master of the Revels, 1623 to 1673, was edited by Professor Quincy Adams and published by the Yale University Press ('Cornell Studies in English,' vol. iii.) in 1917. It is the chief source of information about English plays and playwrights from 1623 until the Civil War, and the documents of the period 1660-73 are important to students of the Restoration Drama.

Early-Printed Books.

19. By the term 'early-printed books' the bookseller generally means fifteenth-century works, or incunabula as they are now called. You must needs be a rich man if this be your hobby, for every volume issued prior to the year 1500—however worthless as literature or useless from a bibliographical standpoint—is now worth at least a couple of pounds, provided it is complete and in good condition. You may pick up an example or two of early printing for a few shillings on your rambles, but every day the chance of a bargain in this direction is smaller. There is not a bookseller throughout the kingdom who is not aware of the minimum value of any volume printed in the fifteenth century, and a private purchase and treasure trove are the only sources available to the 'incunabulist' to-day. As regards works of reference on this subject, such books have already been dealt with in the chapter on the Books of the Collector.

Early Romances.

20. Early Romances, too, will tax your exchequer somewhat heavily, for these glorious folio and quarto examples of early woodcut engraving are eagerly snapped up whenever they appear in the market. One of the finest collections of these fascinating volumes in recent times was that amassed by Baron Achille Seillière. A portion of it was sold at Sotheby's in February 1887. Most of these treasures were exquisitely bound by the great French masters of book-binding, and the sale of 1147 lots realised £14,944, an average of about £13 a volume. Yet it is safe to assert that the same collection to-day would fetch more than double[228] that amount.[81] The first folio edition (Lyon, 1477) of Honoré Bonnor's 'L'Arbre des Batailles' realised only £30. At the Fairfax Murray sale in 1918 the quarto Lyons edition (1510) made £130. The Lisbon edition of 'Le Triomphe des Neuf Preux' (1530) brought £83. The same copy at the Fairfax Murray sale realised £135. A second portion of this fine collection afterwards came under the hammer in Paris, and realised similar prices.

There is a numerous bibliography. Mr. A. Esdaile's 'List of English Tales and Prose Romances' was published by the Bibliographical Society in 1912, as was Mr. F. W. Bourdillon's 'Early Editions of the Roman de la Rose.' The second edition of W. J. Thom's 'Early English Prose Romances' appeared in three small octavo volumes in 1858, whilst Quaritch's 'Catalogue of Mediæval Literature, especially the Romances of Chivalry' was issued—large octavo—in 1890. Mr. H. L. D. Ward's 'Catalogue of Mediæval Romances in the British Museum,' in three volumes, was completed in 1910. For foreign Romances Lenglet du Fresnoy's 'Bibliothèque des Romans,' is useful. The Comte de Tressan's 'Corps d'Extraits des Romans de Chevalerie,' published in twelve volumes in 1787, has exquisite plates by Marillier. It is an interesting compendium of all the most famous romances of chivalry. The Early English Text Society has published a large number of old English romances both in verse and prose.

Facetiae, Curiosa.

22. Facetiae, Curiosa—a somewhat broad subject which would include Chapbooks, Broadsides, Jest Books, as well as those works which treat of 'Gallantry' and subjects generally not alluded to in polite society! The literature upon[229] all these topics is so large that it is impossible to attempt a résumé of it here, but you will find a very useful bibliography in the fourth volume of the 'Cambridge History of English Literature,' pages 514 to 536. Carew Hazlitt's 'Fugitive Tracts' (1875) and 'Studies in Jocular Literature' (1890) are both useful; and Mr. G. F. Black has recently (1909) printed a bibliography of Gipsies. Witchcraft, sometimes classed under this heading, shall be dealt with when we consider the Occult.

Fine Arts.

23. Works upon the Fine Arts are, like books on Architecture, chiefly illustrated. Doubtless such books are collected generally by students and craftsmen, but under this heading must be included books on gems, ancient statuary, and ceramics, cameos, rings, and the like. There is a large number of works which treat of these from the sixteenth century onwards, and many are to be had for a few shillings.


[74] Or turn to the index.

[75] Quarto. It was abridged in octavo the same year.

[76] Similarly, a quarto volume containing an account of the second voyage, 'Drawn up from Authentic Papers,' appeared anonymously in 1776; an octavo 'Journal' having appeared, also anonymously, the previous year.

[77] It was a cropped copy. The one in the Wilton Park library, sold at Sotheby's in March, 1920, lacked two blank leaves and was unbound; but it was a fine large copy and fetched £660.

[78] He was a contemporary of Geoffroi de La Tour Landry, who relates a pleasing story of his amours in Chapter xxiii. of the book which he wrote for the delectation of his three daughters.

[79] Du Guesclin gave striking proofs of courage in his childhood, and at 16 won a prize at a tournament (where he was unknown and against his father's will). He spent most of his life fighting the English, gained several victories over them, and recovered Poitou, Limousin, and many towns in Normandy and Brittany. Charles V. created him Constable of France in 1370, and he died in 1380 in harness, at the ripe age of 66, while besieging a town in Languedoc. He was buried in the Abbey of St. Denis, at the feet of the royal master whom he had served so well. It is said that he could neither read nor write (which is probably incorrect), but his life and deeds were recorded shortly after his death (as in the case of Bayard) by a 'loyal serviteur'—folio, Gothic letter, printed by Guillaume Le Roy at Lyons about 1480. Of this there does not appear to be any English version. (See also footnote on page 92.)

[80] Melchior Cano, a later Provincial of his Order, is reported to have said concerning this book, 'The author of this Legend had surely a mouth of iron, a heart of lead, and but little wisdom or soundness of judgment'; for it abounds with the most puerile and ridiculous fables and absurdities. But of course 'Voragine' wrote in accordance with the fashion and beliefs of his time.

[81] The portion of the Sudbury Hall Library sold at Sotheby's in June 1918 realised £20,201, 10s. There were 526 lots, an average of more than £38 a volume. The prices realised at the sale of that part of the Britwell Court Library dispersed at Sotheby's in December 1919, however, far exceeded any hitherto obtained. 108 lots brought £110,356—an average of nearly £1,022 a volume. But in this case every book was rarissimus. A small volume containing the only known copy of the fourth edition of Shakespeare's 'Venus and Adonis' (1599), the first edition of 'The Passionate Pilgrim' (1599—one other copy known), and 'Epigrammes and Elegies' by Davies and Marlow (circa 1598), realised £15,100—and departed forthwith to the United States.






'Like ships before whose keels, full long embayed
In polar ice, propitious winds have made
Unlooked-for outlet to an open sea.'


First Editions.

o most of us it matters but little what becomes of our books when we are dead. We garner them for our own use and benefit absolutely, and when we are gone they may well be distributed among other book-lovers for aught we care. No doubt a considerable zest is added to collecting in the case of those lucky ones who, being established in the land, purpose to 'lay down' a library for their posterity. In such cases almost invariably there must be a thought of future value. It is but natural. Whether he lay down wine or books no man is so foolish as to lay down trash. Such schemes, however, do not always result in that success which their owner intended. Like wine, the value of books may 'go off.'

There are two classes of books, however, that he who is wealthy enough to lay down a library may acquire with[231] perfect assurance. They are, in fact, gilt-edged securities. One is the original editions of famous Elizabethan and early Stuart authors, the other, the more estimable incunabula. Just as the population of the world increases yearly, so every year there are more and more book-collectors, and, consequently, more competition to acquire rarities. Every day, too, the chances of further copies coming to light are more remote. Books are not everlasting, and there will come a time when the only fifteenth-century volumes in existence will be those treasured in velvet-lined boxes and glass cases.

There can be little doubt that in fifty years' time a collection of Beaumont and Fletcher's or Massinger's plays in the original quartos will be worth not merely double its present value, but quadruple and more. Then there are the famous prose authors of the early Stuart period, such as Bacon, Barclay, Robert Burton, Daniel, Donne, Drayton, Shelton, and even the prolific Gervase Markham, to mention only a few. All these are good investments, as regards their first editions, for your children's children.

As regards the first editions of more modern authors we are on much more delicate ground. First editions of really great men, such as Milton, Pope, or Dryden, probably will always command a high price not only on account of their scarcity but because they are sought for by all students who make a study of those authors. But when we come to those more modern writers concerning whose merits tastes differ, then the collector's activity becomes a gamble. The first editions of Thomas Hardy or Rudyard Kipling may be worth more than their weight in gold in a hundred years, but it is also quite possible that succeeding generations will find in them more of the sentiments of the day than of those innate characteristics of the human mind which make a book really great, and will pass them by. This matter, however, has been dealt with in the chapter on the Books of the Collector, and with regard to bibliographies of the writings of the chief nineteenth-century authors, you will find mention of these in[232] the appendices to the later volumes of the 'Cambridge History of English Literature.'

