The International Magazine, Volume 2, No. 3, February, 1851
Author: Various
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

"Go back!—go back!" said the chief of the officers to Giacomo. "No one is permitted to communicate with the accused."

Adding action to words, they seized the old man by the arm, and bore him from his master.

Giacomo however found time to whisper to the Count, "You are saved."

The crowd was so touched by the affection of the old servant, that it was near taking sides with him against the officers who had interfered.

The veiled lady stood motionless as a statue and watched the scene. So abstracted and calm did she appear, that it might have been supposed her eyes looked on while her mind was far away. Her eyes, animated by a thousand sentiments, glittered beneath her veil. The young man to whom she had made signals did not lose sight of her, and his whole soul seemed enchained to the life presence and breath of this woman.

The experts came; the court resumed its sessions; the Salvatori entered. The experts were three of the most skilful lapidaries of Naples, where the art of engraving on stone had reached the greatest excellence. They approached the bar. The president said:

"On your soul and conscience, and by Christ your Saviour, you swear to tell the truth."

"We swear."

"Tell us which of these two rings is the work of Benvenuto Cellini."

"On my soul and conscience, and by Christ," said the first expert, after a careful scrutiny, "this is the work of Benvenuto Cellini."

"And you, sir?" said the judge to the second.

"On my soul and conscience, and by Christ, this is the work of the great master."

"And this ring," said the judge, "what is it?"

"This is but a copy, compared with the original, of trifling value and fineness."

"Very well, Signori," said the Grand Judge, rising, and with a ring in each hand. "This ring given me yesterday by the Duke of Palma, and by him received from the Salvatori, is an imitation of Benvenuto Cellini's great work. The real ring of the Monte-Leoni, the chef-d'oeuvre, an heir-loom of the family, has just been brought us by an old servant of that noble house."

The effect of the words of the Grand Judge was immense. He was silent, and with the other judges consulted about the decree. A few moments after, with his hand on his heart, the Grand Judge said:

"After having carefully sought for traces of the double crime of which Count Monte-Leone is accused—after having heard the public accuser, the proof is found most incomplete. It appears that all the facts are based on the resemblance of Count Monte-Leone with some unknown person, in relation to whose identity the Salvatori were mistaken. The court declares the Count Monte-Leone innocent of the double crime imputed to him, and orders that he be immediately released. As for you, the brothers Salvatori," continued the Grand Judge, sternly, "your hatred to the Count Monte-Leone is well known. We interpret your conduct in the most favorable light, attributing it to mistake, and not to cowardly revenge. If the counterfeit ring was fabricated at your instance, to corroborate the accusations made against the Count, and justice should become possessed of proofs of it, you would have to fear its rigor and punishment. If there be severe laws for calumniators, those for assassins are yet more stern. You would in that case have murdered Count Monte-Leone."

The Salvatori were amazed. The rage of Stenio was irrepressible.

"Beautiful justice! Do we serve the king so faithfully for his justices to treat us thus! I repeat again," said he with an accent so terrible that it reached even Monte-Leone's heart, "the Count was at Pompeia. He stabbed me. He is an assassin!"

He then left as he had entered, walking painfully, and leaning on the arms of his brothers. When Stenio Salvatori, spoke thus, the Count had withdrawn, and the noise in the hall prevented the judges from hearing him. The tumult was as great as possible in the hall, which hitherto had been so calm and silent. The public seemed to move, shout, and become clamorous, as a recompense for the constraint which had been so long enforced.

The beautiful woman in the recess, who had been so long impassible and motionless, seemed to sympathize with the excited crowd, and lifting up her noble form to its full height, as the Grand Judge spoke the last words, she threw aside her veil, and lifted to heaven her eyes, full of gratitude and joy. She then looked toward Monte-Leone with an expression of the most passionate love, and immediately letting fall her veil, as if to enwrap her sentiments in night, left the room. Quickly, however, as she left, the first of the young men, whose conversation was detailed in the early part of this chapter, had time to see her, and said to his companion:

"Signor, indeed you are fortunate. The lady of whom we spoke not long since, and whom you know so well, is the very spirit of beauty incarnate, she is the most magnificent woman in the world. It is La Felina."

"You think so?" said Taddeo Rovero, who had become yet paler when the singer threw up her veil.

"Yes, I think so," said the first speaker, with a smile, "and I am also sure you know so." He left.

In the mean time the friends and partisans of the Count surrounded him. Among them were the chief nobles of Naples, for, as has been said before, the cause of one of the order became that of all, and Monte-Leone's success was a triumph to all the class. Amid a proud and gallant escort, the Count left the Castello Capuano. Scarcely had he left the door when enthusiastic cries were heard on all sides. The people, who had been in the street since dawn, waited impatiently for the result of the trial, for Monte-Leone was immensely popular. The crowd from time to time heard the various incidents of the trial from persons who had contrived to get into the hall. The rumors in favor of Monte-Leone were received with shouts of joy, and those injurious to him with cries and curses. The sentence was hailed as a priceless boon by the crowd around the Chateau Capuano. The people are everywhere, it is said, the same. The people of every country are doubtless impressionable and easily excited. A kind of electricity pervades large bodies, and the subtle fluid certainly is found everywhere. But among people of the south, under the burning sun which scorches their brains, the Italians, and especially the Neapolitans, in their public assemblies, attain a degree of fanaticism and exaltation, of which the people of the north have no idea. The eruptions of their own Vesuvius are the only things to which the passions of their populace can be compared.

When the Count and his escort left the court-room, the people literally rushed upon them. A thousand hands, not half so seemly as those which already had clasped his own, were extended towards his. These strong and sturdy hands seemed to promise him protection in case it should be needful for him at any future time to seek it.

From this crowd of men with sternly marked features, shaded by hats of gray felt, there fell on the Count's ear such words as, "Two hands pledged in friendship are but one!" Venta of Castel la Marc.

"A dagger for ten enemies!" Venta of Capua.

"Our right, silence, or death!" Venta of Annunziata.

"Eyes to watch, and a hand to strike!" Venta of Pompeia.

To which the Count replied, by the word Speranza, accompanied by a clasp of the hand and a significative glance.

"My friends," said a penetrating voice, "for heaven's sake give him air. The poor man has need of air. We know you love him. He is the friend of the people of Naples, all know, but he should not on that account be stifled. By the miracle of San Januarius restore him to me, restore my master to me, you may have him soon, but now he needs the care of old Giacomo."

Giacomo took the Count's arm, and sought to remove him from the crowd which surrounded him. The Count paid no attention to the old intendant. For a time, he strove almost to cast him off, and stood looking anxiously at a person he saw in the crowd, and whom like a swimmer he sought to approach. This person was his friend Taddeo Rovero. The young man sought in vain to approach the Count. The tide of living beings seconded their wishes, and at last they rushed into the arms of each other, forgetting, while thus enlocked, the world, their secret thoughts, the past, and the present, and mingling together the tears of friendship.

"Air, day, sunlight, motion, life, life itself I have found. They woke up our existence; a dungeon is death—"

Again he threw himself into the arms of Taddeo, with an expression of tenderness and happiness.

"Adieu, my friends," said he to the crowd. "Count Monte-Leone will never forget these proofs of your sympathy, and you may rely on him, his arm, his heart, his fortune, as he does on you."

Taking Taddeo by the arm, he hurried into a neighboring street, accompanied at a little distance by Giacomo, who, as he panted after them, cried out, "Too fast, too fast—what the devil can I do? My legs are worn out—remember I came from the villa to la Vicaria on foot to bring your ring to the Grand Judge."

"My ring!"—then looking anxiously at Giacomo, and in a low tone, he said:

"Are you sure it is my ring?"

"Yes, I swear to it by the blood of Christ and by your life."

"My friends," said the Count, "we have strange secrets to talk of when we are in a safe place. And there the ear and lip must be close together, so that not even the walls of the room in which we are shall be struck by the sound of our accents. Wait for me at the Etruscan villa. In two hours I will rejoin you."

"Why not go thither now?" asked Taddeo.

"Two hours hence I will tell you."

Without speaking a word, and without listening to Rovero's reply, Monte-Leone put on a cloak the old intendant had brought and passed into a labyrinth of passages, with the intricate windings of which his political associations had made him familiar. An hour after the Count so brusquely left Taddeo and the old intendant, he paused at the door of one of the most ancient churches in Naples, an old pile, built in 1284, and called San Domenico Maggiore. It is of vast size, built in the Gothic style, and has a magnificent picture of Titiano, the Flagellation of Caravaggio, and in the sacristy a glory by Solimene. But not to contemplate them had Monte-Leone come to the church. A deeply-rooted sentiment forced him, for a few moments, to pause beneath the old portico before he entered the sanctuary.

Nothing is more touching, more poetical, and more mysterious, than the old Christian temples, which like giants of stone have braved the ravages of time and the hands of men. Generations, as they pass away, worship beneath their arches, and the prayers of many centuries have echoed in their walls, which are yet open to coming time.

