The five libraries thus briefly described are the principal ones in the United Kingdom, and they are all entitled to receive a copy of every new work on its publication; so that they are continually on the increase, and enabled to keep pace with the activity of the press. Of the numerous other libraries in this country we have no space to give a detailed account, and must therefore content ourselves with merely indicating the names of the more extensive ones. In London are the libraries of the Royal Society and the Royal Institution; Sion College Library; Archbishop Tenison's Library; and Dr. Williams's Library, belonging to the Dissenters. The Lambeth Library of the Archbishop of Canterbury is exceedingly rich in ecclesiastical history and biblical literature. At Oxford and Cambridge, all the different colleges have libraries more or less extensive and valuable. Chetham's Library at Manchester is also worthy of mention. The library of the Writers to the Signet at Edinburgh is an excellent and valuable miscellaneous collection of books in science, law, history, geography, statistics, antiquities, literature, and the arts. Finally, the Scotch universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, St. Andrews, and Aberdeen, all possess academical libraries of considerable size, and which are steadily on the increase. Many of the above receive an annual grant of money from government, as a compensation for the withdrawal of the privilege of receiving copies of every book published in the kingdom. All such, at least, ought to be thrown open to the public, and doubtless soon will be.
1. National Library, Paris.—This library is justly considered as the finest in Europe. It was commenced under the reign of King John, who possessed only ten volumes, to which 900 were added by Charles V., many of them superbly illuminated by John of Bruges, the best artist in miniatures of that time. Under Francis I. it had increased to 1890 volumes, and under Louis XIII. to 16,746. In 1684 it possessed 50,542 volumes; in 1775 it amounted to above 150,000; and by 1790 it had increased to about 200,000. At present it contains 824,000 volumes of printed books, and 80,000 manuscripts. It is divided into four departments:—1. Printed books; 2. Manuscripts, charters, and diplomas; 3. Coins, medals, engraved stones, and other antique monuments; and 4. Engravings, including geographical charts and plans. Of the contents of this magnificent, nay, matchless collection, it would far exceed our limits to give any details, or even to enumerate its choicest articles. It is rich in every branch and department, unique in some, scarcely surpassed in any, and unrivalled in all taken together. Of books printed on vellum it contains at once the finest and most extensive collection in the world.
2. Arsenal Library, Paris.—This library, founded by the Marquis de Paulmy, formerly ambassador of France in Poland, was in 1781 acquired by the Count d'Artois, who united to it nearly the whole of the library of the Duke de la Valliere. It possesses the most complete collection extant of romances, since their origin in modern literature; of theatrical pieces or dramas, from the epoch of the Moralities and Mysteries; and of French poetry since the commencement of the sixteenth century. It is less rich in other branches, but it has all works of importance, and in particular contains historical collections which are not to be found elsewhere.
3. Library of Ste Genevieve, Paris.—The foundation of this library dates as early as the year 1624, when Cardinal de Rochefoucauld, having reformed the Abbey of Sainte-Genevieve, made it a present of 600 volumes. At present it contains 160,000 printed volumes and 2000 manuscripts. In it may be found all the academical collections, and a complete set of Aldines; it is particularly rich in historical works; and its most remarkable manuscripts are Greek and Oriental. Its typographical collections of the fifteenth century are not more valuable for their number than the high state of preservation in which they are found. This library is open of an evening, and is much resorted to by students, and men of the operative classes.
4. Mazarin Library, Paris.—This library, as its name denotes, was instituted by Cardinal Mazarin. The formation of it was intrusted to the learned Gabriel Naude, who, having first selected all that suited his purpose in the booksellers' shops in Paris, travelled into Holland, Italy, Germany, and England, where the letters of recommendation of which he was the bearer enabled him to collect many very rare and curious works. Cardinal Mazarin, by his will, bequeathed it to the college which he founded, and in 1688 it was made public. It is remarkable for a great number of collections containing detached pieces and small treatises, which date as far back as the fifteenth century, and exist nowhere else; nor has any other library so complete a body of the ancient books of law, theology, medicine, and the physical and mathematical sciences. It also possesses a most precious collection of the Lutheran or Protestant authors. In one of the halls are placed models in relief of the Pelasgic monuments of Italy and Greece; in another is a terrestrial globe, eighteen feet in diameter, formed of plates of copper, and executed by order of Louis XVI.; but this instrument, which is unique in Europe, is unfortunately unfinished, being destitute of several requisite circles.
5. National Library, Madrid.—This "is one of the many institutions which awaken the admiration of the stranger in Spain, as being at variance with the pervading decay." According to Mr. Ford, "it is rich in Spanish literature, especially theology and topography, and has been much increased numerically since the suppression of the convents; but good modern books are needed." It contains many valuable Greek, Latin, and Arabic manuscripts, and unedited works, chiefly Spanish. The Monetario, or cabinet of medals, is arranged in an elegant and beautiful apartment, and contains an unrivalled collection of Celtic, Phoenician, Greek, Roman, Gothic, Arabic, and modern coins and medals, in excellent preservation. The library is open to all, at least as far as the printed books are concerned.
6. Vatican Library, Rome.—Among the libraries of Italy, that of the Vatican at Rome stands preeminent, not more for its grandeur and magnificence, than for the inestimable treasures with which it is enriched. It was originated about the year 465 by Pope Hilary, and has been augmented by succeeding pontiffs, and by various princes, until it reached its present extent and value. Our space will not permit us to give any thing like a detailed account of its treasures; but we condense from Sir George Head's admirable work on Rome the following description of the grand saloon of the library:—"The principal chamber of the library appears to be 179 feet long by 51 broad. The ceiling is remarkable for presenting to the eye the appearance of a uniform extensive surface, as if it were a beautifully broad elliptical vault, though in fact it consists of a double range of groined arches that, springing on each side from the walls, and blending together in the middle, are supported on a row of six pillars planted in a line on the ground. These pillars are contrived, accordingly, of an oblong shape, so extremely narrow that, planted as they are longitudinally, and encompassed by large rectangular mahogany bookcases to serve as pedestals, they occupy but an inconsiderable space in the apartment when viewed edgewise by a spectator standing at the entrance, and from their form effectually counteract the appearance of weight, that would certainly otherwise be produced by the double vaulting. Moreover, while the lines of curvature slide as it were thus gently and harmoniously into the outline of the pillars, the transition of surface is the less perceptible, owing to the whole of the vault and pillars being painted in a uniform delicate pattern of arabesque, by Zuccari, as it is affirmed; but at all events, in figures of plants and flowers, almost as light and exquisite as the paintings on a china teacup, and thrown into relief by the prevalence of a clear white ground; so that an appearance is produced of airiness and space to all intents and purposes as effective as if the ceiling were really contained within the span of a single elliptical arch. Along the base of the ceiling is a cornice of stucco, ornamented with a light pattern in white and gold; and underneath, upon the upper portion of the walls, are six windows on each side; and the remainder of the surface is covered with paintings by several different artists, one of which represents Sixtus V. receiving from his architect, Dominico Fontana, the plan of the present library. The lower portion of the walls is entirely occupied by closed bookcases, composed of panels of wood painted in arabesque on a ground of white and slate color, and surrounded by gilded mouldings; which receptacles bear no sort of affinity in appearance to ordinary library furniture, and thoroughly conceal from public view the valuable manuscripts they contain. No books, in fact, are to be seen in the whole chamber, and particularly the rectangular bookcases above referred to, that serve the purpose of pedestals, from the middle of which each pillar supporting the ceiling and resting on the ground below rise, as the pier of a bridge from its ceisson, rather resemble ornamental buffets upon whose tabular surface vases and other splendid objects of art and antiquity are arranged in order.
"With regard to the principal objects worthy of observation there are, in the first place, two very magnificent tables, both alike, placed in the middle of the room in a corresponding position to one another, between the first and second pillar at each extremity. Each is composed of an enormously thick and very highly polished slab of red Oriental granite, supported by six bronze figures of slaves as large as life. Such being the appropriation of two of the intercolumnial spaces, a third is occupied by a low column of Cipollino marble, serving as a pedestal to support a splendid and very large vase of Sevres china, which was presented by the Emperor Napoleon to Pius VII. In a fourth intercolumnial space is to be seen, supported on a pedestal of Cipollino, whose base appears to be a sort of alabaster marked with different shades of olive-green, a square tazza of malachite, presented to Gregory XVI. by the Crown-Prince of Russia, after his visit to Rome in 1838. In the fifth intercolumnial space are a magnificent pair of candelabra of Sevres china, brought by Pius VII. from Paris, and also a splendid vase of the same material presented to his holiness by Charles X. There is also to be observed, placed at the extremity of the room, on the right-hand side near the wall, a spirally fluted column of Oriental alabaster, which was discovered near the church of St. Eusebio, on the Esquiline; and suspended against the wall, not far distant, is a curious old Russian calendar painted on wood.
