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A Bibliographical, Antiquarian and Picturesque Tour in France and Germany, Volume Two
by Thomas Frognall Dibdin
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LA SFORZIADA. Printed in 1480. Folio. It is just possible you may not have forgotten the description of a copy of this work—like the present, struck off UPON VELLUM—which appears in the Bibliographical Decameron.[76] That copy, you may remember, adorns the choice collection of our friend George Hibbert, Esq.[77] The book before me is doubtless a most exquisite one; and the copy is of large dimensions. The illuminated first page very strongly resembles that in the copy just mentioned. The portraits appear to be the same: but the Cardinal is differently habited, and his phisiognomical expression is less characteristic here than in the same portrait in Mr. Hibbert's copy. The head of Duke Sforza, his brother, seems to be about the same.

The lower compartment of this splendidly illuminated page differs materially from that of Mr. Hibbert's copy. There are two figures kneeling, apparently portraits; with the sea in the distance. The figure of St. Louis appears in the horizon—very curious. To the right, there are rabbits within an enclosure, and human beings growing into trees. The touch and style of the whole are precisely similar to what we observe in the other copy so frequently mentioned. The capital initials are also very similar. It is a pity that, during the binding, (which is in red morocco) the vellum has been so very much crumpled. This copy measures thirteen inches and seven eighths, by nine inches and three eighths.

I must now lay before you a few more Classics, and conclude the whole with miscellaneous articles.

TERENTIUS. Printed by Ulric Han. Folio. Without date. In all probability the first edition of the author by Ulric Han, and perhaps the second in chronological order; that of Mentelin being considered the first. It is printed in Ulric Han's larger roman type. This may be considered a fine genuine copy—in old French binding, with the royal arms.

ARISTOTELIS OPERA. Printed by Aldus. 1495, &c. 6 vols. Would you believe it—here are absolutely TWO copies of this glorious effort of the Aldine Press, printed UPON VELLUM!? One copy belonged to the famous Henri II. and Diane de Poictiers, and is about an eighth of an inch taller and wider than the other; but the other has not met with fair play, from the unskilful manner in which it has been bound—in red morocco. Perhaps the interior of this second copy may be preferred to that of Henri II. The illuminations are ancient, and elegantly executed, and the vellum seems equally white and beautiful. Probably the tone of the vellum in the other copy may be a little more sombre, but there reigns throughout it such a sober, uniform, mellow and genuine air—that, brilliant and captivating as may be the red morocco copy—he ought to think more than once or twice who should give it the preference. The arms of the morocco copy, in the first page of the Life of Aristotle, from Diogenes Laertius, have been cut out. This copy came from the monastery of St. Salvador; and the original, roughly stamped, edges of the leaves are judiciously preserved in the binding. Both copies have the first volume upon paper. Indeed it seems now clearly ascertained that it was never printed upon vellum.[78] The copy of Henri II. measures twelve inches and a quarter, by eight and an eighth.

PLUTARCHI OPUSCULA MORALIA. Printed by Aldus. 1509. Folio. 2 vols. Another, delicious MEMBRANACEOUS treasure from the fine library of Henri II. and Diane de Poictiers; in the good old original coverture, besprinkled with interlaced D's and H's. It is in truth a lovely book—measuring ten inches and five eighths, by seven inches and three eighths; but I suspect a little cropt. Some of the vellum is also rather tawny—especially the first and second leaves, and the first page of the text of Plutarch. These volumes reminded me of the first Aldine Plato, also UPON VELLUM, in the library of Dr. W. Hunter; but I question if the Plato be quite so beautiful a production.

EUSTATHIUS IN HOMERUM. 1542. Folio. 4 vols. Printed UPON VELLUM—and probably unique. A set of matchless volumes—yet has the binder done them great injustice, by the manner in which the backs are cramped or choked. The exteriors, in blazing red morocco, are not in the very best taste. A good deal of the vellum is also of too yellow a tint, but it is of a most delicate quality.

ARISTOTELIS ETHICA NICHOMACHEA. Gr. This volume forms a part only of the first Aldine edition of the Nichomachean ethics of Aristotle. The margins are plentifully charged with the Scholia of Basil the Great, as we learn from an original letter of "Constantinus Palaeocappa, grecus" to Henry the Second—whose book it was, and who shewed the high sense he entertained of the Scholia, by having the volume bound in a style of luxury and splendour beyond any thing which I remember to have seen—as coming from his library. The reverse of the first leaf exhibits a beautiful frame work, of silver ornaments upon a black ground—now faded; with the initials and devices of Henry and Diane de Poictiers. Their arms and supporters are at top. Within this frame work is the original and beautifully written letter of Constantine Palaeocappa. On the opposite page the text begins—surrounded by the same brilliant kind of ornament; having an initial H of extraordinary beauty. The words, designating the Scholia, are thus:

[Greek: META SCHOLION BASILEIOU TOU MEGALOU.]

These Scholia are written in a small, close, and yet free Greek character, with frequent contractions. Several other pages exhibit the peculiar devices of Henry and Diana—having silver crescents and arrow-stocked quivers. This book is bound in boards, and covered with dark green velvet, now almost torn to threads. In its original condition, it must have been an equally precious and resplendent tome. It measures twelve inches and a quarter, by eight inches and three eighths.

EUCLIDES. Printed by Ratdolt. 1482. Folio. A copy UPON VELLUM. The address of Ratdolt, as it sometimes occurs, is printed in golden letters; but I was disappointed in the view of this book. Unluckily the first leaf of the text is ms. but of the time. At the bottom, in an ancient hand, we read "Monasterii S. Saluatoris bonon. signatus In Inuentario numero 524." It is a large copy, but the vellum is rather tawny.

PRISCIANUS. Printed by V. de Spira. 1470. Folio. First edition, UPON VELLUM. This is a book, of which, as you may remember, some mention has been previously made;[79] and I own I was glad to turn over the membranaceous leaves of a volume which had given rise, at the period of its acquisition, to a good deal of festive mirth. At the first glance of it, I recognised the cropping system. The very first page of the text has lost, if I may so speak, its head and shoulders: nor is such amputation to be wondered at, when we read, to the left, "Relie par DEROME dit le Jeune." Would you believe it—nearly one half of the illumination, at top, has been sliced away? The vellum is beautifully delicate, but unluckily not uniformly white. Slight, but melancholy, indications of the worm are visible at the beginning—which do not, however, penetrate a great way. Yet, towards the end, the ravages of this book-devourer are renewed: and the six last leaves exhibit most terrific evidences of his power. This volume is bound in gay green morocco—with water-tabby pink lining.

BUDAEUS. COMMENT. GR. LING. 1529. Folio. Francis the First's own copy—and UPON VELLUM! You may remember that this book was slightly alluded to at the commencement of a preceding letter. It is indeed a perfect gem, and does one's heart good to look at it. Budaeus was the tutor of Francis, and I warrant that he selected the very leaves, of which this copy is composed, for his gallant pupil. Old Ascensius was the printer: which completes the illustrious trio. The illuminations, upon the rectos of the first and second leaves, are as beautiful as they are sound. Upon the whole, this book may fairly rank with any volume in either of the vellum sets of the Aldine Aristotle. It is bound in red morocco; a little too gaudily.

CICERONIS ORATIONES. Printed by Valdarfer. 1471: Folio. Still revelling among VELLUM copies of the early classics. This is a fine book, but it is unluckily imperfect. I should say that it was of large and genuine dimensions, did not a little close cropping upon the first illuminated page tell a different tale. It measures twelve inches and six eighths, by eight inches and a half. Upon the whole, though there be a few uncomfortably looking perforations of the worm, this is a very charming copy. Its imperfections do not consist of more than the deficiency of one leaf, which contains the table.

OVIDII OPERA OMNIA. Printed by Azoguidi. 1471. Folio. 3 vols. The supposed FIRST EDITION, and perhaps (when complete)[80] the rarest Editio Princeps in existence. The copy before me partakes of the imperfection of almost every thing earthly. It wants two leaves: but it is a magnificent, and I should think unrivalled, copy—bating such imperfection. It measures very nearly thirteen inches and a quarter, by little more than eight inches three quarters. It is bound in red morocco.

AESOPUS. Latine. Printed by Dom. de Vivaldis, &c. 1481. Folio. A most singular volume—in hexameter and pentameter, verses. To every fable is a wood cut, quite in the ballad style of execution, with a back-ground like coarse mosaic work. The text is printed in a large clumsy gothic letter. The present is a sound copy, but not free from stain. Bound in blue morocco.

AESOPUS. Italice. Edited by Tuppi. 1485. Folio. A well known and highly coveted edition: but copies are very rare, especially when of goodly dimensions. This is a large and beautiful book; although I observe that the border, on the right margin of the first leaf, is somewhat cut away. The graphic art in this volume has a very imposing appearance.

—— Germanice. Without Date or Name of Printer. Folio. This edition is printed in a fine large open gothic type. There is the usual whole length cut of AEsop. The other cuts are spirited, after the fashion of those in Boccacio De Malis Mulier. Illust.—printed by John Zeiner at Ulm in 1473. The present is a fine, sound copy: in red morocco binding.

AESOPUS. Germanice. Without Date, &c. Folio. This impression, which, like the preceding, is destitute of signatures and catchwords, is printed in a smaller gothic type. The wood cuts are spirited, with more of shadow. Some of the initial letters are pretty and curious. Some of the pages (see the last but fifteen) contain as many as forty-five lines. The present is a fine, large copy.

—— Hispanice. Printed at Burgos. 1496. Folio. This is a beautiful and interesting volume, full of wood cuts. The title is within a broad bold border, thus: "Libro del asopo famoso fabulador historiado en romace." On the reverse is the usual large wood cut of AEsop, but his mouth is terribly diminished in size. The leaves are numbered in large roman numerals. A fine clean copy, in blue morocco binding.

