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A Bibliographical, Antiquarian and Picturesque Tour in France and Germany, Volume Two
by Thomas Frognall Dibdin
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This may be called a collection of Books of Business; in other words, of books of almost every day's reference—which every one may consult. It is particularly strong in Antiquities and History: and for the latter, it is chiefly indebted to Dom Brial—the living father of French history[107]—that excellent and able man (who is also one of the Secretaries of the Institute) having recommended full two-thirds of the long sets (as they are called) which relate to ancient history. The written catalogue is contained in fourteen folio volumes, interleaved; there being generally only four articles written in a page, and those four always upon the recto of each leaf. This is a good plan: for you may insert your acquisitions, with the greatest convenience, for a full dozen years to come. No printed catalogue of either of these libraries, or of those of the Arsenal and Ste. Genevieve, exists: which I consider to be a stain—much more frightful than that which marks the copy of the "Servius in Virgilium," just before described!

It remains now to make mention of a third Collection of Books—which may be considered in the light both of a public and a private Library. I mean, the Collection appropriated more particularly for the King's private use,[108] and which is deposited beneath the long gallery of the Louvre. Its local is as charming as it is peculiar. You walk by the banks of the Seine, in a line with the south side of the Louvre, and gain admittance beneath an archway, which is defended by an iron grating. An attendant, in the royal livery, opens the door of the library—just after you have ascended above the entresol. You enquire "whether Monsieur BARBIER, the chief Librarian, be within?" "Sir, he is never absent. Be pleased to go straight forward, as far as you can see."[109] What a sight is before me! Nothing less than thirteen rooms, with a small arched door in the centre, through which I gaze as if looking through a tube. Each of these rooms is filled with books; and in one or the other of them are assembled the several visitors who come to read. The whole is perfectly magical. Meanwhile the nephew of M. Barbier walks quickly, but softly, from one room to another, to take down the several volumes enquired after. At length, having paced along upwards of 200 feet of glazed red tile, and wondering when this apparently interminable suite of apartments will end, I view my estimable friend, the HEAD LIBRARIAN deeply occupied in some correction of Bayle or of Moreri—sitting at the further extremity. His reception of me is more than kind. It is hearty and enthusiastic.

"Now that I am in this magical region, my good friend, allow me to inspect the famous PRAYER BOOK of CHARLEMAGNE?"—was my first solicitation to Mons. Barbier. "Gently,"—said my guide. "You are almost asking to partake of forbidden fruit. But I suppose you must not be disappointed." This was only sharpening the edge of my curiosity—for "wherefore this mystery, good M. Barbier?" "That you may know another time. The book is here: and you shall immediately inspect it."—was his reply. M. Barbier unlocked the recess in which it is religiously preserved; took off the crimson velvet in which it is enveloped; and springing backward only two feet and a half, exclaimed, on presenting it, "Le voila—dans toute sa beaute pristine." I own that I even forgot Charles the Bald—and eke his imperial brother Lotharius,[110]—as I gazed upon the contents of it. With these contents it is now high time that you should be made acquainted.

EVANGELISTARIUM, or PRAYER BOOK—once belonging to CHARLEMAGNE. Folio. The subject-matter of this most precious book is thus arranged. In the first place, there are five large illuminations, of the entire size of the page, which are much discoloured. The first four represent the Evangelists: each sitting upon a cushion, not unlike a bolster. The fifth is the figure of our SAVIOUR. The back ground is purple: the pillow-like seat, upon which Christ sits, is scarlet, relieved by white and gold. The upper garment of the figure is dark green: the lower, purple, bordered in part with gold. The foot-stool is gold: the book, in the left hand, is red and gold: the arabesque ornaments, in the border, are blue, red, and gold. The hair of our Saviour is intended to be flaxen.

The text is in double columns, upon a purple ground, within an arabesque border of red, purple, yellow, and bluish green. It is uniformly executed in letters of gold, of which the surface is occasionally rather splendid. It consists of a series of gospel extracts, for the whole year, amounting to about two hundred and forty-two. These extracts terminate with "Et ego resuscitabo eum in novissimo die. Amen"

Next comes a Christian Calendar, from the dominical year Dcclxxv. to Dccxcvii. On casting the eye down these years, and resting it on that of Dcclxxxi, you observe, in the columns of the opposite leaf, this very important entry, or memorandum—in the undoubted writing of the time: "In isto Anno ivit Dominus, REX KAROLUS, ad scm Petrvm et baptisatus est filius eius PIPPINUS a Domino Apostolico;" from which I think it is evident (as is observed in the account of this precious volume in the Annales Encyclopediques, vol. iii. p. 378) that this very book was commanded to be written chiefly to perpetuate a notice of the baptism, by Pope Adrian, of the emperor's son PIPPIN.[111] There is no appearance whatever of fabrication, in this memorandum. The whole is coeval, and doubtless of the time when it is professed to have been executed. The last two pages are occupied by Latin verses, written in a lower-case, cursive hand; but contemporaneous, and upon a purple ground. From these verses we learn that the last scribe, or copyist, of the text of this splendid volume, was one GODESCALE, or GODSCHALCUS, a German. The verses are reprinted in the Decades Philosophiques.

This MS. was given to the Abbey of St. Servin, at Toulouse; and it was religiously preserved there, in a case of massive silver, richly embossed, till the year 1793; when the silver was stolen, and the book carried off, with several precious relics of antiquity, by order of the President of the Administration, (Le Sieur S*****) and thrown into a magazine, in which were many other vellum MSS. destined ... TO BE BURNT! One's blood curdles at the narrative. There it lay—- expecting its melancholy fate; till a Monsieur de Puymaurin, then detained as a prisoner in the magazine, happened to throw his eye upon the precious volume; and, writing a certain letter about it, to a certain quarter—(which letter is preserved in the fly leaves, but of which I was denied the transcription, from motives of delicacy—) an order was issued by government for the conveyance of the MS. to the metropolis. This restoration was effected in May 1811.[112] I think you must admit, that, in every point of view, THIS MS. ranks among the most interesting and curious, as well as the most ancient, of those in the several libraries of Paris.

But this is the only piece of antiquity, of the book kind, in the Library. Of modern performances, I ought to mention a French version of OSSIAN, in quarto, which was the favourite reading book of the ex-Emperor; and to which Isabey, at his express command, prefixed a frontispiece after the design of Gerard. This frontispiece is beautifully and tenderly executed: a group of heroes, veiled in a mist, forms the back-ground. The only other modern curiosity, in this way, which I deem it necessary to notice, is a collection of ORIGINAL DRAWINGS of flowers, in water colours, by REDOUTE, upon vellum: in seven folio volumes; and which cost 70,000 francs.[113] Nothing can exceed—and very few efforts of the pencil can equal—this wonderful performance. Such a collection were reasonable at the fore-mentioned price.

And now, my good friend, suppose I furnish you with an outline of the worthy head-librarian himself? A.A. BARBIER has perhaps not long "turned the corner" of his fiftieth year. Peradventure he may be fifty three.[114] In stature, he is above the middle height, but not very tall. In form, he is robust; and his countenance expressive of great conciliatoriness and benignity. There is a dash of the "old school" about the attire of M. Barbier, which I am Goth enough to admire: while his ardour of conversation, and rapidity of utterance, relieved by frequent and expressive smiles, make his society, equally agreeable and instructive. He is a literary bibliographer to the very back bone; and talks of what he has done, and of what he purposes to do, with a "gaiete de coeur" which is quite delightful. He is now engaged in an Examen Critique et Complement des Dictionnaires Historiques les plus repandus;[115] while his Dictionnaire des Auteurs Anonymes et Pseudonymes, in 4 vols. 8vo., and his Bibliotheque d'un Homme de gout," in five similar volumes, have already placed him in the foremost rank of French bibliographers. Such is his attention to the duties of his situation, as Librarian, that from one year's end to the other, with the exception of Sundays, he has no holiday. His home-occupations, after the hours of public employment (from twelve to four) are over, are not less unintermitting—in the pursuits of literary bibliography.

It was at this home, that M. Barbier shewed me, in his library, some of the fruits of his long and vigorously pursued "travail." He possesses Mercier Saint Leger's own copy of his intended third edition of the Supplement to Marchand's History of Printing. It is, in short, the second edition, covered with ms. notes in the hand-writing of Mercier himself.[117] He also possesses (but as the property of the Royal Library) the same eminent bibliographer's copy of the Bibliotheque Francaise De La Croix du Maine, in six volumes, covered in like manner with ms. notes by the same hand. To a man of M. Barbier's keen literary appetite, this latter must prove an inexhaustible feast. I was shewn, in this same well-garnished, but unostentatious collection, GOUJET'S own catalogue of his own library. It is in six folio volumes; well written; with a ruled frame work round each page, and an ornamental frontispiece to the first volume. Every book in the catalogue has a note subjoined; and the index is at once full and complete.[118] M. Barbier has rather a high notion, and with justice, of Goujet: observing to me, that five volumes, out of the ten of the last edition of Moreri's Dictionary—which were edited by Goujet—as well as his Bibliotheque Francaise, in eighteen duodecimo volumes—entitled him to the lasting gratitude of posterity. On my remarking that the want of an index, to this latter work, was a great drawback to the use which might be derived from it, M.B. readily coincided with me—and hoped that a projected new edition would remedy this defect. M.B. also told me that Goujet was the editor of the Dictionnaire de Richelet, of 1758, in three folio volumes—which had escaped my recollection.

My first visit to M. Barbier was concluded by his begging my acceptance of a copy of the first edition of Phaedrus, in 1596, 12mo.; which contained, bound up with it, a copy of the second edition of 1600; with various readings to the latter, from a MS. which was burnt in 1774. This gift was expressly intended for Lord Spencer's library, and in a few months from hence (as I have previously apprized his Lordship) it shall "repose upon the shelves" of his Collection.[119]

It is now high time to relieve you; as you must begin to be almost wearied with BIBLIOGRAPHY. You have indeed, from the tenor of these five last letters, been made acquainted with some of the chief treasures in the principal libraries of Paris. You have wandered with me through a world of books; and have been equally, with myself, astonished and delighted with what has been placed before you. Here, then, I drop the subject of bibliography—only to be resumed as connected with an account of book-men.

