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BladesWilliam

 

Chapter 1

THE ENEMIES OF BOOKS.
CHAPTER I.
FIRE.

 

THERE are many of the forces of Nature which tend to injure Books; but amongthem all not one has been half so destructive as Fire. It would be tedious towrite out a bare list only of the numerous libraries and bibliographicaltreasures whichin one way or anotherhave been seized by the Fire-king as hisown. Chance conflagrationsfanatic incendiarismjudicial bonfiresand even

 

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household stoves havetime after timethinned the treasures as well as therubbish of past agesuntilprobablynot one thousandth part of the books thathave been are still extant. This destruction cannothoweverbe reckoned as allloss; for had not the ``cleansing fires'' removed mountains of rubbish from ourmidststrong destructive measures would have become a necessity from sheer wantof space in which to store so many volumes.

Before the invention of Printingbooks were comparatively scarce; andknowing as we dohow very difficult it iseven after the steam-press has beenworking for half a centuryto make a collection of half a million bookswe areforced to receive with great incredulity the accounts in old writers of thewonderful extent of ancient libraries.

The historian Gibbonvery incredulous in many thingsaccepts withoutquestioning the fables told upon this subject. No doubt

 

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the libraries of MSS. collected generation after generation by the EgyptianPtolemies becamein the course of timethe most extensive ever then known; andwere famous throughout the world for the costliness of their ornamentationandimportance of their untold contents. Two of these were at Alexandriathe largerof which was in the quarter called Bruchium. These volumeslike all manuscriptsof those early ageswere written on sheets of parchmenthaving a wooden rollerat each end so that the reader needed only to unroll a portion at a time. DuringCæsar's Alexandrian WarB.C. 48the larger collection was consumed by fireand again burnt by the Saracens in A.D. 640. An immense loss was inflicted uponmankind thereby; but when we are told of 700000or even 500000 of suchvolumes being destroyed we instinctively feel that such numbers must be a greatexaggeration. Equally incredulous must we be when we read

 

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of half a million volumes being burnt at Carthage some centuries laterandother similar accounts.

Among the earliest records of the wholesale destruction of Books is thatnarrated by St. Lukewhenafter the preaching of Paulmany of the Ephesians``which used curious arts brought their books togetherand burned them beforeall men: and they counted the price of themand found it 50000 pieces ofsilver'' (Acts xix19). Doubtless these books of idolatrous divination andalchemyof enchantments and witchcraftwere righteously destroyed by those towhom they had been and might again be spiritually injurious; and doubtless hadthey escaped the fire thennot one of them would have survived to the presenttimeno MS. of that age being now extant. NeverthelessI must confess to acertain amount of mental disquietude and uneasiness when I think of books worth50000 denarii -- orspeaking

 

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roughlysay £187501.1 of our modernmoney being made into bonfires. What curious illustrations of early heathenismof Devil worshipof Serpent worshipof Sun worshipand other archaic forms ofreligion; of early astrological and chemical lorederived from the Egyptiansthe Persiansthe Greeks; what abundance of superstitious observances and whatis now termed ``Folklore''; what richestoofor the philological studentdidthose many books containand how famous would the library now be that couldboast of possessing but a few of them.

 

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The ruins of Ephesus bear unimpeachable evidence that the City was veryextensive and had magnificent buildings. It was one of the free citiesgoverning itself. Its trade in shrines and idols was very extensivebeingspread through all known lands. There the magical arts were remarkably prevalentand notwithstanding the numerous converts made by the early Christiansthe or little scrolls upon which magic sentences were writtenformed an extensivetrade up to the fourth century. These ``writings'' were used for divinationasa protection against the ``evil eye'' and generally as charms against all evil.They were carried about the personso that probably thousands of them werethrown into the flames by St. Paul's hearers when his glowing words convincedthem of their superstition.

Imagine an open space near the grand Temple of Dianawith fine buildingsaround. Slightly raised above the crowdthe Apostle

 

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preaching with great power and persuasion concerning superstitionholds inthrall the assembled multitude. On the outskirts of the crowd are numerousbonfiresupon which Jew and Gentile are throwing into the flames bundle uponbundle of scrollswhile an Asiarch with his peace-officers looks on with theconventional stolidity of policemen in all ages and all nations. It must havebeen an impressive sceneand many a worse subject has been chosen for the wallsof the Royal Academy.

Books in those early timeswhether orthodox or heterodoxappear to have hada precarious existence. The heathens at each fresh outbreak of persecution burntall the Christian writings they could findand the Christianswhen they gotthe upper handretaliated with interest upon the pagan literature. TheMohammedan reason for destroying books -- ``If they contain what is in the Koranthey are superfluousand

 

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if they contain anything opposed to it they are immoral'' seemsindeedmutatismutandisto have been the general rule for all such devastators.

The Invention of Printing made the entire destruction of any author's worksmuch more difficultso quickly and so extensively did books spread through alllands. On the other handas books multipliedso did destruction go hand inhand with productionand soon were printed books doomed to suffer in the samepenal firesthat up to then had been fed on MSS. only.

At Cremonain 156912000 books printed in Hebrew were publicly burnt ashereticalsimply on account of their language; and Cardinal Ximenesat thecapture of Granadatreated 5000 copies of the Koran in the same way.

At the time of the Reformation in England a great destruction of books tookplace.

 

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The antiquarian Balewriting in 1587thus speaks of the shameful fate of theMonastic libraries: --

``A greate nombre of them whyche purchased those superstycyouse mansyons (Monasteries)reserved of those librarye bookes some to serve their jakessome to scouretheyr candelstyckesand some to rubbe theyr bootes. Some they solde to thegrossers and sope sellersand some they sent over see to ye bookebyndersnot in small nombrebut at tymes whole shyppes fullto yewonderynge of foren nacyons. Yea ye. Universytees of thys realme arenot alle clere in thys detestable fact. But cursed is that bellye whyche sekethto be fedde with suche ungodlye gaynesand so depelye shameth hys naturalconterye. I knowe a merchant mannewhych shall at thys tyme be namelessethatboughte ye contentes of two noble lybraryes for forty shyllyngespryce : a shame it is to be spoken. Thys stuffe hathe heoccupyed in yestede of greye paperby yespace of more than these ten yearesandyet he bathe store ynoughe for as manye years to come. A prodygyous example isthysand to be abhorred of all men whyche love theyr nacyon as they shoulde do.The monkes kepte them undre dustyeydle-headed prestes regardedthem nottheyr latter owners have most shamefully abused themand yecovetouse merchantes have solde them away into foren nacyons for moneye.''

 

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How the imagination recoils at the idea of Caxton's translation of theMetamorphoses of Ovidor perhaps his ``Lyf of therle of Oxenforde'' togetherwith many another book from our first pressesnot a fragment of which do we nowpossessbeing used for baking ``pyes.''

At the Great Fire of London in 1666the number of books burnt was enormous.Not only in private houses and Corporate and Church libraries were pricelesscollections reduced to cindersbut an immense stock of books removed fromPaternoster Row by the Stationers for safety was burnt to ashes in the vaults ofSt. Paul's Cathedral.

Coming nearer to our own dayhow thankful we ought to be for thepreservation of the Cotton Library. Great was the consternation in the literaryworld of 1731 when they heard of the fire at Ashburnham HouseWestminsterwhereat that timethe Cotton MSS. were deposited. By great exertions the

 

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fire was conqueredbut not before many MSS. had been quite destroyed and manyothers injured. Much skill was shown in the partial restoration of these bookscharred almost beyond recognition; they were carefully separated leaf by leafsoaked in a chemical solutionand then pressed flat between sheets oftransparent paper. A curious heap of scorched leavesprevious to any treatmentand looking like a monster wasps' nestmay be seen in a glass case in the MS.department of the British Museumshowing the condition to which many othervolumes had been reduced.

Just a hundred years ago the mobin the ``Birmingham Riots'' burnt thevaluable library of Dr. Priestleyand in the ``Gordon Riots'' were burnt theliterary and other collections of Lord Mansfieldthe celebrated judgehe whohad the courage first to decide that the Slave who reached the English shore wasthenceforward a free man. The loss of

 

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the latter library drew from the poet Cowper two short and weak poems. The poetfirst deplores the destruction of the valuable printed booksand then theirretrievable loss to history by the burning of his Lordship's many personalmanuscripts and contemporary documents.



``Their pages mangledburnt and torn
The loss was his alone;
But ages yet to come shall mourn
The burning of his own.''

The second poem commences with the following doggerel: --



``When Wit and Genius meet their doom
In all-devouring Flame
They tell us of the Fate of Rome
And bid us fear the same.''

The much finer and more extensive library of Dr. Priestley was left unnoticedand unlamented by the orthodox poetwho probably felt a complacent satisfactionat the

 

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destruction of heterodox booksthe owner being an Unitarian Minister.

The magnificent library of Strasbourg was burnt by the shells of the GermanArmy in 1870. Then disappeared for evertogether with other unique documentsthe original records of the famous law-suits between Gutenbergone of the firstPrintersand his partnersupon the right understanding of which depends theclaim of Gutenberg to the invention of the Art. The flames raged between highbrick wallsroaring louder than a blast furnace. Seldomindeedhave Mars andPluto had so dainty a sacrifice offered at their shrines; for over all the dinof battleand the reverberation of monster artillerythe burning leaves of thefirst printed Bible and many another priceless volume were wafted into the skythe ashes floating for miles on the heated airand carrying to the astonishedcountryman the first news of the devastation of his Capital.

 

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When the Offor Collection was put to the hammer by Messrs Sotheby andWilkinsonthe well-known auctioneers of Wellington Streetand when about threedays of the sale had been gone througha Fire occurred in the adjoining houseandgaining possession of the Sale Roomsmade a speedy end of the uniqueBunyan and other rarities then on show. I was allowed to see the Ruins on thefollowing dayand by means of a ladder and some scrambling managed to enter theSale Room where parts of the floor still remained. It was a fearful sight thosescorched rows of Volumes still on the shelves; and curious was it to notice howthe flamesburning off the backs of the books firsthad then run up behind theshelvesand so attacked the fore-edge of the volumes standing upon themleaving the majority with a perfectly untouched oval centre of white paper andplain printwhile the whole surrounding parts were but a mass of black cinders.The salvage

 

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was sold in one lot for a small sumand the purchaserafter a good deal ofsorting and mending and binding placed about 1000 volumes for sale at Messrs.Puttick and Simpson's in the following year.

Sotoowhen the curious old Library which was in a gallery of the DutchChurchAustin Friarswas nearly destroyed in the fire which devastated theChurch in 1862the books which escaped were sadly injured. Not long before Ihad spent some hours there hunting for English Fifteenth-century Booksandshall never forget the state of dirt in which I came away. Without anyone tocare for themthe books had remained untouched for many a decade-damp dusthalf an inch thickhaving settled upon them! Then came the fireand while theroof was all ablaze streams of hot waterlike a boiling delugewashed downupon them. The wonder was they were not turned into a muddy pulp. After all wasoverthe whole of the libraryno

 

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portion of which could legally be given awaywas lent for ever to theCorporation of London. Scorched and soddenthe salvage came into the hands ofMr. Overalltheir indefatigable librarian. In a hired attiche hung up thevolumes that would bear it over strings like clothesto dryand there forweeks and weeks were the staineddistorted volumesoften without coversoftenin single leavescarefully tended and dry-nursed. Washingsizingpressingand binding effected wondersand no one who to-day looks upon the attractivelittle alcove in the Guildhall Library labelled ``Bibliotheca EcclesiæLondonino-Belgiæ'' and sees the rows of handsomely-lettered backscouldimagine that not long ago thisthe most curious portion of the City's literarycollectionswas in a state when a five-pound note would have seemed more thanfull value for the lot.

 



[1.1] The received opinion is that the ``pieces of silver'' here mentioned wereRoman denariiwhich were the silver pieces then commonly used in Ephesus. Ifnow we weigh a denarius against modern silverit is exactly equal to ninepenceand fifty thousand times ninepence gives £1875. It is always a difficultmatter to arrive at a just estimate of the relative value of the same coin indifferent ages; but reckoning that money then had at least ten times thepurchasing value of money nowwe arrive at what was probably about the value ofthe magical books burntviz.: £18750.

Chapter 2

CHAPTER II.
WATER.

 

NEXT to Fire we must rank Water in its two formsliquid and vapouras thegreatest destroyer of books. Thousands of volumes have been actually drowned atSeaand no more heard of them than of the Sailors to whose charge they werecommitted. D'Israeli narrates thatabout the year 1700Heer Huddean opulentburgomaster of Middleburghtravelled for 30 years disguised as a mandarinthroughout the length and breadth of the Celestial Empire. Everywhere

 

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he collected booksand his extensive literary treasures were at length safelyshipped for transmission to Europebutto the irreparable loss of his nativecountrythey never reached their destinationthe vessel having foundered in astorm.

