Books and Bookmen
by Andrew Lang
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Quem tu, dea, tempore in omni Omnibus ornatum voluisti excellere rebus.

Well, the ornate and excellent Temple held that "the Epistles of Phalaris have more race, more spirit, more force of wit and genius, than any others he had ever seen, either ancient or modern." So much for what Bentley calls Temple's "Nicety of Tast." The greatest of English scholars readily proved that Phalaris used (in the spirit of prophecy) an idiom which did not exist to write about matters in his time not invented, but "many centuries younger than he." So let the Nicety of Temple's Tast and its absolute failure be a warning to us when we read (if read we must) German critics who deny Homer's claim to this or that passage, and Plato's right to half his accepted dialogues, on grounds of literary taste. And farewell, as Herodotus would have said, to the Letters of Phalaris, of Socrates, of Plato; to the Lives of Pythagoras and of Homer, and to all the other uncounted literary forgeries of the classical world, from the Sibylline prophecies to the battle of the frogs and mice.

Early Christian frauds were, naturally, pious. We have the apocryphal Gospels, and the works of Dionysius the Areopagite, which were not exposed till Erasmus's time. Perhaps the most important of pious forgeries (if forgery be exactly the right word in this case) was that of 'The False Decretals.' "Of a sudden," says Milman, speaking of the pontificate of Nicholas I. (ob. 867 A.D.), "Of a sudden was promulgated, unannounced, without preparation, not absolutely unquestioned, but apparently over-awing at once all doubt, a new Code, which to the former authentic documents added fifty-nine letters and decrees of the twenty oldest Popes from Clement to Melchiades, and the donation of Constantine, and in the third part, among the decrees of the Popes and of the Councils from Sylvester to Gregory II., thirty-nine false decrees, and the acts of several unauthentic Councils." "The whole is composed," Milman adds, "with an air of profound piety and reverence." The False Decretals naturally assert the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome. "They are full and minute on Church Property" (they were sure to be that); in fact, they remind one of another forgery, pious and Aryan, 'The Institutes of Vishnu.' "Let him not levy any tax upon Brahmans," says the Brahman forger of the Institutes, which "came from the mouths of Vishnu," as he sat "clad in a yellow robe, imperturbable, decorated with all kinds of gems, while Lakshmi was stroking his feet with her soft palms." The Institutes took excellent care of Brahmans and cows, as the Decretals did of the Pope and the clergy, and the earliest Popes had about as much hand in the Decretals as Vishnu had in his Institutes. Hommenay, in 'Pantagruel,' did well to have the praise of the Decretals sung by filles belles, blondelettes, doulcettes, et de bonne grace. And then Hommenay drank to the Decretals and their very good health. "O dives Decretales, tant par vous est le vin bon bon trouve"—"O divine Decretals, how good you make good wine taste!" "The miracle would be greater," said Pantagruel, "if they made bad wine taste good." The most that can now be done by the devout for the Decretals is "to palliate the guilt of their forger," whose name, like that of the Greek Macpherson, is unknown.

If the early Christian centuries, and the Middle Ages, were chiefly occupied with pious frauds, with forgeries of gospels, epistles, and Decretals, the impostors of the Renaissance were busy, as an Oxford scholar said, when he heard of a new MS. of the Greek Testament, "with something really important," that is with classical imitations. After the Turks took Constantinople, when the learned Greeks were scattered all over Southern Europe, when many genuine classical manuscripts were recovered by the zeal of scholars, when the plays of Menander were seen once, and then lost for ever, it was natural that literary forgery should thrive. As yet scholars were eager rather than critical; they were collecting and unearthing, rather than minutely examining the remains of classic literature. They had found so much, and every year were finding so much more, that no discovery seemed impossible. The lost books of Livy and Cicero, the songs of Sappho, the perished plays of Sophocles and AEschylus might any day be brought to light. This was the very moment for the literary forger; but it is improbable that any forgery of the period has escaped detection. Three or four years ago some one published a book to show that the 'Annals of Tacitus' were written by Poggio Bracciolini. This paradox gained no more converts than the bolder hypothesis of Hardouin. The theory of Hardouin was all that the ancient classics were productions of a learned company which worked, in the thirteenth century, under Severus Archontius. Hardouin made some exceptions to his sweeping general theory. Cicero's writings were genuine, he admitted, so were Pliny's, of Virgil the Georgics; the satires and epistles of Horace; Herodotus, and Homer. All the rest of the classics were a magnificent forgery of the illiterate thirteenth century, which had scarce any Greek, and whose Latin, abundant in quantity, in quality left much to be desired.

Among literary forgers, or passers of false literary coin, at the time of the Renaissance, Annius is the most notorious. Annius (his real vernacular name was Nanni) was born at Viterbo, in 1432. He became a Dominican, and (after publishing his forged classics) rose to the position of Maitre du Palais to the Pope, Alexander Borgia. With Caesar Borgia it is said that Annius was never on good terms. He persisted in preaching "the sacred truth" to his highness and this (according to the detractors of Annius) was the only use he made of the sacred truth. There is a legend that Caesar Borgia poisoned the preacher (1502), but people usually brought that charge against Caesar when any one in any way connected with him happened to die. Annius wrote on the History and Empire of the Turks, who took Constantinople in his time; but he is better remembered by his 'Antiquitatum Variarum Volumina XVII. cum comment. Fr. Jo. Annii.' These fragments of antiquity included, among many other desirable things, the historical writings of Fabius Pictor, the predecessor of Livy. One is surprised that Annius, when he had his hand in, did not publish choice extracts from the 'Libri Lintei,' the ancient Roman annals, written on linen and preserved in the temple of Juno Moneta. Among the other discoveries of Annius were treatises by Berosus, Manetho, Cato, and poems by Archilochus. Opinion has been divided as to whether Annius was wholly a knave, or whether he was himself imposed upon. Or, again, whether he had some genuine fragments, and eked them out with his own inventions. It is observed that he did not dovetail the really genuine relics of Berosus and Manetho into the works attributed to them. This may be explained as the result of ignorance or of cunning; there can be no certain inference. "Even the Dominicans," as Bayle says, admit that Annius's discoveries are false, though they excuse them by averring that the pious man was the dupe of others. But a learned Lutheran has been found to defend the 'Antiquitates' of the Dominican.

It is amusing to remember that the great and erudite Rabelais was taken in by some pseudo-classical fragments. The joker of jokes was hoaxed. He published, says Mr. Besant, "a couple of Latin forgeries, which he proudly called 'Ex reliquiis venerandae antiquitatis,' consisting of a pretended will and a contract." The name of the book is 'Ex reliquiis venerandae antiquitatis. Lucii Cuspidii Testamentum. Item contractus venditionis antiquis Romanorum temporibus initus. Lugduni apud Gryphium (1532).' Pomponius Laetus and Jovianus Pontanus were apparently authors of the hoax.

Socrates said that he "would never lift up his hand against his father Parmenides." The fathers of the Church have not been so respectfully treated by literary forgers during the Renaissance. The 'Flowers of Theology' of St. Bernard, which were to be a primrose path ad gaudia Paradisi (Strasburg, 1478), were really, it seems, the production of Jean de Garlande. Athanasius, his 'Eleven Books concerning the Trinity,' are attributed to Vigilius, a colonial Bishop in Northern Africa. Among false classics were two comic Latin fragments with which Muretus beguiled Scaliger. Meursius has suffered, posthumously, from the attribution to him of a very disreputable volume indeed. In 1583, a book on 'Consolations,' by Cicero, was published at Venice, containing the reflections with which Cicero consoled himself for the death of Tullia. It might as well have been attributed to Mrs. Blimber, and described as replete with the thoughts by which that lady supported herself under the affliction of never having seen Cicero or his Tusculan villa. The real author was Charles Sigonius, of Modena. Sigonius actually did discover some Ciceronian fragments, and, if he was not the builder, at least he was the restorer of Tully's lofty theme. In 1693, Francois Nodot, conceiving the world had not already enough of Petronius Arbiter, published an edition, in which he added to the works of that lax though accomplished author. Nodot's story was that he had found a whole MS. of Petronius at Belgrade, and he published it with a translation of his own Latin into French. Still dissatisfied with the existing supply of Petronius' humour was Marchena, a writer of Spanish books, who printed at Bale a translation and edition of a new fragment. This fragment was very cleverly inserted in a presumed lacuna. In spite of the ironical style of the preface many scholars were taken in by this fragment, and their credulity led Marchena to find a new morsel (of Catullus this time) at Herculaneum. Eichstadt, a Jena professor, gravely announced that the same fragment existed in a MS. in the university library, and, under pretence of giving various readings, corrected Marchena's faults in prosody. Another sham Catullus, by Corradino, a Venetian, was published in 1738.

The most famous forgeries of the eighteenth century were those of Macpherson, Chatterton, and Ireland. Space (fortunately) does not permit a discussion of the Ossianic question. That fragments of Ossianic legend (if not of Ossianic poetry) survive in oral Gaelic traditions, seems certain. How much Macpherson knew of these, and how little he used them in the bombastic prose which Napoleon loved (and spelled "Ocean"), it is next to impossible to discover. The case of Chatterton is too well known to need much more than mention. The most extraordinary poet for his years who ever lived began with the forgery of a sham feudal pedigree for Mr. Bergum, a pewterer. Ireland started on his career in much the same way, unless Ireland's 'Confessions' be themselves a fraud, based on what he knew about Chatterton. Once launched in his career, Chatterton drew endless stores of poetry from "Rowley's MS." and the muniment chest in St. Mary Redcliffe's. Jacob Bryant believed in them and wrote an 'Apology' for the credulous. Bryant, who believed in his own system of mythology, might have believed in anything. When Chatterton sent his "discoveries" to Walpole (himself somewhat of a mediaeval imitator), Gray and Mason detected the imposture, and Walpole, his feelings as an antiquary injured took no more notice of the boy. Chatterton's death was due to his precocity. Had his genius come to him later, it would have found him wiser, and better able to command the fatal demon of intellect, for which he had to find work, like Michael Scott in the legend.