[91] [Because I have said that M. FLOCON was "from home" at the time I visited the library, and that M. Le CHEVALIER was rarely to be found abroad, M. Crapelet lets loose such a tirade of vituperation as is downright marvellous and amusing to peruse. Most assuredly I was not to know M. Flocon's bibliographical achievements and distinction by inspiration; and therefore I hasten to make known both the one and the other—in a version of a portion of the note of my sensitive translator: "M. Flocon is always at work; and one of the most zealous Librarians in Paris: he has worked twenty years at a Catalogue of the immense Library of Ste. Genevieve, of which the fruits are, twenty-four volumes—ready for press. Assuredly such a man cannot be said to pass his life away from his post." CRAPELET, vol iv. p. 3, 4. Most true—and who has said that HE DOES? Certainly not the Author of this Work. My translator must have here read without his spectacles.]

[92] Editiones Italicae; 1793. Praef.

[93] Vol. i. p. 63-7. It is there observed that "there does not seem to be any reason for assigning this edition, to a Roman press."

[94] See page 116 ante

[95] See page 139 ante.

[96] See page 145 ante.

[97] [Now the property of the Right Hon. T. Grenville; having been purchased at the sale of Mr. Dent's Library for 107l.]

[98] M. Crapelet doubts the truth of this story. He need not.

[99] [See the account of M. Barbier, post.]

[100] It is on a small piece of paper, addressed to M. Barbier: "Cherchez dans les depots bien soigneusement, tous les ouvrages d'ANDRE CIRINE: entr'autres ses De Venatione libri ii: Messanae 1650. 8vo. De natura et solertia Canum; Panormi, 1653. 4to. De Venatione et Natura Animalium Libri V. ibid, 1653. 3 vol. in 4to.—tous avec figures gravees en bois. Peut etre dans la Bibl. des Theatres y etoient-ils. Je me recommande toujours a M, Barbier pour la Scala Coeli, in folio, pour les Lettres de Rangouge, et pour les autres livres qu'il a bien voulu se charger de rechercher pour moy." ST. LEGER.

[101] The Abbe Hooke preceded the abbe Le Blond; the late head librarian. The present head librarian M. PETIT RADEL, has given a good account of the Mazarine Library in his Recherches sur les Bibliotheques, &c. 1819, 8vo.; but he has been reproached with a sort of studied omission of the name of Liblond—who, according to a safe and skilful writer, may be well considered the SECOND FOUNDER of the Mazarine Library. The Abbe Liblond died at St. Cloud in 1796. In M. Renouard's Catalogue of his own books, vol. ii. p. 253, an amusing story is told about Hooke's successor, the Abbe Le Blond, and Renouard himself.

[102] Bibl. Spenceriana, vol. i. p. 3, &c. and page 154 ante.

[103] When Lord Spencer was at Paris in 1819, he told MM. Petit Radel and Thiebaut, who attended him, that it was "the finest copy he had ever seen." Whereupon, one of these gentlemen wrote with a pencil, in the fly-leaf, "Lord Spencer dit que c'est le plus bel exemplaire qu'il ait vu." And well might his Lordship say so.

[104] Bibliomania, p. 50. Bibliographical Decameron, vol. ii. p. 493.

[105] Mons. Petit-Radel has lately (1819) published an interesting octavo volume, entitled "Recherches sur les Bibliotheques anciennes et modernes,&c. with a "Notice Historique sur la Bibliotheque Mazarine: to which latter is prefixed a plate, containing portraits in outline, of Mazarin, Colbert, Naude and Le Blond." At the end, is a list of the number of volumes in the several public libraries at Paris: from which the following is selected.

ROYAL LIBRARY Printed Volumes about 350,000 Ditto, as brochures, &c. 350,000 Manuscripts 50,000

LIBRARY OF THE ARSENAL Printed Volumes 150,000 Manuscripts 5,000

LIBRARY OF ST. GENEVIEVE Printed Volumes 110,000 Manuscripts 2,000

MAZARINE LIBRARY Printed Volumes 90,000 Manuscripts 3,500

LIBRARY OF THE PREFECTURE (Hotel de la Ville) Printed Volumes 15,000

———- INSTITUTE Printed Volumes 50,000

This last calculation I should think very incorrect. M. Petit Radel concludes his statement by making the WHOLE NUMBER OF ACCESSIBLE VOLUMES IN Paris amount to One Million, one hundred and twenty-five thousand, four hundred and thirty-seven. In the several DEPARTMENTS OF FRANCE, collectively, there is more than that number. But see the note ensuing.

[106] [Mons. Crapelet says, 60,000 volumes: but I have more faith in the first, than in the second, computation: not because it comes from myself, but because a pretty long experience, in the numbering of books, has taught me to be very moderate in my numerical estimates. I am about to tell the reader rather a curious anecdote connected with this subject. He may, or he may not, be acquainted with the Public Library at Cambridge; where, twenty-five years ago, they boasted of having 90,000 volumes; and now, 120,000 volumes. In the year 1823, I ventured to make, what I considered to be, rather a minute and carefull calculation of the whole number: and in a sub note in the Library Companion, p. 657, edit. 1824, stated my conviction of that number's not exceeding 65,000 volumes, including MSS. In the following year, a very careful estimate was made, by the Librarians, of the whole number:—and the result was, that there were only.... 64,800 volumes!]

[107] Now, numbered with THE DEAD. Vide post.

[108] [The translation of the whole of the concluding part of this letter, beginning from above, together with the few notes supplied, as seen in M. Crapelet's publication, is the work of M. Barbier's nephew.]

[109] [For M. Barbier Junior's note, which, in M. Crapelet's publication, is here subjoined, consult the end of the Letter.]

[110] See pages 65-7 ante.

[111] [This conclusion is questioned with acuteness and success by M. Barbier's nephew. It seems rather that the MS. was finished in 781, to commemorate the victories of Charlemagne over his Lombardic enemies in 774.]

[112] [This restoration, in the name of the City of Toulouse, was made in the above year—on the occasion of the baptism of Bonaparte's son. But it was not placed in the King's private library till 1814. BARBIER Jun.]

[113] [Now complete in 8 volumes—at the cost of 80,000 francs!]

[114] [The latter was the true guess: for M. Barbier died in 1825, in his 60th year.]

[115] It was published in 1821. In one of his recent letters to me, the author thus observes—thereby giving a true portraiture of himself— "Je sais, Monsieur, quelle est votre ardeur pour le travail: je sais aussi que c'est le moyen d'etre heureux: ainsi je vous felicite d'etre constamment occupe." M. Barbier is also one of the contributors to the Biographie Universelle,[116] and has written largely in the Annales Encyclopediques. Among his contributions to the latter, is a very interesting "Notice des principaux ecrits relatifs a la personne et aux ouvrages de J.J. Rousseau." His "Catalogue des livres dans la Bibliotheque du Conseil d'Etat, transported to Fontainbleau in 1807, and which was executed in a handsome folio volume, in 1802, is a correct and useful publication. I boast with justice of a copy of it, on fine paper, of which the author several years ago was so obliging as to beg my acceptance. [From an inscription in the fly-leaf of this Catalogue, I present the reader with a fac-simile of the hand-writing of its distinguished author.]

[Autograph]

[116] [I "ALONE am responsible for this Sin. Suum Cuique." BARBIER, Jun.]

[117] [These volumes form the numbers 1316 and 1317 of the Catalogue of M. Barbier's library, sold by auction in 1828.]

[118] [Consult Bibl. Barbier: Nos. 1490, 1491, 1861.]

[119] [The agreeable and well instructed Bibliographer, to the praises of whom, in the preceding edition of this work, I was too happy to devote the above few pages, is now NO MORE. Mons. Barbier died in 1825, and his library—the richest in literary bibliography in Paris,—was sold in 1828. On referring to page 197 ante, it will be seen that I have alluded to a note of M. Barbier's nephew, of which some mention was to be made in this place. I will give that note in its original language, because the most felicitous version of it would only impair its force. It is subjoined to these words of my text: "Be pleased to go strait forward as far as you can see." "L'homme de service lui-meme ne ferait plus cette reponse aujourd'hui. Peu de temps apres l'impression du Voyage de M. Dibdin, ce qu'on appelle une organisation eut lieu. Apres vingt-sept ans de travaux consacres a la bibliographique et aux devoirs de sa place, M. Barbier, que ses fonctions paisibles avoient proteges contre les terribles denonciations de 1815, n'a pu register, en 1822, aux delations mensongeres de quelque commis sous M. Lauriston.

Insere nunc, Meliboee, pyros; pone ordine vites!

J'ai partage pendant vingt ans les travaux de mon oncle pour former la bibliotheque de la couronne, et j'ai du, ainsi que lui, etre mis a la retraite au moment de la promotion du nouveau Conservateur." CRAPELET, vol. iv. p. 45.

I will not pretend to say what were the causes which led to such a disgraceful, because wholly unmerited, result. But I have reason to BELIEVE that a dirty faction was at work, to defame the character of the Librarian, and in consequence, to warp the judgment of the Monarch. Nothing short of infidelity to his trust should have moved SUCH a Man from the Chair which he had so honourably filled in the private Library of Louis XVIII. But M. Barbier was beyond suspicion on this head; and in ability he had perhaps, scarcely an equal—in the particular range of his pursuits. His retreating PENSION was a very insufficient balm to heal the wounds which had been inflicted upon him; and it was evident to those, who had known him long and well, that he was secretly pining at heart, and that his days of happiness were gone. He survived the dismissal from his beloved Library only five years: dying in the plenitude of mental vigour. I shall always think of him with no common feelings of regret: for never did a kinder heart animate a well-stored head. I had hoped, if ever good fortune should carry me again to Paris, to have renewed, in person, an acquaintance, than which none had been more agreeable to me, since my first visit there in 1818: But ... "Diis aliter visum est." There is however a mournful pleasure in making public these attestations to the honour of his memory; and, in turn, I must be permitted to quote from the same author as the nephew of M. Barbier has done....

His saltem accumulem donis, et fungar inani Munere....