In 1785 died the famous Maffei Pinelliwhose library was celebratedthroughout the world. It had been collected by the Pinelli family for manygenerations and comprised an extraordinary number of GreekLatinand Italianworksmany of them first editionsbeautifully illuminatedtogether withnumerous MSS. dating from the 11th to the 16th century. The whole library wassold by the Executors to Mr. Edwardsbooksellerof Pall Mallwho placed thevolumes in three vessels for transport from Venice to London. Pursued byCorsairsone of the vessels was capturedbut the piratedisgusted at notfinding any treasurethrew all the books into the sea. The other two vesselsescaped and


 

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Pl. II. Op. p. 18.
Water.


 

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delivered their freight safelyand in 1789-90 the books which had been sonear destruction were sold at the great room in Conduit Streetfor more than£9000.

These pirates were more excusable than Mohammed II whoupon the capture ofConstantinople in the 15th centuryafter giving up the devoted city to besacked by his licentious soldiersordered the books in all the churches as wellas the great library of the Emperor Constantinecontaining 120000 Manuscriptsto be thrown into the sea.

In the shape of rainwater has frequently caused irreparable injury.Positive wet is fortunately of rare occurrence in a librarybut is verydestructive when it does comeandif long continuedthe substance of thepaper succumbs to the unhealthy influence and rots and rots until all fibredisappearsand the paper is reduced to a white decay which crumbles into powderwhen handled.

 

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Few old libraries in England are now so thoroughly neglected as they werethirty years ago. The state of many of our Collegiate and Cathedral librarieswas at that time simply appalling. I could mention many instancesoneespeciallywhere a window having been left broken for a long timethe ivy hadpushed through and crept over a row of bookseach of which was worth hundredsof pounds. In rainy weather the water was conductedas by a pipealong thetops of the books and soaked through the whole.

In another and smaller collectionthe rain came straight on to a book-casethrough a sky-lightsaturating continually the top shelf containing Caxtons andother early English booksone of whichalthough rottenwas sold soon after bypermission of the Charity Commissioners for £200.

Germanytoothe very birth-place of Printingallows similar destruction togo on uncheckedif the following letterwhich

 

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appeared about a Year ago (1879) in the Academy has any truth in it: --

``For some time past the condition of the library at Wolfenbuttel has beenmost disgraceful. The building is in so unsafe a condition that portions of thewalls and ceilings have fallen inand the many treasures in Books and MSS.contained in it are exposed to damp and decay. An appeal has been issued thatthis valuable collection may not be allowed to perish for want of fundsandthat it may also be now at length removed to Brunswicksince Wolfenbuttel isentirely deserted as an intellectual centre. No false sentimentality regardingthe memory of its former custodiansLeibnitz and Lessingshould hinder thisproject. Lessing himself would have been the first to urge that the library andits utility should be considered above all things.''

The collection of books at Wolfenbuttel is simply magnificentand I cannotbut hope the above report was exaggerated. Were these books to be injured forthe want of a small sum spent on the roofit would be a lasting disgrace to thenation. There are so many genuine book-lovers in Fatherland

 

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that the commission of such a crime would seem incredibledid notbibliographical history teem with similar desecrations.2.1

Water in the form of vapour is a great enemy of booksthe damp attackingboth outside and inside. Outside it fosters the growth of a white mould orfungus which vegetates upon the edges of the leavesupon the sides and in thejoints of the binding. It is easily wiped offbut not without leaving a plainmarkwhere the mould-spots have been. Under the microscope a mould-spot is seento be a miniature forest of lovely treescovered with a beautiful white foliageupas trees whose roots are embedded in the leather and destroy its texture.

Inside the bookdamp encourages the growth of those ugly brown spots whichso often disfigure prints and ``livres de luxe.'' Especially it attacks booksprinted

 

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in the early part of this centurywhen paper-makers had just discovered thatthey could bleach their ragsand perfectly white paperwell pressed afterprintinghad become the fashion. This paper from the inefficient means used toneutralise the bleachcarried the seeds of decay in itselfand when exposed toany damp soon became discoloured with brown stains. Dr. Dibdin's extravagantbibliographical works are mostly so injured; and although the Doctor'sbibliography is very incorrectand his spun-out inanities and wearisomeaffectations often annoy oneyet his books are so beautifully illustratedandhe is so full of personal anecdote and chit chatthat it grieves the heart tosee ``foxey'' stains common in his most superb works.

In a perfectly dry and warm library these spots would probably remainundevelopedbut many endowed as well as private libraries are not in daily useand are often injured

 

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from a false idea that a hard frost and prolonged cold do no injury to a libraryso long as the weather is dry. The fact is that books should never be allowed toget really coldfor when a thaw comes and the weather sets in warmthe airladen with damppenetrates the inmost recessesand working its way between thevolumes and even between the leavesdeposits upon their cold surface itsmoisture. The best preventative of this is a warm atmosphere during the frostsudden heating when the frost has gone being useless.

Our worst enemies are sometimes our real friendsand perhaps the best way ofkeeping libraries entirely free from damp is to circulate our enemy in the shapeof hot water through pipes laid under the floor. The facilities now offered forheating such pipes from the outside are so greatthe expense comparatively sosmalland the direct gain in the expulsion of damp so decidedthat where itcan be

 

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accomplished without much trouble it is well worth the doing.

At the same time no system of heating should be allowed to supersede the opengratewhich supplies a ventilation to the room as useful to the health of thebooks as to the health of the occupier. A coal fire is objectionable on manygrounds. It is dangerousdirty and dusty. On the other hand an asbestos firewhere the lumps are judiciously laidgives all the warmth and ventilation of acommon fire without any of its annoyances; and to any one who loves to beindependent of servantsand to know thathowever deeply he may sleep over his``copy'' his fire will not fail to keep awakean asbestos stove is invaluable.

It is a mistake also to imagine that keeping the best bound volumes in aglass doored book-case is a preservative. The damp air will certainly penetrateand as the absence of ventilation will assist the formation

 

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of mouldthe books will be worse off than if they had been placed in openshelves. If security be desirableby all means abolish the glass and placeornamental brass wire-work in its stead. Like the writers of old Cookery Bookswho stamped special receipts with the testimony of personal experienceI cansay ``probatum est.''



[2.1] This was written in 1879since which time a new building has beenerected.

Chapter 3

CHAPTER III.
GAS AND HEAT.

 

WHAT a valuable servant is Gasand how dreadfully we should cry out were itto be banished from our homes; and yet no one who loves his books should allow asingle jet in his libraryunlessindeed he can afford a ``sun light'' whichis the form in which it is used in some public librarieswhere the whole of thefumes are carried at once into the open air.

UnfortunatelyI can speak from experience of the dire effect of gas in aconfined space. Some years ago when placing the shelves round the small roomwhichby a

 

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euphemismis called my libraryI took the precaution of making two self-actingventilators which communicated directly with the outer air just under theceiling. For economy of space as well as of temper (for lamps of all kinds aresore trials)I had a gasalier of three lights over the table. The effect was tocause great heat in the upper regionsand in the course of a year or two theleather valance which hung from the windowas well as the fringe which droppedhalf-an-inch from each shelf to keep out the dustwas just like tinderand insome parts actually fell to the ground by its own weight; while the backs of thebooks upon the top shelves were perishedand crumbled away when touchedbeingreduced to the consistency of Scotch snuff. This wasof coursedue to thesulphur in the gas fumeswhich attack russia quickestwhile calf and moroccosuffer not quite so much. I remember having a book some years ago from the topshelf in the library of the London

 

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Institutionwhere gas is usedand the whole of the back fell off in my handsalthough the volume in other respects seemed quite uninjured. Thousands morewere in a similar plight.

As the paper of the volumes is uninjuredit might be objected thatafterallgas is not so much the enemy of the book itself as of its covering; butthenre-binding always leaves a book smallerand often deprives it of leavesat the beginning or endwhich the binder's wisdom has thought useless. Oh! thehavoc I have seen committed by binders. You may assume your most impressiveaspect -- you may write down your instructions as if you were making your lastwill and testament -- you may swear you will not pay if your books are ploughed-- 'tis all in vain -- the creed of a binder is very shortand comprised in asingle articleand that article is the one vile word ``Shavings.'' But not nowwill I follow this depressing subject; bindersas enemies of

 

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booksdeserveand shall havea whole chapter to themselves.

It is much easier to decry gas than to find a remedy. Sun lights requireespecial arrangementsand are very expensive on account of the quantity of gasconsumed. The library illumination of the future promises to be the electriclight. If only steady and moderate in priceit would be a great boon to publiclibrariesand perhaps the day is not far distant when it will replace gasevenin private houses. That willindeedbe a day of jubilee to the literarylabourer. The injury done by gas is so generally acknowledged by the heads ofour national librariesthat it is strictly excluded from their domainsalthough the danger from explosion and fireeven if the results of combustionwere innocuouswould be sufficient cause for its banishment.

The electric light has been in use for some months in the Reading Room of theBritish

 

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Museumand is a great boon to the readers. The light is not quite equallydiffusedand you must choose particular positions if you want to work happily.There is a great objectiontooin the humming fizz which accompanies theaction of the electricity. There is a still greater objection when small piecesof hot chalk fall on your bald headan annoyance which has been lately (1880)entirely removed by placing a receptacle beneath each burner. You require alsoto become accustomed to the whiteness of the light before you can altogetherforget it. But with all its faults it confers a great boon upon studentsenabling them not only to work three hours longer in the winter-timebutrestoring to them the use of foggy and dark daysin which formerly no book-workat all could be pursued.3.1

 

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Heat alonewithout any noxious fumesisif continuousvery injurious tobooksandwithout gasbindings may be utterly destroyed by desiccationtheleather losing all its natural oils by long exposure to much heat. It isthereforea great pity to place books high up in a room where heat of any kindis us it must rise to the topand if sufficient to be of comfort to the readersbelowis certain to be hot enough above to injure the bindings.

The surest way to preserve your books in health is to treat them as you wouldyour own childrenwho are sure to sicken if confined in an atmosphere which isimpuretoo hottoo coldtoo dampor too dry. It is just the same with theprogeny of literature.

If any credence may be given to Monkish legendsbooks have sometimes beenpreserved in this worldonly to meet a desiccating fate in the world to come.The story is probably an invention of the enemy to throw discredit on thelearning and ability of the preaching


 

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Pl. III. Op. p. 34.
Friars with Books.


 

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Friarsan Order which was at constant war with the illiterate secularClergy. It runs thus: -- ``In the year 1439two Minorite friars who had alltheir lives collected booksdied. In accordance with popular beliefthey wereat once conducted before the heavenly tribunal to hear their doomtaking withthem two asses laden with books. At Heaven's gate the porter demanded`Whencecame ye?' The Minorites replied `From a monastery of St. Francis.' `Oh!' saidthe porter`then St. Francis shall be your judge.' So that saint was summonedand at sight of the friars and their burden demanded who they wereand why theyhad brought so many books with them. `We are Minorites' they humbly replied`and we have brought these few books with us as a solatium in the newJerusalem.' `And youwhen on earthpractised the good they teach?' sternlydemanded the saintwho read their characters at a glance. Their faltering reply

 

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was sufficientand the blessed saint at once passed judgment as follows: --`Insomuch asseduced by a foolish vanityand against your vows of povertyyouhave amassed this multitude of books and thereby and therefor have neglected theduties and broken the rules of your Orderyou are now sentenced to read yourbooks for ever and ever in the fires of Hell.' Immediatelya roaring noisefilled the airand a flaming chasm opened in which friarsand asses and bookswere suddenly engulphed.''

 


Chapter 4

CHAPTER IV.
DUST AND NEGLECT.

 

DUST upon Books to any extent points to neglectand neglect means more orless slow Decay.

A well-gilt top to a book is a great preventive against damage by dustwhileto leave books with rough tops and unprotected is sure to produce stains anddirty margins.

In olden timeswhen few persons had private collections of booksthecollegiate and corporate libraries were of great use to students. Thelibrarians' duties were then no sinecureand there was little opportunity fordust to find a resting-place. The

 

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Nineteenth Century and the Steam Press ushered in a new era. By degrees thelibraries which were unendowed fell behind the ageand were consequentlyneglected. No new works found their way inand the obsolete old books were leftuncared for and unvisited. I have seen many old librariesthe doors of whichremained unopened from week's end to week's end; where you inhaled the dust ofpaper-decay with every breathand could not take up a book without sneezing;where old boxesfull of older literatureserved as preserves for the bookwormwithout even an autumn ``battue'' to thin the breed. Occasionally theselibraries were (I speak of thirty years ago) put even to vile usessuch aswould have shocked all ideas of propriety could our ancestors have foreseentheir fate.

