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This miscellany was first formed, many years ago, when two of my friends were occupied in those anecdotical labours, which have proved so entertaining to themselves, and their readers.* I conceived that a collection of a different complexion, though much less amusing, might prove somewhat more instructive; and that literary history afforded an almost unexplored source of interesting facts. The work itself has been well enough received by the public to justify its design.
Every class of readers requires a book adapted to itself and that book which interests, and perhaps brings much new information to a multitude of readers, is not to be contemned, even by the learned. More might be alleged in favour of works like the present than can be urged against them. They are of a class which was well known to the ancients. The Greeks were not without them; the Romans loved them under the title of Varia Eruditio ; and the Orientalists, more than either, were passionately fond of these agreeable collections. The fanciful titles, with which they decorated their variegated miscellanies, sufficiently express their delight.
The design of this work is to stimulate the literary curiosity of those, who, with a taste for its tranquil pursuits, are impeded in their acquirements. The characters, the events, and the singularities of modern literature, are not always familiar even to those who excel in classical studies. But a more numerous part of mankind, by their occupations, or their indolence, both unfavourable causes to literary improvement, require to obtain the materials for thinking, by the easiest and readiest means. This work has proved useful: it has been reprinted abroad, and it has been translated ; and the honour which many writers at home have conferred on it, by referring to it, has exhilarated the zealous labour, which seven editions have necessarily: cxäcted: :: :: ::::::
* The late William Seward, Esq., and James Pettit Andrews, Esq.
CURIOSITIES OF LITERATURE.
Cæsar, and Cicero, have, among others, been celebrated THE passion for forming vast collections of books has ne for their literary splendour. Lucullus, whose incredible cessarily existed in all periods of human curiosity; but opulence exhausted itself on more than imperial luxuries, long it required royal munificence to found a national libra more honourably distinguished himself by his vast collec ry. It is only since the art of multiplying the productions tions of books, and the happy use he made of them by the of the mind has been discovered, that men of letters have liberal access he allowed the learned. It was a library,' been enabled to rival this imperial and patriotic honour. / says Plutarch, 'whose walks, galleries, and cabinets, were The taste for books, so rare before the lifteenth century, | open to all visiters; and the ingenious Greeks, when at has gradually become general only within these four hun- leisure, resorted to this abode of the Muses to hold literary dred years; in that small space of time the public mind of conversations, in which Lucullus himself loved to join.' Europe has been created.
This library, enlarged by oihers, Julius Cæsar once proor LIBRARIES, the following anecdotes seem most in posed to open for the public, having chosen the erudite teresting, as they mark either the affection, or the venera Varro for its librarian; but the daggers of Brutus and his tion, which civilized men have ever felt for these perennia! | party prevented the meditated projects of Cæsar. In this repositories of their minds. The first national library museum, Cicero srequently pursued his studies, during the finder in Egypt seemed to have been placed under the time his friend Faustus had the charge of it, which he deprotection of the divinities, for their statues magnificently scribes to Atticus in his 4th Book, Epist. 9. Amidst bis adorned this temple, dedicated at once to religion and to public occupations and his private studies, either of them literature. It was still farther embellished by a well-sufficient to have immortalized one man, we are astonishknows inscription, for ever grateful to the votary of litera
ed at the minute attention Cicero paid to the formation of ture ; on the front was engraven, · The pourishment of the his libraries, and his cabinets of antiquities. soul, or, according to Diodorus, The medicine of the The emperors were ambitious ai length to give their mind.'
names to the libraries they founded; they did not consider The Egyptian Ptolemies founded the vast library of the purple as their chief ornament. Augustus was himself Alexandria, which was afterwards the emulative labour of an author, and in one of those sumptuous buildings called rival monarchs; the founder infused a soul into the vast Thermes, ornamented with porticoes, galleries, and statues, body he was creating, by his choice of the librarian De. with shady walks, and refreshing baths, testified his love of metrius Phalereus, whose skilful industry amassed from literature by adding a magnificent library, one of these all nations their choicest productions. Without such a libraries he fondly called by the name of his sister Octavia; librarian, a national library would be little more than a and the other, the temple of Apollo, became the hauni of literary chaos. His well exercised memory and critical the poets, as Horace, Juvenal, and Persius have commejudgmeai are its best catalogue. One of the Proleries re- morated. The successors of Augustus imilated his el. fused supplying the famished Athenians with wheat, until I ample, and even Tiberius had an imperial library chiefly they presented him with the original manuscripts of Es consisting of works concerning the empire and the acts of chylus, Sophocles, and Euripides; and in returning copies its sovereigns. These Trajan augmented by the Ulpian of these originals, he allowed them to retain the fifteen ta- | library, so denominated from the family name of this prince, lents which he had pledged with them as a princely In a word we have accounts of the rich ornaments the security.
