Enemies of Books
by William Blades
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The weapon with which the binder deals the most deadly blows to books is the "plough," the effect of which is to cut away the margins, placing the print in a false position relatively to the back and head, and often denuding the work of portions of the very text. This reduction in size not seldom brings down a handsome folio to the size of quarto, and a quarto to an octavo.

With the old hand plough a binder required more care and caution to produce an even edge throughout than with the new cutting machine. If a careless workman found that he had not ploughed the margin quite square with the text, he would put it in his press and take off "another shaving," and sometimes even a third.

Dante, in his "Inferno," deals out to the lost souls various tortures suited with dramatic fitness to the past crimes of the victims, and had I to execute judgment on the criminal binders of certain precious volumes I have seen, where the untouched maiden sheets entrusted to their care have, by barbarous treatment, lost dignity, beauty and value, I would collect the paper shavings so ruthlessly shorn off, and roast the perpetrator of the outrage over their slow combustion. In olden times, before men had learned to value the relics of our printers, there was some excuse for the sins of a binder who erred from ignorance which was general; but in these times, when the historical and antiquarian value of old books is freely acknowledged, no quarter should be granted to a careless culprit.

It may be supposed that, from the spread of information, all real danger from ignorance is past. Not so, good reader; that is a consummation as yet "devoutly to be wished." Let me relate to you a true bibliographical anecdote: In 1877, a certain lord, who had succeeded to a fine collection of old books, promised to send some of the most valuable (among which were several Caxtons) to the Exhibition at South Kensington. Thinking their outward appearance too shabby, and not knowing the danger of his conduct, he decided to have them rebound in the neighbouring county town. The volumes were soon returned in a resplendent state, and, it is said, quite to the satisfaction of his lordship, whose pleasure, however, was sadly damped when a friend pointed out to him that, although the discoloured edges had all been ploughed off, and the time-stained blanks, with their fifteenth century autographs, had been replaced by nice clean fly-leaves, yet, looking at the result in its lowest aspect only—that of market value—the books had been damaged to at least the amount of L500; and, moreover, that caustic remarks would most certainly follow upon their public exhibition. Those poor injured volumes were never sent.

Some years ago one of the most rare books printed by Machlinia—a thin folio—was discovered bound in sheep by a country bookbinder, and cut down to suit the size of some quarto tracts. But do not let us suppose that country binders are the only culprits. It is not very long since the discovery of a unique Caxton in one of our largest London libraries. It was in boards, as originally issued by the fifteenth-century binder, and a great fuss (very properly) was made over the treasure trove. Of course, cries the reader, it was kept in its original covers, with all the interesting associations of its early state untouched? No such thing! Instead of making a suitable case, in which it could be preserved just as it was, it was placed in the hands of a well-known London binder, with the order, "Whole bind in velvet." He did his best, and the volume now glows luxuriously in its gilt edges and its inappropriate covering, and, alas! with half-an-inch of its uncut margin taken off all round. How do I know that? because the clever binder, seeing some MS. remarks on one of the margins, turned the leaf down to avoid cutting them off, and that stern witness will always testify, to the observant reader, the original size of the book. This same binder, on another occasion, placed a unique fifteenth century Indulgence in warm water, to separate it from the cover upon which it was pasted, the result being that, when dry, it was so distorted as to be useless. That man soon after passed to another world, where, we may hope, his works have not followed him, and that his merits as a good citizen and an honest man counterbalanced his de-merits as a binder.

Other similar instances will occur to the memory of many a reader, and doubtless the same sin will be committed from time to time by certain binders, who seem to have an ingrained antipathy to rough edges and large margins, which of course are, in their view, made by Nature as food for the shaving tub.

De Rome, a celebrated bookbinder of the eighteenth century, who was nicknamed by Dibdin "The Great Cropper," was, although in private life an estimable man, much addicted to the vice of reducing the margins of all books sent to him to bind. So far did he go, that he even spared not a fine copy of Froissart's Chronicles, on vellum, in which was the autograph of the well-known book-lover, De Thou, but cropped it most cruelly.

Owners, too, have occasionally diseased minds with regard to margins. A friend writes: "Your amusing anecdotes have brought to my memory several biblioclasts whom I have known. One roughly cut the margins off his books with a knife, hacking away very much like a hedger and ditcher. Large paper volumes were his especial delight, as they gave more paper. The slips thus obtained were used for index-making! Another, with the bump of order unnaturally developed, had his folios and quartos all reduced, in binding, to one size, so that they might look even on his bookshelves."

This latter was, doubtless, cousin to him who deliberately cut down all his books close to the text, because he had been several times annoyed by readers who made marginal notes.

The indignities, too, suffered by some books in their lettering! Fancy an early black-letter fifteenth-century quarto on Knighthood, labelled "Tracts"; or a translation of Virgil, "Sermons"! The "Histories of Troy," printed by Caxton, still exists with "Eracles" on the back, as its title, because that name occurs several times in the early chapters, and the binder was too proud to seek advice. The words "Miscellaneous," or "Old Pieces," were sometimes used when binders were at a loss for lettering, and many other instances might be mentioned.

The rapid spread of printing throughout Europe in the latter part of the fifteenth century caused a great fall in the value of plain un-illuminated MSS., and the immediate consequence of this was the destruction of numerous volumes written upon parchment, which were used by the binders to strengthen the backs of their newly-printed rivals. These slips of vellum or parchment are quite common in old books. Sometimes whole sheets are used as fly-leaves, and often reveal the existence of most valuable works, unknown before—proving, at the same time, the small value formerly attached to them.