Perhaps the following anecdote relating to the deceased, may be as acceptable as it is curious. Those of my readers who have visited Paris, will have constantly observed, on the outsides of houses, the following letters, painted in large capitals:

MACL:

implying—as the different emblems of our Fire Offices imply—

"M[aison] A[ssuree] C[ontre] L'[incendie]:"

in plain English, that such houses are insured against fire. Walking one afternoon with M. Barbier, I pointed to these letters, and said, "You, who have written upon Anonymes and Pseudonymes, do you know what those letters signify?" He replied, "Assuredly—and they can have but one meaning." "What is that?" He then explained them as I have just explained them. "But (rejoined I) since I have been at Paris, I have learnt that they also imply another meaning." "What might that be?" Stopping him, and gently touching his arm, and looking round to see that we were not overheard, I answered in a suppressed tone:—

"M[es] A[mis] C[hassez] L[ouis]."

He was thunderstruck. He had never heard it before: and to be told it by a stranger! "Mais (says he, smiling, and resuming his steps) "voila une chose infiniment drole!"

Let it be remembered, that this HERETICAL construction upon these Initial Capitals was put at a time when the Bonaparte Fever was yet making some of the pulses of the Parisians beat 85 strokes to the minute. Now, his Majesty Charles X. will smile as readily at this anecdote as did the incomparable Librarian of his Regal Predecessor.



[INTRODUCTION TO LETTER VIII.]

Before entering upon the perusal of this memorable Letter—which, in the previous edition, was numbered LETTER XXX,—(owing to the Letters having been numbered consecutively from the beginning to the end) I request the Reader's attention to a few preliminary remarks, which may possibly guide him to form a more correct estimate of its real character. MONS. LICQUET having published a French version of my Ninth Letter, descriptive of the Public Library at Rouen, (and to which an allusion has been made in vol. i. p. 99.) MONS. CRAPELET (see p. 1, ante) undertook a version of the ensuing Letter: of which he printed one hundred copies. Both translations were printed in M. Crapelet's office, to arrange, in type and form of publication, as much as possible with my own; so that, if the intrinsic merit of these versions could not secure purchasers, the beauty of the paper and of the press work (for both are very beautiful) might contribute to their circulation. To the version of M. Crapelet[120] was prefixed a Preface, combining such a mixture of malignity and misconception, that I did not hesitate answering it, in a privately printed tract, entitled "A ROLAND FOR AN OLIVER." Of this Tract, "only thirty-six copies were printed." "So much the better for the Author"—says M. Crapelet. The sequel will shew.

In the publication of the entire version of my Tour, by M.M. Licquet and Crapelet, the translation of this VIIIth Letter appears as it did in the previous publication—with the exception of the omission of the Preface: but in lieu of which, there is another and a short preface, by M. Crapelet, to the third volume, where, after telling his readers that his previous attempt had excited my "holy wrath," he seems to rejoice in the severity of those criticisms, which, in certain of our own public Journals, have been passed upon my subsequent bibliographical labours. With these criticisms I have here nothing to do. If the authors of them can reconcile them to their own good sense and subsequent reflections, and the Public to their own INDEPENDENCE of JUDGMENT, the voice of remonstrance will be ineffectual. Time will strike the balance between the Critic and the Author: and without pretending to explore the mysteries of an occasional getting-up of Reviews of particular articles, I think I can speak in the language of justice, as well as of confidence, of the Author of ONE of these reviews, by a quotation from the Ajax Flagellifer of SOPHOCLES.

[Greek: Blepo gar echthron phota, kai tach' an kakois Gelon, ha de kakourgos exikoit' aner.—]

To return to M. Crapelet; and to have done with him. The motive for his undertaking the version of this memorable Letter, about "BOOKSELLERS, PRINTERS, and BOOKBINDERS at Paris," seems to be wholly inconceivable; since the logic of the undertaking would be as follows. BECAUSE I have spoken favourably of the whole typographical fraternity—and because, in particular, of M. Crapelet, his Menage, and Madame who is at the head of it—because I have lauded his Press equally with his Cellar—THEREFORE the "unholy wrath" of M. Crapelet is excited; and he cannot endure the freedom taken by the English traveller. It would be abusing the confidence reposed in me by written communications, from characters of the first respectability, were I to make public a few of the sentiments contained in them—expressive of surprise and contempt at the performance of the French typographer. But in mercy to my adversary, he shall be spared the pain of their perusal.

[120] [A young stranger, a Frenchman—living near the mountainous solitudes between Lyons and the entrance into Italy—and ardently attached to the study of bibliography—applied himself, under the guidance of a common friend—dear to us both from the excellence of his head and heart—to a steady perusal of the Bibliographical Decameron, and the Tour. He mastered both works within a comparatively short time. He then read A Roland for an Oliver—and voluntarily tendered to me his French translation of it. How successfully the whole has been accomplished, may be judged from the following part—being the version of my preface only.

OBSERVATION PRELIMINAIRE.

"La production de M. Crapelet rappelee, dans le titre precedent, sera consideree comme un phenomene dans son genre. Elle est, certes, sans antecedent et, pour l'honneur de la France, je desire qu'elle n'ait pas d'imitateurs. Quiconque prendra la peine de lire la trentieme lettre de mon voyage, soit dans l'original, soit dans la version de M. Crapelet, en laissant de cote les notes qui appartiennent an traducteur, conviendra facilement que cette lettre manifeste les sentimens les plus impartiaux et les plus honorables a l'etat actuel de la librairie et de l'imprimerie a Paris. Dans plusieurs passages, ou l'on compare l'execution typographique, dans les deux pays, la superiorite est decidee en faveur de la France. Quant a l'esprit qui a dicte cette lettre, je declare, comme homme d'honneur, ne l'avoir pas composee, dans un systeme d'opposition, envers ceux qu'elle concerne plus particulierement.

"Cependant, il n'en a pas moins plu a M. Crapelet, imprimeur de Paris, l'un de ceux dont il y est fait plus specialement l'eloge, d'accompagner sa traduction de cette lettre, de notes deplacees et injurieuses pour le caractere de l'auteur et de son ouvrage. Par suite probablement du peu d'etendue de ses idees et de l'organisation vicieuse de ses autres sens, ce typographe s'est livre a une series d'observations qui outragent autant la raison que la politesse, et qui decelent hautement sa malignite et sa noirceur. Les formes de son procede ne sont pas moins meprisables que le fond. Avec la pretention avouee de ne repandre que partiellement sa version,

(Voulant blesser et cependant timide pour frapper)

il s'est servi de ses propres presses et il a imprime le texte et les notes avec des caracteres et sur un papier aussi semblables que possible a ceux de l'ouvrage qu'il venait de traduire. Il en a surveille, a ce qu'on assure, l'impression, avec l'attention personelle la plus scrupuleuse, en sorte qu'il n'est aucune epreuve egaree, qui ait ete soumise a d'autres yeux que les siens. Il a prit soin, en outre, d'en faire tirer, au moins, cent exemplaires, et de les repandre.[C] Comme ces cent exemplaires seront probablement lus par dix fois le meme nombre de personnes, il y aurait eu plus de franchise et peut-etre plus de bon sens de la part de M. Crapelet a diriger publiquement ses coups contre moi que de le faire sous la couverture d'un pamphlet prive. Il a fait choix de ce genre d'attaque; il ne me reste plus qu'a adopter une semblable methode de defense: si ce n'est, qu'au lieu de cent exemplaires, ces remarques ne seront veritablement imprimee qu'a trente six. Ce procede est certes plus delicat que celui de mon adversaire; mais soit que M. Crapelet ait prefere l'obscurite a la lumiere, il n'en est pas moins evident que son intention a ete d'employer tous ses petits moyens, a renverser la reputation d'un ouvrage, dont il avoue lui-meme avoir a peine lu la cinquantieme partie!

"Par le contenu de ses notes, on voit qu'il a cherche, avec une assiduite condamnable, a recueillir le mal qu'il me suppose avoir eu l'intention de dire des personnes que j'ai citees, et cependant, apres tout ce travail, a peine a-t-il pu decouvrir l'ombre d'une seule allusion maligne. Jamais on ne fit un usage plus deplorable de son tems et de ses peines, car toutes les phrases de cette production sont aussi obscures que tirees de loin.

"Il est difficile, ainsi que je l'ai deja observe, de se rendre compte des motifs d'une telle conduite. Mais M. Crapelet n'a fait part de son secret a personne, et d'apres l'echantillon dont il s'agit ici, je n'ai nulle envie de le lui demander.

T.F.D.

"J'avais eu d'abord l'intention de relever chacunes des notes de M. Crapelet, mais de plus mures reflexions m'ont fait connaitre l'absurdite d'une telle enterprise. Je m'en suis donc tenu a la preface, sans toutefois, ainsi que le lecteur pourra s'en appercevoir, laisser tomber dans l'oubli le merite des notes. Encore un mot; M. Crapelet m'a attaque et je me suis defendu. Il peut recommencer, si cela lui fait plaisir; mais desormais je ne lui repondrai que par le silence et le mepris."

[C] "M. Crapelet, en sa qualite de critique, a mis ici du raffinement; car je soupconne qu'il y a eu au moins vingt cinq exemplaires tires sur papier velin. C'est ainsi qu'il sait dorer sa pillule, pour la rendre plus presentable aux dignes amis de l'auteur, les bibliophiles de Paris. Mais ces Messieurs ont trop bon gout pour l'accepter.



LETTER VIII.

SOME ACCOUNT OF THE LATE ABBE RIVE. BOOKSELLERS. PRINTERS. BOOK-BINDERS.

I make no doubt that the conclusion of my last letter has led you to expect a renewal of the BOOK THEME: but rather, I should hope, as connected with those Bibliographers, Booksellers, and Printers, who have for so many years shed a sort of lustre upon Parisian Literature. It will therefore be no unappropriate continuation of this subject, if I commence by furnishing you with some particulars respecting a Bibliographer who was considered, in his life time, as the terror of his acquaintance, and the pride of his patron: and who seems to have never walked abroad, or sat at home, without a scourge in one hand, and a looking-glass in the other. Droll combination!— you will exclaim. But it is of the ABBE RIVE of whom I now speak; the very Ajax flagellifer of the bibliographical tribe, and at the same time the vainest and most self-sufficient. He seems, amidst all the controversy in which he delighted to be involved, to have always had one never-failing source of consolation left:—that of seeing himself favourably reflected— from the recollection of his past performances—in the mirror of his own conceit! I have before[121] descanted somewhat upon probably the most splendid of his projected performances, and now hasten to a more particular account of the man himself.