ancients bestowed on their libraries; of their floors paved Even when tyrants, or usurpers, possessed sense as with marble, their walls covered with glass and ivory, and well as courage, they have proved the most ardent patrons their shelves and desks of ebony and cedar. of literature; they know it is their interest to turn aside the The first public library in Italy, says Tiraboschi, was public mind from political speculations, and to afford their founded by a person of no considerable fortune: his credit, subjects the inexhaustible occupations of curiosity, and the his frugality, and fortitude, were indeed equal to a treaconsoling pleasures of the imagination. Thus Pisistratus sury. This extraordinary man was Nicholas Niccoli, the is said to have been among the earliest of the Greeks, who son of a merchant, and in his youth himself a merchant; projected an immense collection of the works of the learn. but after the death of his father he relinquished the beaten ed, and is believed to have been the collector of the scate roads of gain, and devoted his soul to study, and his for. tered works, which passed under the name of Homer. tune to assist students. At his death he left his library to
The Romaos, after six centuries of gradual dominion, the public, but his debts being greater than his effects, the must have possessed the vast and diversified collections of princely generosity of Cosmo de Medici realized the intene the writings of the nations they conquered; among the tion of its former possessor, and afterwards enriched it, by most valued spoils of their victories, we know that manu- the addition of an apartment, in which he placed the Greek, scripts were considered as more precious than vases
ses | Hebrew, Arabic, Chaldaic, and Indian MSS. The intre of gold. Paulus Emilius, after the defeat of Perseus, king pid resolution of Nicholas V, laid the foundations of the of Macedon, brought to Rome a great number which he Vatican; the affection of Cardinal Bessarion for his counhad amassed in Greece, and which he now distributed try, first gave Venice the rudiments of a public library; and among his sons, or presented to the Roman people. Sylla | to Sir T. Bod
oman people. Svlla | to Sir T. Bodley we owe the invaluable one of Oxford followed his example. After the siege of Athens, he dis- Sir Robert Cotion, Sir H. Sloane, Dr Birch, Mr Crachcovered an entire library in the temple of Apollo, which erode, and others of this race of lovers of books, have all having carried to Rome he appears to have been the founder contributed to form these literary treasures, which our na. of the first Roman public library. Afier the taking of tion owe to the enthusiasm of individuals, who have found Carthage, the Roman senate rewarded the family of Re- such pleasure in consecrating their fortunes and their days gulus with the books found in the city. A library was a to this great public object; or, which in the result produces national gift, and the most honourable they could bestow. the same public good, the collections of such men have From the intercourse of the Romans with the Greeks, the been frequently purchased on their deaths, by government, passion for forming libraries rapidly increased, and indivi- and thus have entered whole and entire into the great nauals began to pride themselves on their private collections. tional collections.
Of many illgistrious Romans, their magnificent taste in Literature, like virtue, is its own reward, and the entheir libraries has been recorded. Asinius Pollio, Crassus thusiasm some experience in the permanent enjoyments of a vast library, have far outweighed the neglect or the ca- , on the continent, about 1440. It is a circumstance worthy lumny of the world, which some of its votaries have receive observation, that the French sovereign, Charles V, sure ed. From the 'ime that Cicero poured forth his feelings named the Wise, ordered that thirty portable lights, with in his oration for the poet Archias, innumerable are the a silver lamp suspended from the centre, should be illumirtestimonies of men of letters of the pleasurable delirium of ated at nighi, thai students might not find their pursuits intheir researches; that delicious beverage which they have terrupted at any hour. Many among us, at this moment, swallowed, so thirstily, from the magical cup of literature. whose professional avocations admit not of morning studies, Richard de Bury, Bishop of Durham, Chancellor and high find that the resources of a public library are not accessible treasurer of England so early as 1341, perhaps raised the to them from the omission of the regulation of the zealous first private library in our country. He purchased thirty
| Charles V of France. An alarming objection to nightor foriy volumes of the abbot of St. Albans for fifty pounds studies in public libraries is the danger of fire, and in our weight of silver. He was so enamoured of his large col own British Museum not a light is permitted to be carried lection, that he expressly composed a treatise on his love about on any pretence whatever. The history of the of books, under the title of Philobiblion,' an honourable tri • Bibliotheque du Roi' is a curious incident in literature. bute paid to literature, in an age not literary.