Folk-Lore, Mysteries.

25. Folk-lore, Fables, Fairy-Tales, Accounts of Mysteries and Miracle-Plays, Mummers, Minstrels and Troubadours, Pageants, Masques and Moralities: an interesting medley. Books of fables, whether by Æsop, Bidpai, La Fontaine, Gay, or Kriloff, would form an interesting collection by themselves, and it would be amusing to trace the pedigree of some of the tales. Our national jokes are said to be very ancient in origin; possibly some day the Curate's Egg will be traced to a budding priest of Amen-Ra, lunching with the Hierophant. Then there are books of proverbs—more than one would think—and the folk-lore of all countries that provides fairy-tales more entertaining than ever came out of the head of Perrault or Andersen. Altogether a heading which contains some fascinating literature.

It is doubtful whether such books as the 'Arabian Nights,' Le Grand's collections of ancient Norman tales, and Balzac's 'Contes Drôlatiques' should be included here; perhaps de natura they should be classed rather with 'Facetiae and Curiosa.' The literature upon this subject is a large one, and there is an excellent list of writings upon Minstrels, Mysteries, Miracle Plays, and Moralities in the fifth volume of the 'Cambridge History of English Literature,' pages 385 to 394; as well as in Mr. Courtney's invaluable work.

Freemasonry, etc.

26. Freemasonry is another of those subjects (like Architecture, Law, and Early Science) which usually engage the attentions of those whose businesses lead, or have at one time led, them to those things. Some of the booksellers specialise in such works, and the older books on Freemasonry cannot be said to be of frequent occurrence in the ordinary booksellers' catalogues. The finest extant library of Masonic books in the English tongue is said to be at the Freemasons' Hall, in London, but it is accessible only to Freemasons. A catalogue of it was privately printed by H. W. Hemsworth in 1869, and more recently by W. J.[233] Hughan in 1888; a supplement to this last appeared in 1895. The Masonic books at No. 33 Golden Square were also catalogued by Hemsworth (1870), and more recently by Mr. Edward Armitage—quarto, 1900.

French Revolution.

27. The mention of books on the French Revolution at once conjures up the name of that indefatigable collector and cabinet minister, John Wilson Croker. During his period of office at the Admiralty he amassed there more than ten thousand Revolutionary books, tracts, and writings; and when the accession of the Whigs drove him from his home there, he sold his entire library to the British Museum. But neither change of government nor loss of income could cure the fever of collecting and six years later he had amassed another collection as large as the first. This also was purchased by the Museum authorities. Before he died he had garnered a third collection as large as the two previous ones put together, and this also found a home in Bloomsbury. A 'List of the Contents' of these three collections was published by the Museum authorities in 1899. Croker's magnificent collection of letters and writings on the same period was sold for only £50 at his death; it went en bloc to the library of Sir Thomas Phillips at Middle Hill.


28. What book-lover does not love a garden? 'God first planted a garden: and indeed it is the purest of human pleasures. It is the greatest refreshment to the spirits of man,' wrote Bacon. Whether it be the tranquil beauty of an old-world pleasaunce or the peaceful occupation of gardening that appeals to the temperament of the bibliophile, certain it is that the book-lover is invariably a lover of the garden also. To him the very mention of stone moss-grown walks, a sundial, roses, and green lawn conjures up a vision of delight. To talk of those who wrote of gardens would be to mention the literature of all time; for gardens are as old as the human race. Indeed, 'Gardens were before gardeners, and but some hours after the Earth,' says Sir Thomas Browne in that most delightful of discourses,[234] 'The Garden of Cyrus.' A History of Gardening in England has been compiled by the Hon. Miss Alicia Amherst; a second edition was published in 1896, and an enlarged edition in 1910. Hazlitt's 'Gleanings in Old Garden Literature' (which contains a bibliography) appeared in 1887. The famous library of old gardening literature, said to be the most complete and extensive of its kind, amassed by M. Krelage, a bulb merchant of Haarlem, has recently been incorporated in the State Agricultural Library of Wageningen, Holland.[82]

Heraldry, &c.

29. Heraldry is the next subject which claims our attention; and under this head we will include all those works which treat of La Chevalerie and Noblesse, the Orders of Knighthood, the Templars and Hospitallers, the Crusades, Peerages, Genealogical Works, Family Histories, books on Parliament and Ceremonies, Pomps, Festivals, Pageants, Processions, works on Brasses and Seals, as well as those which treat of the science of Blazon proper. Here, at all events, is a variety of sub-headings.

The first English bibliography of works upon this subject which our book-hunter has come across so far is a thin quarto volume entitled 'Catalogus plerumque omnium Authorum qui de Re Heraldica scripserunt,' by Thomas Gore, and it appeared first in 1668. A second edition was published in 1674: both are now very scarce. This work contains a list of writers, both English and foreign, upon Chivalry, Nobility, and such kindred subjects. But a quarto volume, which appeared in 1650, entitled 'The Art of Making Devises,' translated by T. B[lount] from the French of H. Estienne, contains, in the preliminary matter, a list of writers on Nobility. Dallaway's 'Inquiries into the Origin and Progress of the Science of Heraldry in England,' large quarto, Gloucester, 1793, contains a list of English heraldic writers,[235] with their works; and Sir Egerton Brydges published a more copious list in the third volume of his 'Censura Literaria.' Moule's 'Bibliotheca Heraldica Magnae Britanniae' appeared in 1822, a large octavo. He gives descriptions of 817 English works on Heraldry, Genealogy, Regal Descents and Successions, Coronations, Royal Progresses and Visits, the Laws and Privileges of Honour, Titles of Honour, Precedency, Peerage Cases, Orders of Knighthood, Baptismal, Nuptial, and Funeral Ceremonies, and Chivalry generally. At the end is a short list of 211 foreign writers upon these subjects—out of many thousands. There is an interleaved copy, containing many additions, in the British Museum.

More recently Mr. G. Gatfield has put forth a valuable work, entitled 'A Guide to Printed Books and Manuscripts relating to English and Foreign Heraldry and Genealogy,' an octavo volume of which a limited edition was printed in 1892. Guigard's 'Bibliothèque Héraldique de la France' appeared at Paris in 1861. It has a useful bibliography of French books upon all the subjects chosen by Moule. The Henry Bradshaw Society also has published rare Coronation tracts and Coronation service books.

Few classes in our list contain more sumptuous volumes than those comprised under this heading. In our own tongue we have Anstis' and Ashmole's handsome folios on the Garter, the latter with its beautiful folding plates; Jaggard's edition (1623) of Favyn's 'Theatre d'Honneur et de Chevalerie' by an unknown translator, Sandford's 'Genealogical History of the Kings and Queens of England' (Stebbing's edition, 1707, please), Milles' 'Catalogue of Honor or Treasury of the Nobility peculiar and proper to the Isle of Great Britaine,' not forgetting Gwillim (the sixth edition, 1724) and, of course, Master Nicholas Upton. All these are handsome folios with copperplate engravings.

The French books on Noblesse are equally sumptuous. 'Le Vray Theatre d'Honneur et de Chevalerie ou le Miroir Heroique de la Noblesse,' by Marc de Vulson, Sieur de la[236] Colombière, appeared at Paris in two folio volumes in 1648. It is a magnificent book, and a classic in this department of literature. The same author's 'La Science Heroique' was published first, also in folio at Paris, in 1644; but in 1669 a second edition, considerably augmented, was put forth. Of the author I find nothing further memorable than that, having surprised his wife with a gallant, he slew them both, and then took a post-chaise to Paris to solicit the King's pardon, which he immediately obtained. There are many other equally fine works in French, but it were tedious to catalogue them here. Two handsome volumes on jousting and tournaments have recently been put forth. 'The History of the Tournament in England and France,' by Mr. F. H. Cripps-Day, was issued by Quaritch in 1919, whilst 'The Tournament: its Periods and Phases,' by Mr. R. C. Clephan, was published the same year.

Books on seals are much less numerous, though none the less ornate; for engravings are practically essential here. They are, generally, scarce; for the circle of readers to which such volumes appeal can never have been a wide one; so it is improbable that large impressions of any of them were printed. The 'Sigilla Comitum Flandriae' of Oliver Vredius, a small folio, with nearly three hundred engravings of mediæval seals, was printed first at Bruges in 1639. It is a beautiful volume, the seals being drawn to scale and exquisitely engraved by four Bruges engravers—Samuel Lommelin, Adrian his son, Francis Schelhaver, and Francis his son. Unfortunately the plates became worn after printing off a few copies (especially those on pages 138, 213, 246), and the early impressions are much to be preferred. A good test is to turn to the engraved genealogical tree on the recto of leaf Cc6. In the later-printed copies the foot of this engraving is most indistinct. A French translation appeared at Bruges in 1643.