I recall vividly a bright summer morning many years agowhenin search ofCaxtonsI entered the inner quadrangle of a certain

 

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wealthy College in one of our learned Universities. The buildings around werecharming in their grey tones and shady nooks. They had a noble historytooandtheir scholarly sons were (and are) not unworthy successors of their ancestralrenown. The sun shone warmlyand most of the casements were open. From one camecurling a whiff of tobacco; from another the hum of conversation; from a thirdthe tones of a piano. A couple of undergraduates sauntered on the shady sidearm in armwith broken caps and torn gowns -- proud insignia of their lastterm. The grey stone walls were covered with ivyexcept where an old dial withits antiquated Latin inscription kept count of the sun's ascent. The chapel onone sideonly distinguishable from the ``rooms'' by the shape of its windowsseemed to keep watch over the morality of the foundationjust as thedining-hall oppositefrom whence issued a white-aproned cookdid

 

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of its worldly prosperity. As you trod the level pavementyou passedcomfortable -- naydainty -- apartmentswhere lace curtains at the windowsantimacassars on the chairsthe silver biscuit-box and the thin-stemmedwine-glass moderated academic toils. Gilt-backed books on gilded shelf or tablecaught the eyeand as you turned your glance from the luxurious interiors tothe well-shorn lawn in the Quad.with its classic fountain also gilded bysunbeamsthe mental vision saw plainly written over the whole ``The Union ofLuxury and Learning.''

Surely herethought Iif anywherethe old world literature will be valuedand nursed with gracious care; so with a pleasing sense of the general congruityof all around meI enquired for the rooms of the librarian. Nobody seemed to bequite sure of his nameor upon whom the bibliographical mantle had descended.His postit seemedwas honorary and a sinecurebeing imposedas

 

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a ruleupon the youngest ``Fellow.'' No one cared for the appointmentand as amatter of course the keys of office had but distant acquaintance with the lock.At last I was rewarded with successand politelybut mutelyconducted by thelibrarian into his kingdom of dust and silence. The dark portraits of pastbenefactors looked after us from their dusty old frames in dim astonishment aswe passedevidently wondering whether we meant ``work''; book-decay -- thatpeculiar flavour which haunts certain libraries -- was heavy in the airthefloor was dustymaking the sunbeams as we passed bright with atoms; the shelveswere dustythe ``stands'' in the middle were thick with dustthe old leathertable in the bow windowand the chairs on either sidewere very dusty.Replying to a questionmy conductor thought there was a manuscript catalogue ofthe Library somewherebut thoughtalsothat it was not easy to find any booksby it

 

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and he knew not at the minute where to put his hand upon it. The Libraryhesaidwas of little use nowas the Fellows had their own books and very seldomrequired 17th and 18th century editionsand no new books had been added to thecollection for a long time.

We passed down a few steps into an inner library where piles of early folioswere wasting away on the ground. Beneath an old ebony table were two long carvedoak chests. I lifted the lid of oneand at the top was a once-white surplicecovered with dustand beneath was a mass of tracts -- Commonwealth quartosunbound -- a prey to worms and decay. All was neglect. The outer door of thisroomwhich was openwas nearly on a level with the Quadrangle; some coatsandtrousersand boots were upon the ebony tableand a ``gyp'' was brushing awayat them just within the door -- in wet weather he performed these


 

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functions entirely within the library -- as innocent of the incongruity ofhis position as my guide himself. Oh! Richard of BuryI sighedfor a sharpstone from your sling to pierce with indignant sarcasm the mental armour ofthese College dullards.

Happilythings are altered nowand the disgrace of such neglect no longerhangs on the College. Let us hopein these days of revived respect forantiquityno other College library is in a similar plight.

Not Englishmen alone are guiltyhoweverof such unloving treatment of theirbibliographical treasures. The following is translated from an interesting workjust published in Paris4.1 and shows howeven at this very timeand in the centre of the literary activity of Francebooks meet their fate.

 

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M. Derome loquitur: --

``Let us now enter the communal library of some large provincial town. Theinterior has a lamentable appearance; dust and disorder have made it their home.It has a librarianbut he has the consideration of a porter onlyand goes butonce a week to see the state of the books committed to his care; they are in abad statepiled in heaps and perishing in corners for want of attention andbinding. At this present time (1879) more than one public library in Paris couldbe mentioned in which thousands of books are received annuallyall of whichwill have disappeared in the course of 50 years or so for want of binding; thereare rare booksimpossible to replacefalling to pieces because no care isgiven to themthat is to saythey are left unbounda prey to dust and thewormand cannot be touched without dismemberment.''

All history shows that this neglect belongs not to any particular age ornation. I extract the following story from Edmond Werdet's "Histoire duLivre.''4.2

``The Poet Boccacciowhen travelling in Apuliawas anxious to visit thecelebrated Convent of Mount

 

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Cassinespecially to see its libraryof which he had heard much. He accostedwith great courtesyone of the monks whose countenance attracted himandbegged him to have the kindness to show him the library. `See for yourself'said the monkbrusquelypointing at the same time to an old stone staircasebroken with age. Boccaccio hastily mounted in great joy at the prospect of agrand bibliographical treat. Soon he reached the roomwhich was without key oreven door as protection to its treasures. What was his astonishment to see thatthe grass growing in the window-sills actually darkened the roomand that allthe books and seats were an inch thick in dust. In utter astonishment he liftedone book after another. All were manuscripts of extreme antiquitybut all weredreadfully dilapidated. Many had lost whole sections which had been violentlyextractedand in many all the blank margins of the vellum had been cut away. Infactthe mutilation was thorough.

``Grieved at seeing the work and the wisdom of so many illustrious men falleninto the hands of custodians so unworthyBoccaccio descended with tears in hiseyes. In the cloisters he met another monkand enquired of him how the MSS. hadbecome so mutilated. `Oh!' he replied`we are obligedyou knowto earn a fewsous for our needsso we cut away the blank margins of the manuscripts forwriting uponand make of them small books of devotionwhich we sell to womenand children.''

 

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As a postscript to this storyMr. Timminsof Birminghaminforms me thatthe treasures of the Monte Cassino Library are better cared for now than inBoccaccio's daysthe worthy prior being proud of his valuable MSS. and verywilling to show them. It will interest many readers to know that there is now acomplete printing officelithographic as well as typographicat full work inone large room of the Monasterywhere their wonderful MS. of Dante has beenalready reprintedand where other fac-simile works are now in progress.


Chapter 5

CHAPTER V.
IGNORANCE AND BIGOTRY.

IGNORANCEthough not in the same category as fire and wateris a greatdestroyer of books. At the Reformation so strong was the antagonism of thepeople generally to anything like the old idolatry of the Romish Churchthatthey destroyed by thousands bookssecular as well as sacredif they containedbut illuminated letters. Unable to readthey saw no difference between romanceand a psalterbetween King Arthur and King David; and so the paper books withall their artistic ornaments went to the bakers to heat their ovensand the

 

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parchment manuscriptshowever beautifully illuminatedto the binders and bootmakers.

There is another kind of ignorance which has often worked destructionasshown by the following anecdotewhich is extracted from a letter written in1862 by M. Philarête Chasles to Mr. B. Beedhamof Kimbolton: --

``Ten years agowhen turning out an old closet in the Mazarin Libraryofwhich I am librarianI discovered at the bottomunder a lot of old rags andrubbisha large volume. It had no cover nor title-pageand had been used tolight the fires of the librarians. This shows how great was the negligencetowards our literary treasure before the Revolution; for the pariah volumewhich60 years beforehad been placed in the Invalidesand which hadcertainly formed part of the original Mazarin collectionsturned out to be afine and genuine Caxton.''

I saw this identical volume in the Mazarin Library in April1880. It is anoble copy of the First Edition of the ``Golden Legend'' 1483but of coursevery imperfect.

 

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Among the millions of events in this world which cross and re-cross oneanotherremarkable coincidences must often occur; and a case exactly similar tothat at the Mazarin Libraryhappened about the same time in Londonat theFrench Protestant ChurchSt. Martin's-le-Grand. Many years ago I discoveredtherein a dirty pigeon hole close to the grate in the vestrya fearfullymutilated copy of Caxton's edition of the Canterbury Taleswith woodcuts. Likethe book at Parisit had long been usedleaf by leafin utter ignorance ofits valueto light the vestry fire. Originally worth at least £800it wasthen worth halfandof courseI energetically drew the attention of theminister in charge to itas well as to another grand Folio by Rood and Hunte1480. Some years elapsedand then the Ecclesiastical Commissioners took thefoundation in handbut when at last Trustees were appointedand the valuablelibrary was re-arranged and

 

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cataloguedthis ``Caxton'' together with the fine copy of ``Latterbury'' fromthe first Oxford Presshad disappeared entirely. Whatever ignorance may havebeen displayed in the mutilationquite another word should be applied to thedisappearance.

The following anecdote is so aproposthat although it has latelyappeared in No. 1 of The AntiquaryI cannot resist the temptation ofre-printing itas a warning to inheritors of old libraries. The account wascopied by me years ago from a letter written in 1847by the Rev. C. F.NewmarshRector of Pelhamto the Rev. S. R. MaitlandLibrarian to theArchbishop of Canterburyand is as follows: --

``In June1844a pedlar called at a cottage in Blyton and asked an oldwidownamed Naylorwhether she had any rags to sell. She answeredNo! butoffered him some old paperand took from a shelf the `Boke of St. Albans' andothersweighing 9 lbs.for which she received 9d. The pedlar carriedthem through Gainsborough tied up in stringpast a

 

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chemist's shopwhobeing used to buy old paper to wrap his drugs incalledthe man inandstruck by the appearance of the `Boke' gave him 3s. forthe lot. Not being able to read the Colophonhe took it to an equally ignorantstationerand offered it to him for a guineaat which price he declined itbut proposed that it should be exposed in his window as a means of elicitingsome information about it. It was accordingly placed there with this label`Very old curious work.' A collector of books went in and offered half-a-crownfor itwhich excited the suspicion of the vendor. Soon after Mr. BirdVicar ofGainsboroughwent in and asked the pricewishing to possess a very earlyspecimen of printingbut not knowing the value of the book. While he wasexamining itStarka very intelligent booksellercame into whom Mr. Bird atonce ceded the right of pre-emption. Stark betrayed such visible anxiety thatthe vendorSmithdeclined setting a price. Soon after Sir C. Andersonof Lea(author of Ancient Models)came in and took away the book to collatebutbrought it back in the morning having found it imperfect in the middleandoffered £5 for it. Sir Charles had no book of reference to guide him to itsvalue. But in the meantimeStark had employed a friend to obtain for him therefusal of itand had undertaken to give for it a little more than any sum SirCharles might offer. On finding that at least £5 could be got for itSmithwent to the chemist and gave him two guineasand then sold

 

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it to Stark's agent for seven guineas. Stark took it to Londonand sold it atonce to the Rt. Hon. Thos. Grenville for seventy pounds or guineas.

``I have now shortly to state how it came that a book without covers of suchextreme age was preserved. About fifty years sincethe library of Thonock Hallin the parish of Gainsboroughthe seat of the Hickman familyunderwent greatrepairsthe books being sorted over by a most ignorant personwhose selectionseems to have been determined by the coat. All books without covers were throwninto a great heapand condemned to all the purposes which Leland laments in thesack of the conventual libraries by the visitors. But they found favour in theeyes of a literate gardenerwho begged leave to take what he liked home. Heselected a large quantity of Sermons preached before the House of Commonslocalpamphletstracts from 1680 to 1710opera booksetc. He made a list of themwhich I found afterwards in the cottage. In the listNo. 43 was `Cotarmouris'or the Boke of St. Albans. The old fellow was something of a heraldand drew inhis books what he held to be his coat. After his deathall that could bestuffed into a large chest were put away in a garret; but a few favouritesandthe `Boke' among them remained on the kitchen shelves for yearstill his son'swidow grew so `stalled' of dusting them that she determined to sell them. Hadshe been in povertyI should have urged the buyerStarkthe duty of givingher a small sum out of his great gains.''


 

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Such chances as this do not fall to a man's lot twice; but Edmond Werdetrelates a story very similar indeedand where also the ``plums'' fell into thelap of a London dealer.

In 1775the Recollet Monks of Antwerpwishing to make a reformexaminedtheir libraryand determined to get rid of about 1500 volumes -- somemanuscript and some printedbut all of which they considered as old rubbish ofno value.

At first they were thrown into the gardener's rooms; butafter some monthsthey decided in their wisdom to give the whole refuse to the gardener as arecognition of his long services.

This manwiser in his generation than these simple fatherstook the lot toM. Vanderbergan amateur and man of education. M. Vanderberg took a cursoryviewand then offered to buy them by weight at sixpence per pound. The bargainwas at

 

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once concludedand M. Vanderberg had the books.

Shortly afterMr. Starka well-known London booksellerbeing in Antwerpcalled on M. Vanderbergand was shown the books. He at once offered 14000francs for themwhich was accepted. Imagine the surprise and chagrin of thepoor monks when they heard of it! They knew they had no remedyand sodumbfounded were they by their own ignorancethat they humbly requested M.Vanderberg to relieve their minds by returning some portion of his large gains.He gave them 1200 francs.

The great Shakespearian and other discoverieswhich were found in a garretat Lamport Hall in 1867 by Mr. Edmondsare too well-known and too recent toneed description. In this case mere chance seems to have led to the preservationof worksthe very existence of which set the ears of all lovers of Shakespearea-tingling.

