How to Form a Library, 2nd ed
by H. B. Wheatley
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The Book-Lover's Library.

Edited by

Henry B. Wheatley, F.S.A.







It will be generally allowed that a handy guide to the formation of libraries is required, but it may be that the difficulty of doing justice to so large a subject has prevented those who felt the want from attempting to fill it. I hope therefore that it will not be considered that I have shown temerity by stepping into the vacant place. I cannot hope to have done full justice to so important a theme in the small space at my disposal, but I think I can say that this little volume contains much information which the librarian and the book lover require and cannot easily obtain elsewhere. They are probably acquainted with most of this information, but the memory will fail us at times and it is then convenient to have a record at hand.

A book of this character is peculiarly open to criticism, but I hope the critics will give me credit for knowing more than I have set down. In making a list of books of reference, I have had to make a selection, and works have been before me that I have decided to omit, although some would think them as important as many of those I have included.

I need not extend this preface with any lengthy explanation of the objects of the book, as these are stated in the Introduction, but before concluding I may perhaps be allowed to allude to one personal circumstance. I had hoped to dedicate this first volume of the Book Lover's Library to HENRY BRADSHAW, one of the most original and most learned bibliographers that ever lived, but before it was finished the spirit of that great man had passed away to the inexpressible grief of all who knew him. It is with no desire to shield myself under the shelter of a great name, but with a reverent wish to express my own sense of our irreparable loss that I dedicate this book (though all unworthy of the honour) to his memory.















Although there can be little difference of opinion among book lovers as to the need of a Handbook which shall answer satisfactorily the question—"How to Form a Library"—it does not follow that there will be a like agreement as to the best shape in which to put the answer. On the one side a string of generalities can be of no use to any one, and on the other a too great particularity of instruction may be resented by those who only require hints on a few points, and feel that they know their own business better than any author can tell them.

One of the most important attempts to direct the would-be founder of a Library in his way was made as long ago as 1824 by Dr. Dibdin, and the result was entitled The Library Companion.[1] The book could never have been a safe guide, and now it is hopelessly out of date. Tastes change, and many books upon the necessity of possessing which Dibdin enlarges are now little valued. Dr. Hill Burton writes of this book as follows in his Book-Hunter: "This, it will be observed, is not intended as a manual of rare or curious, or in any way peculiar books, but as the instruction of a Nestor on the best books for study and use in all departments of literature. Yet one will look in vain there for such names as Montaigne, Shaftesbury, Benjamin Franklin, D'Alembert, Turgot, Adam Smith, Malebranche, Lessing, Goethe, Schiller, Fenelon, Burke, Kant, Richter, Spinoza, Flechier, and many others. Characteristically enough, if you turn up Rousseau in the index, you will find Jean Baptiste, but not Jean Jacques. You will search in vain for Dr. Thomas Reid the metaphysician, but will readily find Isaac Reed the editor. If you look for Molinaeus, or Du Moulin, it is not there, but alphabetical vicinity gives you the good fortune to become acquainted with "Moule, Mr., his Bibliotheca Heraldica." The name of Hooker will be found, not to guide the reader to the Ecclesiastical Polity, but to Dr. Jackson Hooker's Tour in Iceland. Lastly, if any one shall search for Hartley on Man, he will find in the place it might occupy, or has reference to, the editorial services of 'Hazlewood, Mr. Joseph.'"

Although this criticism is to a great extent true, it does not do justice to Dibdin's book, which contains much interesting and valuable matter, for if the Library Companion is used not as a Guide to be followed, but as a book for reference, it will be found of considerable use.

William Goodhugh's English Gentleman's Library Manual, or a Guide to the Formation of a Library of Select Literature, was published in 1827. It contains classified lists of library books, but these are not now of much value, except for the notes which accompany the titles, and make this work eminently readable. There are some literary anecdotes not to be found elsewhere.

A most valuable work of reference is Mr. Edward Edwards's Report on the formation of the Manchester Free Library, which was printed in 1851. It is entitled, "Librarian's First Report to the Books Sub-Committee on the Formation of the Library, June 30, 1851, with Lists of Books suggested for purchase." The Lists are arranged in the following order:—

1. Works—collective and miscellaneous—of Standard British authors; with a selection of those of the Standard authors of America.

2. Works relative to the History, Topography, and Biography of the United Kingdom, and of the United States of America.

3. Works relative to Political Economy, Finance, Trade, Commerce, Agriculture, Mining, Manufactures, Inland Communication, and Public Works.

4. Works relating to Physics, Mathematics, Mechanics, Practical Engineering, Arts, and Trades, etc.

5. Voyages and Travels.

6. Works on Zoology, Botany, Mineralogy, and Geology.

7. Periodical Publications and Transactions of Learned Societies (not included in Lists 2, 3, or 6), Collections, Encyclopaedias, Gazetteers, Atlases, Dictionaries, Bibliographies, Indexes, etc.

These draft lists include 4582 distinct works, extending to about 12,438 volumes, including pamphlets, but exclusive of 553 Parliamentary Papers and Reports, or Blue Books. Such a practically useful collection of lists of books will not easily be found elsewhere.

Mr. Edwards gives some rules for the formation of Libraries in the second volume of his Memoirs of Libraries (p. 629), where he writes, "No task is more likely to strip a man of self-conceit than that of having to frame, and to carry out in detail a plan for the formation of a large Library. When he has once got beyond those departments of knowledge in which his own pursuits and tastes have specially interested him, the duty becomes a difficult one, and the certainty, that with his best efforts, it will be very imperfectly performed is embarrassing and painful. If, on the other hand, the task be imposed upon a 'Committee,' there ensues almost the certainty that its execution will depend at least as much on chance as on plan: that responsibility will be so attenuated as to pass off in vapour; and that the collection so brought together will consist of parts bearing but a chaotic sort of relation to the whole."

Mr. Henry Stevens printed in 1853 his pretty little book entitled Catalogue of my English Library, which contains a very useful selection of Standard books. In his Introduction the author writes, "It was my intention in the outset not to exceed 4000 volumes, but little by little the list has increased to 5751 volumes. I have been considerably puzzled to know what titles to strike out in my next impression, being well aware that what is trash to one person is by no means such to another; also that many books of more merit than those admitted have been omitted. You may not think it difficult to strike out twenty authors, and to add twenty better ones in their place, but let me relate to you a parable. I requested twenty men, whose opinions on the Literary Exchange are as good as those of the Barings or the Rothschilds on the Royal, each to expunge twenty authors and to insert twenty others of better standing in their places, promising to exclude in my next impression any author who should receive more than five votes. The result was, as may be supposed, not a single expulsion or addition."

In 1855 Mons. Hector Bossange produced a companion volume, entitled Ma Bibliotheque Francaise. It contains a select list of about 7000 volumes, and is completed with Indexes of Subjects, Authors, and Persons.

For helpful Bibliographical Guides we often have to look to the United States, and we do not look in vain. A most useful Handbook, entitled The Best Reading, was published in 1872 by George P. Putman, and the work edited by F.B. Perkins is now in its fourth edition.[2] The books are arranged in an alphabet of subjects, and the titles are short, usually being well within a single line. A very useful system of appraisement of the value of the books is adopted. Thus: a, means that the book so marked is considered the book, or as good as any, at a moderate cost; b means, in like manner, the best of the more elaborate or costly books on the subject. In the department of FICTION, a more precise classification has been attempted, in which a general idea of the relative importance of the authors is indicated by the use of the letters a, b, and c, and of the relative value of their several works by the asterisks * and **."

Having noted a few of the Guides which are now at hand for the use of the founders of a library, we may be allowed to go back somewhat in time, and consider how our predecessors treated this same subject, and we can then conclude the present Introduction with a consideration of the less ambitious attempts to instruct the book collector which may be found in papers and articles.

One of the earliest works on the formation of a library was written by Bishop Cardona, and published at Tarragona in 1587, in a thin volume entitled De regia S. Laurentii Bibliotheca. De Pontificia Vaticana [etc.].

Justus Lipsius wrote his De Bibliothecis Syntagma at the end of the sixteenth century, and next in importance we come to Gabriel Naude, who published one of the most famous of bibliographical essays. The first edition was published at Paris in 1627, and the second edition in 1644. This was reprinted in Paris by J. Liseux in 1876—"Advis pour dresser une Bibliotheque, presente a Monseigneur le President de Mesme, par G. Naude P. Paris, chez Francois Farga, 1627."

