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them, insomuch that they, "upon the killing of any one of their number, are thereby so alarmed and put upon their keeping, that it hath been found impracticable for such person or persons to discover and apprehend, or kill any more of them, whereby they are discouraged from discovering and apprehending or killing," and so forth. There is a strange and melancholy historical interest in these motley enactments, since they almost verbatim repeat the legislation about the Highland clans passed a century earlier by the Lowland parliament of Scotland.
But this sort of thing becomes endless; we have got on the round of the ladder, and must come down. Let us go back to the point whence we started the disposition, and almost the necessity, which the true enthusiast in the pursuit feels to look into the soul, as it were, of his book, after he has got possession of the body. When he is not of the omnivorous kind, but one who desires to possess a particular book, and, having got it, dips into the contents before committing it to permanent obscurity on his loaded shelves, there is, as we have said before, a certain thread of intelligent association linking the items of his library to each other. The collector knows what he wants, and why he wants it, and that why does not entirely depend on exteriors, though he may have his whim as to that also. He is a totally different being from the animal who goes to all sales, and buys every book that is cheap. That is a painfully low and grovelling type of the malady; and, fortunately for the honour of literature, those bargain-hunters who suffer under it are not in general special votaries of books, but buy all bargains that come their way. clocks, tables, forks, spoons, old uniforms, gas-meters, magic lanterns, galvanic batteries, violins (warranted real Cremonas, from their being smashed to pieces), classical busts (with the same testimony
to their genuineness), patent coffeepots, crucibles, amputating knives, wheel-barrows, retorts, cork-screws, boot-jacks, smoke-jacks, melon frames, bath - chairs, and hurdygurdies. We have heard of an instance where a coffin, made too short for its tenant, being to be had an undoubted bargain, was bought by one of these cosmopolites, in the hope that, some day or other, it might prove of service in his family.
Neither are the rich men who purchase fine and dear books by deputy to be admitted within the category of the genuine book-hunter. He must hunt himself-must actually undergo the anxiety, the fatigue, and, so far as purse is concerned, the risks of the chase. Your rich man, known to the trade as a great orderer of books, is like the owner of the great game-preserve, where the sport is heavy butchery; there is none of the real zest of the hunter of the wilderness to be had within his gates. The old Duke of Roxburghe wisely sank his rank and his wealth, and wandered industriously and zealously from shop to stall over the world, just as he wandered over the moor stalking the deer.
One element in the excitement of the poorer book-hunter he must have lacked-the feeling of committing something of extravagance-the consciousness of parting with that which will be missed. This is the sacrifice which assures the world, and satisfies the man's own heart, that he is zealous and earnest in the work he has set about. And it is decidedly this class who most read and use the books they possess. How genial a picture does Scott give of himself at the time of the Roxburghe sale-the creation of Abbotsford pulling him one way, on the other, his desire to accumulate a library round him in his Tusculum. Writing to his familiar Terry he says, "The worst of all is, that while my trees grow and my fountain fills, my purse, in an inverse ratio, sinks to zero. This last circumstance will, I fear, make me a very poor guest at the literary
entertainment your researches hold out for me. I should, however, like much to have the treatise on Dreams by the author of the New Jerusalem, which, as John Cuthbertson, the smith, said of the minister's sermon, must be neat wark. The loyal poems by N. T. are probably by poor Nahum Tate, who was associated with Brady in versifying the Psalms, and more honourably with Dryden in the second part of Absalom and Achitophel.' I never saw them, however, but would give a guinea or thirty shillings for the collection."
One of the reasons why Dibdin's revellings among rare and valuable volumes are, after all, so devoid of interest, is, that he occupied himself in a great measure in catering for men with measureless purses. Hence there is throughout too exact an estimate of everything by what it is worth in sterling cash, with a contempt for small things, which has an unpleasant odour of plush and shoulder-knot about it. Compared with dear old Monkbarns and his prowlings among the stalls, the narratives of the Boccaccio of the book-trade are like the account of a journey that might be written from the rumble of the travelling chariot, when compared with the adventurous narrative of the pedestrian or of the wanderer in the far east. Everything is too comfortable, luxurious, and easy-russia, morocco, embossing, marbling, gilding-all crowding on one another, till one feels suffoIcated with riches. There is a feeling, at the same time, of the utter useless pomp of the whole thing. Books, in the condition in which he generally describes them, are no more fitted for use and consultation than white kids and silk stockings are for hard work. Books should be used decently and respectfully reverently, if you will, but let there be no toleration for the doctrine that there are volumes too splendid for use, too fine almost to be looked at, as Brummel said of some of his Dresden china. That there should be little interest in the record of
rich men buying costly books which they know nothing about and never become acquainted with, is an illustration of a wholesome truth, pervading all human endeavours after happiness. It is this, that the active, racy, enjoyments of life-those enjoyments in which there is also exertion and achievement, and which depend on these for their proper relish-are not to be bought for hard cash. To have been to him the true elements of enjoyment, the book-hunter's treasures must not be his mere property, they must be his achievements-each one of them recalling the excitement of the chase and the happiness of success. Like Monkbarns with his Elzevirs and his bundle of pedlar's ballads, he must have, like all hunters, a touch of the competitive in his nature, and be able to take the measure of a rival, as Monkbarns magnanimously takes that of Davie Wilson, "commonly called Snuffy Davie, from his inveterate addiction to black rappee, who was the very prince of scouts for searching blind alleys, cellars, and stalls, for rare volumes. He had the scent of a slow-hound, sir, and the snap of a bull-dog. He would detect you an old black-letter ballad among the leaves of a law-paper, and find an editio princeps under the mask of a school Corderius."