And now, my dear friend, let us both breathe a little, by way of cessation from labour: yourself from reading, and your correspondent from the exercise of his pen. I own that I am fairly tired ... but in a few days I shall resume the BOOK THEME with as much ardour as heretofore.

[43] In his meditated Catalogue raisonne of the books PRINTED UPON VELLUM in the Royal Library. [This Catalogue is now printed, in 8vo. 5 vols. 1822. There are copies on LARGE PAPER. It is a work in all respects worthy of the high reputation of its author. A Supplement to it—of books printed UPON VELLUM in other public, and many distinguished private libraries, appeared in 1824, 8vo. 3 vols.—with two additional volumes in 1828. These volumes are the joy of the heart of a thorough bred Bibliographer.]

[44] The measurement is necessarily confined to the leaves—exclusively of the binding.

[45] See the Art. "Roman de Jason"

[46] [There are, now, ten known perfect copies of this book, of which six are in England. M. Renouard, in his recent edition of the Annals of the Aldine Press, vol. i. p. 36, has been copious and exact.]

[47] [Since bound in blue morocco by Thouvenin.]

[48] [This anecdote, in the preceding Edition of the Tour, was told, inaccurately, as belonging to the Caxton's edition of the Recueil des Hist. de Troye: see p. 102 ante. I thank M. Crapelet for the correction.]

[49] Bibl. Spenceriana, vol. i. p. 107, &c.

[50] [The finest copy in the world of the second edition, as to amplitude, is, I believe, that in the Bodleian library at Oxford. A very singular piece of good fortune has now made it PERFECT. It was procured by Messrs. Payne and Foss of M. Artaria at Manheim.]

[51] Nine years ago I obtained a fac-simile of this memorandum; and published an Essay upon the antiquity of the date of the above Bible, in the Classical Journal, vol. iv. p. 471-484. of Mr. J.A. Valpy. But latterly a more complete fac-simile of it appeared in the Catalogue of Count M'Carthy's books.

[52] "Iste liber illuminatus, ligatus & completus est per Henricum Cremer vicariu ecclesie sancti Stephani Maguntini sub anno dni Millesimo quatringentesimo quinquagesimo sexto, festo Assumptionis gloriose virginis Marie. Deo gracias. Alleluja."

[53] [This copy having one leaf of MS.—but executed with such extraordinary accuracy as almost to deceive the most experienced eye—was sold in 1827, by public auction, for 504l. and is now in the collection of Henry Perkins, Esq.]

[54] Bibl. Spenceriana; vol. i. p. 85-89.

[55] Bibl. Spenceriana; vol. i. p. 103-4; where there is also an account of the book itself—from the description of Camus. The work is entitled by Camus, The ALLEGORY OF DEATH.

[56] This subject is briefly noticed in the Bibliographical Decameron, vol. i. 371; and the book itself is somewhat particularly described there. I think I remember Lord Spencer to have once observed, that more than a slight hope was held out to him, by the late Duke of Brunswick, of obtaining this typographical treasure. This was before the French over-ran Prussia.

[57] See Bibl. Spenceriana; vol. iii. p. 129, vol. iv. p. 500.

[58] Vol. iii. p. 484.

[59] [I had said "De Rome"—incorrectly—in the previous edition. "M. Dibdin poursuit partout d'un trait vengeur le coupable Derome: mais ici c'est au relieur CHAMOT qu'il doit l'addresser." CRAPELET; vol. iii. p. 268.]

[60] [The very sound copy of it, upon paper, belonging to the late Sir M.M. Sykes, Bart. was sold at the sale of his library for 100 guineas.]

[61] That sigh has at length ceased to rend my breast. It will be seen, from the sequel of this Tour, that a good, sound, perfect copy of it, now adorns the shelves of the Spencerion Library. The VIRGILS indeed, in that library, are perfectly unequalled throughout Europe.

[62] [There is a fine copy of this very rare edition in the Public Library at Cambridge.]

[63] [Fine as is this book, it is yet inferior in altitude to the copy in the Public Library at Cambridge.]

[64] [There was another copy of this edition, free from the foregoing objections, which had escaped me. This omission frets M. Crapelet exceedingly; but I can assure him that it was unintentional; and that I have a far greater pleasure in describing fine, than ordinary, copies—be they WHOSE they may.]

[65] [Not so. There was another copy upon vellum, in the library of Count Melzi, which is now in that of G.H. Standish, Esq. I know that 500 guineas were once offered for this most extraordinary copy, bound in 3 volumes in foreign coarse vellum.]

[66] Vol. ii. p. 11: or to the Bibliotheca Spenceriana; vol. iv. p. 385.

[67] Now in Lord Spencer's Collection.

[68] Vol. i. p. 281-2.

[69] [To the best of my recollection and belief, the finest copy of this most estimable book, is that in the Library of the Rt. Hon. Thomas Grenville.]

[70] [The finest copy of this valuable edition, which I ever saw, is that in the Public Library at Cambridge.]

[71] See Bibl. Spenceriana; vol. i. page 272.

[72] [I had called it a UNIQUE copy; but M. Crapelet says, that there was a second similar copy, offered to the late Eugene Beauharnais.]

[73] [It is the Edition of Verard, of the date of 1504. The copy looks as if it had neither Printer's name or date, because the last lines of the colophon have been defaced. See Cat. des Livr. Iniprim. sur Velin de la Bibl. du Roi. vol. iii. p. 35. CRAPELET.]

[74] At page 599, &c.

[75] [See Cat. des Livr. sur Velin, vol. iv. No. 236.]

[76] Vol. iii. p. 176.

[77] [Mr. Hibbert's beautiful copy, above referred to, is about to be sold at the sale of his library, in the ensuing Spring; and is fully described in the Catalogue of that Library, at p. 414: But the fac-simile portrait of Francis Sforza, prefixed to the Catalogue, wants, I suspect, the high finished brilliancy, or force, of the original.]

[78] [Not so: see the Introduction to the Classics, vol. 1. p. 313. edit. 1827 The only known copy of the first volume, UPON VELLUM, is that in the Library of New College, Oxford.]

[79] See the Bibliographical Decameron; vol. iii. p. 165.

[80] [The only ENTIRELY PERFECT copy in Europe, to my knowledge, is that in the library of the Right Hon. Thomas Grenville.]



LETTER VI.

CONCLUSION OF THE ACCOUNT OF THE ROYAL LIBRARY. THE LIBRARY OF THE ARSENAL.

My last letter left me on the first floor of the Royal Library. I am now about to descend, and to take you with me to the ground floor—where, as you may remember I formerly remarked, are deposited the Aldine Vellums and Large Papers, and choice and curious copies from the libraries of Grolier, Diane de Poictiers, and de Thou. The banquet is equally delicious of its kind, although the dishes are of a date somewhat more remote from the time of Apicius.

Corresponding with the almost interminable suite of book-rooms above, is a similar suite below stairs: but the general appearance of the latter is comparatively cold, desolate, and sombre. The light comes in, to the right, less abundantly; and, in the first two rooms, the garniture of the volumes is less brilliant and attractive. In short, these first two lower rooms may be considered rather as the depot for the cataloguing and forwarding of all modern books recently purchased. Let me now conduct you to the third room in this lower suite, which may probably have a more decided claim upon your attention. Here are deposited, as I just observed, the VELLUM ALDUSES and other curious and choice old printed volumes. I will first mention nearly the whole of the former.

HOMERI OPERA. Gr. Printed by Aldus. Without Date. 8vo. 2 vols. A white and beautiful copy—with large, and genuine margins—printed UPON VELLUM. In its original binding, with the ornaments tolerably entire:—and what binding should this be, but that of Henry the Second and Diane de Poictiers? Let me just notice that this copy measures six inches and a half, by three inches and six eighths.

EURIPIDIS OPERA. Gr. 1503. 8vo. 2 vols. A fair and desirable copy UPON VELLUM; but a little objectionable, as being ruled with red lines rather unskilfully. It is somewhat coarsely bound in red morocco, and preserved in a case. This vellum treasure is among the desiderata of Earl Spencer's library; and I sincerely wish his Lordship no worse luck than the possession of a copy like that before me.[81]

HECUBA, ET IPHIGENIA IN AULIDE. Gr. and Lat. 1507. 8vo. A very rare book, and quite perfect, as far as it goes. This copy, also UPON VELLUM, is much taller than the preceding of the entire works of Euripides; but the vellum is not of so white a tint.

ANTHOLOGIA GRAECA. Gr. 1503. 8vo. A very fine genuine copy, upon excellent VELLUM. I suspect this copy to be a little broader, but by no means taller, than a similar copy in Lord Spencer's collection.

HORATIUS. 1501. 8vo. UPON VELLUM: a good, sound copy; although inferior to Lord Spencer's.

MARTIALIS. 1502. 8vo. Would you believe it?—here are two copies UPON VELLUM, and both originally belonged to Grolier. They are differently illuminated, but the tallest—measuring six inches three eighths, by three inches six eighths—is the whitest, and the preferable copy, notwithstanding one may discern the effects of the nibbling of a worm at the bottom corner. It is, however, a beautiful book, in every respect. The initial letters are gold. In the other copy there are the arms of Grolier, with a pretty illumination in the first page of the text. It is also a sound copy.

LUCRETIUS. 1515. 8vo. This copy, UPON VELLUM, is considered to be unique. It is fair, sound, and in all respects desirable.

CICERO DE OFFICIIS. Without Date. 8vo. This is but a moderate specimen of the Aldine VELLUM, if it be not a counterfeit—which I suspect.[82]

CICERONIS ORATIONES. 1519. 8vo. UPON VELLUM. Only the first volume, which however is quite perfect and desirable—measuring six inches and a quarter, by very nearly four inches. But prepare for an account of a perfect, and still more magnificent, vellum copy of the Orations of Cicero—when I introduce you to the Library of St. Genevieve.