This essay was translated by John Evelyn, and dedicated to Lord Chancellor Clarendon. "Instructions concerning erecting of a Library; Presented to My Lord the President De Mesme. By Gabriel Naudeus P., and now interpreted by Jo. Evelyn, Esquire, London, 1661."

Naude enlarges on the value of Catalogues, and recommends the book-buyer to make known his desires, so that others may help him in the search, or supply his wants. He specially mentions two modes of forming a library; one is to buy libraries entire, and the other is to hunt at book-stalls. He advised the book-buyer not to spend too much upon bindings.

Naude appears to have been a born librarian, for at the early age of twenty the President De Mesme appointed him to take charge of his library. He left his employer in 1626, in order to finish his medical studies. Cardinal Bagni took him to Rome, and when Bagni died, Naude became librarian to Cardinal Barberini. Richelieu recalled him to Paris in 1642, to act as his librarian, but the Minister dying soon afterwards, Naude took the same office under Mazarin. During the troubles of the Fronde, the librarian had the mortification of seeing the library which he had collected dispersed; and in consequence he accepted the offer of Queen Christina, to become her librarian at Stockholm. Naude was not happy abroad, and when Mazarin appealed to him to reform his scattered library, he returned at once, but died on the journey home at Abbeville, July 29, 1653.

The Mazarin Library consisted of more than 40,000 volumes, arranged in seven rooms filled from top to bottom. It was rich in all classes, but more particularly in Law and Physic. Naude described it with enthusiasm as "the most beautiful and best furnished of any library now in the world, or that is likely (if affection does not much deceive me) ever to be hereafter." Such should be a library in the formation of which the Kings and Princes and Ambassadors of Europe were all helpers. Naude in another place called it "the work of my hands and the miracle of my life." Great therefore was his dejection when the library was dispersed. Of this he said, "Beleeve, if you please, that the ruine of this Library will be more carefully marked in all Histories and Calendars, than the taking and sacking of Constantinople." Naude's letter on the destruction of the Mazarin Library was published in London in 1652, and the pamphlet was reprinted in the Harleian Miscellany. "News from France, or a Description of the Library of Cardinall Mazarini, before it was utterly ruined. Sent in a letter from G. Naudaeus, Keeper of the Publick Library. London, Printed for Timothy Garthwait, 1652." 4to. 4 leaves.

In 1650 was published at London, by Samuel Hartlib, a little book entitled, "The Reformed Librarie Keeper, with a Supplement to the Reformed School, as Subordinate to Colleges in Universities. By John Durie. London, William Du-Gard, 1650."[3]

John Durie's ideas on the educational value of Libraries and the high function of the Librarian are similar to those enunciated by Carlyle, when he wrote, "The true University of these days is a Collection of Books." Of this point, as elaborated in the proposal to establish Professorships of Bibliography, we shall have something more to say further on.

It is always interesting to see the views of great men exemplified in the selection of books for a Library, and we may with advantage study the lists prepared by George III. and Dr. Johnson. The King was a collector of the first rank, as is evidenced by his fine library, now in the British Museum, and he knew his books well. When he was about to visit Weymouth, he wrote to his bookseller for the following books to be supplied to him to form a closet library at that watering place. The list was written from memory, and it was printed by Dibdin in his Library Companion, from the original document in the King's own handwriting:

The Holy Bible. 2 vols. 8vo. Cambridge.

New Whole Duty of Man. 8vo.

The Annual Register. 25 vols. 8vo.

The History of England, by Rapin. 21 vols. 8vo. 1757.

Elemens de l'Histoire de France, par Millot. 3 vols. 12mo. 1770.

Siecle de Louis XIV., par Voltaire, 12mo.

Siecle de Louis XV., par Voltaire, 12mo.

Commentaries on the Laws of England, by Sir William Blackstone. 4 vols. 8vo. Newest Edition.

The Justice of the Peace and Parish Officer, by R. Burn. 4 vols. 8vo.

An Abridgement of Samuel Johnson's Dictionary. 2 vols. 8vo.

Dictionnaire Francois et Anglois, par M.A. Boyer. 8vo.

The Works of the English Poets, by Sam. Johnson. 68 vols. 12mo.

A Collection of Poems, by Dodsley, Pearch, and Mendez. 11 vols. 12mo.

A Select Collection of Poems, by J. Nichols. 8 vols. 12mo.

Shakespeare's Plays, by Steevens.

OEuvres de Destouches. 5 vols. 12mo.

The Works of Sir William Temple. 4 vols. 8vo.

The Works of Jonathan Swift. 24 vols. 12mo.

Dr. Johnson recommended the following list of books to the Rev. Mr. Astle, of Ashbourne, Derbyshire, as a good working collection:—

Rollin's Ancient History. Universal History (Ancient). Puffendorf's Introduction to History. Vertot's History of the Knights of Malta. Vertot's Revolutions of Portugal. Vertot's Revolutions of Sweden. Carte's History of England. Present State of England. Geographical Grammar. Prideaux's Connection. Nelson's Feasts and Fasts. Duty of Man. Gentleman's Religion. Clarendon's History. Watts's Improvement of the Mind. Watts's Logick. Nature Displayed. Lowth's English Grammar. Blackwall on the Classicks. Sherlock's Sermons. Burnet's Life of Hale. Dupin's History of the Church. Shuckford's Connection. Law's Serious Call. Walton's Complete Angler. Sandys's Travels. Sprat's History of the Royal Society. England's Gazetteer. Goldsmith's Roman History. Some Commentaries on the Bible.

It is curious to notice in both these lists how many of the books are now quite superseded.

In another place Boswell tells us what were Johnson's views on book collecting. "When I mentioned that I had seen in the King's Library sixty-three editions of my favourite Thomas a Kempis, amongst which it was in eight languages, Latin, German, French, Italian, Spanish, English, Arabick, and Armenian, he said he thought it unnecessary to collect many editions of a book, which were all the same, except as to the paper and print; he would have the original, and all the translations, and all the editions which had any variations in the text. He approved of the famous collection of editions of Horace by Douglas, mentioned by Pope, who is said to have had a closet filled with them; and he said every man should try to collect one book in that manner, and present it to a Publick Library."

Dr. Johnson's notion as to the collection of editions which are alike except in the point of paper is scarcely sound, but it has been held by a librarian of the present day, as I know to my cost. On one occasion I was anxious to see several copies of the first folio of Shakespeare (1623), and I visited a certain library which possessed more than one. The librarian expressed the opinion that one was quite sufficient for me to see, as "they were all alike."

The possessor of a Private Library can act as a censor morum and keep out of his collection any books which offend against good morals, but this role is one which is unfit for the librarian of a Public Library. He may put difficulties in the way of the ordinary reader seeing such books, but nevertheless they should be in his library for the use of the student. A most amusing instance of misapplied zeal occurred at the Advocates' Library on the 27th June, 1754. The Minutes tell the tale in a way that speaks for itself and requires no comment. "Mr. James Burnet [afterwards Lord Monboddo], and Sir David Dalrymple [afterwards Lord Hailes], Curators of the Library, having gone through some accounts of books lately bought, and finding therein the three following French books: Les Contes de La Fontaine, L'Histoire Amoureuse des Gaules and L'Ecumoire, they ordain that the said books be struck out of the Catalogue of the Library, and removed from the shelves, as indecent books, unworthy of a place in a learned Library."

At a Conference of Representatives of Institutions in Union with the Society of Arts held in July, 1855, the question of the compilation of a Catalogue of Books fitted for the Libraries of Institutions was raised, and shortly afterwards was published, under the sanction of the Council, "A Handbook of Mechanics' Institutions, with Priced Catalogue of Books suitable for Libraries, and Periodicals for Reading Rooms, by W.H.J. Traice." A second edition of this book was published in 1863. The list, however, is not now of much use, as many of the books have been superseded. Theology and Politics are not included in the classification.

In 1868 Mr. Mullins read a paper before a Meeting of the Social Science Association at Birmingham, on the management of Free Libraries, and, in its reprinted form, this has become a Handbook on the subject: "Free Libraries and News-rooms, their Formation and Management. By J.D. Mullins, Chief Librarian, Birmingham Free Libraries. Third edition. London, Sotheran and Co., 1879." An appendix contains copies of the Free Libraries Acts and Amendments, and a "Short List of Books for a Free Lending Library, ranging in price from 1s. to 7s. 6d. per volume."

Mr. Axon read a paper on the Formation of Small Libraries intended for the Co-Operative Congress in 1869, which was reprinted as a pamphlet of eight pages: "Hints on the Formation of Small Libraries intended for Public Use. By Wm. E.A. Axon. London, N. Truebner and Co."