The deep notes of the organ attracted the attention of Monte-Leone and increased his excitement. He crossed the church, went down the nave, and approached a lateral chapel where a taper was burning with a flickering light. The Count entered the chapel. Those who had seen him amid the brilliant society of Naples, or amid the awful judicial ordeal to which he had just been subjected, and which he had undergone with such coolness and audacity, would not have recognized the humble and trembling man, who knelt before a sarcophagus of black marble surmounted with the coronet and arms of the Monte-Leoni. The Count knelt at the tomb of his father—his father, who was his religion and his faith. He would have thought himself unworthy of his protection had he not gone immediately on his release to worship those consecrated relics. Prostrate at the monument he prayed with fervor. All the recent events of his life occurred to him. And in the kind of hallucination caused by prolonged meditation, awake as he was, he entered the realm of dreams. He seemed to see two genii seeking, the one to drag him towards heaven and the other towards the abyss. The genii were two females. They recalled the features of two charming and beautiful women, whom he remembered. One had the gentle and pale expression of Aminta; the other, the more masculine and stately air of La Felina. The one which led him heavenward was Aminta. The sound of the organ, the mysterious light which pervaded the chapel, the religious effect of the whole scene, exaggerated the excitement of the Count, and contributed to add to his nervousness. Two mild melancholy voices, like those of angels praying for the guilty, mingled with the organ's notes, and Monte-Leone fancied that he heard in the distance the voices of departed souls. The blood of Monte-Leone became chilled, for at that moment he asked his father to reveal to him the future, and guide him in his perilous path. The song of the dead seemed to reply to him. The Count, like other energetic and brave men, like Caesar and Napoleon, was very superstitious. We have seen him brave death without trembling, though it came in the most terrible form. He who had struggled against the waves of the sea, and confronted the Grand Judge of Naples, grew pale when he heard the de profundis chanted in an obscure church and by the side of a tomb. By a strange fatality, nothing seemed wanting which could increase the sadness of Monte-Leone. Just as he was about to leave the church the solitary light was extinguished. The young man fancied this accident a declaration of the will of God. Terror-stricken, he left the church, and did not regain his consciousness until he stood in the portico of the old temple. In a few moments he shook off his idle apprehensions, but the sombre scene perpetually reacted upon him, as we shall see hereafter. It left a deep trace upon his mind, and materially influenced his subsequent life.

Two hours after he left the church, the Count rode on the horse of one of his friends to the Etruscan villa, which, as we have said, was on the road to Castel la Marc. Giacomo was waiting at the door for him, and taking a resinous torch, lighted his master to the strange room which we described in the first part of this book. Things remained precisely as they were on the night of the ball of San Carlo. The lights were burning, the hangings displayed their richness, the Greek and Roman couches were arrayed, and a magnificent supper was prepared. There were, however, but two covers, one for the Count and the other for young Rovero. By the side of the Count's plate lay the emerald of Benvenuto, of which he had so miraculously regained possession.

"It is the emerald," said the Count. "Who brought it hither?"

"An officer of the court, from Signor San Angelo, the Grand Judge of Naples."

Monte-Leone looked at it again, and said, "It is one of God's own miracles."

"Not so," said Rovero, "it is one of Love's own;" and he gave the Count the letter of La Felina.


While the trial of Count Monte-Leone thus excited the whole city of Naples, while Rovero under the influence of a thousand emotions heard all its details, let us look back to what is going on in the villa at Sorrento. The reader will excuse us, for thus transporting him from place to place, for attempting to interest him in behalf of various personages, joining or deserting them, as the plan of our story requires.

The novelist is like the weaver, who keeps in his hand the various threads of his woof, brings them together and apart, until the time when his finished work rewards his toil. Like the weaver, we shall unite, day by day, our threads, and gather them finally into one knot.

We left the Marquis of Maulear about to return to the villa, in search of assistance for Scorpione, who had fainted. When people came to the hut, the mute had regained his senses. He knelt before Aminta, who spoke to him with vivacity. What she said we cannot tell, for when she was interrupted she ceased. The eyes of Tonio were red, and he seemed to have been shedding tears. The invalid was taken to the villa, and so the matter seemed to end.

Maulear was not much engrossed by the suspicions he had previously conceived of Tonio, because love for Aminta, supposing that such he bore, did not seem formidable. His apprehensions found something far more serious. Was the heart of her he loved unoccupied? The strange episode of the lost veil had not yet been explained. Yielding to the influence of passion, he had, when he saw the young girl, forgotten every thing, and the sudden appearance of Scorpione, by rendering it impossible for Aminta to answer him, complicated the matter yet more.

Just as Signora Rovero went towards the hut, where the Marquis had left the mute in a state of insensibility, Aminta went to the villa, preceding those who bore Tonio.

"I will not again trust you with our patient," said Aminta's mother. "He always returns worse than when he goes."

"Right mother," said Aminta, "henceforth I will not take charge of Tonio, for his new sufferings have, I am sure, taken away the little sense he previously had."

Tonio, who heard what Aminta said, looked down and returned to his room, glooming angrily at the Marquis as he passed.

"You are already one of us, Marquis, on account of the indiscreet request of my son. But neither my daughter nor myself will complain of the pleasure he has thus procured us. Now," continued she, "permit me to show you the most precious treasure in our house."

Leading Maulear to a little boudoir, next her chamber, she drew aside a curtain of black velvet, and exposed a noble portrait of a man the size of life. "That is the portrait of my husband, of Aminta's father; of a loyal and respected man, of an honest and influential minister."

Maulear was amazed at the appearance of the picture. The more he examined it the more the features seemed to recall some one he had seen before. His memory, however, was at fault, and left him in uncertainty.

"Strange," said he, to the widow of the minister. "It seems that I have seen these features before. How can it be, though, that I ever met Signor Rovero?"

"My husband has been dead two years, and was never in France."

"And I have been but six months in Italy. It is then impossible that we ever met. The matter is surprising."

They returned to the drawing-room, where Maulear found the White Rose of Sorrento either drawing or pretending to draw, as a means of concealing her annoyance.

"Excuse me," said Signora Rovero to Maulear, "if I leave you for a time with my daughter. I have some domestic matters to attend to, for Aminta's birthday will in a few days be here, when we purpose a ball."

"A ball?" said Maulear.

"A ball; and Aminta and some of her young companions will compose the orchestra. You, Marquis, will not, however, be forced to be present, for my son had no intention to annoy you thus. It is enough for you to protect us, but to dance would be too great a requisition."

"Is it, then, the Signorina's birthday?"

"Yes, or rather it is the birthday of my happiness. Thus it ever is with mothers."

"It will then be mine also," said Maulear. "I am sorry her brother cannot be present."

"Taddeo is fond of us," said the young girl in a low tone, with her eyes downcast on her embroidery. "But he does not love us alone." Aminta sighed with jealousy—and Signora Rovero left the room. Maulear drew near Aminta.

"Signorina," said he, with emotion, "just now I opened my heart to you. Will you punish me by silence, and not deign to tell me what I may fear or hope?"

"Signor," said Aminta, "perhaps I am wrong to reply to you. Perhaps I should ask you, in the first place, to speak to my mother of the sentiments you entertain for me. But I will be frank with you. Our first interview, my gratitude, my sincere esteem, control me. Besides, as you have been informed, my education has not been that usual to my sex. I will therefore describe to you my girlish ideas such us they are, such as my early education inspired me with, such as reflection has developed."

Maulear looked at her with great wonder. Where he had expected surprise and embarrassment, he found calmness and reason. Still, the voice in which these serious words were pronounced had, however, so great an attraction and such melody, that the Marquis began again to hope.

"Different from most young persons of my age," said Aminta, "I am happy in my present condition, contented with my mother and brother. I have often inquired what qualities I would expect in my husband, and," said she with a smile, "I have found them. Perhaps those qualities are defects; for they must be my own I assure you. I have been so petted that I can conceive of no happiness except in finding myself, with my imperfections, ideas, and sentiments, mirrored in another."

"Then," said the Marquis, "no one can expect to please you, for who can be like you, and be as precious as you are?"

"That may be an easier thing than you fancy," said Aminta, gayly. "Hitherto I have, however, been unfortunate, for my suitors have been so superior that their merit terrified me. I was afraid of the talents of one, and of the mind of another. Besides, Marquis, let me tell you, that I am a little foolish and exaggerated. I think there are two existences in me, the one awake, and the other asleep. In the latter, there pass such fancies before me, that I am often frightened at them. I sometimes see the drama of life unrolled before me.—I am married and unhappy—strange scenes take place around me, and he to whom my fate has been confided, makes it sad and dreary as possible;—I am humiliated, outraged, and betrayed, and am, too, so much afraid of marriage, that I think I would refuse the hand of an angel were it offered me."

As she spoke, Aminta's features became sad, and her eyes glittered with a sombre fire, like that of the Pythoness announcing the Delphic oracle. Maulear was silent, and for a few moments said nothing. In the mean time the young girl regained her presence of mind, and, ashamed of her enthusiasm, sought to apologize for it.

"You will," said she, "laugh at my ridiculous whims. What, however, do you expect of a poor child, raised like myself in solitude, uncultivated, and from character and taste a dreamer? Such a creature must indeed be strange to a Parisian. Perhaps, though you do not wish me thus to speak to you, such a creature has made a deeper impression on your imagination than on your heart. The terrible circumstances of our meeting also, the romantic origin of our acquaintance, may lead you into error in relation to sentiments which perhaps would be impotent, both against the enticements of the world and against absence."

"Ah!" said Maulear, with chagrin, "if those sentiments were shared—if he who experiences them were not indifferent to you, you, Signorina, would have confidence in them."

"I desire nothing better than to be satisfied that such is the case," said she, with charming naivete. "Time, however, is required for that, and we have been acquainted only for a few days."

"Are years then required for us to love?" said Maulear. "For that a word, a look, suffice."

"In France, perhaps," replied Aminta; "in your brilliant saloons, with your gay countrymen, where all is so lively and spontaneous. Here though, in a modest villa, hidden by the orange trees of Sorrento, a young girl's heart is not disposed of so easily."

"Yes!" said Maulear, "our hearts are lost when we behold you."