It was early one morning—before I had even commenced my breakfast—that a stranger was announced to me. And who, think you, should that stranger turn out to be? Nothing less than the Nephew of the late Abbe Rive. His name was MORENAS. His countenance was somewhat like that which Sir Thomas More describes the hero of his Utopia to have had. It was hard, swarthy, and severe. He seemed in every respect to be "a travelled man." But his manners and voice were mild and conciliating. "Some one had told him that I had written about the Abbe Rive, and that I was partial to his work. Would I do him the favour of a visit? when I might see, at his house, (Rue du Vieux Colombier, pres St. Sulpice) the whole of the Abbe's MSS. and all his projected works for the press. They were for sale. Possibly I might wish to possess them?" I thanked the stranger for his intelligence, and promised I would call that same morning.

M. Morenas has been indeed a great traveller. When I called, I found him living up two pair of stairs, preparing for another voyage to Senegal. He was surrounded by trunks ... in which were deposited the literary remains of his uncle. In other words, these remains consisted of innumerable cards, closely packed, upon which the Abbe had written all his memoranda relating to ... I scarcely know what. But the whole, from the nephew's statement, seemed to be an encyclopaedia of knowledge. In one trunk, were about six thousand notices of MSS. of all ages; and of editions in the fifteenth century. In another trunk, were wedged about twelve thousand descriptions of books in all languages, except those of French and Italian, from the sixteenth century to his own period: these were professed to be accompanied with critical notes. In a third trunk was a bundle of papers relating to the History of the Troubadours; in a fourth, was a collection of memoranda and literary sketches, connected with the invention of Arts and Sciences, with Antiquities, Dictionaries, and pieces exclusively bibliographical. A fifth trunk contained between two and three thousand cards, written upon on each side, respecting a collection of prints; describing the ranks, degrees, and dignities of all nations—of which eleven folio cahiers were published, in 1779—without the letter-press— but in a manner to make the Abbe extremely dissatisfied with the engraver. In a sixth trunk were contained his papers respecting earthquakes, volcanoes, and geographical subjects: so that, you see, the Abbe Rive at least fancied himself a man of tolerably universal attainments. It was of course impossible to calculate the number, or to appreciate the merits, of such a multifarious collection; but on asking M. Morenas if he had made up his mind respecting the price to be put upon it, he answered, that he thought he might safely demand 6000 francs for such a body of miscellaneous information. I told him that this was a sum much beyond my means to adventure; but that it was at least an object worthy of the consideration of the "higher powers" of his own government. He replied, that he had little hopes of success in those quarters: that he was anxious to resume his travels; talked of another trip to Senegal; for that, after so locomotive a life, a sedentary one was wearisome to him....

... "trahit sua quemque voluptas!"

Over the chimney-piece was a portrait, in pencil, of his late uncle: done from the life. It was the only one extant. It struck me indeed as singularly indicative of the keen, lively, penetrating talents of the original. On the back of the portrait were the lines which are here subjoined:

Des sa plus tendre enfance aux etudes livre, La soif de la science l'a toujours devore. Une immense lecture enrichit ses ecrits, Et la critique sure en augmente le prix.

These lines are copied from the Journal des Savans for October 1779. Iean Joseph Rive was born at Apt, in 1730, and died at Marseilles in 1791. He had doubtless great parts, natural and acquired: a retentive memory, a quick perception, and a vast and varied reading. He probably commenced amassing his literary treasures as early as his fourteenth year; and to his latest breath he pursued his researches with unabated ardour. But his career was embittered by broils and controversies; while the frequent acts of kindness, and the general warmth of heart, evinced in his conduct, hardly sufficed to soften the asperity, or to mitigate the wrath, of a host of enemies—which assailed him to the very last. But Cadmus-like, he sowed the seeds from which these combatants sprung. Whatever were his defects, as a public character, he is said to have been, in private, a kind parent, a warm friend, and an excellent master. The only servant which he ever had, and who remained with him twenty-four years, mourned his loss as that of a father. Peace to his ashes!

From bibliography let me gently, and naturally, as it were, conduct you towards BIBLIOPOLISM. In other words, allow me to give you a sketch of a few of the principal Booksellers in this gay metropolis; who strive, by the sale of instructive and curious tomes, sometimes printed in the black letter of Gourmont and Marnef, to stem the torrent of those trivial or mischievous productions which swarm about the avenues of the Palais Royal. In ancient times, the neighbourhood of the SORBONNE was the great mart for books. When I dined in this neighbourhood, with my friend M. Gail, the Greek Professor at the College Royale, I took an opportunity of leisurely examining this once renowned quarter. I felt even proud and happy to walk the streets, or rather tread the earth, which had been once trodden by Gering, Crantz, and Fiburger.[122] Their spirits seemed yet to haunt the spot:—but no volume, nor even traces of one—executed at their press— could be discovered. To have found a perfect copy of Terence, printed in their first Roman character, would have been a trouvaille sufficiently lucky to have compensated for all previous toil, and to have franked me as far as Strasbourg.

The principal mart for booksellers, of old and second hand books, is now nearer the Seine; and especially in the Quai des Augustins. Messrs. Treuttel and Wuertz, Panckoucke, Renouard, and Brunet, live within a quarter of a mile of each other: about a couple of hundred yards from the Quai des Augustins. Further to the south, and not far from the Hotel de Clugny, in the Rue Serpente, live the celebrated DEBURE. They are booksellers to the King, and to the Royal Library; and a more respectable house, or a more ancient firm, is probably not to be found in Europe. Messrs. Debure are as straight-forward, obliging, and correct, in their transactions, as they are knowing in the value, and upright in the sale, of their stock in trade. No bookseller in Paris possesses a more judicious stock, or can point to so many rare and curious books. A young collector may rely with perfect safety upon them; and accumulate, for a few hundred pounds, a very respectable stock of Editiones principes or rarissimae. I do not say that such young collector would find them cheaper there, or so cheap as in Pall-Mall; but I do say that he may rest assured that Messieurs Debure would never, knowingly, sell him an imperfect book. Of the Debure, there are two brothers: of whom the elder hath a most gallant propensity to portrait-collecting—and is even rich in portraits relating to our history. Of course the chief strength lies in French history; and I should think that Monsieur Debure l'aine shewed me almost as many portraits of Louis XIV. as there are editions of the various works of Cicero in the fifteenth century.[123] But my attention was more particularly directed to a certain boudoir, up one pair of stairs, in which Madame Debure, their venerable and excellent mother, chooses to deposit some few very choice copies of works in almost every department of knowledge. There was about one of the best editions in each department: and whether it were the Bible, or the History of the Bucaineers—whether a lyrical poet of the reign of Louis XIV. or the ballad metres of that of Francois Premier ... there you found it!—bound by Padaloup, or Deseuille, or De Rome. What think you, among these "choice copies," of the Cancionero Generale printed at Toledo in 1527, in the black letter, double columned, in folio? Enough to madden even our poet-laureat—for life! I should add, that these books are not thus carefully kept together for the sake of shew: for their owner is a fair good linguist, and can read the Spanish with tolerable fluency. Long may she yet read it.[124]

The Debure had the selling, by auction, of the far-famed M'CARTHY LIBRARY; and I saw upon their shelves some of the remains of that splendid membranaceous collection. Indeed I bought several desirable specimens of it: among them, a fine copy of Vindelin de Spira's edition (1471) of St. Cyprians Epistles, UPON VELLUM.[125] Like their leading brethren in the neighbourhood, Messieurs Debure keep their country house, and there pass the Sabbath.

The house of TREUTTEL and WURTZ is one of the richest and one of the most respectable in Europe. The commerce of that House is chiefly in the wholesale way; and they are, in particular, the publishers and proprietors of all the great classical works put forth at Strasbourg. Indeed, it was at this latter place where the family first took root: but the branches of their prosperity have spread to Paris and to London with nearly equal luxuriance. They have a noble house in the Rue de Bourbon, no. 17: like unto an hotel; where each day's post brings them despatches from the chief towns in Europe. Their business is regulated with care, civility, and dispatch; and their manners are at once courteous and frank. Nothing would satisfy them but I must spend a Sabbath with them, at their country house at Groslai; hard by the village and vale of Montmorenci. I assented willingly. On the following Sunday, their capacious family coach, and pair of sleek, round, fat black horses, arrived at my lodgings by ten o'clock; and an hour and three quarters brought me to Groslai. The cherries were ripe, and the trees were well laden with fruit: for Montmorenci cherries, as you may have heard, are proverbial for their excellence. I spent a very agreeable day with mine hosts. Their house is large and pleasantly situated, and the view of Paris from thence is rather picturesque. But I was most struck with the conversation and conduct of Madame Treuttel. She is a thoroughly good woman. She has raised, at her own expense, an alms-house in the village for twelve poor men; and built a national school for the instruction of the poor and ignorant of both sexes. She is herself a Lutheran Protestant; as are her husband and her son-in-law M. Wuertz. At first, she had some difficulties to encounter respecting the school; and sundry conferences with the village Cure, and some of the head clergy of Paris, were in consequence held. At length all difficulties were surmounted by the promise given, on the part of Madame Treuttel, to introduce only the French version of the Bible by De Sacy. Hence the school was built, and the children of the village flocked in numbers to it for instruction. I visited both the alms-house and the school, and could not withhold my tribute of hearty commendation at the generosity, and thoroughly Christian spirit, of the foundress of such establishments. There is more good sense and more private and public virtue, in the application of superfluous wealth in this manner, than in the erection of a hundred palaces like that at Versailles![126]

A different, and a more touching object presented itself to my view in the garden. Walking with Madame, we came, through various detours, into a retired and wooded part: where, on opening a sort of wicket gate, I found myself in a small square space, with hillocks in the shape of tumuli before me. A bench was at the extremity. It was a resting place for the living, and a depository of the dead. Flowers, now a good deal faded, were growing upon these little mounds—beneath which the dead seemed to sleep in peace. "What might this mean?" "Sir," replied Madame Treuttel, "this is consecrated ground. My son-in-law sleeps here—and his only and beloved child lies by the side of him. You will meet my daughter, his wife, at dinner. She, with myself, visit this spot at stated seasons—when we renew and indulge our sorrows on the recollection of those who sleep beneath. These are losses which the world can never repair. We all mean to be interred within the same little fenced space.[127] I have obtained a long lease of it—for some fifty years: at the expiration of which time, the work of dissolution will be sufficiently complete with us all." So spake my amiable and enlightened guide. The remainder of the day—during which we took a stroll to Montmorenci, and saw the house and gardens where Rousseau wrote his Emile—was spent in a mixed but not irrational manner: much accordant with my own feelings, and most congenial with a languid state of body which had endured the heats of Paris for a month, without feeling scarcely a breath of air the whole time.