"The bookcases being continually locked, as above stated, permission is nevertheless granted to those visitors who may be desirous of consulting the books and manuscripts, on making application to the cardinal-librarian or his assistants; but the privilege is merely nominal, in consequence of the extremely imperfect state of the catalogue; and in point of fact the multitudinous volumes on the shelves may be compared to a mine, unexplored and unexplorable; whence only a few particular objects, considered the staple curiosities of the region, and consequently continually had recourse to by the visitors, are extracted. The volumes in question consist principally of a splendidly-illuminated Bible of the sixth century; the most ancient version of the Septuagint; the earliest Greek version of the New Testament; the 'Assertio Septem Sacramentorum,' written by Henry VIII.—a royal literary effort in defence of the seven Roman Catholic sacraments that procured the title of Defender of the Faith for the author, which descended to the Protestant monarchs of England; and a most curious and authentic collection of original correspondence between Henry VIII. and Anne Boleyn. The 'Assertio Septem Sacramentorum' is a good thick octavo volume, written in Latin, and printed in the year 1501, in London, on vellum. The type is clear, with a broad margin, and at the beginning is the original presentation addressed to Leo X., as follows, subscribed by the royal autograph—
'Anglorum Rex Henricus Leo Decime mittit Hoc opus, et fidei testis et amicitiae.'
The whole work—in the preface of which the writer descants on his humble talents and his modesty—would seem, as far as I was able to judge by turning over the pages hastily, to be composed in a remarkably clear style, and to abound with naive phrases and genuine expressions of the king himself, wrought into the mass and substance of a prolix theological dissertation, that no doubt was prepared and digested for the purpose by the divines of the period. With regard to the correspondence with Anne Boleyn, which places the royal author altogether in a different point of view before the public, the latter consists of a considerable number of original letters, of which those written by the king are for the most part in French and the remainder in English, and those of Anne Boleyn written all in French. The documents are all in excellent preservation, and the handwriting perfectly legible; from the difference of the character at the period in question, and owing to the abbreviations, somewhat difficult to decipher; not so much so, however, but that even an unpractised person, with sufficient time and leisure, might make them out without much difficulty. Visitors are relieved from the labor of the experiment; and fair copies, made in a clear round hand, are placed, each copy side by side with the original, and all are stitched together in a portfolio, where they may be perused with the utmost facility. The letters, which to those inclined to ponder on the anatomy of the human heart afford a melancholy moral, are chiefly remarkable for the boisterous eager tone of the king's passion towards his lady-love, which, expressed in terms that would hardly be considered proper now-a-days, verges on the grotesque."
7. Casanata Library, Rome.—This library, founded by Cardinal Girolamo Casanata in the year 1700, is said to contain a greater number of printed books exclusively, in contradistinction to manuscripts, than any other in Rome, not excepting the Vatican. "The library," says Sir George Head, "is a very beautifully-proportioned chamber, upwards of fifty feet in breadth, and long in proportion, with an elliptically-vaulted ceiling, along the base of which are a series of acute-angled arched spaces containing windows that throw an admirable light on the apartment, which is whitewashed most brilliantly. The books are ranged all round the room on open shelves, with a communication to those of the upper row by a pensile gallery that surrounds the whole periphery. At the extremity of the room is a white marble statue, by Le Gros, of Cardinal Casanata, the founder, elevated with remarkably good effect on a pedestal of dark-colored Brazil-wood, very highly polished, and surmounted by a splendid frontispiece, supported on two pair of fluted Corinthian columns, all of the same material. The door of the room at the entrance is also surmounted by a frontispiece and columns of Brazil-wood, similar to the preceding. The librarian, a Dominican friar, dressed in the habit of his order, and seated in an easy-chair in the middle of the room at his desk of office, attends there continually, and is exceedingly kind and attentive to the applications of strangers who wish to read books in the library, though his good intentions are of little avail, from the want of a proper catalogue."
8. Laurentian Library, Florence.—This institution was commenced by Cosmo de Medici, the father of a line of princes whose name and age are almost synonymous with the restoration of learning. Naturally fond of literature, and anxious to save from destruction the precious remains of classical antiquity, he laid injunctions on all his friends and correspondents, as well as on the missionaries who travelled into remote countries, to search for and procure ancient manuscripts in every language and on every subject. He availed himself of the services of all the learned men of his time; and the situation of the Eastern empire, then daily falling into ruins by the repeated attacks of the Turks, afforded him an opportunity of obtaining many inestimable works in the Hebrew, Greek, Chaldaic, Arabic, and Indian languages. From these beginnings arose the celebrated library of the Medici, which, after having been the constant object of the solicitude of its founder, was after his death further enriched by the attention of his descendants, and particularly of his grandson Lorenzo; and after various vicissitudes of fortune, and frequent and considerable additions, has been preserved to the present day—the noblest monument which its princely founders have left of the glory of their line.
9. Magliabecchian Library, Florence.—Antonio Magliabecchi, from being a servant to a dealer in vegetables, raised himself to the honorable office of librarian to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, and became one of the most eminent literary characters of his time. The force of natural talent overcame all the disadvantages of the humble condition in which he had been born, and placed him in a situation to make his name known and respected. But he endeavored to deserve still better of his countrymen, by presenting them, shortly before his death in 1714, with his large and valuable collection of books, together with the remainder of his fortune, as a fund for its support. This constituted the foundation of the Magliabecchian Library, which, by the subsequent donations of several benefactors, and the bounty of some of the grand dukes of Florence, has been so much increased both in number and value that it may now vie with some of the most considerable collections in Europe.
10. Imperial Library, Vienna.—This collection is perhaps inferior only to that of the Vatican, and the National Library at Paris, for the rarity and value of its contents. It was founded by the Emperor Frederick III., who spared no expense to enrich it with printed books as well as manuscripts in every language. By the munificence of succeeding emperors, numerous important and valuable accessions were made to the collection; amongst which may be mentioned the large and interesting library of Prince Eugene, and a considerable portion of the Buda Library, founded by Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary. The Imperial Library occupies eight spacious apartments, and a ninth is appropriated to a very valuable collection of medals and other curiosities. Besides the cabinet of medals, there is also attached to the library a superb collection of engravings, consisting of 473 large folio volumes, 510 volumes of different sizes, and 215 folio cartoons. The collection of music contains upwards of 6000 volumes, theoretical and practical; and that of autographs exceeds 8000 pieces, classed under the heads of monarchs and princes, ministers and statesmen, poets, philosophers, and men of learning or science, generals and renowned warriors, artists, musicians, and others.
11. Royal Library, Munich.—This is the most extensive collection in Germany. It was founded in 1550, and is very complete in all its departments. The ancient manuscripts relative to the art of music amount to a great number, and are exceedingly curious.
12. University Library, Gottingen.—The library attached to the University of Gottingen contains 360,000 printed volumes, and 3000 volumes of manuscripts. But its extent is its least recommendation, for it is not only the most complete among those of the universities, but there are very few royal or public collections in Germany which can rival it in real utility; and if not in Germany, where else? It is not rich in manuscripts, and many libraries surpass it in typographical rarities, but none contains so great a number of really useful books in almost every branch of human knowledge. This library is mainly indebted for the preeminence it has obtained to the labors and exertions of the illustrious Heyne. In the year in which he came to Gottingen as second librarian, the entire control of the library was committed to him, and he became chief. From this moment commenced at once its extension and its improvement. When Heyne went to Gottingen, it already possessed a library of from 50,000 to 60,000 volumes; at his decease it had increased, according to the most moderate computation, to upwards of 200,000 volumes. Nor was this all. At the commencement of his librarianship entire departments of learning were wholly wanting; at its close, not only were these deficiencies supplied, but the library had become proportionally rich in every department, and, in point of completeness, unrivalled. Fortunately, Heyne's place has been filled by worthy successors, and the reputation of the collection is still as great as ever.
13. Royal Library, Dresden.—The king of Saxony's library at Dresden contains 300,000 volumes of printed books, and 2800 volumes of manuscripts. The valuable library that formerly belonged to Count Beurau forms part of this noble collection, which is most complete in general history, and in Greek and Latin classic authors. Amongst the printed books are some of the rarest specimens of early typography, including 600 of the Aldine editions, and many on vellum, besides a copy of the first edition of the "Orlando Furioso," printed by Mazocco, "coll' assistenza dell'autore," in 1516, and other rarities. In the department of manuscripts are a Mexican manuscript, written on human skin, containing, according to Thevenot, a calendar, with some fragments of the history of the Incas; the original manuscript of the "Reveries" of Marshal Saxe, bearing at the end that he had composed this work in thirteen nights during a fever, and completed it in December 1733; a fine copy of the Koran, taken from a Turk by a Saxon officer at the last siege of Vienna, and said to have formerly belonged to Bajazet II.; and a Greek manuscript of the Epistles of St. Paul of the eleventh century. An extensive collection of antiquities is preserved in twelve apartments under the library, below which are eighteen vaulted cellars, stored with a vast quantity of valuable porcelain, partly of foreign and partly of Dresden manufacture.
14. Royal Library, Berlin.—This collection includes works upon almost all the sciences, and in nearly all languages. Among the manuscripts are several Egyptian deeds, written on papyrus, in the demotic or enchorial character. These are very curious, and fac similes of some of them have been published by Professor Kosegarten in his valuable work on the "Ancient Literature of the Egyptians."
15. University Library, Leyden.—This library was founded by William I., Prince of Orange, and is justly celebrated throughout Europe for the many valuable specimens of Greek and Oriental literature with which it abounds. To it Joseph Scaliger bequeathed his fine collection of Hebrew books; and it was further enriched by the learned Golius, on his return from the East, with many Arabic, Turkish, Persian, and Chaldaic manuscripts. In addition to these it received the collections of Holmanns, and particularly those of Isaac Vossius and Ruhuken—the former containing a number of valuable manuscripts, supposed to have once belonged to Christina, queen of Sweden; and the latter an almost entire series of classical authors, with a collection of manuscripts, perhaps unique, amongst which are copies of several that were consumed by fire in the Abbey of St. Germain-des-Pres.