So much, then, for the benefit which the class to whom these pages are devoted derive to themselves from their peculiar pursuit. Let us now turn to the far more remarkable phenomena, in which these separate and perhaps selfish pursuers of their own instincts and objects are found to concur in bringing out a great influence upon the intellectual destinies of mankind. It is said of Brindley, the great canal engineer, that, when a member of a committee, where he was under examination, a little provoked or amused by his entire devotion to canals, asked him if he thought there was any use for rivers, he promptly answered, "Yes, to feed navigable canals." So, if there be no
other respectable function in life fulfilled by the book-hunter, we shall stand up for the proposition that he is the feeder, provided by nature, for the preservation of literature from age to age, by the accumulation and preservation of libraries, public or private. It will require perhaps a little circumlocutory exposition to show this, but here it is.
It may be said of great libraries as it has been of constitutions-that they are not made, they grow. You may buy books at any time with money, but you cannot make a library like one that has been a century or two a-growing, though you had the whole national debt to do it with. We remember once how an extensive publisher, speaking of the rapid strides which literature had made of late years, and referring to a certain old public library, celebrated for its affluence in the fathers, the civilians, and the medieval chronicles, stated how he had himself freighted for exportation, within the past month, as many books as that whole library consisted of. It was very likely true, but the two collections were very different from each other. The cargoes of books were probably thousands of copies of some few popular selling works. They might be a powerful illustration of the diffusion of knowledge, but what they were compared with was its concentration. Had all the paper of which these cargoes consisted been bank-notes, they would not have enabled their owner to create a duplicate of the old library, rich in the fathers, the civilians, and the medieval chronicles.
This impossibility of improvising libraries is really an important and curious thing; and since it is apt to be overlooked, owing to the facility of buying books, in quantities generally far beyond the available means of any ordinary buyer, it seems worthy of some special consideration. A man who sets to form a library will go on swimmingly for a short way. He will easily get Tennyson's Poems-Macaulay's and Ali
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son's Histories-the Encyclopædia Britannica-Buckle on Civilisation all the books in print, as it is termed. Nay, he will find no difficulty in procuring copies of others which may not happen to be on the shelves of the publisher or the retailer of new books. Of Voltaire's works a little library in itselfhe will get a copy at his call in London, if he has not set his mind on some special edition. So of Scott's edition of Swift or Dryden, Croker's edition of Boswell's Johnson, and the like. We can scarcely suppose a juncture in which any of these cannot be found through the electric chain of communication established by the book trade. Of Gibbon's and Hume's Histories— Jeremy Taylor's works-Bossuet's Universal History, and the like, copies abound everywhere. Go back a little, and ask for Kennet's Collection of the Historians-Echard's History, Bayle, Moreri, or Father Daniel's History of France, you cannot be so certain of immediately obtaining your object, but you will get the book in the end-no doubt about that. Everything has its caprices, and there are some books which might be expected to be equally shy, but in reality, by some inexplicable fatality, are as plentiful as blackberries; such, for instance, are Famianus Strada's History of the Dutch War of Independence-one of the most brilliant works ever written, and in the very best Latin after Buchanan's. There is Buchanan's own history, very common even in the shape of the early Scotch edition of 1582, which is a highly favourable specimen of Arbuthnot's printing. Then there are Barclay's Argenis, and Raynal's Philosophical History of the East and West Indies, without which no book-stall is to be considered complete, and which seem to be possessed of a supernatural power of resistance to the elements, since, month after month, in fair weather or foul, they are to be seen at their posts dry or dripping.
So the collector goes on, till he perhaps collects some five thousand
volumes or so of select works. If he is miscellaneous in his taste, he may get on pretty comfortably to ten or fifteen thousand, and then his troubles will arise. He has easily got Baker's, and Froissart's, and Monstrelet's Chronicles, because there are modern reprints of them in the market. But if he want Cooper's Chronicle, he may have to wait for it, since its latest form is still the black-letter. True, we did pick up a copy the other day, at Braidwood's, for half-a-guinea, but that was a catch-it might have caused the search of a lifetime. Still more hopeless it is when the collector's ambition extends to the Ladder of Perfection of Winkin de Worde, or to his King Rycharde Cure de Lion, whereof it is reported in the Repertorium Bibliographicum, that "an imperfect copy, wanting one leaf, was sold by auction at Mr Evans's, in June 1817, to Mr Watson Taylor for £40, 19s." Such works as the Knightly Tale of Galogras, The Temple of Glas, Lodge's Nettles for Nice Noses, or the Book of Faits of Arms, by Christene of Pisa; or Caxton's Pilgrimage of the Sowle, or his Myrrour of the Worlde, will be long inquired after before they come to the market, thoroughly contradicting that fundamental principle of political economy that the supply is always equal to the demand. He, indeed, who sets his mind on the possession of any one of these rarities, may go to his grave a disappointed man. It will be in general the consolation of the collector, however, that he is by no means the homo unius libri. There is always something or other turning up for him, so long as he keeps within moderate bounds. If he be rich and ravenous, however, there is nothing for it but duplicating the most virulent form of book mania. We have seen that Heber, whose collection, made during his own lifetime, was on the scale of those public libraries which take generations to grow, had, with all his wealth, his liberality, and his persevering energy, to invest himself
with duplicates, triplicates—often several copies of the same book.