The end of the eighteenth century, which had been puzzled or diverted by the Chatterton and Macpherson frauds, witnessed also the great and famous Shakespearian forgeries. We shall never know the exact truth about the fabrication of the Shakespearian documents, and 'Vortigern' and the other plays. We have, indeed, the confession of the culprit: habemus confitentem reum, but Mr. W. H. Ireland was a liar and a solicitor's clerk, so versatile and accomplished that we cannot always trust him, even when he is narrating the tale of his own iniquities. The temporary but wide and turbulent success of the Ireland forgeries suggests the disagreeable reflection that criticism and learning are (or a hundred years ago were) worth very little as literary touchstones. A polished and learned society, a society devoted to Shakespeare and to the stage, was taken in by a boy of eighteen. Young Ireland not only palmed off his sham prose documents, most makeshift imitations of the antique, but even his ridiculous verses on the experts. James Boswell went down on his knees and thanked Heaven for the sight of them, and, feeling thirsty after these devotions, drank hot brandy and water. Dr. Parr was not less readily gulled, and probably the experts, like Malone, who held aloof, were as much influenced by jealousy as by science. The whole story of young Ireland's forgeries is not only too long to be told here, but forms the topic of a novel ('The Talk of the Town') by Mr. James Payn. The frauds in his hands lose neither their humour nor their complicated interest of plot. To be brief, then, Mr. Samuel Ireland was a gentleman extremely fond of old literature and old books. If we may trust the 'Confessions' (1805) of his candid son, Mr. W. H. Ireland, a more harmless and confiding old person than Samuel never collected early English tracts. Living in his learned society, his son, Mr. W. H. Ireland, acquired not only a passion for black letters, but a desire to emulate Chatterton. His first step in guilt was the forgery of an autograph on an old pamphlet, with which he gratified Samuel Ireland. He also wrote a sham inscription on a modern bust of Cromwell, which he represented as an authentic antique. Finding that the critics were taken in, and attributed this new bust to the old sculptor Simeon, Ireland conceived a very low and not unjustifiable opinion of critical tact. Critics would find merit in anything which seemed old enough. Ireland's next achievement was the forgery of some legal documents concerning Shakespeare. Just as the bad man who deceived the guileless Mr. Shapira forged his 'Deuteronomy' on the blank spaces of old synagogue rolls, so young Ireland used the cut-off ends of old rent rolls. He next bought up quantities of old fly-leaves of books, and on this ancient paper he indicted a sham confession of faith, which he attributed to Shakespeare. Being a strong "evangelical," young Mr. Ireland gave a very Protestant complexion to this edifying document. And still the critics gaped and wondered and believed.

Ireland's method was to write in an ink made by blending various liquids used in the marbling of paper for bookbinding. This stuff was supplied to him by a bookbinder's apprentice. When people asked questions as to whence all the new Shakespeare manuscripts came, he said they were presented to him by a gentleman who wished to remain anonymous. Finally, the impossibility of producing this gentleman was one of the causes of the detection of the fraud. According to himself, Ireland performed prodigies of acuteness. Once he had forged, at random, the name of a contemporary of Shakespeare. He was confronted with a genuine signature, which, of course, was quite different. He obtained leave to consult his "anonymous gentleman," rushed home, forged the name again on the model of what had been shown to him, and returned with this signature as a new gift from his benefactor. That nameless friend had informed him (he swore) that there were two persons of the same name, and that both signatures were genuine. Ireland's impudence went the length of introducing an ancestor of his own, with the same name as himself, among the companions of Shakespeare. If 'Vortigern' had succeeded (and it was actually put on the stage with all possible pomp), Ireland meant to have produced a series of pseudo-Shakespearian plays from William the Conqueror to Queen Elizabeth. When busy with 'Vortigern,' he was detected by a friend of his own age, who pounced on him while he was at work, as Lasus pounced on Onomacritus. The discoverer, however, consented to "stand in" with Ireland, and did not divulge his secret. At last, after the fiasco of 'Vortigern,' suspicion waxed so strong, and disagreeable inquiries for the anonymous benefactor were so numerous, that Ireland fled from his father's house. He confessed all, and, according to his own account, fell under the undying wrath of Samuel Ireland. Any reader of Ireland's confessions will be likely to sympathise with old Samuel as the dupe of his son. The whole story is told with a curious mixture of impudence and humour, and with great plausibility. Young Ireland admits that his "desire for laughter" was almost irresistible, when people—learned, pompous, sagacious people—listened attentively to the papers. One feels half inclined to forgive the rogue for the sake of his youth, his cleverness, his humour. But the 'Confessions' are, not improbably, almost as apocryphal as the original documents. They were written for the sake of money, and it is impossible to say how far the same mercenary motive actuated Ireland in his forgeries. Dr. Ingleby, in his 'Shakespeare Fabrications,' takes a very rigid view of the conduct, not only of William, but of old Samuel Ireland. Sam, according to Dr. Ingleby, was a partner in the whole imposture, and the confession was only one element in the scheme of fraud. Old Samuel was the Fagin of a band of young literary Dodgers. He "positively trained his whole family to trade in forgery," and as for Mr. W. H. Ireland, he was "the most accomplished liar that ever lived," which is certainly a distinction in its way. The point of the joke is that, after the whole conspiracy exploded, people were anxious to buy examples of the forgeries. Mr. W. H. Ireland was equal to the occasion. He actually forged his own, or (according to Dr. Ingleby) his father's forgeries, and, by thus increasing the supply, he deluged the market with sham shams, with imitations of imitations. If this accusation be correct, it is impossible not to admire the colossal impudence of Mr. W. H. Ireland. Dr. Ingleby, in the ardour of his honest indignation, pursues William into his private life, which, it appears, was far from exemplary. But literary criticism should be content with a man's works; his domestic life is matter, as Aristotle often says, "for a separate kind of investigation." Old Ritson used to say that "every literary impostor deserved hanging as much as a common thief." W. H. Ireland's merits were never recognised by the law.

How old Ritson would have punished "the old corrector," it is "better only guessing," as the wicked say, according to Clough, in regard to their own possible chastisement. The difficulty is to ascertain who the apocryphal old corrector really was. The story of his misdeeds was recently brought back to mind by the death, at an advanced age, of the learned Shakespearian, Mr. J. Payne Collier. Mr. Collier was, to put it mildly, the Shapira of the old corrector. He brought that artist's works before the public; but WHY? how deceived, or how influenced, it is once more "better only guessing." Mr. Collier first introduced to the public notice his singular copy of a folio Shakespeare (second edition), loaded with ancient manuscript emendations, in 1849. His account of this book was simple and plausible. He chanced, one day, to be in the shop of Mr. Rudd, the bookseller, in Great Newport Street, when a parcel of second-hand volumes arrived from the country. When the parcel was opened, the heart of the Bibliophile began to sing, for the packet contained two old folios, one of them an old folio Shakespeare of the second edition (1632). The volume (mark this) was "much cropped," greasy, and imperfect. Now the student of Mr. Hamilton's 'Inquiry' into the whole affair is already puzzled. In later days, Mr. Collier said that his folio had previously been in the possession of a Mr. Parry. On the other hand, Mr. Parry (then a very aged man) failed to recognise his folio in Mr. Collier's, for HIS copy was "cropped," whereas the leaves of Mr. Collier's example were NOT mutilated. Here, then ('Inquiry,' pp. 12, 61), we have two descriptions of the outward aspect of Mr. Collier's dubious treasure. In one account it is "much cropped" by the book-binder's cruel shears; in the other, its unmutilated condition is contrasted with that of a copy which has been "cropped." In any case, Mr. Collier hoped, he says, to complete an imperfect folio he possessed, with leaves taken from the folio newly acquired for thirty shillings. But the volumes happened to have the same defects, and the healing process was impossible. Mr. Collier chanced to be going into the country, when in packing the folio he had bought of Rudd he saw it was covered with manuscript corrections in an old hand. These he was inclined to attribute to one Thomas Perkins, whose name was written on the fly-leaf, and who might have been a connection of Richard Perkins, the actor (flor. 1633) The notes contained many various readings, and very numerous changes in punctuation. Some of these Mr. Collier published in his 'Notes and Emendations' (1852), and in an edition of the 'Plays.' There was much discussion, much doubt, and the folio of the old corrector (who was presumed to have marked the book in the theatre during early performances) was exhibited to the Society of Antiquaries. Then Mr. Collier presented the treasure to the Duke of Devonshire, who again lent it for examination to the British Museum. Mr. Hamilton published in the Times (July, 1859) the results of his examination of the old corrector. It turned out that the old corrector was a modern myth. He had first made his corrections in pencil and in a modern hand, and then he had copied them over in ink, and in a forged ancient hand. The same word sometimes recurred in both handwritings. The ink, which looked old, was really no English ink at all, not even Ireland's mixture. It seemed to be sepia, sometimes mixed with a little Indian ink. Mr. Hamilton made many other sad discoveries. He pointed out that Mr. Collier had published, from a Dulwich MS., a letter of Mrs. Alleyne's (the actor's wife), referring to Shakespeare as "Mr. Shakespeare of the Globe." Now the Dulwich MS. was mutilated and blank in the very place where this interesting reference should have occurred. Such is a skeleton history of the old corrector, his works and ways. It is probable that—thanks to his assiduities—new Shakespearian documents will in future be received with extreme scepticism; and this is all the fruit, except acres of newspaper correspondence, which the world has derived from Mr. Collier's greasy and imperfect but unique "corrected folio."