HIST. AUGUST. SCRIPTORES. 1521. 8vo. 2 vols. A sound and fair copy—of course UPON VELLUM—but too much cropt in the binding. The foregoing are all the Aldine, Greek and Latin Classics, printed UPON VELLUM, which the liberal kindness of M. Van Praet enabled me to lay my hands upon. But here follows another membranaceous gem of the Aldine Family.

PETRARCHA. 1501. 8vo. A beautiful, white copy, measuring six inches and a half, by three and three quarters. It is, however, somewhat choked in the binding, (in blue morocco) as too many of Bozerian's performances usually are.[83] Close to this book is the Giunta reprint of 1515—ALSO UPON VELLUM: but of a foxy and unpleasing tint. Now for a few LARGE PAPER ALDUSES—of a variety of forms and of characters. But I must premise that the ensuing list of those upon vellum, is very far indeed from being complete.

HORAE. Gr. 1497. 12mo. A beautiful copy, among the very rarest of books which have issued from the Aldine press. Here is also one volume of the Aldine ARISTOTLE, upon large paper: and only one. Did the remaining volumes ever so exist? I should presume they did.

BIBLIA GRAECA. 1518. Folio. Upon thick paper. Francis the First's own copy. A glorious and perhaps matchless copy. Yet it is rebacked, in modern binding, in a manner ... almost shameful!

PLAUTUS. 1522. Small quarto. A very fine copy; in all appearance large paper, and formerly belonging to Grolier.

AUSONIUS. 1517. 8vo. Large paper; very fine; and belonging to the same.

VALERIUS MAXIMUS. 1534. 8vo. The same—in all respects.

PRISCIANUS. 1527. 8vo. Every characteristic before mentioned.

SANNAZARII ARCADIA. Ital. 1514. 8vo. The same.

—— De Partu Virginis. 1533. 8vo. An oblong, large paper Grolier, like most of the preceding.

ISOCRATES. Gr. 1534. Folio. EUSTRATIUS IN ARISTOT. Gr. 1536. Both upon large paper, of the largest possible dimensions, and in the finest possible condition; add to which—rich and rare old binding! Both these books, upon large paper, are wanting in Lord Spencer's collection; but then, as a pretty stiff set-off, his Lordship has the THEMISTIUS of 1534— which, for size and condition, may challenge either of the preceding—and which is here wanting.

GALENUS. 1525. Gr. Folio. 5 vols. A matchless set, upon large paper. The binding claims as much attention, before you open the volumes, as does a finely-proportioned Greek portico—ere you enter the temple or the mansion. The foregoing are all, doubtless, equally splendid and uncommon specimens of the beauty and magnificence of the press of the Alduses: and they are also, with very few exceptions, as intrinsically valuable as they are fine. I shall conclude my survey of these lower-book-regions by noticing a few more uncommon books of their kind.

CATHARIN DE SIENA. 1500. Folio. This volume is also a peculiarity in the Aldine department. It is, in the first place, a very fine copy—and formerly belonged to Anne of Brittany. In the second place, it has a wood-cut prefixed, and several introductory pieces, which, if I remember rightly, do not belong to Lord Spencer's copy of the same edition.

ISOCRATES. Gr. Printed at Milan. 1493. Folio. What is somewhat singular, there is another copy of this book which has a title and imprint of the date of 1535 or 1524; in which the old Greek character of the body of the work is rather successfully imitated.[84]

BIBLIA POLYGLOTTA COMPLUTENSIA. 1516-22. Fol. 6 vols. I doubt exceedingly whether this be not the largest and finest copy in existence. It may possibly be even large paper—but certainly, if otherwise, it is among the most ample and beautiful. The colour, throughout, is white and uniform; which is not the usual characteristic of copies of this work. It measures fourteen inches and three quarters in height, and belonged originally to Henry II. and Diane de Poictiers. It wanted only this to render it unrivalled; and it now undoubtedly is so.

TESTAMENTUM NOVUM. Gr. Printed by R. Stephen. 1550. Folio. Another treasure from the same richly-fraught collection. It is quite a perfect copy; but some of the silver ornaments of the sides have been taken off. Let me now place before you a few more testimonies of the splendour of that library, which was originally the chief ornament of the Chateau d'Anet,[85] and not of the Louvre.

HERODOTUS. Gr. Printed by Aldus, 1502. Folio. I had long supposed Lord Spencer's copy—like this, upon LARGE PAPER—to be the finest first Aldine Herodotus in existence: but the first glimpse only of the present served to dissipate that belief. What must repeated glimpses have produced?

LUCIANUS. Gr. Printed by the Same. 1503. Folio. Equally beautiful—large, white, and crackling—with the preceding.

SUIDAS. Gr. Printed by the Same. 1503. Folio. The same praise belongs to this copy; which, like its precursors, is clothed in the first mellow and picturesque binding.

EUSTATHIUS IN HOMERUM. 1542. Folio. 3 vols. A noble copy—eclipsed perhaps, in amplitude only, by that in the collection of Mr. Grenville.

DION CASSIUS. Gr. 1548. Folio. APPIANUS. Gr. 1551. Folio. DIONYSIUS HALICARNASSENSIS. 1546. Folio. These exquisitely well printed volumes are from the press of the Stephens. The present copies, clothed in their peculiar bindings, are perhaps the most beautiful that exist. They are from the library of the Chateau d'Anet. Let it not be henceforth said that the taste of Henri II. was not well directed by the influence of Diane de Poictiers, in the choice of BOOKS.

CICERONIS OPERA OMNIA. Printed by the Giunti, 1534. Folio. 4 vols. I introduce this copy to your notice, because there are four leaves of Various Readings, at the end of the fourth volume, which M. Van Praet said he had never observed, nor heard of, in any other copy.[86] I think also that there are two volumes of the same edition upon LARGE PAPER:—the rest being deficient. Does any perfect copy, of this kind, exist?

POETAE GRAECI HEROICI. 1556. Printed by H. Stephen. Folio. De Thou's own copy—and, upon the whole, perhaps MATCHLESS. The sight of this splendid volume would repay the toil of a pilgrimage of some fourscore miles, over Lapland snows. There is another fine copy of the same edition, which belonged to Diana and her royal slave; but it is much inferior to De Thou's.

The frequent mention of DE THOU reminds me of the extraordinary number of copies, which came from his library, and which are placed upon the shelves of the fourth or following room. Perhaps no other library can boast of such a numerous collection of similar copies. It was, while gazing upon these interesting volumes along with M. Van Praet, that the latter told me he remembered seeing the ENTIRE LIBRARY of De Thou—before it was dispersed by the sale of the collection of the Prince de Soubise in 1788—in which it had been wholly embodied, partly by descent, and partly by purchase. And now farewell ... to the BIBLIOTHEQUE DU ROI. We have, I think, tarried in it a good long time; and recreated ourselves with a profusion of RICH AND RARE GEMS in the book-way—whether as specimens of the pencil, or of the press. I can never regret the time so devoted—nor shall ever banish from my recollection the attention, civility, and kindness which I have received, from all quarters, in this magnificent library. It remains only to shake hands with the whole Corps Bibliographique, who preside over these regions of knowledge, and whose names have been so frequently mentioned—and, making our bow, to walk arm in arm together to the

LIBRARY OF THE ARSENAL.

The way thither is very interesting, although not very short. Whether your hackney coachman take you through the Marche des Innocents, or straight forward, along the banks of the Seine—passing two or three bridges—you will be almost equally amused. But reflections of a graver cast will arise, when you call to mind that it was in his way to THIS VERY LIBRARY—to have a little bibliographical, or rather perhaps political, chat with his beloved Sully—that Henry IV. fell by the hand of an Assassin.[87] They shew you, at the further end of the apartments—distinguished by its ornaments of gilt, and elaborate carvings—the very boudoir ... where that monarch and his prime minister frequently retired to settle the affairs of the nation. Certainly, no man of education or of taste can enter such an apartment without a diversion of some kind being given to the current of his feelings. I will frankly own that I lost, for one little minute, the recollection of the hundreds and thousands of volumes— including even those which adorn the chamber wherein the head librarian sits—which I had surveyed in my route thither. However, my present object must be exclusively confined to an account of a very few choice articles of these hundreds and thousands of volumes.

BIBLIA LATINA. Printed by Fust and Schoiffher, 1462. 2 vols. There are not fewer than three copies of this edition, which I shall almost begin to think must be ranked among books of ordinary occurrence. Of these three, two are UPON VELLUM, and the third is upon paper. The latter, or paper copy, is cruelly cropt, and bad in every respect. Of the two upon vellum, one is in vellum binding, and a fair sound copy; except that it has a few initials cut out. The other vellum copy, which is bound in red morocco— measuring full fifteen inches and a half, by eleven inches and a quarter— affords the comfortable evidence of ancient ms. signatures at bottom. There are doubtless some exceptionable leaves; but, upon the whole, it is a very sound and desirable copy. It was obtained of the elder M. Brunet, father of the well-known author of the Manuel du Libraire. M. Brunet senior found it in the garret of a monastery, of which he had purchased the entire library; and he sold it to the father of the present Comte d'Artois for six hundred livres ... only!

ROMAUNT DE JASON, Supposed to be printed by Caxton. Folio. Without date. This is a finer copy than the one in the Royal Library; but it is imperfect, wanting two leaves.

Here is a copy of the very rare edition of the MORLINI Novella Comoediae et Fabulae, printed in 1520 in 4to.:—also of the Teatro Jesuitico—impresso en Coimbra, 1634, 4to.:—and of the Missa Latina, printed by Mylius in 1557, 8vo. which latter is a satire upon the mass, and considered exceedingly rare. I regretted to observe so very bad a copy of the original Giunta Edition of the BOCCACCIO of 1527, 4to.