Two of the scarcest English books upon seals were compiled by clergymen. The first, a thin quarto of 31 pages, is entitled 'A Dissertation upon the Antiquity and Use of[237] Seals in England. Collected by * * * * 1736,' and was printed for William Mount and Thomas Page on Tower Hill in 1740. Its author was the Rev. John Lewis, a former curate at Margate, who died in 1746. There is an engraved frontispiece of seals, and several copperplates in the text. It is very, very scarce, and it was some years before our book-hunter succeeded in obtaining a copy. The other authority was the Rev. George Henry Dashwood, of Stowe Bardolph. From his private press he produced, in 1847, a quarto volume consisting of fourteen engraved plates (by W. Taylor) of seals, with descriptions opposite. It is entitled 'Engravings from Ancient Seals attached to Deeds and Charters in the Muniment Room of Sir Thomas Hare, Baronet, of Stowe Bardolph,' and is common enough. Copies on large paper are not infrequent. But in 1862 a 'second series' appeared. This consists of eight plates and descriptions, and at the end are two leaves of notes to both series. Our book-hunter has not yet come across a duplicate (even in the British Museum or at the Antiquaries) of this second volume, which he was so fortunate as to find a week after receiving the first.

A publication containing a fine collection of armorial seals was produced at Brussels between 1897 and 1903. It was published in fifteen parts, large octavo, and is entitled 'Sceaux Armoiries des Pays-bas et des Pays avoisinants.' Lechaudé-d'Anisy's 'Recueil des Sceaux Normands,' an oblong quarto which appeared at Caen in 1834, is another of these handsome books; but we have already lingered too long over this fascinating heading.


30. History is a somewhat wide subject, for it comprises descriptions of any epoch or sequence of events in the existence of anything! We can read histories of the Glacial Age or of Charles II, of the Quakers or Tasmania, of the life of a cabbage or the Crimean War. Even a dissertation on the development of the inkpot would be deemed history nowadays. For the present, however, we will confine ourselves to that branch of it which treats of the[238] human element, nations and communities, and events in their development. We must include travels, politics, diaries, memoirs, and biographies, for all of these are indispensable adjuncts. The voyages of Columbus, the Greville Papers, the Memoirs of Fezensac, and the Paston Letters are no less history than Freeman's 'Norman Conquest,' Froude's 'Armada,' or Napier's 'Peninsular War.' It is a student's subject, and as rational a branch of book-collecting as there be. The collecting of early editions of the chroniclers, English or foreign, is an interesting by-way. The series of British Chronicles issued under the direction of the Master of the Rolls is a fairly complete one, and the works of many other early historians have been published from time to time by the learned societies. A lengthy list of bibliographies is given in Mr. Courtney's work, and there are useful bibliographies at the end of each volume of the 'Cambridge Modern History.'

Under this heading we will include 'Events'; such as the Armada, the Great Fire of London, the Gordon Riots, the '45, but not, I think, the French Revolution or the Napoleonic Era, the literatures of which are of such magnitude as to demand separate headings. There are collections of books on all these subjects and many similar ones which fall naturally under the heading 'History.'


31. The word 'husbandry' has an old-world flavour now: the classical 'agriculture' is preferred. It is a change, however, that we bookworms and curious antiquaries in nowise relish. The old English or Scandinavian term which came to us from our forefathers is more seemly to our mind than the modern Latin importation. Nowadays any word is better than one drawn from our old English tongue. We may not speak of anything so indelicate as a belly, but we can mention an abdomen in the politest society. Provided we denote them by their Latin or Greek names, we may even mention any parts of our viscera (I may not say bowels) without raising a blush. Mention them[239] in English, and we are at once boors and churls. But the husbandman's occupation has changed with the language. Originally he was merely a hus-bondi, or house-inhabitor, though probably he had more to do with agriculture than the farmer who ousted him. The 'fermor' farmed or rented certain land from his overlord, making what he could out of the tenants on it. And in time even the word 'farmer' will pass out of use. Just as the charwoman to-day insists upon a fictitious gentility, so in years to come the farmer will denote himself an agriculturist, possibly with the epithet 'scientific.' We no longer talk of villeins and carles; both have become sadly perverted in their meaning, although the dictionary still allows the latter to mean 'a strong man.' But, it hastens to add, vindictively, 'generally an old or a rude-mannered one.' So is our language changing.

They are quaint volumes, the older treatises on husbandry, and for the most part they contain an extraordinary medley of information. There is a charm about their titles and language that few other classes of books possess. Poultry, we know, can be obstinate wildfowl, but who nowadays would write of their 'husbandlye ordring and governmente'? Such was the title of Mascall's work put forth in 1581. Pynson printed an interesting book on estate management in 1523 for, probably, John Fitzherbert: 'Here begynneth a ryght frutefull mater; and hath to name the boke of surveying and improuvements.' It is full of curious conceits, even concerning the good housewife who, says Gervase Markham in his 'Country Contentments,' 'must bee cleanly both in body and garments, she must have a quicke eye, a curious nose, a perfect taste, and ready eare.' But these volumes are not easy to find, even though the book-hunter's nose be as curious as a housewife's, and, when perfect, are of considerable value. Tusser's curious rhyming 'Hundred good pointes of husbandrie,' enlarged later to 'Five Hundred Pointes,' is perhaps the commonest of these earlier works. Between 1557 and 1599 it went through eight editions, though the first is[240] known only by the unique copy in the British Museum. A useful list of writers upon agricultural subjects from 1200 to 1800 appeared in 1908. It is by Mr. D. McDonald.

Illustrated Books.

32. Illustrated Books and Books of Engravings might perhaps have been included as a sub-heading to 'the Fine Arts'; but they form a distinct class and so frequently engage the attention of specialists, that our book-hunter has thought fit to put them in a class by themselves. Some will have only those volumes illustrated by one of the Cruikshank brothers, others prefer Blake's or Bewick's designs, and so on. Some again cleave to the volumes illustrated by Paul Avril or Adolf Lalauze, Kate Greenaway or Randolph Caldecott. With regard to the early book-illustrators, several text-books that will be useful to those who specialise in this subject have been mentioned in the chapter dealing with the Books of the Collector. An excellent conspectus of book illustration, from the earliest times to the present day, is contained in the fifth chapter of 'The Book: its History and Development,' by Mr. Cyril Davenport (octavo, 1907). At the end is a useful list of English and foreign works on book-illustration and its various methods. 'A Descriptive Bibliography of Books in English relating to Engraving and the Collection of Prints' by Mr. Howard C. Levis, was put forth in 1912.


33. Law need not detain us. Its literature has not merely kept pace with, but has far outstripped, the growth of English Law; and it extends back at least to the 'Tractatus de Legibus' of Ranulf de Glanville, the great Justiciar under Henry ii. The collector of ancient law books will probably be a member of one of the four great London seats of law, or at least have access to their famous libraries; there are printed catalogues of all of them. The Advocates' Library at Edinburgh, too, possesses a magnificent collection of ancient law books. A catalogue of it was published by David Irving in 1831, and more recently in seven quarto volumes, 1867 to 1879. If you collect old French[241] 'coutumiers,' Cooper's 'Catalogue of Books on the Laws and Jurisprudence of France' may be useful to you. It was printed in octavo, 1849.


34. The collection of Liturgies is a subject that usually goes hand in hand with the collection of Bibles and theological works. But it is for all that a distinct subject, and may well engage the undivided attention of the collector. 'A New History of the Book of Common Prayer,' by Messrs. Proctor and Frere, is perhaps at present the standard work upon the history of our English prayer book. The latest edition is dated 1914, and it is published by the house of Macmillan. The Rev. W. H. J. Weale's 'Bibliographia Liturgica, Catalogus Missalium, Ritus Latini ab anno 1475 impressorum' appeared in 1886. The Henry Bradshaw Society was founded in 1890 for the publication of rare liturgical tracts; whilst Maskell's 'Ancient Liturgy of the Church of England' (third edition, octavo, 1882) contains a collection of the service books in use in England before the Reformation.

Locally-printed Books.

35. Locally-printed books is a heading of considerable interest from the bibliographical point of view. The term is a wide one, for the volumes it includes range from those printed in a particular country to those produced in an individual town. Has anyone yet attempted to form a collection of books printed in Barbadoes or Java, in Donegal or Dover? Probably; but I am unaware of any attempts at bibliographies. With the growth of the public library in every town of importance throughout the kingdom, there are increasing opportunities for valuable work in this direction; and every year should see the issue of bibliographies by those institutions, works which would contain not merely a list of books printed in each particular town, but a history of printing in that place.

