"As to the late method used in selling books by auction in London, I suppose that many have paid dear for their experience in this way — it being apparent that most books bought in an auction may be had cheaper in booksellers' shops."
Clavel: Cat. of Books for 1680, Pref.
EVER, surely, did two mortals set off upon any expedition with greater glee and alacrity than did Lisardo and Philemon for the sale, by auction, of Gonzalvo's bibliographical library. The great pains which Lysander had taken in enumerating the various foreign and domestic writers upon Bibliography, with his occasionally animated eulogies upon some favourite author had quite inflamed the sanguine mind of Lisardo; who had already, in anticipation, fancied himself in possession of every book which he had heard described. Like Homer's high-bred courser, who
— ere he starts, a thousand steps are lost —
our young bibliomaniac began to count up his volumes, arrange his shelves, bespeak his binder, and revel in the luxury of a splendid and nearly matchless collection. The distance from my house to the scene of action being thirteen miles, Lisardo, during the first six, had pretty nearly exhausted himself in describing the delightful pictures which his ardent fancy had formed; and finding the conversation beginning to flag, Philemon, with his usual good-nature and judgment, promised to make a pleasing digression from the dry subject of book-catalogues, by an episode with which the reader shall be presently gratified. Having promised to assist them both, when we arrived at Messrs. L. and S., in the Strand, with some information relating to the prices of such books as they stood in need of, and to the various book-collectors who attended public sales, Lisardo expressed himself highly obliged by the promise; and, sinking quietly into a corner of the chaise, he declared that he was now in a most apt mood to listen attentively to Philemon's digressive chat: who accordingly thus began.
"Lord Coke,"— exclaimed Philemon, in a mirthful strain —"before he ventured upon 'The Jurisdiction of the Courts of the Forest,' wished to 'recreate himself' with Virgil's description of 'Dido's Doe of the Forest;'163 in order that he might 'proceed the more cheerfully' with the task he had undertaken; and thus exchange somewhat of the precise and technical language of the lawyer for that glowing tone of description which woodland scenes and hunting gaieties seldom fail to produce. Even so, my good friends (pursued Philemon), I shall make a little digression from the confined subject to which our attentions have been so long directed by taking you with me, in imagination, to the delightful abode of Orlando."
163 The quaint language of Lord Coke is well worth quotation: "And seeing we are to treat of matters of game, and hunting, let us (to the end we may proceed the more chearfully) recreate ourselves with the excellent description of Dido's Doe of the Forest wounded with a deadly arrow sticken in her, and not impertinent to our purpose:
Uritur infælix Dido, totaque vagatur
Urbe furens, &c.
And in another place, using again the word (Sylva) and describing a forest saith:
Ibat in antiquam sylvam stabula alta ferarum."
Institutes, pt. iv., p. 289, ed. 1669.
Thus pleasantly could our sage expounder of the laws of the realm illustrate the dry subject of which he treated!
Lis. I have heard of him: a very "Helluo Librorum!" Thus we only change sides — from things to men; from books to book-collectors. Is this digressive? Is this an episode?
Phil. Why this abrupt interruption? If I did not know you and myself, too, Lisardo, I should observe an obstinate silence during the remainder of the journey. An episode, though it suspend the main action for a while, partakes of the nature of the subject of the work. It is an appropriate digression. Do pray read Dr. Blair164 upon the subject — and now only listen.
164 Lecture xlii., vol. iii.
Orlando (continued Philemon) had from his boyhood loved books and book-reading. His fortune was rather limited; but he made shift — after bringing up three children, whom he lost from the ages of nineteen to twenty-four, and which have been recently followed to their graves by the mother that gave them birth — he made shift, notwithstanding the expenses of their college education, and keeping up the reputation of a truly hospitable table, to collect, from year to year, a certain number of volumes, according to a certain sum of money appropriated for the purchase of them; generally making himself master of the principal contents of the first year's purchase, before the ensuing one was placed upon his shelves. He lives in a large ancestral house; and his library is most advantageously situated and delightfully fitted up. Disliking such a wintry residence as Thomson has described165— although fond of solemn retirement, and of Cowper's "boundless contiguity of shade,"— he has suffered the rules of common sense always to mingle themselves in his plans of domestic comfort; and, from the bow-windowed extremity of his library, he sees realized, at the distance of four hundred yards, Cæsar's gently-flowing river Arar,166 in a stream which loses itself behind some low shrubs; above which is a softly-undulating hill, covered with hazel, and birch, and oak. To the left is an open country, intersected with meadows and corn fields, and terminated by the blue mountains of Malvern at the distance of thirteen miles. Yet more to the left, but within one hundred and fifty yards of the house, and forming something of a foreground to the landscape, are a few large and lofty elm trees, under which many a swain has rested from his toil; many a tender vow has been breathed; many a sabbath-afternoon167 innocently kept; and many a village-wake cordially celebrated! Some of these things yet bless the aged eyes of Orlando!
"In the wild depth of Winter, while without
The ceaseless winds blow ice, be my retreat
Between the groaning forest and the shore,
Beat by the boundless multitude of waves,
A rural, sheltered, solitary scene!"——
One would like a situation somewhat more sheltered, when "The ceaseless winds blow ice!"
166 "Flumen est Arar, quod per fines Æduorum et Sequanorum in Rhodanum fluit, incredibili lenitate, ita ut oculis, in utram partem fluat, judicari nos possit." De Bell. Gall., lib. i., § x. Philemon might as happily have compared Orlando's quiet stream to "the silent river"
—— quæ Liris quietâ
which Horace has so exquisitely described, in contrast with
—— obliquis laborat
Lympha fugax trepidare rivo.
Carm., lib. i., Od. xxxi., lib. ii., Od. ii.
Yet let us not forget Collin's lovely little bit of landscape —
"Where slowly winds the stealing wave."
167 There is a curious proclamation by Q. Elizabeth, relating to some Sabbath recreations or games, inserted in Hearne's preface to his edition of Camden's Annals, p. xxviii. It is a little too long to be given entire; but the reader may here be informed that "shooting with the standard, shooting with the broad arrow, shooting at the twelve score prick, shooting at the Turk, leaping for men, running for men, wrestling, throwing the sledge, and pitching the bar," were suffered to be exhibited, on several Sundays, for the benefit of one "John Seconton Powlter, dwelling within the parish of St. Clements Danes, being a poor man, having four small children, and fallen to decay."
I have slightly noticed the comfortable interior of his library.—
Lis. You spoke of a bow-windowed extremity —
Phil. Yes, in this bow-window — the glass of which was furnished full two hundred and fifty years ago, and which has recently been put into a sensible modern frame-work — thereby affording two hours longer light to the inhabitant — in this bow-window, you will see a great quantity of stained glass of the different arms of his own, and of his wife's, family; with other appropriate embellishments.168 And when the evening sun-beams throw a chequered light throughout the room, 'tis pleasant to observe how Orlando enjoys the opening of an Aldine Greek Classic — the ample-margined leaves of which receive a mellower tint from the soft lustre that pervades the library. Every book, whether opened or closed, is benefited by this due portion of light; so that the eye, in wandering over the numerous shelves, is neither hurt by morning glare nor evening gloom. Of colours, in his furniture, he is very sparing: he considers white shelves, picked out with gold, as heretical — mahogany, wainscot, black, and red, are, what he calls, orthodox colours. He has a few busts and vases; and as his room is very lofty, he admits above, in black and gold frames, a few portraits of eminent literary characters; and whenever he gets a genuine Vandyke, or Velasquez, he congratulates himself exceedingly upon his good fortune.
168 The reader, who is partial to the lucubrations of Thomas Hearne, may peruse a long gossipping note of his upon the importance of stained glass windows— in his account of Godstow nunnery. See his Guil. Neubrig., vol. ii., 768.
Lis. All this bespeaks a pretty correct taste. But I wish to know something of the man.
Phil. You shall, presently; and, in hearing what I am about to relate, only let us both strive, good Lisardo, so to regulate our studies and feelings that our old age may be like unto Orlando's.
Last year I went with my uncle to pay him our annual visit. He appeared quite altered and shaken from the recent misfortune of losing his wife; who had survived the death of her children fifteen years; herself dying in the sixtieth of her own age. The eyes of Orlando were sunk deeply into his forehead, yet they retained their native brilliancy and quickness. His cheeks were wan, and a good deal withered. His step was cautious and infirm. When we were seated in his comfortable library chairs, he extended his right arm towards me, and squeezing my hand cordially within his own —"Philemon," said he, "you are not yet thirty, and have therefore sufficient ardour to enable you to gratify your favourite passion for books. Did you ever read the inscription over the outside of my library door — which I borrowed from Lomeir's account of one over a library at Parma?169" On my telling him that it had escaped me —"Go," said he, "and not only read, but remember it."— The inscription was as follows:
INGREDERE MUSIS SACER, NAM
ET HIC DII HABITANT.