 

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In the summer of 1877a gentleman with whom I was well acquainted tooklodgings in Preston StreetBrighton. The morning after his arrivalhe found inthe w.c. some leaves of an old black-letter book. He asked permission to retainthemand enquired if there were any more where they came from. Two or threeother fragments were foundand the landlady stated that her fatherwho wasfond of antiquitieshad at one time a chest full of old black-letter books;thatupon his deaththey were preserved till she was tired of seeing themandthensupposing them of no valueshe had used them for waste; that for twoyears and a-half they had served for various household purposesbut she hadjust come to the end of them. The fragments preservedand now in my possessionare a goodly portion of one of the most rare books from the press of Wynkyn deWordeCaxton's successor. The title is a curious woodcut with the words

 

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``Gesta Romanorum'' engraved in an odd-shaped black letter. It has also numerousrude wood-cuts throughout. It was from this very work that Shakespeare in allprobability derived the story of the three caskets which in ``The Merchant ofVenice'' forms so integral a portion of the plot. Only think of that cloacabeing supplied daily with such dainty bibliographical treasures!

In the Lansdowne Collection at the British Museum is a volume containingthree manuscript dramas of Queen Elizabeth's timeand on a fly-leaf is a listof fifty-eight playswith this note at the footin the handwriting of thewell-known antiquaryWarburton:

``After I had been many years collecting these Manuscript Playesthrough myown carelessness and the ignorance of my servantthey was unluckely burned orput under pye bottoms.''

Some of these ``Playes'' are preserved in printbut others are quite unknownand perished for ever when used as ``pye-bottoms.''

 

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Mr. W. B. Ryelate Keeper of the Printed Books at our great NationalLibrarythus writes: --

``On the subject of ignorance you should some daywhen at the BritishMuseumlook at Lydgate's translation of Boccaccio's `Fall of Princes' printedby Pynson in 1494. It is `liber rarissimus.' This copy when perfect had beenvery fine and quite uncut. On one fine summer afternoon in 1874 it was broughtto me by a tradesman living at Lamberhurst. Many of the leaves had been cut intosquaresand the whole had been rescued from a tobacconist's shopwhere thepieces were being used to wrap up tobacco and snuff. The owner wanted to buy anew silk gown for his wifeand was delighted with three guineas for thispurpose. You will notice how cleverly the British Museum binder has joined theleavesmaking italthough still imperfecta fine book.''

Referring to the carelessness exhibited by some custodians of ParishRegistersMr. Noblewho has had great experience in such matterswrites: --

``A few months ago I wanted a search made of the time of Charles I in one ofthe most interesting registers in a large town (which shall be nameless) inEngland. I wrote to the custodian of itand asked

 

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him kindly to do the search for meand if he was unable to read the names toget some one who understood the writing of that date to decipher the entries forme. I did not have a reply for a fortnightbut one morning the postman broughtme a very large unregistered book-packetwhich I found to be the originalParish Registers! Hehoweveraddressed a note with it stating that he thoughtit best to send me the document itself to look atand begged me to be goodenough to return the Register to him as soon as done with. He evidently wishedto serve me -- his ignorance of responsibility without doubt proving his kindlydispositionand on that account alone I forbear to name him; but I can assureyou I was heartily glad to have a letter from him in due time announcing thatthe precious documents were once more locked up in the parish chest. CertainlyI think such as he to be `Enemies of books.' Don't you?''

Bigotry has also many sins to answer for. The late M. Müllerof Amsterdama bookseller of European famewrote to me as follows a few weeks before hisdeath: --

``Of coursewe alsoin Hollandhave many Enemies of booksand if I werehappy enough to have your spirit and style I would try and write a companionvolume to yours. Now I think the best thing I can do is to give you somewhat ofmy experience. You

 

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say that the discovery of printing has made the destruction of anybody's booksdifficult. At this I am bound to say that the Inquisition did succeed mostsuccessfullyby burning heretical booksin destroying numerous volumesinvaluable for their wholesome contents. IndeedI beg to state to you theamazing fact that here in Holland exists an Ultramontane Society called `OldPaper'which is under the sanction of the six Catholic Bishops of theNetherlandsand is spread over the whole kingdom. The openly-avowed object ofthis Society is to buy up and to destroy as waste paper all the Protestant andLiberal Catholic newspaperspamphlets and booksthe price of which is offeredto the Pope as `Deniers de St. Pierre.' Of coursethis Society is very littleknown among Protestantsand many have denied even its existence; but I havebeen fortunate enough to obtain a printed circular issued by one of the Bishopscontaining statistics of the astounding mass of paper thus collected. producingin one district alone the sum of £1200 in three months. I need not tell youthat this work is strongly promoted by the Catholic clergy. You can have no ideaof the difficulty we now have in procuring certain books published but 3040or 50 years ago of an ephemeral character. Historical and theological books arevery rare; novels and poetry of that period are absolutely not to be found;medical and law books are more common. I am bound to say that in no country havemore books been printed and more destroyed than in Holland. W. MÜLLER.''

 

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The policy of buying up all objectionable literature seems to meI confessvery short-sightedand in most cases would lead to a greatly increased reprint;it certainly would in these latitudes.

From the Church of Rome to the Church of England is no great leapand Mr.Smiththe Brighton booksellergives evidence thus: --

``It may be worth your while to note that the clergy of the last twocenturies ought to be included in your list (of Biblioclasts). I have hadpainful experience of the fact in the following manner. Numbers of volumes intheir libraries have had a few leaves removedand in many others whole sectionstorn out. I suppose it served their purpose thus to use the wisdom of greatermen and that they thus economised their own time by tearing out portions to suittheir purpose. The hardship to the trade is this: their books are purchased ingood faith as perfectand when resold the buyer is quick to claim damage iffound defectivewhile the seller has no redress.''

Among the careless destroyers of books still at work should be classedGovernment officials. Cart-loads of interesting documents

 

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bound and unboundhave been sold at various times as waste-paper5.1when modern red-tape thought them but rubbish. Some of them have been rescuedand resold at high pricesbut some have been lost for ever.

In 1854 a very interesting series of blue books was commenced by theauthorities of the Patent Officeof course paid for out of the national purse.Beginning with the year 1617 the particulars of every important patent wereprinted from the original specifications and fac-simile drawings madewherenecessaryfor the elucidation of the text. A very moderate price was chargedfor eachonly indeed the prime cost of production. The general publicofcoursecared little for such literaturebut those interested in the origin andprogress of any particular artcared

 

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muchand many sets of Patents were purchased by those engaged in research. Butthe great bulk of the stock wasto some extentinconvenientand so when aremoval to other officesin 1879became necessarythe question arose as towhat could be done with them. These blue-bookswhich had cost the nation manythousands of poundswere positively sold to the paper mills as wastepaperandnearly 100 tons weight were carted away at about £3 per ton. It is difficult tobelievealthough positively truethat so great an act of vandalism could havebeen perpetratedeven in a Government office. It is true that no demand existedfor some of thembut it is equally true that in numerous casesespecially inthe early specifications of the steam engine and printing machinethe want ofthem has caused great disappointment. To add a climax to the storymany of the``pulped'' specifications have had to be reprinted more than once since theirdestruction.



[5.1] Nell Gwyn's private Housekeeping Book was among themcontaining mostcurious particulars of what was necessary in the time of Charles I for aprincely household. Fortunately it was among the rescuedand is now in aprivate library.

Chapter 6

CHAPTER VI.
THE BOOKWORM.

 



THERE is a sort of busy worm
That will the fairest books deform
By gnawing holes throughout them;
Alikethrough every leaf they go
Yet of its merits naught they know
Nor care they aught about them.


Their tasteless tooth will tear and taint
The PoetPatriotSage or Saint
Not sparing wit nor learning.
Nowif you'd know the reason why
The best of reasons I'll supply;
'Tis bread to the poor vermin.


Of peppersnuffor 'bacca smoke
And Russia-calf they make a joke.
Yetwhy should sons of science
These puny rankling reptiles dread?
'Tis but to let their books be read
And bid the worms defiance.''

J. DORASTON.


 


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A most destructive Enemy of books has been the bookworm. I say ``has been''becausefortunatelyhis ravages in all civilised countries have been greatlyrestricted during the last fifty years. This is due partly to the increasedreverence for antiquity which has been universally developed -- more still tothe feeling of cupiditywhich has caused all owners to take care of volumeswhich year by year have become more valuable -- andto some considerableextentto the falling off in the production of edible books.

The monkswho were the chief makers as well as the custodians of booksthrough the long ages we call ``dark'' because so little is known of themhadno fear of the bookworm before their eyesforravenous as he is and washeloves not parchmentand at that time paper was not. Whether at a still earlierperiod he attacked the papyrusthe paper of the EgyptiansI know not --probably

 


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he didas it was a purely vegetable substance; and if soit is quite possiblethat the worm of to-dayin such evil repute with usis the lineal descendantof ravenous ancestors who plagued the sacred Priests of On in the time ofJoseph's Pharaohby destroying their title deeds and their books of Science.

Rare things and preciousas manuscripts were before the invention oftypographyare well preservedbut when the printing press was invented andpaper books were multiplied in the earth; when libraries increased and readerswere manythen familiarity bred contempt; books were packed in out-of-the-wayplaces and neglectedand the oft-quotedthough seldom seenbookworm became anacknowledged tenant of the libraryand the mortal enemy of the bibliophile.

Anathemas have been hurled against this pest in nearly every Europeanlanguageold and newand classical scholars of bye-gone centuries have throwntheir spondees and

 


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dactyls at him. Pierre Petitin 1683devoted a long Latin poem to hisdis-praiseand Parnell's charming Ode is well known. Hear the poet lament : --



``Pene tu mihi passerem Catulli
Pene tu mihi Lesbiam abstulisti.''

and then --



``Quid dicam innumeros bene eruditos
Quorum tu monumenta tu labores
Isti pessimo ventre devorasti?

while Petitwho was evidently moved by strong personal feelings against the``invisum pecus'' as he calls himaddresses his little enemy as ``Bestiaaudax'' and ``Pestis chartarum.''

Butas a portrait commonly precedes a biographythe curious reader may wishto be told what this ``Bestia audax'' who so greatly ruffles the tempers of oureclecticsis like. Hereat startingis a serious chameleon-like difficultyfor the bookworm offers to usif

 


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we are guided by their wordsas many varieties of size and shape as there arebeholders.

Sylvesterin his ``Laws of Verse'' with more words than witdescribed himas ``a microscopic creature wriggling on the learned pagewhichwhendiscoveredstiffens out into the resemblance of a streak of dirt.''

The earliest notice is in ``Micrographia'' by R. HookefolioLondon1665.This workwhich was printed at the expense of the Royal Society of Londonisan account of innumerable things examined by the author under the microscopeand is most interesting for the frequent accuracy of the author's observationsand most amusing for his equally frequent blunders.

In his account of the bookwormhis remarkswhich are rather long and veryminuteare absurdly blundering. He calls it ``a small white Silver-shining Wormor Mothwhich I found much conversant among books

 


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and papersand is supposed to be that which corrodes and cats holes thro' theleaves and covers. Its head appears bigg and bluntand its body tapers from ittowards the tailsmaller and smallerbeing shap'd almost like a carret. . . .It has two long horns beforewhich are streightand tapering towards the topcuriously ring'd or knobb'd and brisled much like the marsh weed called Horsestail. . . . The hinder part is terminated with three tailsin every particularresembling the two longer horns that grow out of the head. The legs are scal'dand hair'd. This animal probably feeds upon the paper and covers of booksandperforates in them several small round holesfinding perhaps a convenientnourishment in those husks of hemp and flaxwhich have passed through so manyscouringswashingsdressingsand dryings as the parts of old papernecessarily have suffer'd. Andindeedwhen I consider what a heap of sawdustor chips


 


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http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/images/modeng/public/BlaEnem/BlaEne73.jpghttp://etext.lib.virginia.edu/images/modeng/public/BlaEnem/BlaEne73.jpg

No. 1. -- The image of the Bookworm as it is graven in``Micrographia'' by R. HookeFellow of the Royal Society. Fo. London1665.
No. 2.-Anobiumnatural size.
No. 3. -- Anobiummagnified.

Drawing of a bookworm and Anobium


 


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this little creature (which is one of the teeth of Time) conveys into itsintralsI cannot chuse but remember and admire the excellent contrivance ofNature in placing in animals such a fireas is continually nourished andsupply'd by the materials convey'd into the stomach and fomented by the bellowsof the lungs.'' The picture or ``image'' which accompanies this descriptioniswonderful to behold. Certainly R. HookeFellow of the Royal Societydrewsomewhat upon his imagination herehaving apparently evolved both engraving anddescription from his inner consciousness.6.1

Entomologists even do not appear to have paid much attention to the naturalhistory of the ``Worm.'' Kirbyspeaking of itsays

 


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``the larvæ of Crambus pinguinalis spins a robe which it covers with its ownexcrementand does no little injury.'' Again``I have often observed thecaterpillar of a little moth that takes its station in damp old booksand therecommits great ravagesand many a black-letter raritywhich in these days ofbibliomania would have been valued at its weight in goldhas been snatched bythese devastators'' etc.etc.