ANTOINE-AUGUSTIN RENOUARD, living in the Rue St. Andre des Arts, is the next bibliopolist whom I shall introduce to your attention. He is among the most lynx-eyed of his fraternity: has a great knowledge of books; a delightful ALDINE LIBRARY;[128]—from which his Annals of the Aldine Press were chiefly composed—and is withal a man in a great and successful line of business. I should say he is a rich man; not because he has five hundred bottles of Burgundy in his cellar, which some may think to be of a more piquant quality than the like number of his Alduses—but because he has published some very beautiful and expensive editions of the Latin and French Classics, with equal credit to himself and advantage to his finances.[129] He debuted with a fine edition of Lucan in 1795, folio; and the first catalogue of his books was put forth the following year. From that moment to the present, he has never slackened head, hand, or foot, in the prosecution of his business; while the publication of his Annals of the Aldine Press places him among the most skilful and most instructive booksellers in Europe. It is indeed a masterly performance: and as useful as it is elegantly printed.[130] M. Renouard is now occupied in an improved edition of Voltaire, which he means to adorn with engravings; and of which he shewed me the original drawings by Moreau, with many of the plates.[131] He seems in high spirits about the success of it, and leans with confidence upon the strength of a host of subscribers. Nor does a rival edition, just struggling into day, cause him to entertain less sanguine expectations of final success. This enterprising bookseller is now also busily occupied about a Descriptive Catalogue of his own library, in which he means to indulge himself in sundry gossipping notes, critical disquisitions, and piquant anecdotes. I look forward with pleasure to its appearance; and turn a deaf ear to the whispers which have reached me of an intended brush at the Decameron.[132]

M. Renouard has allowed me free access to his library; which also contains some very beautiful copies of books printed in the fifteenth century. Among these latter, his VELLUM VALDARFER is of course considered, by himself and his friends, as the keimelion of the collection. It is the edition of the Orations of Cicero, printed by Valdarfer, at Venice, in 1471, folio: a most exquisite book—which may be fairly considered as perfect throughout. It is in its second binding, but that may be as old as the time of Francis I.: perhaps about the middle of the sixteenth century. This copy measures thirteen inches in height, by eight inches and seven-eighths in width:—almost, I conceive, in its original state of amplitude. I will frankly own that I turned over the leaves of this precious book, again and again—"sighed and looked, &c." "But would no price tempt the owner to part with it?" "None. It is reserved as the bijou of my catalogue, and departs not from hence." Severe, but just decree! There is only one other known copy of it upon vellum, which is in the Royal Library[133]—but which wants a leaf of the table; an imperfection, not belonging to the present copy.

The other "great guns," as VELLUM BOOKS, in the collection of M. Renouard, are what is called the Familiar Epistles of Cicero printed by Aldus in 1502, 12mo: and the Petrarch of 1514, 8vo. also printed by Aldus. Of these, the latter is by much the preferable volume. It is almost as large as it can well be: but badly bound in red morocco.[134] The Cicero is short and sallow-looking. It was on the occasion of his son starting for the first time on a bibliographical tour, and, on crossing the Rhine, and finding this Cicero and the almost equally rare Aldine Virgil of 1505, that a relation of this "fortunate youth" invoked his muse in some few verses, which he printed and gave to me.[135] These are little "plaisanteries" which give a relish to our favourite pursuits; and which may at some future day make the son transcend the father in bibliographical renown. Perhaps the father has already preferred a prayer upon the subject, as thus:

[Greek: Zeu, alloi te Theoi, dote de kai tonde genesthai Paid emon os kai ego per, ....]

There are some few noble volumes, from the press of Sweynheym and Pannartz, in this collection; and the finest copy of the FIRST LUCIAN in Greek, which perhaps any where exists.[136] It was obtained at a recent sale, (where it was coated in a lapping-over vellum surtout) at a pretty smart price; and has been recently clothed in blue morocco. M. Renouard has also some beautiful copies from the library of De Thou, and a partly uncut Aldine Theophrastus of 1497, which belonged to Henry the Second and Diane de Poictiers; as well as a completely uncut copy of the first Aldine Aristotle.[137] Few men probably have been luckier in obtaining several of their choice articles; and the little anecdotes which he related to me, are such as I make no doubt will appear in the projected catalogue raisonne of his library. He is just now briskly engaged in the pursuit of uncut Elzevirs ... and coming to breakfast with me, the other morning, he must needs pick up a beautiful copy of this kind, in two small volumes, neatly half bound, (of which I have forgotten the title,) and of which he had been for some time in the pursuit. M. Renouard also took occasion to tell me that, in his way to my chambers, he had sold, or subscribed, of a forthcoming work to be published by him—just nine hundred and ninety-nine copies! Of course, after such a trouvaille and such a subscription, he relished his breakfast exceedingly. He is a man of quick movements, of acute perceptions, of unremitting ardour and activity of mind and body— constantly engaged in his business, managing a very extensive correspondence, and personally known to the most distinguished Collectors of Italy. Like his neighbours, he has his country-house, or rather farm, in Picardy[138] whither he retires, occasionally to view the condition and growing strength of that species of animal, from the backs of which his beloved Aldus of old, obtained the materiel for his vellum copies. But it is time to wish M. Renouard a good morning, and to take you with me to his neighbour—

MONS. BRUNET, THE YOUNGER. This distinguished bibliographer, rather than bookseller, lives hard by—in the Rue Git-Le-Coeur. He lives with his father, who superintends the business of the shop. The Rue Git-Le-Coeur is a sorry street—very diminutive, and a sort of cropt copy—to what it should have been, or what it might have been. However, there lives JACQ. CH. BRUNET, FILS: a writer, who will be known to the latest times in the bibliographical world. He will be also thanked as well as known; for his Manuel du Libraire is a performance of incomparable utility to all classes of readers and collectors. You mount up one pair of stairs:—the way is gloomy, and might well lead to a chamber in the monastery of La Trappe. You then read an incription, which tells you that "in turning the button you pull the bell." The bell sounds, and Mons. Brunet, Pere, receives you—with, or without, a silken cap upon his head. He sits in a small room, sufficiently well filled with books. "Is the Son at home?" "Open that door, Sir, you will find him in the next room." The door is immediately opened—and there sits the son, surrounded by, and almost imprisoned in, papers and books. His pen is in his hand: his spectacles are upon his nose: and he is transcribing or re-casting some precious little bit of bibliographical intelligence; while, on looking up and receiving you, he seems to be "full of the labouring God!" In short, he is just now deeply and unintermittingly engaged in a new and third edition of his Manuel.[139] The shelves of his room almost groan beneath the weight of those writers from whom he gathers his principal materials. "Vous voila, Mons. Brunet, bien occupe!;" "Oui, Monsieur, cela me fait autant de plaisir que de peine."

This is a very picture of the man.... "The labour we delight in physics pain,"—said Lady Macbeth of old; and of a most extraordinary kind must the labour of Mons. Brunet be considered, when the pleasure in the prosecution of it balances the pain. We talked much and variously at our first interview: having previously interchanged many civilities by letter, and myself having been benefitted by such correspondence, in the possession of a large paper copy of his first edition—of which he was pleased to make me a present, and of which only twenty copies were struck off. I told him that I had given Charles Lewis a carte blanche for its binding, and that I would back his skill—the result of such an order—against any binding at that time visible in any quarter of Paris! Mons. B. could not, in his heart, have considered any other binding superior.

He told me, somewhat to my astonishment, and much to my gratification, that, of the first edition of his Manuel, he had printed and sold two thousand copies. This could never have been done in our country: because, doubting whether it would have been so accurately printed, it could never have been published, in the same elegant manner, for the same price. The charges of our printers would have been at least double. In the typographical execution of it, M. Crapelet has almost outdone himself. Reverting to the author, I must honestly declare that he has well merited all he has gained, and will well merit all the gains which are in store for him. His application is severe, constant, and of long continuance. He discards all ornament,[140] whether graphic or literary. He is never therefore digressive; having only a simple tale to tell, and that tale being almost always well and truly told.[141] In his opinions, he is firm and rational, and sometimes a little pugnacious in the upholding of them. But he loves only to breathe in a bibliographical element, and is never happier than when he has detected some error, or acquired some new information; especially if it relate to an Editio Princeps.[142] There is also something very naif and characteristic in his manner and conversation. He copies no one; and may be said to be a citizen of the world. In short, he has as little nationality in his opinions and conversation, as any Frenchman with whom I have yet conversed.

Thus much for the leading booksellers of Paris on the south side of the Seine: or, indeed, I may say in the whole city. But, because the south is a warm and genial aspect in the bringing forth of all species of productions, it does not necessarily follow that ... there should be no bibliopolistic vegetation on the north side of the Seine. Prepare therefore to be introduced to MONS. CHARDIN, in the Rue St. Anne, no. 19; running nearly at right angles with the Rue St. Honore, not far from the Eglise St. Roq. M. Chardin is the last surviving remains of the OLD SCHOOL of booksellers in Paris; and as I love antiquities of almost all kinds, I love to have a little occasional gossip with M. Chardin. A finer old man, with a more characteristic physiognomy, hath not appeared in France from the time of Gering downwards. M. Chardin is above the mean height; is usually attired in a rocquelaure; and his fine flowing grey locks are usually surmounted by a small black silk cap. His countenance is penetrating, but mild: and he has a certain air of the "Old School" about him, which is always, to my old-fashioned taste, interesting and pleasing.