The recency and (to a Shakespearian critic) the importance of these forgeries obscures the humble merit of Surtees, with his ballads of the 'Slaying of Antony Featherstonhaugh,' and of 'Bartram's Dirge.' Surtees left clever lacunae in these songs, 'collected from oral tradition,' and furnished notes so learned that they took in Sir Walter Scott. There are moments when I half suspect "the Shirra himsel" (who blamelessly forged so many extracts from 'Old Plays') of having composed 'Kinmont Willie.' To compare old Scott of Satchell's account of Kinmont Willie with the ballad is to feel uncomfortable doubts. But this is a rank impiety. The last ballad forgery of much note was the set of sham Macedonian epics and popular songs (all about Alexander the Great, and other heroes) which a schoolmaster in the Rhodope imposed on M. Verkovitch. The trick was not badly done, and the imitation of "ballad slang" was excellent. The 'Oera Linda' book, too, was successful enough to be translated into English. With this latest effort of the tenth muse, the crafty muse of Literary Forgery, we may leave a topic which could not be exhausted in a ponderous volume. We have not room even for the forged letters of Shelley, to which Mr. Browning, being taken in thereby, wrote a preface, nor for the forged letters of Mr. Ruskin, which occasionally hoax all the newspapers.


The love of books for their own sake, for their paper, print, binding, and for their associations, as distinct from the love of literature, is a stronger and more universal passion in France than elsewhere in Europe. In England publishers are men of business; in France they aspire to be artists. In England people borrow what they read from the libraries, and take what gaudy cloth-binding chance chooses to send them. In France people buy books, and bind them to their heart's desire with quaint and dainty devices on the morocco covers. Books are lifelong friends in that country; in England they are the guests of a week or of a fortnight. The greatest French writers have been collectors of curious editions; they have devoted whole treatises to the love of books. The literature and history of France are full of anecdotes of the good and bad fortunes of bibliophiles, of their bargains, discoveries, disappointments. There lies before us at this moment a small library of books about books,—the 'Bibliophile Francais,' in seven large volumes, 'Les Sonnets d'un Bibliophile,' 'La Bibliomanie en 1878,' 'La Bibliotheque d'un Bibliophile' (1885) and a dozen other works of Janin, Nodier, Beraldi, Pieters, Didot, great collectors who have written for the instruction of beginners and the pleasure of every one who takes delight in printed paper.

The passion for books, like other forms of desire, has its changes of fashion. It is not always easy to justify the caprices of taste. The presence or absence of half an inch of paper in the "uncut" margin of a book makes a difference of value that ranges from five shillings to a hundred pounds. Some books are run after because they are beautifully bound; some are competed for with equal eagerness because they never have been bound at all. The uninitiated often make absurd mistakes about these distinctions. Some time ago the Daily Telegraph reproached a collector because his books were "uncut," whence, argued the journalist, it was clear that he had never read them. "Uncut," of course, only means that the margins have not been curtailed by the binders' plough. It is a point of sentiment to like books just as they left the hands of the old printers,—of Estienne, Aldus, or Louis Elzevir.

It is because the passion for books is a sentimental passion that people who have not felt it always fail to understand it. Sentiment is not an easy thing to explain. Englishmen especially find it impossible to understand tastes and emotions that are not their own,—the wrongs of Ireland, (till quite recently) the aspirations of Eastern Roumelia, the demands of Greece. If we are to understand the book-hunter, we must never forget that to him books are, in the first place, RELICS. He likes to think that the great writers whom he admires handled just such pages and saw such an arrangement of type as he now beholds. Moliere, for example, corrected the proofs for this edition of the 'Precieuses Ridicules,' when he first discovered "what a labour it is to publish a book, and how GREEN (NEUF) an author is the first time they print him." Or it may be that Campanella turned over, with hands unstrung, and still broken by the torture, these leaves that contain his passionate sonnets. Here again is the copy of Theocritus from which some pretty page may have read aloud to charm the pagan and pontifical leisure of Leo X. This Gargantua is the counterpart of that which the martyred Dolet printed for (or pirated from, alas!) Maitre Francois Rabelais. This woeful ballade, with the woodcut of three thieves hanging from one gallows, came near being the "Last Dying Speech and Confession of Francois Villon." This shabby copy of 'The Eve of St. Agnes' is precisely like that which Shelley doubled up and thrust into his pocket when the prow of the piratical felucca crashed into the timbers of the Don Juan. Some rare books have these associations, and they bring you nearer to the authors than do the modern reprints. Bibliophiles will tell you that it is the early READINGS they care for,—the author's first fancies, and those more hurried expressions which he afterwards corrected. These READINGS have their literary value, especially in the masterpieces of the great; but the sentiment after all is the main thing.

Other books come to be relics in another way. They are the copies which belonged to illustrious people,—to the famous collectors who make a kind of catena (a golden chain of bibliophiles) through the centuries since printing was invented. There are Grolier (1479- 1565),—not a bookbinder, as an English newspaper supposed (probably when Mr. Sala was on his travels),—De Thou (1553-1617), the great Colbert, the Duc de la Valliere (1708-1780), Charles Nodier, a man of yesterday, M. Didot, and the rest, too numerous to name. Again, there are the books of kings, like Francis I., Henri III., and Louis XIV. These princes had their favourite devices. Nicolas Eve, Padeloup, Derome, and other artists arrayed their books in morocco,- -tooled with skulls, cross-bones, and crucifixions for the voluptuous pietist Henri III., with the salamander for Francis I., and powdered with fleurs de lys for the monarch who "was the State." There are relics also of noble beauties. The volumes of Marguerite d'Angouleme are covered with golden daisies. The cipher of Marie Antoinette adorns too many books that Madame du Barry might have welcomed to her hastily improvised library. The three daughters of Louis XV. had their favourite colours of morocco, citron, red, and olive, and their books are valued as much as if they bore the bees of De Thou, or the intertwined C's of the illustrious and ridiculous Abbe Cotin, the Trissotin of the comedy. Surely in all these things there is a human interest, and our fingers are faintly thrilled, as we touch these books, with the far-off contact of the hands of kings and cardinals, scholars and coquettes, pedants, poets, and precieuses, the people who are unforgotten in the mob that inhabited dead centuries.

So universal and ardent has the love of magnificent books been in France, that it would be possible to write a kind of bibliomaniac history of that country. All her rulers, kings, cardinals, and ladies have had time to spare for collecting. Without going too far back, to the time when Bertha span and Charlemagne was an amateur, we may give a few specimens of an anecdotical history of French bibliolatry, beginning, as is courteous, with a lady. "Can a woman be a bibliophile?" is a question which was once discussed at the weekly breakfast party of Guilbert de Pixerecourt, the famous book- lover and playwright, the "Corneille of the Boulevards." The controversy glided into a discussion as to "how many books a man can love at a time;" but historical examples prove that French women (and Italian, witness the Princess d'Este) may be bibliophiles of the true strain. Diane de Poictiers was their illustrious patroness. The mistress of Henri II. possessed, in the Chateau d'Anet, a library of the first triumphs of typography. Her taste was wide in range, including songs, plays, romances, divinity; her copies of the Fathers were bound in citron morocco, stamped with her arms and devices, and closed with clasps of silver. In the love of books, as in everything else, Diane and Henri II. were inseparable. The interlaced H and D are scattered over the covers of their volumes; the lily of France is twined round the crescents of Diane, or round the quiver, the arrows, and the bow which she adopted as her cognisance, in honour of the maiden goddess. The books of Henri and of Diane remained in the Chateau d'Anet till the death of the Princesse de Conde in 1723, when they were dispersed. The son of the famous Madame de Guyon bought the greater part of the library, which has since been scattered again and again. M. Leopold Double, a well-known bibliophile, possessed several examples. {15}

Henry III. scarcely deserves, perhaps, the name of a book-lover, for he probably never read the works which were bound for him in the most elaborate way. But that great historian, Alexandre Dumas, takes a far more friendly view of the king's studies, and, in 'La Dame de Monsoreau,' introduces us to a learned monarch. Whether he cared for the contents of his books or not, his books are among the most singular relics of a character which excites even morbid curiosity. No more debauched and worthless wretch ever filled a throne; but, like the bad man in Aristotle, Henri III. was "full of repentance." When he was not dancing in an unseemly revel, he was on his knees in his chapel. The board of one of his books, of which an engraving lies before me, bears his cipher and crown in the corners; but the centre is occupied in front with a picture of the Annunciation, while on the back is the crucifixion and the breeding heart through which the swords have pierced. His favourite device was the death's-head, with the motto Memento Mori, or Spes mea Deus. While he was still only Duc d'Anjou, Henri loved Marie de Cleves, Princesse de Conde. On her sudden death he expressed his grief, as he had done his piety, by aid of the petits fers of the bookbinder. Marie's initials were stamped on his book-covers in a chaplet of laurels. In one corner a skull and cross-bones were figured; in the other the motto Mort m'est vie; while two curly objects, which did duty for tears, filled up the lower corners. The books of Henri III., even when they are absolutely worthless as literature, sell for high prices; and an inane treatise on theology, decorated with his sacred emblems, lately brought about 120 pounds in a London sale.

Francis I., as a patron of all the arts, was naturally an amateur of bindings. The fates of books were curiously illustrated by the story of the copy of Homer, on large paper, which Aldus, the great Venetian printer, presented to Francis I. After the death of the late Marquis of Hastings, better known as an owner of horses than of books, his possessions were brought to the hammer. With the instinct, the flair, as the French say, of the bibliophile, M. Ambroise Firmin Didot, the biographer of Aldus, guessed that the marquis might have owned something in his line. He sent his agent over to England, to the country town where the sale was to be held. M. Didot had his reward. Among the books which were dragged out of some mouldy store-room was the very Aldine Homer of Francis I., with part of the original binding still clinging to the leaves. M. Didot purchased the precious relic, and sent it to what M. Fertiault (who has written a century of sonnets on bibliomania) calls the hospital for books.