16. Imperial Library, St. Petersburg.—Russia is indebted for this splendid collection to an act of robbery and spoliation. In 1795, when Russia triumphed over the independence of Poland, the victorious general, Suwaroff, unceremoniously seized the Zaluski Library, of nearly 300,000 volumes, had it packed up in all haste and dispatched to St. Petersburg. There it formed the basis of the present Imperial Library, which, but for that stolen collection, instead of now ranking in the first class of European libraries, would scarcely have been entitled to a place in the third.
17. Libraries of Constantinople.—This city possesses thirty-two public libraries, all varying in extent, but more or less celebrated for the number and value of their manuscripts, which are neatly bound in red, green, or black morocco. The Mohammedans have a peculiar method of indorsing, placing, and preserving their books. Each volume, besides being bound in morocco, is preserved from dust in a case of the same material; and on it, as well as on the edges of the leaves, the title is written in large and legible characters. The books are placed, one upon another, in presses ornamented with trellis-work, and are disposed along the wall, or in the four corners of the library. All these collections are open to the public throughout the year, excepting on Tuesdays and Fridays: the librarians are as polite and attentive as Turks can be to those whom curiosity or love of study attract thither: and every one is at liberty not merely to peruse, but to make extracts from the books, and even to transcribe them entirely, provided this be done within the walls of the library. Theology, including the Koran and commentators thereon, jurisprudence, medicine, ethics, and history, are the sciences chiefly cultivated by the Osmanlis. The books are all written with the greatest care on the finest vellum, the text of each page is inclosed in a highly-ornamented and gilt framework, the beginning of each chapter or section is splendidly illuminated, and the value of the manuscripts varies in proportion to the beauty of the characters.
We here terminate our rapid survey of the principal libraries of Europe. Small, however, would be the interest which one should feel for these magnificent establishments were they designed solely for the benefit of a few individuals, or of any favored class. They would still be splendid monuments of the productive powers of the human mind, and of the taste or learning of their founders; but they would have no claims to that unbounded admiration with which we now regard them. There is a republican liberality in the management of the great libraries of the continent of Europe which is well worthy of our imitation. In these alone is the great invention of printing carried out to its full extent, by the free communication of all its productions to every class of society. No introduction, no recommendation, no securities are required; but the stranger and the native are admitted, upon equal terms, to the full enjoyment of all the advantages which the uncontrolled use of books can afford. As this mode of accommodating, or rather of meeting the wants of the public, is the real object of these institutions, they are provided with librarians, who, under different titles corresponding to the duties imposed upon them, receive from government regular salaries proportioned to their rank and to the services which they perform. To these the immediate superintendence of the library is wholly intrusted, and at a stated hour of every day in the week, except of such as are set apart for public or religious festivals, they open the library to the public. There, undisturbed, and supplied with every thing the collection contains that can aid him in his studies, the scholar may pass several hours of every day without any expense, and with no other care than that natural attention to the books he uses, which every one capable of appreciating the full value of such privileges will readily give. Nor do his facilities cease here. The time during which the libraries remain open may be insufficient for profound and extensive researches, and the writer who has to trace his facts through a great variety of works, and to examine the unpublished documents to be found in public libraries alone, would be obliged to sacrifice a large portion of every day if his studies were regulated by the usual hours of these institutions. For such persons, a proper recommendation can hardly fail to procure the use, at their own houses, of the works they may need. In this manner the door is thrown open to every one who wishes to enter, and science placed within reach of all who court her favors.
This is as it should be; and it is therefore with great pleasure that we have observed symptoms of improvement in this respect originating in our legislature. In March, 1849, a select committee was appointed by the House of Commons, on the motion of Mr. William Ewart, to report on the best means of "extending the establishment of libraries freely open to the public, especially in large towns, in Great Britain and Ireland." This committee consisted of fifteen members—namely, Mr. Ewart, Viscount Ebrington, Mr. D'Israeli, Sir Harry Verney, Mr. Charteris, Mr. Bunbury, Mr. G. A. Hamilton, Mr. Brotherton, Mr. Monckton Milnes, the Lord Advocate (Mr. Rutherford), Mr. Thicknesse, Sir John Walsh, Mr. Mackinnon, Mr. Kershaw, and Mr. Wyld. These gentlemen seem to have entered upon their labors with zeal, and to have performed their duty with thoroughness and fidelity. They held numerous sessions, and examined a large number of witnesses. The particulars of these examinations have been printed in full, and form a rather bulky blue-book, in which the report of the committee occupies only twelve pages, while the minutes of evidence, tables, &c., fill over three hundred. The committee appear to have felt that it was only necessary to lay before parliament and the public the facts concerning the present condition and wants of the public libraries of this country, in order to insure the supply of all deficiencies.
After presenting a brief view of the principal libraries in the various countries of Europe, with a more particular account of the present condition of those in Great Britain, showing that the English are far behind their continental brethren in this respect, the committee thus express their conviction—"Whatever may be our disappointment at the rarity of public libraries in the United Kingdom, we feel satisfaction in stating that the uniform current of the evidence tends to prove the increased qualifications of the people to appreciate and enjoy such institutions. Testimony, showing a great improvement in the national habits and manners, is abundantly given in the evidence taken by the committee. That they would be still further improved by the establishment of public libraries, it needs not even the high authority and ample evidence of the witnesses who appeared before the committee to demonstrate."
Frequent and favorable allusions are made in the report and the minutes of evidence to the numerous popular libraries in this country for district schools, factories, &c. These, we are aware, are of the greatest value; but these alone are not sufficient. The establishment of even a hundred thousand small village or district-school libraries would not supersede the necessity of a certain number of large and comprehensive ones. These little collections are much alike, each containing nearly the same books as every other. The committee of parliament appear to understand this. "It is evident," they say, "that there should be in all countries libraries of two sorts; libraries of deposit and research, and libraries devoted to the general reading and circulation of books. Libraries of deposit should contain, if possible, almost every book that ever has existed. The most insignificant tract, the most trifling essay, a sermon, a newspaper, or a song, may afford an illustration of manners or opinions elucidatory of the past, and throw a faithful though feeble light on the pathway of the future historian. In such libraries nothing should be rejected. Not but that libraries of deposit and of general reading may (as in the case of the British Museum) be combined. But though such combination is possible, and may be desirable, the distinction which we have drawn should never be forgotten."
The first, and apparently, in the estimation of the committee, the most important witness, was Edward Edwards, Esq., an assistant in the department of printed books in the British Museum. The minutes of his evidence alone cover between sixty and seventy of the closely-printed folio pages accompanying the report; and besides this, he has furnished various statistical tables, occupying fifty pages, and a series of twelve maps. In one of these maps it is his purpose to exhibit, by various shades, the relative provision of books in public libraries in the principal states of Europe, as compared with their respective populations; and in the others, the local situation of the public libraries in some of the principal cities is indicated. The evidence of Mr. Edwards has been severely commented upon in the London papers and elsewhere, and some inaccuracies in his tables, of greater or less magnitude, have been pointed out. We might, perhaps, by a particular examination of every word and figure, add something to the list of errata. But we think that those persons who are most familiar with the difficulty of obtaining exact statistical details, will not wonder that an error should here and there be found. We have looked over the evidence and the tables with considerable care, and think them, on the whole, highly creditable to the author. It is evident, however, from the general tenor of his testimony, that Mr. Edwards presses rather too strongly the point respecting the condition of England, compared with that of the countries on the continent, as to the number and accessibility of their public libraries. His enthusiasm on the subject, arising probably from a laudable desire to have his own country take a higher rank in respect to libraries than she now holds, has led him, we think, to overlook or undervalue some of the advantages which she already possesses. But his facts and figures are in the main to be relied upon; and we shall make use of them as sufficiently accurate to give our readers a general view of the present bibliothecal condition of the principal countries of Europe.
On Mr. Edwards's map of Europe we find the smaller German states to be represented with the lightest lines, indicating the highest rank, and Great Britain with the darkest or lowest. He states the provision of books in libraries publicly accessible, as compared with the population, to be as follows:—In Saxony, for every 100 inhabitants there are 417 books; in Denmark, 412; in Bavaria, 339; in Tuscany, 261; in Prussia, 200; in Austria, 167; in France, 129; in Belgium, 95; whilst in Great Britain there are only 53 to every 100 inhabitants.
