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´╗┐Title: The Enemies of Books
Author: Blades, William, 1824-1890
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Enemies of Books" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.


By William Blades

_Revised and Enlarged by the Author_




Transcriber's Note:

  ae, L, e, <_:>, OE, <_/_>, '0, and n  "Larsen" encodes.
  eS = superscripted e (16th cent. english on p9 needs proofed!)
   denotes words in 'olde englishe font'
  "Emphasis" _italics_ have a * mark.
  Footnotes [#] have not been re-numbered, they are moved to EOParagraph.
  Greek letters are encoded in  brackets, and the letters are
  based on Adobe's Symbol font.




  Libraries destroyed by Fire.--Alexandrian.--St. Paul's destruction
  of MSS., Value of.--Christian books destroyed by Heathens.--Heathen
  books destroyed by Christians.--Hebrew books burnt at Cremona.--Arabic
  books at Grenada.--Monastic libraries.--Colton library.--Birmingham
  riots.--Dr. Priestley's library.--Lord Mansfield's books.--Cowper.
  --Strasbourg library bombarded.--Offor Collection burnt.--Dutch
  Church library damaged.--Library of Corporation of London.



  Heer Hudde's library lost at sea.--Pinelli's library captured
  by Corsairs.--MSS. destroyed by Mohammed II--Books damaged by
  rain.--Woffenbuttel.--Vapour and Mould.--Brown stains.--Dr.
  Dibdin.--Hot water pipes.--Asbestos fire.--Glass doors to bookcases.



  Effects of Gas on leather.--Necessitates re-binding.--Bookbinders.--Electric
  light.--British Museum.--Treatment of books.--Legend of Friars and
  their books.



  Books should have gilt tops.--Old libraries were neglected.--Instance
  of a College library.--Clothes brushed in it.--Abuses in French
  libraries.--Derome's account of them.--Boccaccio's story of
  library at the Convent of Mount Cassin.



  Destruction of Books at the Reformation.--Mazarin library.--Caxton
  used to light the fire.--Library at French Protestant Church,
  St. Martin's-le-Grand.--Books stolen.--Story of books from Thonock
  Hall.--Boke of St. Albans.--Recollet Monks of Antwerp.--Shakespearian
  "find."--Black-letter books used in W.C.--Gesta Romanorum.--Lansdowne
  collection.--Warburton.--Tradesman and rare book.--Parish Register.--Story
  of Bigotry by M. Muller.--Clergymen destroy books.--Patent Office sell
  books for waste.



  Doraston.--Not so destructive as of yore.--Worm won't eat
  parchment.--Pierre Petit's poem.--Hooke's account and image.--Its
  natural history neglected.--Various sorts--Attempts to breed
  Bookworms.--Greek worm.--Havoc made by worms.--Bodleian and Dr.
  Bandinel.--"Dermestes."--Worm won't eat modern paper.--America
  comparatively free.--Worm-hole at Philadelphia.



  Black-beetle in American libraries.--germanica.--Bug Bible.--Lepisma.
  --Codfish.--Skeletons of Rats in Abbey library, Westminster.--Niptus
  hololeucos.--Tomicus Typographicus.--House flies injure books.



  A good binding gives pleasure.--Deadly effects of the "plough" as used
  by binders.--Not confined to bye-gone times.--Instances of injury.--De
  Rome, a good binder but a great cropper.--Books "hacked."--Bad
  lettering--Treasures in book-covers.--Books washed, sized, and
  mended.--"Cases" often Preferable to re-binding.



  Bagford the biblioclast.--Illustrations torn from MSS.--Title-pages
  torn from books.--Rubens, his engraved titles.--Colophons torn out of
  books.--Lincoln Cathedral--Dr. Dibdin's Nosegay.--Theurdanck.--Fragments
  of MSS.--Some libraries almost useless.--Pepysian.--Teylerian.--Sir
  Thomas Phillipps.



  Library invaded for the purpose of dusting.--Spring clean.---Dust to be
  got rid of.--Ways of doing so.--Carefulness praised.--Bad nature of
  certain books--Metal clasps and rivets.--How to dust.--Children
  often injure books.--Examples.--Story of boys in a country library.


  Anecdote of book-sale in Derbyshire.


  The care that should be taken of books.--Enjoyment derived from them.




  FRIARS AND THEIR ASS-LOAD -------------------- 35


  BOOKWORMS ------------------------------------ 73

  RATS DESTROYING BOOKS ------------------------ 99

  HOUSEHOLD FLY-DAMAGE ------------------------- 102

  BOYS RAMPANT IN LIBRARY ---------------------- 141



THERE are many of the forces of Nature which tend to injure Books; but
among them all not one has been half so destructive as Fire. It would
be tedious to write out a bare list only of the numerous libraries and
bibliographical treasures which, in one way or another, have been
seized by the Fire-king as his own. Chance conflagrations, fanatic
incendiarism, judicial bonfires, and even household stoves have, time
after time, thinned the treasures as well as the rubbish of past ages,
until, probably, not one thousandth part of the books that have been are
still extant. This destruction cannot, however, be reckoned as all loss;
for had not the "cleansing fires" removed mountains of rubbish from our
midst, strong destructive measures would have become a necessity from
sheer want of space in which to store so many volumes.

Before the invention of Printing, books were comparatively scarce; and,
knowing as we do, how very difficult it is, even after the steam-press
has been working for half a century, to make a collection of half a
million books, we are forced to receive with great incredulity the
accounts in old writers of the wonderful extent of ancient libraries.

The historian Gibbon, very incredulous in many things, accepts without
questioning the fables told upon this subject. No doubt the libraries
of MSS. collected generation after generation by the Egyptian Ptolemies
became, in the course of time, the most extensive ever then known;
and were famous throughout the world for the costliness of their
ornamentation, and importance of their untold contents. Two of these
were at Alexandria, the larger of which was in the quarter called
Bruchium. These volumes, like all manuscripts of those early ages, were
written on sheets of parchment, having a wooden roller at each end
so that the reader needed only to unroll a portion at a time. During
Caesar's Alexandrian War, B.C. 48, the larger collection was consumed
by fire and again burnt by the Saracens in A.D. 640. An immense loss was
inflicted upon mankind thereby; but when we are told of 700,000, or even
500,000 of such volumes being destroyed we instinctively feel that such
numbers must be a great exaggeration. Equally incredulous must we be
when we read of half a million volumes being burnt at Carthage some
centuries later, and other similar accounts.

Among the earliest records of the wholesale destruction of Books is that
narrated by St. Luke, when, after the preaching of Paul, many of the
Ephesians "which used curious arts brought their books together, and
burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and
found it 50,000 pieces of silver" (Acts xix, 19). Doubtless these books
of idolatrous divination and alchemy, of enchantments and witchcraft,
were righteously destroyed by those to whom they had been and might
again be spiritually injurious; and doubtless had they escaped the fire
then, not one of them would have survived to the present time, no MS. of
that age being now extant. Nevertheless, I must confess to a certain
amount of mental disquietude and uneasiness when I think of books worth
50,000 denarii--or, speaking roughly, say L18,750,[1] of our modern
money being made into bonfires. What curious illustrations of early
heathenism, of Devil worship, of Serpent worship, of Sun worship, and
other archaic forms of religion; of early astrological and chemical
lore, derived from the Egyptians, the Persians, the Greeks; what
abundance of superstitious observances and what is now termed
"Folklore"; what riches, too, for the philological student, did those
many books contain, and how famous would the library now be that could
boast of possessing but a few of them.

[1] The received opinion is that the "pieces of silver" here mentioned
were Roman denarii, which were the silver pieces then commonly used in
Ephesus. If now we weigh a denarius against modern silver, it is exactly
equal to ninepence, and fifty thousand times ninepence gives L1,875.
It is always a difficult matter to arrive at a just estimate of the
relative value of the same coin in different ages; but reckoning that
money then had at least ten times the purchasing value of money now, we
arrive at what was probably about the value of the magical books burnt,
viz.: L18,750.

The ruins of Ephesus bear unimpeachable evidence that the City was very
extensive and had magnificent buildings. It was one of the free cities,
governing itself. Its trade in shrines and idols was very extensive,
being spread through all known lands. There the magical arts were
remarkably prevalent, and notwithstanding the numerous converts made by
the early Christians, the , or little scrolls upon
which magic sentences were written, formed an extensive trade up to
the fourth century. These "writings" were used for divination, as a
protection against the "evil eye," and generally as charms against all
evil. They were carried about the person, so that probably thousands of
them were thrown into the flames by St. Paul's hearers when his glowing
words convinced them of their superstition.

Imagine an open space near the grand Temple of Diana, with fine
buildings around. Slightly raised above the crowd, the Apostle,
preaching with great power and persuasion concerning superstition, holds
in thrall the assembled multitude. On the outskirts of the crowd are
numerous bonfires, upon which Jew and Gentile are throwing into
the flames bundle upon bundle of scrolls, while an Asiarch with his
peace-officers looks on with the conventional stolidity of policemen
in all ages and all nations. It must have been an impressive scene, and
many a worse subject has been chosen for the walls of the Royal Academy.

Books in those early times, whether orthodox or heterodox, appear to
have had a precarious existence. The heathens at each fresh outbreak of
persecution burnt all the Christian writings they could find, and the
Christians, when they got the upper hand, retaliated with interest upon
the pagan literature. The Mohammedan reason for destroying books--"If
they contain what is in the Koran they are superfluous, and if they
contain anything opposed to it they are immoral," seems, indeed,
_mutatis mutandis_, to have been the general rule for all such

The Invention of Printing made the entire destruction of any author's
works much more difficult, so quickly and so extensively did books
spread through all lands. On the other hand, as books multiplied, so did
destruction go hand in hand with production, and soon were printed books
doomed to suffer in the same penal fires, that up to then had been fed
on MSS. only.