NULLUS AMICUS MAGIS LIBET,
"Have a care," said he, on my resuming my seat —"have a care that you do not treat such a friend ill, or convert him into a foe. For myself, my course is well nigh run. My children have long taken their leave of me, to go to the common parent who created, and to the Saviour who has vouchsafed to redeem, us all; and, though the usual order of nature has been here inverted, I bow to the fate which Heaven has allotted me with the unqualified resignation of a Christian. My wife has also recently left me, for a better place; and I confess that I begin to grow desolate, and anxious to take my departure to join my family. In my solitude, dear Philemon, I have found these (pointing to his books) to be what Cicero, and Seneca, and our own countryman De Bury,170 have so eloquently and truly described them to be — our friends, our instructors, and our comforts. Without any affectation of hard reading, great learning, or wonderful diligence, I think I may venture to say that I have read more valuable books than it falls to the lot of the generality of book-collectors to read; and I would fain believe that I have profited by my studies. Although not of the profession of the church, you know that I have always cherished a fondness for sacred literature; and there is hardly a good edition of the Greek Testament, or a commentator of repute upon the Bible, foreign or domestic, but what you will find some reference to the same in my interleaved copy of Bishop Wilson's edition of the Holy Scriptures. A great number of these commentators themselves are in my library, as well as every authoritative edition of the Greek Testament, from the Complutensian to Griesbach's. Yet do not suppose that my theological books are equal in measure to one fourth part of those in the Imperial library at Paris.171 My object has always been instruction and improvement; and when these could be obtained from any writer, whether Roman Catholic or Protestant, Arminian or Calvinistic, I have not failed to thank him, and to respect him, too, if he has declared his opinions with becoming diffidence and moderation. You know that nothing so sorely grieves me as dogmatical arrogance, in a being who will always be frail and capricious, let him think and act as he please. On a Sunday evening I usually devote a few hours to my theological studies —(if you will allow my sabbath-meditations to be so called) and, almost every summer evening in the week, saunter 'midst yon thickets and meadows by the river side, with Collins, or Thompson, or Cowper, in my hand. The beautiful sentiments and grand imagery of Walter Scott are left to my in-door avocations; because I love to read the curious books to which he refers in his notes, and have always admired, what I find few critics have noticed, how adroitly he has ingrafted fiction upon truth. As I thus perambulate, with my book generally open, the villagers treat me as Sir Roger De Coverley made his tenants treat the Spectator — by keeping at a respectful distance — but when I shut up my volume, and direct my steps homewards, I am always sure to find myself, before I reach my threshold, in company with at least half a dozen gossipping and well-meaning rustics. In other departments of reading, history and poetry are my delight. On a rainy or snowy day, when all looks sad and dismal without, my worthy friend and neighbour, Phormio, sometimes gives me a call — and we have a rare set-to at my old favourite volumes — the 'Lectiones Memorabiles et Reconditæ' of Wolfius172— a commonplace book of as many curious, extraordinary, true and false occurrences, as ever were introduced into two ponderous folios. The number of strange cuts in it used to amuse my dear children — whose parent, from the remembrance of the past, still finds a pleasing recreation in looking at them. So much, dear Philemon, for my desultory mode of studying: improve upon it — but at all events, love your books for the good which they may produce; provided you open them with 'singleness of heart —' that is, a sincerity of feeling.
169 De Bibliothecis: p. 269, edit. 1680.
170 Every school-lad who has written a copy under a writing-master, or who has looked into the second book of the "Selectæ è Profanis Scriptoribus," &c., has probably been made acquainted with the sentiments of the above ancient heathen philosophers relating to Learning and Books; but may not have been informed of the conciliatory manner in which our countryman De Bury has invited us to approach the latter. "Hi sunt magistri (says he) qui nos instruunt sine vergis et ferula, sine verbis et colera, sine pane et pecunia. Si accedis, non dormiunt; si inquiris, non se abscondunt; non remurmurant, si oberres; cachinnos nesciunt, si ignores." These original and apt words are placed in the title-page to the first volume of Dr. Clarke's Bibliographical Dictionary.
171 "Il y a 300 pieds cubes de livres de théologie,"—"qui tapissent les murs des deux premières salles de la Bibliothéque Impériale." Caillot: Roman Bibliographique, tom. i., 72, edit. 1809.
172 There are few men, of any literary curiosity, who would not wish to know something of the work here noticed; and much more than appears to be known of its illustrious author; concerning whom we will first discourse a little: "Johannes Wolfius (says Melchoir Adam), the laborious compiler of the Lectionum Memorabilium et Reconditarum Centenarii xvi. (being a collection of curious pieces from more than 3000 authors — chiefly Protestant) was a civilian, a soldier, and a statesman. He was born A.D. 1537, at Vernac, in the duchy of Deux Ponts; of which town his father was chief magistrate. He was bred under Sturmius at Strasbourg, under Melancthon at Wittemberg, and under Cujas at Bruges. He travelled much and often; particularly into France and Burgundy, with the Dukes of Stettin, in 1467. He attended the Elector Palatine, who came with an army to the assistance of the French Hugonots in 1569; and, in 1571, he conducted the corpse of his master back to Germany by sea. After this, he was frequently employed in embassies from the electors Palatine to England and Poland. His last patrons were the Marquisses of Baden, who made him governor of Mündelsheim, and gave him several beneficial grants. In 1594, Wolfius bade adieu to business and courts, and retired to Hailbrun; where he completed his "Lectiones," which had been the great employment of his life. He died May 23, A.D. 1600 — the same year in which the above volumes were published." Thus far, in part, our biographer, in his Vitæ Eruditorum cum Germanorum tum Exterorum: pt. iii., p. 156, edit. 1706. These particulars may be gleaned from Wolfius's preface; where he speaks of his literary and diplomatic labours with great interest and propriety. In this preface also is related a curious story of a young man of the name of Martin, whom Wolfius employed as an amanuensis to transcribe from his "three thousand authors"— and who was at first so zealously attached to the principles of the Romish Church that he declared "he wished for no heaven where Luther might be." The young man died a Protestant; quite reconciled to a premature end, and in perfect good will with Luther and his doctrine. As to Wolfius, it is impossible to read his preface, or to cast a glance upon his works —"magno et pene incredibili labore multisque vigiliis elaboratum"—(as Linsius has well said, in the opening of the admonition to the reader, prefixed to his index) without being delighted with his liberality of disposition, and astonished at the immensity of his labour. Each volume has upwards of 1000 pages closely printed upon an indifferent brown-tinted paper; which serves nevertheless to set off the several hundreds of well executed wood cuts which the work contains. Linsius's index, a thin folio, was published in the year 1608: this is absolutely necessary for the completion of a copy. As bibliographers have given but a scanty account of this uncommon work (mentioned, however, very properly by Mr. Nicol in his interesting preface to the catalogue of the Duke of Roxburgh's books; and of which I observe in the Bibl. Solgeriana, vol. i., no. 1759, that a second edition, printed in 1672, is held in comparatively little estimation), so biographers (if we except Melchior Adam, the great favourite of Bayle) have been equally silent respecting its author. Fabricius, and the Historical Dictionary published at Caen, do not mention him; and Moreri has but a meagre and superficial notice of him. Wolfius's Penus Artis Historicæ, of which the best edition is that of 1579, is well described in the tenth volume of Fournier's Methode pour étudier l'histoire, p. 12, edit. 1772. My respect for so extraordinary a bibliomaniac as Wolfius, who was groping amongst the books of the public libraries belonging to the several great cities which he visited, (in his diplomatic character — vide præf.) whilst his masters and private secretary were probably paying their devotions to Bacchus — induces me to treat the reader with the following impression of his portrait.
This cut is taken from a fac-simile drawing, made by me of the head of Wolfius as it appears at the back of the title-page to the preceding work. The original impression is but an indifferent one; but it presents in addition, the body of Wolfius as far as the waist; with his right hand clasping a book, and his left the handle of a sword. His ponderous chain has a medallion suspended at the end. This print, which evidently belongs to the English series, has escaped Granger. And yet I know not whether such intelligence should be imparted! — as the scissars may hence go to work to deprive many a copy of these "Lectiones," of their elaborately-ornamented title-pages. Forbid it, good sense!