In the following tables, the libraries containing fewer than 10,000 volumes each (of which there are, in France alone, at least seventy or eighty) are not taken into the account:—
France has 107 public libraries, containing 4,000,000 vols. Prussia " 44 " " 2,400,000 " Austria " 48 " " 2,400,000 " Great Britain " 33 " " 1,771,000 " Bavaria " 17 " " 1,267,000 " Denmark " 5 " " 645,000 " Saxony " 6 " " 554,000 " Belgium " 14 " " 538,000 " Tuscany " 9 " " 411,000 "
Taking the capital cities, we find the following results:—
Paris has 9 public libraries, containing 1,474,000 vols. Munich " 2 " " 800,000 " Copenhagen " 3 " " 557,000 " Berlin " 2 " " 530,000 " London " 4 " " 490,500 " Vienna " 3 " " 453,000 " Dresden " 4 " " 340,500 " Florence " 6 " " 318,000 " Milan " 2 " " 230,000 " Brussels " 2 " " 143,500 "
Arranging these libraries according to their extent, or number of printed books, they would stand as follows:—
Printed Books. Manuscripts. Paris (1), National Library, 824,000 80,000 vols. Munich, Royal Library, 600,000 22,000 " St. Petersburg, Imperial Library, 446,000 20,650 " London, British Museum, 435,000 31,000 " Copenhagen, Royal Library, 412,000 3,000 " Berlin, Royal Library, 410,000 5,000 " Vienna, Imperial Library, 313,000 16,000 " Dresden, Royal Library, 300,000 2,800 " Wolfenbuttel, Ducal Library, 200,000 4,580 " Madrid, National Library, 200,000 2,500 " Stuttgard, Royal Library, 187,000 3,300 " Paris (2), Arsenal Library, 180,000 6,000 " Milan, Brera Library, 170,000 1,000 " Darmstadt, Grand Ducal Library, 150,000 4,000 " Paris (3), St. Genevieve Library, 150,000 2,000 " Florence, Magliabecchian Library, 150,000 12,000 " Naples, Royal Library, 150,000 3,000 " Edinburgh, Advocates' Library, 148,000 2,000 " Brussels, Royal Library, 133,500 18,000 " Rome (1), Casanata Library, 120,000 4,500 " Hague, Royal Library, 100,000 2,000 " Paris (4), Mazarin Library, 100,000 4,000 " Rome (2), Vatican Library, 100,000 24,000 " Parma, Ducal Library, 100,000 "
The chief university libraries may be ranked in the following order:—
Printed Books. Manuscripts. Gottingen, University Library, 360,000 3,000 vols. Breslau, University Library, 250,000 2,300 " Oxford, Bodleian Library, 220,000 21,000 " Tubingen, University Library, 200,000 1,900 " Munich, University Library, 200,000 2,000 " Heidelberg, University Library, 200,000 1,800 " Cambridge, University Library, 166,000 3,163 " Bologna, University Library, 150,000 400 " Prague, University Library, 130,000 4,000 " Vienna, University Library, 115,000 " Leipsic, University Library, 112,000 2,500 " Copenhagen, University Library, 110,000 " Turin, University Library, 110,000 2,000 " Louvain, University Library, 105,000 246 " Dublin, Trinity College Library, 104,239 1,512 " Upsal, University Library, 100,000 5,000 " Erlangen, University Library, 100,000 1,000 " Edinburgh, University Library, 90,354 310 "
The largest libraries in Great Britain are those of the
Printed Books. Manuscripts. British Museum, London, 435,000 31,000 " Bodleian, Oxford, 220,000 21,000 " University, Cambridge, 166,724 3,163 " Advocates', Edinburgh, 148,000 2,000 " Trinity College, Dublin, 104,239 1,512 "
There are in the United States of America at least 81 libraries of 5000 volumes and upwards each, to which the public, more or less restrictedly, have access, and of these 49 are immediately connected with colleges or public schools. The aggregate number of volumes in these collections is about 980,413. We subjoin the contents of a few of the largest:—
Harvard College Library, 72,000 vols. Philadelphia and Loganian Library, 60,000 " Boston Athenaeum, 50,000 " Library of Congress, 50,000 " New York Society Library, 32,000 " Mercantile Library, New-York, 32,000 " Georgetown College, 25,000 " Brown University, 24,000 " New-York State Library, 24,000 " Yale College, 21,000 "
America will, however, soon possess a library worthy of its character as a great nation. The Astor Library, now in the course of formation, owes its existence to the munificence of John Jacob Astor, who died on the 29th of March, 1848, leaving by his will the sum of 400,000 dollars for the establishment of a public library in the city of New-York. Seventy-five thousand dollars were to be appropriated to the erection of a suitable building, and 120,000 dollars to the purchase of books as a nucleus. The smallest number of books which the trustees consider it safe to estimate as a basis for enlargement is 100,000 volumes. The Astor Library will probably, when first formed, contain a larger number and a better selection of books than any other in the United States. With the generous provision which the founder has made for its increase, together with the liberal donations which will undoubtedly be made to this as the chief library in the country, it is likely to grow rapidly, till it will take rank with the large libraries of the old world. Under the direction of an enlightened and judicious Board of Trustees, with Washington Irving for president, and Dr. Cogswell for superintendent of the institution, there is every reason to believe that the desire so warmly expressed at the conclusion of their report will be fulfilled: "That the Astor Library may soon become, as a depository of the treasures of literature and science, what the city possessing it is rapidly becoming in commerce and wealth."
The second witness examined by the committee was M. Guizot. In the distinguished positions which he has filled as minister of public instruction and prime minister in France, his attention has been turned to the public libraries of that country. While in office he ordered an inspection of those institutions, and the French government now has complete and exact documents relative to the number of public libraries, and the number of books in each. These institutions are accessible to the public in every way for reading, and to a great extent for borrowing books. Some of them receive direct grants from the government towards their support; while others, in the provincial towns, are supported by municipal funds; and to the latter the government distributes copies of costly works, for the publication of which it in general subscribes liberally. M. Guizot attributes the happiest results to this system. He says—"There are two good results: the first is, a general regard in the mind of the public for learning, for literature, and for books. That complete accessibility to the libraries gives to every one, learned or unlearned, a general feeling of good-will for learning and for knowledge; and then the second result is, that the means for acquiring knowledge are given to those persons who are able to employ them."
His Excellency M. Van de Weyer, the Belgian ambassador, was next examined. He testified that the public libraries in his own country were numerous, large, and easily accessible to all who desire to make use of them. He attributes the best results to the literary character of his country from this privilege of free access to their large collections of books. He thinks the people are better prepared than is generally supposed to appreciate works of a high character. He seems to think it unwise to attempt to popularize science and literature by printing inferior books, written expressly for common and uneducated people. The government subscribe for a number of copies of nearly every valuable work published, by which means they encourage the progress of literature, and are enabled to enrich many of the public collections. "The government have sometimes, within a space of twenty years, spent some L10,000 or L12,000 in favor of libraries. I take this opportunity of stating also, that though the Chamber only votes a grant of 65,000 or 70,000 francs for the Royal Public Library of Brussels, whenever there is some large sale going on, there is always a special grant made to the library. Lately one of the most curious private libraries had been advertised for sale; a catalogue had been printed in six volumes; the government immediately came forward, bought the whole of the collection for L13,000 or L14,000, and made it an addition to the Royal Library in Brussels; they did the same thing at Ghent; I believe that the library that they bought at Ghent consisted of about 20,000 volumes, and in Brussels about 60,000 or 70,000 volumes." Our own government would do well to imitate this example more frequently than it has hitherto done.
Passing by several witnesses whose evidence we should be glad to notice did our limits permit, we come to George Dawson, Esquire, who as a lecturer, has had opportunities of becoming acquainted with the condition, the feelings and the wants of the working-classes in the manufacturing towns both in England and Scotland. He testifies that libraries to some extent have already been formed in those places, and that there is a very general desire among the working-people to avail themselves of more and better books. They can appreciate the best authors. Political and historical subjects interest them most, but the higher class of poetry is also read by them. Milton is much read. Mr. Dawson says, "Shakspeare is known by heart almost. I could produce men who could be cross-examined upon any play." The contrast between the manufacturing and the farming districts in respect to the intelligence of the people and their desire for improvement is very great. Speaking of one of the agricultural districts, Mr. Dawson says, "I have heard of a parish in Norfolk where a woman was the parish clerk, because there was not a man in the parish who could read or write!"
Henry Stevens, Esq., formerly librarian of one of the libraries connected with Yale College, gave some valuable information respecting the present state of public libraries in the United States. He says: "The public libraries of the United States are small but very numerous. We have but two containing above 50,000 volumes, while there are nine above 20,000, forty-three above 10,000, more than a hundred above 5000 volumes, and thousands of smaller ones. The want of large public consulting libraries, like those of Europe, is much felt." The chief readers in these libraries are the working-classes, and persons who are engaged in active business through the day. Works on physical science, history, biography, and of a superior class, are those chiefly read by them; and Mr. Stevens stated, that when he came to England, he could not help being struck by the "little reading that there is among the laboring and business classes" of this country as compared with the United States. This is succinctly explained by Mr. Dawson, who says: "The quantity of people who cannot read and write in this country is a very great hinderance to the demand for books. We have eight millions who cannot write yet!" Mr. Edwards, in his evidence, also points to the same deficiency of elementary education, "In addition," he says, "to the positive want of schooling on the part of large numbers of the population who are now growing up, those who do get some partial education, habitually neglect to improve what they get from the want of cultivating a taste for reading. Unless good books are made accessible to the people, this is very likely to continue to be a cause—even where education by Sunday schools, and other efforts of that kind, have been brought within the reach of a considerable number of the population—why the good effects of education have not been continued in after life."