At Cremona, in 1569, 12,000 books printed in Hebrew were publicly burnt
as heretical, simply on account of their language; and Cardinal Ximenes,
at the capture of Granada, treated 5,000 copies of the Koran in the same

At the time of the Reformation in England a great destruction of books
took place. The antiquarian Bale, writing in 1587, thus speaks of the
shameful fate of the Monastic libraries:--

"A greate nombre of them whyche purchased those superstycyouse mansyons
(_Monasteries_) reserved of those librarye bookes some to serve their
jakes, some to scoure theyr candelstyckes, and some to rubbe theyr
bootes. Some they solde to the grossers and sope sellers, and some they
sent over see to yeS booke bynders, not in small nombre, but at tymes
whole shyppes full, to yeS, wonderynge of foren nacyons. Yea yeS.
Universytees of thys realme are not alle clere in thys detestable fact.
But cursed is that bellye whyche seketh to be fedde with suche ungodlye
gaynes, and so depelye shameth hys natural conterye. I knowe a merchant
manne, whych shall at thys tyme be namelesse, that boughte yeS contentes
of two noble lybraryes for forty shyllynges pryce: a shame it is to be
spoken. Thys stuffe hathe heoccupyed in yeS stede of greye paper, by
yeS, space of more than these ten yeares, and yet he bathe store ynoughe
for as manye years to come. A prodygyous example is thys, and to be
abhorred of all men whyche love theyr nacyon as they shoulde do. The
monkes kepte them undre dust, yeS, ydle-headed prestes regarded them
not, theyr latter owners have most shamefully abused them, and yeS
covetouse merchantes have solde them away into foren nacyons for

How the imagination recoils at the idea of Caxton's translation of the
Metamorphoses of Ovid, or perhaps his "Lyf of therle of Oxenforde,"
together with many another book from our first presses, not a fragment
of which do we now possess, being used for baking "pyes."

At the Great Fire of London in 1666, the number of books burnt was
enormous. Not only in private houses and Corporate and Church libraries
were priceless collections reduced to cinders, but an immense stock
of books removed from Paternoster Row by the Stationers for safety was
burnt to ashes in the vaults of St. Paul's Cathedral.

Coming nearer to our own day, how thankful we ought to be for the
preservation of the Cotton Library. Great was the consternation in the
literary world of 1731 when they heard of the fire at Ashburnham House,
Westminster, where, at that time, the Cotton MSS. were deposited. By
great exertions the fire was conquered, but not before many MSS. had
been quite destroyed and many others injured. Much skill was shown
in the partial restoration of these books, charred almost beyond
recognition; they were carefully separated leaf by leaf, soaked in a
chemical solution, and then pressed flat between sheets of transparent
paper. A curious heap of scorched leaves, previous to any treatment, and
looking like a monster wasps' nest, may be seen in a glass case in the
MS. department of the British Museum, showing the condition to which
many other volumes had been reduced.

Just a hundred years ago the mob, in the "Birmingham Riots," burnt the
valuable library of Dr. Priestley, and in the "Gordon Riots" were burnt
the literary and other collections of Lord Mansfield, the celebrated
judge, he who had the courage first to decide that the Slave who reached
the English shore was thenceforward a free man. The loss of the latter
library drew from the poet Cowper two short and weak poems. The poet
first deplores the destruction of the valuable printed books, and then
the irretrievable loss to history by the burning of his Lordship's many
personal manuscripts and contemporary documents.

      "Their pages mangled, burnt and torn,
          The loss was his alone;
      But ages yet to come shall mourn
          The burning of his own."

The second poem commences with the following doggerel:--

      "When Wit and Genius meet their doom
          In all-devouring Flame,
      They tell us of the Fate of Rome
          And bid us fear the same."

The much finer and more extensive library of Dr. Priestley was left
unnoticed and unlamented by the orthodox poet, who probably felt a
complacent satisfaction at the destruction of heterodox books, the owner
being an Unitarian Minister.

The magnificent library of Strasbourg was burnt by the shells of the
German Army in 1870. Then disappeared for ever, together with other
unique documents, the original records of the famous law-suits between
Gutenberg, one of the first Printers, and his partners, upon the right
understanding of which depends the claim of Gutenberg to the invention
of the Art. The flames raged between high brick walls, roaring louder
than a blast furnace. Seldom, indeed, have Mars and Pluto had so dainty
a sacrifice offered at their shrines; for over all the din of battle,
and the reverberation of monster artillery, the burning leaves of the
first printed Bible and many another priceless volume were wafted into
the sky, the ashes floating for miles on the heated air, and carrying
to the astonished countryman the first news of the devastation of his

When the Offor Collection was put to the hammer by Messrs Sotheby and
Wilkinson, the well-known auctioneers of Wellington Street, and when
about three days of the sale had been gone through, a Fire occurred in
the adjoining house, and, gaining possession of the Sale Rooms, made a
speedy end of the unique Bunyan and other rarities then on show. I was
allowed to see the Ruins on the following day, and by means of a ladder
and some scrambling managed to enter the Sale Room where parts of the
floor still remained. It was a fearful sight those scorched rows of
Volumes still on the shelves; and curious was it to notice how the
flames, burning off the backs of the books first, had then run up behind
the shelves, and so attacked the fore-edge of the volumes standing upon
them, leaving the majority with a perfectly untouched oval centre of
white paper and plain print, while the whole surrounding parts were but
a mass of black cinders. The salvage was sold in one lot for a small
sum, and the purchaser, after a good deal of sorting and mending and
binding placed about 1,000 volumes for sale at Messrs. Puttick and
Simpson's in the following year.

So, too, when the curious old Library which was in a gallery of the
Dutch Church, Austin Friars, was nearly destroyed in the fire which
devastated the Church in 1862, the books which escaped were sadly
injured. Not long before I had spent some hours there hunting for
English Fifteenth-century Books, and shall never forget the state of
dirt in which I came away. Without anyone to care for them, the books
had remained untouched for many a decade-damp dust, half an inch thick,
having settled upon them! Then came the fire, and while the roof was
all ablaze streams of hot water, like a boiling deluge, washed down upon
them. The wonder was they were not turned into a muddy pulp. After all
was over, the whole of the library, no portion of which could legally be
given away, was _lent for ever_ to the Corporation of London. Scorched
and sodden, the salvage came into the hands of Mr. Overall, their
indefatigable librarian. In a hired attic, he hung up the volumes that
would bear it over strings like clothes, to dry, and there for weeks and
weeks were the stained, distorted volumes, often without covers, often
in single leaves, carefully tended and dry-nursed. Washing, sizing,
pressing, and binding effected wonders, and no one who to-day looks
upon the attractive little alcove in the Guildhall Library labelled
 and sees the rows of
handsomely-lettered backs, could imagine that not long ago this, the
most curious portion of the City's literary collections, was in a state
when a five-pound note would have seemed more than full value for the


NEXT to Fire we must rank Water in its two forms, liquid and vapour, as
the greatest destroyer of books. Thousands of volumes have been actually
drowned at Sea, and no more heard of them than of the Sailors to whose
charge they were committed. D'Israeli narrates that, about the year
1700, Heer Hudde, an opulent burgomaster of Middleburgh, travelled for
30 years disguised as a mandarin, throughout the length and breadth of
the Celestial Empire. Everywhere he collected books, and his extensive
literary treasures were at length safely shipped for transmission to
Europe, but, to the irreparable loss of his native country, they never
reached their destination, the vessel having foundered in a storm.

In 1785 died the famous Maffei Pinelli, whose library was celebrated
throughout the world. It had been collected by the Pinelli family for
many generations and comprised an extraordinary number of Greek, Latin,
and Italian works, many of them first editions, beautifully illuminated,
together with numerous MSS. dating from the 11th to the 16th century.
The whole library was sold by the Executors to Mr. Edwards, bookseller,
of Pall Mall, who placed the volumes in three vessels for transport from
Venice to London. Pursued by Corsairs, one of the vessels was captured,
but the pirate, disgusted at not finding any treasure, threw all the
books into the sea. The other two vessels escaped and delivered
their freight safely, and in 1789-90 the books which had been so near
destruction were sold at the great room in Conduit Street, for more than

These pirates were more excusable than Mohammed II who, upon the capture
of Constantinople in the 15th century, after giving up the devoted city
to be sacked by his licentious soldiers, ordered the books in all
the churches as well as the great library of the Emperor Constantine,
containing 120,000 Manuscripts, to be thrown into the sea.

In the shape of rain, water has frequently caused irreparable injury.
Positive wet is fortunately of rare occurrence in a library, but is very
destructive when it does come, and, if long continued, the substance of
the paper succumbs to the unhealthy influence and rots and rots until
all fibre disappears, and the paper is reduced to a white decay which
crumbles into powder when handled.

Few old libraries in England are now so thoroughly neglected as they
were thirty years ago. The state of many of our Collegiate and Cathedral
libraries was at that time simply appalling. I could mention many
instances, one especially, where a window having been left broken for
a long time, the ivy had pushed through and crept over a row of books,
each of which was worth hundreds of pounds. In rainy weather the water
was conducted, as by a pipe, along the tops of the books and soaked
through the whole.

In another and smaller collection, the rain came straight on to a
book-case through a sky-light, saturating continually the top shelf
containing Caxtons and other early English books, one of which, although
rotten, was sold soon after by permission of the Charity Commissioners
for L200.

Germany, too, the very birth-place of Printing, allows similar
destruction to go on unchecked, if the following letter, which appeared
about a Year ago (1879) in the _Academy_ has any truth in it:--

"For some time past the condition of the library at Wolfenbuttel has
been most disgraceful. The building is in so unsafe a condition
that portions of the walls and ceilings have fallen in, and the many
treasures in Books and MSS. contained in it are exposed to damp and
decay. An appeal has been issued that this valuable collection may not
be allowed to perish for want of funds, and that it may also be now at
length removed to Brunswick, since Wolfenbuttel is entirely deserted as
an intellectual centre. No false sentimentality regarding the memory of
its former custodians, Leibnitz and Lessing, should hinder this project.
Lessing himself would have been the first to urge that the library and
its utility should be considered above all things."