Mr. A.R. Spofford has given a valuable list of books and articles in periodicals, on the subject of Libraries in chapter 36 (Library Bibliography), of the Report on Public Libraries in the U.S. (1876).

The volume of Transactions and Proceedings of the Conference of Librarians, London, 1877, contains two papers on the Selection of Books, one by Mr. Robert Harrison, Librarian of the London Library, and the other by the late Mr. James M. Anderson, Assistant Librarian of the University of St. Andrews. Mr. Harrison gives the following as the three guiding principles of selection in forming a library: 1. Policy; 2. Utility; 3. Special or Local Appropriateness; and he deals with each successively. Mr. Anderson writes that "the selection of books should invariably be made (1) in relation to the library itself, and (2) in relation to those using it."

We have chiefly to do with the formation of libraries, and therefore the use made of them when they are formed cannot well be enlarged upon here, but a passing note may be made on the proposal which has been much discussed of late years, viz. that for Professorships of Books and Reading. The United States Report on Public Libraries contains a chapter on this subject by F.B. Perkins and William Matthews (pp. 230-251), and Mr. Axon also contributed a paper at the First Annual Meeting of the Library Association. The value of such chairs, if well filled, is self-evident, for it takes a man a long time (without teaching) to learn how best to use books, but very special men would be required as Professors. America has done much to show what the duties of such a Professor should be, and Harvard College is specially fortunate in possessing an officer in Mr. Justin Winsor who is both a model librarian and a practical teacher of the art of how best to use the books under his charge.


[1] "The Library Companion, or the Young Man's Guide and the Old Man's Comfort in the Choice of a Library. By the Rev. T.F. Dibdin, F.R.S., A.S., London, 1824."

[2] The Best Reading: Hints on the Selection of Books; on the Formation of Libraries, Public and Private; on Courses of Reading, etc., with a Classified Bibliography for every reference. Fourth revised and enlarged edition, continued to August, 1876, with the addition of Select Lists of the best French, German, Spanish, and Italian Literature. Edited by Frederic Beecher Perkins; New York, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1881. Second Series, 1876 to 1882, by Lynds E. Jones.

[3] Dr. Richard Garnett read an interesting paper on this book under the title of Librarianship in the Seventeenth Century, before the Library Association. See Library Chronicle, vol. i. p. 1 (1884).



As long as books have existed there have been book collectors. It is easy now to collect, for books of interest are to be found on all sides; but in old times this was not so, and we must therefore admire the more those men who formed their libraries under the greatest difficulties. In a book devoted to the formation of libraries it seems but fair to devote some space to doing honour to those who have formed libraries, and perhaps some practical lessons may be learned from a few historical facts.

Englishmen may well be proud of Richard Aungerville de Bury, a man occupying a busy and exalted station, who not only collected books with ardour united with judgment, but has left for the benefit of later ages a manual which specially endears his memory to all book lovers.

He collected books, and often took them in place of corn for tithes and dues, but he also produced books, for he kept copyists in his house. Many of these books were carefully preserved in his palace at Durham, but it is also pleasant to think of some of them being carefully preserved in the noble mansion belonging to his see which stood by the side of the Thames, and on the site of the present Adelphi.

Petrarch was a book-loving poet, and he is said to have met the book-loving ecclesiastic Richard de Bury at Rome. He gave his library to the Church of St. Mark at Venice in 1362; but the guardians allowed the books to decay, and few were rescued. Boccaccio bequeathed his library to the Augustinians at Florence, but one cannot imagine the books of the accomplished author of the Decameron as very well suited for the needs of a religious society, and it was probably weeded before Boccaccio's death. The remains of the library are still shown to visitors in the Laurentian Library, the famous building due to the genius of Michael Angelo.

Cardinal John Bessarion gave his fine collection (which included about 600 Greek MSS.) to St. Mark's in 1468, and in the letter to the Doge which accompanied his gift, he tells some interesting particulars of his early life as a collector. He writes, "From my youth I have bestowed my pains and exertion in the collection of books on various sciences. In former days I copied many with my own hands, and I have employed on the purchase of others such small means as a frugal and thrifty life permitted me to devote to the purpose."

The Rev. Joseph Hunter printed in 1831 a valuable Catalogue of the Library of the Priory of Bretton in Yorkshire, and added to it some notices of the Libraries belonging to other Religious Houses, in which he gives us a good idea of the contents of these libraries. He writes, "On comparing the Bretton Catalogue with that of other religious communities, we find the libraries of the English monasteries composed of very similar materials. They consisted of—

1. The Scriptures; and these always in an English or the Latin version. A Greek or Hebrew Manuscript of the Scriptures is not found in Leland's notes, or, I believe, in any of the catalogues. In Wetstein's Catalogue of MSS. of the New Testament, only one (Codex 59) is traced into the hands of an English community of religious.

2. The Commentators.

3. The Fathers.

4. Services and Rituals of the Church.

5. Writers in the Theological Controversies of the Middle Ages.

6. Moral and Devotional Writings.

7. Canon Law.

8. The Schoolmen.

9. Grammatical Writers.

10. Writers in Mathematics and Physics.

11. Medical Writers.

12. Collections of Epistles.

13. The Middle Age Poets and Romance-Writers.

14. The Latin Classics.

15. The Chronicles.

16. The Historical Writings of doubtful authority, commonly called Legends.

Most of the manuscripts which composed the monastic libraries were destroyed at the Reformation."

Humphry Plantagenet Duke of Gloucester, whose fame has been so lasting as the 'good Duke Humphry,' was also a book-collector of renown; but most of the old libraries we read about have left but little record of their existence: thus the Common Library at Guildhall, founded by Dick Whittington in 1420, and added to by John Carpenter, the Town Clerk of London, has been entirely destroyed, the books having, in the first instance, been carried away by Edward Seymour Duke of Somerset.

Although, as we have seen from Mr. Hunter's remarks, there was a considerable amount of variety in the subjects of these manuscript collections, we must still bear in mind that in a large number of instances the contents of the libraries consisted of little more than Breviaries and Service Books. It has been pointed out that this fact is illustrated by the union of the offices of Precentor and Armarius in one person, who had charge of the Library (Armarium) and its great feeder, the Writing-room (Scriptorium), as well as the duty of leading the singing in the church. Many lists of old libraries have been preserved, and these have been printed in various bibliographical works, thus giving us a valuable insight into the reading of our forefathers.

When we come to consider libraries of printed books in place of manuscripts, we naturally find a greater variety of subjects collected by the famous men who have formed collections. Montaigne, the friend of all literary men, could not have been the man we know him to have been if he had not lived among his books. Like many a later book-lover, he decorated his library with mottoes, and burnt-in his inscriptions letter by letter with his own hands. Grotius made his love of books do him a special service, for he escaped from prison in a box which went backwards and forwards with an exchange of books for his entertainment and instruction.

Grolier and De Thou stand so pre-eminent among book collectors, and from the beauty of the copies they possessed the relics of their libraries are so frequently seen, that it seems merely necessary here to mention their names. But as Frenchmen may well boast of these men, so Englishmen can take pride in the possession of the living memory of Archbishop Parker, who enriched Cambridge, and of Sir Thomas Bodley, who made the Library at Oxford one of the chief glories of our land.

Old Lists of Books are always of interest to us as telling what our forefathers cared to have about them, but it is seldom that a list is so tantalising as one described by Mr. Edward Edwards in his Libraries and Founders of Libraries. Anne of Denmark presented her son Charles with a splendid series of volumes, bound in crimson and purple velvet. Abraham van der Dort, who was keeper of Charles's cabinet, made an inventory of this cabinet; and having no notion of how to make a catalogue of books, he has managed to leave out all the information we wish for. The inventory is among the Harleian MSS. (4718), and the following are specimens of the entries:—

"Im'pris 19 books in Crimson velvet, whereof 18 are bound 4to. and y^e 19th in folio, adorn'd with some silver guilt plate, and y^e 2 claspes wanting. Given to y^e King by Queen Ann of famous memory.

Item, more 15 books, 13 thereof being in long 4to. and y^e 2 lesser cover'd over also with purple velvet. Given also to y^e King by y^e said Queen Ann."