The committee very justly place much value on the opinions and suggestions of M. Libri. The thorough knowledge which that eminent bibliographer possesses of all matters pertaining to the condition and wants of public libraries, as well as of the needs of literary men, renders his remarks worthy of careful consideration. In a letter addressed to Mr. Ewart, the chairman of the committee, he develops his views at some length, and shows the necessity of having in great countries libraries "in which one may expect to find, as far as it is possible, all books which learned men—men who occupy themselves upon any subject whatever, and who cultivate one of the branches of human knowledge—may require to consult. Of these there is nothing useless, nothing ought to be neglected; the most insignificant in appearance, those which on their publication have attracted the least attention, sometimes become the source of valuable and unexpected information." It is in the fragments, now so rare and precious, of some alphabets—of some small grammars published for the use of schools about the middle of the fifteenth century—or in the letters distributed in Germany by the religious bodies commissioned to collect alms, that bibliographers now seek to discover the first processes employed by the inventors of xylography and typography. It is in a forgotten collection of indifferent plates, published at Venice by Faush Verantio towards the end of the sixteenth century, that an engineer, who interests himself in the history of the mechanical arts, might find the first diagrams of iron suspension-bridges.
Nothing should be neglected; nothing is useless to whoever wishes thoroughly to study a subject. An astronomer, who desires to study the motions peculiar to certain stars, requires to consult all the old books of astronomy, and even of astrology, which appear the most replete with error. A chemist, a man who is engaged in the industrial arts, may still consult with profit certain works on alchemy, and even on magic. A legislator, a jurisconsult, needs sometimes to be acquainted with the laws, the ordinances, which derive their origin from the most barbarous ages; but it is particularly for the biographer, for the historian, that it is necessary to prepare the largest field of inquiry, to amass the greatest quantity of materials. This is not only true as regards past times, but we ought to prepare the materials for future students. Historical facts which appear the least important, the most insignificant anecdotes, registered in a pamphlet, mentioned in a placard or in a song, nay be connected at a later period in an unforeseen manner with events which acquire great importance, or with men who are distinguished in history by their genius, by their sudden elevation, or even by their crimes. We are not born celebrated—men become so; and when we desire to trace the history of those who have attained it, the inquirer is often obliged to pursue his researches in their most humble beginnings. Who would have imagined that the obscure author of a small pamphlet, "Le Souper de Beaucaire," would subsequently become the Emperor Napoleon? and that to write fully the life of the execrable Marat, one ought to have the very insignificant essays on physics that he published before the Revolution? Nothing is too unimportant for whoever wishes thoroughly to study the literary or scientific history of a country, or for one who undertakes to trace the intellectual progress of eminent minds, or to inform himself in detail of the changes which have taken place in the institutions and in the manners of a nation. Without speaking of the commentaries or considerable additions which have been introduced in the various reprints of an author, the successive editions of the same work which appear to resemble each other the most, are often distinguished from each other by peculiarities worthy of much attention. It has been well said, that a public library should contain all those works which are too costly, too voluminous, or of too little value in the common estimation to be found elsewhere, down even to the smallest tracts. An old almanac, or a forgotten street-ballad, has sometimes enabled the historian to verify or correct some important point which would otherwise have remained in dispute.
With a brief extract from the evidence of one other witness we must close our notice of the Report on Public Libraries. Charles Meyer, Esq., German secretary to his Royal Highness Prince Albert, had given attention to the public libraries of Germany, having resided several years in Gotha, Hamburg, Leipsic, and Munich. He had perused the principal part of the evidence which had been given by Mr. Edwards upon this subject, and found all that he stated to be quite correct. Dr. Meyer thinks the existence of the numerous and valuable libraries of Germany has given the literary men of that country an advantage over the literary men of England. "It has saved a great number of our German learned men," he says, "from the danger of becoming autodidactoi—self-taught. I think that is one essential point of difference that is visible in comparing the general character of the instruction in this country with that on the continent: there are in this country a great number of self-taught people, who think according to their own views, without any reference to previous scientific works. They make sometimes very great discoveries; but sometimes they find that they have wasted their labor upon subjects already known, which have been written upon by a great number of people before them; but as they have no access to libraries, it is impossible for them to get acquainted with the literature of that branch upon which they treat."
From the preceding quotations, it is evident that, in the opinion of the Parliamentary Committee, and of the witnesses examined by it, there exists in this country at once a great deficiency of public libraries and a pressing necessity for their establishment. Our people are and will be readers. They are generally prepared to make a good use of books of a higher order than those offered to them in so cheap and attractive a form by our enterprising publishers. Now, either their energies will be wasted in a desultory course of reading, by which they will gain only a superficial knowledge of almost every conceivable subject, or they must be furnished with the means, which they are so well prepared to use to advantage, of going to the bottom of whatever subject interests them, and having exhausted the wisdom of past generations, of adding to the stock of general knowledge from the results of their own thoughts and experience.
The necessity for the establishment of large collections of books, freely open to the public—of institutions in which, as Ovid well expresses it,
"Quaeque viri docto veteres cepere novique Pectore, lecturis inspicienda patent"—
is, we imagine, unquestioned and unquestionable. The question now arises, How are these libraries to be constituted? On this point it will not be expected that we should dilate at length. At the present time the best books on all subjects are to be purchased at a moderate rate; and in the formation of new libraries, attention should first be paid to the supply of works most generally in demand. It will neither be wise nor just to the public to purchase, at the outset, rare and curious works: when a sufficient supply of really useful and generally read publications has been obtained, it will be quite time enough to think of indulging the bibliomania. But there is one subject on which this taste may advantageously be indulged—and that is, every town in which a public library is established should take care to collect all works relating to its local or municipal history. A selection of the best books on bibliography should also be possessed by each. These are to the librarian and the literary man what the compass is to the mariner, or the tools of his trade to the artisan.
But we must hasten to a conclusion. As a pendent to the Report of the Parliamentary Committee, Mr. Ewart brought forward a bill for the establishment of libraries and museums in country towns. This bill has now received the sanction of the legislature; its operation is, however, limited to boroughs whose population exceeds 10,000; and before it can be carried into effect, a public meeting of rate-payers must be called, and the consent of two-thirds of those present obtained. Liverpool was the first to profit by this act: other towns have followed her example; and we trust that ere long, in all the considerable towns throughout the length and breadth of this land, public libraries and museums will be established. The subject is one that cannot be long neglected. It will go on gaining upon public attention, until seen by all in its true light, and in all its bearings. Then the connection between a sound literature and the means used for its formation will be felt; then the numerous and immediate advantages of such a form of encouragement, as the establishment of these institutions, will be clearly seen and fully understood; and the rich harvest of glory which our future scholars will reap in every branch of study must convince even the most incredulous, that literature asks no favors and seeks no aid for which she does not repay the giver with a tenfold increase.
 The library of Pergamos was founded by King Eumenes, and enlarged by his successor Attalus. It soon became so extensive that the Ptolemies, afraid that it would speedily rival their own collection at Alexandria, issued an edict forbidding the exportation of papyrus; but this prohibition, so far from attaining the unworthy object for which it was destined, proved rather beneficial; for the Pergameans, having exhausted their stock of papyrus, set their wits to work, and invented parchment (charta Pergamena) as a substitute.
 One of the most remarkable of these purchases was that made of the private library of the Prince Eugene, for a life-income of 10,000 florins. It was composed of 15,000 printed volumes, 337 manuscripts, 290 folio volumes of prints, and 215 portfolios or boxes.
 For a detailed account of, and guide-book to, the treasures of this great national collection, see "The British Museum, Historical and Descriptive, with Numerous Engravings," recently published by W. & R. Chambers.
THE JOURNALS OF LOUIS PHILIPPE.
Our readers know that one of the points of the singular but admirable education that Madame de Genlis gave Louis Philippe and his brothers, was to teach them to examine and regulate their mind and conduct by the keeping of a journal; and this Louis Philippe has done, not, we suppose, continuously, nor even, perhaps, for the greater part of his busy life, but for particular periods—during seasons either of peculiar interest or of unusual leisure. A fragment of his early journal, extending from the autumn of 1790 to the summer of 1791, was lost or stolen in the tumults and pillage of the first Revolution, as the memoirs of 1815 have been in the late one, and like these, published by an illegitimate possessor. That most curious little tract had become very rare—so rare, indeed, that Louis Philippe himself had not a copy, till a friend of ours lately presented him the copy from which we ourselves had made a translation, which we published in extenso in our article on "The Personal History of Louis Philippe." The King had also written and printed the "Journal of the Hundred Days," just mentioned; and we were permitted to see and make extracts in our last March number from his Journal of February and March, 1848. It is known, too, that during his residence at Claremont, as at former intervals of repose, he amused himself in recording his recollections; but no information has yet transpired of the extent (either as to bulk or time) of what he may have left—beyond the conjecture (which is, however, only founded on an accidental expression of his which was repeated to us some months ago) that the portion which he was so anxious to complete related to his return to France in 1814. * * But whatever Louis Philippe may have left, it will be curious and valuable, as the production of so powerful a mind, always engaged in, and for a long period actually directing, the most extraordinary series of events in the history of the modern world. Its publication, however, must be, of course, a matter of great delicacy, and of mature deliberation, and we have not as yet heard even a rumor on the subject.
These facts are from an interesting paper in the last number of the Quarterly Review.