The collection of books at Wolfenbuttel is simply magnificent, and I
cannot but hope the above report was exaggerated. Were these books to
be injured for the want of a small sum spent on the roof, it would be a
lasting disgrace to the nation. There are so many genuine book-lovers
in Fatherland that the commission of such a crime would seem incredible,
did not bibliographical history teem with similar desecrations.[1]

[1] This was written in 1879, since which time a new building has been

Water in the form of vapour is a great enemy of books, the damp
attacking both outside and inside. Outside it fosters the growth of a
white mould or fungus which vegetates upon the edges of the leaves, upon
the sides and in the joints of the binding. It is easily wiped off, but
not without leaving a plain mark, where the mould-spots have been. Under
the microscope a mould-spot is seen to be a miniature forest of lovely
trees, covered with a beautiful white foliage, upas trees whose roots
are embedded in the leather and destroy its texture.

Inside the book, damp encourages the growth of those ugly brown spots
which so often disfigure prints and "livres de luxe." Especially
it attacks books printed in the early part of this century, when
paper-makers had just discovered that they could bleach their rags,
and perfectly white paper, well pressed after printing, had become the
fashion. This paper from the inefficient means used to neutralise the
bleach, carried the seeds of decay in itself, and when exposed to any
damp soon became discoloured with brown stains. Dr. Dibdin's extravagant
bibliographical works are mostly so injured; and although the Doctor's
bibliography is very incorrect, and his spun-out inanities and
wearisome affectations often annoy one, yet his books are so beautifully
illustrated, and he is so full of personal anecdote and chit chat, that
it grieves the heart to see "foxey" stains common in his most superb

In a perfectly dry and warm library these spots would probably remain
undeveloped, but many endowed as well as private libraries are not in
daily use, and are often injured from a false idea that a hard frost and
prolonged cold do no injury to a library so long as the weather is dry.
The fact is that books should never be allowed to get really cold, for
when a thaw comes and the weather sets in warm, the air, laden with
damp, penetrates the inmost recesses, and working its way between the
volumes and even between the leaves, deposits upon their cold surface
its moisture. The best preventative of this is a warm atmosphere during
the frost, sudden heating when the frost has gone being useless.

Our worst enemies are sometimes our real friends, and perhaps the best
way of keeping libraries entirely free from damp is to circulate our
enemy in the shape of hot water through pipes laid under the floor. The
facilities now offered for heating such pipes from the outside are so
great, the expense comparatively so small, and the direct gain in the
expulsion of damp so decided, that where it can be accomplished without
much trouble it is well worth the doing.

At the same time no system of heating should be allowed to supersede the
open grate, which supplies a ventilation to the room as useful to the
health of the books as to the health of the occupier. A coal fire is
objectionable on many grounds. It is dangerous, dirty and dusty. On the
other hand an asbestos fire, where the lumps are judiciously laid,
gives all the warmth and ventilation of a common fire without any of its
annoyances; and to any one who loves to be independent of servants, and
to know that, however deeply he may sleep over his "copy," his fire will
not fail to keep awake, an asbestos stove is invaluable.

It is a mistake also to imagine that keeping the best bound volumes in
a glass doored book-case is a preservative. The damp air will certainly
penetrate, and as the absence of ventilation will assist the formation
of mould, the books will be worse off than if they had been placed in
open shelves. If security be desirable, by all means abolish the glass
and place ornamental brass wire-work in its stead. Like the writers of
old Cookery Books who stamped special receipts with the testimony of
personal experience, I can say "probatum est."


WHAT a valuable servant is Gas, and how dreadfully we should cry out
were it to be banished from our homes; and yet no one who loves his
books should allow a single jet in his library, unless, indeed he can
afford a "sun light," which is the form in which it is used in some
public libraries, where the whole of the fumes are carried at once into
the open air.

Unfortunately, I can speak from experience of the dire effect of gas
in a confined space. Some years ago when placing the shelves round the
small room, which, by a euphemism, is called my library, I took the
precaution of making two self-acting ventilators which communicated
directly with the outer air just under the ceiling. For economy of space
as well as of temper (for lamps of all kinds are sore trials), I had a
gasalier of three lights over the table. The effect was to cause great
heat in the upper regions, and in the course of a year or two the
leather valance which hung from the window, as well as the fringe which
dropped half-an-inch from each shelf to keep out the dust, was just like
tinder, and in some parts actually fell to the ground by its own weight;
while the backs of the books upon the top shelves were perished, and
crumbled away when touched, being reduced to the consistency of Scotch
snuff. This was, of course, due to the sulphur in the gas fumes. I
remember having a book some years ago from the top shelf in the library
of the London Institution, where gas is used, and the whole of the back
fell off in my hands, although the volume in other respects seemed quite
uninjured. Thousands more were in a similar plight.

As the paper of the volumes is uninjured, it might be objected that,
after all, gas is not so much the enemy of the book itself as of its
covering; but then, re-binding always leaves a book smaller, and often
deprives it of leaves at the beginning or end, which the binder's wisdom
has thought useless. Oh! the havoc I have seen committed by binders.
You may assume your most impressive aspect--you may write down your
instructions as if you were making your last will and testament--you may
swear you will not pay if your books are ploughed--'tis all in vain--the
creed of a binder is very short, and comprised in a single article, and
that article is the one vile word "Shavings." But not now will I follow
this depressing subject; binders, as enemies of books, deserve, and
shall have, a whole chapter to themselves.

It is much easier to decry gas than to find a remedy. Sun lights require
especial arrangements, and are very expensive on account of the quantity
of gas consumed. The library illumination of the future promises to be
the electric light. If only steady and moderate in price, it would be a
great boon to public libraries, and perhaps the day is not far distant
when it will replace gas, even in private houses. That will, indeed, be
a day of jubilee to the literary labourer. The injury done by gas is so
generally acknowledged by the heads of our national libraries, that
it is strictly excluded from their domains, although the danger from
explosion and fire, even if the results of combustion were innocuous,
would be sufficient cause for its banishment.

The electric light has been in use for some months in the Reading Room
of the British Museum, and is a great boon to the readers. The light is
not quite equally diffused, and you must choose particular positions
if you want to work happily. There is a great objection, too, in the
humming fizz which accompanies the action of the electricity. There is a
still greater objection when small pieces of hot chalk fall on your
bald head, an annoyance which has been lately (1880) entirely removed
by placing a receptacle beneath each burner. You require also to become
accustomed to the whiteness of the light before you can altogether
forget it. But with all its faults it confers a great boon upon
students, enabling them not only to work three hours longer in the
winter-time, but restoring to them the use of foggy and dark days, in
which formerly no book-work at all could be pursued.[1]

[1] 1887. The system in use is still "Siemens," but, owing to long
experience and improvements, is not now open to the above objections.

Heat alone, without any noxious fumes, is, if continuous, very injurious
to books, and, without gas, bindings may be utterly destroyed by
desiccation, the leather losing all its natural oils by long exposure
to much heat. It is, therefore, a great pity to place books high up in
a room where heat of any kind is as it must rise to the top, and if
sufficient to be of comfort to the readers below, is certain to be hot
enough above to injure the bindings.

The surest way to preserve your books in health is to treat them as
you would your own children, who are sure to sicken if confined in an
atmosphere which is impure, too hot, too cold, too damp, or too dry. It
is just the same with the progeny of literature.

If any credence may be given to Monkish legends, books have sometimes
been preserved in this world, only to meet a desiccating fate in the
world to come. The story is probably an invention of the enemy to throw
discredit on the learning and ability of the preaching Friars, an Order
which was at constant war with the illiterate secular Clergy. It runs
thus:--"In the year 1439, two Minorite friars who had all their lives
collected books, died. In accordance with popular belief, they were at
once conducted before the heavenly tribunal to hear their doom, taking
with them two asses laden with books. At Heaven's gate the porter
demanded, 'Whence came ye?' The Minorites replied 'From a monastery of
St. Francis.' 'Oh!' said the porter, 'then St. Francis shall be your
judge.' So that saint was summoned, and at sight of the friars and their
burden demanded who they were, and why they had brought so many books
with them. 'We are Minorites,' they humbly replied, 'and we have brought
these few books with us as a solatium in the new Jerusalem.' 'And you,
when on earth, practised the good they teach?' sternly demanded the
saint, who read their characters at a glance. Their faltering reply
was sufficient, and the blessed saint at once passed judgment as
follows:--'Insomuch as, seduced by a foolish vanity, and against your
vows of poverty, you have amassed this multitude of books and thereby
and therefor have neglected the duties and broken the rules of your
Order, you are now sentenced to read your books for ever and ever in
the fires of Hell.' Immediately, a roaring noise filled the air, and a
flaming chasm opened in which friars, and asses and books were suddenly


DUST upon Books to any extent points to neglect, and neglect means more
or less slow Decay.

A well-gilt top to a book is a great preventive against damage by dust,
while to leave books with rough tops and unprotected is sure to produce
stains and dirty margins.

In olden times, when few persons had private collections of books, the
collegiate and corporate libraries were of great use to students.
The librarians' duties were then no sinecure, and there was little
opportunity for dust to find a resting-place. The Nineteenth Century
and the Steam Press ushered in a new era. By degrees the libraries which
were unendowed fell behind the age, and were consequently neglected.
No new works found their way in, and the obsolete old books were left
uncared for and unvisited. I have seen many old libraries, the doors of
which remained unopened from week's end to week's end; where you inhaled
the dust of paper-decay with every breath, and could not take up a book
without sneezing; where old boxes, full of older literature, served as
preserves for the bookworm, without even an autumn "battue" to thin the
breed. Occasionally these libraries were (I speak of thirty years ago)
put even to vile uses, such as would have shocked all ideas of propriety
could our ancestors have foreseen their fate.