"In a short time," continued the venerable Orlando, after a pause of fifteen seconds, "in a short time I must bid adieu to this scene; to my choice copies; beautiful bindings: and all the classical furniture which you behold around you. Yes! — as Reimannus173 has well observed — 'there is no end to accumulating books, whilst the boundaries of human existence are limited, indeed!' But I have made every necessary, and, I hope, appropriate, regulation; the greater part of my library is bequeathed to one of the colleges in the University of Oxford; with an injunction to put an inscription over the collection very different from what the famous Ranzau174 directed to be inscribed over his own. — About three hundred volumes you will find bequeathed to you, dear Philemon — accompanied with a few remarks not very different from what Lotichius175 indited, with his dying breath, in his book-legacy to the learned Sambucus. I will, at present, say no more. Come and see me whenever you have an opportunity. I exact nothing extraordinary of you; and shall therefore expect nothing beyond what one man of sense and of virtue, in our relative situations, would pay to the other."
173 "Vita brevis est, et series librorum longa." He adds: "Æs magnum tempus, quo id dispungere conatus est, parvum." Bibl. Acroamat., p. 51, sign. d† 2.
174 "Henry de Ranzau — avoit dressé une excellente bibliothéque au chateau de Bredemberg, dans laquelle estoient conservez plusieurs manuscrits Grecs et Latins, et autres raretez, &c. — Ce sçavant personnage a fait un decret pour sa bibliothéque, qui merite d'estre icy inseré, pour faire voir a la posterité l'affection qu'il auoit pour sa conservation."
. . . Libros partem ne aliquam abstulerit,
Extraxerit, clepserit, rapserit,
Jacob: Traicté des Bibliothéques, pp. 237, 240.
I have inserted only the fulminatory clause of this inscription, as being that part of it against which Orlando's indignation seems to be directed.
175 "Petrus Lotichius Johanni Sambuco Pannonio gravissimo morbo laborans Bononiæ, bibliothecam suam legaverit, lib. 3, eleg. 9, verba ejus lectu non injucunda:
Pro quibus officiis, hæres abeuntis amici,
Accipe fortunæ munera parva meæ.
Non mihi sunt Baccho colles, oleisque virentes,
Prædiave Æmiliis conspicienda jugis.
Tu veterum dulces scriptorum sume libellos,
Attritos manibus quos juvat esse meis.
Invenies etiam viridi quæ lusimus ævo,
Dum studiis ætas mollibus apta fuit.
Illa velim rapidis sic uras carmina flammis
Ut vatem ipse suis ignibus jussit Amor."
Lomeier: de Bibliothecis, p. 288.
"So spake Orlando," said Philemon, with tears in his eyes, who, upon looking at Lisardo and myself, found our faces covered with our handkerchiefs, and unable to utter a word.
The deliberate manner in which this recital was made — the broken periods, and frequent pauses — filled up a great measure of our journey; and we found that St. Paul's dome was increasing upon us in size and distinctness, and that we had not more than three miles to travel, when Lisardo, wishing to give a different turn to the discourse, asked Philemon what was the cause of such extravagant sums being now given at book-sales for certain curious and uncommon — but certainly not highly intrinsically-valuable — publications; and whether our ancestors, in the time of Hen. VIII. and Elizabeth, paid in proportion for the volumes of their Libraries?
Upon Philemon's declaring himself unable to gratify his friend's curiosity, but intimating that some assistance might probably be derived from myself, I took up the discourse by observing that —
"In the infancy of printing in this country (owing to the competition of foreigners) it would seem that our own printers (who were both booksellers and book-binders) had suffered considerably in their trade, by being obliged to carry their goods to a market where the generality of purchasers were pleased with more elegantly executed works at an inferior price. The legislature felt, as every patriotic legislature would feel, for their injured countrymen; and, accordingly, the statute of Richard III. was enacted,176 whereby English printers and book-binders were protected from the mischiefs, which would otherwise have overtaken them. Thus our old friend Caxton went to work with greater glee, and mustered up all his energies to bring a good stock of British manufacture to the market. What he usually sold his books for, in his life time, I have not been able to ascertain; but, on his decease, one of his Golden Legends was valued, in the churchwardens' books, at six shillings and eight pence.177 Whether this was a great or small sum I know not; but, from the same authority we find that twenty-two pounds were given, twelve years before, for eleven huge folios, called 'Antiphoners.'178 In the reign of Henry VIII. it would seem, from a memorandum in the catalogue of the Fletewode library (if I can trust my memory with such minutiæ) that Law-Books were sold for about ten sheets to the groat.179 Now, in the present day, Law-Books — considering the wretched style in which they are published, with broken types upon milk-and-water-tinted paper — are the dearest of all modern publications. Whether they were anciently sold for so comparatively extravagant a sum may remain to be proved. Certain it is that, before the middle of the sixteenth century, you might have purchased Grafton's abridgment of Polydore Virgil's superficial work about The Invention of Things for fourteen pence;180 and the same printer's book of Common Prayer for four shillings. Yet if you wanted a superbly bound Prymer, it would have cost you (even five and twenty years before) nearly half a guinea.181 Nor could you have purchased a decent Ballad much under sixpence; and Hall's Chronicle would have drawn from your purse twelve shillings;182 so that, considering the then value of specie, there is not much ground of complaint against the present prices of books."
176 By the 1st of Richard III. (1433, ch. ix. sec. xii.) it appeared that, Whereas, a great number of the king's subjeets within this realm having "given themselves diligently to learn and exercise the craft of printing, and that at this day there being within this realm a great number cunning and expert in the said science or craft of printing, as able to exercise the said craft in all points as any stranger, in any other realm or country, and a great number of the king's subjects living by the craft and mystery of binding of books, and well expert in the same;"— yet "all this notwithstanding, there are divers persons that bring from beyond the sea great plenty of printed books — not only in the Latin tongue, but also in our maternal English tongue — some bound in boards, some in leather, and some in parchment, and them sell by retail, whereby many of the king's subjects, being binders of books, and having no other faculty therewith to get their living, be destitute of work, and like to be undone, except some reformation herein be had — Be it therefore enacted, &c." By the 4th clause or provision, if any of these printers or sellers of printed books vend them "at too high and unreasonable prices," then the Lord Chancellor, Lord Treasurer, or any of the Chief Justices of the one bench or the other —"by the oaths of twelve honest and discreet persons," were to regulate their prices. This remarkable act was confirmed by the 25th Hen. VIII., ch. 15, which was not repealed till the 12th Geo. II., ch. 36, § 3. A judge would have enough to do to regulate the prices of books, by the oaths of twelve men, in the present times!
177 The reader will be pleased to refer to p. cx. of the first volume of my recent edition of the Typographical Antiquities of Great Britain.
178 The following is from 'the churchwardens' accompts of St. Margaret's, Westminster. "A.D. 1475. Item, for 11 great books, called Antiphoners, 22l. 0s. 0d." Manners and Expenses of Ancient Times in England, &c., collected by John Nichols, 1797, 4to., p. 2. Antiphonere is a book of anthems to be sung with responses: and, from the following passage in Chaucer, it would appear to have been a common school-book used in the times of papacy:
This litel childe his litel book lerning,
As he sate in the scole at his primere
He Alma Redemptoris herde sing,
As children lered hir Antiphonere:
Cant. Tales, v. 13,446, &c.
"A legend, an Antiphonarye, a grayle, a psalter," &c., were the books appointed to be kept in every parish church "of the province of Canterbury" by Robert Winchelsen. Const. Provin. and of Otho and Octhobone, fol. 67, rect., edit. 1534.
179 "The year books, 9 v. parcels, as published, impr. in different years by Pynson, Berthelet, Redman, Myddylton, Powell, Smythe, Rastell, and Tottyl, 1517 to 1531." Some of them have the prices printed at the end; as "The Prisce of thys Boke ys xiid. unbounde — The Price of thys Boke is xvid. un bownde;" and upon counting the sheets, it appears that the stated price of Law-Books, in the reign of Hen. 8, was ten sheets for one groat. Bibl. Monast-Fletewodiana, no. 3156.
180 In a copy of this book, printed by Grafton in 1546, which was in the library of that celebrated bibliomaniac, Tom Rawlinson, was the following singular MS. note: "At Oxforde the yeare 1546, browt down to Seynbury by John Darbye pryce 14d. When I kepe Mr. Letymers shype I bout thys boke when the testament was obberagatyd that shepe herdys myght not red hit I pray god amende that blyndnes wryt by Robert Wyllyams keppynge shepe uppon Seynbury hill. 1546." Camdeni Annales: Edit. Hearne, vol. i., p. xxx.
181 From Mr. Nichol's curious work, I make the following further extracts:
|1539.||Item, paid for the half part of the Bybell, accordingly after the King's injunction||0||9||9|
|1544.||Item, also paid for six books of the Litany in English||0||1||6|
|1549.||Paid for iv books of the service of the church||0||16||0|
|[This was probably Grafton's Prayer book of 1549, fol.]|
|1559.||Paid for a Bybyl and Parafrawse||0||16||0|
[From the Ch. Wardens Accts. of St. Margaret's Westminster]
The Inventory of John Port, 1524.