"Marquis," said Aminta, "I do not know what the future reserves for us; I however repeat that I will always be sincere with you. Do not to-day ask me what I cannot give."

"What can you give me?" said Maulear in despair.

"Hope," said Aminta, with a blush, "that is all—"

Signora Rovero entered. Rejection and obstacles could not but surprise a man used as Maulear was to rapid triumphs and easy conquests. He was now seriously in love, and passion had become a link of his life. Suffering as he was from the uncertainty to which the reply of Aminta subjected him, he could not but admire her prudence and modest reserve, which, as it were, placed her heart beneath the aegis of reason. Besides, if, as Madame de Stael says, the last idea of a woman is always centred in the last word she utters, Aminta, by what she had last said, had delighted Maulear. She had said "Hope."

During the next day and the next day after, Signora Rovero and her daughter increased their attention to Maulear, lest he should become weary of their solitude. This solitude to Maulear was elysium. A pleasant intimacy grew up between Aminta and the Marquis, every hour revealing a new grace to him, as he fancied the hour drew near when the ice of her heart would melt, and she would find an image of her sentiments in him. One circumstance, however, troubled Maulear, and aroused his jealousy. Towards the end of the second day, he sat in the saloon, leaning on his elbow, and looking with admiration through one of the windows at the purple and magnificent Italian sun. Aminta did not know that Maulear was in the saloon, and when she came in did not see him. She had a letter in her hand. "From him," said she, as she hastily unsealed it; "what does he say? Dear Gaetano, he has not forgotten me."

At the name Gaetano, Maulear turned around quickly, and under the influence of much emotion, stood before her. She seemed a little surprised and disconcerted, and hid the letter in her bosom. The words died away on the Marquis's lips, and he asked no question. His original distrust returned, and he resolved to watch. On that evening Maulear was less gay and less entertaining than he had been on the previous one. He observed that Aminta too was thoughtful. She has been unable, said he, to read her letter, and that is the cause of her uneasiness. For a few moments the young girl left the room, in which her mother and Maulear were. She is reading the mysterious letter, said he to himself. Just then it chanced that Signora Rovero spoke of Gaetano Brignoli, to whom she paid the greatest compliments. Aminta returned with an expression altogether changed. Her face was lit up with joy, as expressive and animated as the tedium and thoughtfulness which marked it had been profound. Maulear did not sympathize with her gayety, and she became every moment more moody and sombre. Under the pretext of a headache, he retired to his room. New thoughts assailed him. He looked out on the terrace where he had seen the unknown form. He took the lace veil and examined it as if he now saw it for the first time. Men are often cruel to themselves, and find a secret pleasure in turning the knife in the wound, and making their suffering severe as possible. To tell the truth, when he thought of his conversation with Aminta, and analyzed its phases, he was led by its elevation and frankness to blush at his suspicions. After all, said he, the letter she received from Gaetano is perhaps only a child's-play between them. It is but a secret between brother and sister, such as often exists, and to which it is foolish to attach any importance. Amid this excitement, sleep overtook him, harassed as he was between hope and fear, good and evil.

The next day was Aminta's birthday. All in Signora Rovero's villa were joyous. The gates of the garden were opened, and all were gathering flowers. The young girls of Sorrento soon came to the villa, and offered a magnificent chaplet of roses to the White Rose of Sorrento. The Marquis of Maulear added his congratulations to the others offered to Aminta. An air of embarrassment, however, was evident in every remark, and he could not forget the letter. Suddenly he saw Tonio. He was approaching Aminta, who, when she saw him, hurried to meet him.

"Tonio, poor Tonio," said she, "my faithful companion and generous preserver, have you also come to congratulate me on my birthday? You have not forgotten me, but are come to say how you love me. You know how grateful I am."

Two tears fell on the mute's brow which was humbled before her. Tonio looked up, and his eyes expressed the languishing tenderness of which we have hitherto spoken. One might read, in his glance, the effect of that magnetic fascination exercised over him by Aminta. He seized her hand, and kissed it so passionately that Aminta withdrew it at once. She however veiled her action with a smile.

"Since," said she, "you are so well, my mother and I wish you henceforth to be at liberty, and that you should have no domestic duty. You shall be our chasseur, and supply us with game—for that is the only thing in which you take pleasure."

A feeling of pride was legible on Tonio's features. He took Aminta's hand again, and, as a token of gratitude, placed it on his heart. He then looked proudly around on the peasants and servants, and finally mingled with the crowd.

The day advanced, and the guests of Signora Rovero came to the villa. Count Brignoli and Gaetano were not the last. Maulear could not restrain an expression of mortification when he saw the latter, who, however, looking on him as a family friend, treated him most cordially and affectionately. Maulear at dinner sat next to the Signora Rovero. He would have preferred the one usually given him, next to Aminta. He had, however, one consolation. Aminta, seated at a distance from Gaetano, could not maintain one of those private conversations with young Brignoli, which made him so unhappy. Often during the meal he fancied that he saw certain signals of intelligence between the young people, who had not yet been able to speak together alone. What however had been a doubt became a certainty when he saw Gaetano point to the garden, and Aminta by a gesture of assent reply to him. He had no doubt there was an understanding between Gaetano and Aminta. He knew their rendezvous. From that time Maulear did not lose sight of them, and he suffered every torture jealousy can inflict. The shock he received at the discovery was so great, that he was unable even to reflect. He did not become offended at the perfidy of Aminta, but was rather distressed by suffering, which was as great in the physical point of view as it was in the moral. Reason only returned with reflection.

About nine o'clock the ball commenced. At the instance of Aminta, two of her young friends went to the piano, and Aminta, taking advantage of certain orders she had to give, left the room. Gaetano had already gone. The Marquis followed her. For a second he heard the light step, which passed down the gallery, pause. The door of the vestibule however was opened, and pointed out the route she had taken. He was afraid by opening the door of betraying his presence, and therefore went into the garden by another direction, and making a short detour, soon was able to follow the direction he had seen Aminta take. Passing beneath a group of trees which was near the house, Maulear, with an attentive ear, followed stealthily as a deer the steps of the couple he tracked—though he could not see. A demon had taken possession of Maulear's heart, and enkindled it with rage. Certainly, within a few paces from him he heard a voice. It was Aminta's. Another voice answered. It was Gaetano's.

"How I love you, dear Gaetano, for what you have told me."

"And how happy I am in your pleasure—"

"All then is understood?" said Aminta.


"We understand each other, and you will hide nothing from me?"


"Your letter," said the young girl, "made me mad with joy."

"Dear Aminta—"

"Unless, indeed, my mother find out our secrets—"

"Fear not—the secret will be kept—tonight—"

"Yes, yes, to-night, certainly—"

"Rely then on me," said Gaetano.

Maulear heard a kiss. It struck on his ear like a dagger, and gave him such pain, that a sigh burst from his lips.

"Some one overheard us," said Gaetano, "Go, go."

Aminta immediately disappeared. Before Gaetano had time to distinguish Maulear in his place of concealment, the latter, become aware of the ridiculous part he was playing, hid himself in the thicket, and with his hair dishevelled, his features distorted, and his heart distressed, hurried to the house and shut himself up in his own room. His despair was indeed great; he fancied he had been laughed at by a coquette, while he thought he had been the suitor of an innocent girl. Why did she not tell me the truth yesterday, when I asked her? said he. Why did she not avow her love of young Brignoli? She dared not confide it to me; because she makes a mystery of it to her own mother. Why did she encourage me? Why did she speak of hope? What unworthy plan, what improper calculation influenced her? What part did she intend me to play in this drama of treason?

The old idea of Maulear—that sad fancy that women are only to be despised, and which he had conceived from women only worthy of that estimate—took possession of him. He could not believe he was a victim of mistake, or that the scene he had witnessed had any other motives than guilty ones. Of what else could Gaetano and Aminta speak, than love? An hour afterwards, Maulear returned to the drawing-room. His toilette was irreproachable, and his face, though pale, was calm. One would never have recognized in this elegant gentleman, so calm and dignified, the person who, an hour before, had heard with such excitement the conversation we have just described. Maulear had reflected, and as soon as his first anger had passed away, had nearly conceived an aversion for the young girl, whom he had almost adored the evening before. Revenge, too, would be sweet. To accomplish this, calmness, coldness, deliberation were required.

The excitement of the evening prevented the absence of the actors in this scene from having been remarked; besides it was a ball for young people, at which men of Maulear's age even were not expected to dance. Gaetano, who was only eighteen, was the true Coryphoeus. Maulear approached Aminta in the interval between two waltzes.

"You have a pleasant anniversary of your birthday," said he.

"A delicious one, Signor, I was never so happy."

At any other time the answer of Aminta would have delighted Maulear; now he fancied she alluded to her love for Gaetano. This idea increased his anger. Midnight came, and those of the guests who lived at a distance remained at the villa: the others left. All soon became calm, and the house quiet. One man alone watched, for his bosom was irritated by the most exciting thoughts; by anger, despair, and jealousy. He was awake, and wept bitterly over a passion, which it is true had existed but a few days, but yet had taken deep root in his heart.