Le dos humide, je l'eponge; Ou manque un coin, vite une allonge, Pour tous j'ai maison de sante.

M. Didot, of course, did not practise this amateur surgery himself, but had the arms and devices of Francis I. restored by one of those famous binders who only work for dukes, millionnaires, and Rothschilds.

During the religious wars and the troubles of the Fronde, it is probable that few people gave much time to the collection of books. The illustrious exceptions are Richelieu and Cardinal Mazarin, who possessed a "snuffy Davy" of his own, an indefatigable prowler among book-stalls and dingy purlieus, in Gabriel Naude. In 1664, Naude, who was a learned and ingenious writer, the apologist for "great men suspected of magic," published the second edition of his 'Avis pour dresser une Bibliotheque,' and proved himself to be a true lover of the chase, a mighty hunter (of books) before the Lord. Naude's advice to the collector is rather amusing. He pretends not to care much for bindings, and quotes Seneca's rebuke of the Roman bibliomaniacs, Quos voluminum suorum frontes maxime placent titulique,—who chiefly care for the backs and lettering of their volumes. The fact is that Naude had the wealth of Mazarin at his back, and we know very well, from the remains of the Cardinal's library which exist, that he liked as well as any man to see his cardinal's hat glittering on red or olive morocco in the midst of the beautiful tooling of the early seventeenth century. When once he got a book, he would not spare to give it a worthy jacket. Naude's ideas about buying were peculiar. Perhaps he sailed rather nearer the wind than even Monkbarns would have cared to do. His favourite plan was to buy up whole libraries in the gross, "speculative lots" as the dealers call them. In the second place, he advised the book-lover to haunt the retreats of Libraires fripiers, et les vieux fonds et magasins. Here he truly observes that you may find rare books, broches,—that is, unbound and uncut,- -just as Mr. Symonds bought two uncut copies of 'Laon and Cythna' in a Bristol stall for a crown. "You may get things for four or five crowns that would cost you forty or fifty elsewhere," says Naude. Thus a few years ago M. Paul Lacroix bought for two francs, in a Paris shop, the very copy of 'Tartuffe' which had belonged to Louis XIV. The example may now be worth perhaps 200 pounds. But we are digressing into the pleasures of the modern sportsman.

It was not only in second-hand bookshops that Naude hunted, but among the dealers in waste paper. "Thus did Poggio find Quintilian on the counter of a wood-merchant, and Masson picked up 'Agobardus' at the shop of a binder, who was going to use the MS. to patch his books withal." Rossi, who may have seen Naude at work, tells us how he would enter a shop with a yard-measure in his hand, buying books, we are sorry to say, by the ell. "The stalls where he had passed were like the towns through which Attila or the Tartars had swept, with ruin in their train,—ut non hominis unius sedulitas, sed calamitas quaedam per omnes bibliopolarum tabernas pervasisse videatur!" Naude had sorrows of his own. In 1652 the Parliament decreed the confiscation of the splendid library of Mazarin, which was perhaps the first free library in Europe,—the first that was open to all who were worthy of right of entrance. There is a painful description of the sale, from which the book-lover will avert his eyes. On Mazarin's return to power he managed to collect again and enrich his stores, which form the germ of the existing Bibliotheque Mazarine.

Among princes and popes it is pleasant to meet one man of letters, and he the greatest of the great age, who was a bibliophile. The enemies and rivals of Moliere—De Vise, De Villiers, and the rest— are always reproaching him—with his love of bouquins. There is some difference of opinion among philologists about the derivation of bouquin, but all book-hunters know the meaning of the word. The bouquin is the "small, rare volume, black with tarnished gold," which lies among the wares of the stall-keeper, patient in rain and dust, till the hunter comes who can appreciate the quarry. We like to think of Moliere lounging through the narrow streets in the evening, returning, perhaps, from some noble house where he has been reading the proscribed 'Tartuffe,' or giving an imitation of the rival actors at the Hotel Bourgogne. Absent as the contemplateur is, a dingy book-stall wakens him from his reverie. His lace ruffles are soiled in a moment with the learned dust of ancient volumes. Perhaps he picks up the only work out of all his library that is known to exist,—un ravissant petit Elzevir, 'De Imperio Magni Mogolis' (Lugd. Bat. 1651). On the title-page of this tiny volume, one of the minute series of 'Republics' which the Elzevirs published, the poet has written his rare signature, "J. B. P. Moliere," with the price the book cost him, "1 livre, 10 sols." "Il n'est pas de bouquin qui s'echappe de ses mains," says the author of 'La Guerre Comique,' the last of the pamphlets which flew about during the great literary quarrel about "L'Ecole des Femmes." Thanks to M. Soulie the catalogue of Moliere's library has been found, though the books themselves have passed out of view. There are about three hundred and fifty volumes in the inventory, but Moliere's widow may have omitted as valueless (it is the foible of her sex) many rusty bouquins, now worth far more than their weight in gold. Moliere owned no fewer than two hundred and forty volumes of French and Italian comedies. From these he took what suited him wherever he found it. He had plenty of classics, histories, philosophic treatises, the essays of Montaigne, a Plutarch, and a Bible.

We know nothing, to the regret of bibliophiles, of Moliere's taste in bindings. Did he have a comic mask stamped on the leather (that device was chased on his plate), or did he display his cognizance and arms, the two apes that support a shield charged with three mirrors of Truth? It is certain—La Bruyere tells us as much—that the sillier sort of book-lover in the seventeenth century was much the same sort of person as his successor in our own time. "A man tells me he has a library," says La Bruyere (De la Mode); "I ask permission to see it. I go to visit my friend, and he receives me in a house where, even on the stairs, the smell of the black morocco with which his books are covered is so strong that I nearly faint. He does his best to revive me; shouts in my ear that the volumes 'have gilt edges,' that they are 'elegantly tooled,' that they are 'of the good edition,' . . . and informs me that 'he never reads,' that 'he never sets foot in this part of his house,' that he 'will come to oblige me!' I thank him for all his kindness, and have no more desire than himself to see the tanner's shop that he calls his library."

Colbert, the great minister of Louis XIV., was a bibliophile at whom perhaps La Bruyere would have sneered. He was a collector who did not read, but who amassed beautiful books, and looked forward, as business men do, to the day when he would have time to study them. After Grolier, De Thou, and Mazarin, Colbert possessed probably the richest private library in Europe. The ambassadors of France were charged to procure him rare books and manuscripts, and it is said that in a commercial treaty with the Porte he inserted a clause demanding a certain quantity of Levant morocco for the use of the royal bookbinders. England, in those days, had no literature with which France deigned to be acquainted. Even into England, however, valuable books had been imported; and we find Colbert pressing the French ambassador at St. James's to bid for him at a certain sale of rare heretical writings. People who wanted to gain his favour approached him with presents of books, and the city of Metz gave him two real curiosities—the famous "Metz Bible" and the Missal of Charles the Bald. The Elzevirs sent him their best examples, and though Colbert probably saw more of the gilt covers of his books than of their contents, at least he preserved and handed down many valuable works. As much may be said for the reprobate Cardinal Dubois, who, with all his faults, was a collector. Bossuet, on the other hand, left little or nothing of interest except a copy of the 1682 edition of Moliere, whom he detested and condemned to "the punishment of those who laugh." Even this book, which has a curious interest, has slipped out of sight, and may have ceased to exist.

If Colbert and Dubois preserved books from destruction, there are collectors enough who have been rescued from oblivion by books. The diplomacy of D'Hoym is forgotten; the plays of Longepierre, and his quarrels with J. B. Rousseau, are known only to the literary historian. These great amateurs have secured an eternity of gilt edges, an immortality of morocco. Absurd prices are given for any trash that belonged to them, and the writer of this notice has bought for four shillings an Elzevir classic, which when it bears the golden fleece of Longepierre is worth about 100 pounds. Longepierre, D'Hoym, McCarthy, and the Duc de la Valliere, with all their treasures, are less interesting to us than Graille, Coche and Loque, the neglected daughters of Louis XV. They found some pale consolation in their little cabinets of books, in their various liveries of olive, citron, and red morocco.

A lady amateur of high (book-collecting) reputation, the Comtesse de Verrue, was represented in the Beckford sale by one of three copies of 'L'Histoire de Melusine,' of Melusine, the twy-formed fairy, and ancestress of the house of Lusignan. The Comtesse de Verrue, one of the few women who have really understood book-collecting, {16} was born January 18, 1670, and died November 18, 1736. She was the daughter of Charles de Luynes and of his second wife, Anne de Rohan. When only thirteen she married the Comte de Verrue, who somewhat injudiciously presented her, a fleur de quinze ans, as Ronsard says, at the court of Victor Amadeus of Savoy. It is thought that the countess was less cruel than the fleur Angevine of Ronsard. For some reason the young matron fled from the court of Turin and returned to Paris, where she built a magnificent hotel, and received the most distinguished company. According to her biographer, the countess loved science and art jusqu'au delire, and she collected the furniture of the period, without neglecting the blue china of the glowing Orient. In ebony bookcases she possessed about eighteen thousand volumes, bound by the greatest artists of the day. "Without care for the present, without fear of the future, doing good, pursuing the beautiful, protecting the arts, with a tender heart and open hand, the countess passed through life, calm, happy, beloved, and admired." She left an epitaph on herself, thus rudely translated:-

Here lies, in sleep secure, A dame inclined to mirth, Who, by way of making sure, Chose her Paradise on earth.