Many a bibliographer, while examining old books, has to his great puzzlement come across short slips of parchment, nearly always from some old manuscript, sticking out like "guards" from the midst of the leaves. These suggest, at first, imperfections or damage done to the volume; but if examined closely it will be found that they are always in the middle of a paper section, and the real reason of their existence is just the same as when two leaves of parchment occur here and there in a paper volume, viz.: strength—strength to resist the lug which the strong thread makes against the middle of each section. These slips represent old books destroyed, and like the slips already noticed, should always be carefully examined.

When valuable books have been evil-entreated, when they have become soiled by dirty hands, or spoiled by water stains, or injured by grease spots, nothing is more astonishing to the uninitiated than the transformation they undergo in the hands of a skilful restorer. The covers are first carefully dissected, the eye of the operator keeping a careful outlook for any fragments of old MSS. or early printed books, which may have been used by the original binder. No force should be applied to separate parts which adhere together; a little warm water and care is sure to overcome that difficulty. When all the sections are loose, the separate sheets are placed singly in a bath of cold water, and allowed to remain there until all the dirt has soaked out. If not sufficiently purified, a little hydrochloric or oxalic acid, or caustic potash may be put in the water, according as the stains are from grease or from ink. Here is where an unpractised binder will probably injure a book for life. If the chemicals are too strong, or the sheets remain too long in the bath, or are not thoroughly cleansed from the bleach before they are re-sized, the certain seeds of decay are planted in the paper, and although for a time the leaves may look bright to the eye, and even crackle under the hand like the soundest paper, yet in the course of a few years the enemy will appear, the fibre will decay, and the existence of the books will terminate in a state of white tinder.

Everything which diminishes the interest of a book is inimical to its preservation, and in fact is its enemy. Therefore, a few words upon the destruction of old bindings.

I remember purchasing many years ago at a suburban book stall, a perfect copy of Moxon's Mechanic Exercises, now a scarce work. The volumes were uncut, and had the original marble covers. They looked so attractive in their old fashioned dress, that I at once determined to preserve it. My binder soon made for them a neat wooden box in the shape of a book, with morocco back properly lettered, where I trust the originals will be preserved from dust and injury for many a long year.

Old covers, whether boards or paper, should always be retained if in any state approaching decency. A case, which can be embellished to any extent looks every whit as well upon the shelf! and gives even greater protection than binding. It has also this great advantage: it does not deprive your descendants of the opportunity of seeing for themselves exactly in what dress the book buyers of four centuries ago received their volumes.


AFTER all, two-legged depredators, who ought to have known better, have perhaps done as much real damage in libraries as any other enemy. I do not refer to thieves, who, if they injure the owners, do no harm to the books themselves by merely transferring them from one set of bookshelves to another. Nor do I refer to certain readers who frequent our public libraries, and, to save themselves the trouble of copying, will cut out whole articles from magazines or encyclopaedias. Such depredations are not frequent, and only occur with books easily replaced, and do not therefore call for more than a passing mention; but it is a serious matter when Nature produces such a wicked old biblioclast as John Bagford, one of the founders of the Society of Antiquaries, who, in the beginning of the last century, went about the country, from library to library, tearing away title pages from rare books of all sizes. These he sorted out into nationalities and towns, and so, with a lot of hand-bills, manuscript notes, and miscellaneous collections of all kinds, formed over a hundred folio volumes, now preserved in the British Museum. That they are of service as materials in compiling a general history of printing cannot be denied, but the destruction of many rare books was the result, and more than counter-balanced any benefit bibliographers will ever receive from them. When here and there throughout those volumes you meet with titles of books now either unknown entirely, or of the greatest rarity; when you find the Colophon from the end, or the "insigne typographi" from the first leaf of a rare "fifteener," pasted down with dozens of others, varying in value, you cannot bless the memory of the antiquarian shoemaker, John Bagford. His portrait, a half-length, painted by Howard, was engraved by Vertue, and re-engraved for the Bibliographical Decameron.

A bad example often finds imitators, and every season there crop up for public sale one or two such collections, formed by bibliomaniacs, who, although calling themselves bibliophiles, ought really to be ranked among the worst enemies of books.

The following is copied from a trade catalogue, dated April, 1880, and affords a fair idea of the extent to which these heartless destroyers will go:—


FIFTY DIFFERENT CAPITAL LETTERS on VELLUM; all in rich Gold and Colours. Many 3 inches square: the floral decorations are of great beauty, ranging from the XIIth to XVth century. Mounted on stout card-board. IN NICE PRESERVATION, L6 6s.

These beautiful letters have been cut from precious MSS., and as specimens of early art are extremely valuable, many of them being worth 15s. each."