He was awake, and was indignant at the affront put on him. He was awake, for he had sworn to be avenged. Thinking that he understood the meaning of Gaetano's words, he did not doubt but that they had made a rendezvous for that very night. This rendezvous was not the first, for Maulear knew the secret of the veil he had found on the terrace on the first night he had passed at Sorrento. The veil belonged to Aminta, and the flitting shadow he had seen was the lady's self. Her accomplice was Gaetano. How could he doubt? Interrupted in their first intercourse by Maulear, they expected on another occasion to be more fortunate. No, cried he, that shall not be, they will find me between themselves and happiness. I wish them to at least learn, that I am not their dupe. I will cover her snowy brow with a blush, and avenge myself by disclosing to her my knowledge of her secret. But how could he surprise them? Would they dare to cross the terrace again? Perhaps, though, they can meet nowhere else. If so, they will brave every thing, and in that case I must not alarm them. The Marquis took the taper, which lighted his chamber, and placed it in a back room, which opened on the interior corridor of the house. Carefully opening the terrace window, he took refuge behind a group of trees, exactly opposite his room. The clock of Sorrento struck three—the night was clear and brilliant, and the sky was strewn with diamond stars—the air was soft and warm. It was a night for love and lovers.

To Maulear it was a night of agony and torture. All around was so calm and tranquil that the slightest noise fell on his ear,—he soon heard a door open. Maulear fixed his eyes on the point of the terrace from which the sound proceeded—his whole existence seemed concentrated in the single sense of sight. Something cloudlike, vapory and undefinable, which seemed too ethereal for earth, gradually appeared at the extreme end of the terrace. This mysterious figure seemed to glide, rather than walk, towards the place where Maulear was concealed; it approached him slowly, without motion or sound to betray its steps. Wrapped in long white drapery, like a mantle of vapor, resembling those creations of Ossian which formed often the clouds of evening; in short, one might have believed that she had risen from the earth, and had come to dissolve under the first rays of the sun, or of the moon. The phantom disappeared for a few seconds, amidst a dark grove, which projected on the terrace the lofty trunks of large forest trees—but when she emerged from their shade, and re-entered that portion of the terrace light and brilliant, she approached so near to Maulear, that he was enabled to examine and recognize her.

This graceful and vapory phantom was Aminta. Maulear expected it, but he felt not the less a distressing grief, in thus recognizing her. It seemed to him that the last plank of the wreck had broken under his feet, and that he had fallen into the depth of despair. But soon anger smothered the last cry of a love now no longer felt—and Maulear rushed in pursuit of Aminta, when he saw her, to his great surprise, stop before the window of his apartment. Then reaching out her hand she pushed open the door and entered the room, which was partially lighted by the moon.

"What is she doing," said Maulear, with amazement, "what business has she in this room?"

An idea struck him. My presentiment did not deceive me. The first time she appeared on this terrace, she was coming to this room which was once occupied by her lover Gaetano. Crossing the terrace rapidly, he glided near the window with rage in his heart and his mind excited—for a guilty project, which he would had he been cooler have repelled, attacked him, with all its seductions. Without longer hesitation he returned to his room, shut the terrace door, and looked in the dark for Aminta. Aminta, however, sat at a window which the moon did not light, and which opened on the court of the villa. She seemed to listen anxiously to some distant noise, perceptible only to her ear. So great was her preoccupation that she paid no attention to Maulear's entrance. Surprised at this statue-like immobility, Maulear approached the young girl.

"Silence, Marietta," said she, without looking around, "I promised to see him go. He has kept his word, for I yet hear, in the distance, the gallop of his horse. Bring the light and place it in the window. He knows my room, in which we played so often when we were children, and far down the road he will see it burning. My remembering him will please him. He will see that, if he watches over me, I pray for him to bring me good news to-morrow—Gaetano is so kind."

"Gaetano!" said Maulear, in spite of himself.

"Yes—yes, Gaetano," continued the young girl, "will watch over Taddeo during this unfortunate trial, for I know all. But say nothing, Marietta. Poor Taddeo—Gaetano has told me. His letter, yesterday, comforted me. Taddeo is no longer compromised. Gaetano assured me. But this evening in the park he confirmed all, and has promised to go to Naples to be present at the trial."

Aminta at once became silent, and sitting in an arm-chair near the window, appeared to sleep soundly, for the noise of her breathing was alone heard. Maulear, erect, motionless, with an icy brow, neither saw nor heard. A thousand confused ideas filled his mind. A revelation, strange and unforeseen, put an end to his suffering and dissipated his fears, by exhibiting the incomprehensible mystery under which he had been. Aminta was sleeping. Her sleep was of that somnambulist character, so common in this country of moral and physical excitement. While dreaming, Aminta had told and taught him every thing. She was innocent and pure. Yet in doubt, hesitating as the victim does, who when he marches to punishment receives a pardon, wishing to convince himself of the reality of all that passed, he went into the next room and came out with the light. Directing the rays obliquely so that they fell on the downcast lids of Aminta, he placed the lamp at some distance from her, and saw what till then no man had ever seen. He saw this beautiful creature in a night neglige, enveloped by clouds of white drapery, which a troubled sleep had gracefully disarranged. He saw a charming childlike foot half out of the slipper, glistening silvery in the light. A prey at once to the greatest agitation and repentance at having suspected her, Maulear fell on his knees. The motion thus made or some other circumstance aroused her.

"Where am I?" said she, looking uncertainly around her; seeing Maulear at her feet, she continued:

"A man here—with me—in my room—"

She sought to rise, but being yet under the influence of the half sleep, sank again on her chair.

"Be silent, Signorina!" said Maulear, in a low tone.

"You! you! Signor," said Aminta, recognizing him and drawing back with terror. "You at my feet, at night, for all is dark around us, and the light is burning. But where am I? this room—it is the one in which I promised Gaetano to place the light."

Passing her hand across her brow, to collect her ideas and wipe away her doubts, she said:

"But this is not my room. I occupy one next to my mother.... Ah, I remember; it was mine once, but it was given to the Marquis, to you," said she, blushing. She arose. "And this night-dress," said she, looking at her disordered toilette, "in your presence—Signor," added she, clasping her hands, "by your honor, I beseech you, tell me how I came hither."

"When you slept," said the Marquis, seeking to calm her.

"As I slept?" repeated the young girl, "as I dreamed.—Ah, I see, this sleep, this waking sleep to which I am often liable. Ah! mother, mother, why did you not watch me?"

Concealing her face in her hands, she began to shed tears.

"Of what, Signorina, are you afraid? You are under the protection of my faith, honor, and love."

"Signor, I am lost if any one finds me here. Let me return," said she, attempting to go.

Just then a horrible cry was uttered out of doors. A mingling of the lion's roar and wolf's howl, a very jackal's yell. It echoed through the villa, and was repeated by all the groves and dells of Sorrento. It was uttered on the terrace. Thither Aminta and Maulear looked, and saw a hideous spectacle. The face of Scorpione, pale, and denoting both ill-temper and sickness, was pressed against the closed window. He moved to and fro, now rising up and then descending, as if he sought some means to open the window and enter the room. His eyes, rendered more glittering by hatred, cast glances of vengeance on Aminta and Maulear. His long wiry fingers passed rapidly across the glass, which was the only object that separated them.

Aminta yielding to terror, caused by the sight of the monster, without any calculation or regard of any thing except the violence of Scorpione, rushed into Maulear's arms in search of protection and aid.

"Right, right," said Maulear, "no danger shall befall you while enfolded in these arms." Taking her then towards the door of the corridor, he said: "Come, come, no danger can befall you here."

Scorpione, however, perceiving what Maulear was about to do, and seeing him going towards the door, uttered a second cry more terrible than the first. He broke the glass, and sought to reach the clasp which made the window fast. In the mean time, Maulear had reached the other door, and was about to escape. He, however, heard steps hurrying from every direction down the corridor. The cries of Scorpione had awakened all the house, and just as the wretch tore open the window and precipitated himself into the chamber, relations, friends and guests of the house, who had collected on the terrace and corridor, rushed in with him. Signora Rovero was the last to come.

"My daughter!" cried she, running towards Aminta.

The poor tearful mother, not accusing that child whom her heart told her was innocent, without anger on her lip or reproach in her eye, sought only to shroud Aminta's form in the garments which scarcely sufficed to cover it, and in a calm and confiding voice listened to the explanations of Maulear. The collection of all of these people, aroused from their sleep and grouped in the half-lighted room, was a strange picture;—Signora Rovero holding her daughter in her arms, Maulear with his hand lifted to heaven and protesting that Aminta was innocent, Scorpione with his hands blood-stained by the broken glass, his hair disheveled, his looks haggard, and his violence restrained by the servants, who kept the beast from rushing on the Marquis.

"Signora," said Maulear, speaking to Aminta's mother, "on my life and honor, I declare to you that this young woman came hither without her own consent, and led by a blind chance."

Maulear was about to continue, when Aminta recovering her energy, said with a voice full of emotion, but in a tone instinct with a pure and chaste heart:

"You need not defend me, Marquis; it is useless to repel suspicion from me. A young woman of my character and name, the daughter of the Rovero, need not justify herself from the imputation of a crime, which she would die rather than commit."

She could say no more, for her strength was exhausted, and the power of her mind had consumed the artificial and nervous capacity of her body, which was greatly overtasked. Aminta was ill. With her beautiful head resting on her mother's shoulder, she was taken to her room. All withdrew in silence.

On the features of some, however, especially of the young men whom Aminta had rejected, an incredulousness of such virtue might have been read. It was hard to conceive how she came to be at midnight in the room of the Marquis of Maulear.



[18] Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1850, by Stringer & Townsend, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New-York.

From Chambers' Papers for the People.