In the shop.
|Item, a premmer lymmed with gold, and with imagery written honds||0||8||4|
(From the do. of St. Mary Hill, London.)
|To William Pekerynge, a ballet, called a Ryse and Wake||0||0||4|
(From the books of the Stationers' Company).
See pp. 13, 15, 126, and 133, of Mr. Nichols's work.
182 By the kindness of Mr. William Hamper, of Birmingham (a gentleman with whom my intercourse has as yet been only epistolary, but whom I must be allowed to rank among our present worthy bibliomaniacs), I am in possession of some original entries, which seem to have served as part of a day-book of a printer of the same name: "it having been pasted at the end of 'The Poor Man's Librarie' printed by John Day in 1565." From this sable-looking document the reader has the following miscellaneous extracts:
|(Two) Meserse of bloyene in bordis
One Prymare latane & englis
|Balethis (ballads) nova of sortis||0||0||ii|
|Boke of paper 1 quire in forrell||0||0||iv|
|Morse workes in forrell||0||9||viij|
|Castell of Love in forrelle wi: a sarmo nova||0||0||x|
|Balethis nova arbull in 8vo. 1 catechis||0||0||viiij|
|Prymare for a chyllde in 8vo. englis||0||iv|
|Halles Croneckelle nova englis||0||xii||0|
From a Household Book kept in London, A.D. 1561
(in the possession of the same Gent.)
|Item, p-d for a Lyttellton in English||xijd.|
|———— for the booke of ij englishe lovers||vjd.|
|———— for the booke of Songes and Sonnettes and the booke of dyse, and a frenche booke||}||ijs. viijd.|
|(viz. the frenche booke xvjd. the ij other bookes at viijd. the pece.)|
|———— for printing the xxv orders of honest men||xxd.|
Lis. All this is very just. You are now creeping towards the seventeenth century. Go on with your prices of books 'till nearly the present day; when the Bibliomania has been supposed to have attained its highest pitch.
"Don't expect," resumed I, "any antiquarian exactness in my chronological detail of what our ancestors used to give for their curiously-covered volumes. I presume that the ancient method of Book-Binding183 added much to the expense of the purchase. But be this as it may, we know that Sir Ralph Sadler, at the close of the sixteenth century, had a pretty fair library, with a Bible in the chapel to boot, for £10.184 Towards the close of the seventeenth century, we find the Earl of Peterborough enlisting among the book champions; and giving, at the sale of Richard Smith's books in 1682, not less than eighteen shillings and two pence for the first English edition of his beloved Godfrey of Boulogne.185 In Queen Ann's time, Earl Pembroke and Lord Oxford spared no expense for books; and Dr. Mead, who trod closely upon their heels, cared not at what price he purchased his Editiones Principes, and all the grand books which stamped such a value upon his collection. And yet, let us look at the priced catalogue of his library, or at that of his successor Dr. Askew, and compare the sums then given for those now offered for similar works!"
183 As a little essay, and a very curious one too, might be written upon the history of Book-Binding, I shall not attempt in the present note satisfactorily to supply such a desideratum; but merely communicate to the reader a few particulars which have come across me in my desultory researches upon the subject. Mr. Astle tells us that the famous Textus Sancti Cuthberti, which was written in the 7th century, and was formerly kept at Durham, and is now preserved in the Cottonian library, (Nero, D. iv.) was adorned in the Saxon times by Bilfrith, a monk of Durham, with a silver cover gilt, and precious stones. Simeon Dunelmensis, or Turgot, as he is frequently called, tells us that the cover of this fine MS. was ornamented "forensecis Gemmis et Auro." "A booke of Gospelles garnished and wrought with antique worke of silver and gilte with an image of the crucifix with Mary and John, poiz together cccxxij oz." In the secret Jewel House in the Tower. "A booke of gold enameled, clasped with a rubie, having on th' one side, a crosse of dyamounts, and vj other dyamounts, and th' other syde a flower de luce of dyamounts, and iiij rubies with a pendaunte of white saphires and the arms of Englande. Which booke is garnished with small emerades and rubies hanging to a cheyne pillar fashion set with xv knottes, everie one conteyning iij rubies (one lacking)." Archæologia, vol. xiii., 220. Although Mr. Astle has not specified the time in which these two latter books were bound, it is probable that they were thus gorgeously attired before the discovery of the art of printing. What the ancient Vicars of Chalk (in Kent) used to pay for binding their missals, according to the original endowment settled by Haymo de Hethe in 1327 (which compelled the vicars to be at the expense of the same —Reg. Roff., p. 205), Mr. Denne has not informed us. Archæologia, vol. xi., 362. But it would seem, from Warton, that "students and monks were anciently the binders of books;" and from their Latin entries respecting the same, the word "conjunctio" appears to have been used for "ligatura." Hist. of Engl. Poetry, vol. ii., p. 244. Hearne, in No. III. of the appendix to Adam de Domerham de reb. gest. Glast., has "published a grant from Rich. de Paston to Bromholm abbey, of twelve pence a year rent charge on his estates to keep their books in repair." This I gather from Gough's Brit. Topog., vol. ii., p. 20: while from the Liber Stat. Eccl. Paulinæ, Lond. MSS., f. 6, 396 (furnished me by my friend Mr. H. Ellis,* of the British Museum), it appears to have been anciently considered as a part of the Sacrist's duty to bind and clasp the books: "Sacrista curet quod Libri bene ligentur et haspentur," &c. In Chaucer's time, one would think that the fashionable binding for the books of young scholars was various-coloured velvet: for thus our poet describes the library of the Oxford Scholar:
A twenty bokes, clothed in black and red
Of Aristotle ——
(Prolog. to Cant. Tales.)
We have some account of the style in which Chaucer's royal patron, Edward III., used to have his books bound; as the following extract (also furnished me by Mr. H. Ellis) will testify:——"To Alice Claver, for the making of xvi laces and xvi tasshels for the garnyshing of diuers of the Kings books, ijs. viijd.—— And to Robert Boillet for blac paper and nailles for closing and fastenyng of diuers cofyns of ffyrre wherein the Kings boks were conveyed and caried from the Kings grete warderobe in London vnto Eltham aforesaid, vd.—— Piers Bauduyn Stacioner for bynding gilding and dressing of a booke called Titus Liuius, xxs: for binding gilding and dressing of a booke called Ffrossard, xvjs: or binding gilding and dressing of a booke called the Bible, xvjs: for binding gilding and dressing of a booke called le Gouuernement of Kings and Princes, xvjs." "For the dressing of ij books whereof oon is called la forteresse de Foy and the other called the booke of Josephus, iijs. iiijd. And for binding gilding and dressing of a booke called the bible historial, xxs." Among the expenses entered in the Wardrobe Accompts 20th Edw. III. I suspect that it was not 'till towards the close of the 15th century, when the sister art of painting directed that of engraving, that books were bound in thick boards, with leather covering upon the same; curiously stamped with arabesque, and other bizarre, ornaments. In the interior of this binding, next to the leaves, there was sometimes an excavation, in which a silver crucifix was safely guarded by a metal door, with clasps. The exterior of the binding had oftentimes large embossed ornaments of silver, and sometimes of precious stones [as a note in the Appendix to the History of Leicester, by Mr. Nichols, p. 102, indicates — and as Geyler himself, in his Ship of Fools, entitled "Navicula, sive Speculum Fatuorum," edit. 1511, 4to., thus expressly declares:—"sunt qui libros inaurunt et serica tegimenta apponunt preciosa et superba," sign. B. v. rev.], as well as the usual ornaments upon the leather; and two massive clasps, with thick metalled corners on each of the outward sides of the binding, seemed to render a book impervious to such depredations of time as could arise from external injury. Meantime, however the worm was secretly engendered within the wood: and his perforating ravages in the precious leaves of the volume gave dreadful proof of the defectiveness of ancient binding, beautiful and bold as it undoubtedly was! The reader is referred to an account of a preciously bound diminutive godly book (once belonging to Q. Elizabeth), in the first volume of my edition of the British Typographical Antiquities, p. 83; for which I understand the present owner asks the sum of 160l. We find that in the sixteenth year of Elizabeth's reign, she was in possession of "Oone Gospell booke covered with tissue and garnished on th' onside with the crucifix and the Queene's badges of silver guilt, poiz with wodde, leaves, and all, czij. oz." Archæologia, vol. xiii., 221. I am in possession of the covers of a book, bound (A.D. 1569) in thick parchment or vellum, which has the whole length portrait of Luther on one side, and of Calvin on the other. These portraits, which are executed with uncommon spirit and accuracy, are encircled with a profusion of ornamental borders of the most exquisite taste and richness. We shall speak occasionally of more modern book-binding as we proceed. Meanwhile, let the curious bibliomaniac glance his eye upon the copper-plate print which faces this concluding sentence — where he will see fac-similes of the portraits just mentioned.
