Books and Bookmen, by Andrew Lang

Bibliomania in France

The love of books for their own sake, for their paper, print, binding, and for their associations, as distinct from the love of literature, is a stronger and more universal passion in France than elsewhere in Europe. In England publishers are men of business; in France they aspire to be artists. In England people borrow what they read from the libraries, and take what gaudy cloth-binding chance chooses to send them. In France people buy books, and bind them to their heart’s desire with quaint and dainty devices on the morocco covers. Books are lifelong friends in that country; in England they are the guests of a week or of a fortnight. The greatest French writers have been collectors of curious editions; they have devoted whole treatises to the love of books. The literature and history of France are full of anecdotes of the good and bad fortunes of bibliophiles, of their bargains, discoveries, disappointments. There lies before us at this moment a small library of books about books — the ‘Bibliophile Francais,’ in seven large volumes, ‘Les Sonnets d’un Bibliophile,’ ‘La Bibliomanie en 1878,’ ‘La Bibliotheque d’un Bibliophile’ (1885) and a dozen other works of Janin, Nodier, Beraldi, Pieters, Didot, great collectors who have written for the instruction of beginners and the pleasure of every one who takes delight in printed paper.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Le dos humide, je l’eponge;

Ou manque un coin, vite une allonge,

Pour tous j’ai maison de sante.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here lies, in sleep secure,

A dame inclined to mirth,

Who, by way of making sure,

Chose her Paradise on earth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

15 See Essay on ‘Lady Book–Lovers.’

16 See Essay on ‘Lady Book–Lovers.’

17 For a specimen of Madame Pompadour’s binding see overleaf. She had another Rabelais in calf, lately to be seen in a shop in Pall Mall.


Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 22:03