Mr. Falconer Madan's 'Oxford Books' may well serve as a model for such works. It was published in two octavo volumes at Oxford in 1895 and 1912 respectively, the first[242] volume being concerned with the productions of the early presses of that town. There are useful lists of books which issued from the early presses of Scotland by Mr. H. G. Aldis, and Ireland by Mr. E. R. McC. Dix. 'The Annals of Scottish Printing,' a large quarto by R. Dickson and J. P. Edmond, was printed at Cambridge in 1890. A model for the county bibliography is the 'Bibliotheca Cornubiensis' of Messrs. G. C. Boase and W. P. Courtney, produced in three octavo volumes, between 1874 and 1882; and there are accounts of the early presses in several English counties, as well as at Cambridge, York, Birmingham and other important towns. But a considerable amount of work has still to be done in this direction. A valuable little book appeared in 1912 issued by the Cambridge University Press. It is entitled 'The English Provincial Printers, Stationers, and Bookbinders, to 1557,' and is by Mr. E. Gordon Duff. There are accounts of the early presses at Oxford, St. Albans, Hereford, Exeter, York, Cambridge, Tavistock, Abingdon, Ipswich, Worcester and Canterbury; and it is a volume that should find a place on the shelf of every bibliophile.

There is an interesting byway in connection with this heading: the collection of English books printed abroad. Is there anywhere a collection of books in the English tongue printed at Paris? One constantly comes across such volumes, especially those issued during the first half of the nineteenth century. After that time, Bernhard Tauchnitz of Leipzig appears to have gathered into his hands the trade of English books printed abroad. Recently our book-hunter came across a curious example of these peregrine volumes. It is a narrow octavo of some three hundred pages, entitled 'An Introduction to the Field Sports of France,' and was printed by Auguste Lemaire at St. Omer (Pas de Calais) in 1846. At the end is the following note: 'The reader will make due allowance for any misprints he may discover, when apprised that the printer knows nothing of the english language, and they chiefly occur in the commencement of the work.' Evidently M. Lemaire[243] warmed to his task as he went on. But the 'Dame of our Ladie of Comfort of the Order of S. Bennett in Cambray' who translated St. Francis de Sales' 'Delicious Entertainment of the Soule' was even more modest. Her version was printed at Douai by Gheerart Pinson in 1632, and apparently neither printer nor translator was very proud of the work, for in the 'Apology for Errors' we are told that 'the printer was a Wallon who understood nothing at all English, and the translatresse a woman that had not much skille in the French.' Still, imperfect though typography and translation be, between them they produced a book that is eagerly sought by collectors to-day.

This is a topic, however, that is full of pitfalls. Hundreds of European-printed books now bear Asiatic imprints; thousands of seventeenth and eighteenth century works printed at Paris bear the imprint of The Hague or some other Dutch town. Our English publishers have not been innocent of this charge either. Many a volume printed in Holland and Germany bears the London imprint. The original edition of Burton's translation of the 'Arabian Nights,' issued by him in London, claims to have been produced at Benares.[83]

Mathematical and Early Scientific.

36. 'The seconde parte of the catalogue of English printed bookes' for sale by Andrew Maunsell in 1595, concerned, we are told, 'the sciences mathematicall, as arithmetick, geometrie, astronomie, astrologie, musick, the arte of warre, and navigation.' But it is not my intention to include musick and the arte of warre here, this heading comprising those works which deal with mathematics and physics only, with their dependent subjects, such as (in addition to those mentioned by Master Maunsell) geodesy, mensuration of all kinds, meteorology, seismography, and books on chance and probabilities.

Sir Henry Billingsley's edition of Euclid's 'Elements' (1570) is naturally a rare book, as is John Blagrave's[244] 'Mathematical Jewel,' a folio issued in 1585. It is one of the earliest English books upon mathematics. Blagrave[84] was the author of a number of works on Geometry, Navigation, Dialling, etc.

For a history of mathematics you must turn to the four quarto volumes of that ingenious Frenchman, M. Jean Etienne Montucla. This work, the 'Histoire de Mathematiques,' first appeared in two volumes in 1758; but the author devoted the later years of his life to enlarging it and the new edition was published at Paris in 1799. It was reprinted in 1810. This mathematician is said to have written a treatise on squaring the circle, but our book-hunter has not yet come across a copy. 'A History of Ancient Astronomy' appeared at Paris (quarto) in 1775: it was by that great man who presided over the memorable assembly at the Tennis Court on the 20th June 1789, Jean Sylvain Bailly. Four years later he produced a history of Modern Astronomy from the foundation of the Alexandrian School to 1730 (three vols. quarto, Paris, 1779-82): and in 1787 came the History of Indian and Oriental Astronomy from the same pen. All these contain interesting details of the origin and progress of astronomical science, with the lives, writings, and discoveries of astronomers. With regard to our own great mathematician, Sir Isaac Newton, a bibliography of his works has been published by Mr. G. J. Gray; the second edition appeared at Cambridge in 1907.

Mr. D. E. Smith's 'Rara Arithmetica,' a catalogue of arithmetical works which appeared prior to the year 1601, was printed, in a limited edition, at Boston (United States) in 1908. It is a sumptuously produced work in two large octavo volumes, copiously illustrated. Professor de Morgan's[245] 'Arithmetical Books from the Invention of Printing to the Present Time' contains brief notices of a large number of works 'drawn up from actual inspection.' It was published—a thin octavo of 124 pages—in 1847, and the books are arranged chronologically; but there is an index of authors.


37. The collection of early medical books is a hobby that must appeal chiefly to the chirurgeon. Its sub-headings are not numerous, and each comprises volumes of considerable bibliographical interest. There are curious books on 'poysons' as well as upon the commoner branches of surgery, and there are glorious editions of all the ancient Æsculapians, such as Hippocrates, Dioscorides, Galen, and Avicenna. Herbals are doubtless collected by many who are not possessed of medical knowledge, and a number of them treat more of simples and housewifery than leechcraft, which is probably one reason of their attraction for the non-medical collector. But as these volumes in general are so inextricably bound up with the science of healing, I have thought fit to include them here. There is no denying that the fascination of these curious volumes, often (as in Fuch's magnificent tome) containing woodcuts that are a sheer delight to the bibliographer no less than to the botanist, is a strong one.

It is a moot point whether works on Early Chemistry or Alchemy should be included here or under the heading 'Occult,' seeing that they usually centre about the Elixir of Life and the Philosopher's Stone. Perhaps they would be classed more accurately with Early Scientific. But for the purposes of our list I have reserved that heading for those books which treat of mathematics and physics only. With the early works upon astrology we need not concern ourselves here: they have more to do with divination and horoscopes than the craft of healing, so their appeal is chiefly to the student of the occult. It is impossible, however, to classify under one heading all those early works which treat of the beginnings of scientific knowledge. The star-gazer, the[246] herbalist, the necromancer, and the leech, must be content to share among themselves a class of books which deals generally with the search into the Great Unknown.

A useful catalogue of books on Alchemy was printed in two large quarto volumes at Glasgow in 1906. It is by Professor John Ferguson, and is entitled 'Bibliotheca Chemica,' being a list of the hermetic books in the library of Mr. James Young. The three volumes entitled 'Leechdoms, Wortcunning, and Starcraft of Early England' by the Rev. Oswald Cockayne, published in the 'Rolls' series, 1864-66, contain a valuable contribution to the early medical science of this country. Dr. J. F. Payne's 'English Medicine in the Anglo-Saxon Times' (the Fitz-Patrick Lectures for 1903) is for the most part a dissertation on that work.

Some of the prescriptions of these early leeches are rather quaint. 'If a man's head burst . . . let him take roots of this same wort, and bind them on his neck. Then cometh to him good benefit.' The following is an excellent remedy for toothache: 'Sing this for toothache after the sun hath gone down—"Caio Laio quaque voaque ofer saeloficia sleah manna wyrm." Then name the man and his father, then say: "Lilimenne, it acheth beyond everything; when it lieth low it cooleth; when on earth it burneth hottest; finit. Amen."' If after this the tooth still continues to ache beyond everything, it is evident that there is a wyrm in it. For stomach-ache, you must press the left thumb upon the stomach and say 'Adam bedam alam betar alam botum.' This is infallible.