and the progress of the human mind and public opinion To pass much of our time amid such vast resources, might be traced by its gradual accessions, noting the that man must indeed be not more animated than a leaden changeable qualities of its literary stores chiefly from theo Mercury, who does not aspire to make some small addition logy, law and medicine, to philosophy, and elegant literato his library, were it only by a critical catalogue! He ture. In 1789 Neckar reckoned the literary treasures to must be as indolent as that animal called the sloth, who amount to 225,000 printed books, 70,000 manuscripts, and perishes on the tree he climbs, after he has eaten all its | 15,000 collections of prints. By a curious little volume leaves.
published by M. Le Prince in 1782, it appears that it was Henry Rantzau, a Danish gentleman, the founder of the first under Louis XIV that the productions of the art of great library at Copenhagen, whose days were dissolved engraving were collected and arranged; the great minister in the pleasures of reading, discovers his taste and ardour Colbert purchased the extensive collections of the Abbé de in the following elegant effusion:
Marolles, who may be ranked among the fathers of our
print-collectors. T'wo hundred and sixty-four ample portSalvete aureoli mei libelli,
folios laid the foundations, and the catalogues of his collecMeæ delicice, mei lepores.
tiuns, printed by Marolles himself, are rare, curious, and Quam vos sæpe oculis juvat videre,
high-priced. Our own national print-gallery is yet an inEt tritos manibus tenere nostris !
fant establishment. Tot vos eximii, tot er uditi,
Mr Hallam has observed, that in 1440, England had Prisci lumina sæculi et recentis
made comparatively but little progress in learning-and Confecere viri, suasquc vobis Ausi credere lucubrationes :
Germany was probably still loss advanced. However Et sperare decus perenne scriptis ;
there was in Germany a celebrated collector of books in Neque hæc irrita spes fefellit illos.
the person of Trithemius, the celebrated abbot of Span
heim, who died in 1516; he had amassed about two thouIMITATED,
sand manuscripts, a literary treasure which excited such Golden volumes! richest treasures
general attention, that princes and eminent men of ihat Objects of delicious pleasures!
day travelled to visit Trithemius and his library. About You my eyes rejoicing please,
this time six or eight hundred volumes formed a royal colYou my hands in rapture seize!
lection, and their high value in price could only be furnishBrilliant wits and musing sages,
ed by a prince. This was indeed a great advancement in Lights who bear'd through many ages!
libraries, when at the beginning of the fourteenth century Left to your conscious leaves their story, And dared to trust you with their glory;
the library of Louis IX contained only four classical auAnd now their hope of fame achiev'd,
thors, and that of Oxford, in 1300, consisted of a few Dear volumes !-you have not deceived !
tracts kept in chest.'
The pleasures of study are classed by Burton among This passion for the acquisition and enjoyment of books, those exercises or recreations of the mind which pass las been the occasion of their lovers embellishing their outs within doors. Looking about this world of books' he exo sides with costly ornaments ; a rage which ostentation may claims, I could even live and die with such meditations, nave abused; but when these volumes belong to the real man and take more delight and true content of mind in them, of letters, the most fanciful bindings are often the emblems than in all thy wealth and sport! there is a sweetness, of his taste and feelings. The great Thuanus was eager which, as Circe's cup, bewitcheth a student, he cannot to purchase the finest copies for his library, and his volumes | leave off, as well may witness those many laborious hours, are still eagerly purchased, bearing his autograph on the days and nights, spent in their voluminous treatises. So last page. A celebrated amateur was Grollier, whose lie | sweet is the delight of study. The last day is prioris disbrary was opulent in these luxuries; the Muses themselves cipulus.' 'Heinsius was mewed up in the library of Leycould not more ingeniously have ornamented their favourite den all the year long, and that which to my thinking should works. I have seen several in the libraries of our own cu- have bred a loathing, caused in him a greater liking. I rious collectors. He embellished their outside with taste no sooner, saith he, come into the library, but I boll the and ingenuity. They are gilded and stamped with pecule door to me, excluding Lust, Ambition, Avarice, and all liar neatness, the compartments on the binding are drawn, such vices, whose nurse is Idleness, the mother of Ignor. and painted, with different inventions of subjects, analogous ance and Melancholy. In the very lap of eternity amongst to the works themselves; and they are farther adorned by / so many divine souls, I take my seat with so lofty a spirit, that amiable inscription, Jo Grollierüï et amicorum! pur and sweet content, that I pity all our great ones and rich porting that these literary treasures were collected for him men, that know not this happiness. Such is the incenso self and for his friends!