184 See the recent very beautiful edition of Sir Ralph Sadler's State Papers, vol. ii., p. 590.
185 See the Catalogue of R. Smith's Books, 1682, 4to., p. 199 (falsely numbered 275), no. 94.
* Since created a Knight.
Lis. You allude to a late sale in Pall Mall, of one of the choicest and most elegant libraries ever collected by a man of letters and taste?
"I do, Lisardo — but see we are just entering the smoke and bustle of London; and in ten minutes shall have reached the scene of action."
Phil. How do you feel?
Lis. Why, tolerably calm. My pulse beats as leisurely as did my Lord Strafford's at his trial — or (to borrow Hamlet's phrase)
— as yours, it doth temperately keep time,
And makes as healthful music.
Phil. Ninety-five to the minute! You are just now in a fit frame of mind to write a political pamphlet. Pray consider what will be the issue of this madness?
Lis. No more! Now for my catalogue; and let me attend to my marks. But our friend is not forgetful of his promise?
Phil. I dare say he will assist us in regulating the prices we ought to give — and more particularly in making us acquainted with the most notable book-collectors.
Upon my readily acquiescing in their demand, we leapt from the chaise (giving orders for it to attend by three o'clock) and hurried immediately up stairs into the auction room.
The clock had struck twelve, and in half an hour the sale was to begin. Not more than nine or ten gentlemen were strolling about the room: some examining the volumes which were to be sold, and making hieroglyphical marks thereupon, in their catalogues: some giving commissions to the clerk who entered their names, with the sums they intended staking, in a manner equally hieroglyphical. Others, again, seemed to be casting an eye of vacancy over the whole collection; or waiting till a book friend arrived with whom they might enter into a little chat. You observe, my friends, said I, softly, yonder active and keen-visaged gentleman? 'Tis Lepidus. Like Magliabechi, content with frugal fare and frugal clothing186 and preferring the riches of a library to those of house-furniture, he is insatiable in his bibliomaniacal appetites. "Long experience has made him sage:" and it is not therefore without just reason that his opinions are courted, and considered as almost oracular. You will find that he will take his old station, commanding the right or left wing of the auctioneer; and that he will enliven, by the gaiety and shrewdness of his remarks, the circle that more immediately surrounds him. Some there are who will not bid 'till Lepidus bids; and who surrender all discretion and opinion of their own to his universal book-knowledge. The consequence is that Lepidus can, with difficulty, make purchases for his own library; and a thousand dexterous and happy manœuvres are of necessity obliged to be practised by him, whenever a rare or curious book turns up. How many fine collections has this sagacious bibliomaniac seen disposed of! Like Nestor, who preaches about the fine fellows he remembered in his youth, Lepidus (although barely yet in his grand climacteric!) will depicture, with moving eloquence, the numerous precious volumes of far-famed collectors, which he has seen, like Macbeth's witches,
"Come like shadows, so depart!"
186 Tenni cultu, victuque contentus, quidquid ei pecuniæ superaret in omnigenæ eruditionis libros comparandos erogabat, selectissimamque voluminum multitudinem ea mente adquisivit, ut aliquando posset publicæ utilitati — dicari, Præf. Bibl. Magliab. a Fossio, p. x.
And when any particular class of books, now highly coveted, but formerly little esteemed, comes under the hammer, and produces a large sum — ah then! 'tis pleasant to hear Lepidus exclaim —
O mihi præteritos referat si Jupiter annos!
Justly respectable as are his scholarship and good sense, he is not what you may call a fashionable collector; for old chronicles and romances are most rigidly discarded from his library. Talk to him of Hoffmen, Schoettgenius, Rosenmuller, and Michaelis, and he will listen courteously to your conversation; but when you expatiate, however learnedly and rapturously, upon Froissart and Prince Arthur, he will tell you that he has a heart of stone upon the subject; and that even a clean uncut copy of an original impression of each, by Verard or by Caxton, would not bring a single tear of sympathetic transport in his eyes.
Lis. I will not fail to pay due attention to so extraordinary and interesting a character — for see, he is going to take his distinguished station in the approaching contest. The hammer of the worthy auctioneer, which I suppose is of as much importance as was Sir Fopling's periwig of old,187 upon the stage — the hammer is upon the desk! — The company begin to increase and close their ranks; and the din of battle will shortly be heard. Let us keep these seats. Now, tell me who is yonder strange looking gentleman?
187 See Warburton's piquant note, in Mr. Bowles's edition of Pope's Works, vol. v., p. 116. "This remarkable periwig (says he) usually made its entrance upon the stage in a sedan chair, brought in by two chairmen with infinite approbation of the audience." The snuff-box of Mr. L. has not a less imposing air; and when a high-priced book is balancing between 15l. and 20l. it is a fearful signal of its reaching an additional sum, if Mr. L. should lay down his hammer, and delve into this said crumple-horned snuff-box!
"'Tis Mustapha, a vender of books. Consuetudine invalescens, ac veluti callum diuturna cogitatione obducens,188 he comes forth, like an alchemist from his laboratory, with hat and wig 'sprinkled with learned dust,' and deals out his censures with as little ceremony as correctness. It is of no consequence to him by whom positions are advanced, or truth is established; and he hesitates very little about calling Baron Heinecken a Tom fool, or —— a shameless impostor. If your library were as choice and elegant as Dr. H——'s he would tell you that his own disordered shelves and badly coated books presented an infinitely more precious collection; nor must you be at all surprised at this — for, like Braithwait's Upotomis,
'Though weak in judgment, in opinion strong;'
or, like the same author's Meilixos,
'Who deems all wisdom treasur'd in his pate,'
our book-vender, in the catalogues which he puts forth, shews himself to be 'a great and bold carpenter of words;'189 overcharging the description of his own volumes with tropes, metaphors, flourishes, and common-place authorities; the latter of which one would think had but recently come under his notice, as they had been already before the public in various less ostentatious forms."
188 The curious reader may see the entire caustic passage in Spizelius's Infelix Literatus, p. 435.
189 Coryat's Crudities, vol. i., sign. (b. 5.) edit. 1776.
Phil. Are you then an enemy to booksellers, or to their catalogues when interlaced with bibliographical notices?
"By no means, Philemon. I think as highly of our own as did the author of the Aprosian library190 of the Dutch booksellers; and I love to hear that the bibliographical labour bestowed upon a catalogue has answered the end proposed, by sharpening the appetites of purchasers. But the present is a different case. Mustapha might have learnt good sense and good manners, from his right hand, or left hand, or opposite, neighbour; but he is either too conceited, or too obstinate, to have recourse to such aid. What is very remarkable, although he is constantly declaiming against the enormous sums of money given for books at public auctions, Mustapha doth not scruple to push the purchaser to the last farthing of his commission; from a ready knack which he hath acquired, by means of some magical art in his foresaid laboratory, of deciphering the same; thus adopting in a most extraordinary manner, the very line of conduct himself which he so tartly censures in others."
190 See pages 103-4, of Wolfius's edition of the Bibliotheca Aprosiana, 1734, 8vo. It is not because Mr. Ford, of Manchester, has been kind enough to present me with one of the six copies of his last catalogue of books, printed upon strong writing paper— that I take this opportunity of praising the contents of it — but that his catalogues are to be praised for the pains which he exhibits in describing his books, and in referring to numerous bibliographical authorities in the description. While upon this subject, let me recommend the youthful bibliomaniac to get possession of Mr. Edwards's catalogues, and especially of that of 1794. If such a catalogue were but recently published, it would be one of the pleasantest breakfast lounges imaginable to tick off a few of the volumes with the hope of possessing them at the prices therein afixed.
Phil. Was this the gentleman whose catalogue (as you shewed me) contained the fascinating colophon of Juliana Berner's book of hawking, hunting, and heraldry, printed in the year 1486, subjoined to a copy of the common reprint of it by Gervase Markham — thereby provoking a thousand inquiries after the book, as if it had been the first edition?
"The same," resumed I. "But let us leave such ridiculous vanity."
Lis. Who is that gentleman, standing towards the right of the auctioneer, and looking so intently upon his catalogue?
