The Library (Lang)


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First Edition printed 1881.

Second Edition. The final chapter enlarged, and further

illustrations added 1892.


The pages in this volume on illuminated and other MSS. (with the exception of some anecdotes about Bussy Rabutin and Julie de Rambouillet) have been contributed by the Rev. W. J. Loftie, who has also written on early printed books (pp. 94-95). The pages on the Biblioklept (pp. 46-56) are reprinted, with the Editor's kind permission, from the Saturday Review; and a few remarks on the moral lessons of bookstalls are taken from an essay in the same journal.

Mr. Ingram Bywater, Fellow of Exeter College, and lately subLibrarian of the Bodleian, has very kindly read through the proofs of chapters I., II., and III., and suggested some alterations.

Thanks are also due to Mr. T. R. Buchanan, Fellow of All Souls College, for two plates from his "Book-bindings in All Souls Library" (printed for private circulation), which he has been good enough to lend me. The plates are beautifully drawn and coloured by Dr. J. J. Wild. Messrs. George Bell & Sons, Messrs. Bradbury, Agnew, & Co., and Messrs. Chatto & Windus, must be thanked for the use of some of the woodcuts which illustrate the concluding chapter.

The late M. Jules Andrieu was so kind as to edit and improve the rondeau in Old French and in black letter.A. L.


This little volume on "The Library" was written ten years ago, when the author's knowledge of books, never exhaustive, was younger and scantier than it is to-day. There have been many changes of taste among collectors, as is natural. Many great libraries, as the Hamilton Library and the Beckford collection, have been dispersed. They contained, among other rarities of which little is said in the following pages, examples of old romances, usually in black letter, and old works of travel, and Americana. On the whole, these things are beyond the purse of the kind of buyer in whose ear the "Library" is intended to gossip. The serious and opulent collector can study the catalogues of Mr. Hutts, Mr. Locker Lampson, Mr. Henry Hucks Gibbs, and others, in which he will find plenty of information. To lighter minds one may recommend "La Bibliothèque d'un Bibliophile," M. Paillet's catalogue, which is full of most humorous writing, and " Mes Livres," by M. Quentin Bauchart, and the works of Le Toqué commonly so called. But experience only, not study, can enlighten the collector. He must pay for his knowledge, like other mortals. One piece of advice may be given to him. It is far wiser to buy seldom, and at a high price, than to run round the stalls collecting twopenny treasures. This counsel was not taken by him who gives it. When I collected books ("'tis gone, 'tis gone"), I got together a wonderful heap of volumes, hopelessly imperfect. My "Lucasta," by Richard Lovelace, Esq. (1649), lacks the frontispiece. My Rochefoucauld (1665) has a couple of pages in facsimile (I know not which they are), and so forth. These things, though useful in a literary sense, are twopenny treasures. As for the short Elzevirs, the late Aldines, the incomplete angling curiosities, their name is legion. These are examples to avoid, and to be avoided is the habit of miscellaneously buying any volume which seems uncommon, except, of course, when it has a literary use. I is an error often to buy a book from a catalogue without inspecting it. Many booksellers appear to be careless or ignorant in collecting their wares, and sell what is discovered, too late, to be imperfect. As to buying bargains, valuable books at a low price, a question of casuistry arises. M. Paul Lacroix once bought an original "Tartufe," with the king's arms, for a couple of francs. He gave it on the same day to a famous French collector, and on the same day the bookseller found out his mistake. The collector declined to return the volume, or to pay the usual price, and this conduct we must blame. But, on one occasion, a lady bookseller having sold me three original volumes of Alfred de Musset for a shilling a piece, she declined to accept a higher ransom, alleging that it was well for customers to have a bargain now and then. Every buyer must consult his own conscience: I think he will usually find the bookseller content with his normal profit. In ignorance some booksellers ask absurdly high prices, just as others ask prices absurdly, low.