We welcome the indications, now crowding upon us from every quarter, that the people of this country are beginning to feel the importance of taking active measures for the establishment and increase of public libraries. Large collections of books, open for common use, are at once the storehouses and the manufactories of learning and science; they bring together the accumulated fruits of the experience, the research, and the genius of other ages and distant nations, as well as of our own time and land; and they create the taste, as well as furnish the indispensable aids for the prosecution of literary and scientific effort in every department. In great cities they qualify the exclusive spirit of commercial and professional avocations, and encourage men to steal an hour from the pursuit of gain, and devote it to the attempt to satisfy a natural curiosity and to cultivate an elegant taste. Connected with literary and academical institutions, they supply the means and multiply the objects of study, and keep alive that enthusiasm in the cause of letters without which nothing great or permanent can ever be accomplished. Their establishment is a boon to all classes of society, and all may find in them both recreation and employment; for as the poet Crabbe says:—

"Here come the grieved, a change of thought to find;— The curious here to feed a craving mind; Here the devout their peaceful temple choose; And here the poet meets his favoring muse."

The origin of libraries is involved in obscurity. According to some, the distinction of having first made collections of writings belongs to the Hebrews; but others ascribe this honor to the Egyptians. Osymandyas, one of the ancient kings of Egypt, who flourished some 600 years after the deluge, is said to have been the first who founded a library. The temple in which he kept his books was dedicated at once to religion and literature, and placed under the especial protection of the divinities, with whose statues it was magnificently adorned. It was still further embellished by a well-known inscription, for ever grateful to the votary of literature: on the entrance was engraven, "The nourishment of the soul," or, according to Diodorus, "The medicine of the mind." It probably contained works of very remote antiquity, and also the books accounted sacred by the Egyptians, all of which perished amidst the destructive ravages which accompanied and followed the Persian invasion under Cambyses. There was also, according to Eustathius and other ancient authors, a fine library at Memphis, deposited in the Temple of Phtha, from which Homer has been accused of having stolen both the "Iliad" and the "Odyssey," and afterwards published them as his own. From this charge, however, the bard has been vindicated by various writers, and by different arguments.

But the most superb library of Egypt, perhaps of the ancient world, was that of Alexandria. About the year 290 B. C., Ptolemy Soter, a learned prince, founded an academy at Alexandria called the Museum, where there assembled a society of learned men, devoted to the study of philosophy and the sciences, and for whose use he formed a collection of books, the number of which has been variously computed—by Epiphanius at 54,000, and by Josephus at 200,000. His son, Ptolemy Philadelphus, an equally liberal and enlightened prince, collected great numbers of books in the Temple of Serapis, in addition to those accumulated by his father, and at his death left in it upwards of 100,000 volumes. He had agents in every part of Asia and of Greece, commissioned to search out and purchase the rarest and most valuable writings; and among those he procured were the works of Aristotle, and the Septuagint version of the Jewish Scriptures, which was undertaken at the suggestion of Demetrius Phalerius, his first librarian. The measures adopted by this monarch for augmenting the Alexandrian Library were pursued by his successor, Ptolemy Euergetes, with unscrupulous vigor. He caused all books imported into Egypt by Greeks or other foreigners to be seized and sent to the Museum, where they were transcribed by persons employed for the purpose; and when this was done, the copies were delivered to the proprietors, and the originals deposited in the library. He refused to supply the famished Athenians with corn until they presented him with the original manuscripts of AEschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides; and in returning elegant copies of these autographs, he allowed the owners to retain the fifteen talents (more than L3000 sterling) which he had pledged with them as a princely security. As the Museum, where the library was originally founded, stood near the royal palace, in that quarter of the city called Brucheion, all writings were at first deposited there; but when this building had been completely occupied with books, to the number of 400,000, a supplemental library was erected within the Serapeion, or Temple of Serapis, and this gradually increased till it contained about 300,000 volumes—making in both libraries a grand total of 700,000 volumes.

The Alexandrian Library continued in all its splendor until the first Alexandrian war, when, during the plunder of the city, the Brucheion portion of the collection was accidentally destroyed by fire, owing to the recklessness in the auxiliary troops. But the library of the Serapeion still remained, and was augmented by subsequent donations, particularly by that of the Pergamean Library of 200,000 volumes,[19] presented by Mark Antony to Cleopatra, so that it soon equalled the former, both in the number and in the value of its contents. At length, after various revolutions under the Roman Emperors, during which the collection was sometimes plundered and sometimes reestablished, it was utterly destroyed by the Saracens at the command of the Caliph Omar, when they acquired possession of Alexandria in A. D. 642. Amrou, the victorious general, was himself inclined to spare this inestimable treasury of ancient science and learning, but the ignorant and fanatical caliph, to whom he applied for instructions, ordered it to be destroyed. "If," said he, "these writings of the Greeks agree with the Koran, they are useless, and need not be preserved; if they disagree, they are pernicious, and ought to be destroyed." The sentence of destruction was executed with blind obedience. The volumes of parchment or papyrus were distributed as fuel among the five thousand baths of the city; but such was their incredible number, that it took six months to consume them. This act of barbarism, recorded by Abulpharagius, is considered somewhat doubtful by Gibbon, in consequence of its not being mentioned by Eutychius and Almacin, two of the most ancient chroniclers. It seems inconsistent, too, with the character of Amrou, as a poet and a man of superior intelligence; but that the Alexandrian Library was thus destroyed is a fact generally credited, and deeply deplored by historians. Amrou, as a man of genius and learning, may have grieved at the order of the caliph, while, as a loyal subject and faithful soldier, he felt bound to obey.

Among the Greeks, as among other nations, the first library consisted merely of archives, deposited, for the sake of preservation, in the temples of the gods. Pisistratus, the tyrant of Athens, was the first who established a public library in his native city, which, we need not say, always took the lead in every thing relating to science and literature in Greece. Here he deposited the works of Homer, which he had collected together with great difficulty and at a very considerable expense; and the Athenians themselves were at much pains to increase the collection. The fortunes of this library were various and singular. It was transported to Persia by Xerxes, brought back by Seleucus Nicator, plundered by Sylla, and at last restored by the Emperor Hadrian. On the invasion of the Roman Empire by the Goths, Greece was ravaged; and on the sack of Athens, they had collected all the libraries, and were upon the point of setting fire to this funeral pile of ancient learning, when one of their chiefs interposed, and dissuaded them from their design, observing, at the same time, that as long as the Greeks were addicted to the study of books, they would never apply themselves to that of arms.

The first library established at Rome was that founded by Paulus Emilius, in the year B. C. 167. Having subdued Perses, king of Macedonia, he enriched the city of Rome with the library of the conquered monarch, which was subsequently augmented by Sylla. On his return from Asia, where he had successfully terminated the first war against Mithridates, Sylla visited Athens, whence he took with him the library of Apellicon the Teian, in which were the works of Aristotle and Theophrastus. Lucullus, another conqueror of Mithridates, was not less distinguished by his taste for books. The number of volumes in his library was immense, and they were written in the most distinct and elegant manner. But the use which he made of his collection was still more honorable to that princely Roman than the acquisition or possession of it. "It was a library," says Plutarch, "whose walls, galleries, and cabinets were open to all visitors; and the ingenious Greeks, when at leisure, resorted to this abode of the Muses, to hold literary conversations, in which Lucullus himself loved to join." But although both Sylla and Lucullus liberally gave public access to their literary treasures, still their libraries can, in strictness, be considered as only private collections. Among the various projects which Julius Caesar had formed for the embellishment of Rome, was that of a public library, which should contain the largest possible collection of Greek and Latin works; and he had assigned to Varro the duty of selecting and arranging them. But this design was frustrated by the assassination of the dictator, and the establishment of public libraries did not take place in Rome until the reign of Augustus.

The honor of having first established these valuable institutions is ascribed by the elder Pliny to Asinius Pollio, who erected a public library in the Court of Liberty, on the Aventine Hill. The credit which he gained thereby was so great, that the emperors became ambitious to illustrate their reigns by the foundation of libraries, many of which they called after their own names. Augustus was himself an author, and in one of those sumptuous buildings called Thermoe, ornamented with porticoes, galleries, and statues, with shady walks and refreshing baths, he testified his love of literature by adding a magnificent library, which he fondly called by the name of his sister Octavia. The Palatine Library, formed by the same emperor, in the Temple of Apollo, became the haunt of the poets, as Horace, Juvenal, and Perseus have commemorated. There were deposited the corrected books of the Sibyls; and from two ancient inscriptions, quoted by Lipsius and Pitiscus, it would seem that it consisted of two distinct collections—one Greek, and the other Latin. This library having survived the various revolutions of the Roman Empire, existed until the time of Gregory the Great, whose mistaken zeal led him to order all the writings of the ancients to be destroyed. The successors of Augustus, though they did not equally encourage learning, were not altogether neglectful of its interests. Suetonius informs us that Tiberius founded a library in the new Temple of Apollo; and we learn from some incidental notices that he instituted another, called the Tiberian, in his own house, consisting chiefly of works relating to the empire and the acts of its sovereigns. Vespasian, following the example of his predecessors, established a library in the Temple of Peace, which he erected after the burning of the city by order of Nero; and even Domitian, in the commencement of his reign, restored at great expense the libraries which had been destroyed by the conflagration, collecting copies of books from every quarter, and sending persons to Alexandria to transcribe volumes in that celebrated collection, or to correct copies which had been made elsewhere. But the most magnificent of all the libraries founded by the sovereigns of imperial Rome was that of the Emperor Ulpius Trajanus, from whom it was denominated the Ulpian Library. It was erected in Trajan's Forum, but afterwards removed to the Viminal Hill, to ornament the baths of Diocletian. In this library were deposited the elephantine books, written upon tablets of ivory, wherein were recorded the transactions of the emperors, the proceedings of the senate and Roman magistrates, and the affairs of the provinces. It has been conjectured that the Ulpian Library consisted of both Greek and Latin works; and some authors affirm, that Trajan commanded that all the books found in the cities he had conquered should be immediately conveyed to Rome, in order to increase his collection. The library of Domitian having been consumed by lightning in the reign of Commodus, was not restored until the time of Gordian, who rebuilt the edifice, and founded a new library, adding thereto the collection of books bequeathed to him by Quintus Serenus Samonicus, the physician, and amounting, it is said, to no fewer than 72,000 volumes.