Mr. Proeme is a man well known to the London dealers in old books. He is wealthy, and cares not what he spends to carry out his bibliographical craze, which is the collection of title pages. These he ruthlessly extracts, frequently leaving the decapitated carcase of the books, for which he cares not, behind him. Unlike the destroyer Bagford, he has no useful object in view, but simply follows a senseless kind of classification. For instance: One set of volumes contains nothing but copper-plate engraved titles, and woe betide the grand old Dutch folios of the seventeenth century if they cross his path. Another is a volume of coarse or quaint titles, which certainly answer the end of showing how idiotic and conceited some authors have been. Here you find Dr. Sib's "Bowels opened in Divers Sermons," 1650, cheek by jowl with the discourse attributed falsely to Huntington, the Calvinist, "Die and be damned," with many others too coarse to be quoted. The odd titles adopted for his poems by Taylor, the water-poet, enliven several pages, and make one's mouth water for the books themselves. A third volume includes only such titles as have the printer's device. If you shut your eyes to the injury done by such collectors, you may, to a certain extent, enjoy the collection, for there is great beauty in some titles; but such a pursuit is neither useful nor meritorious. By and by the end comes, and then dispersion follows collection, and the volumes, which probably Cost L200 each in their formation, will be knocked down to a dealer for L10, finally gravitating into the South Kensington Library, or some public museum, as a bibliographical curiosity. The following has just been sold (July, 1880) by Messrs. Sotheby, Wilkinson and Hodge, in the Dunn-Gardinier collection, lot 1592:—


A Collection of upwards of 800 ENGRAVED TITLES AND FRONTISPIECES, ENGLISH AND FOREIGN (some very fine and curious) taken from old books and neatly mounted on cartridge paper in 3 vol, half morocco gilt. imp. folio."

The only collection of title-pages which has afforded me unalloyed pleasure is a handsome folio, published by the directors of the Plantin Museum, Antwerp, in 1877, just after the purchase of that wonderful typographical storehouse. It is called "Titels en Portretten gesneden naar P. P. Rubens voor de Plantijnsche Drukkerij," and it contains thirty-five grand title pages, reprinted from the original seventeenth century plates, designed by Rubens himself between the years 1612 and 1640, for various publications which issued from the celebrated Plantin Printing Office. In the same Museum are preserved in Rubens' own handwriting his charge for each design, duly receipted at foot.

I have now before me a fine copy of "Coclusiones siue decisiones antique dnor' de Rota," printed by Gutenberg's partner, Schoeffer, in the year 1477. It is perfect, except in a most vital part, the Colophon, which has been cut out by some barbaric "Collector," and which should read thus: "Pridie nonis Januarii Mcccclxxvij, in Civitate Moguntina, impressorie Petrus Schoyffer de Gernsheym," followed by his well-known mark, two shields.

A similar mania arose at the beginning of this century for collections of illuminated initials, which were taken from MSS., and arranged on the pages of a blank book in alphabetical order. Some of our cathedral libraries suffered severely from depredations of this kind. At Lincoln, in the early part of this century, the boys put on their robes in the library, a room close to the choir. Here were numerous old MSS., and eight or ten rare Caxtons. The choir boys used often to amuse themselves, while waiting for the signal to "fall in," by cutting out with their pen-knives the illuminated initials and vignettes, which they would take into the choir with them and pass round from one to another. The Dean and Chapter of those days were not much better, for they let Dr. Dibdin have all their Caxtons for a "consideration." He made a little catalogue of them, which he called "A Lincolne Nosegaye." Eventually they were absorbed into the collection at Althorp.

The late Mr. Caspari was a "destroyer" of books. His rare collection of early woodcuts, exhibited in 1877 at the Caxton Celebration, had been frequently augmented by the purchase of illustrated books, the plates of which were taken out, and mounted on Bristol boards, to enrich his collection. He once showed me the remains of a fine copy of "Theurdanck," which he had served so, and I have now before me several of the leaves which he then gave me, and which, for beauty of engraving and cleverness of typography, surpasses any typographical work known to me. It was printed for the Emperor Maximilian, by Hans Schonsperger, of Nuremberg, and, to make it unique, all the punches were cut on purpose, and as many as seven or eight varieties of each letter, which, together with the clever way in which the ornamental flourishes are carried above and below the line, has led even experienced printers to deny its being typography. It is, nevertheless, entirely from cast types. A copy in good condition costs about L50.

Many years since I purchased, at Messrs. Sotheby's, a large lot of MS. leaves on vellum, some being whole sections of a book, but mostly single leaves. Many were so mutilated by the excision of initials as to be worthless, but those with poor initials, or with none, were quite good, and when sorted out I found I had got large portions of nearly twenty different MSS., mostly Horae, showing twelve varieties of fifteenth century handwriting in Latin, French, Dutch, and German. I had each sort bound separately, and they now form an interesting collection.

Portrait collectors have destroyed many books by abstracting the frontispiece to add to their treasures, and when once a book is made imperfect, its march to destruction is rapid. This is why books like Atkyns' "Origin and Growth of Printing," 4o, 1664, have become impossible to get.

When issued, Atkyns' pamphlet had a fine frontispiece, by Logan, containing portraits of King Charles II, attended by Archbishop Sheldon, the Duke of Albermarle, and the Earl of Clarendon. As portraits of these celebrities (excepting, of course, the King) are extremely rare, collectors have bought up this 4o tract of Atkyns', whenever it has been offered, and torn away the frontispiece to adorn their collection.

This is why, if you take up any sale catalogue of old books, you are certain to find here and there, appended to the description, "Wanting the title," "Wanting two plates," or "Wanting the last page."

It is quite common to find in old MSS., especially fifteenth century, both vellum and paper, the blank margins of leaves cut away. This will be from the side edge or from the foot, and the recurrence of this mutilation puzzled me for many years. It arose from the scarcity of paper in former times, so that when a message had to be sent which required more exactitude than could be entrusted to the stupid memory of a household messenger, the Master or Chaplain went to the library, and, not having paper to use, took down an old book, and cut from its broad margins one or more slips to serve his present need.