MISSALE PARISIENSE. 1522. Folio. A copy UPON VELLUM. I do not think it possible for any library, in any part of the world, to produce a more lovely volume than that upon which, at this moment, I must be supposed to be gazing! In the illuminated initial letters, wood-cuts, tone and quality of the vellum, and extreme skilfulness of the printer—it surely cannot be surpassed. Nor is the taste of the binding inferior to its interior condition. It is habited in the richly-starred morocco livery of Claude d'Urfe: in other words, it came from that distinguished man's library. Originally it appears to have been in the "Bibliotheque de l'Eglise a Paris."

Mozarabic Missal and Breviary. 1500, 1502. Folio. Original Editions. These copies are rather cropt, but sound and perfect.

THE DELPHIN STATIUS. Two copies: of which that in calf is the whitest, and less beaten: the other is in dark morocco. The Abbe Grosier told me that De Bure had offered him forty louis for one of them: to which I replied, and now repeat the question, "where is the use of keeping two?" Rely upon it, that, within a dozen years from hence, it will turn out that these Delphin Statiuses have never been even singed by a fire![88] I begin to suspect that this story may be classed in the number of BIBLIOGRAPHICAL DELUSIONS— upon which subject our friend * * could publish a most interesting crown octavo volume: meet garniture for a Bibliomaniac's breakfast table.

Here is the ALDINE BIBLE of 1518, in Greek, upon thick paper, bound in red morocco. Also a very fine copy of the Icelandic Bible of 1644, folio, bound in the same manner. Among the religious formularies, I observed a copy of the Liturgia Svecanae Ecclesiae catliolicae et orthodoxae conformis, in 1576, folio—which contains only LXXVI leaves, besides the dedication and preface. It has a wood-cut frontispiece, and the text is printed in a very large gothic letter. The commentary is in a smaller type. This may be classed among the rarer books of its kind. But I must not forget a MS. of The Hours of St. Louis—considered as contemporaneous. It is a most beautiful small folio, or rather imperial octavo; and is in every respect brilliant and precious. The gold, raised greatly beyond what is usually seen in MSS. of this period, is as entire as it is splendid. The miniature paintings are all in a charming state of preservation, and few things of this kind can be considered more interesting.

This library has been long celebrated for its collection of French Topography and of early French and Spanish Romances; a great portion of the latter having been obtained at the sale of the Nyon Library. I shall be forgiven, I trust, if I neglect the former for the latter. Prepare therefore for a list of some choice articles of this description—in every respect worthy of conspicuous places in all future Roxburghe and Stanley collections. The books now about to be described are, I think, almost all in that apartment which leads immediately into Sully's boudoir. They are described just as I took them from the shelves.

RICHARD-SANS PEUR, &c. "A Paris Par Nicolas et Pierre Bonfons," &c. Without Date. 4to. It is executed in a small roman type, in double columns. There is an imposing wood-cut of Richard upon horseback, in the frontispiece, and a very clumsy one of the same character on the reverse. The signatures run to E in fours. An excellent copy.

LE MEME ROMANT. "Imprime nouuelement a Paris." At the end, printed by "Alain Lotrain et Denis Janot." 4to. Without Date. The title, just given is printed in a large gothic letter, in red and black lines, alternately, over a rude-wood cut of Richard upon horseback. The signatures A, B, C, run in fours: D in eight, and E four. The text is executed in a small coarse gothic letter, in long lines. The present is a sound good copy.

ROBERT LE DYABLE. "La terrible Et merueilleuse vie de Robert Le Dyable iiii C." 4to. Without Date. The preceding is over a large wood-cut of Robert, with a club in his hand, forming the frontispiece. The signatures run to D, in fours; with the exception of A, which has eight leaves. The work is printed in double columns, in a small gothic type. A sound desirable copy.

SYPPERTS DE VINEUAULX. "Lhystoire plaisante et recreative faisant metion des prouesses et vaillaces du noble Sypperts de Vineuaulx Et de ses dix septs filz Nouuellement imprime." At the end: printed for "Claude veufue de feu Iehan sainct denys," 4to. Without Date. On the reverse of this leaf there is a huge figure of a man straddling, holding a spear and shield, and looking over his left shoulder. I think I have seen this figure before. This impression is executed in long lines, in a small gothic letter. A sound copy of a very rare book.[89]

GUY DE VVARWICH. "Lhystoire de Guy de vvarwich Cheualier dagleterre &c. 4to. No Date. The preceding is over a wood-cut of the famous Guy and his fair Felixe. At bottom, we learn that it is executed in a small gothic type, in double columns. The colophon is on the reverse of V. six.

MESSER NOBILE SOCIO. "Le Miserie de li Amanti di Messer Mobile Socio." Colophon: "Stampata in Vinegia per Maestro Bernardino de Vitali Veneciano MDXXXIII." 4to. This impression is executed in long lines, in a fair, good, italic letter. The signatures, from a to y inclusively, run in fours. The colophon, just given, is on the reverse of z i. Of this romance I freely avow my total ignorance.

CASTILLE ET ARTUS D'ALGARBE. 4to. This title is over what may be called rather a spirited wood-cut. The date below is 1587. It is printed in double columns, in a small roman type. In the whole, forty-eight leaves. A desirable copy.

LA NEF DES DAMES. 4to, Without Date. This title is composed of one line, in large lower-case gothic, in black, (just as we see in some of the title pages of Gerard de Leeu) with the rest in four lines, in a smaller gothic letter, printed in red. In this title page is also seen a wood-cut of a ship, with the virgin and child beneath.

This book exhibits a fine specimen of rich gothic type, especially in the larger fount—with which the poetry is printed. There is rather an abundant sprinkling of wood cuts, with marginal annotations. The greater part of the work is in prose, in a grave moral strain. The colophon is a recapitulation of the title, ending thus: "Imprime a Lyon sur le rosne par Iaques arnollet." This is a sound but somewhat soiled copy. In torn parchment binding.

NOVELAS FOR MARIA DE ZAYAS, &c. En Zaragoca, en el Hospital Real, &c. Ano 1637." 4to. These novels are ten in number; some of them containing Spanish poetry. An apparently much enlarged edition appeared in 1729. 4to. "Corregidas y enmendadas en esta ultima impression."

NOVELAS AMOROSAS. Madrid, 1624. 4to. Twelve novels, in prose: 192 leaves. Subjoined in this copy, are the "Heroydas Belicas, y Amoras, &c." En Barcelona, &c. 1622. 4to. The whole of these latter are in three-line stanzas: 109 leaves.

SVCESSOS Y PRODIGOS DE AMOR. En Madrid. 1626. 4to. 166 leaves. At the end: "Orfeo, en lengva Castellana. A la decima Mvsa." By the same author: in four cantos: thirty-one leaves.

EL CAVALLERO CID. "El Cid rvy Diez de Viuar."

The preceding title is over a wood-cut of a man on horseback, trampling upon four human bodies. At bottom: Impresso con licencia en Salamanca, Ano de 1627." 4to.: 103 pages. At the end are, the "Seys Romances del Cid Ruy Diaz de Biuar." The preceding is on A (i). Only four leaves in the whole; quite perfect, and, as I should apprehend, of considerable rarity. This slender tract appears to have been printed at Valladolid por la viuda de Francisco de Cordoua, Ano de 1627." 4to.

FIORIO E BIANCIFIORE. "Impressa, &c. ne bologna, Delanno del nostro signore m.cccclxxx. adi. xxiii. di decembre. Laus deo." Folio. Doubtless this must be the Prima Edizione of this long popular romance; and perhaps the present may be a unique copy of it. Caxton, as you may remember, published an English prosaic version of it in the year 1485; and no copy of that version is known, save the one in the cabinet at St. James's Place. This edition has only eight leaves, and this copy happens unluckily to be in a dreadfully shattered and tender state. At the end:

Finito e il libra del fidelissimo Amore Che portorno insieme Fiorio e Biancifiore

Subjoined to the copy just described is another work, thus entitled:

SECRETO SOLO e in arma ben amaistrato Sia qualunqua nole essere inamorato. Got gebe ir eynen guten seligen mogen.

The preceding, line for line, is printed in a large gothic type: the rest of the work in a small close gothic letter. Both pieces, together, contain sixty-three leaves.

COMMEDIA DE CELESTINA. "Vendese la presente obra en la ciudad de Anuers," &c. 18mo. Without Date. I suspect however that this scarce little volume was printed as well as "sold" at Paris.

MILLES ET AMYS. "A Rouen chez la Veufue de Louys Coste." 4to. Without Date. The frontispiece has a wood-cut of no very extraordinary beauty, and the whole book exhibits a sort of ballad-style of printing. It is executed in a roman letter, in double columns.

OGIER LE DANOIS. "On les vend a Lyon, &c." Folio. At the end is the date of 1525, over the printer's device of a lion couchant, and a heart and crown upon a shield. It is a small folio, printed in a neat and rather brilliant gothic type, with several wood-cuts.

GALIEN ET JAQUELINE. "Les nobles prouesses et vaillances de Galien restaure," &c. 1525, Folio. The preceding is over a large wood-cut of a man on horseback; and this romance is printed by the same printer, in the same place, and, as you observe, in the same year—as is that just before described.

HUON DE BOURDEAUX. Here are four editions of this Romance:—to which I suspect fourscore more might be added. The first is printed at Paris for Bonfons, in double columns, black letter, with rude wood-cuts. A fine copy: from the Colbert Collection. The second edition is of the date of 1586: in long lines, roman letter, approaching the ballad-style of printing. The third edition is "A Troyes, Chez Nicolas Oudot, &c. 1634." 4to. in double columns, small roman letter. No cuts, but on the recto and reverse of the frontispiece. The fourth edition is also "A Troyes Chez Pierre Garnier, 1726," 4to. in double columns, roman letter. A very ballad-like production.