I recall vividly a bright summer morning many years ago, when, in search
of Caxtons, I entered the inner quadrangle of a certain wealthy College
in one of our learned Universities. The buildings around were charming
in their grey tones and shady nooks. They had a noble history, too, and
their scholarly sons were (and are) not unworthy successors of their
ancestral renown. The sun shone warmly, and most of the casements were
open. From one came curling a whiff of tobacco; from another the hum
of conversation; from a third the tones of a piano. A couple of
undergraduates sauntered on the shady side, arm in arm, with broken caps
and torn gowns--proud insignia of their last term. The grey stone walls
were covered with ivy, except where an old dial with its antiquated
Latin inscription kept count of the sun's ascent. The chapel on one
side, only distinguishable from the "rooms" by the shape of its windows,
seemed to keep watch over the morality of the foundation, just as the
dining-hall opposite, from whence issued a white-aproned cook, did
of its worldly prosperity. As you trod the level pavement, you passed
comfortable--nay, dainty--apartments, where lace curtains at the
windows, antimacassars on the chairs, the silver biscuit-box and the
thin-stemmed wine-glass moderated academic toils. Gilt-backed books on
gilded shelf or table caught the eye, and as you turned your glance from
the luxurious interiors to the well-shorn lawn in the Quad., with its
classic fountain also gilded by sunbeams, the mental vision saw plainly
written over the whole "The Union of Luxury and Learning."

Surely here, thought I, if anywhere, the old world literature will be
valued and nursed with gracious care; so with a pleasing sense of the
general congruity of all around me, I enquired for the rooms of the
librarian. Nobody seemed to be quite sure of his name, or upon whom the
bibliographical mantle had descended. His post, it seemed, was honorary
and a sinecure, being imposed, as a rule, upon the youngest "Fellow."
No one cared for the appointment, and as a matter of course the keys
of office had but distant acquaintance with the lock. At last I was
rewarded with success, and politely, but mutely, conducted by the
librarian into his kingdom of dust and silence. The dark portraits of
past benefactors looked after us from their dusty old frames in dim
astonishment as we passed, evidently wondering whether we meant "work";
book-decay--that peculiar flavour which haunts certain libraries--was
heavy in the air, the floor was dusty, making the sunbeams as we passed
bright with atoms; the shelves were dusty, the "stands" in the middle
were thick with dust, the old leather table in the bow window, and
the chairs on either side, were very dusty. Replying to a question,
my conductor thought there was a manuscript catalogue of the Library
somewhere, but thought, also, that it was not easy to find any books
by it, and he knew not at the minute where to put his hand upon it. The
Library, he said, was of little use now, as the Fellows had their own
books and very seldom required 17th and 18th century editions, and no
new books had been added to the collection for a long time.

We passed down a few steps into an inner library where piles of early
folios were wasting away on the ground. Beneath an old ebony table were
two long carved oak chests. I lifted the lid of one, and at the top
was a once-white surplice covered with dust, and beneath was a mass of
tracts--Commonwealth quartos, unbound--a prey to worms and decay. All
was neglect. The outer door of this room, which was open, was nearly on
a level with the Quadrangle; some coats, and trousers, and boots were
upon the ebony table, and a "gyp" was brushing away at them just within
the door--in wet weather he performed these functions entirely within
the library--as innocent of the incongruity of his position as my guide
himself. Oh! Richard of Bury, I sighed, for a sharp stone from your
sling to pierce with indignant sarcasm the mental armour of these
College dullards.

Happily, things are altered now, and the disgrace of such neglect no
longer hangs on the College. Let us hope, in these days of revived
respect for antiquity, no other College library is in a similar plight.

Not Englishmen alone are guilty, however, of such unloving treatment
of their bibliographical treasures. The following is translated from an
interesting work just published in Paris,[1] and shows how, even at this
very time, and in the centre of the literary activity of France, books
meet their fate.

[1] Le luxe des Livres par L. Derome. 8vo, Paris, 1879.

M. Derome loquitur:--

"Let us now enter the communal library of some large provincial town.
The interior has a lamentable appearance; dust and disorder have made it
their home. It has a librarian, but he has the consideration of a porter
only, and goes but once a week to see the state of the books committed
to his care; they are in a bad state, piled in heaps and perishing in
corners for want of attention and binding. At this present time (1879)
more than one public library in Paris could be mentioned in which
thousands of books are received annually, all of which will have
disappeared in the course of 50 years or so for want of binding; there
are rare books, impossible to replace, falling to pieces because no care
is given to them, that is to say, they are left unbound, a prey to dust
and the worm, and cannot be touched without dismemberment."

"All history shows that this neglect belongs not to any particular age or
nation. I extract the following story from Edmond Werdet's Histoire du

[1] "Histoire du Livre en France," par E. Werdet. 8vo, Paris, 1851.

"The Poet Boccaccio, when travelling in Apulia, was anxious to visit the
celebrated Convent of Mount Cassin, especially to see its library, of
which he had heard much. He accosted, with great courtesy, one of
the monks whose countenance attracted him, and begged him to have the
kindness to show him the library. 'See for yourself,' said the monk,
brusquely, pointing at the same time to an old stone staircase, broken
with age. Boccaccio hastily mounted in great joy at the prospect of a
grand bibliographical treat. Soon he reached the room, which was
without key or even door as protection to its treasures. What was his
astonishment to see that the grass growing in the window-sills actually
darkened the room, and that all the books and seats were an inch thick
in dust. In utter astonishment he lifted one book after another.
All were manuscripts of extreme antiquity, but all were dreadfully
dilapidated. Many had lost whole sections which had been violently
extracted, and in many all the blank margins of the vellum had been cut
away. In fact, the mutilation was thorough.

"Grieved at seeing the work and the wisdom of so many illustrious men
fallen into the hands of custodians so unworthy, Boccaccio descended
with tears in his eyes. In the cloisters he met another monk, and
enquired of him how the MSS. had become so mutilated. 'Oh!' he replied,
'we are obliged, you know, to earn a few sous for our needs, so we cut
away the blank margins of the manuscripts for writing upon, and make of
them small books of devotion, which we sell to women and children."

As a postscript to this story, Mr. Timmins, of Birmingham, informs me
that the treasures of the Monte Cassino Library are better cared for now
than in Boccaccio's days, the worthy prior being proud of his valuable
MSS. and very willing to show them. It will interest many readers to
know that there is now a complete printing office, lithographic as well
as typographic, at full work in one large room of the Monastery, where
their wonderful MS. of Dante has been already reprinted, and where other
fac-simile works are now in progress.


IGNORANCE, though not in the same category as fire and water, is a great
destroyer of books. At the Reformation so strong was the antagonism of
the people generally to anything like the old idolatry of the Romish
Church, that they destroyed by thousands books, secular as well as
sacred, if they contained but illuminated letters. Unable to read, they
saw no difference between romance and a psalter, between King Arthur
and King David; and so the paper books with all their artistic ornaments
went to the bakers to heat their ovens, and the parchment manuscripts,
however beautifully illuminated, to the binders and boot makers.

There is another kind of ignorance which has often worked destruction,
as shown by the following anecdote, which is extracted from a
letter written in 1862 by M. Philarete Chasles to Mr. B. Beedham, of

"Ten years ago, when turning out an old closet in the Mazarin Library,
of which I am librarian, I discovered at the bottom, under a lot of old
rags and rubbish, a large volume. It had no cover nor title-page, and
had been used to light the fires of the librarians. This shows how great
was the negligence towards our literary treasure before the Revolution;
for the pariah volume, which, 60 years before, had been placed in the
Invalides, and which had certainly formed part of the original Mazarin
collections, turned out to be a fine and genuine Caxton."

I saw this identical volume in the Mazarin Library in April, 1880. It is
a noble copy of the First Edition of the "Golden Legend," 1483, but of
course very imperfect.

Among the millions of events in this world which cross and re-cross one
another, remarkable coincidences must often occur; and a case exactly
similar to that at the Mazarin Library, happened about the same time
in London, at the French Protestant Church, St. Martin's-le-Grand. Many
years ago I discovered there, in a dirty pigeon hole close to the grate
in the vestry, a fearfully mutilated copy of Caxton's edition of the
Canterbury Tales, with woodcuts. Like the book at Paris, it had long
been used, leaf by leaf, in utter ignorance of its value, to light the
vestry fire. Originally worth at least L800, it was then worth half,
and, of course, I energetically drew the attention of the minister in
charge to it, as well as to another grand Folio by Rood and Hunte, 1480.
Some years elapsed, and then the Ecclesiastical Commissioners took the
foundation in hand, but when at last Trustees were appointed, and the
valuable library was re-arranged and catalogued, this "Caxton," together
with the fine copy of "Latterbury" from the first Oxford Press, had
disappeared entirely. Whatever ignorance may have been displayed in the
mutilation, quite another word should be applied to the disappearance.

The following anecdote is so _apropos_, that although it has lately
appeared in No. 1 of _The Antiquary_, I cannot resist the temptation of
re-printing it, as a warning to inheritors of old libraries. The account
was copied by me years ago from a letter written in 1847, by the Rev. C.
F. Newmarsh, Rector of Pelham, to the Rev. S. R. Maitland, Librarian to
the Archbishop of Canterbury, and is as follows:--

"In June, 1844, a pedlar called at a cottage in Blyton and asked an old
widow, named Naylor, whether she had any rags to sell. She answered, No!
but offered him some old paper, and took from a shelf the 'Boke of St.
Albans' and others, weighing 9 lbs., for which she received 9_d_. The
pedlar carried them through Gainsborough tied up in string, past a
chemist's shop, who, being used to buy old paper to wrap his drugs in,
called the man in, and, struck by the appearance of the 'Boke,' gave him
3_s_. for the lot. Not being able to read the Colophon, he took it to an
equally ignorant stationer, and offered it to him for a guinea, at which
price he declined it, but proposed that it should be exposed in his
window as a means of eliciting some information about it. It was
accordingly placed there with this label, 'Very old curious work.'
A collector of books went in and offered half-a-crown for it, which
excited the suspicion of the vendor. Soon after Mr. Bird, Vicar of
Gainsborough, went in and asked the price, wishing to possess a very
early specimen of printing, but not knowing the value of the book. While
he was examining it, Stark, a very intelligent bookseller, came in, to
whom Mr. Bird at once ceded the right of pre-emption. Stark betrayed
such visible anxiety that the vendor, Smith, declined setting a price.
Soon after Sir C. Anderson, of Lea (author of Ancient Models), came in
and took away the book to collate, but brought it back in the morning
having found it imperfect in the middle, and offered L5 for it. Sir
Charles had no book of reference to guide him to its value. But in the
meantime, Stark had employed a friend to obtain for him the refusal of
it, and had undertaken to give for it a little more than any sum Sir
Charles might offer. On finding that at least L5 could be got for it,
Smith went to the chemist and gave him two guineas, and then sold it to
Stark's agent for seven guineas. Stark took it to London, and sold it at
once to the Rt. Hon. Thos. Grenville for seventy pounds or guineas.