"You point to my friend Bernardo. He is thus anxious, because an original fragment of the fair lady's work, which you have just mentioned, is coming under the hammer; and powerful indeed must be the object to draw his attention another way. The demure prioress of Sopewell abbey is his ancient sweetheart; and he is about introducing her to his friends, by a union with her as close and as honourable as that of wedlock. Engaged in a laborious profession (the duties of which are faithfully performed by him) Bernardo devotes his few leisure hours to the investigation of old works; thinking with the ancient poet, quoted by Ashmole, that
'—— out of old fields as men saythe
Cometh all this new corne fro yeare to yeare;
And out of olde Bokes in good faythe
Cometh all this scyence that men leare:'
or, with Ashmole himself; that 'old words have strong emphasis: others may look upon them as rubbish or trifles, but they are grossly mistaken: for what some light brains may esteem as foolish toys, deeper judgments can and will value as sound and serious matter.191'
191 Theatrum Chemicum: proleg. sign. A. 3. rev.: B. 4. rect. The charms of ancient phraseology had been before not less eloquently described by Wolfius: "Habet hoc jucundi priscorum quorundam obsoleta dictio, ac suo quodam modo rudius comta oratio, ut ex ea plus intelligamus quam dicitur; plus significetur quam effertur." Lect. Memorab. Epist. Ded. fol. xiv. rev. Of Wolfius, and of this his work, the reader will find some mention at page 110, ante.
"If you ask me whether Bernardo be always successful in his labours, I should answer you, as I have told him, No: for the profit and applause attendant upon them are not commensurate with his exertions. Moreover, I do verily think that, in some few instances, he sacrifices his judgment to another's whim; by a reluctance to put out the strength of his own powers. He is also, I had almost said, the admiring slave of Ritsonian fastidiousness; and will cry 'pish' if a u be put for a v, or a single e for a double one: but take him fairly as he is, and place him firmly in the bibliographical scale, and you will acknowledge that his weight is far from being inconsiderable. He is a respectable, and every way a praise-worthy man: and although he is continually walking in a thick forest of black letter, and would prefer a book printed before the year 1550, to a turtle dressed according to the rules of Mr. Farley, yet he can ever and anon sally forth to enjoy a stroll along the river side, with Isaac Walton192 in his hand; when 'he hath his wholesome walk and merry, at his ease: a sweet air of the sweet savour of the mead flowers, that maketh him hungry.'193
192 "Let me take this opportunity of recommending the amiable and venerable Isaac Walton's Complete Angler: a work the most singular of its kind, breathing the very spirit of contentment, of quiet, and unaffected philanthrophy, and interspersed with some beautiful relics of poetry, old songs, and ballads." So speaks the Rev. W. Lisle Bowles, in his edition of Pope's Works, vol i., p. 135. To which I add — Let me take this opportunity of recommending Mr. Bagster's very beautiful and creditable reprint of Sir John Hawkin's edition of Walton's amusing little book. The plates in it are as true as they are brilliant: and the bibliomaniac may gratify his appetite, however voracious, by having copies of it upon paper of all sizes. Mr. Bagster has also very recently published an exquisite facsimile of the original edition of old Isaac. Perhaps I ought not to call it a fac-simile, for it is, in many respects, more beautifully executed.
193 The reader may see all this, and much more, dressed in its ancient orthographic garb, in a proheme to the first edition of the merry art of fishing, extracted by Herbert in his first volume, p. 131. I have said the "merry," and not the "contemplative," art of fishing — because we are informed that "Yf the angler take fyshe, surely thenne is there noo man merier than he is in his spyryte!!" Yet Isaac Walton called this art, "The Contemplative Man's Recreation." But a book-fisherman, like myself, must not presume to reconcile such great and contradictory authorities.
"But see — the hammer is vibrating, at an angle of twenty-two and a half, over a large paper priced catalogue of Major Pearson's books! — Who is the lucky purchaser?
"Quisquilius:— a victim to the Bibliomania. If one single copy of a work happen to be printed in a more particular manner than another; and if the compositor (clever rogue) happen to have transposed or inverted a whole sentence or page; if a plate or two, no matter of what kind or how executed; go along with it, which is not to be found in the remaining copies; if the paper happen to be unique in point of size — whether maxima or minima— oh, then, thrice happy is Quisquilius! With a well-furnished purse, the strings of which are liberally loosened, he devotes no small portion of wealth to the accumulation of Prints; and can justly boast of a collection of which few of his contemporaries are possessed. But his walk in book-collecting is rather limited. He seldom rambles into the luxuriancy of old English black-letter literature; and cares still less for a variorum Latin classic, stamped in the neat mintage of the Elzevir press. Of a Greek Aldus, or an Italian Giunta, he has never yet had the luxury to dream:—'trahit sua quemque voluptas;' and let Quisquilius enjoy his hobby-horse, even to the riding of it to death! But let him not harbour malevolence against supposed injuries inflicted: let not foolish prejudices, or unmanly suspicions, rankle in his breast: authors and book-collectors are sometimes as enlightened as himself, and have cultivated pursuits equally honourable. Their profession, too, may sometimes be equally beneficial to their fellow creatures. A few short years shall pass away, and it will be seen who has contributed the more effectively to the public stock of amusement and instruction. We wrap ourselves up in our own little vanities and weaknesses, and, fancying wealth and wisdom to be synonymous, vent our spleen against those who are resolutely striving, under the pressure of mediocrity and domestic misfortune, to obtain an honourable subsistence by their intellectual exertions."
Lis. A truce to this moralizing strain. Pass we on to a short gentleman, busily engaged yonder in looking at a number of volumes, and occasionally conversing with two or three gentlemen from five to ten inches taller than himself. What is his name?
"Rosicrusius is his name; and an ardent and indefatigable book-forager he is. Although just now busily engaged in antiquarian researches relating to British typography, he fancies himself nevertheless deeply interested in the discovery of every ancient book printed abroad. Examine his little collection of books, and you will find that
'There Caxton sleeps, with Wynkyn at his side,
One clasp'd in wood, and one in strong cow-hide!'194
— and yet, a beautiful volume printed at 'Basil or Heidelberg makes him spinne: and at seeing the word Frankford or Venice, though but on the title of a booke, he is readie to break doublet, cracke elbows, and over-flowe the room with his murmure.'195 Bibliography is his darling delight —'una voluptas et meditatio assidua;'196 and in defence of the same he would quote you a score of old-fashioned authors, from Gesner to Harles, whose very names would excite scepticism about their existence. He is the author of various works, chiefly bibliographical; upon which the voice of the public (if we except a little wicked quizzing at his black-letter propensities in a celebrated North Briton Review) has been generally favourable. Although the old maidenish particularity of Tom Hearne's genius be not much calculated to please a bibliomaniac of lively parts, yet Rosicrusius seems absolutely enamoured of that ancient wight; and to be in possession of the cream of all his pieces, if we may judge from what he has already published, and promises to publish, concerning the same. He once had the temerity to dabble in poetry;197 but he never could raise his head above the mists which infest the swampy ground at the foot of Parnassus. Still he loves 'the divine art' enthusiastically; and affects, forsooth, to have a taste in matters of engraving and painting! Converse with him about Guercino and Albert Durer, Berghem and Woollett, and tell him that you wish to have his opinion about the erection of a large library, and he will 'give tongue' to you from rise to set of sun. Wishing him prosperity in his projected works, and all good fellows to be his friends, proceed we in our descriptive survey."