In addition to the imperial libraries, there were others to which the public had access in the principal cities and colonies of the empire. Pliny mentions one which he had founded for the use of his countrymen; and Vopiscus informs us that the Emperor Tacitus caused the historical writings of his illustrious namesake to be deposited in the libraries. The number of calcined volumes which have been excavated from the ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii would also seem to indicate that collections of books were common in those cities. But the irruptions of the barbarians, who overran and desolated the Western Empire, proved more destructive to the interests of literature than either volcanoes or earthquakes, and soon caused the disappearance of those libraries which, during several centuries, had been multiplied in Italy. Those of the East, however, escaped this devastating torrent; and both Alexandria and Constantinople preserved their literary treasures, until their capture by the Saracens and the Turks, who finally subverted the Eastern Empire.

When Constantine the Great made Byzantium the seat of his empire, he decorated that city with splendid edifices, and called it after his own name. Desirous to make reparation to the Christians for the injuries they had suffered during the reign of his predecessor, he commanded the most diligent search to be made after those books which Diocletian had doomed to destruction; he caused transcripts to be made of such as had escaped the fury of the pagan persecutor; and, having collected others from various quarters, he formed the whole into a library at Constantinople. At the death of Constantine, however, the number of books in the imperial library was only 6900; but it was successively enlarged by the Emperors Julian and Theodosius the younger, who augmented it to 120,000 volumes. Of these more than half were burned during the seventh century, by command of the Emperor Leo III., who thus sought to destroy all the monuments that might be quoted in proof respecting his opposition to the worship of images. In this library was deposited the only authentic copy of the proceedings at the Council at Nice; and it is also said to have contained the poems of Homer written in gold letters, together with a magnificent copy of the Four Gospels, bound in plates of gold, enriched with precious stones, all of which perished in the conflagration. The convulsions which distracted the lower empire were by no means favorable to the interests of literature. In the eleventh century learning flourished for a short time during the reign of Constantine Porphyrogennetus; and this emperor is said to have employed many learned Greeks in collecting books, and forming a library, the arrangement of which he himself superintended. But the final subversion of the Eastern Empire, and the capture of Constantinople in 1453, dispersed the literati of Greece over western Europe, and placed the literary remains of that capital at the mercy of the conqueror. The imperial library, however, was preserved by the express command of Mohammed, and continued, it is said, to be kept in some apartments of the seraglio; but whether it was sacrificed in a fit of devotion by Amurath IV., as is commonly supposed, or whether it was suffered to fall into decay from ignorance and neglect, it is now certain that the library of the sultan contains only Turkish and Arabic writings, and not a single Greek or Latin manuscript of any importance.

Such is a brief survey of the most celebrated libraries of ancient times. Before we proceed to describe those of modern days, we shall offer a few remarks on the extent of ancient as compared with modern collections of books. The National Library of Paris contains upwards of 824,000 volumes, and is the largest in existence. It will be easy to prove that it is the largest that ever has existed.

The number of writers, and consequently of books, in the bright days of Egypt, Greece, and Rome, could not have been very great. It must, on the contrary, have been limited by various causes, which contributed powerfully to retard the composition of new works, and prevent the multiplication of new editions. In fact, the histories of cities and of nations, together with descriptions of the earth, which have become exhaustless sources for the writers of modern times, must have been but sterile themes at a period in which history was confined within the limits of a few centuries, and hardly a sixth part of the world now known had been discovered. Add to these considerations the difficulties of communication, by which the inhabitants of different countries, and often those of different sections of the same country, were kept apart, together with the number of arts and sciences which were either wholly unknown, or confined within very narrow bounds, and it will become evident, that for every thirty or forty authors of the present day, ancient Europe could hardly have supported one or two.

Another circumstance which may be adduced in support of our proposition, is the fact, that an increase in the number of readers leads to a proportionate augmentation in the number of works prepared for their gratification. We have every reason to suppose that the reading class of the ancient world was small in comparison with that of the modern. Even setting aside the circumstance of the narrow limits by which the creative literature of ancient Europe was bounded—Greece and Rome being almost the only nations whence new productions were derived—we shall still be constrained to acknowledge the vast distance which separates the creative literary power of modern from that of ancient times. Our schools, which abound with such a variety of class-books upon every subject, bear little or no resemblance to those of Greece and Rome; nor can the text-books prepared for our universities be brought into comparison with the oral instructions of the old philosophers. Passing by, also, the subjects which have been opened to our research by the discoveries of modern science, and confining our attention to the single branch of philosophy, in the old sense of the word, which has always been more or less studied and disputed upon since the days of the earliest Greeks, we shall probably find that the productions of any one modern school outnumber those of the whole body of Greek philosophers. How much more would the balance lean towards the moderns were we to add all the varieties of the French, German, English, and Scottish schools, to say nothing of those whose tenacious subtleties have procured them the name of schoolmen! If, going a step further, we consider that reading, which the peculiar cast of modern civilization has classed among the luxuries of life, is one of those luxuries, in the enjoyment of which all classes come in for a share, we shall find here also a wide distinction between ancient times and our own. During that epoch of splendid decay, in which the immense wealth of the Roman senators was found insufficient to satisfy the longings for new forms of stimulant and of pleasure, their reading, as we are told by Ammianus Marcellinus, a contemporary historian, was confined to the writings of Marius Maximus and Juvenal. What would they not have given for a modern novel, or to what unlimited extent would the imagination have poured forth its fantastic creations, had the art of printing been at hand to keep pace with the productive powers of the mind, and the cravings of a morbid intellect? On every score, therefore, the numerical difference between the intellectual wealth of ancient and of modern Europe must have been decidedly in favor of the latter.

The high price of the materials for writing, and the difficulty of procuring them, must also have been a great obstacle to the multiplication of books. When copies could only be procured by the slow and expensive process of transcription, it seems impossible to suppose that a large number could have been usually prepared of any ordinary work. Those of our readers who are aware that only about four hundred and fifty copies of the celebrated Princeps editions were struck off, will readily assent to the correctness of this opinion. The barbarous system of ancient warfare must have also caused the destruction of a great many works, raised the price of others, and rendered extremely difficult—not to say impossible—the accumulation of a very large number in any one place. The difficulties which the bibliomaniacs of our own times encounter in procuring copies of the editions of the fifteenth century, and the extravagant prices at which some of them have been sold, are enough to show how small a part of an entire edition has been able to pass safely through the short space of four centuries. How few copies, then, of a work written in the time of Alexander, could have reached the age of Augustus or of Trajan! With facts like these before us, how can we talk of libraries of 700,000 or 800,000 volumes in the ancient world? When we find it so difficult at the present day, in spite of the testimony of intelligent travellers, and of all the advantages we possess for making our estimates, to ascertain the truth with regard to the great libraries of modern Europe, how can we give credit to the contradictory and exaggerated statements which were promulgated in ages of the darkest ignorance concerning ancient Rome and Alexandria? "After an attentive examination of this subject," says that eminent bibliographer M. Balbi, "it seems to me improbable, if I should not rather say impossible, that any library of ancient Europe, or of the middle ages, could have contained more than 300,000 or 400,000 volumes."

But even allowing 700,000 volumes to the largest of the Alexandrian libraries—that, namely, of which a great part was accidentally destroyed during the wars of Julius Caesar—allowing the same number to the library of Tripoli, and to that of Cairo; and admitting that the third library of Alexandria contained 600,000 volumes, and the Ulpian of Rome, and the Cordovan founded by Al-Hakem, an equal number—it will still be easy to show that the whole amount of one of these was not equal to even a fifth part of a library composed of printed books.

Every one who has had any thing to do with publication, is well aware of the great difference between the space occupied by the written and that filled by the printed letters. It is well known that the volumes of ancient libraries consisted of rolls, which generally were written only on one side. Thus the written surface of one of these volumes would correspond to but half the written surface of one of our books, of which every page is covered with letters. A library, then, composed of 100,000 rolls, would contain no more matter than one of our libraries composed of 50,000 manuscripts. It is well known, also, that a work was divided into as many rolls as the books which it contained. Thus the Natural History of Pliny, which in the Princeps edition of Venice forms but one folio volume, would, since it is divided into thirty-seven books, have formed thirty-seven rolls or volumes. If it were possible to compare elements of so different a nature, we should say that these rolls might be compared to the sheets of our newspapers, or to the numbers of our weekly serials. What would become of the great library of Paris were we to suppose its 824,000 volumes in folio, quarto, &c., to be but so many numbers of five or six sheets each? Yet this is the rule by which we ought to estimate the literary wealth of the great libraries of ancient times; and "hence," says M. Balbi, "notwithstanding the imposing array of authorities which can be brought against us, we must persist in believing that no library of antiquity, or of the middle ages, can be considered as equivalent to a modern one of 100,000 or 110,000 volumes."