This most interesting race, the travelling grain merchants of western India (who lead a life wholly nomadic, and have done so earlier than is recorded), have their best interests opposed to the introduction of foreign innovation in the matter of transit. The Bunjaras have no sympathy with civilized life; from the people of India they move, think, live apart, varying in dress, language, religion, from all about them. Rajpoots by origin, they can follow no trade; the Bunjara may serve only as a soldier; in all other callings he must be free and independent. For hundreds of years we find them, as hordes, encamping in the open air, and living by the exchange of merchandise. They are owners of great droves of bullocks, which, laden with grain in the upper country, they drive to the coast, exchanging their burthens for salt, at a favorable market, but sedulously avoiding all intercourse with strangers and their cities. The Bunjaras are a stout, sturdy race; sturdy and stout in action and resolve as they are in body and form, Spartan-like in their sense of honor, free in their opinion as the mountain breeze, keeping apart from men and their cabals, and existing by their own energies. A short time since, I journeyed on horseback over the very line of this proposed railway, from the city of Nassiek to Bombay, and encountered several hundreds of bullocks heavily laden, and attended by Bunjara families; the men armed with sword and matchlock, the children propped up among the bullock furniture, and each younger woman of the tribe looking much as one fancies the Jewish maiden must have looked when she obtained grace and favor in the sight of King Ahasuerus, who "made her queen instead of Vashti." It is worthy of remark, that the choice of colors among the Bunjara women is altogether opposed to general taste among the Hindoos. Red and yellow among the latter are always favorite tints, and blue is never worn by any but the common people, to whom it is recommended by the cheapness of the indigo used in dyeing. The Bunjara women, on the contrary, select the richest imaginable Tyrian purple, a sort of rosy smalt, as the ground of their attire, which is bordered by a deep phylactery of divers colors in curious needlework, wrought in with small mirrors, beads, and sparkling crystals. Their saree has a fringe of shells, and their handsome arms and delicate ankles are laden with rich ornaments The Bunjara women plaid their hair with crimson silk, and suffer it to fall on either side of the face, the ends secured with silver tassels, and on the summit of the head they wear a small tiara studded with silver stars. The reader may think this a fanciful and exaggerated dress for the wife of a drover; but these costumes are heir-looms, and though they are often seen faded, torn, travel-stained, and grim, the materials are always as I have described them, differing in freshness, but never in character.—Sharpe.
From the Dublin University Magazine.
THE MYSTIC VIAL:
OR, THE LAST DEMOISELLE DE CHARREBOURG
Concluded from page 264.
Blassemare, meanwhile, made his toilet elaborately, and by ten o'clock was in Paris. He stopped at the Hotel Secqville.
"Is the marquis yet risen?" he asked.
"No;" he was in his bed; he had not retired until very late, and must not be disturbed.
"But I must see him, my good friend; his happiness, indeed his safety, depends upon my seeing him immediately."
Blassemare was so very urgent, that at length the servant consented to deliver a note to his master.
Rubbing his eyes, and more asleep than awake, the marquis took the billet, and read—
"The Sieur de Blassemare, who had the honor of meeting the Marquis de Secqville last night at the Chateau des Anges, implores a few minutes conversation without one moment's delay; by granting which the marquis may possibly avert consequences the most deplorable."
Certain shocks are strong enough to restore a drunken man to sobriety in an instant, and, a fortiori, to dispel in a moment the fumes of sleep. In a few seconds the marquis, in slippers, and morning-gown, received Blassemare, with many apologies, in his dressing-room.
"A very slight acquaintance will justify a friendly interposition," said Blassemare, after a few little speeches of ceremony at each side; "and my visit is inspired by a friendly and charitable motive. The fact is—the fact is—my dear friend, that—your coat is torn."
"My coat torn!" repeated the marquis in surprise, visibly disconcerted, while he affected surprise.
"Yes, the coat you wore last night. Ah! there it is—this blue velvet, with diamond button. La! Yes, there is the place. It was caught—ha, ha, ha!—in that cursed door; and, egad, as one of Le Prun's confidential advisers has got the piece in his possession——"
"Psha! you are jesting. Why, there are more blue coats than one in the world."
"I know; but there is only one Marquis de Secqville. And as I happened, purely accidentally, upon my honor, to witness with my own eyes no inconsiderable part of his last night's adventure, it may be as well if he reverses his clever points of evidence for Monsieur Le Prun, should his suspicions chance to take an unfortunate direction."
"What adventure pray, sir, do you speak of?"
"Your interview with Madame Le Prun, your unfortunate descent from the balcony, your flight through the park-door, and the disastrous severance of a button and a specimen-bit of velvet from your coat—in short, my dear marquis, you may, if you please, affect a reserve, which, indeed, I should prefer to a frank confession, by which, although I have nothing to learn, I should, in some sort, be compelled to regard your secret as one of honor; as it is, you know, I am free——"
"No gentleman is free to compromise a lady's character by his insinuations."
"Nor by his conduct, my dear marquis. But should he be so unfortunate as to have done so, he ought, in prudence and generosity, to seal as many lips as he possibly can."
"It seems, sir, to me that you have come to me with a cock-and-a-bull story, to establish an imaginary connection between me and some stupid adventure, which occurred at the Chateau des Anges."
"And such being your belief, my dear marquis, I have, of course, only to make my adieux, and relieve you from so impertinent an intrusion."
"Stay, sir. You are a gentleman; there are, perhaps, circumstances of suspicion. It is very embarrassing to have a lady's name involved; and—and—in short, sir, I——"
"I throw myself upon your honor!" said the marquis, with an effort, and extending his hand.
"You are right, my dear marquis," said Blassemare, accepting his proffered hand. "You know I am Le Prun's friend; and as there was no obligation of secrecy, till your own confidence imposed it, I should have been in a difficult position as respected him. I have now learned your secret from yourself—honor seals my lips; and so, having put you upon your guard, and enjoined the extremest caution, at least for the present, I commend you to your presiding planets, Mercury and Venus. But you had better burn that tell-tale coat; for here is not a shrewder fellow in all France than Le Prun, and 'gad you are not safe till it is in ashes."
"My dear Blassemare, be my friend; quiet his suspicions. I shall one day tell you all; only avert his suspicions from her."
"By my faith, that is more than I can do. Give me a line to her; I must direct her conduct, or she will ruin herself. I know Le Prun; it needs a skilful player to hide one's cards from him. I am a man of my word; and I pledge my honor that Le Prun shall not have hint of your secret."
"You are right, Blassemare. I can't see her without exposing her to risk; do all you can to protect her from jealousy."
"Well, give me my credentials."
Secqville wrote:—"Blassemare is the friend of Dubois; Lucille may trust him."
"She knew me first by that name; be careful not to risk losing the paper."
Again they bid farewell, and Blassemare departed.
Blassemare's head was as full of strange images as the steam of a witch's caldron. He had his own notions of honor—somewhat fantastic and inconsistent, but still strong enough to prevent his betraying to Le Prun the secret of which he had just made himself completely master. He was mortified intensely by the discovery of a successful rival where he had so coolly and confidently flattered himself with a solitary conquest. He looked upon himself as the dupe of a young girl and her melancholy lover. His vanity, his spleen, and his guilty fancy, which, with the discovery of his difficulties, expanded almost into a passion, all stimulated him to continue the pursuit, and his brain teemed with schemes for outwitting them both, supplanting his rival, and gaining his point.
Full of these, he reached the Chateau des Anges—a sage, trustworthy, and virtuous counsellor for old Le Prun to lean on in his difficulties!
"You did wrong, in my opinion, to unmask your suspicions to old Charrebourg," said Blassemare, after he and Le Prun had talked over the affair.
"But he has not seen my wife since, and she, therefore, knows nothing of them."
"Were I in your place, notwithstanding, I should see him again, undo the effect of what I had said, and so prevent his putting Madame Le Prun on her guard."
"You are right for once. I thought of doing so myself."
Le Prun generally acted promptly; and so he left Blassemare to his meditations. Framing his little speech of apology as he went along, he traversed several passages, descended a stair in one of the towers, and found himself at last at the lobby of the Visconte's suite of rooms. It was now night—and these apartments lying in the oldest part of the chateau, and little frequented, were but very dimly lighted. There was nobody waiting in the anteroom—the servant had probably taken advantage of his master's repose, or reverie, to steal away to the gay society of his brother domestics; and these sombre and magnificently constructed rooms were as deserted as they were dim.
Having called in vain, the Fermier-General lighted a candle at the murky lamp, and entered the Visconte's apartment. His step was arrested by a howling from the inner chambers that might have spoken the despair of an evil spirit.
"Charrebourg! Visconte! Charrebourg!"
No answer—There was a silence—then another swelling howl.
"Psha!—it is that cursed old cur. I had forgotten him. Jonquil, Jonquil! come here, boy."
The old dog came scrambling along, and looking up into Le Prun's face, yelped strangely.
"What!—hungry? They have forgotten you, I dare say. What! not a scrap, not a bone! But where is your master?"
Le Prun entered the inner room, and the dog, preceding him, ran behind the fauteuil that stood at the table; and then running a step or two towards Le Prun, raised a howl that made him jump.
"Hey! what's the matter? But, sacre! there is something—what is this?"
There was a candle burning on the table, and writing materials. The Visconte de Charrebourg, who had evidently been writing, had fallen forward upon the table—dead. Le Prun touched him, he was quite cold. He raised the tall lank figure as well as he could, so that it leaned back in the chair; a little blood came from the corner of the mouth, the eyes were glazed, but the features wore, even in death, a character of sternness and dignity. He had fallen forward upon the fingers that held the pen, and the hand came stiffly back along with the body, still holding the pen in the attitude in which the chill of death had stiffened them. In this attitude he looked as if he only awaited a phrase or a thought of which he was in search to resume his writing.
"Dead—dead—a long time dead! how the devil has all this happened?"