194 Pope's Dunciad, b. i. v. 149.
195 Coryat's Crudities, vol. i., sign. (b. 5.) edit. 1776.
196 Vita Jacobi Le Long., p. xx., Biblioth. Sacra, edit. 1778.
197 See the note p. 11, in the first edition of the Bibliomania.
Lis. I am quite impatient to see Atticus in this glorious group; of whom fame makes such loud report —
"Yonder see he comes, Lisardo! 'Like arrow from the hunter's bow,' he darts into the hottest of the fight, and beats down all opposition. In vain Boscardo advances with his heavy artillery, sending forth occasionally a forty-eight pounder; in vain he shifts his mode of attack — now with dagger, and now with broadsword, now in plated, and now in quilted armour: nought avails him. In every shape and at every onset he is discomfited. Such a champion as Atticus has perhaps never before appeared within the arena of book-gladiators:
'Blest with talents, wealth, and taste;'198
and gifted with no common powers of general scholarship, he can easily master a knotty passage in Eschylus or Aristotle; and quote Juvenal and Horace as readily as the junior lads at Eton quote their 'As in præsenti:' moreover, he can enter, with equal ardour, into a minute discussion about the romance literature of the middle ages, and the dry though useful philology of the German school during the 16th and 17th centuries. In the pursuit after rare, curious, and valuable books, nothing daunts or depresses him. With a mental and bodily constitution such as few possess, and with a perpetual succession of new objects rising up before him, he seems hardly ever conscious of the vicissitudes of the seasons, and equally indifferent to petty changes in politics. The cutting blasts of Siberia, or the fainting heat of a Maltese sirocco, would not make him halt, or divert his course, in the pursuit of a favourite volume, whether in the Greek, Latin, Spanish, or Italian language. But as all human efforts, however powerful, if carried on without intermission, must have a period of cessation; and as the most active body cannot be at 'Thebes and at Athens' at the same moment; so it follows that Atticus cannot be at every auction and carry away every prize. His rivals narrowly watch, and his enemies closely way-lay, him; and his victories are rarely bloodless in consequence. If, like Darwin's whale, which swallows 'millions at a gulp,' Atticus should, at one auction, purchase from two to seven hundred volumes, he must retire, like the 'Boa Constrictor,' for digestion: and accordingly he does, for a short season, withdraw himself from 'the busy hum' of sale rooms, to collate, methodize, and class his newly acquired treasures — to repair what is defective, and to beautify what is deformed. Thus rendering them 'companions meet' for their brethren in the rural shades of H—— Hall; where, in gay succession, stands many a row, heavily laden with 'rich and rare' productions. In this rural retreat, or academic bower, Atticus spends a due portion of the autumnal season of the year; now that the busy scenes of book-auctions in the metropolis have changed their character — and dreary silence, and stagnant dirt, have succeeded to noise and flying particles of learned dust.
198 Dr. Ferriar's Bibliomania, v. 12.
"Here, in his ancestral abode, Atticus can happily exchange the microscopic investigation of books for the charms and manly exercises of a rural life; eclipsing, in this particular, the celebrity of Cæsar Antoninus; who had not universality of talent sufficient to unite the love of hawking and hunting with the passion for book-collecting.199 The sky is no sooner dappled o'er with the first morning sun-beams, than up starts our distinguished bibliomaniac, either to shoot or to hunt; either to realize all the fine things which Pope has written about 'lifting the tube, and levelling the eye;'200 or to join the jolly troop while they chant the hunting song of his poetical friend.201 Meanwhile, his house is not wanting in needful garniture to render a country residence most congenial. His cellars below vie with his library above. Besides 'the brown October'—'drawn from his dark retreat of thirty years'— and the potent comforts of every species of 'barley broth'— there are the ruddier and more sparkling juices of the grape —'fresh of colour, and of look lovely, smiling to the eyz of many'— as Master Laneham hath it in his celebrated letter.202 I shall leave you to finish the picture, which such a sketch may suggest, by referring you to your favourite, Thomson."203
199 This anecdote is given on the authority of Kesner's Pandects, fol. 29: rect. 'Ἁλλοι μεν ἵππων (says the grave Antoninus) ᾽άλλοι δε ὁρνὲων, ἅλλοι θηρὶων ἐβωσιν: ἐμοι δέ βιβλίων κτησεως ἐκ παιδοιρίου δεινος εντετηκε πόθος.'
200 See Pope's Windsor Forest, ver. 110 to 134.
Waken lords and ladies gay;
On the mountain dawns the day.
All the jolly chase is here,
With hawk and horse and hunting spear:
Hounds are in their couples yelling,
Hawks are whistling, horns are knelling;
Merrily, merrily, mingle they.
"Waken lords and ladies gay."
Waken lords and ladies gay,
The mist has left the mountain grey.
Springlets in the dawn are steaming,
Diamonds on the lake are gleaming;
And foresters have busy been,
To track the buck in thicket green:
Now we come to chaunt our lay,
"Waken lords and ladies gay."
Hunting Song, by Walter Scott: the remaining stanzas will be found in the Edinb. Annual Register, vol. i., pt. ii., xxviii.
202 "Whearin part of the Entertainment untoo the Queenz Majesty of Killingworth Castl in Warwick Sheer, &c., 1576, is signified." edit. 1784, p. 14.
203 Autumn, v. 519, 701, &c.
Lis. Your account of so extraordinary a bibliomaniac is quite amusing: but I suspect you exaggerate a little.
"Nay, Lisardo, I speak nothing but the truth. In book-reputation, Atticus unites all the activity of De Witt and Lomanie, with the retentiveness of Magliabechi and the learning of Le Long.204 And yet — he has his peccant part."
Lis. Speak, I am anxious to know.
"Yes, Lisardo; although what Leichius hath said of the library attached to the senate-house of Leipsic be justly applicable to his own extraordinary collection205— yet Atticus doth sometimes sadly err. He has now and then an ungovernable passion to possess more copies of a book than there were ever parties to a deed, or stamina to a plant: and therefore I cannot call him a duplicate or triplicate collector. His best friends scold — his most respectable rivals censure — and a whole 'mob of gentlemen' who think to collect 'with ease,' threaten vengeance against — him, for this despotic spirit which he evinces; and which I fear nothing can stay or modify but an act of parliament that no gentleman shall purchase more than two copies of a work; one for his town, the other for his country, residence."
205 Singularis eius ac propensi, in iuvandam eruditionem studii insigne imprimis monumentum exstat, Bibliotheca instructissima, sacrarium bonæ menti dicatum, in quo omne, quod transmitti ad posteritatem meretur, copiose reconditum est. De Orig. et Increment. Typog. Lipsiens. Lips. An. Typog. sec. iii., sign. 3.
Phil. But does he atone for his sad error by being liberal in the loan of his volumes?
"Most completely so, Philemon. This is the 'pars melior' of every book collector, and it is indeed the better part with Atticus. The learned and curious, whether rich or poor, have always free access to his library —
His volumes, open as his heart,
Delight, amusement, science, art,
To every ear and eye impart.
His books, therefore, are not a stagnant reservoir of unprofitable water, as are those of Pontevallo's; but like a thousand rills, which run down from the lake on Snowdon's summit, after a plentiful fall of rain, they serve to fertilize and adorn every thing to which they extend. In consequence, he sees himself reflected in a thousand mirrors: and has a right to be vain of the numerous dedications to him, and of the richly ornamented robes in which he is attired by his grateful friends."
Lis. Long life to Atticus, and to all such book heroes! Now pray inform me who is yonder gentleman, of majestic mien and shape? — and who strikes a stranger with as much interest as Agamemnon did Priam — when the Grecian troops passed at a distance in order of review, while the Trojan monarch and Helen were gossipping with each other on the battlements of Troy!
"That gentleman, Lisardo, is Hortensius; who, you see is in close conversation with an intimate friend and fellow-bibliomaniac — that ycleped is Ulpian. They are both honourable members of an honourable profession; and although they have formerly sworn to purchase no old book but Machlinia's first edition of Littleton's Tenures, yet they cannot resist, now and then, the delicious impulse of becoming masters of a black-letter chronicle or romance. Taste and talent of various kind they both possess; and 'tis truly pleasant to see gentlemen and scholars, engaged in a laborious profession, in which, comparatively, 'little vegetation quickens, and few salutary plants take root,' finding 'a pleasant grove for their wits to walk in' amidst rows of beautifully bound, and intrinsically precious, volumes. They feel it delectable, 'from the loop-holes of such a retreat,' to peep at the multifarious pursuits of their brethren; and while they discover some busied in a perversion of book-taste, and others preferring the short-lived pleasures of sensual gratifications — which must 'not be named' among good bibliomaniacs — they can sit comfortably by their fire-sides; and, pointing to a well-furnished library, say to their wives — who heartily sympathize in the sentiment —
This gives us health, or adds to life a day!"206
206 Braithwaite's Arcadian Princesse: lib. 4, p. 15, edit. 1635. The two immediately following verses, which are worthy of Dryden, may quietly creep in here:
Or helps decayed beauty, or repairs
Our chop-fall'n cheeks, or winter-molted hairs.
Lis. When I come to town to settle, pray introduce me to these amiable and sensible bibliomaniacs. Now gratify a curiosity that I feel to know the name and character of yonder respectably-looking gentleman, in the dress of the old school, who is speaking in so gracious a manner to Bernardo?
"'Tis Leontes: a man of taste, and an accomplished antiquary. Even yet he continues to gratify his favourite passion for book and print-collecting; although his library is at once choice and copious, and his collection of prints exquisitely fine. He yet enjoys, in the evening of life, all that unruffled temper and gentlemanly address which delighted so much in his younger days, and which will always render him, in his latter years, equally interesting and admired. Like Atticus, he is liberal in the loan of his treasures; and, as with him, so 'tis with Leontes — the spirit of book-collecting 'assumes the dignity of a virtue.'207 Peace and comfort be the attendant spirits of Leontes, through life, and in death: the happiness of a better world await him beyond the grave! His memory will always be held in reverence by honest bibliomaniacs; and a due sense of his kindness towards myself shall constantly be impressed upon me —
Dum memor ipse mei, dum spiritus hos regret artus."