During the Revolution, to like well-bound books was as much as to proclaim one an aristocrat. Condorcet might have escaped the scaffold if he had only thrown away the neat little Horace from the royal press, which betrayed him for no true Republican, but an educated man. The great libraries from the chateaux of the nobles were scattered among all the book-stalls. True sons of freedom tore off the bindings, with their gilded crests and scutcheons. One revolutionary writer declared, and perhaps he was not far wrong, that the art of binding was the worst enemy of reading. He always began his studies by breaking the backs of the volumes he was about to attack. The art of bookbinding in these sad years took flight to England, and was kept alive by artists robust rather than refined, like Thompson and Roger Payne. These were evil days, when the binder had to cut the aristocratic coat of arms out of a book cover, and glue in a gilt cap of liberty, as in a volume in an Oxford amateur's collection.

When Napoleon became Emperor, he strove in vain to make the troubled and feverish years of his power produce a literature. He himself was one of the most voracious readers of novels that ever lived. He was always asking for the newest of the new, and unfortunately even the new romances of his period were hopelessly bad. Barbier, his librarian, had orders to send parcels of fresh fiction to his majesty wherever he might happen to be, and great loads of novels followed Napoleon to Germany, Spain, Italy, Russia. The conqueror was very hard to please. He read in his travelling carriage, and after skimming a few pages would throw a volume that bored him out of the window into the highway. He might have been tracked by his trail of romances, as was Hop-o'-my-Thumb, in the fairy tale, by the white stones he dropped behind him. Poor Barbier, who ministered to a passion for novels that demanded twenty volumes a day, was at his wit's end. He tried to foist on the Emperor the romances of the year before last; but these Napoleon had generally read, and he refused, with imperial scorn, to look at them again. He ordered a travelling library of three thousand volumes to be made for him, but it was proved that the task could not be accomplished in less than six years. The expense, if only fifty copies of each example had been printed, would have amounted to more than six million francs. A Roman emperor would not have allowed these considerations to stand in his way; but Napoleon, after all, was a modern. He contented himself with a selection of books conveniently small in shape, and packed in sumptuous cases. The classical writers of France could never content Napoleon, and even from Moscow in 1812, he wrote to Barbier clamorous for new books, and good ones. Long before they could have reached Moscow, Napoleon was flying homeward before Kotousoff and Benningsen.

Napoleon was the last of the book-lovers who governed France. The Duc d'Aumale, a famous bibliophile, has never "come to his own," and of M. Gambetta it is only known that his devotional library, at least, has found its way into the market. We have reached the era of private book-fanciers: of Nodier, who had three libraries in his time, but never a Virgil; and of Pixerecourt, the dramatist, who founded the Societe des Bibliophiles Francais. The Romantic movement in French literature brought in some new fashions in book- hunting. The original editions of Ronsard, Des Portes, Belleau, and Du Bellay became invaluable; while the writings of Gautier, Petrus Borel, and others excited the passion of collectors. Pixerecourt was a believer in the works of the Elzevirs. On one occasion, when he was outbid by a friend at an auction, he cried passionately, "I shall have that book at your sale!" and, the other poor bibliophile soon falling into a decline and dying, Pixerecourt got the volume which he so much desired. The superstitious might have been excused for crediting him with the gift of jettatura,—of the evil eye. On Pixerecourt himself the evil eye fell at last; his theatre, the Gaiete, was burned down in 1835, and his creditors intended to impound his beloved books. The bibliophile hastily packed them in boxes, and conveyed them in two cabs and under cover of night to the house of M. Paul Lacroix. There they languished in exile till the affairs of the manager were settled.

Pixerecourt and Nodier, the most reckless of men, were the leaders of the older school of bibliomaniacs. The former was not a rich man; the second was poor, but he never hesitated in face of a price that he could not afford. He would literally ruin himself in the accumulation of a library, and then would recover his fortunes by selling his books. Nodier passed through life without a Virgil, because he never succeeded in finding the ideal Virgil of his dreams,—a clean, uncut copy of the right Elzevir edition, with the misprint, and the two passages in red letters. Perhaps this failure was a judgment on him for the trick by which he beguiled a certain collector of Bibles. He INVENTED an edition, and put the collector on the scent, which he followed vainly, till he died of the sickness of hope deferred.

One has more sympathy with the eccentricities of Nodier than with the mere extravagance of the new haute ecole of bibliomaniacs, the school of millionnaires, royal dukes, and Rothschilds. These amateurs are reckless of prices, and by their competition have made it almost impossible for a poor man to buy a precious book. The dukes, the Americans, the public libraries, snap them all up in the auctions. A glance at M. Gustave Brunet's little volume, 'La Bibliomanie en 1878,' will prove the excesses which these people commit. The funeral oration of Bossuet over Henriette Marie of France (1669), and Henriette Anne of England (1670), quarto, in the original binding, are sold for 200 pounds. It is true that this copy had possibly belonged to Bossuet himself, and certainly to his nephew. There is an example, as we have seen, of the 1682 edition of Moliere,—of Moliere whom Bossuet detested,—which also belonged to the eagle of Meaux. The manuscript notes of the divine on the work of the poor player must be edifying, and in the interests of science it is to be hoped that this book may soon come into the market. While pamphlets of Bossuet are sold so dear, the first edition of Homer—the beautiful edition of 1488, which the three young Florentine gentlemen published—may be had for 100 pounds. Yet even that seems expensive, when we remember that the copy in the library of George III. cost only seven shillings. This exquisite Homer, sacred to the memory of learned friendships, the chief offering of early printing at the altar of ancient poetry, is really one of the most interesting books in the world. Yet this Homer is less valued than the tiny octavo which contains the ballades and huitains of the scamp Francois Villon (1533). 'The History of the Holy Grail' (L'Hystoire du Sainct Greaal: Paris, 1523), in a binding stamped with the four crowns of Louis XIV., is valued at about 500 pounds. A chivalric romance of the old days, which was treasured even in the time of the grand monarque, when old French literature was so much despised, is certainly a curiosity. The Rabelais of Madame de Pompadour (in morocco) seems comparatively cheap at 60 pounds. There is something piquant in the idea of inheriting from that famous beauty the work of the colossal genius of Rabelais. {17}

The natural sympathy of collectors "to middle fortune born" is not with the rich men whose sport in book-hunting resembles the battue. We side with the poor hunters of the wild game, who hang over the fourpenny stalls on the quais, and dive into the dusty boxes after literary pearls. These devoted men rise betimes, and hurry to the stalls before the common tide of passengers goes by. Early morning is the best moment in this, as in other sports. At half past seven, in summer, the bouquiniste, the dealer in cheap volumes at second- hand, arrays the books which he purchased over night, the stray possessions of ruined families, the outcasts of libraries. The old- fashioned bookseller knew little of the value of his wares; it was his object to turn a small certain profit on his expenditure. It is reckoned that an energetic, business-like old bookseller will turn over 150,000 volumes in a year. In this vast number there must be pickings for the humble collector who cannot afford to encounter the children of Israel at Sotheby's or at the Hotel Drouot.

Let the enthusiast, in conclusion, throw a handful of lilies on the grave of the martyr of the love of books,—the poet Albert Glatigny. Poor Glatigny was the son of a garde champetre; his education was accidental, and his poetic taste and skill extraordinarily fine and delicate. In his life of starvation (he had often to sleep in omnibuses and railway stations), he frequently spent the price of a dinner on a new book. He lived to read and to dream, and if he bought books he had not the wherewithal to live. Still, he bought them,—and he died! His own poems were beautifully printed by Lemerre, and it may be a joy to him (si mentem mortalia tangunt) that they are now so highly valued that the price of a copy would have kept the author alive and happy for a month.


Nothing can be plainer, as a rule, than a modern English title-page. Its only beauty (if beauty it possesses) consists in the arrangement and 'massing' of lines of type in various sizes. We have returned almost to the primitive simplicity of the oldest printed books, which had no title-pages, properly speaking, at all, or merely gave, with extreme brevity, the name of the work, without printer's mark, or date, or place. These were reserved for the colophon, if it was thought desirable to mention them at all. Thus, in the black-letter example of Guido de Columna's 'History of Troy,' written about 1283, and printed at Strasburg in 1489, the title-page is blank, except for the words,

Hystoria Troiana Guidonis,

standing alone at the top of the leaf. The colophon contains all the rest of the information, 'happily completed in the City of Strasburg, in the year of Grace Mcccclxxxix, about the Feast of St. Urban.' The printer and publisher give no name at all.

This early simplicity is succeeded, in French books, from, say, 1510, and afterwards, by the insertion either of the printer's trademark, or, in black-letter books, of a rough woodcut, illustrative of the nature of the volume. The woodcuts have occasionally a rude kind of grace, with a touch of the classical taste of the early Renaissance surviving in extreme decay.

An excellent example is the title-page of 'Les Demandes d'amours, avec les responses joyeuses,' published by Jacques Moderne, at Lyon, 1540. There is a certain Pagan breadth and joyousness in the figure of Amor, and the man in the hood resembles traditional portraits of Dante.

There is more humour, and a good deal of skill, in the title-page of a book on late marriages and their discomforts, 'Les dictz et complainctes de trop Tard marie' (Jacques Moderne, Lyon, 1540), where we see the elderly and comfortable couple sitting gravely under their own fig-tree.