No one of the libraries of the first class now in existence dates beyond the fifteenth century. The Vatican, the origin of which has been frequently carried back to the days of St. Hilarius in 465, cannot with any propriety be said to have deserved the name of library before the reign of Pope Martin V., by whose order it was removed in 1417 from Avignon to Rome. And even then a strict attention to exactitude would require us to withhold from it this title until the period of its final organization by Nicholas V. in 1447. It is difficult to speak with certainty concerning the libraries, whether public or private, supposed to have existed previous to the fifteenth century, both on account of the doubtful authority and indefiniteness of the passages in which they are mentioned, and the custom which so readily obtained in those dark ages of dignifying with the name of library every petty collection of insignificant codices. But many libraries of the fifteenth century being in existence, and others having been preserved long enough to make them the subject of historical inquiry before their dissolution, it becomes easier to fix with satisfactory accuracy the date of their foundation. We find, accordingly, that during the fifteenth century ten libraries were formed: the Vatican at Rome, the Laurentian at Florence, the Imperial of Vienna and Ratisbon, the University at Turin, the Malatestiana at Cesena, the Marciana at Venice, the Bodleian at Oxford, the University at Copenhagen, and the City at Frankfort on the Maine. The Palatine of Heidelberg was founded in 1390, dispersed in 1623, restored in 1652, and augmented in 1816.

The increase of the libraries of Europe has generally been slowly progressive, although there have been periods of sudden augmentation in nearly all of them. They began with a small number of manuscripts; sometimes with a few, and often without any printed works. To these gradual accessions were made from the different sources which have always been more or less at the command of sovereigns and nobles. In 1455 the Vatican contained 5000 manuscripts. In 1685, after an interval of more than two centuries, the number of its manuscripts had only risen to 16,000, and that of the printed volumes did not exceed 25,000. In 1789, but little more than a century later, the number of manuscripts had been doubled, and the printed volumes amounted to 40,000.

Far different was the progress of the Royal, or as it is now called, the National Library of Paris. The origin of this institution is placed in the year 1595—the date of its removal from Fontainebleau to Paris by order of Henry IV. In 1660 it contained only 1435 printed volumes. In the course of the following year this number was raised to 16,746, both printed volumes and manuscripts. During the ensuing eight years the library was nearly doubled; and before the close of the subsequent century, it was supposed to have been augmented by upwards of 100,000 volumes.

In most cases the chief sources of these augmentations have been individual legacies and the purchase of private collections. Private libraries, as our readers are doubtless well aware, began to be formed long before public ones were thought of. Like these, they have their origin in the taste, or caprice, or necessities of their founders, and are of more or less value, as one or the other of these motives has presided over their formation. But when formed by private students with a view to bring together all that has been written upon some single branch of science, or by amateurs skilled in the principles of bibliography, they become more satisfactory and complete than they could possibly be made under any other circumstances. Few of them, however, are preserved long after the death of the original collector; but falling into the hands of heirs possessed of different tastes and feelings, are either sold off by auction, or restored to the shelves of the bookseller. It was by availing themselves of such opportunities that the directors of the public libraries of Europe made their most important acquisitions. This is, in short, the history of the Imperial Library of Vienna; and it can hardly be necessary to add, that it was thus that the rarest and most valuable portions of that collection were brought together.[20] It was thus, also, that the Vatican acquired, some twenty years ago, by the purchase of the library of Count Cicognara, a body of materials illustrative of the history of the arts, which leaves comparatively little to be wished for by the most diligent historian. It can hardly be necessary to enlarge upon this subject. Every one who has engaged, even in a small degree, in historical researches, must have observed how soon he gets out of the track of common readers, and how dark and difficult his way becomes, unless he chance to meet with some guide among those who, confining their attention to a single branch of study, have become familiar with, and gathered around them almost every thing which can serve to throw light upon it. And when a public institution has gone on through a long course of years adding to the works derived from other sources these carefully chosen stores of the learned, it is easy to conceive how much it must contribute, not merely towards the gratification of literary curiosity, but to the actual progress of literature.

From these general considerations respecting modern libraries, we proceed to give some particulars which may serve to convey an idea of the history, character, and contents of the principal book-collections now in existence; and with this view, as well as for convenient reference, we shall arrange them under the respective heads of British Libraries, and Foreign Libraries.


1. British Museum Library, London.—There is probably no other public institution in Great Britain which is regarded with so great and general interest as the British Museum. By the variety of its departments, this splendid national depository of literature, and objects of natural history and antiquities, meets in some way the particular taste of almost every class of society. The department of Natural History, in its three divisions of Zoology, Botany, and Mineralogy, contains a collection of specimens unsurpassed, probably unequalled, in the world. The department of antiquities is in some particulars unrivalled for the number and value of the articles it contains. But the library is the crowning glory of the whole. If, in respect to the number of volumes it contains, it does not yet equal the National Library of Paris, the Royal Library of Munich, or the Imperial Library of St. Petersburg—in almost every other respect, such as the value and usefulness of the books, the arrangements for their convenient and safe keeping, and, in fact, in every matter pertaining to its internal arrangements, the library of the British Museum, by the concurrent testimony of competent witnesses from various countries, must take rank above all similar institutions in the world. Well may the people of this country regard the Museum with pride and pleasure. The liberal grants of parliament, and the munificent bequests of individuals, are sure indications of a strong desire and purpose to continue and extend its advantages.

Some idea of the magnitude of the Museum, and of its vast resources, may be formed by considering that the buildings alone in which this great collection is deposited have cost, since the year 1823, nearly L700,000; and the whole expenditure for purchases, exclusive of the cost of the buildings just named, is considerably more than L1,100,000. Besides this liberal outlay by the British Government, there have been numerous magnificent bequests from individuals. The acquisitions from private munificence were estimated, for the twelve years preceding 1835, at not less than L400,000. The latest considerable bequest was that of the Right Hon. Thomas Grenville: his library, which he gave to the Museum entire, was valued at L50,000. The annual receipts of the institution of late years, from parliamentary grants and the interest of private legacies, have been about L50,000. The number of visitors to the Museum is immense. In the year 1848 they amounted to 897,985, being an average of about 3000 visitors per day for every day the Museum is open. On special occasions there have been as many as thirty thousand visitors on a single day.

This noble institution may be said to have originated in the bequest of Sir Hans Sloane, who, dying in 1752, left his immense collections of every kind to the nation, on the condition of paying L20,000 in legacies to different individuals; a sum considerably less than the intrinsic value of the medals, coins, gems, and precious metals of his museum. This bequest included a library of 50,000 volumes, among which were 3566 volumes of manuscripts in different languages; a herbarium of 334 volumes; other objects of natural history, to the number of six-and-thirty or forty thousand, and the house at Chiswick, in which the whole was deposited. The Harleian collection of manuscripts, amounting to 7600 volumes, chiefly relating to the history of England, and including, among many other curious documents, 40,000 ancient charters and rolls, being about the same time offered for sale, parliament voted a sum of L30,000, to be raised by lottery, and vested in trustees, for the establishment of a National Museum. Of this money, L20,000 were paid to the legatees of Sir Hans Sloane, L10,000 were given for the Harleian Manuscripts, and L10,000 for Montague House as a receptacle for the whole. Sloane's Museum was removed thither with the consent of his trustees. In 1757, George II., by an instrument under the great seal, added the library of the kings of England, the printed books of which had been collected from the time of Henry VII., the manuscripts from a much earlier date. This collection was very rich in the prevailing literature of different periods, and it included, amongst others, the libraries of Archbishop Cranmer, and of the celebrated scholar Isaac Casaubon. His majesty annexed to his gift the privilege which the royal library had acquired in the reign of Queen Anne, of being supplied with a copy of every publication entered at Stationers' Hall; and in 1759 the British Museum was opened to the public.[21]

The value of the library has been greatly enhanced by magnificent donations, and by immense parliamentary purchases. In 1763, George III. enriched it with a collection of pamphlets and periodical papers, published in England between 1640 and 1660, and chiefly illustrative of the civil wars in the time of Charles I., by whom the collection was commenced. Among other valuable acquisitions may be mentioned Garrick's collection of old English plays, Mr. Thomas Tyrwhitt's library, Sir William Musgrave's collection of biography, the general library of the Rev. C. M. Cracherode, the libraries of M. Ginguene, Baron de Moll, Dr. Burney, and Sir R. C. Hoare; and above all, the bequest of Major Arthur Edwards, who left to it his noble library, and L7000 as a fund for the purchase of books. Four separate collections of tracts, illustrative of the revolutionary history of France, have been purchased at different times by the trustees, in the exercise of the powers with which they are invested. One of these was the collection formed by the last president of the parliament at Bretagne, at the commencement of the revolution; two others extended generally throughout the whole revolutionary period; and the fourth consisted of a collection of tracts, published during the reign of the Hundred Days in 1815—forming altogether a body of materials for the history of the revolution as complete in regard to France as the collection of pamphlets and tracts already mentioned is with respect to the civil wars of England in the time of Charles I. Another feature of the Museum Library is its progressive collection of newspapers, from the appearance of the first of these publications in 1588. Sir Hans Sloane had formed a great collection for his day. But to this was added, in 1818, the Burney collection, purchased at the estimated value of L1000; and since that period the Commissioners of Stamps have continued regularly to forward to the Museum, copies of all newspapers deposited by the publishers in their office.