207 Edinburgh Review, vol. xiii., p. 118.
Phil. Amen. With Leontes I suppose you close your account of the most notorious bibliomaniacs who generally attend book sales in person; for I observe no other person who mingles with those already described — unless indeed, three very active young ones, who occasionally converse with each other, and now and then have their names affixed to some very expensive purchases —
"They are the three Mercurii, oftentimes deputed by distinguished bibliomaniacs: who, fearful of the sharp-shooting powers of their adversaries, if they themselves should appear in the ranks, like prudent generals, keep aloof. But their aides-de-camp are not always successful in their missions; for such is the obstinacy with which book-battles are now contested, that it requires three times the number of guns and weight of metal to accomplish a particular object to what it did when John Duke of Marlborough wore his full-bottomed periwig at the battle of Blenheim.
"Others there are, again, who employ these Mercurii from their own inability to attend in person, owing to distance, want of time, and other similar causes. Hence, many a desperate bibliomaniac keeps in the back-ground; while the public are wholly unacquainted with his curious and rapidly-increasing treasures. Hence Sir Tristram, embosomed in his forest-retreat,
— down the steepy linn
That hems his little garden in,
is constantly increasing his stores of tales of genii, fairies, fays, ghosts, hobgoblins, magicians, highwaymen, and desperadoes — and equally acceptable to him is a copy of Castalio's elegant version of Homer, and of St. Dunstan's book 'De Occulta Philosophia;' concerning which lattter, Elias Ashmole is vehement in commendation.208 From all these (after melting them down in his own unparalleled poetical crucible — which hath charms as potent as the witches' cauldron in Macbeth) he gives the world many a wondrous-sweet song. Who that has read the exquisite poems, of the fame of which all Britain 'rings from side to side,' shall deny to such ancient legends a power to charm and instruct? Or who, that possesses a copy of Prospero's excellent volumes, although composed in a different strain (yet still more fruitful in ancient matters), shall not love the memory and exalt the renown of such transcendent bibliomaniacs? The library of Prospero is indeed acknowledged to be without a rival in its way. How pleasant it is, dear Philemon, only to contemplate such a goodly prospect of elegantly bound volumes of old English and French literature! — and to think of the matchless stores which they contain, relating to our ancient popular tales and romantic legends!
208 He who shall have the happiness to meet with St. Dunstan's Worke "De Occulta Philosophia," may therein reade such stories as will make him amaz'd, &c. Prolegom. to his Theatrum Chemicum, sign A., 4. rev.
"Allied to this library, in the general complexion of its literary treasures, is that of Marcellus: while in the possession of numberless rare and precious volumes relating to the drama, and especially to his beloved Shakespeare, it must be acknowledged that Marcellus hath somewhat the superiority. Meritorious as have been his labours in the illustration of our immortal bard, he is yet as zealous, vigilant, and anxious, as ever, to accumulate every thing which may tend to the further illustration of him. Enter his book-cabinet; and with the sight of how many unique pieces and tracts are your ardent eyes blessed! Just so it is with Aurelius! He also, with the three last mentioned bibliomaniacs, keeps up a constant fire at book auctions; although he is not personally seen in securing the spoils which he makes. Unparalleled as an antiquary in Caledonian history and poetry, and passionately attached to every thing connected with the fate of the lamented Mary, as well as with that of the great poetical contemporaries, Spenser and Shakespeare, Aurelius is indefatigable in the pursuit of such ancient lore as may add value to the stores, however precious, which he possesses. His Noctes Atticæ, devoted to the elucidation of the history of his native country, will erect to his memory a splendid and imperishable monument. These, my dear friends, these are the virtuous and useful, and therefore salutary ends of book-collecting and book-reading. Such characters are among the proudest pillars that adorn the greatest nations upon earth.
"Let me, however, not forget to mention that there are bashful or busy bibliomaniacs, who keep aloof from book-sales, intent only upon securing, by means of these Mercurii, stainless or large paper copies of ancient literature. While Menalcas sees his oblong cabinet decorated with such a tall, well-dressed, and perhaps matchless, regiment of Variorum Classics, he has little or no occasion to regret his unavoidable absence from the field of battle, in the Strand or Pall Mall. And yet — although he is environed with a body guard, of which the great Frederick's father might have envied him the possession, he cannot help casting a wishful eye, now and then, upon still choicer and taller troops which he sees in the territories of his rivals. I do not know whether he would not sacrifice the whole right wing of his army, for the securing of some magnificent treasures in the empire of his neighbour Rinaldo: for there he sees, and adores, with the rapture-speaking eye of a classical bibliomaniac, the tall, wide, thick, clean, brilliant, and illuminated copy of the first Livy upon vellum— enshrined in an impenetrable oaken case, covered with choice morocco!
"There he often witnesses the adoration paid to this glorious object, by some bookish pilgrim, who, as the evening sun reposes softly upon the hill, pushes onward, through copse, wood, moor, heath, bramble, and thicket, to feast his eyes upon the mellow lustre of its leaves, and upon the nice execution of its typography. Menalcas sees all this; and yet has too noble a heart to envy Rinaldo his treasures! These bibliomaniacs often meet and view their respective forces; but never with hostile eyes. They know their relative strength; and wisely console themselves by being each 'eminent in his degree.' Like Corregio, they are 'also painters' in their way."
Phil. A well-a-day, Lisardo! Does not this recital chill your blood with despair? Instead of making your purchases, you are only listening supinely to our friend!
Lis. Not exactly so. One of these obliging Mercurii has already executed a few commissions for me. You forget that our friend entered into a little chat with him, just before we took possession of our seats. As to despair of obtaining book-gems similar to those of the four last mentioned bibliomaniacs, I know not what to say — yet this I think must be granted: no one could make a better use of them than their present owners. See, the elder Mercurius comes to tell me of a pleasant acquisition to my library! What a murmur and confusion prevail about the auctioneer! Good news, I trust?
At this moment Lisardo received intelligence that he had obtained possession of the catalogues of the books of Bunau, Crevenna, and Pinelli; and that, after a desperate struggle with Quisquilius, he came off victorious in a contest for De Bure's Bibliographie Instructive, Gaignat's Catalogue, and the two copious ones of the Duke de la Valliere: these four latter being half-bound and uncut, in nineteen volumes. Transport lit up the countenance of Lisardo, upon his receiving this intelligence; but as pleasure and pain go hand in hand in this world, so did this young and unsuspecting bibliomaniac evince heavy affliction, on being told that he had failed in his attack upon the best editions of Le Long's Bibliotheca Sacra, Fresnoy's Méthode pour etudier l'Histoire, and Baillet's Jugemens des Savans— these having been carried off, at the point of the bayonet, by an irresistible onset from Atticus. "Remember, my friend," said I, in a soothing strain, "remember that you are but a Polydore; and must expect to fall when you encounter Achilles.209 Think of the honour you have acquired in this day's glorious contest; and, when you are drenching your cups of claret, at your hospitable board, contemplate your De Bure as a trophy which will always make you respected by your visitors! I am glad to see you revive. Yet further intelligence?"
209 The reader may peruse the affecting death of this beautiful youth, by the merciless Achilles, from the 407 to 418th verso of the xxth book of Homer's Iliad. Fortunately for Lisardo, he survives the contest, and even threatens revenge.
Lis. My good Mercurius, for whom a knife and fork shall always be laid at my table, has just informed me that Clement's Bibliotheque Curieuse, and Panzer's Typographical Annals, are knocked down to me, after Mustapha had picked me out for single combat, and battered my breast-plate with a thousand furious strokes!
"You must always," said I, "expect tough work from such an enemy, who is frequently both wanton and wild. But I congratulate you heartily on the event of this day's contest. Let us now pack up and pay for our treasures. Your servant has just entered the room, and the chaise is most probably at the door."
Lis. I am perfectly ready. Mercurius tells me that the whole amounts to ——
Phil. Upwards of thirty guineas?
Lis. Hard upon forty pounds. Here is the draft upon my banker: and then for my precious tomes of bibliography! A thousand thanks, my friend. I love this place of all things; and, after your minute account of the characters of those who frequent it, I feel a strong propensity to become a deserving member of so respectable a fraternity. Leaving them all to return to their homes as satisfied as myself, I wish them a hearty good day.
Upon saying this, we followed Lisardo and his bibliographical treasures into the chaise; and instantly set off, at a sharp trot, for the quiet and comfort of green fields and running streams. As we rolled over Westminster-bridge, we bade farewell, like the historian of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, to the
"Fumum et opes strepitumque Romæ."
Chiswick House as in 1740.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:51