"I have now shortly to state how it came that a book without covers of
such extreme age was preserved. About fifty years since, the library
of Thonock Hall, in the parish of Gainsborough, the seat of the Hickman
family, underwent great repairs, the books being sorted over by a most
ignorant person, whose selection seems to have been determined by
the coat. All books without covers were thrown into a great heap, and
condemned to all the purposes which Leland laments in the sack of the
conventual libraries by the visitors. But they found favour in the eyes
of a literate gardener, who begged leave to take what he liked home.
He selected a large quantity of Sermons preached before the House of
Commons, local pamphlets, tracts from 1680 to 1710, opera books, etc.
He made a list of them, which I found afterwards in the cottage. In
the list, No. 43 was 'Cotarmouris,' or the Boke of St. Albans. The old
fellow was something of a herald, and drew in his books what he held
to be his coat. After his death, all that could be stuffed into a large
chest were put away in a garret; but a few favourites, and the 'Boke'
among them remained on the kitchen shelves for years, till his son's
widow grew so 'stalled' of dusting them that she determined to sell
them. Had she been in poverty, I should have urged the buyer, Stark, the
duty of giving her a small sum out of his great gains."

Such chances as this do not fall to a man's lot twice; but Edmond Werdet
relates a story very similar indeed, and where also the "plums" fell
into the lap of a London dealer.

In 1775, the Recollet Monks of Antwerp, wishing to make a reform,
examined their library, and determined to get rid of about 1,500
volumes--some manuscript and some printed, but all of which they
considered as old rubbish of no value.

At first they were thrown into the gardener's rooms; but, after some
months, they decided in their wisdom to give the whole refuse to the
gardener as a recognition of his long services.

This man, wiser in his generation than these simple fathers, took the
lot to M. Vanderberg, an amateur and man of education. M. Vanderberg
took a cursory view, and then offered to buy them by weight at sixpence
per pound. The bargain was at once concluded, and M. Vanderberg had the

Shortly after, Mr. Stark, a well-known London bookseller, being in
Antwerp, called on M. Vanderberg, and was shown the books. He at once
offered 14,000 francs for them, which was accepted. Imagine the surprise
and chagrin of the poor monks when they heard of it! They knew they had
no remedy, and so dumbfounded were they by their own ignorance, that
they humbly requested M. Vanderberg to relieve their minds by returning
some portion of his large gains. He gave them 1,200 francs.

The great Shakespearian and other discoveries, which were found in a
garret at Lamport Hall in 1867 by Mr. Edmonds, are too well-known and
too recent to need description. In this case mere chance seems to have
led to the preservation of works, the very existence of which set the
ears of all lovers of Shakespeare a-tingling.

In the summer of 1877, a gentleman with whom I was well acquainted took
lodgings in Preston Street, Brighton. The morning after his arrival,
he found in the w.c. some leaves of an old black-letter book. He asked
permission to retain them, and enquired if there were any more where
they came from. Two or three other fragments were found, and the
landlady stated that her father, who was fond of antiquities, had at one
time a chest full of old black-letter books; that, upon his death, they
were preserved till she was tired of seeing them, and then, supposing
them of no value, she had used them for waste; that for two years and
a-half they had served for various household purposes, but she had
just come to the end of them. The fragments preserved, and now in my
possession, are a goodly portion of one of the most rare books from the
press of Wynkyn de Worde, Caxton's successor. The title is a curious
woodcut with the words "Gesta Romanorum" engraved in an odd-shaped black
letter. It has also numerous rude wood-cuts throughout. It was from this
very work that Shakespeare in all probability derived the story of the
three caskets which in "The Merchant of Venice" forms so integral a
portion of the plot. Only think of that cloaca being supplied daily with
such dainty bibliographical treasures!

In the Lansdowne Collection at the British Museum is a volume containing
three manuscript dramas of Queen Elizabeth's time, and on a fly-leaf
is a list of fifty-eight plays, with this note at the foot, in the
handwriting of the well-known antiquary, Warburton:

"After I had been many years collecting these Manuscript Playes, through
my own carelessness and the ignorance of my servant, they was unluckely
burned or put under pye bottoms."

Some of these "Playes" are preserved in print, but others are quite
unknown and perished for ever when used as "pye-bottoms."

Mr. W. B. Rye, late Keeper of the Printed Books at our great National
Library, thus writes:--

"On the subject of ignorance you should some day, when at the British
Museum, look at Lydgate's translation of Boccaccio's 'Fall of Princes,'
printed by Pynson in 1494. It is 'liber rarissimus.' This copy when
perfect had been very fine and quite uncut. On one fine summer afternoon
in 1874 it was brought to me by a tradesman living at Lamberhurst. Many
of the leaves had been cut into squares, and the whole had been rescued
from a tobacconist's shop, where the pieces were being used to wrap up
tobacco and snuff. The owner wanted to buy a new silk gown for his wife,
and was delighted with three guineas for this purpose. You will notice
how cleverly the British Museum binder has joined the leaves, making it,
although still imperfect, a fine book."

Referring to the carelessness exhibited by some custodians of Parish

Mr. Noble, who has had great experience in such matters, writes:--

"A few months ago I wanted a search made of the time of Charles I in
one of the most interesting registers in a large town (which shall be
nameless) in England. I wrote to the custodian of it, and asked him
kindly to do the search for me, and if he was unable to read the names
to get some one who understood the writing of that date to decipher the
entries for me. I did not have a reply for a fortnight, but one morning
the postman brought me a very large unregistered book-packet, which I
found to be the original Parish Registers! He, however, addressed a note
with it stating that he thought it best to send me the document itself
to look at, and begged me to be good enough to return the Register to
him as soon as done with. He evidently wished to serve me--his ignorance
of responsibility without doubt proving his kindly disposition, and on
that account alone I forbear to name him; but I can assure you I was
heartily glad to have a letter from him in due time announcing that
the precious documents were once more locked up in the parish chest.
Certainly, I think such as he to be 'Enemies of books.' Don't you?"

Bigotry has also many sins to answer for. The late M. Muller, of
Amsterdam, a bookseller of European fame, wrote to me as follows a few
weeks before his death:--

"Of course, we also, in Holland, have many Enemies of books, and if I
were happy enough to have your spirit and style I would try and write
a companion volume to yours. Now I think the best thing I can do is
to give you somewhat of my experience. You say that the discovery of
printing has made the destruction of anybody's books difficult. At this
I am bound to say that the Inquisition did succeed most successfully, by
burning heretical books, in destroying numerous volumes invaluable for
their wholesome contents. Indeed, I beg to state to you the amazing fact
that here in Holland exists an Ultramontane Society called 'Old
Paper,' which is under the sanction of the six Catholic Bishops of the
Netherlands, and is spread over the whole kingdom. The openly-avowed
object of this Society is to buy up and to destroy as waste paper all
the Protestant and Liberal Catholic newspapers, pamphlets and books,
the price of which is offered to the Pope as 'Deniers de St. Pierre.'
Of course, this Society is very little known among Protestants, and
many have denied even its existence; but I have been fortunate enough
to obtain a printed circular issued by one of the Bishops containing
statistics of the astounding mass of paper thus collected, producing in
one district alone the sum of L1,200 in three months. I need not tell
you that this work is strongly promoted by the Catholic clergy. You can
have no idea of the difficulty we now have in procuring certain books
published but 30, 40, or 50 years ago of an ephemeral character.
Historical and theological books are very rare; novels and poetry of
that period are absolutely not to be found; medical and law books are
more common. I am bound to say that in no country have more books been
printed and more destroyed than in Holland. W. MULLER."

The policy of buying up all objectionable literature seems to me, I
confess, very short-sighted, and in most cases would lead to a greatly
increased reprint; it certainly would in these latitudes.

From the Church of Rome to the Church of England is no great leap, and
Mr. Smith, the Brighton bookseller, gives evidence thus:--

"It may be worth your while to note that the clergy of the last two
centuries ought to be included in your list (of Biblioclasts). I have
had painful experience of the fact in the following manner. Numbers of
volumes in their libraries have had a few leaves removed, and in many
others whole sections torn out. I suppose it served their purpose thus
to use the wisdom of greater men and that they thus economised their own
time by tearing out portions to suit their purpose. The hardship to the
trade is this: their books are purchased in good faith as perfect, and
when resold the buyer is quick to claim damage if found defective, while
the seller has no redress."

Among the careless destroyers of books still at work should be classed
Government officials. Cart-loads of interesting documents, bound and
unbound, have been sold at various times as waste-paper,[1] when modern
red-tape thought them but rubbish. Some of them have been rescued and
resold at high prices, but some have been lost for ever.

[1] Nell Gwyn's private Housekeeping Book was among them, containing
most curious particulars of what was necessary in the time of Charles I
for a princely household. Fortunately it was among the rescued, and is
now in a private library.