Collections of medical authors began at an early date. Van der Linden's 'De Scriptis Medicis, libri duo' appeared first at Amsterdam in 1637, octavo—a valuable list of authors and the editions of their works. But it was reprinted with additions several times during the author's lifetime (he died in 1664); and in 1686 appeared at Nürnberg as a thick quarto entitled 'Lindenius Renovatus.' Dr. E. T. Withington's 'Medical History from the Earliest Times,' octavo, 1894, is[247] useful for reference; whilst Dr. Norman Moore has recently produced (Oxford, 1908) a 'History of the Study of Medicine in the British Isles.' Dr. E. J. Waring's 'Bibliotheca Therapeutica' was published in two octavo volumes by the New Sydenham Society in 1878-79. It is a list of the books which have been written on each individual drug, classes of medicines, and general therapeutics. There is an index of authors. The first volume of Albrecht von Haller's 'Bibliotheca Anatomica' was published at London 'in vico vulgo dicto The Strand' in 1774; the second volume at Zurich in 1777. Both are in quarto, and are biographical as well as bibliographical. The same author published a 'Bibliotheca Chirurgica' and a 'Bibliotheca Medicinae Practicae' at Berne and Basel between 1774 and 1788. His 'Bibliotheca Botanica,' two quarto volumes, appeared at Zurich in 1771-72. For other writers upon Botany you must consult Curtius Sprengel's 'Historia Rei Herbariae,' two octavo volumes which appeared at Amsterdam in 1807 and 1808. 'A Guide to the Literature of Botany' by B. D. Jackson was issued by the Index Society in 1881. Jean Jacques Manget, a Geneva physician who died in 1742 at the age of ninety-one, was another voluminous compiler of bibliographies upon medical subjects.


38. Under the heading 'Military' are included not only historical accounts of military operations but those works which treat of the military art and the progress of its development. Obviously it is a subject that is as old as mankind, and dissertations on drill with the stone battle-axe must find a place here. Many of the books on Arms and Armour (such as Sir Samuel Meyrick's beautiful folio volumes) are fine works, and some of the earlier publications on Castramentation and Siege operations are interesting. We must not forget to mention the beautiful little Elzevier 'Cæsar' of 1536. It is a wide heading, for such books as the Commentaries of Blaise de Montluc and the Memoirs of Olivier de la Marche must be included, as they deal in large[248] part with military operations. Books on Archery, Fencing, and Duelling are also comprised by this heading.

If this be your subject, our book-hunter trusts that you have been more successful than he has in your quest for the 'Traicté de l'Espée Françoise, par Maistre Jean Savaron' (small octavo, Paris, 1610). He narrowly missed a copy in Paris some years ago, and so far this scarce little volume of fifty-six pages has eluded him as successfully as the 'Pastissier François.' Probably, on account of its slimness, it is usually bound up with more substantial works, and thus escapes the eyes of book-hunters and cataloguers. Savaron also wrote a 'Traicté contre les Duels,' which is equally scarce. Works on duelling are legion, and range from Carafa's rather large folio entitled 'De Monomachia seu de Duello,' Rome, 1647, down to the little 'Dissertation Historique sur les Duels et les Ordres de Chevalerie: Par Monsieur B * * * *,' which is by Master Jacques Basnage—a duodecimo produced first at Amsterdam in 1720. An Italian bibliography of this subject by J. Gelli and G. E. Levi appeared in 1903. For the most part they are uncommon works and not easy to find. It is a subject that borders closely on the Chivalry of our list, for of course that subject was (like Heraldry) entirely military in origin. A 'Bibliography of English Military Books up to 1642, and of Contemporary Foreign Works' was compiled by Captain M. J. D. Cockle and published in quarto in 1900. Mr. Carl Thimm's 'Art of Fence: a Complete Bibliography' appeared in 1891; an enlarged edition was put forth in 1896.


39. Books on Music may be divided conveniently into the numerous sub-headings which treat of particular instruments, songs, printed music generally, and accounts of the early musicians and their works. Treatises upon the violin are fairly numerous;[85] but I do not remember having come across many works on the Jew's harp or ocarina.[249] There are interesting old books on the virginals, harpsichord, and spinet. Before the end of the fifteenth century a number of Missalia, Gradualia, Psalteria, and Libri Cantionum ('quas vulgo Mutetas appellant') had appeared from the press. The 'Theoricum Opus Musice Disciplina' of Franchino Gafori, or Gaffurius (which, by the way, is merely an abridgment of Boethius), is said to be the earliest printed treatise on music. It was printed first at Naples in 1480. Antiphonals and Troparies must also be included here.

A new edition of Grove's 'Dictionary of Music and Musicians,' by Mr. J. A. Fuller-Maitland, appeared in 1904. Dr. Charles Burney's 'General History of Music' occupied that great English musician between 1776 and 1789—four quarto volumes. 'The Literature of Music,' an octavo by Mr. J. E. Matthew, was put forth in the series known as the Booklovers' Library in 1896; whilst the 'Oxford History of Music,' edited by Dr. W. H. Hadow, appeared in six volumes between 1901 and 1905. M. Henry de Curzon's valuable work, 'Guide de l'Amateur d'Ouvrages sur la Musique,' was printed at Paris in 1901. For a bibliography of operas you must turn to the 'Dictionnaire des Opéras,' of MM. Clement and Larousse. Rimbault's 'Bibliotheca Madrigaliana,' which is a bibliographical account of the musical and poetical works published in England during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, appeared in 1847; and you will find a list of early songs, madrigals, and 'ayres' in the fourth volume of the 'Cambridge History of English Literature,' pages 463-6. Hazlitt's 'Catalogue of Early English Music in the Harleian Library,' was published in 1862. There are useful articles on early music printing, by Mr. R. Steele, in the Bibliographical Society's Journal for 1903, and by Mr. Barclay Squire in the third volume of 'Bibliographica.'


40. The collector of books dealing with Napoleon i. has a somewhat narrow field to range in. There is a large number of English tracts and pamphlets that deal with the great man and his proposed invasion of England, as well as biographies,[250] memoirs, and diaries concerning him. A collection of such works was formed in the later years of the nineteenth century by an insatiable Grangerite named Broadley, and in due time his library came under the hammer at Hodgson's. It was a remarkable collection: anything that concerned 'Boney,' however remotely, was grist to this collector's mill. A catalogue of his library was compiled and published by Mr. W. V. Daniel in 1905. M. Gustave Davois' 'Bibliographie Napoléonienne Française' to 1908 was printed in three octavo volumes at Paris, 1909-11. Of M. Kircheisen's 'Bibliographie du Temps de Napoléon,' two quarto volumes, published at Geneva in 1908 and 1912, have appeared up to the time of writing.

Natural History.

41. The early books on Natural History would probably be regarded by the modern zoologist as bibliographical curiosities rather than intelligent text-books; and truly the accounts of even the larger mammals given by these early observers of nature are extraordinary. Most of us will remember reading Caesar's description of the elks in the Hercynian forest, which slept leaning up against the trees because they had no joints in their legs. The inhabitants, cunning fellows, sought out the favoured trees and sawed them nearly through; so that when the unfortunate elks settled themselves to sleep, the booby-traps came into operation. Having no joints in their legs, the poor beasts were unable to rise, and so became an easy prey to the savage Teuton. Herodotus, too, was somewhat credulous in the matter of animals; Sir John Mandeville was not always to be trusted; and even Bernard von Breydenbach, who made a journey to the Holy Land about 1485, beheld strange beasts, like Spenser's giaunts, 'hard to be beleeved.' But perhaps the palm among these mediæval monsters is held by the eale, or, as it became later, the yale or jall; that strange beast which has survived—in effigy at least—unto our own times.

It appears that Pliny was the first to discover this singular animal, and his description of it is recorded in many of those[251] quaint mediæval natural history volumes known as 'Bestiaries.' The Reverend Edward Topsell, in his 'Historie of Foure-footed Beasts' (folio, 1607) thus describes it:

'There is bred in Ethiopia a certain strange beast about the bignesse of a sea-horse, being of colour blacke or brownish: it hath the cheeks of a Boare, the tayle of an Elephant, and hornes above a cubit long, which are moveable upon his head at his owne pleasure like eares; now standing one way, and anone moving another way, as he needeth in fighting with other Beastes, for they stand not stiffe but bend flexibly, and when he fighteth he always stretcheth out the one, and holdeth in the other, for purpose as it may seeme, that if one of them may be blunted or broken, then hee may defend himselfe with the other. It may well be compared to a sea-horse, for above all other places it loveth best the waters.'

Unfortunately no specimen has been seen by travellers for some years now, so probably it is quite extinct. Certainly you will not find a jall in the Zoo, or even at South Kensington, though you may see a very excellent statue of him on King Henry viii.'s bridge at Hampton Court.

There are numerous bibliographies of works upon all classes of animals, fish, flesh, and fowl—even the good red herring.[86] For these you must turn to Mr. W. P. Courtney's invaluable work. The 'Bibliographia Zoologiae et Geologiae, a General Catalogue of all Books on Zoology and Geology,' was compiled by L. Agassiz and H. E. Strickland for the Ray Society—four octavo volumes, published between 1848 and 1854. A 'Bibliotheca Entomologica,' by H. A. Hagen, appeared at Leipzig, two octavo volumes, in 1862-63.