Jacques Moderne was a printer curious in these quaint devices, and used them in most of his books: for example, in 'How Satan and the God Bacchus accuse the Publicans that spoil the wine,' Bacchus and Satan (exactly like each other, as Sir Wilfrid Lawson will not be surprised to hear) are encouraging dishonest tavern-keepers to stew in their own juice in a caldron over a huge fire. From the same popular publisher came a little tract on various modes of sport, if the name of sport can be applied to the netting of fish and birds. The work is styled 'Livret nouveau auquel sont contenuz xxv receptes de prendre poissons et oiseaulx avec les mains.' A countryman clad in a goat's skin with the head and horns drawn over his head as a hood, is dragging ashore a net full of fishes. There is no more characteristic frontispiece of this black-letter sort than the woodcut representing a gallows with three men hanging on it, which illustrates Villon's 'Ballade des Pendus,' and is reproduced in Mr. John Payne's 'Poems of Master Francis Villon of Paris' (London, 1878). {18}

Earlier in date than these vignettes of Jacques Moderne, but much more artistic and refined in design, are some frontispieces of small octavos printed en lettres rondes, about 1530. In these rubricated letters are used with brilliant effect. One of the best is the title-page of Galliot du Pre's edition of 'Le Rommant de la Rose' (Paris, 1529). {19} Galliot du Pre's artist, however, surpassed even the charming device of the Lover plucking the Rose, in his title-page, of the same date, for the small octavo edition of Alain Chartier's poems, which we reproduce here.

The arrangement of letters, and the use of red, make a charming frame, as it were, to the drawing of the mediaeval ship, with the Motto VOGUE LA GALEE.

Title-pages like these, with designs appropriate to the character of the text, were superseded presently by the fashion of badges, devices, and mottoes. As courtiers and ladies had their private badges, not hereditary, like crests, but personal—the crescent of Diane, the salamander of Francis I., the skulls and cross-bones of Henri III., the marguerites of Marguerite, with mottoes like the Le Banny de liesse, Le traverseur des voies perilleuses, Tout par Soulas, and the like, so printers and authors had their emblems, and their private literary slogans. These they changed, accordinging

[Another illustration titled: Le Pastissier Francois, MDCLV, title page]

to fancy, or the vicissitudes of their lives. Clement Marot's motto was La Mort n'y Mord. It is indicated by the letters L. M. N. M. in the curious title of an edition of Marot's works published at Lyons by Jean de Tournes in 1579. The portrait represents the poet when the tide of years had borne him far from his youth, far from L'Adolescence Clementine.

[Another illustration titled: Le Pastissier Francois, 1655, showing a kitchen scene]

The unfortunate Etienne Dolet, perhaps the only publisher who was ever burned, used an ominous device, a trunk of a tree, with the axe struck into it. In publishing 'Les Marguerites de la Marguerite des Princesses, tres illustre Royne de Navarre,' Jean de Tournes employed a pretty allegorical device. Love, with the bandage thrust back from his eyes, and with the bow and arrows in his hand, has flown up to the sun, which he seems to touch; like Prometheus in the myth when he stole the fire, a shower of flowers and flames falls around him. Groueleau, of Paris, had for motto Nul ne s'y frotte, with the thistle for badge. These are beautifully combined in the title-page of his version of Apuleius, 'L'Amour de Cupido et de Psyche' (Paris, 1557). There is probably no better date for frontispieces, both for ingenuity of device and for elegance of arrangement of title, than the years between 1530 and 1560. By 1562, when the first edition of the famous Fifth Book of Rabelais was published, the printers appear to have thought devices wasted on popular books, and the title of the Master's posthumous chapters is printed quite simply.

In 1532-35 there was a more adventurous taste—witness the title of 'Gargantua.' This beautiful title decorates the first known edition, with a date of the First Book of Rabelais. It was sold, most appropriately, devant nostre Dame de Confort. Why should so glorious a relic of the Master have been carried out of England, at the Sunderland sale? All the early titles of Francois Juste's Lyons editions of Rabelais are on this model. By 1542 he dropped the framework of architectural design. By 1565 Richard Breton, in Paris, was printing Rabelais with a frontispiece of a classical dame holding a heart to the sun, a figure which is almost in the taste of Stothard, or Flaxman.

The taste for vignettes, engraved on copper, not on wood, was revived under the Elzevirs. Their pretty little title-pages are not so well known but that we offer examples. In the essay on the Elzevirs in this volume will be found a copy of the vignette of the 'Imitatio Christi,' and of 'Le Pastissier Francois' a reproduction is given here (pp. 114, 115). The artists they employed had plenty of fancy, not backed by very profound skill in design.

In the same genre as the big-wigged classicism of the Elzevir vignettes, in an age when Louis XIV. and Moliere (in tragedy) wore laurel wreaths over vast perruques, are the early frontispieces of Moliere's own collected works. Probably the most interesting of all French title-pages are those drawn by Chauveau for the two volumes 'Les Oeuvres de M. de Moliere,' published in 1666 by Guillaume de Luynes. The first shows Moliere in two characters, as Mascarille, and as Sganarelle, in 'Le Cocu Imaginaire.' Contrast the full-blown jollity of the fourbum imperator, in his hat, and feather, and wig, and vast canons, and tremendous shoe-tie, with the lean melancholy of jealous Sganarelle. These are two notable aspects of the genius of the great comedian. The apes below are the supporters of his scutcheon.

The second volume shows the Muse of Comedy crowning Mlle. de Moliere (Armande Bejart) in the dress of Agnes, while her husband is in the costume, apparently, of Tartuffe, or of Sganarelle in 'L'Ecole des Femmes.' 'Tartuffe' had not yet been licensed for a public stage. The interest of the portraits and costumes makes these title-pages precious, they are historical documents rather than mere curiosities.

These title-pages of Moliere are the highwater mark of French taste in this branch of decoration. In the old quarto first editions of Corneille's early plays, such as 'Le Cid' (Paris 1637), the printers used lax and sprawling combinations of flowers and fruit. These, a little better executed, were the staple of Ribou, de Luynes, Quinet, and the other Parisian booksellers who, one after another, failed to satisfy Moliere as publishers.

The basket of fruits on the title-page of 'Iphigenie,' par M. Racine (Barbin, Paris, 1675), is almost, but not quite, identical with the similar ornament of De Vise's 'La Cocue Imaginaire' (Ribou, Paris 1662). Many of Moliere's plays appearing first, separately, in small octavo, were adorned with frontispieces, illustrative of some scene in the comedy. Thus, in the 'Misanthrope' (Rihou 1667) we see Alceste, green ribbons and all, discoursing with Philinte, or perhaps listening to the famous sonnet of Oronte; it is not easy to be quite certain, but the expression of Alceste's face looks rather as if he were being baited with a sonnet. From the close of the seventeenth century onwards, the taste for title-pages declined, except when Moreau or Gravelot drew vignettes on copper, with abundance of cupids and nymphs. These were designed for very luxurious and expensive books; for others, men contented themselves with a bald simplicity, which has prevailed till our own time. In recent years the employment of publishers' devices has been less unusual and more agreeable. Thus Poulet Malassis had his armes parlantes, a chicken very uncomfortably perched on a rail. In England we have the cipher and bees of Messrs. Macmillan, the Trees of Life and Knowledge of Messrs. Kegan Paul and Trench, the Ship, which was the sign of Messrs. Longman's early place of business, and doubtless other symbols, all capable of being quaintly treated in a title-page.


Thomas Blinton was a book-hunter. He had always been a book-hunter, ever since, at an extremely early age, he had awakened to the errors of his ways as a collector of stamps and monograms. In book-hunting he saw no harm; nay, he would contrast its joys, in a rather pharisaical style, with the pleasures of shooting and fishing. He constantly declined to believe that the devil came for that renowned amateur of black letter, G. Steevens. Dibdin himself, who tells the story (with obvious anxiety and alarm), pretends to refuse credit to the ghastly narrative. "His language," says Dibdin, in his account of the book-hunter's end, "was, too frequently, the language of imprecation." This is rather good, as if Dibdin thought a gentleman might swear pretty often, but not "TOO frequently." "Although I am not disposed to admit," Dibdin goes on, "the WHOLE of the testimony of the good woman who watched by Steevens's bedside, although my prejudices (as they may be called) will not allow me to believe that the windows shook, and that strange noises and deep groans were heard at midnight in his room, yet no creature of common sense (and this woman possessed the quality in an eminent degree) could mistake oaths for prayers;" and so forth. In short, Dibdin clearly holds that the windows did shake "without a blast," like the banners in Branxholme Hall when somebody came for the Goblin Page.

But Thomas Blinton would hear of none of these things. He said that his taste made him take exercise; that he walked from the City to West Kensington every day, to beat the covers of the book-stalls, while other men travelled in the expensive cab or the unwholesome Metropolitan Railway. We are all apt to hold favourable views of our own amusements, and, for my own part, I believe that trout and salmon are incapable of feeling pain. But the flimsiness of Blinton's theories must be apparent to every unbiassed moralist. His "harmless taste" really involved most of the deadly sins, or at all events a fair working majority of them. He coveted his neighbours' books. When he got the chance he bought books in a cheap market and sold them in a dear market, thereby degrading literature to the level of trade. He took advantage of the ignorance of uneducated persons who kept book-stalls. He was envious, and grudged the good fortune of others, while he rejoiced in their failures. He turned a deaf ear to the appeals of poverty. He was luxurious, and laid out more money than he should have done on his selfish pleasures, often adorning a volume with a morocco binding when Mrs. Blinton sighed in vain for some old point d'Alencon lace. Greedy, proud, envious, stingy, extravagant, and sharp in his dealings, Blinton was guilty of most of the sins which the Church recognises as "deadly."