In 1854 a very interesting series of blue books was commenced by the
authorities of the Patent Office, of course paid for out of the national
purse. Beginning with the year 1617 the particulars of every important
patent were printed from the original specifications and fac-simile
drawings made, where necessary, for the elucidation of the text. A
very moderate price was charged for each, only indeed the prime cost
of production. The general public, of course, cared little for such
literature, but those interested in the origin and progress of any
particular art, cared much, and many sets of Patents were purchased by
those engaged in research. But the great bulk of the stock was, to some
extent, inconvenient, and so when a removal to other offices, in 1879,
became necessary, the question arose as to what could be done with them.
These blue-books, which had cost the nation many thousands of pounds,
were positively sold to the paper mills as wastepaper, and nearly 100
tons weight were carted away at about L3 per ton. It is difficult to
believe, although positively true, that so great an act of vandalism
could have been perpetrated, even in a Government office. It is true
that no demand existed for some of them, but it is equally true that
in numerous cases, especially in the early specifications of the
steam engine and printing machine, the want of them has caused great
disappointment. To add a climax to the story, many of the "pulped"
specifications have had to be reprinted more than once since their


      THERE is a sort of busy worm
      That will the fairest books deform,
          By gnawing holes throughout them;
      Alike, through every leaf they go,
      Yet of its merits naught they know,
          Nor care they aught about them.

      Their tasteless tooth will tear and taint
      The Poet, Patriot, Sage or Saint,
          Not sparing wit nor learning.
      Now, if you'd know the reason why,
      The best of reasons I'll supply;
          'Tis bread to the poor vermin.

      Of pepper, snuff, or 'bacca smoke,
      And Russia-calf they make a joke.
          Yet, why should sons of science
      These puny rankling reptiles dread?
      'Tis but to let their books be read,
          And bid the worms defiance."
                              J. DORASTON.

A most destructive Enemy of books has been the bookworm. I say "has
been," because, fortunately, his ravages in all civilised countries have
been greatly restricted during the last fifty years. This is due partly
to the increased reverence for antiquity which has been universally
developed--more still to the feeling of cupidity, which has caused
all owners to take care of volumes which year by year have become more
valuable--and, to some considerable extent, to the falling off in the
production of edible books.

The monks, who were the chief makers as well as the custodians of books,
through the long ages we call "dark," because so little is known of
them, had no fear of the bookworm before their eyes, for, ravenous as
he is and was, he loves not parchment, and at that time paper was not.
Whether at a still earlier period he attacked the papyrus, the paper of
the Egyptians, I know not--probably he did, as it was a purely vegetable
substance; and if so, it is quite possible that the worm of to-day, in
such evil repute with us, is the lineal descendant of ravenous ancestors
who plagued the sacred Priests of On in the time of Joseph's Pharaoh, by
destroying their title deeds and their books of Science.

Rare things and precious, as manuscripts were before the invention of
typography, are well preserved, but when the printing press was invented
and paper books were multiplied in the earth; when libraries increased
and readers were many, then familiarity bred contempt; books were packed
in out-of-the-way places and neglected, and the oft-quoted, though
seldom seen, bookworm became an acknowledged tenant of the library, and
the mortal enemy of the bibliophile.

Anathemas have been hurled against this pest in nearly every European
language, old and new, and classical scholars of bye-gone centuries have
thrown their spondees and dactyls at him. Pierre Petit, in 1683, devoted
a long Latin poem to his dis-praise, and Parnell's charming Ode is well
known. Hear the poet lament:--

 "Pene tu mihi passerem Catulli,
 Pene tu mihi Lesbiam abstulisti."

and then--

 "Quid dicam innumeros bene eruditos
 Quorum tu monumenta tu labores
     Isti pessimo ventre devorasti?"

while Petit, who was evidently moved by strong personal feelings against
the "invisum pecus," as he calls him, addresses his little enemy as
"Bestia audax" and "Pestis chartarum."

But, as a portrait commonly precedes a biography, the curious reader
may wish to be told what this "Bestia audax," who so greatly ruffles
the tempers of our eclectics, is like. Here, at starting, is a serious
chameleon-like difficulty, for the bookworm offers to us, if we are
guided by their words, as many varieties of size and shape as there are

Sylvester, in his "Laws of Verse," with more words than wit, described
him as "a microscopic creature wriggling on the learned page, which,
when discovered, stiffens out into the resemblance of a streak of dirt."

The earliest notice is in "Micrographia," by R. Hooke, folio, London,
1665. This work, which was printed at the expense of the Royal Society
of London, is an account of innumerable things examined by the author
under the microscope, and is most interesting for the frequent accuracy
of the author's observations, and most amusing for his equally frequent

In his account of the bookworm, his remarks, which are rather long
and very minute, are absurdly blundering. He calls it "a small white
Silver-shining Worm or Moth, which I found much conversant among books
and papers, and is supposed to be that which corrodes and eats holes
thro' the leaves and covers. Its head appears bigg and blunt, and its
body tapers from it towards the tail, smaller and smaller, being
shap'd almost like a carret.... It has two long horns before, which are
streight, and tapering towards the top, curiously ring'd or knobb'd and
brisled much like the marsh weed called Horses tail.... The hinder part
is terminated with three tails, in every particular resembling the two
longer horns that grow out of the head. The legs are scal'd and hair'd.
This animal probably feeds upon the paper and covers of books, and
perforates in them several small round holes, finding perhaps a
convenient nourishment in those husks of hemp and flax, which have
passed through so many scourings, washings, dressings, and dryings as
the parts of old paper necessarily have suffer'd. And, indeed, when I
consider what a heap of sawdust or chips this little creature (which is
one of the teeth of Time) conveys into its intrals, I cannot chuse but
remember and admire the excellent contrivance of Nature in placing in
animals such a fire, as is continually nourished and supply'd by the
materials convey'd into the stomach and fomented by the bellows of the
lungs." The picture or "image," which accompanies this description, is
wonderful to behold. Certainly R. Hooke, Fellow of the Royal Society,
drew somewhat upon his imagination here, having apparently evolved both
engraving and description from his inner consciousness.[1]

[1] Not so! Several correspondents have drawn my attention to the
fact that Hooke is evidently describing the "Lepisma," which, if not
positively injurious, is often found in the warm places of old houses,
especially if a little damp. He mistook this for the Bookworm.

Entomologists even do not appear to have paid much attention to the
natural history of the "Worm." Kirby, speaking of it, says, "the
larvae of Crambus pinguinalis spins a robe which it covers with its own
excrement, and does no little injury." Again, "I have often observed the
caterpillar of a little moth that takes its station in damp old books,
and there commits great ravages, and many a black-letter rarity, which
in these days of bibliomania would have been valued at its weight in
gold, has been snatched by these devastators," etc., etc.

As already quoted, Doraston's description is very vague. To him he is
in one verse "a sort of busy worm," and in another "a puny rankling
reptile." Hannett, in his work on book-binding, gives "Aglossa
pinguinalis" as the real name, and Mrs. Gatty, in her Parables,
christens it "Hypothenemus cruditus."

The, Rev. F. T. Havergal, who many years ago had much trouble with
bookworms in the Cathedral Library of Hereford, says they are a kind of
death-watch, with a "hard outer skin, and are dark brown," another sort
"having white bodies with brown spots on their heads." Mr. Holme, in
"Notes and Queries" for 1870, states that the "Anobium paniceum" has
done considerable injury to the Arabic manuscripts brought from Cairo,
by Burckhardt, and now in the University Library, Cambridge. Other
writers say "Acarus eruditus" or "Anobium pertinax" are the correct
scientific names.

Personally, I have come across but few specimens; nevertheless, from
what I have been told by librarians, and judging from analogy, I imagine
the following to be about the truth:--

There are several kinds of caterpillar and grub, which eat into books,
those with legs are the larvae of moths; those without legs, or rather
with rudimentary legs, are grubs and turn to beetles.

It is not known whether any species of caterpillar or grub can live
generation after generation upon books alone, but several sorts of
wood-borers, and others which live upon vegetable refuse, will attack
paper, especially if attracted in the first place by the real wooden
boards in which it was the custom of the old book-binders to clothe
their volumes. In this belief, some country librarians object to opening
the library windows lest the enemy should fly in from the neighbouring
woods, and rear a brood of worms. Anyone, indeed, who has seen a hole
in a filbert, or a piece of wood riddled by dry rot, will recognize a
similarity of appearance in the channels made by these insect enemies.

Among the paper-eating species are:--

1. The "Anobium." Of this beetle there are varieties, viz.: "A.
pertinax," "A. eruditus," and "A. paniceum." In the larval state they
are grubs, just like those found, in nuts; in this stage they are too
much alike to be distinguished from one another. They feed on old dry
wood, and often infest bookcases and shelves. They eat the wooden boards
of old books, and so pass into the paper where they make long holes
quite round, except when they work in a slanting direction, when the
holes appear to be oblong. They will thus pierce through several volumes
in succession, Peignot, the well-known bibliographer, having found
27 volumes so pierced in a straight line by one worm, a miracle of
gluttony, the story of which, for myself, I receive "_cum grano salis_."
After a certain time the larva changes into a pupa, and then emerges as
a small brown beetle.

2. "Oecophora."--This larva is similar in size to that of Anobium, but
can be distinguished at once by having legs. It is a caterpillar, with
six legs upon its thorax and eight sucker-like protuberances on its
body, like a silk-worm. It changes into a chrysalis, and then assumes
its perfect shape as a small brown moth. The species that attacks books
is the OEcophora pseudospretella. It loves damp and warmth, and eats any
fibrous material. This caterpillar is quite unlike any garden species,
and, excepting the legs, is very similar in appearance and size to the
Anobium. It is about half-inch long, with a horny head and strong jaws.
To printers' ink or writing ink he appears to have no great dislike,
though I imagine that the former often disagrees with his health, unless
he is very robust, as in books where the print is pierced a majority of
the worm-holes I have seen are too short in extent to have provided food
enough for the development of the grub. But, although the ink may be
unwholesome, many grubs survive, and, eating day and night in silence
and darkness, work out their destiny leaving, according to the strength
of their constitutions, a longer or shorter tunnel in the volume.

