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The Bibliomania
by [?]

Fortunate are those who only consider a book for the utility and pleasure they may derive from its possession. Students, who know much, and still thirst to know more, may require this vast sea of books; yet in that sea they may suffer many shipwrecks.

Great collections of books are subject to certain accidents besides the damp, the worms, and the rats; one not less common is that of the borrowers, not to say a word of the purloiners!


[Footnote 1: An allusion and pun which occasioned the French translator of the present work an unlucky blunder: puzzled, no doubt, by my facetiously, he translates “mettant, comme on l’a tres-judicieusement fait observer, l’entendement humain sous la clef.” The great work and the great author alluded to, having quite escaped him!]

[Footnote 2: The earliest satire on the mere book-collector is to be found in Barclay’s translation of Brandt’s “Ship of Fools,” first printed by Wynkyn de Worde, in 1508. He thus announces his true position:–

I am the first fool of the whole navie
To keepe the poupe, the helme, and eke the sayle:
For this is my minde, this one pleasure have I,
Of bookes to have greate plentie and apparayle.
Still I am busy bookes assembling,
For to have plenty it is a pleasaunt thing
In my conceyt, and to have them aye in hande:
But what they meane do I not understande.
But yet I have them in great reverence
And honoure, saving them from filth and ordare,
By often brushing and much diligence;
Full goodly bound in pleasaunt coverture,
Of damas, satten, or else of velvet pure:
I keepe them sure, fearing least they should be lost,
For in them is the cunning wherein I me boast.]

[Footnote 3: David Ancillon was born at Metz in 1617. From his earliest years his devotion to study was so great as to call for the interposition of his father, to prevent his health being seriously affected by it; he was described as “intemperately studious.” The Jesuits of Metz gave him the free range of their college library; but his studies led him to Protestantism, and in 1633 he removed to Geneva, and devoted himself to the duties of the Reformed Church. Throughout an honourable life he retained unabated his love of books; and having a fortune by marriage, he gratified himself in constantly collecting them, so that he ultimately possessed one of the finest private libraries in France. For very many years his life passed peaceably and happily amid his books and his duties, when the revocation of the Edict of Nantes drove him from his country. His noble library was scattered at waste-paper prices, “thus in a single day was destroyed the labour, care, and expense of forty-four years.” He died seven years afterwards at Brandenburg.]