Most of the famous private libraries of days gone by have left little record of their existence, but Evelyn's collection is still carefully preserved at Wotton, the house of the Diarist's later years, and Pepys's books continue at Cambridge in the cases he had made for them, and in the order he fixed for them. In a long letter to Pepys, dated from Sayes Court, 12th August, 1689, Evelyn gives an account of such private libraries as he knew of in England, and in London more particularly. He first mentions Lord Chancellor Clarendon, to whom he dedicated his translation of Naude's Advice, and who "furnished a very ample library." Evelyn observes that England was peculiarly defective in good libraries: "Paris alone, I am persuaded, being able to show more than all the three nations of Great Britain." He describes Dr. Stillingfleet's, at Twickenham, as the very best library.[4] He did not think much either of the Earl of Bristol's or of Sir Kenelm Digby's books, but he says Lord Maitland's "was certainly the noblest, most substantial and accomplished library that ever passed under the spear."

In a useful little volume published at London in 1739, and entitled, A Critical and Historical Account of all the Celebrated Libraries in Foreign Countries, as well ancient as modern, which is stated to be written by "a Gentleman of the Temple," are some "General Reflections upon the Choice of Books and the Method of furnishing Libraries and Cabinets." As these reflections are interesting in themselves, and curious as the views of a writer of the middle of the eighteenth century on this important subject, I will transfer them bodily to these pages.

"Nothing can be more laudable than forming Libraries, when the founders have no other view than to improve themselves and men of letters: but it will be necessary, in the first place, to give some directions, which will be of great importance towards effecting the design, as well with regard to the choice of books as the manner of placing to advantage: nor is it sufficient in this case, to be learned, since he who would have a collection worthy of the name of a library must of all things have a thorough knowledge of books, that he may distinguish such as are valuable from the trifling. He must likewise understand the price of Books, otherwise he may purchase some at too high a rate, and undervalue others: all which requires no small judgment and experience.

"Let us suppose, then, the founder possessed of all those qualifications, three things fall next under consideration.

"First, the number of books; secondly, their quality; and, lastly, the order in which they ought to be ranged.

"As to the quantity, regard must be had, as well to places as to persons; for should a man of moderate fortune propose to have a Library for his own use only, it would be imprudent in him to embarrass his affairs in order to effect it. Under such circumstances he must rather consider the usefulness than the number of books, for which we have the authority of Seneca, who tells us that a multitude of books is more burthensome than instructive to the understanding.

"But if a private person has riches enough for founding a Library, as well for his own use as for the public, he ought to furnish it with the most useful volumes in all arts and sciences, and procure such as are scarcest and most valuable, from all parts, that the learned, of whom there are many classes, may instruct themselves in what may be useful to them, and may gratify their enquiries. But as the condition and abilities of such as would form Libraries are to be distinguished, so regard must likewise be had to places, for it is very difficult to procure, or collect books in some countries, without incredible expense; a design of that kind would be impracticable in America, Africa, and some parts of Asia; so that nothing can be determined as to the number of books, that depending entirely upon a variety of circumstances, and the means of procuring them, as has been observ'd before.

"As to the second topic, special care must be taken in the choice of books, for upon that alone depends the value of a Library. We must not form a judgment of books either by their bulk or numbers, but by their intrinsic merit and usefulness. Alexander Severus's Library consisted of no more than four volumes, that is the works of Plato, Cicero, Virgil, and Horace. Melanchthon seems to have imitated that Prince, for his collection amounted to four books only, Plato, Pliny, Plutarch, and Ptolemy.

"There is another necessary lesson for those who form designs of making libraries, that is, that they must disengage themselves from all prejudices with regard either to ancient or modern books, for such a wrong step often precipitates the judgment, without scrutiny or examination, as if truth and knowledge were confined to any particular times or places. The ancients and moderns should be placed in collections, indifferently, provided they have those characters we hinted before.

"Let us now proceed to the third head, the manner of placing books in such order, as that they may be resorted to upon any emergency, without difficulty, otherwise they can produce but little advantage either to the owners or others.

"The natural method of placing books and manuscripts is to range them in separate classes or apartments, according to the science, art, or subject, of which they treat.

"Here it will be necessary to observe, that as several authors have treated of various subjects, it may be difficult to place them under any particular class; Plutarch, for instance, who was an historian, a political writer, and a philosopher. The most advisable method then is to range them under the head of Miscellaneous Authors, with proper references to each subject, but this will be more intelligible by an example.

"Suppose, then, we would know the names of the celebrated Historians of the ancients; nothing more is necessary than to inspect the class under which the historians are placed, and so of other Faculties. By this management, one set of miscellaneous authors will be sufficient, and may be resorted to with as much ease and expedition as those who have confined themselves to one subject. In choice of books regard must be had to the edition, character, paper and binding. As to the price, it is difficult to give any positive directions; that of ordinary works is easily known, but as to such as are very scarce and curious, we can only observe that their price is as uncertain as that of medals and other monuments of antiquity, and often depends more on the caprice of the buyer than the intrinsic merit of the work, some piquing themselves upon the possession of things from no other consideration than their exorbitant price."

Dr. Byrom's quaint library is still preserved at Manchester in its entirety. Bishop Moore's fine collection finds a resting place in the University Library at Cambridge, and the relics of the Library of Harley, Earl of Oxford, a mine of manuscript treasure, still remain one of the chief glories of the British Museum. How much cause for regret is there that the library itself, which Osborne bought and Johnson described, did not also find a settled home, instead of being dispersed over the land.

It is greatly to the credit of the rich and busy man to spend his time and riches in the collection of a fine library, but still greater honour is due to the poor man who does not allow himself to be pulled down by his sordid surroundings. The once-famous small-coalman, Thomas Britton, furnishes a most remarkable instance of true greatness in a humble station, and one, moreover, which was fully recognized in his own day. He lived next door to St. John's Gate, Clerkenwell, and although he gained his living by selling coals from door to door, many persons of the highest station were in the habit of attending the musical meetings held at his house. He was an excellent chemist as well as a good musician, and Thomas Hearne tells us that he left behind him "a valuable collection of musick mostly pricked by himself, which was sold upon his death for near an hundred pounds," "a considerable collection of musical instruments which was sold for fourscore pounds," "not to mention the excellent collection of printed books that he also left behind him, both of chemistry and musick. Besides these books that he left, he had some years before his death (1714) sold by auction a noble collection of books, most of them in the Rosicrucian faculty (of which he was a great admirer), whereof there is a printed catalogue extant, as there is of those that were sold after his death, which catalogue I have by me (by the gift of my very good friend Mr. Bagford), and have often looked over with no small surprize and wonder, and particularly for the great number of MSS. in the before-mentioned faculties that are specified in it."[5]

Dr. Johnson, although a great reader, was not a collector of books. He was forced to possess many volumes while he was compiling his Dictionary, but when that great labour was completed, he no longer felt the want of them. Goldsmith, on the other hand, died possessed of a considerable number of books which he required, or had at some time required, for his studies. "The Select Collection of Scarce, Curious, and Valuable Books, in English, Latin, Greek, French, Italian, and other Languages, late the Library of Dr. Goldsmith, deceased," was sold on Tuesday, the 12th of July, 1774, and the Catalogue will be found in the Appendix to Forster's Life. There were 30 lots in folio, 26 in quarto, and 106 in octavo and smaller sizes. Among the books of interest in this list are Chaucer's Works, 1602; Davenant's Works, 1673; Camoens, by Fanshawe, 1655; Cowley's Works, 1674; Shelton's Don Quixote; Raleigh's History of the World, 1614; Bulwer's Artificial Changeling, 1653; Verstegan's Antiquities, 1634; Hartlib's Legacie, 1651; Sir K. Digby on the Nature of Bodies, 1645; Warton's History of English Poetry, 1774; Encyclopedie, 25 vols., 1770; Fielding's Works, 12 vols., 1766; Bysshe's Art of Poetry; Hawkins's Origin of the English Drama, 3 vols., 1773; Percy's Reliques, 3 vols., Dublin, 1766; Sir William Temple's Works; and De Bure, Bibliographie Instructive.

A catalogue such as this, made within a few weeks of the death of the owner, cannot but have great interest for us. The library could not have been a very choice one, for there is little notice of bindings and much mention of odd volumes. It was evidently a working collection, containing the works of the poets Goldsmith loved, and of the naturalists from whom he stole his knowledge.

Gibbon was a true collector, who loved his books, and he must have needed them greatly, working as he did at Lausanne away from public libraries. After his death the library was purchased by 'Vathek' Beckford, but he kept it buried, and it was of no use to any one. Eventually it was sold by auction, a portion being bought for the Canton, and another portion going to America. There was little in the man Gibbon to be enthusiastic about, but it is impossible for any true book lover not to delight in the thoroughness of the author of one of the noblest books ever written. The fine old house where the Decline and Fall was written and the noble library was stored still stands, and the traveller may stroll in the garden so beautifully described by Gibbon when he walked to the historical berceau and felt that his herculean labour was completed. His heart must be preternaturally dull which does not beat quicker as he walks on that ground. The thought of a visit some years ago forms one of the most vivid of the author's pleasures of memory.