As already quotedDoraston's description is very vague. To him he is in oneverse ``a sort of busy worm'' and in another ``a puny rankling reptile.''Hannettin his work on book-bindinggives ``Aglossa pinguinalis'' as the realnameand Mrs. Gattyin her Parableschristens it ``Hypothenemus cruditus.''

TheRev. F. T. Havergalwho many years ago had much trouble with bookwormsin the Cathedral Library of Herefordsays they are a kind of death-watchwitha ``hard outer skinand are dark brown'' another sort ``having

 


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white bodies with brown spots on their heads.'' Mr. Holmein ``Notes andQueries'' for 1870states that the ``Anobium paniceum'' has done considerableinjury to the Arabic manuscripts brought from Cairoby Burckhardtand now inthe University LibraryCambridge. Other writers say ``Acarus eruditus'' or``Anobium pertinax'' are the correct scientific names.

PersonallyI have come across but few specimens; neverthelessfrom what Ihave been told by librariansand judging from analogyI imagine the followingto be about the truth: --

There are several kinds of caterpillar and grubwhich eat into booksthosewith legs are the larvæ of moths; those without legsor rather withrudimentary legsare grubs and turn to beetles.

It is not known whether any species of caterpillar or grub can livegeneration after generation upon books alonebut several sorts

 


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of wood-borersand others which live upon vegetable refusewill attack paperespecially if attracted in the first place by the real wooden boards in which itwas the custom of the old book-binders to clothe their volumes. In this beliefsome country librarians object to opening the library windows lest the enemyshould fly in from the neighbouring woodsand rear a brood of worms. Anyoneindeedwho has seen a hole in a filbertor a piece of wood riddled by dry rotwill recognize a similarity of appearance in the channels made by these insectenemies.

Among the paper-eating species are: --

1. The ``Anobium.'' Of this beetle there are varietiesviz.: ``A.pertinax'' ``A. eruditus'' and ``A. paniceum.'' In the larva state they aregrubsjust like those foundin nuts; in this stage they are too much alike tobe distinguished from one another. They feed on old dry woodand often infestbookcases and shelves. They eat the wooden

 


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boards of old booksand so pass into the paper where they make long holes quiteroundexcept when they work in a slanting directionwhen the holes appear tobe oblong. They will thus pierce through several volumes in successionPeignotthe well-known bibliographerhaving found 27 volumes so pierced in a straightline by one worma miracle of gluttonythe story of whichfor myselfIreceive ``cum grano salis .'' After a certain time the larva changes intoa pupaand then emerges as a small brown beetle.

2. ``Oecophora.'' -- This larva is similar in size to that of Anobiumbutcan be distinguished at once by having legs. It is a caterpillarwith six legsupon its thorax and eight sucker-like protuberances on its bodylike asilk-worm. It changes into a chrysalisand then assumes its perfect shape as asmall brown moth. The species that attacks books is the OEcophorapseudospretella. It loves damp and warmthand eats any fibrous

 


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material. This caterpillar is quite unlike any garden speciesandexceptingthe legsis very similar in appearance and size to the Anobium. It is abouthalf-inch longwith a horny head and strong jaws. To printers' ink or writingink he appears to have no great dislikethough I imagine that the former oftendisagrees with his healthunless he is very robustas in books where the printis pierced a majority of the worm-holes I have seen are too short in extent tohave provided food enough for the development of the grub. Butalthough the inkmay be unwholesomemany grubs surviveandeating day and night in silence anddarknesswork out their destiny leavingaccording to the strength of theirconstitutionsa longer or shorter tunnel in the volume.

In December1879Mr. Birdsalla well-known book-binder of Northamptonkindly sent me by post a fat little Wormwhich had been found by one of hisworkmen in an old

 


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book while being bound. He bore his journey extremely wellbeing very livelywhen turned out. I placed him in a box in warmth and quietwith some smallfragments of paper from a Boethiusprinted by Caxtonand a leaf of aseventeenth century book. He ate a small piece of the leafbut either from toomuch fresh airfrom unaccustomed libertyor from change of foodhe graduallyweakenedand died in about three weeks. I was sorry to lose himas I wished toverify his name in his perfect state. Mr. Waterhouseof the Entomologicaldepartment of the British Museumvery kindly examined him before deathand wasof opinion he was OEcophora pseudospretella.

In July1885Dr. Garnettof the British Museumgave me two worms whichhad been found in an old Hebrew Commentary just received from Athens. They haddoubtless had a good shaking on the journeyand one was moribund when I tookchargeand

 


-82-



joined his defunct kindred in a few days. The other seemed hearty and lived withme for nearly eighteen months. I treated him as well as I knew how; placed himin a small box with the choice of three sorts of old paper to eatand veryseldom disturbed him. He evidently resented his confinementate very littlemoved very littleand changed in appearance very littleeven when dead. ThisGreek wormfilled with Hebrew lorediffered in many respects from any other Ihave seen. He was longerthinnerand more delicate looking than any of hisEnglish congeners. He was transparentlike thin ivoryand had a dark linethrough his bodywhich I took to be the intestinal canal. He resigned his lifewith extreme procrastinationand died ``deeply lamented'' by his keeperwhohad long looked forward to his final development.

The difficulty of breeding these worms is probably due to their formation.When in

 


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a state of nature they can by expansion and contraction of the body working uponthe sides of their holespush their horny jaws against the opposing mass ofpaper. But when freed from the restraintwhich indeed to them is lifethey cannoteat although surrounded with foodfor they have no legs to keep them steadyand their naturalleverage is wanting.

Considering the numerous old books contained in the British MuseumtheLibrary there is wonderfully free from the worm. Mr. Ryelately the Keeper ofthe Printed Books therewrites me ``Two or three were discovered in my timebut they were weakly creatures. OneI rememberwas conveyed into the NaturalHistory Departmentand was taken into custody by Mr. Adam White who pronouncedit to be Anobium pertinax. I never heard of it after.''

The readerwho has not had an opportunity of examining old librariescanhave no

 


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idea of the dreadful havoc which these pests are capable of making.

I have now before me a fine folio volumeprinted on very good unbleachedpaperas thick as stout cartridgein the year 1477by Peter SchoefferofMentz. Unfortunatelyafter a period of neglect in which it suffered severelyfrom the ``worm'' it was about fifty years ago considered worth a new coverand so again suffered severelythis time at the hands of the binder. Thus theoriginal state of the boards is unknownbut the damage done to the leaves canbe accurately described.

The ``worms'' have attacked each end. On the first leaf are 212 distinctholesvarying in size from a common pin hole to that which a stoutknitting-needle would makesay1/16 to 1/23 inch. These holes run mostly inlines more or less at right angles with the coversa very few being channelsalong the paper affecting three or four sheets only.

 


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The varied energy of these little pests is thus represented: --

On folio 1 are 212 holes.

On folio 61 are 4 holes.

" 11 " 57 "

" 71 " 2 "

" 21 " 48 "

" 81 " 2 "

" 31 " 31 "

" 87 " 1 "

" 41 " 18 "

" 90 " 0 "

" 51 " 6 "

 

These 90 leaves being stoutare about the thickness of 1 inch. The volumehas 250 leavesand turning to the endwe find on the last leaf 81 holesmadeby a breed of worms not so ravenous. Thus

From end.

From end.

On folio 1 are 81 holes.

On folio 66 is 1 hole.

" 11 " 40 "

" 69 " 0 "

It is curious to notice how the holesrapidly at firstand then slowly andmore slowlydisappear. You trace the same hole leaf after leafuntil suddenlythe size becomes in one leaf reduced to half its normal diameterand a closeexamination will show

 


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a small abrasion of the paper in the next leaf exactly where the hole would havecome if continued. In the book quoted it is just as if there had been a race. Inthe first ten leaves the weak worms are left behind; in the second ten there arestill forty-eight eaters; these are reduced to thirty-one in the third tenandto only eighteen in the fourth ten. On folio 51 only six worms hold onandbefore folio 61 two of them have given in. Before reaching folio 7it is a neckand neck race between two sturdy gourmandseach making a fine large holeoneof them being oval in shape. At folio 71 they are still neck and neckand atfolio 81 the same. At folio 87 the oval worm gives inthe round one eatingthree more leaves and part way through the fourth. The leaves of the book arethen untouched until we reach the sixty-ninth from the endupon which is oneworm hole. After this they go on multiplying to the end of the book.

 


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I have quoted this instance because I have it handybut many worms eat muchlonger holes than any in this volume; some I have seen running quite through acouple of thick volumescovers and all. In the ``Schoeffer'' book the holes areprobably the work of Anobium pertinaxbecause the centre is spared and bothends attacked. Originallyreal wooden boards were the covers of the volumeandheredoubtlessthe attack was commencedwhich was carried through each boardinto the paper of the book.

I remember well my first visit to the Bodleian Libraryin the year 1858Dr.Bandinel being then the librarian. He was very kindand afforded me everyfacility for examining the fine collection of ``Caxtons'' which was the objectof my journey. In looking over a parcel of black-letter fragmentswhich hadbeen in a drawer for a long timeI came across a small grubwhichwithout athoughtI threw on the floor and trod under foot.

 


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Soon after I found anothera fatglossy fellowso long -- -which Icarefully preserved in a little paper boxintending to observe his habits anddevelopment. Seeing Dr. Bandinel nearI asked him to look at my curiosity.Hardlyhoweverhad I turned the wriggling little victim out upon theleather-covered tablewhen down came the doctor's great thumb-nail upon himand an inch-long smear proved the tomb of all my hopeswhile the greatbibliographerwiping his thumb on his coat sleevepassed on with the remark``Ohyes! they have black heads sometimes.'' That was something to know --another fact for the entomologist; for my little gentleman had a hardshinywhite headand I never heard of a black-headed bookworm before or since.Perhaps the great abundance of black-letter books in the Bodleian may accountfor the variety. At any rate he was an Anobium.

I have been unmercifully ``chaffed'' for the absurd idea that a paper-eatingworm could

 


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be kept a prisoner in a paper box. Ohthese critics! Your bookworm is a shylazy beastand takes a day or two to recover his appetite after being``evicted.'' Moreoverhe knew his own dignity better than to eat the ``loaded''glazed shoddy note paper in which he was incarcerated.

In the case of Caxton's ``Lyf of oure ladye'' already referred tonot onlyare there numerous small holesbut some very large channels at the bottom ofthe pages. This is a most unusual occurrenceand is probably the work of thelarva of ``Dermestes vulpinus'' a garden beetlewhich is very voraciousandeats any kind of dry ligneous rubbish.

The scarcity of edible books of the present century has been mentioned. Oneresult of the extensive adulteration of modern paper is that the worm will nottouch it. His instinct forbids him to eat the china claythe bleachestheplaster of Paristhe sulphate of barytesthe scores of adulterants now used tomix

 


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with the fibreandso farthe wise pages of the old literature arein therace against Time with the modern rubbishheavily handicapped. Thanks to thegeneral interest taken in old books now-a-daysthe worm has hard times of itand but slight chance of that quiet neglect which is necessary to hisexistence. So much greater is the reason why some patient entomologist shouldwhile there is the chancetake upon himself to study the habits of thecreatureas Sir John Lubbock has those of the ant.

I have now before me some leaves of a bookwhichbeing wastewere used byour economical first printerCaxtonto make boardsby pasting them together.Whether the old paste was an attractionor whatever the reason may have beenthe wormwhen he got in theredid notas usualeat straight througheverything into the middle of the bookbut worked his way longitudinallyeating great furrows along the leaves without

 


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passing out of the binding; and so furrowed are these few leaves by longchannels that it is difficult to raise one of them without its falling topieces.

This is bad enoughbut we may be very thankful that in these temperateclimes we have no such enemies as are found in very hot countrieswhere a wholelibrarybooksbookshelvestablechairsand allmay be destroyed in onenight by a countless army of ants.

Our cousins in the United Statesso fortunate in many thingsseem veryfortunate in this -- their books are not attacked by the ``worm'' -- at anyrateAmerican writers say so. True it is that all their black-letter comes fromEuropeandhaving cost many dollarsis well looked after; but there they havethousands of seventeenth and eighteenth century booksin Roman typeprinted inthe States on genuine and wholesome paperand the worm is not particularatleast in this

 


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countryabout the type he eats throughif the paper is good.

Probablythereforethe custodians of their old libraries could tell adifferent talewhich makes it all the more amusing to find in the excellent``Encyclopædia of Printing''6.2edited and printed by Ringwaltat Philadelphianot only that the bookworm is astranger therefor personally he is unknown to most of usbut that hisslightest ravages are looked upon as both curious and rare. After quotingDibdinwith the addition of a few flights of imagination of his ownRingwaltstates that this ``paper-eating moth is supposed to have been introduced intoEngland in hogsleather binding from Holland.'' He then ends with whatto anyonewho has seen the ravages of the worm in hundreds of booksmust be charming inits native simplicity. ``There is now'' he statesevidently quoting it as agreat

 


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curiosity``there is nowin a private library in Philadelphiaa bookperforated by this insect.'' Oh! lucky Philadelphians! who can boast ofpossessing the oldest library in the Statesbut must ask leave of a privatecollector if they wish to see the one wormhole in the whole city!