In December, 1879, Mr. Birdsall, a well-known book-binder of
Northampton, kindly sent me by post a fat little Worm, which had been
found by one of his workmen in an old book while being bound. He bore
his journey extremely well, being very lively when turned out. I placed
him in a box in warmth and quiet, with some small fragments of paper
from a Boethius, printed by Caxton, and a leaf of a seventeenth century
book. He ate a small piece of the leaf, but either from too much fresh
air, from unaccustomed liberty, or from change of food, he gradually
weakened, and died in about three weeks. I was sorry to lose him, as I
wished to verify his name in his perfect state. Mr. Waterhouse, of the
Entomological department of the British Museum, very kindly examined him
before death, and was of opinion he was OEcophora pseudospretella.

In July, 1885, Dr. Garnett, of the British Museum, gave me two worms
which had been found in an old Hebrew Commentary just received from
Athens. They had doubtless had a good shaking on the journey, and one
was moribund when I took charge, and joined his defunct kindred in a
few days. The other seemed hearty and lived with me for nearly eighteen
months. I treated him as well as I knew how; placed him in a small box
with the choice of three sorts of old paper to eat, and very seldom
disturbed him. He evidently resented his confinement, ate very little,
moved very little, and changed in appearance very little, even when
dead. This Greek worm, filled with Hebrew lore, differed in many
respects from any other I have seen. He was longer, thinner, and more
delicate looking than any of his English congeners. He was transparent,
like thin ivory, and had a dark line through his body, which I took
to be the intestinal canal. He resigned his life with extreme
procrastination, and died "deeply lamented" by his keeper, who had long
looked forward to his final development.

The difficulty of breeding these worms is probably due to their
formation. When in a state of nature they can by expansion and
contraction of the body working upon the sides of their holes, push
their horny jaws against the opposing mass of paper. But when freed from
the restraint, which indeed to them is life, they CANNOT eat although
surrounded with food, for they have no legs to keep them steady, and
their natural, leverage is wanting.

Considering the numerous old books contained in the British Museum, the
Library there is wonderfully free from the worm. Mr. Rye, lately
the Keeper of the Printed Books there, writes me "Two or three were
discovered in my time, but they were weakly creatures. One, I remember,
was conveyed into the Natural History Department, and was taken into
custody by Mr. Adam White who pronounced it to be Anobium pertinax. I
never heard of it after."

The reader, who has not had an opportunity of examining old libraries,
can have no idea of the dreadful havoc which these pests are capable of

I have now before me a fine folio volume, printed on very good
unbleached paper, as thick as stout cartridge, in the year 1477, by
Peter Schoeffer, of Mentz. Unfortunately, after a period of neglect in
which it suffered severely from the "worm," it was about fifty years ago
considered worth a new cover, and so again suffered severely, this time
at the hands of the binder. Thus the original state of the boards is
unknown, but the damage done to the leaves can be accurately described.

The "worms" have attacked each end. On the first leaf are 212 distinct
holes, varying in size from a common pin hole to that which a stout
knitting-needle would make, say, <1/16> to <1/23> inch. These holes run
mostly in lines more or less at right angles with the covers, a very few
being channels along the paper affecting three or four sheets only. The
varied energy of these little pests is thus represented:--

    On folio 1 are 212 holes.  On folio 61 are 4 holes.
        "   11  "   57   "         "    71  "  2   "
        "   21  "   48   "         "    81  "  2   "
        "   31  "   31   "         "    87  "  1   "
        "   41  "   18   "         "    90  "  0   "
        "   51  "    6   "

These 90 leaves being stout, are about the thickness of 1 inch. The
volume has 250 leaves, and turning to the end, we find on the last leaf
81 holes, made by a breed of worms not so ravenous. Thus,

      From end                |         From end.
 On folio 1 are 81 holes.     |    On folio 66 is 1 hole.
     "   11 "   40   "        |         "   69   "   0   "

It is curious to notice how the holes, rapidly at first, and then slowly
and more slowly, disappear. You trace the same hole leaf after leaf,
until suddenly the size becomes in one leaf reduced to half its normal
diameter, and a close examination will show a small abrasion of the
paper in the next leaf exactly where the hole would have come if
continued. In the book quoted it is just as if there had been a race. In
the first ten leaves the weak worms are left behind; in the second ten
there are still forty-eight eaters; these are reduced to thirty-one in
the third ten, and to only eighteen in the fourth ten. On folio 51 only
six worms hold on, and before folio 61 two of them have given in.
Before reaching folio 7, it is a neck and neck race between two sturdy
gourmands, each making a fine large hole, one of them being oval in
shape. At folio 71 they are still neck and neck, and at folio 81 the
same. At folio 87 the oval worm gives in, the round one eating three
more leaves and part way through the fourth. The leaves of the book are
then untouched until we reach the sixty-ninth from the end, upon which
is one worm hole. After this they go on multiplying to the end of the

I have quoted this instance because I have it handy, but many worms
eat much longer holes than any in this volume; some I have seen
running quite through a couple of thick volumes, covers and all. In the
"Schoeffer" book the holes are probably the work of Anobium pertinax,
because the centre is spared and both ends attacked. Originally, real
wooden boards were the covers of the volume, and here, doubtless, the
attack was commenced, which was carried through each board into the
paper of the book.

I remember well my first visit to the Bodleian Library, in the year
1858, Dr. Bandinel being then the librarian. He was very kind, and
afforded me every facility for examining the fine collection of
"Caxtons," which was the object of my journey. In looking over a parcel
of black-letter fragments, which had been in a drawer for a long time, I
came across a small grub, which, without a thought, I threw on the floor
and trod under foot. Soon after I found another, a fat, glossy fellow,
so long ---, which I carefully preserved in a little paper box,
intending to observe his habits and development. Seeing Dr. Bandinel
near, I asked him to look at my curiosity. Hardly, however, had I turned
the wriggling little victim out upon the leather-covered table, when
down came the doctor's great thumb-nail upon him, and an inch-long smear
proved the tomb of all my hopes, while the great bibliographer, wiping
his thumb on his coat sleeve, passed on with the remark, "Oh, yes! they
have black heads sometimes." That was something to know--another fact
for the entomologist; for my little gentleman had a hard, shiny, white
head, and I never heard of a black-headed bookworm before or since.
Perhaps the great abundance of black-letter books in the Bodleian may
account for the variety. At any rate he was an Anobium.

I have been unmercifully "chaffed" for the absurd idea that a
paper-eating worm could be kept a prisoner in a paper box. Oh, these
critics! Your bookworm is a shy, lazy beast, and takes a day or two to
recover his appetite after being "evicted." Moreover, he knew his own
dignity better than to eat the "loaded" glazed shoddy note paper in
which he was incarcerated.

In the case of Caxton's "Lyf of oure ladye," already referred to, not
only are there numerous small holes, but some very large channels at the
bottom of the pages. This is a most unusual occurrence, and is probably
the work of the larva of "Dermestes vulpinus," a garden beetle, which is
very voracious, and eats any kind of dry ligneous rubbish.

The scarcity of edible books of the present century has been mentioned.
One result of the extensive adulteration of modern paper is that the
worm will not touch it. His instinct forbids him to eat the china clay,
the bleaches, the plaster of Paris, the sulphate of barytes, the scores
of adulterants now used to mix with the fibre, and, so far, the wise
pages of the old literature are, in the race against Time with the
modern rubbish, heavily handicapped. Thanks to the general interest
taken in old books now-a-days, the worm has hard times of it, and
but slight chance of that quiet neglect which is necessary to his,
existence. So much greater is the reason why some patient entomologist
should, while there is the chance, take upon himself to study the habits
of the creature, as Sir John Lubbock has those of the ant.

I have now before me some leaves of a book, which, being waste, were
used by our economical first printer, Caxton, to make boards, by pasting
them together. Whether the old paste was an attraction, or whatever the
reason may have been, the worm, when he got in there, did not, as usual,
eat straight through everything into the middle of the book, but worked
his way longitudinally, eating great furrows along the leaves without
passing out of the binding; and so furrowed are these few leaves by long
channels that it is difficult to raise one of them without its falling
to pieces.

This is bad enough, but we may be very thankful that in these temperate
climes we have no such enemies as are found in very hot countries, where
a whole library, books, bookshelves, table, chairs, and all, may be
destroyed in one night by a countless army of ants.

Our cousins in the United States, so fortunate in many things, seem very
fortunate in this--their books are not attacked by the "worm"--at any
rate, American writers say so. True it is that all their black-letter
comes from Europe, and, having cost many dollars, is well looked after;
but there they have thousands of seventeenth and eighteenth century
books, in Roman type, printed in the States on genuine and wholesome
paper, and the worm is not particular, at least in this country, about
the type he eats through, if the paper is good.

Probably, therefore, the custodians of their old libraries could tell
a different tale, which makes it all the more amusing to find in
the excellent "Encyclopaedia of Printing,"[1] edited and printed by
Ringwalt, at Philadelphia, not only that the bookworm is a stranger
there, for personally he is unknown to most of us, but that his
slightest ravages are looked upon as both curious and rare. After
quoting Dibdin, with the addition of a few flights of imagination of his
own, Ringwalt states that this "paper-eating moth is supposed to have
been introduced into England in hogsleather binding from Holland." He
then ends with what, to anyone who has seen the ravages of the worm in
hundreds of books, must be charming in its native simplicity. "There is
now," he states, evidently quoting it as a great curiosity, "there is
now, in a private library in Philadelphia, a book perforated by this
insect." Oh! lucky Philadelphians! who can boast of possessing the
oldest library in the States, but must ask leave of a private collector
if they wish to see the one wormhole in the whole city!

[1] "American Encyclopaedia of Printing": by Luther Ringwalt. 8vo.
Philadelphia, 1871.