Charles Burney, the Greek scholar, is said to have expended nearly L25,000 on his library, which consisted of more than 13,000 printed volumes and a fine collection of MSS. The library was purchased for the British Museum for the sum of L13,500.

Charles Burney probably inherited his love of collecting from his father, for Dr. Burney possessed some twenty thousand volumes. These were rather an incumbrance to the Doctor, and when he moved to Chelsea Hospital, he was in some difficulty respecting them. Mrs. Chapone, when she heard of these troubles, proved herself no bibliophile, for she exclaimed, "Twenty thousand volumes! bless me! why, how can he so encumber himself? Why does he not burn half? for how much must be to spare that never can be worth his looking at from such a store! and can he want to keep them all?"

The love of books will often form a tie of connection between very divergent characters, and in dealing with men who have formed libraries we can bring together the names of those who had but little sympathy with each other during life.

George III. was a true book collector, and the magnificent library now preserved in the British Museum owes its origin to his own judgment and enthusiastic love for the pursuit. Louis XVI. cared but little for books until his troubles came thick upon him, and then he sought solace from their pages. During that life in the Temple we all know so well from the sad reading of its incidents, books were not denied to the persecuted royal family. There was a small library in the "little tower," and the king drew up a list of books to be supplied to him from the library at the Tuileries. The list included the works of Virgil, Horace, Ovid, and Terence; of Tacitus, Livy, Caesar, Marcus Aurelius, Eutropius, Cornelius Nepos, Florus, Justin, Quintus Curtius, Sallust, Suetonius and Velleius Paterculus; the Vies des Saints, the Fables de la Fontaine, Telemaque, and Rollin's Traite des Etudes.[6]

The more we know of Napoleon, and anecdotes of him are continually being published in the ever-lengthening series of French memoirs, the less heroic appears his figure, but he could not have been entirely bad, for he truly loved books. He began life as an author, and would always have books about him. He complained if the printing was bad or the binding poor, and said, "I will have fine editions and handsome binding. I am rich enough for that."[7] Thus spoke the true bibliophile. Mr. Edwards has collected much interesting information respecting Napoleon and his libraries, and of his labours I here freely avail myself. Bourrienne affirms that the authors who chiefly attracted Napoleon in his school days were Polybius, Plutarch, and Arrian. "Shortly before he left France for Egypt, Napoleon drew up, with his own hand, the scheme of a travelling library, the charge of collecting which was given to John Baptist Say, the Economist. It comprised about three hundred and twenty volumes, more than half of which are historical, and nearly all, as it seems, in French. The ancient historians comprised in the list are Thucydides, Plutarch, Polybius, Arrian, Tacitus, Livy, and Justin. The poets are Homer, Virgil, Tasso, Ariosto, the Telemaque of Fenelon, the Henriade of Voltaire, with Ossian and La Fontaine. Among the works of prose fiction are the English novelists in forty volumes, of course in translations, and the indispensable Sorrows of Werter, which, as he himself told Goethe, Napoleon had read through seven times prior to October, 1808. In this list the Bible, together with the Koran and the Vedas, are whimsically, but significantly, entered under the heading Politics and Ethics (Politique et Morale).[8]

Napoleon was not, however, satisfied with the camp libraries which were provided for him; the good editions were too bulky and the small editions too mean: so he arranged the plan of a library to be expressly printed for him in a thousand duodecimo volumes without margins, bound in thin covers and with loose backs. "In this new plan 'Religion' took its place as the first class. The Bible was to be there in its best translation, with a selection of the most important works of the Fathers of the Church, and a series of the best dissertations on those leading religious sects—their doctrines and their history—which have powerfully influenced the world. This section was limited to forty volumes. The Koran was to be included, together with a good book or two on mythology. One hundred and forty volumes were allotted to poetry. The epics were to embrace Homer, Lucan, Tasso, Telemachus, and the Henriade. In the dramatic portion Corneille and Racine were of course to be included, but of Corneille, said Napoleon, you shall print for me 'only what is vital' (ce qui est reste), and from Racine you shall omit 'Les Freres ennemis, the Alexandre, and Les Plaideurs. Of Crebillon, he would have only Rhadamiste and Atree et Thyeste. Voltaire was to be subject to the same limitation as Corneille.'"[9] In prose fiction Napoleon specifies the Nouvelle Heloise and Rousseau's Confessions, the masterpieces of Fielding, Richardson and Le Sage, and Voltaire's tales. Soon after this Napoleon proposed a much larger scheme for a camp library, in which history alone would occupy three thousand volumes. History was to be divided into these sections—I. Chronology and Universal History. II. Ancient History (a. by ancient writers, b. by modern writers). III. History of the Lower Empire (in like subdivisions). IV. History, both general and particular. V. The Modern History of the different States of Europe. The celebrated bibliographer Barbier drew up, according to the Emperor's orders, a detailed catalogue of the works which should form such a library. "He calculated that by employing a hundred and twenty compositors and twenty-five editors, the three thousand volumes could be produced, in satisfactory shape, and within six years, at a total cost of L163,200, supposing fifty copies of each book to be printed."[10] The printing was begun, but little was actually done, and in six years Napoleon was in St. Helena.

In his last island home Napoleon had a library, and he read largely, often aloud, with good effect. It is an interesting fact that among Napoleon's papers were found some notes on Geography written when a boy, and these close with the words—"Sainte-Helene—petite ile."[11]

In recapitulating here the names of a few of the famous men who have formed libraries it will be necessary to divide them into two classes, 1, those whose fame arises from their habit of collecting, and 2, those authors in whose lives we are so much interested that the names of the books they possessed are welcomed by us as indications of their characters. What can be said of the libraries of the Duke of Roxburghe, Earl Spencer, Thomas Grenville, and Richard Heber that has not been said often before? Two of these have been dispersed over the world, and two remain, one the glory of a noble family, and the other of the nation, or perhaps it would be more proper to say both are the glory of the nation, for every Englishman must be proud that the Spencer Library still remains intact.

Heber left behind him over 100,000 volumes, in eight houses, four in England and four on the Continent, and no record remains of this immense library but the volumes of the sale catalogues. Such wholesale collection appears to be allied to madness, but Heber was no selfish collector, and his practice was as liberal as Grolier's motto. His name is enshrined in lasting verse by Scott:—

"Thy volumes, open as thy heart, Delight, amusement, science, art, To every ear and eye impart; Yet who of all that thus employ them, Can like the owner's self enjoy them?— But hark! I hear the distant drum: The day of Flodden Field is come— Adieu, dear Heber! life and health, And store of literary wealth."

—MARMION, Introduction to the Sixth Canto.

The Duke of Sussex was a worthy successor of his father, George III., in the ranks of book-collectors, and his library is kept in memory by Pettigrew's fine catalogue.

Douce and Malone the critics, and Gough the antiquary, left their libraries to the Bodleian, and thus many valuable books are available to students in that much-loved resort of his at Oxford. Anthony Morris Storer, who is said to have excelled in everything he set his heart on and hand to, collected a beautiful library, which he bequeathed to Eton College, where it still remains, a joy to look at from the elegance of the bindings. His friend Lord Carlisle wrote of him—

"Whether I Storer sing in hours of joy, When every look bespeaks the inward boy; Or when no more mirth wantons in his breast, And all the man in him appears confest; In mirth, in sadness, sing him how I will, Sense and good nature must attend him still."

Jacob Bryant the antiquary left his library to King's College, Cambridge. At one time he intended to have followed Storer's example, and have left it to Eton College, but the Provost offended him, and he changed the object of his bequest. It is said that when he was discussing the matter, the Provost asked whether he would not arrange for the payment of the carriage of the books from his house to Eton. He thought this grasping, and King's gained the benefit of his change of mind.

Among great authors two of the chief collectors were Scott and Southey. Scott's library still remains at Abbotsford, and no one who has ever entered that embodiment of the great man's soul can ever forget it. The library, with the entire contents of the house, were restored to Scott in 1830 by his trustees and creditors, "As the best means the creditors have of expressing their very high sense of his most honourable conduct, and in grateful acknowledgment of the unparalleled and most successful exertions he has made, and continues to make for them." The library is rich in the subjects which the great author loved, such as Demonology and Witchcraft. In a volume of a collection of Ballads and Chapbooks is this note written by Scott in 1810: "This little collection of stall tracts and ballads was formed by me, when a boy, from the baskets of the travelling pedlars. Until put into its present decent binding, it had such charms for the servants, that it was repeatedly, and with difficulty, recovered from their clutches. It contains most of the pieces that were popular about thirty years since, and I dare say many that could not now be procured for any price."