In 1823, the Royal Library collected by George III. was presented to the British nation by his successor George IV., and ordered by parliament to be added to the library of the British Museum, but to be kept for ever separate from the other books in that institution. The general plan of its formation appears to have been determined on by George III., soon after his accession to the throne; and the first extensive purchase made for it was that of the library of Mr. Joseph Smith, British consul at Venice, in 1762, for which his majesty paid about L10,000. In 1768 Mr. (afterwards Sir Frederick) Barnard, the librarian, was despatched to the continent by his majesty; and as the Jesuits' houses were then being suppressed and their libraries sold throughout Europe, he was enabled to purchase, upon the most advantageous terms, a great number of very valuable books, including some very remarkable rarities, in France, Italy, and Germany. Under the judicious directions of Mr. Barnard, the entire collection was formed and arranged; it was enlarged during a period of sixty years, by an annual expenditure of about L2000, and it is in itself, perhaps, one of the most complete libraries of its extent that was ever formed. It contains selections of the rarest kind, particularly of scarce books which appeared in the first ages of the art of printing. It is rich in early editions of the classics, in books from the press of Caxton, in English history, and in Italian, French, and Spanish literature; and there is likewise a very extensive collection of geography and topography, and of the transactions of learned academies. The number of books in this library is 65,250, exclusively of a very numerous assortment of pamphlets; and it appears to have cost, in direct outlay, about L130,000, but it is estimated as worth at least L200,000.

The nucleus of the department of manuscripts at the British Museum was formed by the Harleian, Sloanean, and Cottonian collections. To these George II. added, in 1757, the manuscripts of the ancient royal library of England. Of these, one of the most remarkable is the "Codex Alexandrinus;" a present from Cyril, patriarch of Constantinople, to King Charles I. It is in four quarto volumes, written upon fine vellum, probably between the fourth and sixth centuries, and is believed to be the most ancient manuscript of the Greek Bible now extant. Many of the other manuscripts came into the royal collection at the time when the monastic institutions of Britain were destroyed; and some of them still retain upon their spare leaves the honest and hearty anathemas which the donors denounced against those who should alienate or remove the respective volumes from the places in which they had been originally deposited. This collection abounds in old scholastic divinity, and possesses many volumes, embellished by the most expert illuminators of different countries, in a succession of periods down to the sixteenth century. In it are also preserved an assemblage of the domestic music-books of Henry VIII., and the "Basilicon Doron" of James I. in his own handwriting. The Cottonian collection, which was purchased for the use of the public in 1701, and annexed by statute to the British Museum in 1753, consists of 861 manuscript volumes, including "Madox's Collections on the Exchequer," in ninety-four volumes, besides many precious documents connected with our domestic and foreign history, about the time of Elizabeth and James. It likewise contains numerous registers of English monasteries; a rich collection of royal and other original letters; and the manuscript called the "Durham Book," being a copy of the Latin Gospels, with an interlinear Saxon gloss, written about the year 800, illuminated in the most elaborate style of the Anglo-Saxons, and believed to have once belonged to the venerable Bede. The Harleian collection is still more miscellaneous, though historical literature in all its branches forms one of its principal features. It is particularly rich in heraldic and genealogical manuscripts; in parliamentary and legal proceedings; in ancient records and abbey registers; in manuscripts of the classics, amongst which is one of the earliest known of Homer's "Odyssey;" in missals, antiphonars, and other service-books of the Catholic Church; and in ancient English poetry. It possesses two very early copies of the Latin Gospels, written in gold letters; and also contains a large number of splendidly illuminated manuscripts, besides an extensive mass of correspondence. It further includes about three hundred manuscript Bibles or Biblical books, in Hebrew, Chaldaic, Greek, Arabic, and Latin; nearly two hundred volumes of writings of the fathers of the church; and a number of works on the arts and sciences, among which is a tract on the steam-engine, with plans, diagrams, and calculations by Sir Samuel Morland. The Sloanean collection consists principally of manuscripts on natural history, voyages and travels, on the arts, and especially on medicine.

In 1807 the collection of manuscripts formed by the first Marquis of Lansdowne was added to these libraries, having been purchased by parliament for L4925. It consists of 1352 volumes, of which 114 are Lord Burleigh's state papers, 46 Sir Julius Caesar's collections respecting the reigns of Elizabeth and James I., and 108 the historical collections of Bishop Kennet. Other valuable collections are the classical manuscripts of Dr. Charles Burney, the Oriental manuscripts collected by Messrs. Rich and Hull, and the Egyptian papyri presented by Sir J. G. Wilkinson. It would be endless, however, to enumerate these treasures; we have indicated enough to convince our readers that the library of the British Museum is worthy of the nation to which it belongs.

2. Bodleian Library, Oxford.—This institution, so called from the name of its illustrious founder, was established towards the close of the reign of Elizabeth by Sir Thomas Bodley, who, having become disgusted with some court intrigues, resigned all his employments about the year 1597, and resolved to spend the remainder of his life in a private station. Having thought of various plans to render himself useful, he says, "I concluded at the last to set up my staff at the library door in Oxon, being thoroughly persuaded that in my solitude and surcease from the commonwealth affairs, I could not busy myself to better purpose than by reducing that place, which then in every part lay ruined and waste, to the public use of students. For the effecting whereof I found myself furnished in a competent proportion of such four kinds of aids, as, unless I had them all, there was no hope of good success. For without some kind of knowledge, as well in the learned and modern tongues as in sundry other sorts of scholastical literature; without some purse-ability to go through with the charge; without great store of honorable friends to further the design; and without special good leisure to follow such a work, it could but have proved a vain attempt and inconsiderate." Having set himself this task—"a task," as his friend Camden justly says, "that would have suited the character of a crowned head"—Bodley despatched from London a letter to the vice-chancellor, offering not only to restore the building, but to provide a fund for the purchase of books, and the maintenance of proper officers. This offer being thankfully accepted, he commenced his undertaking by presenting to the library a large collection of books purchased on the continent, and valued at L10,000. He also collected 1294 rare manuscripts, which were afterwards increased to 6818, independently of 1898 in the Ashmolean Museum. Other collections and contributions were also, by his example and persuasion, presented to the new library; and the additions thus made soon swelled to such an amount that the old building was no longer sufficient to contain them. The edifice was accordingly enlarged; and Bodley thus had the proud satisfaction of seeing Oxford possessed, by his means, of such a library as might well bear comparison with the proudest in continental Europe. It would require a volume to contain an enumeration of the many important additions which have been made to this library by its numerous benefactors, or to admit even a sketch of its ample contents in almost every branch of literature and science. The Oriental manuscripts are the rarest and most beautiful to be found in any European collection; and the first editions of the classics, procured from the Pinelli and Crevenna libraries, rival those of Vienna. In a word, it is exceedingly rich in many departments in which most other libraries are deficient, and it forms altogether one of the noblest collections of which any university can boast.

3. University Library, Cambridge.—This is a library of considerable extent, and contains much that is valuable or curious both in the department of printed books and in that of manuscripts. The printed books comprise a fine series of editiones principes of the classics, and a very large proportion of the productions of Caxton's press. Among the manuscripts contained in it are the celebrated manuscript of the four Gospels and Acts of the Apostles, known by the name of the Codex Bezae, which was presented to the university by that distinguished reformer; Magna Charta, written on vellum; and a Koran upon cotton paper superbly executed. In the library of Trinity College, Cambridge, there are several exceedingly interesting literary curiosities; amongst others, some manuscripts in the handwriting of Milton, consisting of the original copy of the "Masque of Comus," several plans of "Paradise Lost," and the poems of "Lycidas," "Arcades," and others; and also Sir Isaac Newton's copy of his "Principia," with his manuscript notes, and his letters to Roger Coles.

4. Advocates' Library, Edinburgh.—This library was founded in 1682, at the instance of Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh, who was at that time Dean of Faculty, and the plan was carried into execution on a small scale, by a fund which had been formed out of the fines of members. It was originally intended that it should consist merely of the works of lawyers, and of such other books as were calculated to advance the study of jurisprudence; it now comprehends, in a greater or less degree, almost every branch of science, philosophy, jurisprudence, literature, and the arts. Its collection of historical works is very complete. Among the curiosities shown to visitors are a manuscript Bible of St. Jerome's translation, believed to have been written in the eleventh century, and known to have been used as the conventual copy of the Scriptures in the Abbey of Dunfermline; a copy of the first printed Bible, in two volumes, from the press of Faust and Guttenberg; the original Solemn League and Covenant, drawn up in 1580; and six copies of the Covenant of 1638. Among other manuscripts in the collection are the whole of the celebrated Wodrow Manuscripts, relating to the ecclesiastical history of Scotland, and the chartularies of many of the ancient religious houses. For its extent, no less than for the liberal principles upon which it is conducted, this deserves the name of the National Library of Scotland.

5. Trinity College Library, Dublin.—This library owed its establishment to a very curious incident. In the year 1603, the Spaniards were defeated by the English at the battle of Kinsale; determined to commemorate their victory by some permanent monument, the soldiers collected among themselves the sum of L1800, which they agreed to apply to the purchase of books for a public library, to be founded in the then infant institution of Trinity College. This sum was placed in the hands of the celebrated Dr. Usher, who immediately proceeded to London, and there purchased the books necessary for the purpose. It is a remarkable coincidence, that Usher, while occupied in purchasing these books, met in London Sir Thomas Bodley engaged in similar business, with a view to the establishment of his famous library at Oxford. From this commencement, the library of Trinity College was, at different periods, increased by many valuable donations, including that of Usher's own collection, consisting of 10,000 volumes, until at length its growing magnitude requiring a corresponding increase of accommodation, the present library-hall, a magnificent apartment of stately dimensions, was erected in the year 1732. Since that time numerous additions have been made to the library: amongst others, that of the library of the Pensionary Fagel, in 20,000 volumes, and the valuable classical and Italian books which had belonged to Mr. Quin; so that, altogether, the library of Trinity College now forms one of the first order, at least in this country.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10     Next Part
Home - Random Browse