And he looked for a moment at the old hound that was sniffing and whimpering in his master's ears, as if he could answer him. Poor Jonquil! he has shared his master's fortune fairly—the better and the worse; for years his humble comrade in the sylvan solitudes of Charrebourg, and here the solitary witness of his parting moment. Who can say with what more than human grief that dumb heart is swelling! He will not outlive his old friend many days—Jonquil is past the age for making new ones.
Le Prun glanced at the letter, a few lines of which the dead man had traced when he was thus awfully interrupted. "Sir," it began, "the family of Charrebourg, of which I am the unworthy representative, have been remarkable at all times for a chivalric and honorable spirit. They have maintained their dignity in prosperity by great deeds and princely munificence—in adversity, by encountering grief with patience, and insolence with defiance. Insult has never approached them unexpiated by blood; and I, old as I am, in consequence of what this morning——" here the summons had interrupted him.
"Intended for me!" said Le Prun, with an ugly sneer. "Well, he can't now put his daughter on her guard, or inflame her with the magnificent spirit of the beggarly Charrebourgs."
And so saying, he surrendered the chamber to the dead Visconte and his canine watcher.
Blassemare kept his counsel and his word. He dropped no hint to Le Prun of his interview with the Marquis de Secqville. His own vanity was at once mortified and excited by the discovery he had made. He was resolved to obliterate the disgrace of having been duped, by the reality of his meditated triumph. Love and war have much in common, a truth perhaps embodied in the allegoric loves of Mars and Venus. Certain, at least, it is, that in each pursuit all authorities agree that every stratagem is fair. Blassemare was not the man to rob this canon of its force by any morbid scruples of conscience; and having the courage of a lion, associated with some of the vulpine attributes, and a certain prankish love of mischief, he was tolerably qualified by nature for the enterprises of rivalry and intrigue.
Le Prun brooded savagely over his suspected wrongs. He awaited with affected contempt, but a real and malignant anxiety, the verdict of Blassemare, who insisted upon deferring his interview with Madame Le Prun until some weeks had passed over the grave of that "high and puissant signer, the Visconte de Charrebourg."
It was nearly a month after the death of that old gentleman, when Blassemare, happening to meet Madame Le Prun as she walked upon one of the terraces, dressed in so exquisite a suit of mourning, and looking altogether so irresistibly handsome, that, for the life of him, he could not forbear saluting, approaching, and addressing her. He was affably received, and the conversation, at first slight and indifferent, turned gradually, without premeditation on his part, but, as it were, by a sort of irresistible fatality, into that sombre and troubled channel whither, sooner or later, though not exactly then, he had determined to direct it.
"Monsieur Le Prun is unaccountably out of spirits, madame—I should say morose, ill-tempered. I almost fear to approach him."
"Is there any thing to surprise one in that?"
"Why, no, considering his provocations."
"Provocations! what do you mean, sir?"
"Madame must pardon me. I happen to be in possession of some secrets."
There was a short pause, during which Madame Le Prun's color came and went more than once.
"Will Madame Le Prun be so kind as to sit down here for a few minutes, and I will convince her that I have kept those secrets well, and that I am—I dare not say her friend—but the most devoted of her servants?"
Madame Le Prun sat down upon the marble couch that stood there, carved with doves and Cupids, and embowered, in the transparent shadows of myrtle, like a throne of Venus. Blassemare fancied that he had never beheld so beautiful and piquante an image as Lucille at that moment presented: her cheeks glowing, her long lashes half dropped over the quenched fires of her proud dark eyes; her countenance full of a confusion that was at once beautiful and sinister; one hand laid upon her heart, as if to quell its beatings, and shut with an expression half defiant, half irresolute—and the pretty fingers of the other unconsciously playing with the tendrils of a pavenche.
Blassemare enjoyed this pretty picture too much to disturb it by a word. Perhaps, too, there was comfort to his vanity in the spectacle of her humiliation; at all events he suffered some time to pass before he spoke to her. When he did, it was with a great deal of respect; for Blassemare, notwithstanding his coarseness, had a sufficiency of tact.
"Madame perceives that I am not without discretion and zeal in her service."
"Sir, you speak enigmas; you talk of secrets and provocation; and while you affect an air of deference, your meaning is full of insolence."
It was plain her pride was mastering her fears, Blassemare thought it high time to lower his key. He therefore said, with a confident smile and an easy air—
"My meaning may be disagreeable, but that is chargeable not upon me, but on the circumstances of our retrospect; and if I am enigmatical rather than explicit, I am so from respect, not insolence. My dear madame, on the honor of a gentleman, I saw Monsieur le Marquis de Secqville take his abrupt departure from your window—you understand. I not only saw him, but found and retained proofs of his identity, armed with which, I taxed him with the fact, and obtained his full confession. Now, madame, perhaps you will give me credit for something better than hypocrisy and insolence."
Lucille looked thunderstruck for a moment, then rising, she darted on him a glance of rage and defiance, and overpowered by the tumult within her, she burst into a flood of tears, and covering her face with her hands, sobbed in silence, almost hysterically.
Blassemare waited patiently while she wept on. Suddenly she looked full and fiercely on him, and cried—
"Perhaps you have told me falsehoods, and dared thus to trifle with me."
"I swear, madame, on the honor of a nobleman of France, I have told you the simple truth. De Secqville did not venture to deny the fact; on the contrary, he confessed it frankly."
"Yes—I see you tell me the truth; it was base of De Secqville!"
"Well, to say truth, I did think he might have kept a lady's secret better."
Blassemare was ready and unscrupulous; but all is fair in love.
"I am innocent!" she cried, with abrupt vehemence, and fixing her fiery gaze upon him.
"Of course, madame."
"I say I am innocent, sir. Why do you say of course!"
"Because I never knew a lady yet, who was otherwise than innocent."
She looked at him with a lowering contempt—he thought it guilt—for a few moments, then dropping her gaze gloomily, she murmured, in bitter abstraction—
"Yes, it was base of De Secqville; he ought to have perished rather."
"Egad," thought Blassemare, "my project prospers—she is at my mercy—and disgusted with the Marquis. I'm no general or she surrenders at discretion."
"De Secqville, madame, is a handsome fellow; but he admires nobody but himself. He has been all his life—and trust me, he is not quite so young as he pretends—a man of intrigue. He is not content with his bonnes fortunes, but he boasts of his conquests, and sacrifices reputations to his vanity. Such men are not to be trusted with impunity, or loved without disgrace. It is best never to have favored them, and next best to discard them promptly."
He fancied his speech had hit the fierce temper of his auditor. He paused for a time, to let it work, and then, in a tone of profound humility, said—
"As for me, madame, if one so unworthy dare invite a passing thought of yours, I have but to ask your forgiveness; if I have said one word that gave you pain, I implore your forgiveness."
Here he sank upon his knee. Lucille was by no means as experienced in the ways of the wicked gender as many younger women. Blassemare looked very humble, and she took his humility in good faith. She looked on him then with a softened aspect, and the heart of the profligate beat thick with anticipated triumph.
"You have had, madame, in these recent transactions, signal proofs of my fidelity. The secret so lightly esteemed by De Secqville, I would rather lose my last drop of blood than reveal to a living mortal. I am secrecy itself. Judge what I have endured. I have striven—how vainly my own heart tells me—to hide the sentiments of my soul from you, madame. I could see with comparative indifference the happiness of that rival whom the forms of law, and not the preference of the heart, had elevated; but judge how I could endure the fortune of an unworthy and faithless competitor. Imagine, if you can, my despair. Compassionate, I conjure you, my misery, and with one relenting word or look of pity, raise me from the abyss, and see at your feet the happiest, as he is the most devoted, of mortals."
At the same moment Blassemare attempted to take Lucille's hand; it was, however, instantly withdrawn, and the back of it, instead, struck him in the face, with all the force of enraged and insulted pride.
"How dare you, sirrah, hold such language to me—how dare you? Another word, and I denounce you to my husband—ay, sir, I—to Monsieur Le Prun. I defy you."
Blassemare had started to his feet, very much astonished; his cheek tingling, his self-love stung to the quick. But he was too experienced in such affairs to indulge any tragical emotions on the occasion. He stared at her for a minute, with an expression of absurd bewilderment. There was no very graceful exit from the undignified predicament to which he had, like a simpleton, reduced himself. Recovering his self-possession, however, he broke into a cold laugh, and said—
"Madame, I have misunderstood you with a vengeance; I pray you believe that you have misunderstood me. We now, however, thoroughly understand one another. I keep your little secret on condition that you keep mine."
Lucille deigned no answer; but the compact had, it seemed, been silently ratified by her, for Le Prun and Blassemare continued to be the best friends imaginable.
Blassemare was not vindictive, but he was exquisitely vain. He had a good-humored turn for mischief, too; and, notwithstanding the repulse he had experienced, or perhaps, such is human perversity—in consequence of it—he was more than ever resolved to pursue his guilty designs upon the heart of Madame Le Prun.
His hands were, therefore, tolerably full; for he had not only this little affair to attend to, but to exercise his vigilance to prevent De Secqville's hearing of his breach of faith, and at the same time to confirm and exasperate, in furtherance of his own schemes, the suspicions of Monsieur Le Prun.
This latter task circumstances rendered an easy one, and Blassemare executed it without giving any definite direction to Le Prun's inflamed jealousy. So far, indeed, was he from suspecting the identity of the criminal, that he brought De Secqville two or three times to sup at the Chateau des Anges, an act of temerity which excited Blassemare's anxiety and vigilance. That gentleman had therefore kept so close and constant a watch upon the handsome Marquis, that he had not, upon any of these occasions, an opportunity of exchanging a single sentence with Madame Le Prun.