In his youth he must have been handsome, and his complexion is yet delicate. But good old M. Chardin is an oddity in his way. He physics "according to the book"—that is, according to the Almanack; although I should think he had scarcely one spare ounce of blood in his veins. Phlebotomy is his "dear delight." He is always complaining, and yet expects to be always free from complaint. But Madame will have it so, and Monsieur is consenting. He lives on the floor just above the entresol, and his two or three small apartments are gaily furnished with books. The interior is very interesting; for his chief treasures are locked up within glazed cabinets, which display many a rich and rare article. These cabinets are beautifully ornamented: and I do assure you that it is but justice to their owner to say, that they contain many an article which does credit to his taste.

This taste consists principally in a love of ornamented MSS. and printed books UPON VELLUM, in general very richly bound.[143] It is scarcely seven years ago since M. Chardin published an octavo catalogue, of nearly two hundred pages, of MSS. and printed books ... all upon vellum. He has been long noted for rarities of this kind. "Il n'y a que des livres rares" is his constant exclamation—as you open his glazed doors, and stretch forth your hand to take down his treasures. He is the EDWARDS of France, but upon a smaller scale of action. Nor does he push his wares, although he does his prices. You may buy or not, but you must pay for what you do buy. There is another oddity about this courteous and venerable bibliopolist. He has a great passion for making his Alduses perfect by means of manuscript; and I must say, that, supposing this plan to be a good one, he has carried it into execution in a surprisingly perfect manner: for you can scarcely, by candle-light, detect the difference between what is printed and what is executed with a pen. I think it was the whole of the Scholia attached to the Aldine Discorides, in folio, and a great number of leaves in the Grammatical Institutes of Urbanus, of 1497, 4to. with several other smaller volumes, which I saw thus rendered perfect: How any scribe can be sufficiently paid for such toil, is to me inconceivable: and how it can answer the purpose of any bookseller so to complete his copies, is also equally unaccountable: for be it known, that good M. Chardin leaves you to make the discovery of the MS. portion; and when you have made it,—he innocently subjoins—"Oui, Monsieur, n'est il pas beau?" In a sort of passage, between his principal shew-room and his bed room, is contained a very large collection of tracts and printed volumes relating to the FAIR SEX: being, in fact, nothing less than a prodigious heap of publications "FOR and AGAINST" the ladies. M. Chardin will not separate them—adding that the "bane and antidote must always go together."

This singular character is also vehemently attached to antiquarian nick-knackery. Old china, old drawings, old paintings, old carvings, and old relics—of whatever kind—are surveyed by him with a curious eye, and purchased with a well-laden purse. He never speaks of GOUJIN but in raptures. We made an exchange the other day. M. Chardin hath no small variety of walking canes. He visited me at the Hotel one morning, leaning upon a fine dark bamboo-stick, which was headed by an elaborately carved piece of ivory—the performance of the said Goujon. It consisted of a recumbent female, (with a large flapped hat on) of which the head was supported by a shield of coat armour.[144] We struck a bargain in five minutes. He presented me the stick, on condition of my presenting him with a choice copy of the AEdes Althorpianae. We parted well satisfied with each other; but I suspect that the purchase of about four-score pounds worth of books, added much to the satisfaction on his part. Like all his brethren of the same craft, M. Chardin disports himself on Saturdays and Sundays at his little "ferme ornee," within some four miles of Paris— having, as he gaily told me "nothing now to do but to make poesies for the fair sex."[145]

With Chardin I close my bibliopolistic narrative; not meaning thereby to throw other booksellers into the least degree of shade, but simply to transmit to you an account of such as I have seen and have transacted business with. And now, prepare for some account of PRINTERS ... or rather of three presses only,—certainly the most distinguished in Paris. I mean those of the DIDOT and that of M. CRAPELET. The name of Didot will last as long as learning and taste shall last in any quarter of the globe: nor am I sure, after all, that what Bodoni, Bensley, and Bulmer have done, collectively, has redounded more to the credit of their countries than what Didot has achieved for France. In ancient classical literature, however, Bodoni has a right to claim an exception and a superiority. The elder, Pierre Didot, is Printer to his Majesty. But when Pierre Didot l'aine chose to adopt his own fount of letter—how exquisitely does his skill appear in the folio Virgil of 1798, and yet more, perhaps, in the folio Horace of 1799!? These are books which never have been, and never can be, eclipsed. Yet I own that the Horace, from the enchanting vignettes of Percier, engraved by Girardais, is to my taste the preferable volume.[146]

FIRMIN DIDOT now manages the press in the Rue Jacob; and if he had never executed any thing but the Lusiad of Camoens, his name would be worthy to go down to posterity by the side of that of his uncle. The number of books printed and published by the Didots is almost incredible; especially of publications in the Latin and French languages. Of course I include the Stereotype productions: which are very neat and very commodious—but perhaps the page has rather too dazzling an effect. I paid a visit the other day to the office of Firmin Didot; who is a letter founder "as well as a printer.[147] To a question which I asked the nephew, (I think) respecting the number of copies and sizes, of the famous Lusiad just mentioned, he answered, that there were only two hundred copies, and those only of one size. Let that suffice to comfort those who are in terror of having the small paper, and to silence such as try to depreciate the value of the book, from the supposed additional number of copies struck off.

I wished to know the costs and charges of printing, &c.—from which the comparative price of labour in the two countries might be estimated. M. Didot told me that the entire charges for printing, and pulling, one thousand copies of a full octavo size volume—containing thirty lines in a page, in a middle-size-letter—including every thing but paper—was thirty-five francs per sheet. I am persuaded that such a thing could not be done at home under very little short of double the price:—whether it be that our printers, including the most respectable, are absolutely more extravagant in their charges, or that the wages of the compositors are double those which are given in France.

After Didot, comes CRAPELET—in business, skill, and celebrity. He is himself a very pleasant, unaffected man; scarcely thirty-six; and likely, in consequence, to become the richest printer in Paris. I have visited him frequently, and dined with him once—when he was pleased to invite some agreeable, well-informed, and gentlemanly guests to meet me. Among them was a M. REY, who has written "Essais Historiques et Critiques sur Richard III. Roi d'Angleterre," just printed in a handsome octavo volume by our Host. Our conversation, upon the whole; was mixed; agreeable, and instructive. Madame Crapelet, who is at this moment (as I should conjecture) perhaps pretty equally divided between her twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth year, and who may be classed among the prettier ladies of Paris, did the honours of the fete in a very agreeable manner: nor can it be a matter of surprise that the choicest Chambertin and Champagne sparkled upon the table of one—who, during the libations of his guests; had the tympans and friskets of twenty-two Presses in full play![148] We retired, after dinner, into a spacious drawing room to coffee and liqueurs: and anon, to a further room, wherein was a BOOK-CASE filled by some of the choicest specimens of the press of its owner, as well as of other celebrated printers. I have forgotten what we took down or what we especially admired: but, to a question respecting the present state of business, as connected with literature and printing, at Paris, M. Crapelet replied (as indeed, if I remember rightly, M. Didot did also) that "matters never went on better." Reprints even of old authors were in agitation: and two editions of Montaigne were at that moment going on in his own house. I complimented M. Crapelet—and with equal sincerity and justice—upon the typographical execution of M. Brunet's Manuel du Libraire. No printer in our own country, could have executed it more perfectly. "What might have been the charge per sheet?" My host received the compliment very soberly and properly; and gave me a general item about the expense of printing and paper, &c., which really surprised me; and returned it with a warm eulogy upon the paper and press-work of a recent publication from the Shakspeare press—which, said he, "I despair of excelling." "And then (added he), your prettily executed vignettes, and larger prints! In France this branch of the art is absolutely not understood[149]—and besides, we cannot publish books at your prices!"

We must now bid adieu to the types of M. Crapelet below stairs, and to his "good cheer" above; and with him take our leave of Parisian booksellers and printers.[150] What then remains, in the book way, worthy of especial notice? Do you ask this question? I will answer it in a trice—BOOK-BINDING. Yes ... some few hours of my residence in this metropolis have been devoted to an examination of this seductive branch of book commerce. And yet I have not seen—nor am I likely to see—one single binder: either Thouvenin, or Simier, or Braidel, or Lesne. I am not sure whether Courteval, or either of the Bozerians, be living: but their handy works live and are lauded in every quarter of Paris.

The restorer, or the Father, (if you prefer this latter appellative) of modern Book-binding in France, was the Elder Bozerian: of whose productions the book-amateurs of Paris are enthusiastically fond. Bozerian undoubtedly had his merits;[151] but he was fond of gilt tooling to excess. His ornaments are too minute and too profuse; and moreover, occasionally, very unskilfully worked. His choice of morocco is not always to my taste; while his joints are neither carefully measured, nor do they play easily; and his linings are often gaudy to excess. He is however hailed as the legitimate restorer of that taste in binding, which delighted the purchasers in the Augustan age of book-collecting. One merit must not be denied him: his boards are usually square, and well measured. His volumes open well, and are beaten ... too unmercifully. It is the reigning error of French binders. They think they can never beat a book sufficiently. They exercise a tyranny over the leaves, as bad as that of eastern despots over their prostrate slaves. Let them look a little into the bindings of those volumes before described by me, in the lower regions of the Royal Library[152]—and hence learn, that, to hear the leases crackle as they are turned over, produces nearly as much comfort to the thorough-bred collector, as does the prattling of the first infant to the doating parent.

THOUVENIN[153] and SIMIER are now the morning and evening stars in the bibliopegistic hemisphere. Of these, Thouvenin makes a higher circle in the heavens; but Simier shines with no very despicable lustre. Their work is good, substantial, and pretty nearly in the same taste. The folio Psalter of 1502, (I think) in the Royal Library, is considered to be the ne plus ultra of modern book-binding at Paris; and, if I mistake not, Thouvenin is the artist in whose charcoal furnace, the tools, which produced this echantillon, were heated. I have no hesitation in saying, that, considered as an extraordinary specimen of art, it is a failure. The ornaments are common place; the lining is decidedly bad; and there is a clumsiness of finish throughout the whole. The head-bands—as indeed are those of Bozerian—are clumsily managed: and I may say that it exhibits a manifest inferiority even to the productions of Mackinlay, Hering, Clarke, and Fairbairn. Indeed either of these artists would greatly eclipse it. I learn that Thouvenin keeps books in his possession as long as does a certain binder with us—- who just now shall be nameless. Of course Charles Lewis would smile complacently if you talked to him about rivalling such a performance![154]

There is a book-binder of the name of LESNE—just now occupied, as I learn, in writing a poem upon his Art[155]—who is also talked of as an artist of respectable skill. They say, however, that he writes better than he binds. So much the worse for his little ones, if he be married. Indeed several very sensible and impartial collectors, with whom I have discoursed, also seem to think that the art of book-binding in France is just now, if not retrograding, at least stationary—and apparently incapable of being carried to a higher pitch of excellence. I doubt this very much. They can do what they have done before. And no such great conjuration is required in going even far beyond it. Let Thouvenin and Simier, and even the Poet himself, examine carefully the choice of tools, and manner of gilding, used by our more celebrated binders, and they need not despair of rivalling them. Above all, let them look well to the management of the backs of their books, and especially to the headbands. The latter are in general heavy and inelegant. Let them also avoid too much choking and beating, (I use technical words—- which you understand as well as any French or English bookbinder) and especially to be square, even, and delicate in the bands; and the "Saturnia regna" of book-binding in France may speedily return.