LES QUATRE FILZ AYMON, Two. editions. One. "a Lyon par Benoist Rigaud, 1583," 4to. The printing is of the ballad-kind, although there are some spirited wood-cuts, which have been wretchedly pulled. The generality are as bad as the type and paper.

MABRIAN. &c. "A Troyes, Chez Oudot, 1625," 4to. A vastly clever wood-cut frontispiece, but wretched paper and printing. From the Cat. de Nyon; no. 8135.

MORGANT LE GEANT. "A Troyes, Chez Nicholas Oudot, 1650, 4to." A pretty wood-cut frontispiece, and an extraordinary large cut of St. George and the Dragon on the reverse. There was a previous Edition by the same Printer at Rouen, in 1618, which contains the second book—wanting in this copy.

GERARD COMTE DE NEVERS, &C. 1526, 4to. The title is over the arms of France, and the text is executed in a handsome gothic letter, in long lines. At the end, it appears to have been printed for Philip le Noir. It is a very small quarto, and the volume is of excessive rarity. The present is a fine copy, in red morocco binding.

CRONIQUE DE FLORIMONT, &C. At "Lyons—par Olivier Arnoullet," 4to. At the end is the date of 1529. This impression is executed in a handsome gothic type, in long lines.

TROYS FILZ DE ROYS. Printed for "Nicolas Chrestien—en la Rue neufue nostre Dame," &c. Without date, 4to. The frontispiece displays a large rude wood cut; and the edition is printed in the black letter, in double columns. All the cuts are coarse. The book, however, is of uncommon occurrence.

PARIS ET VIENNE:—"a Paris, Chez Simon Caluarin rue St. Jacques." Without date: in double columns; black letter, coarsely printed. A pretty wood-cut at the beginning is repeated at the end. This copy is from the Colbert Library.

PIERRE DE PROVENCE ET LA BELLE MAGUELONNE. 1490. 4to. The title is over a large wood-cut of a man and woman, repeated on the reverse of the leaf. The impression is in black letter, printed in long lines, with rather coarse wood-cuts. I apprehend this small quarto volume to be of extreme rarity.

JEHAN DE SAINTRE—"Paris, pour Jehan Bonfons," &c. 4to. Without date. A neatly printed book, in double columns, in the gothic character. There is no cut but in the frontispiece. A ms. note says, "This is the first and rarest edition, and was once worth twelve louis." The impression is probably full three centuries old.

BERINUS ET AYGRES DE LAYMANT. At bottom: sold at "Paris par Jehan de Bonfons, 4to. No date. It is in double columns, black letter, with the device of the printer on the reverse of the last leaf. A rare book.

JEAN DE PARIS. "Le Romat de Iehan de Paris, &c. a Paris, par Jehan Bonfons, 4to. Without date. In black letter, long lines: with rather pretty wood-cuts. A ms. note at the end says: "Ce roman que jay lu tout entier est fort singulier et amusant—cest de luy douvient le proverbe "train de Jean de Paris." Cest ici la plus ancienne edition. Elle est rare." The present is a sound copy. There are some pleasing wood-cuts at the end.

CRONIQUE DE CLERIADUS, &C. "On les vend a Lyon au pres de nostre dame de confort cheulx Oliuier Arnoullet. At the end; 1529. 4to. This edition, which is very scarce, is executed in a handsome gothic type, in long lines. The present is a cropt but sound copy.

GUILLAUME DE PALERNE, &C. At bottom—beneath a singular wood-cut of some wild animal (wolf or fox) running away with a child, and a group of affrighted people retreating—we read: "On les vent a Lyon aupres Dame de Confort chez Oliuier Arnoulle." At the end is the date of 1552.

—— Another edition of the same romance, printed at Rouen, without date, by the widow of Louis Coste, 4to. A mere ballad-style of publication: perhaps not later than 1634.—the date of our wretched and yet most popular impression of the Knights of the Round Table.

DAIGREMONT ET VIVIAN. Printed by Arnoullet, at Lyons, in 1538, 4to. It is executed in a handsome gothic letter, in long lines. This copy is bound up with the first edition of the Cronique de Florimont—for which turn to a preceding page[90]. In the same volume is a third romance, entitled

LA BELLE HELAYNE, 1528, 4to.:—Printed by the same printer, with a singular wood-cut frontispiece; in a gothic character not quite so handsome as in the two preceding pieces.

JOURDAIN DE BLAVE. A Paris, par Nicolas Chrestien," 4to. Without date. Printed in double columns, in a small coarse gothic letter.

DOOLIN DE MAYENCE. A Paris—N. Bonfons. Without date, 4to. Probably towards the end of the sixteenth century; in double columns, in the roman letter. Here is another edition, printed at Rouen, by Pierre Mullot; in roman letter; in double columns. A coarse, wretched performance.

MEURVIN FILS D'OGER, &C. A Paris;—Nicolas Bonfons." 4to. Without date. In the roman letter, in double columns. A fine copy.

MELUSINE. Evidently by Philip le Noir, from his device at the end. It is executed in a coarse small gothic letter; with a strange, barbarous frontispiece. Another edition, having a copy of the same frontispiece,— "Nouuellement Imprimee a Troyes par Nicolas Oudot. 1649." 4to. Numerous wood-cuts. In long lines, in the roman letter.

TREBISOND. At the end: for "Iehan Trepperel demourat en la rue neufue nostre dame A lenseigne de lescu de frac. Without date, 4to. The device of the printer is at the back of the colophon. This impression is executed in the black letter, in double columns, with divers wood-cuts.

HECTOR DE TROYE. The title is over a bold wood-cut frontispiece, and Arnoullet has the honour of being printer of the volume. It is executed in the black letter, in long lines. After the colophon, at the end, is a leaf containing a wood-cut of a man and woman, which I remember to have seen more than once before.

And now, methinks, you have had a pretty liberal assortment of ROMANCES placed before you, and may feel disposed to breathe the open air, and quit for a while this retired but interesting collection of ancient tomes. Here, then, let us make a general obeisance and withdraw; especially as the official announce of "deux heures viennent de sonner" dissipates the charm of chivalrous fiction, and warns us to shut up our volumes and begone.

[81] [The only copy of it in England, UPON VELLUM, is that in the Royal Library in the British Museum.]

[82] [It seems that it is a production of the GIUNTI Press. Cat. des Livr. &c. sur Velin, vol. ii. p. 59.]

[83] [I learn from M. Crapelet that this book is a Lyons Counterfeit of the Aldine Press; and that the genuine Aldine volume, upon vellum, was obtained, after my visit to Paris, from the Macarthy Collection.]

[84] [I had blundered sadly, it seems, in the description of this book in the previous edition of this work: calling it a Theocritus, and saying there was a second copy on large paper. M. Crapelet is copious and emphatic in his detection of this error.]

[85] [I thank M. Crapelet for the following piece of information—from whatever source he may have obtained it: "The library of Henri II. and Diane de Poictiers was sold by public auction in 1724, after the death of Madame La Princesse Marie de Bourbon, wife of Louis-Joseph, Duc de Vendome, who became Proprietor of the Chateau d'Anet. The Library, was composed of a great number of MSS. and Printed Books, exceedingly precious. The sale catalogue of the Library, which is a small duodecimo of 50 pages, including the addenda, is become very scarce." CRAPELET; vol. iii. 347.

My friend M. GAIL published a very interesting brochure, about ten years ago, entitled Lettres Inedites de Henri II. Diane de Poitiers, Marie Stuart, Francois, Roi Dauphin &c. Amongst these letters, there was only ONE specimen which the author could obtain of the united scription, or rather signatures, of Henry and Diana. Of these signatures he has given a fac-simile; for which the Reader, in common with myself, is here indebted to him. Below this united signature, is one of Diana HERSELF—from a letter entirely written in her own hand. It must be confessed that she was no Calligraphist.

[Autographs: Henri II, Diane de Poitiers]

[86] [My friend Mr. Drury possessed a similar copy.]

[87] It may not be generally known that one of the most minute and interesting accounts of this assassination is given in Howell's Familiar Letters. The author had it from a friend who was an eye-witness of the transaction.

[88] As for the "singeing."—or the reputed story of the greater part of them having been burnt—my opinion still continues to be as implied above: I will only now say that FORTUNATE is that Vendor who can obtain 25l. for a copy—be that copy brown or fair.

[89] [My friend, the late Robert Lang, Esq. whose extraordinary Collection of Romances was sold at the close of the preceding year, often told me, that THE ABOVE was the only Romance which he wanted to complete his Collection.]

[90] Page 164, ante.



LETTER VII.

LIBRARY OF STE. GENEVIEVE. THE ABBE MERCIER ST. LEGER. LIBRARY OF THE MAZARINE COLLEGE, OR INSTITUTE. PRIVATE LIBRARY OF THE KING. MONS. BARBIER, LIBRARIAN.

It is just possible that you may not have forgotten, in a previous letter, the mention of STE. GENEVIEVE—situated in the old quarter of Paris, on the other side of the Seine; and that, in opposition to the ancient place or church, so called, there was the new Ste. Genevieve—or the Pantheon. My present business is with the old establishment: or rather with the LIBRARY, hard by the old church of Ste. Genevieve. Of all interiors of libraries, this is probably the most beautiful and striking; and it is an absolute reproach to the taste of antiquarian art at Paris, that so beautiful an interior has not been adequately represented by the burin. There is surely spirit and taste enough in this magnificent capital to prevent such a reproach from being of a much longer continuance. But my business is with the original, and not with any copy of it—however successful. M. Flocon is the principal librarian, but he is just now from home[91]. M. Le Chevalier is the next in succession, and is rarely from his official station. He is a portly gentleman; unaffected, good-natured, and kind-hearted. He has lived much in England, and speaks our language fluently: and catching my arm, and leaning upon it, he exclaimed, with a sort of heart's chuckle—in English, "with all my soul I attend you to the library."