The occasional appearance of De Secqville at the Chateau des Anges was a sufficient proof that Blassemare had kept the secret with fidelity. Madame Le Prun, therefore, was far from suspecting that he was in secret the inspiring cause of that ominous restraint, the pressure of which she began to feel every day more and more severely. One by one her personal attendants were removed. Gradually she felt the process of isolation shrouding her from the eyes of her fellow-creatures. Her walks were prescribed and restricted; and with bitter resentment she perceived that she was subjected to the outrage of a systematic espionage. The face of M. Le Prun was always darkened with hatred and menace. Every day made his power more directly felt, and more nearly reduced her to his solitary, rare, and sinister companionship. At last a note, in M. Le Prun's hand, upon her table, announced in a few barbarous and insulting words that his niece Julie had been removed, by his orders, from the contagion of a companionship unfit for innocence. This was to Lucille a frightful blow. Her solitude was now virtually complete. Her own old faithful servant, Marguerite, had been withdrawn; and a tall pale Norman matron, taciturn and sardonic, was now her sole attendant. It was plain, too, that M. Le Prun had gradually removed his establishment from the Chateau des Anges. The gay and gorgeous staff of servants and grooms had disappeared. The salons, halls, and lobbies of the vast mansion were silent as the chambers of a mausoleum—the outer courts still and deserted. She was becoming the prisoner of an enraged tyrant, alone, in the midst of an impenetrable and funereal solitude.
In fact, many prisoners of state enjoyed a great deal more liberty than she; for not only was she restricted to her own apartment, but confined to the range of the small court which lay immediately under her own windows.
The indignation and fury which these outrages inspired, by degrees gave place to something like despair and panic. With the exception of her ill-looking handmaid, and the no less sinister-visaged sentinel who stealthily watched her movements, and between both of whom a sort of ominous correspondence seemed to be carried on by signals, she had latterly seen no one, but at rare intervals the hated and dreaded apparition of Le Prun at a distance, and Blassemare once or twice.
One day Lucille was walking in the little court we have described, when the door of the park, which we have had occasion to signalize, opened, and Blassemare stood within a yard or two of her.
A glance at the attendant, who seemed to regard Blassemare as Le Prun's vicegerent, was sufficient to cause her to withdraw to some distance, and affecting a light and easy air, which might well mislead the more distant observers as to the serious purport of his discourse, he continued—
"I am afraid madame is very unhappy."
"Truly, I am so."
"I fear she is also in danger."
She started as if a bolt of ice had pierced her heart. He had spoken in that word the secret fears of many a long night. How inexpressibly more terrible do our untold terrors become, when they are spoken in our ears by the lips of strangers!
"Yes, madame, I say in danger. There are odd stories afloat about Monsieur Le Prun—they may be all lies, I don't pretend to say; for in truth I don't very well comprehend my friend Le Prun. But it cannot be hidden from madame, that when one wants to make away with an individual, the first step is to conceal them—to cut them off from all intercourse with the world, and cause them to be forgotten. Madame understands me?"
"Yes, yes—oh, my God!"
"Madame must learn to command herself, if she wishes to prolong our conversation. We must appear, at least, indifferent. There are spies watching our gestures and countenances, though they can't hear our words."
"I will—thank you, thank you: but for the mercy of God, monsieur, will you suffer me to perish?"
"No, madame, if you will aid in your own deliverance. Will you fly with me to-morrow night?"
"If monsieur, for the charity of heaven, will undertake to act only as my brother and protector."
"By my faith, madame, I'll put myself under no conditions."
"Monsieur de Blassemare, have you no honor, no pity, no manhood? Will you be accessory to a murder? I will go with you on no other terms."
"I accept none, madame."
"You are a coward, sir, and a criminal."
"Madame might command, at least, her countenance and her gestures; imitate me. You call me hard names; I'm prepared for them. Now listen: I won't accept your condition, because, if I did, I should keep my word; and, I tell you frankly, I won't despair, and I don't despair. But, madame, you shan't perish. What do you say to leaving the chateau with De Secqville?"
"Yes, he will agree to whatever I propose."
"I dare say."
"To-morrow night, at ten o'clock, through that door; a coach shall wait in the park. You know the well under the two chestnut-trees; there he will await you; don't fail—a moment late, and all may be lost."
"But—but how to evade the woman who watches me?"
"She shall be perfectly drunk."
"And the man?"
"Drunker still. Leave all details to me. There are more than one Argus besides these; but a man of resource is at home among difficulties. Watch at ten o'clock. When you see a light in the window of the small pavilion, all is prepared: you will find the door open."
Blassemare signed to the woman to approach, and said, as he bowed his adieu, in a louder key—
"I shall not fail, madame, to report to Monsieur Le Prun the unfortunate temper in which I have the honor to find you."
"And have the goodness to add, that I only regret my inability to repeat the same sentiments in his presence."
"Madame shall be obeyed."
So, with an air of affected defiance on the one side, and of sarcastic levity on the other, the two conspirators parted. Her protracted residence in the Chateau des Anges, gloomy and anxious before, had become absolutely terrifying since she had heard the dark and menacing insinuations used by Blassemare. The evening that followed that scene, the night, and the ensuing morning, seemed endless, filled with horrid images, and haunted by the hideous thought that the catastrophe might possibly anticipate the hour of escape, or that some one untoward chance might defeat the entire scheme, and leave her at the mercy of a more than ever exasperated tyrant.
As the day wore on, every incident appeared to her overstrained mind an omen of good or ill-success. Towards evening the sky became overcast, and finally an awful thunder-storm swept over the Chateau des Anges. Her heart sank within her at the inauspicious augury; but as the same tempest, an hour later, rolled over other regions, it left one trifling token of its passage, which, by a mysterious stroke of fate, was nearly connected with her destiny.
Poor Gabriel, his head full of chimeras, his heart of true love, was slowly walking through the woodlands of the Parcq de Charrebourg, towards that haunted spot, the cottage in which the beautiful demoiselle had passed her happiest days, when the storm began to mutter over the rising grounds, and before he had made much way, the thunder burst above his head with fury, and in a little time the rain descended with such tropical violence as to arrest his further progress, under the dense canopy of a chestnut-tree.
Here he waited until the thunder-clouds had quite passed away; and then, amid red glances of western sunshine, he resumed that pilgrimage, to him so full of melancholy, of ambition, and of tenderness.
"And now, dear, dear Mademoiselle de Charrebourg, I come into your presence, to learn how it fares with you."
He took off his hat, as if expecting to see her looking, as of old, from the window of her little room. From the plants that hung from the walls, and from the struggling bushes, the big rain-drops were trickling, in the merry sunlight, like tears of joy. His heart was full as he turned the corner of the cottage, and entered the little bowling-green. But, alas! what a sight awaited him! The rose-tree, the emblem of his adored mistress, was shivered: the casement, and the wall, and roof, were shattered, and reduced to a mass of rubbish, by a stroke of lightning.
Gabriel had never felt real desolation before. He rushed to the wide chasm which now admitted the winds and rains of heaven to the shrine which his adoration and reverence had consecrated with a tenderness so absorbing. Oh! what ruin—what profanation—what an irreparable havoc of all his treasure! And the tree, too—gone, blasted. Tears of passionate despair rained from his eyes: he wrung his hands, he stamped, raved, and "cursed his day."
In a little while, however, his thoughts took a different turn. From the material wreck they passed on to the dire significance which such portent might indicate.
"Yes, I came to see how she fares, and behold what I find—torn by storms—ruined—dead." He stooped, and took up a fragment of the rose-tree and kissed it.
"But the Chateau des Anges is not five leagues away. I will go there. I will go now. I will learn what all this means."
With this resolution he ran fleetly down the slopes of the park, now wreathed in the rising mists of night, towards the feudal village of Charrebourg, through which his path lay.
Breathless and eager, as if heaven were before him and all the fiends of hell at his heels, he sped through the darkening town, and did not slacken his speed until he was a full mile beyond it.
He had been so absorbed with the single idea that had seized upon his mind, that he was scarcely conscious of the objects he had passed or the speed at which he ran.
As he looked round upon the moonlit scenery among which he found himself, he felt for a moment stunned and perplexed; he slackened his pace and thought over his expedition. It lost none of its romantic fascination; he only wondered that he had not made a journey to the Chateau des Anges at least once in every week.
How beautiful the moonlight was! how soft the air! how enchanting the scenery! and oh, what vague possibilities of glory and rapture might not be unfolded in the undeveloped future of this wild excursion!
It was fully a quarter past twelve when Gabriel reached the point, at which the road directly leading to the Chateau des Anges diverged from that which he had been hitherto travelling. Just as he did so, a carriage and four, with two postillions and two mounted servants beside, came to a sudden stop within a few score paces of the pedestrian, and one of the men dismounting secured some part of the harness which had given way, and was getting into the saddle again when Gabriel arrived at the side of the carriage. He then made a momentary pause. In the brilliant moonlight every detail of the equipage was visible; the coach was dingy and battered, its principal color blue, and covered, according to the fashion, with gilded arabesques in cumbrous relief, in which a curious dragon, with a barbed tongue and tail, was contending in a hundred repetitions with as many little cupids. Just as these details seized upon his imagination, the window was suddenly opened, and a lady put out her head and in thrilling tones cried—