of a votary who scatters it on the altar less for the cereThe family of the Fuggers had long felt an hereditary mony than from the devotion. passion for the accumulation of literary treasures; and There is, however, an intemperance in study, incompa. their portraits, with others in their picture gallery, form a tible often with our social or more active duties. The curious quarto volume of 127 portraits, excessively rare illustrious Grotius exposed himself to the reproaches of even in Germany, entitled Fuggerorum Pinacotheca.' some of his contemporaries for having too warmly pursued Wolfius, who daily haunted their celebrated library, pours | his studies, to the detriment of his public station. It was out his gratitude in some Greek verses, and describes this the boast of Cicero, that his philosophical studies had Bibliotheque as a literary heaven, furnished with as many never interfered with the services he owed the republic, books as ihere were stars in the firmament; or as a lite and that he had only dedicated to them the hours which rary garden, in which he passed entire days in gathering others gave to their walks, their repasts, and their piea. fruit and flowers, delighting and instructing himself by per sures. Looking on his voluminous la bours, we are sur. petual occupation.
prised at this observation : how honourable is it to him, In 1364 the royal library of France did not exceed twen- ihat his various philosophical works bear the titles of the ty volumes. Shortly after Charles V increased it to nine different villas he possessed; which shows that they were hundred, which by the fate of war, as much at least as that composed in their respective retirements. Cicero must of money, the Duke of Bedford afterwards purchased and have been an early riser; and practised that magic art a ransported to London, where libraries were smaller than I employing his time, as to have multiplied his days
| tion, which never appeared, a literary man argued, that The preceding article is honourable to literature, yot
it was much better to have (wo editions of a book than to impartial truth must show that even a passion for collect.
| deprive himself of the advantage which ihe reading of the ing books is not always a passion for literature.
first might procure him; and it was a bad economy to The Bibliomania,' or ihe collecting an enormous heap
prefer a few crowns lo that advantage. It has frequently of books without intelligent curiosity, has, since libraries
happened, besides, that in second editions, ine author have existed, infected weak minds, who imagine that they
omits, as well as adds, or makes alterations from prudential themselves acquire knowledge when they keep it on their
reasons; the displeasing truths which he corrects, as he shelves. Their motley libraries have been called the mad
might call them, are so many losses incurred by Truth houses of the human mind; and again, the tomb of books,
itself. There is an advantage in comparing the first with
subsequent editions; for among other things, we feel great when the possessor will not communicate them, and coffins then up in the cases of his library-and as it was
satisfaction in tracing the variations of a work, when a man
of genius has revised it. There are also other secrets, faceriously observed, these collections are not without a
well known to the intelligent curious, who are versed in Lock on the human Understanding. * The Bibliomania has never raged more violently than in
affairs relating to books. Many first editions are not to bo the present day. It is fortunate that literature is in no
purchased for the treble value of later ones. Let no lover ways injured by the follies of collectors, since though they
of books be too hastily censured for his passion, which, if
he indulges with judgment, is useful. The collector we preserve the worthless, they necessarily defend the good. Some collectors place ali iheir fame on the view of a
have noticed frequently said, as is related of Virgil, 'I colsplendid library, where volumes arrayed in all the pomp of
lect gold from Ennius's dung,' I find, added be, in some lettering, silk linings, triple gold bands and tinted leather,
neglected authors, particular things, 'not elsewhere to be
found. He read them, indeed, not with equal attention, are locked up in wire cases, and secured from the vulgar hands of the mere reader, dazzling our eyes like eastern
but many, . Sicut canis ad Nilum bibens el fugiens,' like a
dog at the Nile, drinking and running. beauties peering through their jealousies!
Fortunate are those who only consider a book for the Bruyere has touched on this mania with humour: Or
utility and pleasure they may derive from its possession. such a collector,' says he,' as soon as I enter his house, I am ready to faint on the staircase, from a strong smell of
Those students, who, though they know much, still thirst Morocco leather: in vain he shows me fine editions, gold
to know more, may require this vast sea of books; yet in leaves, Eiroscan bindings, &c., narning them one after
thal sea they may suffer inany shipwrecks. Great collec
tions of books are subject to certain accidents besides the Another, as if he were showing a gallery of pictures! a gal. lery by the by which he seldom iraverses when alone, for
damp, the worms, and the rats; one not less common is he rarely reads, but me he offers to conduct throngh it! I
that of the borrowers, not to say a word of the purloiners. thank him for his politeness, and, as little as himself, care
LITERARY JOURNALS, to visit the tan-house, which he calls his library.'