On entering that singularly striking interior, he whispered gently in my ear "you shall be consigned to a clever attendant, who will bring you what you want, and I must then leave you to your occupations." "You cannot confer upon me a greater favour," I replied. "Bon, (rejoined he) je vois bien que vous aimez les livres. A ca, marchons." I was consigned to a gentleman who sat at the beginning of the left rectangular compartment—for the library is in the form of a cross—and making my bow to my worthy conductor, requested he would retire to his own more important concerns. He shook me by the hand, and added, in English—"Good day, God bless you, Sir." I was not wanting in returning a similar salutation.

The LIBRARY OF STE. GENEVIEVE exhibits a local of a very imposing, as well as extensive, appearance. From its extreme length,—which cannot be less than two hundred and thirty feet, as I should conjecture—it looks rather low. Yet the ceiling being arched, and tolerably well ornamented, the whole has a very harmonious appearance. In the centre is a cupola: of which the elder Restout, about ninety years ago, painted the ceiling. They talk much of this painting, but I was not disposed to look at it a second time. The charm of the whole arises, first, from the mellow tone of light which is admitted from the glazed top of this cupola; and, secondly, from the numerous busts, arranged along the sides, which recal to your remembrance some of the most illustrious characters of France—for arts, for arms, for learning, and for public spirit. These busts are at the hither end, as you enter. Busts of foreigners continue the suite towards the other extremities. A good deal of white carved ornament presents itself, but not unpleasantly: the principal ground colour being of a sombre tint, harmonising with that of the books. The floor is of glazed tile. It was one of the hottest of days when I first put my foot within this interior; and my very heart seemed to be refreshed by the coolness—the tranquillity—the congeniality of character—of every thing around me! In such a place, "hours" (as Cowper somewhere expresses it) may be "thought down to moments." A sort of soft, gently-stealing, echo accompanies every tread of the foot. You long to take your place among the studious, who come every day to read in the right compartment of the cross; and which compartment they as regularly fill. Meanwhile, scarcely a whisper escapes them. The whole is, indeed, singularly inviting to contemplation, research, and instruction. But it was to the left of the cupola—and therefore opposite the studious corps just mentioned—that M. Le Chevalier consigned me to my bibliographical attendant. I am ignorant of his name, but cannot be forgetful of his kind offices. The MS. Catalogue (they have no printed one) was placed before me, and I was requested to cater for myself. Among the Libri Desiderati of the fifteenth century, I smiled to observe the Naples Horace of 1474 ... but you wish to be informed of the acquired, and not of the desiderated, treasures. Prepare, therefore, for a treat— of its kind.

LACTANTIUS. Printed in the Soubiaco Monastery. 1465. Folio. This was Pope Pius the Sixth's copy. Indeed the greater number of the more valuable early books belonged to that amiable Pontiff; upon whom Audiffredi (as you may well remember) has passed so warm and so well merited an eulogium[92]. The papal copy, however, has its margins scribbled upon, and is defective in the leaf which contains the errata.

AUGUSTINUS DE CIVITATE DEI. Printed in the same Monastery. 1467. Folio. The margins are broad, but occasionally much stained. The copy is also short. From the same papal collection.

CICERO DE ORATORE. Printed in the same Monastery. Without Date. Folio. A sound copy, but occasionally scribbled upon. The side margins are rather closely cropt.

BIBLIA LATINA. 1462. Folio. 2 vols. I saw only the first volume, which displays a well-proportioned length and breadth of margin. The illuminations appear to be nearly coeval, and are of a soft and pleasing style of execution. Yet the margins are rather deformed by the designation of the chapters, in large roman numerals, of a sprawling character.

BIBLIA ITALICA. Kalend. de Octobrio. 1471. Folio. 2 vols. A perfectly magnificent copy (measuring sixteen inches three eighths, by ten and six eighths) of this very rare edition; of which a minute and particular account will be found in the Catalogue of Earl Spencer's Library.[93] After a careful inspection—rather than from actual comparison—I incline to think that these noble volumes came from the press of Valdarfer. The copy under description is bound in brown calf, with red speckled edges to the leaves. This is a copy of an impression of which the library may justly be proud.

BIBLIA POLONICA. 1599. Folio. In style of printing and embellishment like our Coverdale's Bible of 1535. Whether it be a reprint (which is most probable) of the famous Polish Bible of 1563, I am unable to ascertain.

VIRGILIUS. Printed by Sweynheym and Pannartz. (1469.) Folio. FIRST EDITION; of the greatest rarity. Probably this is the finest copy (once belonging to Pius VI.) which is known to exist; but it must be considered as imperfect—wanting the Priapeia. And yet it may be doubted whether the latter were absolutely printed by Sweynheym and Pannartz for their first edition? This copy, bound in white calf, with the papal arms on the sides, measures twelves inches and a quarter in length, by eight inches and five eighths in width: but the state of the illumination, at the beginning of the Bucolics, shews the volume to have been cropt—however slightly. All the illuminations are quiet and pretty. Upon the whole, this is a very precious book; and superior in most respects to the copy in the Royal Library.[94]

PLINIUS SENIOR. 1469. Folio. EDITIO PRINCEPS. A copy from the same papal library; very fine, both as to length and width.—You rarely meet with a finer copy. The Jenson edition of 1472 is here comparatively much inferior.

CICERO. RHETORICA VETUS. Printed by Jenson. 1470. Folio. A great curiosity: inasmuch as it is a copy UPON VELLUM. It has been cruelly cut down, but the vellum is beautiful. It is also choked in the back, in binding. From the collection of the same Pope.

SUETONIUS. Printed by I.P. de Lignamine. 1470. Folio. A magnificent copy; measuring thirteen inches and one eighth in height. The first leaf is, however, objectionable. From the same collection.

QUINTILIANUS. INSTITUTIONES. By the same Printer. 1470. Folio. This and the preceding book are FIRST EDITIONS. A copy of equal beauty and equal size with the Suetonius. From the same Collection.

PRISCIANUS. Printed by V. de Spira. 1470. Folio. First Edition. We have here a truly delicious copy—UPON VELLUM—and much superior to a similar copy in the Royal Library[95] I ought slightly to notice that a few of the leaves, following the date, are tawny, and others mended. Upon the whole, however, this is a book which rejoices the eye and warms the heart of a classical bibliographer. It is bound in pale calf, with gilt stamped edges, and once belonged to the Pontiff from whose library almost every previously-described volume was obtained.

DANTE. Printed by Petrus [Adam de Michaelibus.] Mantua. 1472. Folio. A large and fair copy of an exceedingly rare edition. It appears to be quite perfect.

BOETIUS. Printed by Frater Iohannes 1474. 4to. It is for the first time that I open the leaves of this scarce edition. It is printed in a sharp and rather handsome roman type, and this copy has sixty-three numbered leaves.

ANTHOLOGIA GRAECA. 1498. 4to. We have here a most desirable copy—UPON VELLUM, which is equally soft and white. It has been however peppered a little by a worm, at the beginning and end; especially at the end. It is coated in a goodly sort ofGaignat binding.

CICERONIS OPERA OMNIA. Milan. 1498. Folio. 4 vols. This is the finest copy of this rare set of volumes which it has been my lot yet to examine; but the dedication of the printer, Minutianus, to I.I. Trivulcius, on the reverse of the first leaf of the first volume, is unluckily wanting. There are, who would call this a large paper copy.

MARSILIUS FICINUS: IN DIONYSIUM AREOPAGITAM. Printed by Laurentius, the Son of Franciscus a Venetian; at Florence. Without Date. Folio. This is certainly a very beautiful and genuine book, in this particular condition— UPON VELLUM—but the small gothic type, in which it is printed, is a good deal blurred. The binding is in its first state: in a deep red-coloured leather, over boards. I should apprehend this impression to be chiefly valuable on the score of rarity and high price, when it is found upon vellum.

The foregoing are what I selected from the Fifteeners; after running an attentive eye over the shelves upon which the books, of that description are placed. In the same case or division where these Fifteeners are lodged, there happen to be a few Alduses, UPON VELLUM—so beautiful, rare, and in such uncommon condition, that I question whether M. Van Praet doth not occasionally cast an envious eye upon these membranaceous treasures— secretly, and perhaps commendably, wishing that some of them may one day find their way into the Royal Collection!... You shall judge for yourself.

HOMERI OPERA. Gr. Printed by Aldus. Without date. 12mo. 2 vols. First Aldine impression; and this copy perhaps yields only to the one in the Royal Library.[96] These volumes are differently bound; but of the two, that containing the Iliad, gains in length what it loses in breadth. The vellum is equally soft, white, and well-conditioned; and perhaps, altogether, the copy is only one little degree inferior to that in the Royal Library. The Odyssey is bound in old red morocco, with stampt gilt edges. This copy was purchased from the Salviati Library.

CICERONIS ORATIONES. Printed at the Aldine Press. 1519. 8vo. 3 vols. Surely this copy is the ne plus ultra of a VELLUM ALDUS! In size, condition, and colour, nothing can surpass it. When I say this, I am not unmindful of the Royal copies here, and more particularly of the Pindar and Ovid in St. James's Place. But, in truth, there reigns throughout the rectos and reverses of each of these volumes, such a mellow, quiet, and genuine tone of colour, that the most knowing bibliographer and the most fastidious Collector cannot fail to express his astonishment on turning over the leaves. They are bound in old red morocco, with the arms of a Cardinal on the exterior; and (with the exception of the first volume, which is some very little shorter) full six inches and a half, by four inches. Shew me its like if you can!