I feel quite inclined to reckon among "enemies" those bibliomaniacs and over-careful possessors, who, being unable to carry their treasures into the next world, do all they can to hinder their usefulness in this. What a difficulty there is to obtain admission to the curious library of old Samuel Pepys, the well-known diarist. There it is at Magdalene College, Cambridge, in the identical book-cases provided for the books by Pepys himself; but no one can gain admission except in company of two Fellows of the College, and if a single book be lost, the whole library goes away to a neighbouring college. However willing and anxious to oblige, it is evident that no one can use the library at the expense of the time, if not temper, of two Fellows. Some similar restrictions are in force at the Teylerian Museum, Haarlem, where a lifelong imprisonment is inflicted upon its many treasures.

Some centuries ago a valuable collection of books was left to the Guildford Endowed Grammar School. The schoolmaster was to be held personally responsible for the safety of every volume, which, if lost, he was bound to replace. I am told that one master, to minimize his risk as much as possible, took the following barbarous course:—As soon as he was in possession, he raised the boards of the schoolroom floor, and, having carefully packed all the books between the joists, had the boards nailed down again. Little recked he how many rats and mice made their nests there; he was bound to account some day for every single volume, and he saw no way so safe as rigid imprisonment.

The late Sir Thomas Phillipps, of Middle Hill, was a remarkable instance of a bibliotaph. He bought bibliographical treasures simply to bury them. His mansion was crammed with books; he purchased whole libraries, and never even saw what he had bought. Among some of his purchases was the first book printed in the English language, "The Recuyell of the Histories of Troye," translated and printed by William Caxton, for the Duchess of Burgundy, sister to our Edward IV. It is true, though almost incredible, that Sir Thomas could never find this volume, although it is doubtless still in the collection, and no wonder, when cases of books bought twenty years before his death were never opened, and the only knowledge of their contents which he possessed was the Sale Catalogue or the bookseller's invoice.


READER! are you married? Have you offspring, boys especially I mean, say between six and twelve years of age? Have you also a literary workshop, supplied with choice tools, some for use, some for ornament, where you pass pleasant hours? and is—ah! there's the rub!—is there a special hand-maid, whose special duty it is to keep your den daily dusted and in order? Plead you guilty to these indictments? then am I sure of a sympathetic co-sufferer.

Dust! it is all a delusion. It is not the dust that makes women anxious to invade the inmost recesses of your Sanctum—it is an ingrained curiosity. And this feminine weakness, which dates from Eve, is a common motive in the stories of our oldest literature and Folk-lore. What made Fatima so anxious to know the contents of the room forbidden her by Bluebeard? It was positively nothing to her, and its contents caused not the slightest annoyance to anybody. That story has a bad moral, and it would, in many ways, have been more satisfactory had the heroine been left to take her place in the blood-stained chamber, side by side with her peccant predecessors. Why need the women-folk (God forgive me!) bother themselves about the inside of a man's library, and whether it wants dusting or not? My boys' playroom, in which is a carpenter's bench, a lathe, and no end of litter, is never tidied—perhaps it can't be, or perhaps their youthful vigour won't stand it—but my workroom must needs be dusted daily, with the delusive promise that each book and paper shall be replaced exactly where it was. The damage done by such continued treatment is incalculable. At certain times these observances are kept more religiously than others; but especially should the book-lover, married or single, beware of the Ides of March. So soon as February is dead and gone, a feeling of unrest seizes the housewife's mind. This increases day by day, and becomes dominant towards the middle of the month, about which period sundry hints are thrown out as to whether you are likely to be absent for a day or two. Beware! the fever called "Spring Clean" is on, and unless you stand firm, you will rue it. Go away, if the Fates so will, but take the key of your own domain with you.

Do not misunderstand. Not for a moment would I advocate dust and dirt; they are enemies, and should be routed; but let the necessary routing be done under your own eye. Explain where caution must be used, and in what cases tenderness is a virtue; and if one Eve in the family can be indoctrinated with book-reverence you are a happy man; her price is above that of rubies; she will prolong your life. Books MUST now and then be taken clean out of their shelves, but they should be tended lovingly and with judgment. If the dusting can be done just outside the room so much the better. The books removed, the shelf should be lifted quite out of its bearings, cleansed and wiped, and then each volume should be taken separately, and gently rubbed on back and sides with a soft cloth. In returning the volumes to their places, notice should be taken of the binding, and especially when the books are in whole calf or morocco care should be taken not to let them rub together. The best bound books are soonest injured, and quickly deteriorate in bad company. Certain volumes, indeed, have evil tempers, and will scratch the faces of all their neighbours who are too familiar with them. Such are books with metal clasps and rivets on their edges; and such, again, are those abominable old rascals, chiefly born in the fifteenth century, who are proud of being dressed in REAL boards with brass corners, and pass their lives with fearful knobs and metal bosses, mostly five in number, firmly fixed on one of their sides. If the tendencies of such ruffians are not curbed, they will do as much mischief to their gentle neighbours as when a "collie" worries the sheep. These evil results may always be minimized by placing a piece of millboard between the culprit and his victim. I have seen lovely bindings sadly marked by such uncanny neighbours.