[121] Bibliomania; p. 79. Bibliographical Decameron; vol. i. p. xxii.

[122] See the Bibliographical Decameron; vol. ii. p. 20.

[123] [Consistently with the plan intended to be pursued in this edition, I annex a fac-simile of their autograph.]



[124] [Madame Debure died a few years ago at an advanced age.]

[125] [Mr. Hibbert obtained this volume from me, which will be sold at the sale of his Library in the course of this season.]

[126] [Nothing can be more perfectly ridiculous and absurd than the manner in which M. Crapelet flies out at the above expression! He taunts us, poor English, with always drawing comparisons against other nations, in favour of the splendour and opulence of our own Hospitals and Charitable Foundations—a thought, that never possessed me while writing the above, and which would require the peculiar obliquity, or perversity of talents, of my translator to detect. I once thought of dissecting his petulant and unprovoked note—but it is not worth blunting the edge of one's pen in the attempt.]

[127] [In a few years afterwards, the body of the husband of Madame Treuttel was consigned to this, its last earthly resting-place. M. JEAN-GEORGE TREUTTEL, died on the 14th Dec. 1825, not long after the completion of his 82d year: full of years, full of reputation, and credit, and of every sublunary comfort, to soothe those who survived him. I have before me a printed Memoir of his Obsequies—graced by the presence and by the orations of several excellent Ministers of the Lutheran persuasion: by all the branches of his numerous family; and by a great concourse of sympathising neighbours. Few citizens of the world, in the largest sense of this expression, have so adorned the particular line of life in which they have walked; and M. Treuttel was equally, to his country and to his family, an ornament of a high cast of character. "O bon et vertueux ami, que ne peut tu voir les regrets de tous ceux qui t' accompagnent a ta derniere demeure, pour te dire encore une fois a REVOIR!" Discours de M. COMARTIN Maire de Groslai: Dec. 17.]

[128] ["Delightful" as was this Library, the thought of the money for which it might sell, seems to have been more delightful. The sale of it— consisting of 1028 articles—took place in the spring of last year, under the hammer of Mr. Evans; and a surprisingly prosperous sale it was. I would venture to stake a good round sum, that no one individual was more surprized at this prosperous result than the OWNER of the Library himself. The gross produce was L2704. 1s. The net produce was such... as ought to make that said owner grateful for the spirit of competition and high liberality which marked the biddings of the purchasers. In what country but OLD ENGLAND could such a spirit have been manifested! Will Mons. Renouard, in consequence, venture upon the transportation of the remaining portion of his Library hither? There is a strong feeling that he will. With all my heart—but let him beware of his MODERN VELLUMS!!]

[129] [I shall now presume to say, that M. Renouard is a "VERY rich man;" and has by this time added another 500 bottles of high-flavoured Burgundy to his previous stock. The mention of M. Renouard's Burgundy has again chafed M. Crapelet: who remarks, that "it is useless to observe how ridiculous such an observation is." Then why dwell upon it—and why quote three verses of Boileau to bolster up your vapid prose, Mons. G.A. Crapelet.?]

[130] [The second edition of this work, greatly enlarged and corrected, appeared in 1825, in 3 volumes: printed very elegantly at the son's (Paul Renouard's) office. Of this improved edition, the father was so obliging as to present me with a copy, accompanied by a letter, of which I am sure that its author will forgive the quotation of its conclusion—to which is affixed his autograph. "Quoiqu'il en soit, je vous prie de vouloir bien l'agreer comme un temoignage de nos anciennes liaisons, et d'etre bien persuade du devouement sincere et amical avec lequel je n'ai jamais cesse d'etre.

Votre tres humble Serviteur,

[Autograph: AulAug. Renouard]

[131] [Now completed in 60 volumes 8vo.: and the most copious and correct of ALL the editions of the author. It is a monument, as splendid as honourable, of the Publisher's spirit of enterprise. For particulars, consult the Library Companion, p. 771, edit. 1824.]

[132] The year following the above description, the Catalogue, alluded to, made its appearance under the title of "Catalogue de la Bibliotheque d'un Amateur," in four not very capacious octavo volumes: printed by CRAPELET, who finds it impossible to print—ill. I am very glad such a catalogue has been published; and I hope it will be at once a stimulus and a model for other booksellers, with large and curious stocks in hand, to do the same thing. But I think M. Renouard might have conveniently got the essentials of his bibliographical gossipping into two volumes; particularly as, in reading such a work, one must necessarily turn rapidly over many leaves which contain articles of comparatively common occurrence, and of scarcely common interest. It is more especially in regard to modern French books, of which he seems to rejoice and revel in the description—(see, among other references, vol. iii. p. 286-310) that we may be allowed to regret such dilated statements; the more so, as, to the fastidious taste of the English, the engravings, in the different articles described, have not the beauty and merit which are attached to them by the French. Yet does M. Renouard narrate pleasantly, and write elegantly.

In regard to the "brush at the Decameron," above alluded to, I read it with surprise and pleasure—on the score of the moderate tone of criticism which it displayed—and shall wear it in my hat with as much triumph as a sportsman does a "brush" of a different description! Was it originally more piquan? I have reason not only to suspect, but to know, that it WAS. Be this as it may, I should never, in the first place, have been backward in returning all home thrusts upon the aggressor—and, in the second place, I am perfectly disposed that my work may stand by the test of such criticism. It is, upon the whole, fair and just; and justice always implies the mention of defects as well as of excellencies. It may, however, be material to remark, that the third volume of the Decameron is hardly amenable to the tribunal of French criticism; inasmuch as the information which it contains is almost entirely national—and therefore partial in its application.

[133] [Not so. Messrs. Payne and Foss once shewed me a yet larger copy of it upon vellum, than even M. Renouard's: but so many of the leaves had imbibed an indelible stain, which no skill could eradicate, that it was scarcely a saleable article. It was afterwards bought by Mr. Bohn at a public auction.]

[134] [It was sold at the Sale of his Aldine Library for L68. 15s. 8d. and is now, I believe, in the fine Collection of Sir John Thorold, Bart, at Syston Park. The Cicero did not come over for sale.]

[135] [In the previous edition I had supposed, erroneously, that it was the Father, M. Renouard himself, who had invoked his name on the occasion. The verses are pretty enough, and may as well find a place here as in M. Crapelet's performance.

Je l'ai vu ce fameux bouquin Qui te fait un titre de gloire: Tout Francois qui passe le Rhin Doit remporter une Victoire.]

[136] [M. Renouard obtained it at a public sale in Paris, against a very stiff commission left for it by myself. A copy of equal beauty is in the Library of the Right Hon. T. Grenville.]

[137] [The Theophrastus was sold for L12 1s. 6d. and the Aristotle for L40. The latter is in the Library of the Rt. Hon. T. Grenville, having been subsequently coated in red morocco by C. Lewis.]

[138] [It seems that I have committed a very grave error, in the preceding edition, by making Mons. Renouard "superintend the gathering in of his VINTAGE," at his country-house (St. Valerie) whereas there are no Vineyards in Picardy. France and Wine seemed such synonymes, that I almost naturally attached a vineyard to every country villa.]

[139] [It was published in 1820.]

[140] "The luxurious English Bibliographer is astonished at the publication of the "Manuel" without the accompaniment of Plates, Fac-similes, Vignettes, and other graphic attractions. It is because intrinsic merit is preferable to form and ornament: that at once establishes its worth and its success." CRAPELET, vol. iv. p. 88. This amiable Translator and sharp-sighted Critic never loses an opportunity of a fling at the "luxurious English Bibliographer!"

[141] [My translator again brandishes his pen in order to draw good-natured comparisons. "It would be lucky for him, if, to the qualities he possesses, M. Dibdin would unite those which he praises in M. Brunet: his work and the public would be considerable gainers by it: his books would not be so costly, and would be more profitable. The English Author describes nothing in a sang-froid manner: he is for ever charging: and, as he does not want originality in his vivacity, he should seem to wish to be the CALLOT of Bibliography." CRAPELET. Ibid. I accept the title with all my heart.]

[142] When he waited upon Lord Spencer at Paris, in 1819, and was shewn by his Lordship the Ulric Han Juvenal (in the smallest character of the printer) and the Horace of 1474, by Arnoldus de Bruxella, his voice, eyes, arms, and entire action ... gave manifest proofs how he FELT upon the occasion! [It only remains to dismiss this slight and inadequate account of so amiable and well-versed a bibliographer, with the ensuing-fac-simile of his autograph.]

[Autograph: Brunet, Libraire, rue Git-le-Couer, No 10.]

[143]

Chardin passe surtout parmi les amateurs Pour le plus vetilleux de tous les connaisseurs; Il fait naitre, encourage, anime l'industrie; LES BEAUX LIVRES font seul le CHARME DE SA VIE. LA RELIURE, poeme didactique. Par LESNE'. 1820, 8vo. p. 31.

[144] [This curiosity is now in the limited, but choice and curious, collection of my old and very worthy friend Mr. Joseph Haslewood. The handle of the stick is decorated by a bird's head, in ivory, which I conjectured to be that of an Eagle; but my friend insisted upon it that it was the head of an Hawk. I knew what this meant—and what it would end in: especially when he grasped and brandished the Cane, as if he were convinced that the sculptor had anticipated the possession of it by the Editor of Juliana Barnes. It is whispered that my friend intends to surprise the ROXBURGHE CLUB (of which he is, in all respects a most efficient member) with proofs of an Engraving of this charming little piece of old French carving.]