It is odd to contrast the book-loving tastes of celebrated authors. Southey cared for his books, but Coleridge would cut the leaves of a book with a butter knife, and De Quincey's extraordinary treatment of books is well described by Mr. Burton in the Book Hunter. Charles Lamb's loving appreciation of his books is known to all readers of the delightful Elia.

Southey collected more than 14,000 volumes, which sold in 1844 for nearly L3000. He began collecting as a boy, for his father had but few books. Mr. Edwards enumerates these as follows: The Spectator, three or four volumes of the Oxford Magazine, one volume of the Freeholder's Magazine, and one of the Town and Country Magazine, Pomfret's Poems, the Death of Abel, nine plays (including Julius Caesar, The Indian Queen, and a translation of Merope), and a pamphlet.[12]

Southey was probably one of the most representative of literary men. His feelings in his library are those of all book-lovers, although he could express these feelings in language which few of them have at command:—

My days among the dead are passed; Around me I behold, Where'er these casual eyes are cast, The mighty minds of old: My never-failing friends are they, With whom I converse day by day.

With them I take delight in weal, And seek relief in woe; And while I understand and feel How much to them I owe, My cheeks have often been bedewed With tears of thoughtful gratitude.

My thoughts are with the dead; with them I live in long-past years; Their virtues love, their faults condemn, Partake their hopes and fears, And from their lessons seek and find Instruction with a humble mind.

My hopes are with the dead; anon My place with them will be And I with them shall travel on Through all futurity; Yet leaving here a name, I trust, That will not perish in the dust.

Mr. Henry Stevens read a paper or rather delivered an address at the meeting of the Library Association held at Liverpool in 1883, containing his recollections of Mr. James Lenox, the great American book collector. I had the pleasure of listening to that address, but I have read it in its finished form with even greater delight. It is not often that he who pleases you as a speaker also pleases you as writer, but Mr. Stevens succeeds in both. If more bibliographers could write their reminiscences with the same spirit that he does, we should hear less of the dullness of bibliography. I strongly recommend my readers to take an early opportunity of perusing this paper in the Liverpool volume of the Transactions of the Library Association.

Mr. Stevens, among his anecdotes of Mr. Lenox, records that he "often bought duplicates for immediate use, or to lend, rather than grope for the copies he knew to be in the stocks in some of his store rooms or chambers, notably Stirling's Artists of Spain, a high-priced book."

This is a common trouble to large book collectors, who cannot find the books they know they possess. The late Mr. Crossley had his books stacked away in heaps, and he was often unable to lay his hands upon books of which he had several copies.


[4] Narcissus Marsh, Archbishop of Armagh, is said to have given L2500 for Bishop Stillingfleet's Library.

[5] Reliquiae Hearnianae, by Bliss, 2nd edition, 1869, vol. ii. p. 14.

[6] Edwards, Libraries and Founders of Libraries, p. 115.

[7] Edwards, Libraries and Founders, p. 136.

[8] Correspondance de Napoleon I^er, IV. pp. 37, 38, quoted by Edwards, Libraries and Founders, p. 130.

[9] Edwards, Libraries and Founders, p. 133.

[10] Edwards, Libraries and Founders, p. 135.

[11] Edwards, Libraries and Founders, p. 142.

[12] Libraries and Founders of Libraries, p. 95.



A discussion has arisen lately in bibliographical journals as to how best to supply libraries with their books, the main principle agreed upon being that it is the duty of the librarian to buy his books as cheaply as possible. Some of these views are stated by Mr. H.R. Tedder in a letter printed in the Library Chronicle for July, 1884 (vol. i. p. 120). It appears that Professor Dziatzko contends that the books should always be bought as cheaply as possible, but that Dr. Julius Petzholdt holds the opinion that the chief object of the librarian should be to get his books as early as possible and not to wait until they can be had at second-hand. Mr. Tedder thinks that the two plans of rapidity of supply and cheapness of cost can in some respect be united. Of course there can be no difference of opinion in respect to the duty of the librarian to get as much for his money as he can, but there are other points which require to be considered besides those brought forward before a satisfactory answer to the question—How to Buy? can be obtained. There are three points which seem to have been very much overlooked in the discussion, which may be stated here. 1. Is the librarian's valuable time well occupied by looking after cheap copies of books? 2. Will not the proposed action on the part of librarians go far to abolish the intelligent second-hand bookseller in the same way as the new bookseller has been well-nigh abolished in consequence of large discounts? 3. Will not such action prevent the publication of excellent books on subjects little likely to be popular?

1. Most librarians find their time pretty well occupied by the ordinary duties of buying, arranging, cataloguing, and finding the books under their charge, and it will be generally allowed that the librarian's first duty is to be in his library, ready to attend to those who wish to consult him. Now the value of his time can be roughly estimated for this purpose in money, and the value of the time spent in doing work which could be as well or better done by a bookseller should fairly be added to the cost of the books.

2. It has hitherto been thought advisable to have one or more second-hand booksellers attached to an important library, from whom the librarian may naturally expect to obtain such books as he requires. Of course a man of knowledge and experience must be paid for the exercise of these qualities, but the price of books is so variable that it is quite possible that the bookseller, from his knowledge, may buy the required books cheaper than the librarian himself would pay for them. As far as it is possible to judge from the information given us respecting the collection of libraries, bookbuyers have little to complain of as to the price paid by them to such respectable booksellers as have acted as their agents. Perhaps too little stress has been laid upon that characteristic which is happily so common among honest men, viz. that the agent is as pleased to get wares cheap for a good customer as for himself. Mr. Tedder says in his letter, "For rarer books I still consider it safer and cheaper in the long run to cultivate business relations with one or more second-hand booksellers, and pay them for their knowledge and experience." But is this quite fair, and is it not likely that the rarer books will be supplied cheaper if the bookseller is allowed to pay himself partly out of the sale of the commoner books, which it is now proposed the librarian shall buy himself? My contention is that it is for the advantage of libraries that intelligent booksellers, ready to place their knowledge at the service of the librarians, should exist, and it is unwise and uneconomic to do that which may cause this class to cease to exist. Sellers of books must always exist, but it is possible to drive out of the trade those who do it the most honour. We see what has occurred in the new book trade, and there can be little doubt that the book-buyer loses much more than he gains by the present system of discount. When the bookseller could obtain sufficient profit by the sale of new books to keep his shop open, it was worth his while to take some trouble in finding the book required; but now that the customer expects to buy a book at trade price, he cannot be surprised if he does not give full particulars as to the publisher of the book he requires if it is reported to him as "not known." Those only who, by taking a large quantity of copies, obtain an extra discount, can make new bookselling pay.

3. There are a large number of books which, although real additions to literature, can only be expected to obtain a small number of readers and buyers. Some of these are not taken by the circulating libraries, and publishers, in making their calculations, naturally count upon supplying some of the chief libraries of the country. If these libraries wait till the book is second-hand, the number of sales is likely to be so much reduced that it is not worth while to publish the book at all, to the evident damage of the cause of learning.

It has been often suggested that an arrangement should be made by libraries in close proximity, so that the same expensive book should not be bought by more than one of the libraries. No doubt this is advantageous in certain circumstances, but in the case of books with a limited sale it would have the same consequence as stated above, and the book would not be published at all, or be published at a loss.

Selden wrote in his Table Talk: "The giving a bookseller his price for his books has this advantage; he that will do so, shall have the refusal of whatsoever comes to his hand, and so by that means get many things which otherwise he never should have seen." And the dictum is as true now as it was in his time.

Many special points arise for consideration when we deal with the question—How to buy at sales? and Mr. Edward Edwards gives the following four rules for the guidance of the young book-buyer (Memoirs of Libraries, vol. ii. p. 645):

1. The examination of books before the sale, not during it. 2. A steady unintermittent bidding up to his predetermined limit, for all the books which he wants, from the first lot to the last; and—if there be any signs of a "combination"—for a few others which he may not want. 3. Careful avoidance of all interruptions and conversation; with especial watchfulness of the hammer immediately after the disposal of those especially seductive lots, which may have excited a keen and spirited competition. (There is usually on such occasions a sort of "lull," very favourable to the acquisition of good bargains.) 4. The uniform preservation and storing up of priced catalogues of all important sales for future reference.