I shall mention only three more volumes; but neither of them Aldine; and then take leave of the library of Ste. Genevieve.

MISSALE MOZARABICUM. 1500. Folio. A fine copy for size and colour; but unluckily much wormed at the beginning, though a little less so at the end. It measures nearly thirteen inches one quarter, by nine three eighths. From the stamped arms of three stars and three lizards, this copy appears to have belonged to the Cardinal Juigne, Archbishop of Paris; who had a fine taste for early printed books.

VITRUVIUS, Printed by the Giunti, 1513. 8vo. A delicious copy; upon white, soft, spotless VELLUM. I question if it be not superior to Mr. Dent's;[97] as it measures six inches and three-quarters, by four. A cruel worm, however, has perforated as far as folio 76; leaving one continued hole behind him. The binding of this exquisite book is as gaudy as it is vulgar.

TEWERDANCKHS. Printed in 1517. Folio. First Edition. This is doubtless a fine copy—upon thick, but soft and white, VELLUM. Fortunately the plates are uncoloured, and the copy is quite complete in the table. It measures fifteen inches in length, by nine inches three quarters in width.

Such appeared to me, on a tolerably careful examination of the titles of the volumes, to be among the chief treasures in the early and more curious department of books belonging to the STE. GENEVIEVE LIBRARY. Without doubt, many more may be added; but I greatly suspect that the learned in bibliography would have made pretty nearly a similar selection; Frequently, during the progress of my examinations, I looked out of window upon the square, or area, below—which was covered at times by numerous little parties of youths (from the College of Henry IV.) who were partaking of all manner of amusements, characteristic of their ages and habits. With, and without, coats—walking, sitting, or running,—there they were! All gay, all occupied, all happy:—unconscious of the alternate miseries and luxuries of the Bibliomania!—unknowing in the nice distinctions of type from the presses of George Laver, Schurener de Bopardia, and Adam Rot: uninitiated in the agonising mysteries of rough edges, large margins, and original bindings! But ...

Where ignorance is bliss 'Tis folly to be wise.

This is soberly quoted—not meaning thereby to scratch the cuticle, or ruffle the temper, of a single Roxburgher. And now, my friend, as we are about to quit this magnificent assemblage of books, I owe it to myself—but much more to your own inextinguishable love of bibliographical history—to say "one little word, or two"—ere we quit the threshold—respecting the Abbe MERCIER SAINT LEGER ... the head librarian, and great living ornament of the collection, some fifty years ago. I am enabled to do this with the greater propriety, as my friend M. Barbier is in possession of a number of literary anecdotes and notices respecting the Abbe—and has supplied me with a brochure, by Chardon De La Rochette, which contains a notice of the life and writings of the character in question. I am sure you will be interested by the account, limited and partial as it must necessarily be: especially as I have known those, to whose judgments I always defer with pleasure and profit, assert, that, of all BIBLIOGRAPHERS, the Abbe Mercier St. Leger was the FIRST, in eminence, which France possessed, I have said so myself a hundred times, and I repeat the asseveration. Yet we must not forget Niceron.

Mercier Saint Leger was born on the 1st of April, 1734. At fifteen years of age, he began to consider what line of life he should follow. A love of knowledge, and a violent passion for study and retirement, inclined him to enter the congregation of the Chanoines Reguliers—distinguished for men of literature; and, agreeably to form, he went through a course of rhetoric and philosophy, before he passed into divinity, as a resident in the Abbey de Chatrices in the diocese of Chalons sur Marne. It was there that he laid the foundation of his future celebrity as a literary bibliographer. He met there the venerable CAULET, who had voluntarily resigned the bishopric of Grenoble, to pass the remainder of his days in the abbey in question—of which he was the titular head—in the midst of books, solitude, and literary society. Mercier Saint Leger quickly caught the old man's eye, and entwined himself round his heart. Approaching blindness induced the ex-bishop to confide the care of his library to St. Leger—who was also instructed by him in the elements of bibliography and literary history. He taught him also that love of order and of method which are so distinguishable in the productions of the pupil. Death, however, in a little time separated the master from the scholar; and the latter scarcely ever mentioned the name, or dwelt upon the virtues, of the former, without emotions which knew of no relief but in a flood of tears. The heart of Mercier St. Leger was yet more admirable than his head.

St. Leger, at twenty years of age, returned to Paris. The celebrated Pingre was chief librarian of the Ste. GENEVIEVE COLLECTION; and St. Leger attached himself with ardour and affection to the society and instructions of his Principal. He became joint SECOND LIBRARIAN in 1759; when Pingre, eminent for astronomy, departing for India to observe the transit of Venus over the sun's disk, St. Leger was appointed to succeed him as CHIEF—and kept the place till the year 1772. These twelve years were always considered by St. Leger as the happiest and most profitable of his life. During this period he lent a helping hand in abridging the Journal de Trevoux. In September, 1764, Louis XV. laid the foundation-stone, with great pomp and ceremony, of the new church of Ste. Genevieve. After the ceremony, he desired to see the library of the old establishment—in which we have both been so long tarrying. Mercier spread all the more ancient and curious books upon the table, to catch the eye of the monarch: who, with sundry Lords of the bed-chamber, and his own librarian BIGNON, examined them with great attention, and received from Mercier certain information respecting their relative value, and rarity. Every now and then Louis turned round, and said to Bignon, "Bignon, have I got that book in my library?" The royal librarian ... answered not a word—but hiding himself behind CHOISEUL, the prime minister, seemed to avoid the sight of his master. Mercier, however, had the courage and honesty to reply, "No, Sire, that book is not in your library." The king spent about an hour in examining the books, chatting with the librarian, (Mercier) and informing himself on those points in which he was ignorant. It was during this conversation, that the noble spirit of Mercier was manifested. The building of the library of St. Victor was in a very crazy state: it was necessary to repair it, but the public treasury could not support that expense. "I will tell your Majesty, (said Mercier) how this may be managed without costing you a single crown. The headship of the Abbey of St. Victor is vacant: name a new Abbot; upon condition, each year, of his ceding a portion of his revenue to the reparation of the Library." If the king had had one spark of generous feeling, he would have replied by naming Mercier to the abbey in question, and by enjoining the strict fulfilment of his own proposition. But it was not so. Yet the scheme was carried into effect, although others had the glory of it. However, the king had not forgotten Mercier, nor the bibliographical lesson which he had received in the library of Ste. Genevieve. One of these lessons consisted in having the distinctive marks pointed out of the famous Bible of Sixtus V. published in 1590. A short time after, on returning from mass, along the great gallery of Versailles, Louis saw the head librarian of Ste. Genevieve among the spectators.. and turning to his prime minister, exclaimed "Choiseul, how can one distinguish the true Bible of Sixtus V.?" "Sire, (replied the unsuspecting minister) I never was acquainted with that book." Then, addressing himself to Mercier, the king repeated to him—without the least hesitation or inaccuracy—the lesson which he had learnt in the library of Ste. Genevieve. There are few stories, I apprehend, which redound so much to this king's credit.

Louis gave yet more substantial proofs of his respect for his bibliographical master, by appointing him, at the age of thirty-two, to the headship of the abbey of St. Leger de Soissons—and hence our hero derives his name. In 1772 Mercier surrendered the Ste. Genevieve library to Pingre, on his return from abroad—and in the privacy of his own society, set about composing his celebrated Supplement a l'Histoire de l'Imprimerie par Prosper Marchand—of which the second edition, in 1775, is not only more copious but more correct. The Abbe Rive, who loved to fasten his teeth in every thing that had credit with the world, endeavoured to shake the reputation of this performance.. but in vain. Mercier now travelled abroad; was received every where with banqueting and caresses; a distinction due to his bibliographical merits—and was particularly made welcome by Meerman and Crevenna. M. Ocheda, Earl Spencer's late librarian—and formerly librarian to Crevenna—has often told me how pleased he used to be with Mercier's society and conversation during his visit to Crevenna. On his return, Mercier continued his work, too long suspended, upon the LATIN POETS OF THE MIDDLE AGE. His object was, to give a brief biography of each; an analysis of their works, with little brilliant extracts and piquant anecdotes; traits of history little known; which, say Chardon De La Rochette and M. Barbier, (who have read a great part of the original MS.) "are as amusing as they are instructive."

But the Revolution was now fast approaching, and the meek spirit of Mercier could ill sustain the shock of such a frightful calamity. Besides, he loved his country yet dearer than his books. His property became involved: his income regularly diminished; and even his privacy was invaded. In 1792 a decree passed the convention for issuing a "Commission for the examination of monuments." Mercier was appointed one of the thirty-three members of which the commission was composed, and the famous Barrere was also of the number. Barrere, fertile in projects however visionary and destructive, proposed to Mercier, as a bright thought, "to make a short extract from every book in the national library: to have these extracts superbly printed by Didot;—and to ... BURN ALL THE BOOKS FROM WHICH THEY WERE TAKEN!" It never occurred to this revolutionising idiot that there might be a thousand copies of the same work, and that some hundreds of these copies might be OUT of the national library! Of course, Mercier laughed at the project, and made the projector ashamed of it.[98] Robespierre, rather fiend than man, now ruled the destinies of France. On the 7th of July, 1794, Mercier happened to be passing along the streets when he saw sixty-seven human beings about to undergo the butchery of the GUILLOTINE. Every avenue was crowded by spectators—who were hurrying towards the horrid spectacle. Mercier was carried along by the torrent; but, having just strength enough to raise his head, he looked up ... and beheld his old and intimate friend the ex-abbe ROGER ... in the number of DEVOTED VICTIMS! That sight cost him his life. A sudden horror ... followed by alternate shiverings, and flushings of heat ... immediately seized him. A cold perspiration hung upon his brow. He was carried into the house of a stranger. His utterance became feeble and indistinct, and it seemed as if the hand of death were already upon him.