On the very day before that of which the affecting history is now to be told, Blinton had been running the usual round of crime. He had (as far as intentions went) defrauded a bookseller in Holywell Street by purchasing from him, for the sum of two shillings, what he took to be a very rare Elzevir. It is true that when he got home and consulted 'Willems,' he found that he had got hold of the wrong copy, in which the figures denoting the numbers of pages are printed right, and which is therefore worth exactly "nuppence" to the collector. But the intention is the thing, and Blinton's intention was distinctly fraudulent. When he discovered his error, then "his language," as Dibdin says, "was that of imprecation." Worse (if possible) than this, Blinton had gone to a sale, begun to bid for 'Les Essais de Michel, Seigneur de Montaigne' (Foppens, MDCLIX.), and, carried away by excitement, had "plunged" to the extent of 15 pounds, which was precisely the amount of money he owed his plumber and gasfitter, a worthy man with a large family. Then, meeting a friend (if the book-hunter has friends), or rather an accomplice in lawless enterprise, Blinton had remarked the glee on the other's face. The poor man had purchased a little old Olaus Magnus, with woodcuts, representing were-wolves, fire-drakes, and other fearful wild-fowl, and was happy in his bargain. But Blinton, with fiendish joy, pointed out to him that the index was imperfect, and left him sorrowing.

Deeds more foul have yet to be told. Thomas Blinton had discovered a new sin, so to speak, in the collecting way. Aristophanes says of one of his favourite blackguards, "Not only is he a villain, but he has invented an original villainy." Blinton was like this. He maintained that every man who came to notoriety had, at some period, published a volume of poems which he had afterwards repented of and withdrawn. It was Blinton's hideous pleasure to collect stray copies of these unhappy volumes, these 'Peches de Jeunesse,' which, always and invariably, bear a gushing inscription from the author to a friend. He had all Lord John Manners's poems, and even Mr. Ruskin's. He had the 'Ode to Despair' of Smith (now a comic writer), and the 'Love Lyrics' of Brown, who is now a permanent under-secretary, than which nothing can be less gay nor more permanent. He had the amatory songs which a dignitary of the Church published and withdrew from circulation. Blinton was wont to say he expected to come across 'Triolets of a Tribune,' by Mr. John Bright, and 'Original Hymns for Infant Minds,' by Mr. Henry Labouchere, if he only hunted long enough.

On the day of which I speak he had secured a volume of love-poems which the author had done his best to destroy, and he had gone to his club and read all the funniest passages aloud to friends of the author, who was on the club committee. Ah, was this a kind action? In short, Blinton had filled up the cup of his iniquities, and nobody will be surprised to hear that he met the appropriate punishment of his offence. Blinton had passed, on the whole, a happy day, notwithstanding the error about the Elzevir. He dined well at his club, went home, slept well, and started next morning for his office in the City, walking, as usual, and intending to pursue the pleasures of the chase at all the book-stalls. At the very first, in the Brompton Road, he saw a man turning over the rubbish in the cheap box. Blinton stared at him, fancied he knew him, thought he didn't, and then became a prey to the glittering eye of the other. The Stranger, who wore the conventional cloak and slouched soft hat of Strangers, was apparently an accomplished mesmerist, or thought-reader, or adept, or esoteric Buddhist. He resembled Mr. Isaacs, Zanoni (in the novel of that name), Mendoza (in 'Codlingsby'), the soul-less man in 'A Strange Story,' Mr. Home, Mr. Irving Bishop, a Buddhist adept in the astral body, and most other mysterious characters of history and fiction. Before his Awful Will, Blinton's mere modern obstinacy shrank back like a child abashed. The Stranger glided to him and whispered, "Buy these."

"These" were a complete set of Auerbach's novels, in English, which, I need not say, Blinton would never have dreamt of purchasing had he been left to his own devices.

"Buy these!" repeated the Adept, or whatever he was, in a cruel whisper. Paying the sum demanded, and trailing his vast load of German romance, poor Blinton followed the fiend.

They reached a stall where, amongst much trash, Glatigny's 'Jour de l'An d'un Vagabond' was exposed.

"Look," said Blinton, "there is a book I have wanted some time. Glatignys are getting rather scarce, and it is an amusing trifle."

" Nay, buy THAT," said the implacable Stranger, pointing with a hooked forefinger at Alison's 'History of Europe' in an indefinite number of volumes. Blinton shuddered.

"What, buy THAT, and why? In heaven's name, what could I do with it?"

"Buy it," repeated the persecutor, "and THAT" (indicating the 'Ilios' of Dr. Schliemann, a bulky work), "and THESE" (pointing to all Mr. Theodore Alois Buckley's translations of the Classics), "and THESE" (glancing at the collected writings of the late Mr. Hain Friswell, and at a 'Life,' in more than one volume, of Mr. Gladstone).

The miserable Blinton paid, and trudged along carrying the bargains under his arm. Now one book fell out, now another dropped by the way. Sometimes a portion of Alison came ponderously to earth; sometimes the 'Gentle Life' sunk resignedly to the ground. The Adept kept picking them up again, and packing them under the arms of the weary Blinton.

The victim now attempted to put on an air of geniality, and tried to enter into conversation with his tormentor.

"He DOES know about books," thought Blinton, "and he must have a weak spot somewhere."

So the wretched amateur made play in his best conversational style. He talked of bindings, of Maioli, of Grolier, of De Thou, of Derome, of Clovis Eve, of Roger Payne, of Trautz, and eke of Bauzonnet. He discoursed of first editions, of black letter, and even of illustrations and vignettes. He approached the topic of Bibles, but here his tyrant, with a fierce yet timid glance, interrupted him.

"Buy those!" he hissed through his teeth.

"Those" were the complete publications of the Folk Lore Society.

Blinton did not care for folk lore (very bad men never do), but he had to act as he was told.

Then, without pause or remorse, he was charged to acquire the 'Ethics' of Aristotle, in the agreeable versions of Williams and Chase. Next he secured 'Strathmore,' 'Chandos,' 'Under Two Flags,' and 'Two Little Wooden Shoes,' and several dozens more of Ouida's novels. The next stall was entirely filled with school-books, old geographies, Livys, Delectuses, Arnold's 'Greek Exercises,' Ollendorffs, and what not.

"Buy them all," hissed the fiend. He seized whole boxes and piled them on Blinton's head.

He tied up Ouida's novels, in two parcels, with string, and fastened each to one of the buttons above the tails of Blinton's coat.

"You are tired?" asked the tormentor. "Never mind, these books will soon be off your hands."

So speaking, the Stranger, with amazing speed, hurried Blinton back through Holywell Street, along the Strand, and up to Piccadilly, stopping at last at the door of Blinton's famous and very expensive binder.

The binder opened his eyes, as well he might, at the vision of Blinton's treasures. Then the miserable Blinton found himself, as it were automatically and without any exercise of his will, speaking thus:-

"Here are some things I have picked up,—extremely rare,—and you will oblige me by binding them in your best manner, regardless of expense. Morocco, of course; crushed levant morocco, double, every book of them, petits fers, my crest and coat of arms, plenty of gilding. Spare no cost. Don't keep me waiting, as you generally do;" for indeed book-binders are the most dilatory of the human species.

Before the astonished binder could ask the most necessary questions, Blinton's tormentor had hurried that amateur out of the room.

"Come on to the sale," he cried.

"What sale?" said Blinton.

"Why, the Beckford sale; it is the thirteenth day, a lucky day."

"But I have forgotten my catalogue."

"Where is it?"

"In the third shelf from the top, on the right-hand side of the ebony book-case at home."

The stranger stretched out his arm, which swiftly elongated itself till the hand disappeared from view round the corner. In a moment the hand returned with the catalogue. The pair sped on to Messrs. Sotheby's auction-rooms in Wellington Street. Every one knows the appearance of a great book-sale. The long table, surrounded by eager bidders, resembles from a little distance a roulette table, and communicates the same sort of excitement. The amateur is at a loss to know how to conduct himself. If he bids in his own person some bookseller will outbid him, partly because the bookseller knows, after all, he knows little about books, and suspects that the amateur may, in this case, know more. Besides, professionals always dislike amateurs, and, in this game, they have a very great advantage. Blinton knew all this, and was in the habit of giving his commissions to a broker. But now he felt (and very naturally) as if a demon had entered into him. 'Tirante il Bianco Valorosissimo Cavaliere' was being competed for, an excessively rare romance of chivalry, in magnificent red Venetian morocco, from Canevari's library. The book is one of the rarest of the Venetian Press, and beautifully adorned with Canevari's device,—a simple and elegant affair in gold and colours. "Apollo is driving his chariot across the green waves towards the rock, on which winged Pegasus is pawing the ground," though why this action of a horse should be called "pawing" (the animal notoriously not possessing paws) it is hard to say. Round this graceful design is the inscription [Greek text] (straight not crooked). In his ordinary mood Blinton could only have admired 'Tirante il Bianco' from a distance. But now, the demon inspiring him, he rushed into the lists, and challenged the great Mr. -, the Napoleon of bookselling. The price had already reached five hundred pounds.

"Six hundred," cried Blinton.

"Guineas," said the great Mr. -.

"Seven hundred," screamed Blinton.

"Guineas," replied the other.

This arithmetical dialogue went on till even Mr. — struck his flag, with a sigh, when the maddened Blinton had said "Six thousand." The cheers of the audience rewarded the largest bid ever made for any book. As if he had not done enough, the Stranger now impelled Blinton to contend with Mr. — for every expensive work that appeared. The audience naturally fancied that Blinton was in the earlier stage of softening of the brain, when a man conceives himself to have inherited boundless wealth, and is determined to live up to it. The hammer fell for the last time. Blinton owed some fifty thousand pounds, and exclaimed audibly, as the influence of the fiend died out, "I am a ruined man."

"Then your books must be sold," cried the Stranger, and, leaping on a chair, he addressed the audience:-

"Gentlemen, I invite you to Mr. Blinton's sale, which will immediately take place. The collection contains some very remarkable early English poets, many first editions of the French classics, most of the rarer Aldines, and a singular assortment of Americana."