 

Chapter 7

CHAPTER VII.
OTHER VERMIN.

 

BESIDES the worm I do not think there is any insect enemy of books worthdescription. The domestic black-beetleor cockroachis far too modern anintroduction to our country to have done much harmthough he will sometimesnibble the binding of booksespecially if they rest upon the floor.

Not so fortunatehoweverare our American cousinsfor in the ``LibraryJournal'' for September1879Mr. Weston Flint gives an account of a dreadfullittle pest which commits great havoc upon the cloth bindings of the New Yorklibraries. It

 


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is a small black-beetle or cockroachcalled by scientists ``Blatta germanica''and by others the ``Croton Bug.'' Unlike our household pestwhose home is thekitchenand whose bashfulness loves secrecy and the dark hoursthis misgrownflat speciesof which it would take two to make a medium-sized Englishspecimenhas gained in impudence what it has lost in sizefearing neitherlight nor noiseneither man nor beast. In the old English Bible of 1551weread in Psalm xci5``Thou shalt not nede to be afraied for eny Bugges bynight.'' This verse falls unheeded on the ear of the Western librarian who fearshis ``bugs'' both night and dayfor they crawl over everything in broadsunlightinfesting and infecting each corner and cranny of the bookshelves theychoose as their home. There is a remedy in the powder known as insecticidewhichhoweveris very disagreeable upon books and shelves. It isnevertheless

 


-96-



very fatal to these pestsand affords some consolation in the fact that so soonas a ``bug'' shows any signs of illnesshe is devoured at once by his voraciousbrethren with the same relish as if he were made of fresh paste.

There istooa small silvery insect (Lepisma) which I have often seen inthe backs of neglected booksbut his ravages are not of much importance.

Nor can we reckon the Codfish as very dangerous to literatureunlessindeedhe be of the Roman obediencelike that wonderful Ichthiobibliophage(pardon meProfessor Owen) whoin the year 1626swallowed three Puritanicaltreatises of John Friththe Protestant martyr. No wonderafter such a mealhewas soon caughtand became famous in the annals of literature. The following isthe title of a little book issued upon the occasion: ``Vox Piscisor theBook-Fish containing Three Treatiseswhich were found in the

 


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belly of a Cod-Fish in Cambridge Market on Midsummer EveAo 1626.''Lowndes says (see under ``Tracey'') ``great was the consternation at Cambridgeupon the publication of this work.''

Rats and micehoweverare occasionally very destructiveas the followinganecdote will show: Two centuries agothe library of the Dean and Chapter ofWestminster was kept in the Chapter Houseand repairs having become necessaryin that buildinga scaffolding was erected insidethe books being left ontheir shelves. One of the holes made in the wall for a scaffold-pole wasselected by a pair of rats for their family residence. Here they formed a nestfor their young ones by descending to the library shelves and biting away theleaves of various books. Snug and comfortable was the little householduntilone daythe builder's men having finishedthe poles were removedand -- alas!for the rats -- the hole was closed up

 


-98-



with bricks and cement. Buried alivethe father and motherwith five or six oftheir offspringmet with a speedy deathand not until a few years agowhen arestoration of the Chapter House was effectedwas the rat grave opened againfor a scaffold poleand all their skeletons and their nest discovered. Theirbones and paper fragments of the nest may now be seen in a glass case in theChapter Housesome of the fragments being attributed to books from the press ofCaxton. This is not the casealthough there are pieces of very earlyblack-letter books not now to be found in the Abbey libraryincluding littlebits of the famous Queen Elizabeth's Prayer bookwith woodcuts1568.

A friend sends me the following incident: ``A few years sincesome rats madenests in the trees surrounding my house; from thence they jumped on to some flatroofingand so made their way down a chimney into a room where I kept books. Anumber of these

 

Pl. V. Op. p. 98.
Vermin.


 


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with parchment backsthey entirely destroyedas well as some half-dozenbooks whole bound in parchment.''

Another friend informs me that in the Natural History Museum of the Devon andExeter Institution is a specimen of ``another little pestwhich has a greataffection for bindings in calf and roan. Its scientific name is NiptusHololeucos.'' He adds``Are you aware that there was a terrible creature alliedto theserejoicing in the name of Tomicus Typographuswhich committed sadravages in Germany in the seventeenth centuryand in the old liturgies of thatcountry is formally mentioned under its vulgar name`The Turk'?'' (See Kirbyand SpenceSeventh Edition1858p. 123.) This is curiousand I did not knowitalthough I know well that Typographus Tomicusor the ``cutting printer''is a sad enemy of (good) books. Upon this part of our subjecthoweverI amdebarred entering.

 


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The following is from W. J. WestbrookMus. Doe.Cantab.and representsravages with which I am personally unacquainted:

``Dear Blades-- I send you an example of the `enemy'-mosity of an ordinaryhousefly. It hid behind the paperemitted some caustic fluidand then departedthis life. I have often caught them in such holes.' 30/12/83.''


Chapter 8

CHAPTER VIII.
BOOKBINDERS.

 

IN the first chapter I mentioned bookbinders among the Enemies of BooksandI tremble to think what a stinging retort might be made if some iratebibliopegist were to turn the scales on the printerand place him in thesame category. On the sins of printersand the unnatural neglect which hasoften shortened the lives of their typographical progenyit is not for me todilate. There is an old proverb`` 'Tis an ill bird that befouls its ownnest''; a curious chapter thereuponwith many modern examplesmightnevertheless be written. This I will leaveand will now only place on recordsome of the cruelties

 


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perpetrated upon books by the ignorance or carelessness of binders.

Like menbooks have a soul and body. With the soulor literary portionwehave nothing to do at present; the bodywhich is the outer frame or coveringand without which the inner would be unusableis the special work of thebinder. Heso to speakbegets it; he determines its form and adornmenthedoctors it in disease and decayandnot unseldomdissects it after death.Heretooas through all Naturewe find the good and bad running side by side.What a treat it is to handle a well-bound volume; the leaves lie open fully andfreelyas if tempting you to read onand you handle them without fear of theirparting from the back. To look at the ``tooling'' toois a pleasureforcareful thoughtcombined with artistic skillis everywhere apparent. You openthe cover and find the same loving attention inside that has been given to theoutsideall the workmanship

 


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being true and thorough. Indeedso conservative is a good bindingthat many aworthless book has had an honoured old agesimply out of respect to its outwardaspect; and many a real treasure has come to a degraded end and premature deaththrough the unsightliness of its outward case and the irreparable damage done toit in binding.

The weapon with which the binder deals the most deadly blows to books is the``plough'' the effect of which is to cut away the marginsplacing the print ina false position relatively to the back and headand often denuding the work ofportions of the very text. This reduction in size not seldom brings down ahandsome folio to the size of quartoand a quarto to an octavo.

With the old hand plough a binder required more care and caution to producean even edge throughout than with the new cutting machine. If a careless workmanfound that he had not ploughed the margin quite square

 


-106-



with the texthe would put it in his press and take off ``another shaving''and sometimes even a third.

Dantein his ``Inferno'' deals out to the lost souls various torturessuited with dramatic fitness to the past crimes of the victimsand had I toexecute judgment on the criminal binders of certain precious volumes I haveseenwhere the untouched maiden sheets entrusted to their care havebybarbarous treatmentlost dignitybeauty and valueI would collect the papershavings so ruthlessly shorn offand roast the perpetrator of the outrage overtheir slow combustion. In olden timesbefore men had learned to value therelics of our printersthere was some excuse for the sins of a binder who erredfrom ignorance which was general; but in these timeswhen the historical andantiquarian value of old books is freely acknowledgedno quarter should begranted to a careless culprit.

 


-107-


It may be supposed thatfrom the spread of informationall real danger fromignorance is past. Not sogood reader; that is a consummation as yet ``devoutlyto be wished.'' Let me relate to you a true bibliographical anecdote: In 1877acertain lordwho had succeeded to a fine collection of old bookspromised tosend some of the most valuable (among which were several Caxtons) to theExhibition at South Kensington. Thinking their outward appearance too shabbyand not knowing the danger of his conducthe decided to have them rebound inthe neighbouring county town. The volumes were soon returned in a resplendentstateandit is saidquite to the satisfaction of his lordshipwhosepleasurehoweverwas sadly damped when a friend pointed out to him thatalthough the discoloured edges had all been ploughed offand the time-stainedblankswith their fifteenth century autographshad been replaced by nice cleanfly-leavesyetlooking

 


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at the result in its lowest aspect only -- that of market value -- the books hadbeen damaged to at least the amount of £500; andmoreoverthat causticremarks would most certainly follow upon their public exhibition. Those poorinjured volumes were never sent.

Some years ago one of the most rare books printed by Machlinia -- a thinfolio -- was discovered bound in sheep by a country bookbinderand cut down tosuit the size of some quarto tracts. But do not let us suppose that countrybinders are the only culprits. It is not very long since the discovery of aunique Caxton in one of our largest London libraries. It was in boardsasoriginally issued by the fifteenth-century binderand a great fuss (veryproperly) was made over the treasure trove. Of coursecries the readerit waskept in its original coverswith all the interesting associations of its earlystate untouched? No such thing!

 


-109-



Instead of making a suitable casein which it could be preserved just as itwasit was placed in the hands of a well-known London binderwith the order``Whole bind in velvet.'' He did his bestand the volume now glows luxuriouslyin its gilt edges and its inappropriate coveringandalas! with half-an-inchof its uncut margin taken off all round. How do I know that? because the cleverbinderseeing some MS. remarks on one of the marginsturned the leaf down toavoid cutting them offand that stern witness will always testifyto theobservant readerthe original size of the book. This same binderon anotheroccasionplaced a unique fifteenth century Indulgence in warm watertoseparate it from the cover upon which it was pastedthe result being thatwhendryit was so distorted as to be useless. That man soon after passed to anotherworldwherewe may hopehis works have not followed himand that his meritsas a good

 


-110-



citizen and an honest man counterbalanced his de-merits as a binder.

Other similar instances will occur to the memory of many a readeranddoubtless the same sin will be committed from time to time by certain binderswho seem to have an ingrained antipathy to rough edges and large marginswhichof course arein their viewmade by Nature as food for the shaving tub.

De Romea celebrated bookbinder of the eighteenth centurywho was nicknamedby Dibdin ``The Great Cropper'' wasalthough in private life an estimable manmuch addicted to the vice of reducing the margins of all books sent to him tobind. So far did he gothat he even spared not a fine copy of Froissart'sChronicleson vellumin which was the autograph of the well-known book-loverDe Thoubut cropped it most cruelly.

Ownerstoohave occasionally diseased minds with regard to margins. Afriend

 


-111-



writes: ``Your amusing anecdotes have brought to my memory several biblioclastswhom I have known. One roughly cut the margins off his books with a knifehacking away very much like a hedger and ditcher. Large paper volumes were hisespecial delightas they gave more paper. The slips thus obtained were used forindex-making! Anotherwith the bump of order unnaturally developedhad hisfolios and quartos all reducedin bindingto one sizeso that they might lookeven on his bookshelves.''

This latter wasdoubtlesscousin to him who deliberately cut down all hisbooks close to the textbecause he had been several times annoyed by readerswho made marginal notes.

The indignitiestoosuffered by some books in their lettering! Fancy anearly black-letter fifteenth-century quarto on Knighthoodlabelled ``Tracts'';or a translation of Virgil``Sermons''! The ``Histories of Troy'' printed

 


-112-



by Caxtonstill exists with ``Eracles'' on the backas its titlebecause thatname occurs several times in the early chaptersand the binder was too proud toseek advice. The words ``Miscellaneous'' or ``Old Pieces'' were sometimes usedwhen binders were at a loss for letteringand many other instances might bementioned.

The rapid spread of printing throughout Europe in the latter part of thefifteenth century caused a great fall in the value of plain un-illuminated MSS.and the immediate consequence of this was the destruction of numerous volumeswritten upon parchmentwhich were used by the binders to strengthen the backsof their newly-printed rivals. These slips of vellum or parchment are quitecommon in old books. Sometimes whole sheets are used as fly-leavesand oftenreveal the existence of most valuable worksunknown before-provingat the sametimethe small value formerly attached to them.

 


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Many a bibliographerwhile examining old bookshas to his great puzzlementcome across short slips of parchmentnearly always from some old manuscriptsticking out like ``guards'' from the midst of the leaves. These suggestatfirstimperfections or damage done to the volume; but if examined closely itwill be found that they are always in the middle of a paper sectionand thereal reason of their existence is just the same as when two leaves of parchmentoccur here and there in a paper volumeviz.: strength -- strength to resist thelug which the strong thread makes against the middle of each section. Theseslips represent old books destroyedand like the slips already noticedshouldalways be carefully examined.