When your books are being "dusted," don't impute too much common sense to your assistants; take their ignorance for granted, and tell them at once never to lift any book by one of its covers; that treatment is sure to strain the back, and ten to one the weight will be at the same time miscalculated, and the volume will fall. Your female "help," too, dearly loves a good tall pile to work at and, as a rule, her notions of the centre of gravity are not accurate, leading often to a general downfall, and the damage of many a corner. Again, if not supervised and instructed, she is very apt to rub the dust into, instead of off, the edges. Each volume should be held tightly, so as to prevent the leaves from gaping, and then wiped from the back to the fore-edge. A soft brush will be found useful if there is much dust. The whole exterior should also be rubbed with a soft cloth, and then the covers should be opened and the hinges of the binding examined; for mildew WILL assert itself both inside and outside certain books, and that most pertinaciously. It has unaccountable likes and dislikes. Some bindings seem positively to invite damp, and mildew will attack these when no other books on the same shelf show any signs of it. When discovered, carefully wipe it away, and then let the book remain a few days standing open, in the driest and airiest spot you can select. Great care should be taken not to let grit, such as blows in at the open window from many a dusty road, be upon your duster, or you will probably find fine scratches, like an outline map of Europe, all over your smooth calf, by which your heart and eye, as well as your book, will be wounded.

"Helps" are very apt to fill the shelves too tightly, so that to extract a book you have to use force, often to the injury of the top-bands. Beware of this mistake. It frequently occurs through not noticing that one small book is purposely placed at each end of the shelf, beneath the movable shelf-supports, thus not only saving space, but preventing the injury which a book shelf-high would be sure to receive from uneven pressure.

After all, the best guide in these, as in many other matters, is "common sense," a quality which in olden times must have been much more "common" than in these days, else the phrase would never have become rooted in our common tongue.

Children, with all their innocence, are often guilty of book-murder. I must confess to having once taken down "Humphrey's History of Writing," which contains many brightly-coloured plates, to amuse a sick daughter. The object was certainly gained, but the consequences of so bad a precedent were disastrous. That copy (which, I am glad to say, was easily re-placed), notwithstanding great care on my part, became soiled and torn, and at last was given up to Nursery martyrdom. Can I regret it? surely not, for, although bibliographically sinful, who can weigh the amount of real pleasure received, and actual pain ignored, by the patient in the contemplation of those beautifully-blended colours?

A neighbour of mine some few years ago suffered severely from a propensity, apparently irresistible, in one of his daughters to tear his library books. She was six years old, and would go quietly to a shelf and take down a book or two, and having torn a dozen leaves or so down the middle, would replace the volumes, fragments and all, in their places, the damage being undiscovered until the books were wanted for use. Reprimand, expostulation and even punishment were of no avail; but a single "whipping" effected a cure.

Boys, however, are by far more destructive than girls, and have, naturally, no reverence for age, whether in man or books. Who does not fear a schoolboy with his first pocket-knife? As Wordsworth did not say:—

"You may trace him oft By scars which his activity has left Upon our shelves and volumes. * * * He who with pocket-knife will cut the edge Of luckless panel or of prominent book, Detaching with a stroke a label here, a back-band there." Excursion III, 83.

Pleased, too, are they, if, with mouths full of candy, and sticky fingers, they can pull in and out the books on your bottom shelves, little knowing the damage and pain they will cause. One would fain cry out, calling on the Shade of Horace to pardon the false quantity—

"Magna movet stomacho fastidia, si puer unctis Tractavit volumen manibus." Sat. IV.

What boys CAN do may be gathered from the following true story, sent me by a correspondent who was the immediate sufferer:—

One summer day he met in town an acquaintance who for many years had been abroad; and finding his appetite for old books as keen as ever, invited him home to have a mental feed upon "fifteeners" and other bibliographical dainties, preliminary to the coarser pleasures enjoyed at the dinner-table. The "home" was an old mansion in the outskirts of London, whose very architecture was suggestive of black-letter and sheep-skin. The weather, alas! was rainy, and, as they approached the house, loud peals of laughter reached their ears. The children were keeping a birthday with a few young friends. The damp forbad all outdoor play, and, having been left too much to their own devices, they had invaded the library. It was just after the Battle of Balaclava, and the heroism of the combatants on that hard-fought field was in everybody's mouth. So the mischievous young imps divided themselves into two opposing camps—Britons and Russians. The Russian division was just inside the door, behind ramparts formed of old folios and quartos taken from the bottom shelves and piled to the height of about four feet. It was a wall of old fathers, fifteenth century chronicles, county histories, Chaucer, Lydgate, and such like. Some few yards off were the Britishers, provided with heaps of small books as missiles, with which they kept up a skirmishing cannonade against the foe. Imagine the tableau! Two elderly gentlemen enter hurriedly, paterfamilias receiving, quite unintentionally, the first edition of "Paradise Lost" in the pit of his stomach, his friend narrowly escaping a closer personal acquaintance with a quarto Hamlet than he had ever had before. Finale: great outburst of wrath, and rapid retreat of the combatants, many wounded (volumes) being left on the field.


ALTHOUGH, strictly speaking, the following anecdote does not illustrate any form of real injury to books, it is so racy, and in these days of extravagant biddings so tantalizing, that I must step just outside the strict line of pertinence in order to place it on record, It was sent to me, as a personal experience, by my friend, Mr. George Clulow, a well-known bibliophile, and "Xylographer" to "Ye Sette of ye Odde Volumes." The date is 1881. He writes:—

"Apropos of the Gainsborough 'find,' of which you tell in 'The Enemies of Books,' I should like to narrate an experience of my own, of some twenty years ago:

"Late one evening, at my father's house, I saw a catalogue of a sale of furniture, farm implements and books, which was announced to take place on the following morning at a country rectory in Derbyshire, some four miles from the nearest railway station.