When writers were not numerous, and readers rare, the Lucian has composed a biling invective against an ige norant possessor of a vast library. Like him, who in the
unsuccessful author fell insensibly into oblivion; he dis
solved away in his own weakness ; if he committed the present day, after turning over the pages of an old book,
private fully of printing what no one would purchase, ho chiefly admires the date. Lucian compares him to a pilot, who was never taught the science of navigation ; to a rider
was not arraigned at the public tribuna-and the awful
terrors of his day of judgment consisted only in the retriwho cannot keep his seat on a spirited horse; to a man
butions of his publisher's final accounts. who not having the use of his feet, wishes to conceal the
At length, a
taste for literature spread through the body of the people, defect by wearing embroidered shoes; but, alas! he can
vanity induced the inexperienced and the ignorant to asnot stand in them! He ludicrously compares him to Ther
pire io literary honours. sites wearing the armour of Achilles, tottering at every
To oppose these forcible entries
into the haunts of the Muses, periodical criticism brandstep; leering with his little eyes under his enormous hel
ished its formidable weapon; and the fall of many, laught mel, and his hunch-back raising the cuirasy above his
some of our greatest geniuses to rise. Multifarious write shoulders. Why do you buy so many books ? he says :
ings produced multifarious strictures, and public criticism you have no hair, and you purchase a comb; you are
reached to such perfection, that laste was generally diffusblind, and you will have a grand mirror; you are deaf, and
ed, enlightening those whose occupations had otherwiso you will have fine musical instrumenis! Your costly bind
never permitted them to judge of literary compositions. ings are only a source of vexation, and you are coniinually
The invention of Reviews, in the form which they have discharging your librarians for not preserving them from
at length gradually assumed, could not have existed but in the silent invasion of the worms, and the nibbling triumphs
the most polished ages of literature ; for without a conof the rats! Such collectors will contemptuously smile at the collec
stant supply of authors, and a refined spirit of criticism,
they could not excite a perpetual interest among the lovers tion of the amiable Melancthon. He possessed in his
of literature. These publications are the chronicles of library only four authors, Plato, Pliny, Plutarch, and
taste and science, and present the existing state of the Ptolemy the geographer.
public mind, while they form a ready resource for those Ancillon was a great collector of curious books, and
idle hours, which men of letters do not choose to pass idly. dexterously defended himself when accused of the Biblio
Their multiplicity has undoubtedly produced much evil; mania. He gave a good reason for buying the most ele
puerile critics, and venal drudges, manufacture reviews: gant editions; which he did not consider merely as a liter
hence that shameful discordance of opinion, which is the ary luxury. He said the less the eyes are fatigued in
scorn and scandal of criticism. Passions hostile to the reading a work, the more liberty the mind feels to judge of
peaceful truths of literature have likewise made tremendit : and as we perceive more clearly the excellencies and
ous inroads in the republic, and every literary virtue has defects of a printed book than when in Ms; so we see
been lost! In Calamities of Authors,' I have given the them more plainly in good paper and clear type than when
history of a literary conspiracy, conducted by a solitary the impression and paper are both bad. He always pur
critic Gilbert Stuart, against the historian Henry. chased first editions, and never waited for second ones;
These works may disgust by vapid panegyric, or gross though it is the opinion of some that a first edition is gene
invective; weary by uniform dulness, or tantalize by superrally the least valuable, and only to be considered as an
ficial knowledge. Sometimes merely written to catch the imperfect essay, which the author proposes to finish after he' has tried the sentiments of the literary world.
public attention, a malignity is indulged against authors,
to season the caustic leaves. A reviewer has admired Bayle approves of Ancillon's plan. Those who wait calmly for a book, says he, till it is reprinted, show plainly
those works in private, which he has condemned in his of
ficial capacity. But good sense, good temper, and good thal they are resigned to their ignorance, and prefer the saving of a pistole to the acquisition of useful knowledge.
taste, will ever form an estimable journalist, who will in
spire confidence, and give stability to his decisions. With one of these persons, who waited for a second edi
To the lovers of literature these volumes when they hayo
outlived their year, are not unimportant. They constitute An allusion and pun which occasioned the French trang. Jator of the present work an unlucky blunder: puzzled no
a great portion of literary history, and are indeed the andoubt by my facerjousness, he translates mettant comme on
nals of ine republic J'a treg.judicieusement fait observer, l'entendement humain
To our own reviews, we must add the old foreign jour. sous la Cler. The buok, and the author alluded to, quite 1 nals, which are perhaps even more valuable to the man of errped him.
| letters. Of these the variety is considerabie; and many