The taste for large paper copies of new books has greatly increased since the "Library" was written. It does not become an author to complain whose own modest gains are increased by this fashion. But it seems clear enough that the fashion, and that other fashion of buying the first editions of contemporaries, is exaggerated. It is not every book, by any means, that is the better for being printed on large paper. Often the smaller size is much more handy and appropriate. Why Mr. Stevenson's first editions should be four or five times as valuable as Sir Walter Scott's is a mystery which, I am sure, will puzzle and divert the modern author. I cannot think that the end will justify those proceedings. Moreover, an author is vexed when his first edition is "quoted" at twenty times its original value, while his second edition languishes in obscurity. Booksellers injure a man when they charge a pound for his first edition, while there are hundreds of that very issue lying forlorn on his publishers shelves! This is a grevious form of popularity, and arises from the ignorance of collectors. When they know a little more, it will be better for all persons, except for some booksellers. Book-collecting ought not to be a mere trade, or a mere fad. Its object is to secure the comforts of a home for examples really rare or beautiful, or interesting as relics. We are in too great a hurry to canonise contemporaries, and to make relics of their first editions, which are probably their least correct editions. Large paper is not a good absolute and in itself, but only when it is beautiful and appropriate. For example, the large paper copies of Dr. Hill Burton's "Book-hunter" (there be twenty-five of the first edition) are not nearly so appropriate and handy as the ordinary examples. On the other hand, the comparative revival of collecting does really seem to have improved, in some cases, the art of manufacturing books. In binding, with rare exceptions, we seem to make no progress. The modern French fantastic bindings are usually monuments of incompetence. It is technical excellence, not decoration, that we should aim at, for the present. Neatness and order should rather be aimed at by the book-buyer than a pursuit of valueless rarities, though no rarity which adds to knowledge is really valueless. These moralisings are the fruit of experience in misfortune, and are probably preached in vain. Only very rich people or very lucky people can make up a cabinet of literary jewels. The rest of us must follow cheap fancies, making harmless little tastes for ourselves, if we would be collectors. To collect is a natural hobby, small boys and girls are greatly given to it: we can make it less useless by making it personal, not by following any fashion.

We should try to purchase the books which will disenchant us least.A. L.



An Apology for the Book-hunter1
"Every man his own Librarian"—Bibliography and Literature—Services of the French to Bibliography—A defence of the taste of the Book-collector—Should Collectors buy for the purpose of selling again?—The sport of Book-hunting—M. de Resbecq's anecdotes—Stories of success of book-hunters—The lessons of old Bookstalls—Booksellers' catalogues—Auctions of Books—Different forms of the taste for collecting—The taste serviceable to critical Science—Books considered as literary relics—Examples—The "Imitatio Christi" of J. J. Rousseau—A brief vision of mighty Book-hunters.

The Library31
The size of modern collections—The Library in English houses—Bookcases—Enemies of Books—Damp, dust, dirt—The book-worm—Careless readers—Book plates—Borrowers—Book stealers—Affecting instance of the Spanish Monk—The Book-ghoul—Women the natural foes of books—Some touching exceptions—Homage to Madame Fertiault—Modes of preserving books; binding—Various sorts of coverings for books—Half-bindings—Books too good to bind, how to be entertained—Iniquities of Binders—Cruel case of a cropped play of Molière—Recipes (not infallible) for cleaning books—Necessity of possessing bibliographical works, such as catalogues.

The Books of the Collector76
Manuscripts, early and late—Early Printed Books—How to recognise them—Books printed on Vellum—"Uncut" copies—"Livres de Luxe," and Illustrated Books—Invective against "Christmas Books"—The "Hypnerotomachia Poliphili"—Old woodcuts—French vignettes of the eighteenth century—Books of the Aldi—Books of the Elzevirs—"Curious" Books—Singular old English poems—First editions—Changes of fashion in Book-collecting—Examples of the variations in prices—Books valued for their bindings, and as relics—Anecdotes of Madame du Barry and Marie Antoinette.