"It was summer time—the country at its best—and with the attraction of an old book, I decided on a day's holiday, and eight o'clock the next morning found me in the train for C——, and after a variation in my programme, caused by my having walked three miles west before I discovered that my destination was three miles east of the railway station, I arrived at the rectory at noon, and found assembled some thirty or forty of the neighbouring farmers, their wives, men-servants and maid-servants, all seemingly bent on a day's idling, rather than business. The sale was announced for noon, but it was an hour later before the auctioneer put in an appearance, and the first operation in which he took part, and in which he invited my assistance, was to make a hearty meal of bread and cheese and beer in the rectory kitchen. This over, the business of the day began by a sundry collection of pots, pans, and kettles being brought to the competition of the public, followed by some lots of bedding, etc. The catalogue gave books as the first part of the sale, and, as three o'clock was reached, my patience was gone, and I protested to the auctioneer against his not selling in accordance with his catalogue. To this he replied that there was not time enough, and that he would sell the books to-morrow! This was too much for me, and I suggested that he had broken faith with the buyers, and had brought me to C—— on a false pretence. This, however, did not seem to disturb his good humour, or to make him unhappy, and his answer was to call 'Bill,' who was acting as porter, and to tell him to give the gentleman the key of the 'book room,' and to bring down any of the books he might pick out, and he 'would sell 'em.' I followed 'Bill,' and soon found myself in a charming nook of a library, full of books, mostly old divinity, but with a large number of the best miscellaneous literature of the sixteenth century, English and foreign. A very short look over the shelves produced some thirty Black Letter books, three or four illuminated missals, and some book rarities of a more recent date. 'Bill' took them downstairs, and I wondered what would happen! I was not long in doubt, for book by book, and in lots of two and three, my selection was knocked down in rapid succession, at prices varying from 1s. 6d. to 3s. 6d., this latter sum seeming to be the utmost limit to the speculative turn of my competitors. The bonne bouche of the lot was, however, kept back by the auctioneer, because, as he said, it was 'a pretty book,' and I began to respect his critical judgment, for 'a pretty book' it was, being a large paper copy of Dibdin's Bibliographical Decameron, three volumes, in the original binding. Suffice it to say that, including this charming book, my purchases did not amount to L13, and I had pretty well a cart-load of books for my money—more than I wanted much! Having brought them home, I 'weeded them out,' and the 'weeding' realised four times what I gave for the whole, leaving me with some real book treasures.

"Some weeks afterwards I heard that the remainder of the books were literally treated as waste lumber, and carted off to the neighbouring town, and were to be had, any one of them, for sixpence, from a cobbler who had allowed his shop to be used as a store house for them. The news of their being there reached the ears of an old bookseller in one of the large towns, and he, I think, cleared out the lot. So curious an instance of the most total ignorance on the part of the sellers, and I may add on the part of the possible buyers also, I think is worth noting."

How would the reader in this Year of Grace, 1887, like such an experience as that?


IT is a great pity that there should be so many distinct enemies at work for the destruction of literature, and that they should so often be allowed to work out their sad end. Looked at rightly, the possession of any old book is a sacred trust, which a conscientious owner or guardian would as soon think of ignoring as a parent would of neglecting his child. An old book, whatever its subject or internal merits, is truly a portion of the national history; we may imitate it and print it in fac-simile, but we can never exactly reproduce it; and as an historical document it should be carefully preserved.

I do not envy any man that absence of sentiment which makes some people careless of the memorials of their ancestors, and whose blood can be warmed up only by talking of horses or the price of hops. To them solitude means ennui, and anybody's company is preferable to their own. What an immense amount of calm enjoyment and mental renovation do such men miss. Even a millionaire will ease his toils, lengthen his life, and add a hundred per cent. to his daily pleasures if he becomes a bibliophile; while to the man of business with a taste for books, who through the day has struggled in the battle of life with all its irritating rebuffs and anxieties, what a blessed season of pleasurable repose opens upon him as he enters his sanctum, where every article wafts to him a welcome, and every book is a personal friend!


Academy, The, 23. Acanis eruditus, 77, 78. Acts of the Apostles, quoted, 4. Aglossa pinguinalis, 76. Albermarle (Duke of), portrait by Logan, 126. Althorp library, 124. Anderson (Sir C.), 55. Anobium paniceum, 77, 78. Anobium pertinax, 77, 78, 87, 88. Antiquary, The, 54. Antwerp, Monks at, 57, 58. Asbestos fire, 27. Ashburnham House, Westminster, 10. Asiarch, an, 7. Athens, Bookworm from, 81. Atkyns' Origin and Growth of Printing, 126. Auctioneer, story of, 145. Austin Friars, 15. Bagford (John), the biblioclast, r: 18. Balaclava, battle of, 143. Bale, the antiquary, 9. Bandinel (Dr.), 87, 88. Beedham, B., 52. Bible, the first printed, burnt at Strasbourg, 13. — the "bug" edition, 95. Bibliophile, pleasures of a, 153. Bibliotaph, a, 129. Bibliotheca Ecclesiae Londino-Belgicae, 16. Binder's creed, 31. — plough, 105. Binding, care to be taken of, 134. — quality of good, 104. Bird (Rev. -), 55. Birdsall (Mr.), bookbinder, 80. Birmingham Riots, 11. Black-beetles, enemies of books, 94. Black-letter books in United States, 91. Blatta germanica, 65. Boccaccio, 48-50. Bodleian, hookworms at, 87. Bookbinders as enemies of books, 103. Books, absurd lettering, 111. — burnt at Carthage; at Ephesus, 4. — burnt in Fire of London, 10. — burnt by Saracens, 3. — captured by Corsairs, 18. — cleaning of, 114. — deprived of title pages, 118, 119. Books destroyed at the Reformation, Si. — dried in an attic, 16. — examination of old covers, 116. — how to dust them, 134. — injured by hacking, i x i. — lost at sea, 17, 18. — margin reduced to size, 111. — mildew in, 136. — from monasteries destroyed, 9. — restoration when injured, 114. — restored after a fire, 15. — scarce before printing, 2. — sold to a cobbler, 52, 149. — too tight on shelves, 137. — their claims to be preserved, 151. — used to bake "pyes," 10. — which scratch one another, 134. Book-sale in Derbyshire, 145. Bookworm, the, 67-93. — attempt to breed, 81-3. — from Greece, 82. — in paper box, 89. — in United States, 91. Bookworms' progress through books, 84. — race by, 86. Bosses on books, 135. Boys injuring books, 139. — in library, story of, 140. Brighton, black letter fragments, 59. British Museum, Boccaccio's Fall of Princes, 61. British Museum free from the "worm," 83. — burnt book exhibited at, 11. Brown spots in books, 24. Bruchium, 3. Burckhardt's Arabic MSS., 77. "Bug" Bible, 95. Burgundy (Duchess of), 130.