When valuable books have been evil-entreatedwhen they have become soiled bydirty handsor spoiled by water stainsor injured by grease spotsnothing ismore astonishing to the uninitiated than the transformation

 


-114-



they undergo in the hands of a skilful restorer. The covers are first carefullydissectedthe eye of the operator keeping a careful outlook for any fragmentsof old MSS. or early printed bookswhich may have been used by the originalbinder. No force should be applied to separate parts which adhere together; alittle warm water and care is sure to overcome that difficulty. When all thesections are loosethe separate sheets are placed singly in a bath of coldwaterand allowed to remain there until all the dirt has soaked out. If notsufficiently purifieda little hydrochloric or oxalic acidor caustic potashmay be put in the wateraccording as the stains are from grease or from ink.Here is where an unpractised binder will probably injure a book for life. If thechemicals are too strongor the sheets remain too long in the bathor are notthoroughly cleansed from the bleach before they are re-sizedthe certain seedsof decay are planted in the paperand

 


-115-



although for a time the leaves may look bright to the eyeand even crackleunder the hand like the soundest paperyet in the course of a few years theenemy will appearthe fibre will decayand the existence of the books willterminate in a state of white tinder.

Everything which diminishes the interest of a book is inimical to itspreservationand in fact is its enemy. Thereforea few words upon thedestruction of old bindings.

I remember purchasing many years ago at a suburban book stalla perfect copyof Moxon's Mechanic Exercisesnow a scarce work. The volumes were uncutandhad the original marble covers. They looked so attractive in their old fashioneddressthat I at once determined to preserve it. My binder soon made for them aneat wooden box in the shape of a bookwith morocco back properly letteredwhere I trust the originals will be preserved from dust and injury for many along year.

 


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Old coverswhether boards or papershould always be retained if in anystate approaching decency. A casewhich can be embellished to any extent looksevery whit as well upon the shelf! and gives even greater protection thanbinding. It has also this great advantage: it does not deprive your descendantsof the opportunity of seeing for themselves exactly in what dress the bookbuyers of four centuries ago received their volumes.

Chapter 9

CHAPTER IX.
COLLECTORS.

 

AFTER alltwo-legged depredatorswho ought to have known betterhaveperhaps done as much real damage in libraries as any other enemy. I do not referto thieveswhoif they injure the ownersdo no harm to the books themselvesby merely transferring them from one set of bookshelves to another. Nor do Irefer to certain readers who frequent our public librariesandto savethemselves the trouble of copyingwill cut out whole articles from magazines orencyclopædias. Such depredations are not frequentand only occur with bookseasily replacedand do

 


-118-



not therefore call for more than a passing mention; but it is a serious matterwhen Nature produces such a wicked old biblioclast as John Bagfordone of thefounders of the Society of Antiquarieswhoin the beginning of the lastcenturywent about the countryfrom library to librarytearing away titlepages from rare books of all sizes. These he sorted out into nationalities andtownsand sowith a lot of hand-billsmanuscript notesand miscellaneouscollections of all kindsformed over a hundred folio volumesnow preserved inthe British Museum. That they are of service as materials in compiling a generalhistory of printing cannot be deniedbut the destruction of many rare books wasthe resultand more than counter-balanced any benefit bibliographers will everreceive from them. When here and there throughout those volumes you meet withtitles of books now either unknown entirelyor of the greatest rarity; when youfind the Colophon from the

 


-119-



endor the ``insigne typographi'' from the first leaf of a rare ``fifteener''pasted down with dozens of othersvarying in valueyou cannot bless the memoryof the antiquarian shoemakerJohn Bagford. His portraita half-lengthpaintedby Howardwas engraved by Vertueand re-engraved for the BibliographicalDecameron.

A bad example often finds imitatorsand every season there crop up forpublic sale one or two such collectionsformed by bibliomaniacswhoalthoughcalling themselves bibliophilesought really to be ranked among the worstenemies of books.

The following is copied from a trade cataloguedated April1880andaffords a fair idea of the extent to which these heartless destroyers will go:--

``MISSAL ILLUMINATIONS.

FIFTY DIFFERENT CAPITAL LETTERS onVELLUM; all in rich Cold andColours. Many

 


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3 inches square: the floral decorations are of great beautyranging from theXIIth to XVth century. Mounted on stout card-board
. IN NICE PRESERVATION£6 6s.

These beautiful letters have been cut from precious MSS.and as specimens ofearly art are extremely valuablemany of them being worth 15s. each.''

Mr. Proëme is a man well known to the London dealers in old books. He iswealthyand cares not what he spends to carry out his bibliographical crazewhich is the collection of title pages. These he ruthlessly extractsfrequentlyleaving the decapitated carcase of the booksfor which he cares notbehindhim. Unlike the destroyer Bagfordhe has no useful object in viewbut simplyfollows a senseless kind of classification. For instance: One set of volumescontains nothing but copper-plate engraved titlesand woe betide the grand oldDutch folios of the seventeenth century if they cross his path. Another is avolume of coarse or quaint titleswhich

 


-121-



certainly answer the end of showing how idiotic and conceited some authors havebeen. Here you find Dr. Sib's ``Bowels opened in Divers Sermons'' 1650cheekby jowl with the discourse attributed falsely to Huntingtonthe Calvinist``Die and be damned'' with many others too coarse to be quoted. The odd titlesadopted for his poems by Taylorthe water-poetenliven several pagesand makeone's mouth water for the books themselves. A third volume includes only suchtitles as have the printer's device. If you shut your eyes to the injury done bysuch collectorsyou mayto a certain extentenjoy the collectionfor thereis great beauty in some titles; but such a pursuit is neither useful normeritorious. By and by the end comesand then dispersion follows collectionand the volumeswhich probably Cost £200 each in their formationwill beknocked down to a dealer for £10finally gravitating into the South KensingtonLibraryor some public

 


-122-



museumas a bibliographical curiosity. The following has just been sold (July1880) by Messrs. SothebyWilkinson and Hodgein the Dunn-Gardinier collectionlot 1592: --

``TITLEPAGES AND FRONTISPIECES.

A Collection of upwards of 800 ENGRAVED TITLES AND FRONTISPIECESENGLISHAND FOREIGN (some very fine and curious) taken from old books and neatlymounted on cartridge paper in 3 volhalf morocco gilt. imp. folio.''

The only collection of title-pages which has afforded me unalloyed pleasureis a handsome foliopublished by the directors of the Plantin MuseumAntwerpin 1877just after the purchase of that wonderful typographical storehouse. Itis called ``Titels en Portretten gesneden naar P. P. Rubens voor de PlantijnscheDrukkerij'' and it contains thirty-five grand title pagesreprinted from theoriginal seventeenth century plates

 


-123-



designed by Rubens himself between the years 1612 and 1640for variouspublications which issued from the celebrated Plantin Printing Office. In thesame Museum are preserved in Rubens' own handwriting his charge for each designduly receipted at foot.

I have now before me a fine copy of ``Cöclusiones siue decisiones antiquedñor' de Rota'' printed by Gutenberg's partnerSchoefferin the year 1477.It is perfectexcept in a most vital partthe Colophonwhich has been cut outby some barbaric ``Collector'' and which should read thus: ``Pridie nonisJanuarii Mcccclxxvijin Civitate Moguntinaimpressorie Petrus Schoyffer deGernsheym'' followed by his well-known marktwo shields.

A similar mania arose at the beginning of this century for collections ofilluminated initialswhich were taken from MSS.and arranged on the pages of ablank book in

 


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alphabetical order. Some of our cathedral libraries suffered severely fromdepredations of this kind. At Lincolnin the early part of this centurytheboys put on their robes in the librarya room close to the choir. Here werenumerous old MSS.and eight or ten rare Caxtons. The choir boys used often toamuse themselveswhile waiting for the signal to ``fall in'' by cutting outwith their pen-knives the illuminated initials and vignetteswhich they wouldtake into the choir with them and pass round from one to another. The Dean andChapter of those days were not much betterfor they let Dr. Dibdin have alltheir Caxtons for a ``consideration.'' He made a little catalogue of themwhichhe called ``A Lincolne Nosegaye.'' Eventually they were absorbed into thecollection at Althorp.

The late Mr. Caspari was a ``destroyer'' of books. His rare collection ofearly woodcutsexhibited in 1877 at the Caxton Celebrationhad been frequentlyaugmented by the

 


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purchase of illustrated booksthe plates of which were taken outand mountedon Bristol boardsto enrich his collection. He once showed me the remains of afine copy of ``Theurdanck'' which he had served soand I have now before meseveral of the leaves which he then gave meand whichfor beauty of engravingand cleverness of typographysurpasses any typographical work known to me. Itwas printed for the Emperor Maximilianby Hans Schonspergerof Nurembergandto make it uniqueall the punches were cut on purposeand as many as seven oreight varieties of each letterwhichtogether with the clever way in which theornamental flourishes are carried above and below the linehas led evenexperienced printers to deny its being typography. It isneverthelessentirelyfrom cast types. A copy in good condition costs about £50.

Many years since I purchasedat Messrs. Sotheby'sa large lot of MS. leaveson vellum

 


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some being whole sections of a bookbut mostly single leaves. Many were somutilated by the excision of initials as to be worthlessbut those with poorinitialsor with nonewere quite goodand when sorted out I found I had gotlarge portions of nearly twenty different MSS.mostly Horæshowing twelvevarieties of fifteenth century handwriting in LatinFrenchDutchand German.I had each sort bound separatelyand they now form an interesting collection.

Portrait collectors have destroyed many books by abstracting the frontispieceto add to their treasuresand when once a book is made imperfectits march todestruction is rapid. This is why books like Atkyns' ``Origin and Growth ofPrinting'' 401664have become impossible to get. When issuedAtkyns'pamphlet had a fine frontispieceby Logancontaining portraits of King CharlesIIattended by Archbishop Sheldonthe Duke of Albermarleand the Earl ofClarendon.

 


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As portraits of these celebrities (exceptingof coursethe King) are extremelyrarecollectors have bought up this 40 tract of Atkyns'whenever it has beenofferedand torn away the frontispiece to adorn their collection. This is whyif you take up any sale catalogue of old booksyou are certain to find here andthereappended to the description``Wanting the title'' ``Wanting twoplates'' or ``Wanting the last page.''

It is quite common to find in old MSS.especially fifteenth centurybothvellum and paperthe blank margins of leaves cut away. This will be from theside edge or from the footand the recurrence of this mutilation puzzled me formany years. It arose from the scarcity of paper in former timesso that when amessage had to be sent which required more exactitude than could be entrusted tothe stupid memory of a household messengerthe Master or Chaplain went to thelibraryandnot having paper to usetook down

 


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an old bookand cut from its broad margins one or more slips to serve hispresent need.

I feel quite inclined to reckon among ``enemies'' those bibliomaniacs andover-careful possessorswhobeing unable to carry their treasures into thenext worlddo all they can to hinder their usefulness in this. What adifficulty there is to obtain admission to the curious library of old SamuelPepysthe well-known diarist. There it is at Magdalene CollegeCambridgeinthe identical book-cases provided for the books by Pepys himself; but no one cangain admission except in company of two Fellows of the Collegeand if a singlebook be lostthe whole library goes away to a neighbouring college. Howeverwilling and anxious to obligeit is evident that no one can use the library atthe expense of the timeif not temperof two Fellows. Some similarrestrictions are in force at the Teylerian MuseumHaarlem

 


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where a lifelong imprisonment is inflicted upon its many treasures.

Some centuries ago a valuable collection of books was left to the GuildfordEndowed Grammar School. The schoolmaster was to be held personally responsiblefor the safety of every volumewhichif losthe was bound to replace. I amtold that one masterto minimize his risk as much as possibletook thefollowing barbarous course: -- As soon as he was in possessionhe raised theboards of the schoolroom floorandhaving carefully packed all the booksbetween the joistshad the boards nailed down again. Little recked he how manyrats and mice made their nests there; he was bound to account some day for everysingle volumeand he saw no way so safe as rigid imprisonment.

The late Sir Thomas Phillippsof Middle Hillwas a remarkable instance of abibliotaph. He bought bibliographical treasures simply to bury them. His mansionwas

 


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crammed with books; he purchased whole librariesand never even saw what he hadbought. Among some of his purchases was the first book printed in the Englishlanguage``The Recuyell of the Histories of Troye'' translated and printed byWilliam Caxtonfor the Duchess of Burgundysister to our Edward IV. It istruethough almost incrediblethat Sir Thomas could never find this volumealthough it is doubtless still in the collectionand no wonderwhen cases ofbooks bought twenty years before his death were never openedand the onlyknowledge of their contents which he possessed was the Sale Catalogue or thebookseller's invoice.

CHAPTER X.
SERVANTS AND CHILDREN.

 

READER! are you married? Have you offspringboys especially I meansaybetween six and twelve years of age? Have you also a literary workshopsuppliedwith choice toolssome for usesome for ornamentwhere you pass pleasanthours? and is -- ah! there's the rub! -- is there a special hand-maidwhosespecial duty it is to keep your den daily dusted and in order? Plead you guiltyto these indictments? then am I sure of a sympathetic co-sufferer.