Illustrated Books123
Beginnings of Modern Book—Illustration in England—Stothard, Blake, Flaxman—Boydell's "Shakespeare," Macklin's "Bible," Martin's "Milton"—The "Annuals"—Rogers's "Italy" and "Poems"—Revival of Wood-Engraving—Bewick—Bewick's Pupils—The "London School"—Progress of Wood-Engraving—Illustrated "Christmas" and other Books—The Humorous Artists—Cruikshank—Doyle—Thackeray—Leech—Tenniel—Du Maurier—Sambourne—Keene—Minor Humorous Artists—Children's Books—Crane—Miss Grccnaway—Caldccott—The "New American School"—Conclusion.




Strena Galteri Delaeni Mo. 1553. (English binding of the 16th century; brown calf; each cover bearing the arms of King Edward VI., accompanied by his initials, and surmounted by a crowned Tudor Rose)
To face 62

By permission of Her Majesty The Queen.

Holy Bible. Edinburgh, 1772. (Scotch binding of the 18th century; green morocco)
To face 64

By permission of Dr. W. H. Corfield.

Title-page of "Le Rommant de la Rose," Paris, 1539. To face 94


Frontispiece. Drawn by Walter Crane; engraved by Swain.
Initial. Drawn by Walter Crane; engraved by Swain


Group of Children. Drawn by Kate Greenaway; engraved by O. Lacour 122
Initial. From Hughes's "Scouring of the White Horse, 1858." Drawn by Richard Doyle; engraved by W. J. Linton 123
"Infant Joy." From Blake's "Songs of Innocence". Engraved by J. F. Jungling
"Counsellor, King, Warrior, Mother and Child, in the Tomb." From Blair's "Grave," 1808. Designed by William Blake; facsimiled on wood from the engraving by Louis Schiavonetti
"The Woodcock." From Jackson & Chatto's "History of Wood-Engraving," 1839. Engraved, after T. Bewick, by John Jackson
Tailpiece. From the same. Engraved, after T. Bewick, by John Jackson
Headpiece. From Rogers's "Pleasures of Memory, with other Poems," 1810. Drawn by T. Stothard: engraved, after Luke Clennell, by O. Lacour
"Golden head by golden head." From Christina Rossetti's "Goblin Market and other Poems," 1862. Drawn by D. G. Rossetti; engraved by W. J. Linton
"The Deaf Post-Boy." From Clarke's "Three Courses and a Dessert," 1830. Drawn by G. Cruikshank; engraved by S. Williams [?]
"The Mad Tea-Party." From "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," 1865. Drawn by John Tenniel; engraved by Dalziel Brothers
Black Kitten. From "Through the Looking-Glass," 1871. Drawn by John Tenniel; engraved by Dalziel Brothers
"The Music of the Past." From "Punch's Almanack," 1877. Drawn by George du Maurier; engraved by Swain
"Clear and Cool." From the "Water Babies," 1885. Drawn by Linley Sambourne; engraved by Swain
Boy and Hippocampus. From Miss E. Keary's 'Magic Valley," 1877. Drawn by "E. V. B." (Hon. Mrs. Boyle); engraved by T. Quartley
"Love Charms."' From Irving's " Bracebridge Hall," 1876. Drawn by Randolph Caldecott; engraved by J. D. Cooper
Tailpiece to Song. From the "Water Babies," 1885. Drawn by Linley Sambourne; engraved by Swain
"The Second Rescue of Sophia." From the "Vicar of Wakefield," 1890. Drawn by Hugh Thomson
"Sylvie and Bruno." From "Sylvie and Bruno." Drawn by Harry Furniss; engraved by Swain
"The Old Guide at Waterloo." From "The Travelling Companions," 1892. Drawn by J. Bernard Partridge
Tailpiece. From "Cranford," 1891. Drawn by Hugh Thomson

Books, books again, and books once more!
These are our theme, which some miscall
Mere madness, setting little store
By copies either short or tall.
But you, O slaves of shelf and stall!
We rather write for you that hold
Patched folios dear, and prize "the small,
Rare volume, black with tarnished gold."

A. D.