Yet he rallied awhile. His friends came to soothe him. Hopes were entertained of a rapid and perfect recovery. He even made a few little visits to his friends in the vicinity of Paris. But ... his fine full figure gradually shrunk: the colour as gradually deserted his cheek—and his eye sensibly lacked that lustre which it used to shed upon all around. His limbs became feeble, and his step was both tremulous and slow. He lingered five years ... and died at ten at night, on the 13th of May 1799, just upon the completion of his jubilee of his bibliographical toil. What he left behind, as annotations, both in separate papers, and on the margins of books, is prodigious. M. Barbier shewed me his projected third edition of the Supplement to Marchand, and a copy of the Bibliotheque Francoise of De La Croix du Maine, &c. covered, from one end to the other, with marginal notes by him.[99] That amiable biographer also gave me one of his little bibliographical notices, as a specimen of his hand writing and of his manner of pursuing his enquiries.[100]

Such are the feelings, and such the gratifications; connected with a view of the LIBRARY of STE. GENEVIEVE. Whenever I visit it, I imagine that the gentle spirit of MERCIER yet presides there; and that, as it is among the most ancient, so is it among the most interesting, of BOOK LOCALS in Paris.

Come away with me, now, to a rival collection of books—in the MAZARINE COLLEGE, or Institute. Of the magnificence of the exterior of this building I have made mention in a previous letter. My immediate business is with the interior; and more especially with that portion of it which relates to paper and print. You are to know, however, that this establishment contains two Libraries; one, peculiar to the Institute, and running at right angles with the room in which the members of that learned body assemble: the other, belonging to the College, to the left, on entering the first square—from the principal front.

The latter is the old collection, of the time of Cardinal Mazarin, and with that I begin. It is deposited chiefly on the first floor; in two rooms running at right angles with each other: the two, about 140 feet long. These rooms may be considered very lofty; certainly somewhat more elevated than those in the Royal Library. The gallery is supported by slender columns, of polished oak, with Corinthian capitals. The general appearance is airy and imposing. A huge globe, eight feet in diameter, is in the centre of the angle where the two rooms meet. The students read in either apartment: and, as usual, the greatest order and silence prevail. But not a Fust and Schoiffher—nor a Sweynheym and Pannartz—nor an Ulric Han—in this lower region ... although they say the collection contains about 90,000 volumes. What therefore is to be done? The attendant sees your misery, and approaches: "Que desirez vous, Monsieur?" That question was balm to my agitated spirits. "Are the old and more curious books deposited here?" "Be seated, Sir. You shall know in an instant." Away goes this obliging creature, and pulls a bell by the side of a small door. In a minute, a gentleman, clothed in black—the true bibliographical attire—descends. The attendant points to me: we approach each other: "A la bonne heure—je suis charme...." You will readily guess the remainder. "Donnez vous la peine de monter." I followed my guide up a small winding stair-case, and reached the topmost landing place. A succession of small rooms—(I think ten in number) lined with the true furniture, strikes my astonished eye, and makes warm my palpitating heart. "This is charming"—exclaimed I, to my guide, Monsieur Thiebaut—"this is as it should be." M. Thieubaut bowed graciously.

The floors are all composed of octagonal, deeply-tinted red, tiles: a little too highly glazed, as usual; but cool, of a good picturesque tint, and perfectly harmonising with the backs of the books. The first little room which you gain, contains a plaster-bust of the late Abbe HOOKE,[101] who lived sometime in England with the good Cardinal——. His bust faces another of Palissot. You turn to the right, and obtain the first foreshortened view of the "ten little chambers" of which I just spoke. I continued to accompany my guide: when, reaching the first of the last three rooms, he turned round and bade me remark that these last three rooms were devoted exclusively to "books printed in the Fifteenth Century: of which they possessed about fifteen hundred." This intelligence recruited my spirits; and I began to look around with eagerness. But alas! although the crop was plentiful, a deadly blight had prevailed. In other words, there was number without choice: quantity rather than quality. Yet I will not be ill-natured; for, on reaching the third of these rooms, and the last in the suite, Monsieur Thiebaut placed before me the following select articles.

BIBLIA LATINA. Printed by Fust and Schoiffher: Without Date, but supposed to be in the year 1455 or 1456. Folio. 2 vols. For the last dozen years of my life, I had earnestly desired to see this copy: not because I had heard much of its beauty, but because it is the identical copy which gave rise to the calling of this impression the MAZARINE BIBLE.[102] Certainly, all those copies which I had previously seen—and they cannot be fewer than ten or twelve—were generally superior; nor must this edition be henceforth designated as "of the very first degree of rarity."

BIBLIA LATINA. Printed by the Same, 1462. Folio. 2 vols. A fair, sound, large copy: UPON VELLUM. The date is printed in red, at the end of each volume—a variety, which is not always observable. This copy is in red morocco binding.

BIBLIA ITALICA. Printed by Vindelin de Spira, Kalend. August. 1471. Folio. 2 vols. A fine copy of an extremely rare edition; perhaps the rarest of all those of the early Italian versions of the Bible. It is in calf binding, but cropt a little.

LEGENDA SANCTORUM. Italice. "Impresse per Maestro Nicolo ienson, &c. Without Date. Folio. The author of the version is Manerbi: and the present is the first impression of it. It is executed in double columns, in the usually delicate style of printing by Jenson: and this volume is doubtless among the rarer productions of the printer.

SERVIUS IN VIRGILIUM. Printed by Ulric Han. Without Date. Folio. This is a volume of the most unquestionable rarity; and such a copy of it as that now before me, is of most uncommon occurrence.[103] Can this be surprising, when I tell you that it once belonged to Henri II. and Diane de Poictiers! The leaves absolutely talk to you, as you turn them over. Yet why do I find it in my heart to tell you that, towards the middle, many leaves are stained at the top of the right margin?! There are also two worm holes towards the end. But what then? The sun has its spots.

PLAUTUS. 1472. Folio. Editio Princeps. Although this volume came also from the collection of the illustrious Pair to whom the previous one belonged, yet is it unworthy of such owners. I suspect it has been cropt in its second binding. It is stained all through, at top, and the three introductory leaves are cruelly repellent.

CAESAR. 1469. Folio. Editio Princeps. A very fine, genuine copy; in the original binding—such as all Sweynheym and Pannartz's ought to be. It is tall and broad: but has been unluckily too much written upon.

LACTANTIUS. 1470. By the same Printers. Perhaps, upon the whole, the finest copy of this impression which exists. Yet a love of truth compels me to observe—only in a very slight sound, approaching to a whisper—that there are indications of the ravages of the worm, both at the beginning and end; but very, very trivial. It is bound like the preceding volume; and measures thirteen inches and nearly three quarters, by about nine inches and one eighth.

CICERO DE OFFICIIS. 1466. 4to. Second Edition, upon paper; and therefore rare. But this copy is sadly stained and wormed.

CICERO DE NATURA DEORUM, &c. Printed by Vindelin de Spiraa. 1471. Folio. A fine sound copy, in the original binding.

SILIUS ITALICUS. Printed by Laver. 1471. Folio. A good, sound copy; and among the very rarest books from the press of Laver, in such condition.

CATULLUS, TIBULLUS, ET PROPERTIUS. 1472. Folio. The knowing, in early classical bibliography, are aware that this Editio Princeps is perhaps to be considered as only one degree below the first impressions of Lucretius and Virgil in rarity. The longest life may pass away without an opportunity of becoming the purchaser of such a treasure. The present is a tall, fair copy; quite perfect. In red morocco binding.

DANTE. Printed by Numeister. 1472. Folio. Considered to be the earliest impression. This is rather a broad than a tall copy; and not free from stain and the worm. But it is among the very best copies which I have seen.

* * * * *

It will not be necessary to select more flowers from this choice corner of the tenth and last room of the upper suite of apartments: nor am I sure that, upon further investigation, the toil would be attended with any very productive result. Yet I ought not to omit observing to you that this Library owes its chief celebrity to the care, skill, and enthusiasm of the famous Gabriel Naude, the first librarian under the Cardinal its founder. Of Naude, you may have before read somewhat in certain publications;[104] where his praises are set forth with no sparing hand. He was perhaps never excelled in activity, bibliographical diplomacy, or zeal for his master; and his expressive countenance affords the best index of his ardent mind. He purchased every where, and of all kinds, of bodies corporate and of individuals. But you must not imagine that the Mazarine Library, as you now behold it, is precisely of the same dimensions, or contains the same books, as formerly. If many rare and precious volumes have been disposed of, or are missing, or lost, many have been also procured. The late librarian was LUCAS JOSEPH HOOKE, and the present is Mons. PETIT RADEL.[105] We will descend, therefore, from these quiet and congenial regions; and passing through the lower rooms, seek the other collection of books attached to this establishment.

The library, which is more immediately appropriated to the INSTITUTE OF FRANCE, may consist of 20,000 volumes,[106] and is contained in a long room—perhaps of one hundred feet—of which the further extremity is supposed to be adorned by a statue of VOLTAIRE. This statue is raised within a recess, and the light is thrown upon it from above from a concealed window. Of all deviations from good taste, this statue exhibits one of the most palpable. Voltaire, who was as thin as a hurdle, and a mere bag of bones, is here represented as an almost naked figure, sitting: a slight mantle over his left arm being the only piece of drapery which the statue exhibits. The poet is slightly inclining his head to the left, holding a pen in his right hand. The countenance has neither the fire, force, nor truth, which Denon's terra-cotta head of the poet seems to display. The extremities are meagre and offensive. In short, the whole, as it appears to me, has an air approaching the burlesque. Opposite to this statue are the colossal busts of LA-GRANGE and MALESHERBES; while those of PEIRESC and FRANKLIN are nearly of the size of nature. They are all in white marble. That of Peiresc has considerable expression.

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