A case of conscience arises as to whether it is fit and proper for two buyers to agree not to oppose each other at a public sale. Mr. Edwards says, "At the sales Lord Spencer was a liberal opponent as well as a liberal bidder. When Mason's books were sold, for example, in 1798, Lord Spencer agreed with the Duke of Roxburghe that they would not oppose each other, in bidding for some books of excessive rarity, but when both were very earnest in their longings, "toss up, after the book was bought, to see who should win it." Thus it was that the Duke obtained his unique, but imperfect, copy of Caxton's Historye of Kynge Blanchardyn and Prince Eglantyne, which, however, came safely to Althorp fourteen years later, at a cost of two hundred and fifteen pounds; the Duke having given but twenty guineas."[13]

It is easy to understand the inducement which made these two giants agree not to oppose each other, but the agreement was dangerously like a "knock-out." Mr. Henry Stevens (in his Recollections of Mr. James Lenox) boldly deals with this question, and condemns any such agreement. He writes, "Shortly after, in 1850, there occurred for sale at the same auction rooms a copy of 'Aratus, Phaenomena,' Paris, 1559, in 4^o, with a few manuscript notes, and this autograph signature on the title, 'Jo. Milton, Pre. 2s. 6d. 1631.' This I thought would be a desirable acquisition for Mr. Lenox, and accordingly I ventured to bid for it as far as L40, against my late opponent for the Drake Map, but he secured it at L40 10s., remarking that 'Mr. Panizzi will not thank you for, thus running the British Museum.' 'That remark,' I replied, 'is apparently one of your gratuities. Mr. Panizzi is, I think, too much a man of the world to grumble at a fair fight. He has won this time, though at considerable cost, and I am sure Mr. Lenox will be the first to congratulate him on securing such a prize for the British Museum.' 'I did not know you were bidding for Mr. Lenox.' 'It was not necessary that you should.' 'Perhaps at another time,' said he, 'we may arrange the matter beforehand, so as not to oppose each other.' 'Very well,' I replied, 'if you will bring me a note from Mr. Panizzi something to this effect: 'Mr. Stevens, please have a knock-out with the bearer, the agent of the British Museum, on lot **, and greatly oblige Mr. John Bull and your obdt. servant, A.P.,' I will consider the proposition, and if Mr. Lenox, or any other of my interested correspondents, is not unwilling to combine or conspire to rob or cheat the proprietors, the 'thing' may possibly be done. Meanwhile, until this arrangement is concluded, let us hold our tongues and pursue an honest course.' That man never again suggested to me to join him in a 'knock-out.'"

In another place Mr. Stevens relates his own experience as to holding two commissions, and the necessity of buying the book above the amount of the lowest of the two. The circumstance relates to a copy of the small octavo Latin edition of the Columbus Letter, in eight leaves, at the first Libri sale, Feb. 19, 1849. Mr. Stevens writes, "Mr. Brown ordered this lot with a limit of 25 guineas, and Mr. Lenox of L25. Now as my chief correspondents had been indulged with a good deal of liberty, scarcely ever considering their orders completely executed till they had received the books and decided whether or not they would keep them, I grew into the habit of considering all purchases my own until accepted and paid for. Consequently when positive orders were given, which was very seldom, I grew likewise into the habit of buying the lot as cheaply as possible, and then awarding it to the correspondent who gave the highest limit. This is not always quite fair to the owner; but in my case it would have been unfair to myself to make my clients compete, as not unfrequently the awarded lot was declined and had to go to another. Well, in the case of this Columbus Letter, though I had five or six orders, I purchased it for L16 10s., and, accordingly, as had been done many times before within the last five or six years without a grumble, I awarded it to the highest limit, and sent the little book to Mr. John Carter Brown. Hitherto, in cases of importance, Mr. Lenox had generally been successful, because he usually gave the highest limit. But in this case he rebelled. He wrote that the book had gone under his commission of L25, that he knew nobody else in the transaction, and that he insisted on having it, or he should at once transfer his orders to some one else. I endeavoured to vindicate my conduct by stating our long-continued practice, with which he was perfectly well acquainted, but without success. He grew more and more peremptory, insisting on having the book solely on the ground that it went under his limit. At length, after some months of negotiation, Mr. Brown, on being made acquainted with the whole correspondence, very kindly, to relieve me of the dilemma, sent the book to Mr. Lenox without a word of comment or explanation, except that, though it went also below his higher limit, he yielded it to Mr. Lenox for peace.... From that time I resorted, in cases of duplicate orders from them, to the expedient of always putting the lot in at one bid above the lower limit, which, after all, I believe is the fairer way in the case of positive orders. This sometimes cost one of them a good deal more money, but it abated the chafing and generally gave satisfaction. Both thought the old method the fairest when they got the prize. But I was obliged, on the new system of bidding, to insist on the purchaser keeping the book without the option of returning it." There can be no doubt that the latter plan was the most satisfactory.

Some persons appear to be under the impression that whatever a book fetches at a public sale must be its true value, and that, as the encounter is open and public, too much is not likely to be paid by the buyer; but this is a great mistake, and prices are often realized at a good sale which are greatly in advance of those at which the same books are standing unsold in second-hand booksellers' shops.

Much knowledge is required by those who wish to buy with success at sales. Books vary greatly in price at different periods, and it is a mistake to suppose, from the high prices realized at celebrated sales, which are quoted in all the papers, that books are constantly advancing in price. Although many have gone up, many others have gone down, and at no time probably were good and useful books to be bought so cheap as now. If we look at old sale catalogues we shall find early printed books, specimens of old English poetry and the drama, fetching merely a fraction of what would have to be given for them now; but, on the other hand, we shall find pounds then given for standard books which would not now realize the same number of shillings; this is specially the case with classics.

The following passage from Hearne's Diaries on the fluctuations in prices is of interest in this connection:—"The editions of Classicks of the first print (commonly called editones principes) that used to go at prodigious prices are now strangely lowered; occasioned in good measure by Mr. Thomas Rawlinson, my friend, being forced to sell many of his books, in whose auction these books went cheap, tho' English history and antiquities went dear: and yet this gentleman was the chief man that raised many curious and classical books so high, by his generous and courageous way of bidding."[14]

These first editions, however, realize large prices at the present time, as has been seen at the sale of the Sunderland Library. It is experience only that will give the necessary knowledge to the book buyer, and no rules laid down in books can be of any real practical value in this case. Persons who know nothing of books are too apt to suppose that what they are inclined to consider exorbitant prices are matters of caprice, but this is not so. There is generally a very good reason for the high price.

We must remember that year by year old and curious books become scarcer, and the number of libraries where they are locked up increase; thus while the demand is greater, the supply diminishes, and the price naturally becomes higher. A unique first edition of a great author is surely a possession to be proud of, and it is no ignoble ambition to wish to obtain it.


[13] Libraries and Founders of Libraries, 1864, p. 404.

[14] Reliquiae Hearnianae, 1869, vol. ii. p. 158.



Libraries may broadly be divided into Public and Private, and as private libraries will vary according to the special idiosyncrasies of their owners, so still more will public libraries vary in character according to the public they are intended for. The answer therefore to the question—How to form a Public Library?—must depend upon the character of the library which it is proposed to form. Up to the period when free town libraries were first formed, collections of books were usually intended for students; but when the Public Libraries' Acts were passed, a great change took place, and libraries being formed for general readers, and largely with the object of fostering the habit of reading, an entirely new idea of libraries came into existence. The old idea of a library was that of a place where books that were wanted could be found, but the new idea is that of an educational establishment, where persons who know little or nothing of books can go to learn what to read. The new idea has naturally caused a number of points to be discussed which were never thought of before.

But even in Town Libraries there will be great differences. Thus in such places as Birmingham, Liverpool, and Manchester, the Free Libraries should be smaller British Museums, and in this spirit their founders have worked; but in smaller and less important towns a more modest object has to be kept in view, and the wants of readers, more than those of consulters of books, have to be considered.

Mr. Beriah Botfield has given a very full account of the contents of the libraries spread about the country and associated with the different Cathedrals in his Notes on the Cathedral Libraries of England, 1849. These libraries have mostly been formed upon the same plan, and consist very largely of the works of the Fathers, and of old Divinity. Some contain also old editions of the classics, and others fine early editions of English authors. In former times these libraries were much neglected, and many of the books were lost; but the worst instance of injury to a library occurred at Lincoln at the beginning of the present century, when a large number of Caxtons, Pynsons, Wynkyn de Wordes, etc., were sold to Dr. Dibdin, and modern books purchased for the library with the proceeds. Dibdin printed a list of his treasures under the title of "The Lincolne Nosegay." Mr. Botfield has reprinted this catalogue in his book.