It is rare that the private collector runs himself absolutely into this quagmire, and has so far exhausted the market that no already unpossessed volume turns up in any part of the world to court his eager embraces. The limitation constitutes, however, a serious difficulty in the way of rapidly creating great public libraries. We would obtain the best testimony to this difficulty in America, were our brethren there in a condition to speak or think of so peaceful a pursuit as librarymaking. In the normal condition of society there-something like that of Holland in the seventeenth century-there are powerful elements for the promotion of art and letters, when wealth gives the means and civilisation the desire to promote them. The very absence of feudal institutions-the inability to found a baronial house-turns the thoughts of the rich and liberal to other foundations calculated to transmit their name and influence to posterity. And so we have such bequests as John Jacob Astor's, who left four hundred thousand dollars for a library, and the hundred and eighty thousand which were the nucleus of the Smithsonian Institution.
Yes! Their efforts in this direction have fully earned for them their own peculiar form of laudation as actually equal to cash." Hence, as the book trade and book buyers know very well, the " almighty dollar" has, been hard at work, trying to rear up by its sheer force duplicates of the old European libraries, containing not only all the ordinary stock books in the market, but also the rarities, and those individualities— solitary remaining copies of impressions - which the initiated call uniques. It is clear, however, that when there is but one copy, it can only be in one place; and if it have been rooted for centuries in the Bodleian, or the University of Tubingen, it is not to be had for Harvard or the Astorian. Dr Cogs
well, the first librarian of the Astorian, spent some time in Europe with his princely endowment in his pocket, and showed himself a judicious, active, and formidable sportsman in the book-hunting world. Whenever, from private collections, or the breaking-up of public institutions, rarities got abroad into the open market, the collectors of the old country found that they had a resolute competitor to deal withalmost, it might be said, a desperate one-since he was in a manner the representative of a nation using powerful efforts to get possession of a share of the literary treasures of the Old World. In the case of a book, for instance, of which half-adozen copies might be known to exist, the combatants before the auctioneer would be, on the one side, many an ambitious collector desiring to belong to the fortunate circle already in possession of such a treasure; but on the other side was one on whose exertions depended the question, whether the book should henceforth be part of the intellectual wealth of a great empire, and should be accessible for consultation by American scholars and authors without their requiring to cross the Atlantic. But how far money has enabled them to triumph may be known by a brief comparison. It is difficult to know exactly the numerical contents of a library, as some people count by volumes, and others by the separate works in a volume; and even if all should consent to count by volumes, the estimate would not be precise, for in some libraries bundles of tracts and other small works are massed in plethoric volumes for economy, while in affluent institutions every collection of leaves put under the command of a separate title-page is separately bound in cloth, calf, or morocco, according to its rank. The Imperial Library at Paris is computed to contain above eight hundred thousand volumes; the Astorian boasts of approaching a hundred thousand : the next libraries in size in Ame
rica are the Harvard, with from eighty thousand to ninety thousand; the Library of Congress, which has from sixty thousand to seventy thousand; and the Boston Athenæum, which has about sixty thousand.
There are many of smaller size. In fact, there is probably no country so well stocked as the States with libraries of from ten thousand to twenty thousand volumes, the evidence that they have bought what was to be bought, and have done all that a new people can to participate in the long-hoarded treasures of literature which it is the privilege of the Old World to possess. We have heard that, especially in the instance of the Astorian Library, the selections of books have been made with great judgment, and that, after the boundaries of the common crowded market were passed, and individual rarities had to be stalked in distant hunting-grounds, innate literary value was still a superior object to mere abstract rarity, and, as the more worthy quality of the two, that on which the buying power available to the emissary was brought to bear. America had just one small old library, and the lamentation over the loss of this ewe-lamb is touching evidence of her poverty in such possessions. The Harvard Library dates from the year 1638. In 1764 the college buildings were burned, and though books are not easily consumed, yet the small collection of five thousand volumes was easily overwhelmed in the general ruin. So were destroyed many books from the early presses of the mother country, and many of the firstlings of the transatlantic printers; and though its bulk was but that of an ordinary country squire's collection, the loss has been always considered national and irreparable.
It is, after all, a rather serious consideration-which it never seems as yet to have occurred to any one to revolve-how entirely the new States of the West and the South seem to be cut off from the literary resources which the Old World pos