[145] Mons. Chardin is since dead at a very advanced age. His mental faculties had deserted him a good while before his decease: and his decease was gentle and scarcely perceptible. The portrait of him, in the preceding edition of this work, is literally the MAN HIMSELF. M. Crapelet has appended one very silly, and one very rude, if not insulting, note, to my account of the deceased, which I will not gratify him by translating, or by quoting in its original words.

[146] [A copy of the Horace UPON VELLUM (and I believe, the only one) with the original drawings of Percier, will be sold in the library of Mr. Hibbert, during the present season.]

[147] ["And unquestionably the best Letter Founder. His son, M. Amb. Firmin Didot; who has for a long time past cut the punches for his father, exhibits proof of a talent worthy, of his instructor." CRAPELET.]

[148] [The translation of the above passage runs so smoothly and so evenly upon "all fours," that the curious reader may be gratified by its transcription: "On ne doit pas etre surpris que le meilleur vin de Champagne et de Chambertin ait ete servi sur la table de celui qui, au milieu des toasts de ses convives, avait pour accompagnement le bruit agreable. des frisquettes et des tympans de vingt-deux presses.".Vol. ii. 102.]

[149] ["Would one not suppose that I had told M. Dibdin that it was impossible for the French to execute as fine plates as the English? If so, I should stand alone in that opinion. I only expatiated on the beauty of the wood-cut vignettes which adorn many volumes of the 4to. Shakspeare by Bulmer. (N.B. Mr. Bulmer never printed a Shakspeare in 4to. or with wood cuts; but Mr. Bensley did—in an 8vo. form.) Their execution is astonishing. Wood engraving, carried to such a pitch of excellence in England, is, in fact, very little advanced in France: and on this head I agree with M. Dibdin." CRAPELET, iv. 104.]

[150] ["How can M. Dibdin forget the respect due to his readers, to give them a recital of dinners, partaken of at the houses of private persons, as if he were describing those of a tavern? How comes it that he was never conscious of the want of good taste and propriety of conduct, to put the individuals, of whom he was speaking, into a sort of dramatic form, and even the MISTTRESSES OF THE HOUSE! CRAPELET: Vol. iv. 106. I have given as unsparing a version as I could (against myself) in the preceding extract; but the sting of the whole matter, as affecting M. Crapelet, may be drawn from the concluding words. And yet, where have I spoken ungraciously and uncourteously of Madame?]

[151] [Bozerian undoubtedly had his merits.]—Lesne has been singularly lively in describing the character of Bozerian's binding. In the verse ...

Il dit, et secouant le joug de la manie....

he appears to have been emulous of rivalling the strains, of the Epic Muse; recalling, as it were, a sort of Homeric scene to our recollection: as thus—of Achilles rushing to fight, after having addressed his horses:

[Greek: E ra, kai en protois iachon eche monuchas hippos]

[152] Some account of French bookbinders may be also found in the Bibliographical Decameron, vol. ii. p. 496-8.

[153] Cependant Thouvenin est un de ces hommes extraordinaires qui, semblables a ces corps lumineux que l'on est convenu d'appeler cometes, paraissent une fois en un siecle. Si, plus ambitieux de gloire que de fortune, il continue a, se surveiller; si, moins ouvrier qu'artiste, il s'occupe sans relache du perfectionnement de la reliure, il fera epoque dans son art comme ces grands hommes que nous admirons font epoque dans la litterature. p. 117.

[154] [In the year 1819, Lord Spencer sent over to the Marquis de Chateaugiron, a copy of the Ovid De Tristilus, translated by Churchyard, 1578, 4to. (his contribution to the Roxburghe Club) as a present from ONE President of Bibliophiles to ANOTHER. It was bound by Lewis, in his very best style, in morocco, with vellum linings, within a broad border of gold, and all other similar seductive adjuncts. Lewis considered it as a CHALLENGE to the whole bibliopegistic fraternity at Paris:—a sort of book-gauntlet;—thrown down for the most resolute champion to pick up—if he dare! Thouvenin, Simier, Bozerian (as has been intimated to me) were convened on the occasion:—they looked at the gauntlet: admired and feared it: but no man durst pick it up!

Obstupuere animi:——

Ante omnes stupet ipse Dares[D]....

In other words, the Marquis de Chateaugiron avowed to me that it was considered to be the ne plus ultra of the art. What say you to this, Messrs. Lesne and Crapelet?

[D] Thouvenin.

[155] This poem appeared early in the year 1820, under the following title. "La Reliure, poeme didactique en six chants; precede d'une idee analytique de cet art, suivi de notes historiques et critiques, et d'un Memoire soumis a la Societe d'Encouragement, ainsi qu'au Jury d'exposition de 1819, relatif a des moyens de perfectionnement, propres a retarder le renouvellement des reliures. PAR LESNE. Paris, 1820. 8vo. pp. 246. The motto is thus:

Hatez-vous lentement, et sans perdre courage, Vingt fois sur le metier remettez votre ouvrage; Polissez-le sans cesse et le repolissez.

Boileau Art. Poet. ch. 1.

This curious production is dedicated to the Author's Son: his first workman; seventeen years of age; and "as knowing, in his business at that early period of life as his father was at the age of twenty-seven." The dedication is followed by a preface, and an advertisement, or "Idee analytique de la Reliure." In the preface, the author deprecates both precipitate and severe criticism; "He is himself but a book-binder—and what can be expected from a muse so cultivated?" He doubts whether it will be read all through; but his aim and object have been to fix, upon a solid basis, the fundamental principles of his art. The subject, as treated in the Dictionary of Arts and Trades by the French Academy, is equally scanty and inaccurate. The author wishes that all arts were described by artists, as the reader would gain in information what he would lose in style. "I here repeat (says he) what I have elsewhere said in bad verse. There are amateur collectors who know more about book-binding, than even certain good workmen; but there are also others, of a capricious taste, who are rather likely to lead half-instructed workmen astray, than to put them in the proper road." In the poetical epistle which concludes the preface, he tells us that he had almost observed the Horatian precept: his poem having cost eight years labour. The opening of it may probably be quite sufficient to give the reader a proper notion of its character and merits.

Je celebre mon art; je dirai dans mes vers, Combien il eprouva de changemens divers; Je dirai ce que fut cet art en sa naissance; Je dirai ses progres, et, de sa decadence. Je nommerai sans fard les ineptes auteurs: Oui, je vais derouler aux yeux des amateurs: Des mauvais procedes la deplorable liste. Je nommerai le bon et le mauvais artiste;



LETTER IX.

MEN OF LETTERS. DOM BRIAL. THE ABBE BETENCOURT. MESSRS. GAIL, MILLIN, AND LANGES. A ROXBURGHE BANQUET.

Paris, June 20, 1818.

MY DEAR FRIEND,

We have had of late the hottest weather in the memory of the oldest Parisian: but we have also had a few flying thunder showers, which have helped to cool the air, and to refresh both the earth and its inhabitants. In consequence, I have made more frequent visits; and have followed up my morning occupations among BOOKS, by the evening society of those who are so capable, from their talents, of adding successfully to their number. Among the most eminent, as well as most venerable of historical antiquaries, is the celebrated Dom BRIAL, an ex-Benedictin. He lives in the Rue Servandoni, on the second-floor, in the very bosom, as it were, of his library, and of city solitude. My first visit to him, about three weeks ago, was fortified by an introductory letter from our friend * * *. The old gentleman (for he is about seventy four) was busily occupied at his dinner—about one o'clock; and wearing a silk night cap, and habited en rocquelaure, had his back turned as his servant announced me. He is very deaf; but on receiving the letter, and recognising the hand-writing of our friend, he made me heartily welcome, and begged that I would partake of his humble fare. This I declined; begging, on the other hand that he would pursue his present occupation, and allow me to examine his library. "With the greatest pleasure (replied he); but you will find it a very common-place one."

His books occupy each of the four rooms which form the suite of his dwelling. Of course I include the bed room. They are admirably selected: chiefly historical, and including a very considerable number in the ecclesiastical department. He has all the historians relating to our own country. In short, it is with tools like these, and from original MSS. lent him from the Royal Library—which his official situation authorizes—- that he carries on the herculean labour of the Recueil des Historiens des Gaules, &c. commenced by BOUQUET and other editors, and of which he shewed me a great portion of the XVIIth volume—as well as the commencement of the XVIIIth—already printed. Providence may be graciously pleased to prolong the life of this learned and excellent old man till the latter volume be completed; but beyond that period, it is hardly reasonable or desirable to wish it; for if he die, he will then have been gathered to his fathers in a good old age.[156] But the labours of Dom Brial are not confined to the "Recueil," just mentioned. They shine conspicuous in the "Histoire Litteraire de la France," of which fifteen goodly quarto volumes are already printed; and they may be also traced in the famous work entitled L'Art de, Verifier les Dates, in three large folio volumes, published in 1783, &c. "Quand il est mort, il n'a point son eleve"[157]—says his old and intimate friend the ABBE BETENCOURT; an observation, which, when I heard it, filled me with mingled regret and surprise—for why is this valuable, and most patriotic of all departments of literature, neglected abroad as well as at home? It is worth all the digamma disquisitions in the world; and France, as well as Italy, was once rich in historical Literati.

Dom Brial is very little above the mean height. He stoops somewhat from age; but, considering his years, and incessantly sedentary labours, it is rather marvellous that he does not exhibit more striking proofs of infirmity. His voice is full and strong; his memory is yet retentive, and his judgment sound. His hand-writing is extremely firm and legible. No man ever lived, or ever will, or can live, more completely devoted to his labours. They are his meat and drink—as much as his "bouilli et petites poies:"—of which I saw him partaking on repeated visits. Occupied from morning till night in the prosecution of his studies—in a quarter of Paris extremely secluded—he appears to be almost unconscious of passing occurrences without;[158] except it be of the sittings of the Institute, which he constantly attends, on Fridays, as one of the Secretaries. I have twice dined with him; and, each time, in company with the Abbe Betencourt, his brother Secretary at the Institute; and his old, long-tried, and most intimate friend.

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