Cambridge Market, 97. Caskets (the three), Shakspeare, 60. Caspari (Mr.), a collector, 124. Cassin (Convent of Mount), 49. Caxton, William, 130. —his use of waste leaves, 90. —Canterbury Tales, used to light a fire, 53. — Golden Legend, ditto, 52. —Lyf of oure Ladye, 89. Caxtons saturated by rain, 22. —spoilt in binding, 107. —discovered in British Museum, 108. Charles II, portrait by Logan, 126. Chasles (Philarete), 52. Child tearing books, 139. Children as enemies of books, 138. Choir boys injuring MSS., 124. Christians burnt heathen MSS., 7. early, 6. Clarendon (Earl of), portrait by Logan, 126. Clasps on books, injury from, 135. Clergymen as biblioclasts, 64. Clulow (Mr. George), 144. Coal fires objectionable in libraries, 27. Codfish, book eaten by a, 96. Cold injures books, 26. Collectors as enemies of books, 117. College quadrangle, 41. Colophon in Schoeffer's book, 123. Colophons (collections of), I IS. Commonwealth quartos, 44. Communal libraries in France, 48. Cotton library; partially burnt, 10. Cowper, the poet, on burnt libraries, 12. Crambus pinguinalis, 76. Cremona, books destroyed at, 8. Croton bug, 95.

Damp, an enemy of books, 24. Dante, 50. — The Inferno, 106. Derbyshire, book sale in, 145. Dermestes vulpinus, 89. De Rome, the binder, 47, 48, 110. De Thou, 110. Devil worship, 5. Devon and Exeter Museum, 101. Diana, Temple of, 6. Dibdin (Dr.), 110. —sale of his Decameron, 148. —his books, 25. D'Israeli (B.), 17. Doraston (J.), Poem on Bookworne, 67, 76. Dust, an enemy of books, 39. — and neglect in a library, 39-50, 133. Dusting books-how to do it, 136. Dutch Church burnt, 15. — library at Guildhall, 16.

Ecclesiastical Commissioners, 53. Edmonds (Mr.), bookseller, 58. Edward IV, 130. Edwards (Mr.), bookseller, 18. Electric light in British Museum, 32. Ephesus, 5. "Eracles," 111. "Evil eye," the, 6. "Excursion, The," 139.

Fire, an enemy of books, 1-16. — of London, 10. Flint (Weston), account of black-beetles in New York libraries, 95. Folklore, ancient, 5. "Foxey" books, 25. Francis (St.) and the friars, 37. French Protestant Church, 53. Frith (John), 96. Froissart's Chronicles, 110. Frost in a library, 26.

Garnett (Dr.), 81. Gas injurious, 29-38, Gatty's (Mrs.) Parables, 76. German Army at Strasburg, U. Gesta Romanorum, 66. Gibbon, the historian, 2. Glass cases preservative of books, 27. Golden Legend, by Caxton, 52. Gordon Riots, 11. Government officials as biblioclasts, 65. Grenville (Rt. Hon. Thos.), 56. Guildford, library at school, 129. Guildhall, London, library at, 0. Gutenberg, 123. — documents concerning, burnt, 13, Gwyn, Nell, housekeeping book of, 65. "Gyp" brushing clothes in a library, 44.

Hannett, on bookbinding, 76. Havergal (Rev. F. T.), 76. Heathens burnt Christian MSS., 7. Heating libraries, 27. Hebrew books burnt, 8. Hereford Cathedral library, 76. Hickman family, 56. Histories of Troy, 111. Holme (Mr.), 77. Hooke (R.), his Micrographia, 71-75. Horace's Satires, 140. Hot water pipes for libraries, 26. House-fly, an enemy of books, 102. Hudde, Heer, a story of, 17. Hwqhrey's History of Writing, 138. Hypothenemus eruditus, 76.

Ignorance and Bigotry, P-66. Illuminated letters fatal to books, 51. — initials, collections of, 123. Indulgence of 15th Century spoilt by a binder, 109. Inquisition in Holland, 63.

Kirby and Spence on Entomologists, 75, 101. Knobs of metal on bindings, 135. Koran, The, 7.