Nautical and Naval.

42. The next subject, Nautical and Naval, will comprise chiefly borrowings from other headings; for it will necessarily include books of voyages and discoveries, works on navigation, meteorology, and oceanography, as well as geographical books, and such purely nautical volumes as dictionaries of the[252] marine, the history of ships and shipping, and accounts of the navy and mercantile fleet. There is a number of early works on the astrolabe and globes, but you must not expect easily to come across 'The Rutter of the Sea,' printed by Robert Copland and Richard Bankes in 1528. It is the first English printed book on Navigation, being a translation of 'Le Grand Routier' of Pierre Garcie.

The Society for Nautical Research was founded in 1910, and it issues a monthly journal known as 'The Mariner's Mirror,' wherein are treated those subjects which pertain to the history of ships, sails, and rigging; in fact, everything that has to do with the evolution of the ship. The original 'Mariner's Mirrour' was a translation (by Anthony Ashley in 1588) of Wagenaar's 'Speculum Nauticum,' first published in 1583. Needless to say, it is a scarce work, as are all these Elizabethan volumes upon seafaring. In volume iv. of the 'Cambridge History of English Literature' you will find two chapters on the literature of the sea from the pens of those great authorities Commander C. N. Robinson and Mr. John Leyland. If this be your subject, they will amply repay perusal. There is an excellent list of early works, pages 453 to 462.


43. Numismatics is one of those subjects which generally engage the attentions of students rather than book-collectors, for the volumes upon coins and medals are necessarily text-books for the collector of these things. Such works are, of course, for the most part illustrated; and some of the older ones are of considerable interest on account of their engravings.

It is not only to the collector and 'curious antiquary,' however, that some of these works are valuable, for in them occasionally the historian is able to unearth matter scarcely obtainable elsewhere. Menestrier's 'Histoire du Roy Louis le Grand par les Medailles, Emblemes, Deuises, Jettons, Inscriptions, Armoiries, et autres Monumens Publics' (folio, Paris, 1693) is one of many such works. It not only contains[253] engravings of every medal struck to commemorate the birth, life, marriage, actions, victories, processions, and entertainments of the Roi-Soleil (among them one commemorating the Siege of Londonderry in 1689), but it has a very fine folding plate of the Place des Victoires as it was in 1686. This engraving not only shows the famous monument erected to the glory of Louis xiv., and destroyed at the Revolution, but gives the details of the panels and a very full description of it. Thus we may have to hand all the inscriptions, mottoes, and dates which were graven upon that historic monument.


44. Civilisation mates but ill with Romance, and for the passing of Superstition (the child of Imagination and Romance) none can shed a tear. Yet at least it served to raise our daily lives out of the rut of commonplace. Our pulses are no longer stirred at the mere mention of the word magic, and even black magic is coldly discussed where not so very long ago none would have dared to speak it save with 'bated breath.' Yet we are all mystics by birth, and scarce one of us there is who as a child has not experienced the fear of darkness. We cannot explain it, and though the child may soon be taught to laugh at his fear, yet none the less was he endowed with this unaccountable dread of the unknown.

Among real book-collectors probably this particular branch of specialism attracts but few; for the greater part of those who collect such works are students of the occult (whether serious or idle) and have no true love for their books quâ books. Seemingly it is an absorbing hobby, for those who devote their attention to necromancy soon become known among their friends.

'Philosophy is odious and obscure;
Both Law and Physic are for petty wits;
Divinity is basest of the three,
Unpleasant, harsh, contemptible, and vile;
'Tis magic, magic, that hath ravish'd me.'

[254]Thus Doctor Faustus, the Gamaliel of those whose study are the arcana of nature and the world of shadows. Yet whether we be mystics or materialists what would not each one of us (not necessarily bibliophiles) give to possess the volume which Faustus had at the hands of Mephistophilis?

Meph.   'Hold, take this book, peruse it thoroughly:
The iterating of these lines brings gold;
The framing of this circle on the ground
Brings whirlwinds, tempests, thunder, and lightning;
Pronounce this thrice devoutly to thyself,
And men in armour shall appear to thee,
Ready to execute what thou desir'st.'
Faust.   'Thanks, Mephistophilis; yet fain would I have a book
wherein I might behold all spells and incantations, that I
might raise up spirits when I please.'
Meph.   'Here they are in this book.'   [Turns to them.]
Faust.   'Now would I have a book where I might see all characters
and planets of the heavens, that I might know their
motions and dispositions.'
Meph.   'Here they are too.'   [Turns to them.]
Faust.   'Nay, let me have one book more—and then I have done—wherein
I might see all plants, herbs, and trees, that
grow upon the earth.'
Meph.   'Here they be.'
Faust.   'Oh, thou art deceived.'
Meph.   'Tut, I warrant thee.'   [Turns to them.]

Truly a marvellous volume. The astronomical and herbal portions of it we can understand, and herein doubtless the 'Encyclopædia Britannica' could give it points, though possibly in a less handy shape. But even Wecker's 'De Secretis' fails lamentably when it comes to producing whirlwinds or men in armour. As it is to be presumed, however, that the doctor returned the volume at length to the owner in person, it is unlikely that the book-collector will ever behold it—at least in this world.

It is a wide subject, this heading 'Occult,' and includes works on Alchemy, Apparitions, Astrology, Cheiromancy, Demonology, Devil Lore, Evil Spirit Possession, the Evil Eye, Hermetic Philosophy, Magic white and black, Phrenology, Physiognomy, Prophecy, Sorcery and Divination, Popular[255] Superstitions, Vampires, and Witchcraft. We can even include Conjuring! Early-printed books on all these subjects are legion, and the numerous works on Lycanthropy or Werewolves, must also find a place under this heading. Claude Prieur's curious work is rare though not particularly valuable; it is a duodecimo printed at Louvain in 1596, and is entitled 'Dialogue de la Lycantropie ou transformation d'hommes en loups, vulgairement dit Loups-garous . . . .' Books on Monsters must also be included here. Dr. Ernest Martin's 'Histoire des Monstres,' octavo, Paris, 1879, contains a bibliography of this curious subject. The Rev. Timothy Harley's 'Moon Lore'—another out-of-the-way heading—also contains twenty-five pages of bibliography. It was printed in 1885.

Savonarola's 'Compendium Revelationum,' the work which probably hastened him to the stake, you will come across most easily in the anonymous 'Mirabilis Liber,' which appeared at Paris first in 1522. This curious work also contains the prophecies of Methodius (Bemechobus), the Sibyls, Augustinus, Birgitta, Lichtenberger, Joachim, Antonio, Catherine of Siena, Severus, J. de Vatiguerro, G. Baugé, and J. de la Rochetaillée. Indagine, the author of a curious book on cheiromancy, physiognomy, and astrology, was really Johann of Hagen, a German Carthusian who died in 1475.

There is a list of some books on Witchcraft, Demonology, and Astrology in the seventh volume of the 'Cambridge History of English Literature,' pages 503 to 511; though curiously it omits one of the most interesting and best-known works on demon-lore—the 'De Natura Daemonum' of Jean Laurent Anania, a small octavo produced by Aldus at Venice in 1589. It is an interesting little work which treats of the origin of demons and their influence on men. The first volume of Mr. F. Leigh Gardner's valuable 'Catalogue Raisonné of Works on the Occult Sciences' appeared in 1903. It contains books on the Rosicrucians. The second volume, dealing with astrological works, was issued in 1911; and the third, books on Freemasonry, in 1912—three slim[256] octavo volumes. Professor John Ferguson's 'Witchcraft Literature of Scotland' appeared at Edinburgh in 1897. A scarce anonymous work was put forth at London in 1815, with the title 'The Lives of Alchemistical Philosophers; with a critical catalogue of books in occult chemistry, and a selection of the most celebrated treatises on the theory and practice of the Hermetic Art.' It contains (pp. 95-112) a list of 751 alchemical books. J. J. Manget's 'Bibliotheca Chemica Curiosa, seu rerum ad Alchemiam pertinentium Thesaurus,' was printed in two folio volumes at Geneva in 1702.

Pamphlets and Tracts.