The first chapter of the United States Report on Public Libraries is devoted to Public Libraries a hundred years ago. Mr. H.E. Scudder there describes some American libraries which were founded in the last century. One of these was the Loganian Library of Philadelphia. Here is an extract from the will of James Logan, the founder—

"In my library, which I have left to the city of Philadelphia for the advancement and facilitating of classical learning, are above one hundred volumes of authors, in folio, all in Greek, with mostly their versions. All the Roman classics without exception. All the Greek mathematicians, viz. Archimedes, Euclid, Ptolemy, both his Geography and Almagest, which I had in Greek (with Theon's Commentary, in folio, above 700 pages) from my learned friend Fabricius, who published fourteen volumes of his Bibliotheque Grecque, in quarto, in which, after he had finished his account of Ptolemy, on my inquiring of him at Hamburgh, how I should find it, having long sought for it in vain in England, he sent it to me out of his own library, telling me it was so scarce that neither prayers nor price could purchase it; besides, there are many of the most valuable Latin authors, and a great number of modern mathematicians, with all the three editions of Newton, Dr. Watts, Halley, etc." The inscription on the house of the Philadelphia Library is well worthy of repetition here. It was prepared by Franklin, with the exception of the reference to himself, which was inserted by the Committee.

Be it remembered, in honor of the Philadelphia youth (then chiefly artificers), that in MDCCXXXI they cheerfully, at the instance of BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, one of their number, instituted the Philadelphia Library, which, though small at first, is become highly valuable and extensively useful, and which the walls of this edifice are now destined to contain and preserve: the first stone of whose foundation was here placed the thirty-first day of August, 1789.

Mr. F.B. Perkins, of the Boston Public Library, contributed to the Report on Public Libraries in the United States a useful chapter on "How to make Town Libraries successful" (pp. 419-430). The two chief points upon which he lays particular stress, and which may be said to form the texts for his practical remarks, are: (1) that a Public Library for popular use must be managed not only as a literary institution, but also as a business concern; and (2) that it is a mistake to choose books of too thoughtful or solid a character. He says, "It is vain to go on the principle of collecting books that people ought to read, and afterwards trying to coax them to read them. The only practical method is to begin by supplying books that people already want to read, and afterwards to do whatever shall be found possible to elevate their reading tastes and habits."

A series of articles on "How to Start Libraries in Small Towns" was published in the Library Journal (vol. i. pp. 161, 213, 249, 313, 355, 421), and Mr. Axon's Hints on the Formation of Small Libraries has already been mentioned. We must not be too rigid in the use of the term Public Libraries, and we should certainly include under this description those institutional Libraries which, although primarily intended for the use of the Members of the Societies to which they belong, can usually be consulted by students who are properly introduced.

Of Public Libraries first in order come the great libraries of a nation, such as the British Museum. These are supplied by means of the Copyright Law, but the librarians are not from this cause exonerated from the troubles attendant on the formation of a library. There are old books and privately printed and foreign books to be bought, and it is necessary that the most catholic spirit should be displayed by the librarians. The same may be said in a lesser degree of the great libraries of the more important towns.

In England the Universities have noble libraries, more especially those of Oxford and Cambridge, but although some colleges possess fine collections of books, college libraries are not as a rule kept up to a very high standard. The United States Report contains a full account of the college libraries in America (pp. 60-126).

The libraries of societies are to a large extent special ones, and my brother, the late Mr. B.R. Wheatley, in a paper read before the Conference of Librarians, 1877, entitled "Hints on Library Management, so far as relates to the Circulation of Books," particularly alluded to this fact. He wrote, "Our library is really a medical and surgical section of a great Public Library. Taking the five great classes of literature, I suppose medicine and its allied sciences may be considered as forming a thirtieth of the whole, and, as our books number 30,000, we are, as it were, a complete section of a Public Library of nearly a million volumes in extent."

The United States Report contains several chapters on special libraries, thus chapter 2 is devoted to those of Schools and Asylums; 4, to Theological Libraries; 5, to Law; 6, to Medical; and 7, to Scientific Libraries. For the formation of special libraries, special bibliographies will be required, and for information on this subject reference should be made to Chapter VI. of the present work.

When we come to deal with the Free Public Libraries, several ethical questions arise, which do not occur in respect to other libraries. One of the most pressing of these questions refers to the amount of Fiction read by the ordinary frequenters of these libraries.

This point is alluded to in the United States Report on Public Libraries. Mr. J.P. Quincy, in the chapter on Free Libraries (p. 389), writes, "Surely a state which lays heavy taxes upon the citizen in order that children may be taught to read is bound to take some interest in what they read; and its representatives may well take cognizance of the fact that an increased facility for obtaining works of sensational fiction is not the special need of our country at the close of the first century of its independence." He mentions a free library in Germanstown, Pa., sustained by the liberality of a religious body, and frequented by artisans and working people of both sexes. It had been in existence six years in 1876, and then contained 7000 volumes. No novels are admitted into the library. The following is a passage from the librarian's report of 1874: "In watching the use of our library as it is more and more resorted to by the younger readers of our community, I have been much interested in its influence in weaning them from a desire for works of fiction. On first joining the library, the new comers often ask for such books, but failing to procure them, and having their attention turned to works of interest and instruction, in almost every instance they settle down to good reading and cease asking for novels. I am persuaded that much of this vitiated taste is cultivated by the purveyors to the reading classes, and that they are responsible for an appetite they often profess to deplore, but continue to cater to, under the plausible excuse that the public will have such works."

Mr. Justin Winsor in chapter 20 (Reading in Popular Libraries) expresses a somewhat different view. He writes, "Every year many young readers begin their experiences with the library. They find all the instructive reading they ought to have in their school books, and frequent the library for story books. These swell the issues of fiction, but they prevent the statistics of that better reading into which you have allured the older ones, from telling as they should in the average."

At the London Conference of Librarians (1877), Mr. P. Cowell, Librarian of the Liverpool Public Library, read a paper on the admission of Fiction in Free Public Libraries, where he discussed the subject in a very fair manner, and deplored the high percentage of novel reading in these libraries. At the Second Annual Meeting of the Library Association (1879) Mr. J. Taylor Kay, Librarian of Owens College, Manchester, in his paper on the Provision of Novels in Rate-supported Libraries, more completely condemned this provision. He concluded his paper with these words: "Clearly a hard and fast line must be drawn. A distinct refusal by the library committees to purchase a single novel or tale would be appreciated by the rate-payers. The suggestion of a sub-committee to read this literature would not be tolerated, and no man whose time is of value would undergo the infliction. The libraries would attain their true position, and the donations would certainly be of a higher class, if the aims of the committees were known to be higher. Manchester has already curtailed its issues of novels. It has been in the vanguard on the education question: and let us hope it will be true to its traditions, to its noble impulses, and lead the van in directing the educational influence of the free libraries, and striking out altogether any expenditure in the dissemination of this literature."

This question probably would not have come to the front if it were not that the educational value of Free Libraries, as the complement of Board Schools, has been very properly put forward by their promoters. With this aim in view, it does startle one somewhat to see the completely disproportionate supply of novels in the Free Libraries. This often rises to 75 per cent. of the total supply, and in some libraries even a higher percentage has been reached. There are, however, exceptions. At the Baltimore Peabody Institute Fiction did not rise to more than one-tenth of the total reading. The following are some figures of subjects circulated at that library above 1000:—

Belles Lettres 4598 Fiction 3999 Biography 2003 Greek and Latin Classics 1265 History (American) 1137 Law 1051 Natural History 1738 Theology 1168 Periodicals (Literary) 4728 Periodicals (Scientific) 1466

Mr. Cowell says that during the year ending 31st August, 1877, 453,585 volumes were issued at the reference library alone (Liverpool Free Public Library); of these 170,531 were strictly novels. The high-percentage of novel reading is not confined to Free Public Libraries, for we find that in the Odd Fellows' Library of San Francisco, in 1874, 64,509 volumes of Prose Fiction were lent out of a total of 78,219. The other high figures being Essays, 2280; History, 1823; Biography and Travels, 1664. In the College of the City of New York, of the books taken out by students between Nov. 1876, and Nov. 1877, 1043 volumes were Novels, the next highest numbers were Science, 153; Poetry, 133; History, 130.[15]

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