Lamberhurst, 61. Lamport Hall, 58. Lansdowne Collection of MSS., 60. Latterbury, copy of, at St. Martin's, 54. Leather destroyed by gas, 30. Lepisma, 96. — mistaken for bookworm, 75. Libraries burnt: by Caesar, 3. —- at Dutch Church, 15. —- at Strasbourg, 13. neglected in England, 15, 22, 40. at Alexandria, 3. of the Ptolemies) 3. Library Journal, The, 94. Lincoln Cathedral MSS., 124. Lincolne Nosegaye, 124. London Institution, 31. Lubbock (Sir J.), 90. Luke's, St., account of destruction of books, 4. Luxe des Livres, 47. Luxury and learning, 42.

Machlinia, book printed by, 106. Magdalene College, Cambridge, 128. Maitland (Rev. S. R.), 54. Mansfield (Lord), ij. MS. Plays burnt, 60. Manuscripts, fragments of, 126. Margins of books cut away, 49, 127. Maximilian (The Emperor), 125. Mazarin library, Caxton in, 52. Metamorphoses of Ovid, by Caxton, 10. Micrographia, by R. Hooke, 71. Middleburgh, 17. Mildew in books, 136. Minorite friars, 37. Missal illuminations, sale of, 119. Mohammed's reason for destroying books, 7. Mohammed II throws books into the sea, 21. Monks at Monte Cassino, 49. Mould in books, 24. Mount Cassin, library at, 50. Moxon's Mechanic Exercises, 115. Muller (M.), of Amsterdam, 62.

Newmarsh (Rev. C. F.), 54. Niptus Hololeucos, 101. Noble (Mr.), on Parish Registers, 61. Notes and Queries, 77.

Oak Chest, 44. OEcophora pseudospretella, 79. Offer Collection of Bunyans, 14. On, Priests of, 69. Overall (Mr.), Librarian at Guildhall, 16. Ovid, Metamorphoses by Caxton, 10. Oxenforde, Lyf of therle, 10.

Paper improperly bleached, 25. Papyrus, 68. Paradise Lost, 142. Parchment, slips of, in old books, 112. Parish Registers, carelessness, 62. Parnell's Ode, 70. Patent Office, destruction of literature at, 65. Paternoster Row, io. Paul, St., 6. Pedlar buying old books, 54, 55. Peignot and hookworms, 79. Pepys (Samuel), his library, 128. Petit (Pierre), poem on bookworm, 70. Philadelphia, wormhole at, 92. Phillipps (Sir Thos.), 129. Pieces of silver or denarii, 5. Pinelli (Maffei), library of, 18. Plantin Museum, 122. policemen in Ephesus, 7. Portrait collectors, 127. Priestley (Dr.), library burnt, 11, 12. Printers, the first, 13. Printers' marks, collection of, 119. — ink and bookworms, 80. Probrue (Mr.), 120. Ptolemies, the Egyptian, 3. Puttick and Simpson, 15. Pynson's Fall of Princes, 61.

Queen Elizabeth's prayer-book, 98. Quaint titles, collections of, 121. Quadrangle of an old College described) 41.

Rain an enemy to books, 21. Rats eat books, 97. Recollet monks of Antwerp, 57. -Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye, 130. Reformation, destruction of books at, 9. Restoration of burnt books, 11. Richard of Bury, 47. Ringwalt's Encyclopaedia, 92. Rivets on books, 135. Rood and Hunte, 53. Rot caused by rain, 21. Royal Society, London, 71. Rubens' engraved titles in Plantin Museum, 122. — autograph receipts, 122. Ruins of fire at Sotheby and Wilkinson's, 14. Rye (W. B.), 61, 83. St. Albans, Boke of, 54. St. Martin's-le-Grand, French church, 53. St. Paul's Cathedral, books burnt in vaults of, 10. Sale catalogues, extracts from, 119. Schoeffer (P.), 123. Schonsperger (Hans), 125. Schoolmaster and endowed library, 129. Scorched book at British Museum, 11. Scrolls of magic, 6. Serpent worship, 5. Servants and children as enemies of books, 131-144. Shakesperian discoveries, 58. "Shavings" of binders, 31. Sheldon (Archbishop), portrait by Logan, 126. Sib's Bowels opened, 121. Smith (Mr.), Brighton bookseller, 64. Sotheby and Wilkinson, 125. — fire at their rooms, 14. Spring clean, horrors of, 133. Stark (Mr.), bookseller, 55-58. Stealing a Caxton, 54. Steam press, 40. Strasbourg, siege of, 13. Sun-light of gas, 29, 32. Sun worship, 5. Sylvester's Laws of Verse, 71.

Taylor, the water-poet, 121. Teylerian Museum, Haarlem, 128. Theurdanck, prints in, 125. Thonock Hall, library Of, 56. Timmins (Mr.), 50. Title-pages, collections sold, 122. — volumes of, 118. Title-pages, old Dutch, 120. Tomicus Typographus, iox.

Utramontane Society, called "Old paper," 63, Unitarian library, 13, Universities destroy books, 9.

Value of books burnt by St. Paul, 4. Vanderberg (M.), 57. Vermin book-enemies, 94-102. Pox Piscis, 96.

Washing old books, x6. Water an enemy of books, 17-28. Waterhouse (Mr.), Si. Werdet (Edmond), 48, 57. Westbrook (W. J.), 102. Westminster Chapter-house, 97. — skeletons of rats, 97. White (Adam), 83. Wolfenbuttel, library at, 23. Woodcuts, a Caxton celebration, 124. Wynken de Worde, fragment, 59.

Ximenes (Cardinal) destroys copies of the Koran, 8.


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