45. The collecting of Pamphlets and Tracts is an interesting byway of book-collecting. They are of almost every description under the sun. Some collectors will have those that deal with Parliamentary proceedings, some specialise in the Marprelate and No Popery tracts, some in the Satires of the Restoration journalists, whilst others will gather Pasquinades, Mazarinades, and Political pamphlets, as well as those that deal with some particular social or historical event. It is a subject that, perhaps, comprises more grotesque titles than any heading in our list. Knox's famous 'First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women' must certainly have been rather startling to Queen Bess, and Attersoll's 'God's Trumpet sounding the Alarme' (quarto, 1632) is vigorous; but the personal invective displayed by some of the Elizabethan and early Stuart pamphleteers is hard to beat. 'An Olde Foxe Tarred and Feathered,' 'A New Gag for an Old Goose,' 'A Whip for an Ape,' and 'An Almond for a Parrat,' are all curious, but surely the palm is carried by the following effort of John Lyly (against Martin Marprelate), put forth in 1589:

'Pappe with an Hatchet. Alias A figge for my Godsonne. Or Cracke me this nut. Or A Countrie cuffe, that is, a sound boxe of the eare, for the idiot Martin to hold his peace, seeing the patch will take no warning. Written by one that dares call a dog, a dog, and made to prevent Martin's[257] dog daies. Imprinted by John Anoke, and John Astile, for the Baylive of Withernam, cum privilegio perennitatis, and are to bee sold at the signe of the crab tree cudgell in thwackcoate lane.'

In 1523 Richard Bankes printed a curious little tract with the following title: 'Here begynneth a lytell newe treatyse or mater intytuled and called The IX. Drunkardes, which treatythe of dyuerse and goodly storyes ryght plesaunte and frutefull for all parsones to pastyme with.' I hasten to add that the 'parsones' of Mr. Bankes' day were not necessarily in holy orders. It was printed in octavo, black letter, and the only copy that seems to be known is in the Douce collection at the Bodleian.

Professor Edward Arber's 'Introductory Sketch to the Martin Marprelate Controversy,' which appeared in 1895, contains a list of the more important tracts connected with that subject; and you will find Mr. W. Pierce's 'Historical Introduction to the Marprelate Tracts' (1908) useful. There are valuable lists of, and information upon, pamphlets of most descriptions and of all periods in the volumes of the 'Cambridge History of English Literature.' Mr. A. F. Pollard's 'Tudor Tracts, 1532-1588' appeared in 1903.

One of the most remarkable collections of pamphlets ever formed was that amassed during the Commonwealth by an enterprising London bookseller named George Thomason. He succeeded in gathering together[87] more than 22,000 pamphlets and tracts relating to the times; and being an ardent Royalist, was at great pains to prevent the collection from becoming known to the authorities. When the Royalist cause was scotch'd by the execution of King Charles, the collection was transferred to Oxford, and lodged in the Bodleian Library for safety; and although Thomason died in 1666, his collection remained at Oxford until nearly a century later, when it was purchased by King George iii. for[258] £300, and presented by him to the British Museum.

It is, of course, quite priceless now, and contains a large number of tracts not otherwise known. A catalogue of the collection was printed by the Museum authorities in 1908, two demy octavo volumes with the title: 'A Catalogue of the Pamphlets, Books, Newspapers, and Manuscripts relating to the Civil War, the Commonwealth, and Restoration, collected by G. Thomason, 1640-1661.'


46. 'A farmer should be a philosopher,' said Mr. Jorrocks; and although most book-collectors who specialise in philosophical works would disclaim any connection between the two subjects, yet it is not easy to say where philosophy either begins or ends. The dictionaries are very cautious, contenting themselves with the assertion that any 'application of pure thought' or rational explanation of 'things' comes under this heading. Perhaps Mr. Jorrocks was more correct than most of his hearers imagined, for farming in this country certainly requires a deal of pure thought—if it is to be made to pay. For our purpose, however, we will narrow this heading down to those books which deal with the moral aspects of mental influences, and those which centre about the science of metaphysics.


47. Poetry is another heading over which we need not linger. He who specialises in this class of literature may be either a student of English poesy or a lover of prosody. If the former, the following volumes will be of assistance to him.

Thomas Warton's 'History of English Poetry' first appeared in three quarto volumes issued between 1774 and 1781; but a new edition, edited by W. C. Hazlitt in four octavo volumes, was published in 1871. Professor W. J. Courthope's work of the same title was issued in six volumes between 1895 and 1910; whilst Professor G. Saintsbury's 'History of English Prosody from the Twelfth Century to the Present Day,' begun in 1906, was completed in 1910, three octavo volumes.


[259]48. Privately-printed Books. A curious byway of collecting, this; for although it comprises books upon every subject under the sun, yet it will not help the collector to acquire knowledge upon any single subject. For some there is doubtless a certain attraction about books that have been put forth surreptitiously, as it were; yet to the ordinary book-collector such volumes seem to partake rather of the nature of pariahs. They are among books, but not of them, lacking the credentials of their companions. They are of three species only: (1) Personal Books; of interest only to a family and its relations; (2) Books refused by the publishing houses as being unlikely to appeal to the general public; (3) Improper books, which, if issued publicly, would most likely incur an action by the Public Prosecutor. Some years ago Bertram Dobell, a London bookseller, collected upwards of a thousand volumes issued in this manner, and published a catalogue of his collection, with interesting notes. This collection was finally sold en bloc to the Library of Congress at Washington, U.S.A., in 1913. J. Martin's 'Bibliographical Catalogue of Privately Printed Books' was published first in 1834, two volumes; but a second edition appeared twenty years later.

School Books.

49. The collecting of old School Books is a branch of our hobby that seldom engages the bibliophile's attention. Doubtless the recollection of many painful hours spent in their company is responsible for their neglect. Yet there is a charm about the early-printed Mentors of our youth which it is impossible to deny, and there is a growing demand for them—as the booksellers will tell you. The number that has disappeared from the ken of bibliographer must be large, for it is difficult to imagine a more unpopular type of book—at least with those who are obliged to use them; and if your taste has altered to such an extent that you now desire them above all things, you may reasonably hope to unearth many a curio.

Our earliest printers were concerned with such works. In[260] 1483 John Anwykyll's Latin Grammar was printed at Oxford, and we must not forget Caxton's 'Stans Puer ad Mensam,' put forth in 1478. Pynson issued a 'Promptorium Puerorum sive Medulla Grammaticæ' in 1499, and De Worde printed others. Most of the productions of the famous St. Albans press were school books, to the annoyance of the boys at the Grammar School there. Hoole's 'New Discovery of the Old Art of Teaching School' is understood to have been a most unpopular discovery among his scholars. It was first printed at London in 1660, and was reprinted in facsimile at the University Press, Liverpool, in 1913. At the end of this reprint is a useful bibliography of ancient school books, from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century.

Hoole's pupils must have been somewhat out of the ordinary. 'N.B.,' he remarks in 'The Usher's Duty,' 'Those children that are more industriously willing to thrive, may advantage themselves very much by perusal of Gerards Meditations, Thomas de Kempis, St. Augustins Soliloquies, or his Meditations, or the like pious and profitable Books, which they may buy both in English and Latine, and continually bear about in their pockets, to read on at spare times.' Upon enquiry at one of our larger public schools, however, I find that the number of children—even those who are more industriously willing to thrive—who advantage themselves by continually bearing these pious books in their pockets is not large.


50. The next heading in our list, Sports, Games, and Pastimes, naturally comprises a large number of sub-headings. The term 'sport' may be confined[88] conveniently to those subjects which have to do with animals, such as Angling, Coaching, Cock-fighting, Coursing,[261] Falconry, Hunting, Horses, Racing, Steeplechasing, and Shooting. Other subjects, chiefly of an outdoor nature, may be classed as Pastimes, such as Archery, Boxing, Fencing, Mountaineering, Skating, and Yachting. Then there are the diversions of short duration governed by rules, which we call games, such as Cricket, Curling, Bowls, Football, Cards, Chess, etc. There are bibliographies of almost all these, which you will find in Mr. Courtney's work. If you are fond of hunting you will enjoy Mr. Baillie-Grohman's edition of the famous 'Livre de Chasse' of Gaston Phœbus, Comte de Foix. It was translated into English by Edward, Duke of York, between 1406 and 1413, under the title 'The Master of Game'; and to this reprint of 1909 is added a list of old hunting books, and a valuable glossary of ancient hunting terms and phrases. 'La Chasse de Loup,' a small quarto printed at Paris in 1576, is a scarce work. It consists of but 22 folios, and has 14 large woodcuts, and it is by Jean de Clamorgan, Seigneur de Saane. But you will find this treatise in La Maison Rustique.