In a moment, as if by magic, the shelves round the room were filled with Blinton's books, all tied up in big lots of some thirty volumes each. His early Molieres were fastened to old French dictionaries and school-books. His Shakespeare quartos were in the same lot with tattered railway novels. His copy (almost unique) of Richard Barnfield's much too 'Affectionate Shepheard' was coupled with odd volumes of 'Chips from a German Workshop' and a cheap, imperfect example of 'Tom Brown's School-Days.' Hookes's 'Amanda' was at the bottom of a lot of American devotional works, where it kept company with an Elzevir Tacitus and the Aldine 'Hypnerotomachia.' The auctioneer put up lot after lot, and Blinton plainly saw that the whole affair was a "knock-out." His most treasured spoils were parted with at the price of waste paper. It is an awful thing to be present at one's own sale. No man would bid above a few shillings. Well did Blinton know that after the knock-out the plunder would be shared among the grinning bidders. At last his 'Adonais,' uncut, bound by Lortic, went, in company with some old 'Bradshaws,' the 'Court Guide' of 1881, and an odd volume of the 'Sunday at Home,' for sixpence. The Stranger smiled a smile of peculiar malignity. Blinton leaped up to protest; the room seemed to shake around him, but words would not come to his lips.

Then he heard a familiar voice observe, as a familiar grasp shook his shoulder,—

"Tom, Tom, what a nightmare you are enjoying!"

He was in his own arm-chair, where he had fallen asleep after dinner, and Mrs. Blinton was doing her best to arouse him from his awful vision. Beside him lay 'L'Enfer du Bibliophile, vu et decrit par Charles Asselineau.' (Paris: Tardieu, MDCCCLX.)

If this were an ordinary tract, I should have to tell how Blinton's eyes were opened, how he gave up book-collecting, and took to gardening, or politics, or something of that sort. But truth compels me to admit that Blinton's repentance had vanished by the end of the week, when he was discovered marking M. Claudin's catalogue, surreptitiously, before breakfast. Thus, indeed, end all our remorses. "Lancelot falls to his own love again," as in the romance. Much, and justly, as theologians decry a death-bed repentance, it is, perhaps, the only repentance that we do not repent of. All others leave us ready, when occasion comes, to fall to our old love again; and may that love never be worse than the taste for old books! Once a collector, always a collector. Moi qui parle, I have sinned, and struggled, and fallen. I have thrown catalogues, unopened, into the waste-paper basket. I have withheld my feet from the paths that lead to Sotheby's and to Puttick's. I have crossed the street to avoid a book-stall. In fact, like the prophet Nicholas, "I have been known to be steady for weeks at a time." And then the fatal moment of temptation has arrived, and I have succumbed to the soft seductions of Eisen, or Cochin, or an old book on Angling. Probably Grolier was thinking of such weaknesses when he chose his devices Tanquam Ventus, and quisque suos patimur Manes. Like the wind we are blown about, and, like the people in the AEneid, we are obliged to suffer the consequences of our own extravagance.


The Books I cannot hope to buy, Their phantoms round me waltz and wheel, They pass before the dreaming eye, Ere Sleep the dreaming eye can seal. A kind of literary reel They dance; how fair the bindings shine! Prose cannot tell them what I feel,— The Books that never can be mine!

There frisk Editions rare and shy, Morocco clad from head to heel; Shakspearian quartos; Comedy As first she flashed from Richard Steele; And quaint De Foe on Mrs. Veal; And, lord of landing net and line, Old Izaak with his fishing creel,— The Books that never can be mine!

Incunables! for you I sigh, Black letter, at thy founts I kneel, Old tales of Perrault's nursery, For you I'd go without a meal! For Books wherein did Aldus deal And rare Galliot du Pre I pine. The watches of the night reveal The Books that never can be mine!


Prince, bear a hopeless Bard's appeal; Reverse the rules of Mine and Thine; Make it legitimate to steal The Books that never can be mine!


The biographer of Mrs. Aphra Behn refutes the vulgar error that "a Dutchman cannot love." Whether or not a lady can love books is a question that may not be so readily settled. Mr. Ernest Quentin Bauchart has contributed to the discussion of this problem by publishing a bibliography, in two quarto volumes, of books which have been in the libraries of famous beauties of old, queens and princesses of France. There can be no doubt that these ladies were possessors of exquisite printed books and manuscripts wonderfully bound, but it remains uncertain whether the owners, as a rule, were bibliophiles; whether their hearts were with their treasures. Incredible as it may seem to us now, literature was highly respected in the past, and was even fashionable. Poets were in favour at court, and Fashion decided that the great must possess books, and not only books, but books produced in the utmost perfection of art, and bound with all the skill at the disposal of Clovis Eve, and Padeloup, and Duseuil. Therefore, as Fashion gave her commands, we cannot hastily affirm that the ladies who obeyed were really book- lovers. In our more polite age, Fashion has decreed that ladies shall smoke, and bet, and romp, but it would be premature to assert that all ladies who do their duty in these matters are born romps, or have an unaffected liking for cigarettes. History, however, maintains that many of the renowned dames whose books are now the most treasured of literary relics were actually inclined to study as well as to pleasure, like Marguerite de Valois and the Comtesse de Verrue, and even Madame de Pompadour. Probably books and arts were more to this lady's liking than the diversions by which she beguiled the tedium of Louis XV.; and many a time she would rather have been quiet with her plays and novels than engaged in conscientiously conducted but distasteful revels.

Like a true Frenchman, M. Bauchart has only written about French lady book-lovers, or about women who, like Mary Stuart, were more than half French. Nor would it be easy for an English author to name, outside the ranks of crowned heads, like Elizabeth, any Englishwomen of distinction who had a passion for the material side of literature, for binding, and first editions, and large paper, and engravings in early "states." The practical sex, when studious, is like the same sex when fond of equestrian exercise. "A lady says, 'My heyes, he's an 'orse, and he must go,'" according to Leech's groom. In the same way, a studious girl or matron says, "This is a book," and reads it, if read she does, without caring about the date, or the state, or the publisher's name, or even very often about the author's. I remember, before the publication of a novel now celebrated, seeing a privately printed vellum-bound copy on large paper in the hands of a literary lady. She was holding it over the fire, and had already made the vellum covers curl wide open like the shells of an afflicted oyster.

When I asked what the volume was, she explained that "It is a book which a poor man has written, and he's had it printed to see whether some one won't be kind enough to publish it." I ventured, perhaps pedantically, to point out that the poor man could not be so very poor, or he would not have made so costly an experiment on Dutch paper. But the lady said she did not know how that might be, and she went on toasting the experiment. In all this there is a fine contempt for everything but the spiritual aspect of literature; there is an aversion to the mere coquetry and display of morocco and red letters, and the toys which amuse the minds of men. Where ladies have caught "the Bibliomania," I fancy they have taken this pretty fever from the other sex. But it must be owned that the books they have possessed, being rarer and more romantic, are even more highly prized by amateurs than examples from the libraries of Grolier, and Longepierre, and D'Hoym. M. Bauchart's book is a complete guide to the collector of these expensive relics. He begins his dream of fair women who have owned books with the pearl of the Valois, Marguerite d'Angouleme, the sister of Francis I. The remains of her library are chiefly devotional manuscripts. Indeed, it is to be noted that all these ladies, however frivolous, possessed the most devout and pious books, and whole collections of prayers copied out by the pen, and decorated with miniatures. Marguerite's library was bound in morocco, stamped with a crowned M in interlacs sown with daisies, or, at least, with conventional flowers which may have been meant for daisies. If one could choose, perhaps the most desirable of the specimens extant is 'Le Premier Livre du Prince des Poetes, Homere,' in Salel's translation. For this translation Ronsard writes a prologue, addressed to the manes of Salel, in which he complains that he is ridiculed for his poetry. He draws a characteristic picture of Homer and Salel in Elysium, among the learned lovers:

qui parmi les fleurs devisent Au giron de leur dame.

Marguerite's manuscript copy of the First Book of the Iliad is a small quarto, adorned with daisies, fleurs de-lis, and the crowned M. It is in the Duc d'Aumale's collection at Chantilly. The books of Diane de Poitiers are more numerous and more famous. When first a widow she stamped her volumes with a laurel springing from a tomb, and the motto, "Sola vivit in illo." But when she consoled herself with Henri II. she suppressed the tomb, and made the motto meaningless. Her crescent shone not only on her books, but on the palace walls of France, in the Louvre, Fontainebleau, and Anet, and her initial D. is inextricably interlaced with the H. of her royal lover. Indeed, Henri added the D to his own cypher, and this must have been so embarrassing for his wife Catherine, that people have good-naturedly tried to read the curves of the D's as C's. The D's, and the crescents, and the bows of his Diana are impressed even on the covers of Henri's Book of Hours. Catherine's own cypher is a double C enlaced with an H, or double K's (Katherine) combined in the same manner. These, unlike the D.H., are surmounted with a crown—the one advantage which the wife possessed over the favourite. Among Diane's books are various treatises on medicines and on surgery, and plenty of poetry and Italian novels. Among the books exhibited at the British Museum in glass cases is Diane's copy of Bembo's 'History of Venice.' An American collector, Mr. Barlow, of New York, is happy enough to possess her 'Singularitez de la France Antarctique' (Antwerp, 1558).

Catherine de Medicis got splendid books on the same terms as foreign pirates procure English novels—she stole them. The Marshal Strozzi, dying in the French service, left a noble collection, on which Catherine laid her hands. Brantome says that Strozzi's son often expressed to him a candid opinion about this transaction. What with her own collection and what with the Marshal's, Catherine possessed about four thousand volumes. On her death they were in peril of being seized by her creditors, but her almoner carried them to his own house, and De Thou had them placed in the royal library. Unluckily it was thought wiser to strip the books of the coats with Catherine's compromising device, lest her creditors should single them out, and take them away in their pockets. Hence, books with her arms and cypher are exceedingly rare. At the sale of the collections of the Duchesse de Berry, a Book of Hours of Catherine's was sold for 2,400 pounds.

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