Dust! it is all a delusion. It is not the dust that makes women anxious toinvade the inmost recesses of your Sanctum -- it is an

 


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ingrained curiosity. And this feminine weaknesswhich dates from Eveis acommon motive in the stories of our oldest literature and Folk-lore. What madeFatima so anxious to know the contents of the room forbidden her by Bluebeard?It was positively nothing to herand its contents caused not the slightestannoyance to anybody. That story has a bad moraland it wouldin many wayshave been more satisfactory had the heroine been left to take her place in theblood-stained chamberside by side with her peccant predecessors. Why need thewomen-folk (God forgive me!) bother themselves about the inside of a man'slibraryand whether it wants dusting or not? My boys' playroomin which is acarpenter's bencha latheand no end of litteris never tidied -- perhaps itcan't beor perhaps their youthful vigour won't stand it -- but my workroommust needs be dusted dailywith the delusive promise that each book and papershall be replaced exactly

 


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where it was. The damage done by such continued treatment is incalculable. Atcertain times these observances are kept more religiously than others; butespecially should the book-lovermarried or singlebeware of the Ides ofMarch. So soon as February is dead and gonea feeling of unrest seizes thehousewife's mind. This increases day by dayand becomes dominant towards themiddle of the monthabout which period sundry hints are thrown out as towhether you are likely to be absent for a day or two. Beware! the fever called``Spring Clean'' is onand unless you stand firmyou will rue it. Go awayifthe Fates so willbut take the key of your own domain with you.

Do not misunderstand. Not for a moment would I advocate dust and dirt; theyare enemiesand should be routed; but let the necessary routing be done underyour own eye. Explain where caution must be usedand in what cases tendernessis a

 


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virtue; and if one Eve in the family can be indoctrinated with book-reverenceyou are a happy man; her price is above that of rubies; she will prolong yourlife. Books must now and then be taken clean out of their shelvesbutthey should be tended lovingly and with judgment. If the dusting can be donejust outside the room so much the better. The books removedthe shelf should belifted quite out of its bearingscleansed and wipedand then each volumeshould be taken separatelyand gently rubbed on back and sides with a softcloth. In returning the volumes to their placesnotice should be taken of thebindingand especially when the books are in whole calf or morocco care shouldbe taken not to let them rub together. The best bound books are soonest injuredand quickly deteriorate in bad company. Certain volumesindeedhave eviltempersand will scratch the faces of all their neighbours who are too familiarwith them. Such are

 


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books with metal clasps and rivets on their edges; and suchagainare thoseabominable old rascalschiefly born in the fifteenth centurywho are proud ofbeing dressed in real boards with brass cornersand pass their liveswith fearful knobs and metal bossesmostly five in numberfirmly fixed on oneof their sides. If the tendencies of such ruffians are not curbedthey will doas much mischief to their gentle neighbours as when a ``collie'' worries thesheep. These evil results may always be minimized by placing a piece ofmillboard between the culprit and his victim. I have seen lovely bindings sadlymarked by such uncanny neighbours.

When your books are being ``dusted'' don't impute too much common sense toyour assistants; take their ignorance for grantedand tell them at once neverto lift any book by one of its covers; that treatment is sure to strain thebackand ten to one the weight will be at the same time miscalculated

 


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and the volume will fall. Your female ``help'' toodearly loves a good tallpile to work at andas a ruleher notions of the centre of gravity are notaccurateleading often to a general downfalland the damage of many a corner.Againif not supervised and instructedshe is very apt to rub the dust intoinstead of offthe edges. Each volume should be held tightlyso as to preventthe leaves from gapingand then wiped from the back to the fore-edge. A softbrush will be found useful if there is much dust. The whole exterior should alsobe rubbed with a soft clothand then the covers should be opened and the hingesof the binding examined; for mildew will assert itself both inside andoutside certain booksand that most pertinaciously. It has unaccountable likesand dislikes. Some bindings seem positively to invite dampand mildew willattack these when no other books on the same shelf show any signs of it. When

 


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discoveredcarefully wipe it awayand then let the book remain a few daysstanding openin the driest and airiest spot you can select. Great care shouldbe taken not to let gritsuch as blows in at the open window from many a dustyroadbe upon your dusteror you will probably find fine scratcheslike anoutline map of Europeall over your smooth calfby which your heart and eyeas well as your bookwill be wounded.

``Helps'' are very apt to fill the shelves too tightlyso that to extract abook you have to use forceoften to the injury of the top-bands. Beware of thismistake. It frequently occurs through not noticing that one small book ispurposely placed at each end of the shelfbeneath the movable shelf-supportsthus not only saving spacebut preventing the injury which a book shelf-highwould be sure to receive from uneven pressure.

After allthe best guide in theseas in many other mattersis ``commonsense'' a

 


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quality which in olden times must have been much more ``common'' than in thesedayselse the phrase would never have become rooted in our common tongue.

Childrenwith all their innocenceare often guilty of book-murder. I mustconfess to having once taken down ``Humphrey's History of Writing'' whichcontains many brightly-coloured platesto amuse a sick daughter. The object wascertainly gainedbut the consequences of so bad a precedent were disastrous.That copy (whichI am glad to saywas easily re-placed)notwithstanding greatcare on my partbecame soiled and tornand at last was given up to Nurserymartyrdom. Can I regret it? surely notforalthough bibliographically sinfulwho can weigh the amount of real pleasure receivedand actual pain ignoredbythe patient in the contemplation of those beautifully-blended colours?

A neighbour of mine some few years ago suffered severely from a propensity

 


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apparently irresistiblein one of his daughters to tear his library books. Shewas six years oldand would go quietly to a shelf and take down a book or twoand having torn a dozen leaves or so down the middlewould replace the volumesfragments and allin their placesthe damage being undiscovered until thebooks were wanted for use. Reprimandexpostulation and even punishment were ofno avail; but a single ``whipping'' effected a cure.

Boyshoweverare by far more destructive than girlsand havenaturallyno reverence for agewhether in man or books. Who does not fear a schoolboywith his first pocket-knife? As Wordsworth did not say: --



``You may trace him oft
By scars which his activity has left
Upon our shelves and volumes. * * *
He who with pocket-knife will cut the edge
Of luckless panel or of prominent book
Detaching with a stroke a label herea back-band there.''

Excursion III83.


 


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Pleasedtooare theyifwith mouths full of candyand sticky fingersthey can pull in and out the books on your bottom shelveslittle knowing thedamage and pain they will cause. One would fain cry outcalling on the Shade ofHorace to pardon the false quantity --

``Magna movet stomacho fastidiasi puer unctis
Tractavit volumen manibus.'' Sat. IV.

What boys can do may be gathered from the following true storysentme by a correspondent who was the immediate sufferer: --

One summer day he met in town an acquaintance who for many years had beenabroad; and finding his appetite for old books as keen as everinvited him hometo have a mental feed upon ``fifteeners'' and other bibliographical daintiespreliminary to the coarser pleasures enjoyed at the dinner-table. The ``home''was an old mansion in the outskirts of Londonwhose very

 

Pl. VI. Op. p. 140.
Children.


 


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architecture was suggestive of black-letter and sheep-skin. The weatheralas! was rainyandas they approached the houseloud peals of laughterreached their ears. The children were keeping a birthday with a few youngfriends. The damp forbad all outdoor playandhaving been left too much totheir own devicesthey had invaded the library. It was just after the Battle ofBalaclavaand the heroism of the combatants on that hard-fought field was ineverybody's mouth. So the mischievous young imps divided themselves into twoopposing camps -- Britons and Russians. The Russian division was just inside thedoorbehind ramparts formed of old folios and quartos taken from the bottomshelves and piled to the height of about four feet. It was a wall of oldfathersfifteenth century chroniclescounty historiesChaucerLydgateandsuch like. Some few yards off were the Britishersprovided with heaps of smallbooks

 


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as missileswith which they kept up a skirmishing cannonade against the foe.Imagine the tableau! Two elderly gentlemen enter hurriedlypaterfamiliasreceivingquite unintentionallythe first edition of ``Paradise Lost'' in thepit of his stomachhis friend narrowly escaping a closer personal acquaintancewith a quarto Hamlet than he had ever had before. Finale: great outburst ofwrathand rapid retreat of the combatantsmany wounded (volumes) being left onthe field.

POSTSCRIPTUM.

 

ALTHOUGHstrictly speakingthe following anecdote does not illustrate anyform of real injury to booksit is so racyand in these days of extravagantbiddings so tantalizingthat I must step just outside the strict line ofpertinence in order to place it on recordIt was sent to meas a personalexperienceby my friendMr. George Clulowa well-known bibliophileand``Xylographer'' to ``Ye Sette of ye Odde Volumes.'' The date is 1881. He writes:--

``Apropos of the Gainsborough `find' of which you tell in `TheEnemies of Books' I should like to narrate an experience of my ownof sometwenty years ago:

 


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``Late one eveningat my father's houseI saw a catalogue of a sale offurniturefarm implements and bookswhich was announced to take place on thefollowing morning at a country rectory in Derbyshiresome four miles from thenearest railway station.

``It was summer time -- the country at its best -- and with the attraction ofan old bookI decided on a day's holidayand eight o'clock the next morningfound me in the train for C -- --and after a variation in my programmecaused by my having walked three miles west before I discovered that mydestination was three miles east of the railway stationI arrived at therectory at noonand found assembled some thirty or forty of the neighbouringfarmerstheir wivesmen-servants and maid-servantsall seemingly bent on aday's idlingrather than business. The sale was announced for noonbut it wasan hour later before the auctioneer put in an appearanceand the firstoperation in which he took

 


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partand in which he invited my assistancewas to make a hearty meal of breadand cheese and beer in the rectory kitchen. This overthe business of the daybegan by a sundry collection of potspansand kettles being brought to thecompetition of the publicfollowed by some lots of beddingetc. The cataloguegave books as the first part of the saleandas three o'clock was reachedmypatience was goneand I protested to the auctioneer against his not selling inaccordance with his catalogue. To this he replied that there was not timeenoughand that he would sell the books to-morrow! This was too much for meand I suggested that he had broken faith with the buyersand had brought me toC -- -- on a false pretence. Thishoweverdid not seem to disturb his goodhumouror to make him unhappyand his answer was to call `Bill' who wasacting as porterand to tell him to give the gentleman the key of the `bookroom' and to

 


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bring down any of the books he might pick outand he `would sell 'em.' Ifollowed `Bill' and soon found myself in a charming nook of a libraryfull ofbooksmostly old divinitybut with a large number of the best miscellaneousliterature of the sixteenth centuryEnglish and foreign. A very short look overthe shelves produced some thirty Black Letter booksthree or four illuminatedmissalsand some book rarities of a more recent date. `Bill' took themdownstairsand I wondered what would happen! I was not long in doubtfor bookby bookand in lots of two and threemy selection was knocked down in rapidsuccessionat prices varying from 1s. 6d. to 3s. 6d.this latter sum seeming to be the utmost limit to the speculative turn of mycompetitors. The bonne bouche of the lot washoweverkept back by theauctioneerbecauseas he saidit was `a pretty book' and I began to respecthis critical judgmentfor `a pretty book' it wasbeing a large paper

 


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copy of Dibdin's Bibliographical Decameronthree volumesin the originalbinding. Suffice it to say thatincluding this charming bookmy purchases didnot amount to £13and I had pretty well a cart-load of books for my money --more than I wanted much! Having brought them homeI `weeded them out' and the`weeding' realised four times what I gave for the wholeleaving me with somereal book treasures.

``Some weeks afterwards I heard that the remainder of the books wereliterally treated as waste lumberand carted off to the neighbouring townandwere to be hadany one of themfor sixpencefrom a cobbler who had allowedhis shop to be used as a store house for them. The news of their being therereached the ears of an old bookseller in one of the large townsand heIthinkcleared out the lot. So curious an instance of the most total ignoranceon the part of the sellersand I may add on the part of

 


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the possible buyers alsoI think is worth noting.''

How would the reader in this Year of Grace1887like such an experience asthat?

CONCLUSION.

 

IT is a great pity that there should be so many distinct enemies at work forthe destruction of literatureand that they should so often be allowed to workout their sad end. Looked at rightlythe possession of any old book is a sacredtrustwhich a conscientious owner or guardian would as soon think of ignoringas a parent would of neglecting his child. An old bookwhatever its subject orinternal meritsis truly a portion of the national history; we may imitate itand print it in fac-similebut we can never exactly reproduce it ; and as anhistorical document it should be carefully preserved.

I do not envy any man that absence of sentiment which makes some peoplecareless

 


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of the memorials of their ancestorsand whose blood can be warmed up only bytalking of horses or the price of hops. To them solitude means ennuiandanybody's company is preferable to their own. What an immense amount of calmenjoyment and mental renovation do such men miss. Even a millionaire will easehis toilslengthen his lifeand add a hundred per cent. to his daily pleasuresif he becomes a bibliophile; while to the man of business with a taste forbookswho through the day has struggled in the battle of life with all itsirritating rebuffs and anxietieswhat a blessed season of pleasurable reposeopens upon him as he enters his sanctumwhere every article wafts to him awelcomeand every book is a personal friend!