Books on cock-fighting are not very numerous, nor of frequent occurrence. A number of such works are mentioned by Mr. Harrison Weir in that part of 'Our Poultry' which deals with game-fowl. 'The Royal Pastime of Cockfighting,' by R. H. (i.e. Robert Howlet), a duodecimo printed at London in 1709, is now very scarce and valuable; but a facsimile reprint (100 copies) was issued in 1899. 'The Cocker,' by 'W. Sketchly, gent.,' is of fairly frequent appearance, though a copy will cost you four or five pounds. But it has been reprinted at least twice. A small volume entitled 'Cocking and its Votaries' by S. A. T[aylor] was put forth in 1880, but our book-hunter has not yet been so fortunate as to come across a copy.[89] It was, I believe, privately printed. Old Roger Ascham was a keen devotee of this sport, and wrote a volume entitled 'The Book of the Cockpit'; but no copy[262] of this work is known (at least to bibliographers) to exist at the present day. 'But of all kinds of pastimes fit for a Gentleman,' he writes in 'The Scholemaster,' 'I will, God willing, in a fitter place more at large declare fully, in my Book of the Cockpit; which I do write to satisfy some.' From which it seems that he was actually engaged upon the book. Apparently there is no record of its publication, though an old devotee of the sport once told Mr. Harrison Weir that he had seen a copy. 'The Commendation of Cockes and Cock-fighting; Wherein is shewed, that Cocke-fighting was before the comming of Christ,' by George Wilson, the sporting Vicar of Wretton, was printed in black letter by Henry Tomes 'over against Graies Inne Gate, in Holbourne,' in 1607. I wish you luck, brother collector, but I cannot be sanguine that you will ever come across a copy though it was many times reprinted. The tenth edition is dated 1655.

Under this heading also are included books on Dogs, Cats and Bees (!) though the inclusion of the latter reminds one of the story of the imported tortoise, which the customs officials (after much debate) decided was an insect, and therefore not liable to quarantine! Then there are books of sporting memoirs, sporting dictionaries, sport in particular countries, as well as works which treat of Maypoles and Mumming, Festivals, and old English pastimes.

Books upon Dancing, Cards, Chess, and other games all have their devotees. 'A Bibliography of Works in English on Playing Cards and Gaming,' by Mr. Frederic Jessel, appeared in 1905, octavo. The library of M. Preti of Paris, a well-known chess-player who devoted his attention to the history of the game, was sold at Sotheby's early in 1909. It included 362 lots, comprising some 1600 volumes; but the entire collection realised only £355. The sale catalogue is a useful one—if you are so fortunate as to come across it. But there is a numerous bibliography and you will find a list of such volumes in Mr. W. P. Courtney's 'Register of National Bibliography.'


[263]51. Theology and the Lives of the Fathers of the Early Christian Church is a field of such magnitude that we may divide it conveniently into periods or countries or controversies. Books on the Council of Trent engage the attentions of some, others are attracted by the history of the Waldenses or the Byzantine Churches. Some again specialise in the writings of certain great characters, such as Bonaventura, Augustine, or Erasmus. A 'Bibliotheca Erasmiana, ou Repertoire des Œuvres d'Erasme' appeared at Ghent in 1893 and was followed four years later by a new edition. Similarly there are now accounts of the writings of almost all the great Churchmen, such as Cranmer, Latimer, Tindale, Laud, Ken, etc. The only bibliography of Knox with which I am acquainted is that appended to the six volumes of Laing's edition of his works, published at Edinburgh 1846-64.


52. Tobacco is a cheery subject for the book-collector, and somehow the very word conjures up a vision of warmth and comfort.

'My pipe is lit, my grog is mix'd,
My curtains drawn and all is snug;
Old Puss is in her elbow-chair,
And Tray is sitting on the rug.'

What book-collector, I do not mean book-speculator, does not smoke a pipe? I refuse to believe that any book-lover could possibly sit in an easy chair before the fire and pore over Browne's 'Hydriotaphia,' Sidney's 'Arcadia,' More's 'Utopia,' or Cotton's 'Montluc' (all in folio, please) without a pipe in his mouth. Why, it is unthinkable. Yet the books which treat of tobacco are not all couched in that tranquil tone which is induced by the soothing weed. 'The whole output of literature on tobacco,' writes Professor Routh, 'is eminently characteristic of the age in its elaborate titles, far-fetched conceits, and bitter invective. The spirit of criticism is so strong that even the partisans of the weed satirise the habits of the smoker.' King James's 'Counter Blaste to Tobacco,' first issued in 1604, Braithwaite's 'The[264] Smoaking Age,' 1617, and Barclay's 'Nepenthes, or, the Vertues of Tobacco,' 1614, have all been reprinted of late years. Bragge's 'Bibliotheca Nicotiana' was printed at Birmingham in 1880.


53. Topography and County Histories need not detain us. Anderson's 'Book of British Topography' is a list of County Histories, etc., that had appeared up to 1881; and Mr. A. L. Humphrey's 'Handbook to County Bibliography' amplifies and carries the record down to 1917. With this heading we can include the collection of Atlases and Maps. Sir H. G. Fordham's 'Studies in Carto-Bibliography, British and French, and in the Bibliography of Itineraries and Road Books' contains a useful bibliography of this subject. It was published by the Clarendon Press in 1914.


54. Books on Trades should form an interesting series for the collector. Works on 'Dialling' and Clock-making are frequent enough, but I do not remember to have come across very many books which treat of the locksmith's art or coach-making, though such volumes appear from time to time in the catalogues. There must be treatises on almost every trade under the sun; our book-hunter possesses a small volume which deals with the making of sealing-wax and wafers. Old treatises on brewing must be plentiful, as doubtless are volumes on all the larger and more important industries; but are there manuals for the loriner, the patten-maker, the umbrella-manufacturer? Doubtless there are, though they must be few in number, and scarce too, since those for whom they were intended probably would not be the best preservers of books. Only about a century ago a small manual was put forth for the use of those whose business was the heraldic decoration of carriage-panels. It was very popular in the trade, but is now scarcely to be had, and when found is invariably filthy and dilapidated. Like the little 'Pastissier François,' such practical treatises soon go the way of all superseded books.

Travels and Voyages.

[265]55 and 56. Travel books and Voyages have already been discussed under the heading 'Foreign Parts'—the first subject with which I have dealt in detail. Most globe-trotters nowadays are members of the Royal Geographical Society, and the Library Catalogue of that institution is a valuable one for reference. It was printed in 1895, under the care of Mr. H. R. Mill.

And so I bid you farewell, brother book-hunter. There is no subject with which I have dealt but could have had a volume to itself: my aim throughout has been to strike the happy medium between a tedious list of titles and editions and a description too brief to be of interest. Thank you for your patience and sympathy (of the latter indeed I was assured at the outset, for we book-hunters are a class that knows no other feeling when reading about our beloved books), and allow me to express the sincere wish that good fortune may attend you on your expeditions. May your 'finds' be frequent, cheap, clean, tall, perfect, and broad of margin, and may you never suffer from borrowers, bookworms, acid-tanned leathers, clumsy letterers and insecure shelf-fastenings. May good scribbling paper, sharp pencils, uncrossed nibs, clean ink and blotting-paper be ever at your hand, and may your days be passed in wholesome leisure, in the divine fellowship of books. Vale.

The End.


[82] Msr. F. C. Wieder, the librarian, writing to the 'Times Literary Supplement' of 6th February 1919 (p. 70), states that 'the catalogue is in preparation, and arrangements will be made that the books of this library can be sent on loan to foreign students through the intermediary of public libraries.'

[83] See note on p. 78.

[84] The moated manor-house (Southcote, near Reading) which he built provides an excellent example of the way in which learned men (especially mathematicians!) go astray when they insist upon being their own architects. A more unhandy house it is difficult to conceive; and in winter-time the dinner must invariably have been cold by the time it reached the dining-room. The writer of these lines prospected it from attics to cellars some years ago, but as usual "drew blank."

[85] Mr. E. Heron-Allen's 'De Fidiculis Bibliographia' was issued in parts, and forms two small quarto volumes, 1890 and 1894; but only about sixty complete sets are known to exist.

[86] Dodd's 'Essay towards a Natural History of the Herring,' 1752, contains a chapter of bibliography.

[87] You will find the whole tale—a most interesting one—in 'Bibliographica,' vol. iii., p. 291, from the pen of Mr. Falconer Madan.

[88] Lord Lovat's definition of 'Sport' was as follows: 'Sport is the fair, difficult, exciting, perhaps dangerous pursuit of a wild animal that has the odds in its favour, whose courage, speed, strength and cunning are more or less a match for our own, and whose death, being of service, is justifiable.' But this seems to apply more to hunting than anything else; it certainly precludes coaching, cock-fighting, racing, and steeplechasing.

[89] The copy in the Pittar sale at Sotheby's in November 1918 was extra-illustrated and finely bound. It fetched £9, 15s.






Transcriber's Notes

Corrections which have been made are indicated by dotted lines under the corrected text. Scroll the mouse over the word and the original text will appear.

Greek text transliterations are indicated by dashed lines under the Greek text. Scroll the mouse over the word and the transliterated Greek text will appear. e.g. ὃι πολλοί.

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