BESIDES the worm I do not think there is any insect enemy of books worth
description. The domestic black-beetle, or cockroach, is far too modern
an introduction to our country to have done much harm, though he will
sometimes nibble the binding of books, especially if they rest upon the

Not so fortunate, however, are our American cousins, for in the "Library
Journal" for September, 1879, Mr. Weston Flint gives an account of a
dreadful little pest which commits great havoc upon the cloth bindings
of the New York libraries. It is a small black-beetle or cockroach,
called by scientists "Blatta germanica" and by others the "Croton
Bug." Unlike our household pest, whose home is the kitchen, and whose
bashfulness loves secrecy and the dark hours, this misgrown flat
species, of which it would take two to make a medium-sized English
specimen, has gained in impudence what it has lost in size, fearing
neither light nor noise, neither man nor beast. In the old English Bible
of 1551, we read in Psalm xci, 5, "Thou shalt not nede to be afraied
for eny Bugges by night." This verse falls unheeded on the ear of the
Western librarian who fears his "bugs" both night and day, for they
crawl over everything in broad sunlight, infesting and infecting each
corner and cranny of the bookshelves they choose as their home. There
is a remedy in the powder known as insecticide, which, however, is very
disagreeable upon books and shelves. It is, nevertheless, very fatal to
these pests, and affords some consolation in the fact that so soon as
a "bug" shows any signs of illness, he is devoured at once by his
voracious brethren with the same relish as if he were made of fresh

There is, too, a small silvery insect (Lepisma) which I have often
seen in the backs of neglected books, but his ravages are not of much

Nor can we reckon the Codfish as very dangerous to literature,
unless, indeed, he be of the Roman obedience, like that wonderful
Ichthiobibliophage (pardon me, Professor Owen) who, in the year 1626,
swallowed three Puritanical treatises of John Frith, the Protestant
martyr. No wonder, after such a meal, he was soon caught, and became
famous in the annals of literature. The following is the title of a
little book issued upon the occasion: "Vox Piscis, or the Book-Fish
containing Three Treatises, which were found in the belly of a Cod-Fish
in Cambridge Market on Midsummer Eve, AD 1626." Lowndes says (see
under "Tracey,") "great was the consternation at Cambridge upon the
publication of this work."

Rats and mice, however, are occasionally very destructive, as the
following anecdote will show: Two centuries ago, the library of the Dean
and Chapter of Westminster was kept in the Chapter House, and repairs
having become necessary in that building, a scaffolding was erected
inside, the books being left on their shelves. One of the holes made in
the wall for a scaffold-pole was selected by a pair of rats for their
family residence. Here they formed a nest for their young ones by
descending to the library shelves and biting away the leaves of various
books. Snug and comfortable was the little household, until, one day,
the builder's men having finished, the poles were removed, and--alas!
for the rats--the hole was closed up with bricks and cement. Buried
alive, the father and mother, with five or six of their offspring, met
with a speedy death, and not until a few years ago, when a restoration
of the Chapter House was effected, was the rat grave opened again for a
scaffold pole, and all their skeletons and their nest discovered. Their
bones and paper fragments of the nest may now be seen in a glass case in
the Chapter House, some of the fragments being attributed to books from
the press of Caxton. This is not the case, although there are pieces of
very early black-letter books not now to be found in the Abbey library,
including little bits of the famous Queen Elizabeth's Prayer book, with
woodcuts, 1568.

A friend sends me the following incident: "A few years since, some rats
made nests in the trees surrounding my house; from thence they jumped on
to some flat roofing, and so made their way down a chimney into a
room where I kept books. A number of these, with parchment backs, they
entirely destroyed, as well as some half-dozen books whole bound in

Another friend informs me that in the Natural History Museum of the
Devon and Exeter Institution is a specimen of "another little pest,
which has a great affection for bindings in calf and roan. Its
scientific name is Niptus Hololeucos." He adds, "Are you aware that
there was a terrible creature allied to these, rejoicing in the name
of Tomicus Typographus, which committed sad ravages in Germany in
the seventeenth century, and in the old liturgies of that country is
formally mentioned under its vulgar name, 'The Turk'?" (See Kirby and
Spence, Seventh Edition, 1858, p. 123.) This is curious, and I did not
know it, although I know well that Typographus Tomicus, or the "cutting
printer," is a sad enemy of (good) books. Upon this part of our subject,
however, I am debarred entering.

The following is from W. J. Westbrook, Mus. Doe., Cantab., and
represents ravages with which I am personally unacquainted:

"Dear Blades,--I send you an example of the 'enemy'-mosity of an
ordinary housefly. It hid behind the paper, emitted some caustic fluid,
and then departed this life. I have often caught them in such holes.'
30/12/83." The damage is an oblong hole, surrounded by a white fluffy
glaze (fungoid?), difficult to represent in a woodcut. The size here
given is exact.


IN the first chapter I mentioned bookbinders among the Enemies of Books,
and I tremble to think what a stinging retort might be made if some
irate bibliopegist were to turn the scales on the printer, and place HIM
in the same category. On the sins of printers, and the unnatural neglect
which has often shortened the lives of their typographical progeny, it
is not for me to dilate. There is an old proverb, "'Tis an ill bird
that befouls its own nest"; a curious chapter thereupon, with many
modern examples, might nevertheless be written. This I will leave, and
will now only place on record some of the cruelties perpetrated upon
books by the ignorance or carelessness of binders.

Like men, books have a soul and body. With the soul, or literary
portion, we have nothing to do at present; the body, which is the outer
frame or covering, and without which the inner would be unusable, is the
special work of the binder. He, so to speak, begets it; he determines
its form and adornment, he doctors it in disease and decay, and, not
unseldom, dissects it after death. Here, too, as through all Nature, we
find the good and bad running side by side. What a treat it is to
handle a well-bound volume; the leaves lie open fully and freely, as
if tempting you to read on, and you handle them without fear of their
parting from the back. To look at the "tooling," too, is a pleasure, for
careful thought, combined with artistic skill, is everywhere apparent.
You open the cover and find the same loving attention inside that has
been given to the outside, all the workmanship being true and thorough.
Indeed, so conservative is a good binding, that many a worthless book
has had an honoured old age, simply out of respect to its outward
aspect; and many a real treasure has come to a degraded end and
premature death through the unsightliness of its outward case and the
irreparable damage done to it in binding.

The weapon with which the binder deals the most deadly blows to books
is the "plough," the effect of which is to cut away the margins, placing
the print in a false position relatively to the back and head, and often
denuding the work of portions of the very text. This reduction in size
not seldom brings down a handsome folio to the size of quarto, and a
quarto to an octavo.

With the old hand plough a binder required more care and caution to
produce an even edge throughout than with the new cutting machine. If a
careless workman found that he had not ploughed the margin quite square
with the text, he would put it in his press and take off "another
shaving," and sometimes even a third.

Dante, in his "Inferno," deals out to the lost souls various tortures
suited with dramatic fitness to the past crimes of the victims, and
had I to execute judgment on the criminal binders of certain precious
volumes I have seen, where the untouched maiden sheets entrusted to
their care have, by barbarous treatment, lost dignity, beauty and value,
I would collect the paper shavings so ruthlessly shorn off, and roast
the perpetrator of the outrage over their slow combustion. In olden
times, before men had learned to value the relics of our printers, there
was some excuse for the sins of a binder who erred from ignorance which
was general; but in these times, when the historical and antiquarian
value of old books is freely acknowledged, no quarter should be granted
to a careless culprit.

It may be supposed that, from the spread of information, all real danger
from ignorance is past. Not so, good reader; that is a consummation as
yet "devoutly to be wished." Let me relate to you a true bibliographical
anecdote: In 1877, a certain lord, who had succeeded to a fine
collection of old books, promised to send some of the most valuable
(among which were several Caxtons) to the Exhibition at South
Kensington. Thinking their outward appearance too shabby, and not
knowing the danger of his conduct, he decided to have them rebound
in the neighbouring county town. The volumes were soon returned in a
resplendent state, and, it is said, quite to the satisfaction of his
lordship, whose pleasure, however, was sadly damped when a friend
pointed out to him that, although the discoloured edges had all been
ploughed off, and the time-stained blanks, with their fifteenth century
autographs, had been replaced by nice clean fly-leaves, yet, looking at
the result in its lowest aspect only--that of market value--the books
had been damaged to at least the amount of L500; and, moreover,
that caustic remarks would most certainly follow upon their public
exhibition. Those poor injured volumes were never sent.

Some years ago one of the most rare books printed by Machlinia--a thin
folio--was discovered bound in sheep by a country bookbinder, and cut
down to suit the size of some quarto tracts. But do not let us suppose
that country binders are the only culprits. It is not very long since
the discovery of a unique Caxton in one of our largest London libraries.
It was in boards, as originally issued by the fifteenth-century binder,
and a great fuss (very properly) was made over the treasure trove. Of
course, cries the reader, it was kept in its original covers, with
all the interesting associations of its early state untouched? No such
thing! Instead of making a suitable case, in which it could be preserved
just as it was, it was placed in the hands of a well-known London
binder, with the order, "Whole bind in velvet." He did his best, and
the volume now glows luxuriously in its gilt edges and its inappropriate
covering, and, alas! with half-an-inch of its uncut margin taken off all
round. How do I know that? because the clever binder, seeing some MS.
remarks on one of the margins, turned the leaf down to avoid cutting
them off, and that stern witness will always testify, to the observant
reader, the original size of the book. This same binder, on another
occasion, placed a unique fifteenth century Indulgence in warm water,
to separate it from the cover upon which it was pasted, the result being
that, when dry, it was so distorted as to be useless. That man soon
after passed to another world, where, we may hope, his works have not
followed him, and that his merits as a good citizen and an honest man
counterbalanced his de-merits as a binder.

Other similar instances will occur to the memory of many a reader, and
doubtless the same sin will be committed from time to time by certain
binders, who seem to have an ingrained antipathy to rough edges and
large margins, which of course are, in their view, made by Nature as
food for the shaving tub.

De Rome, a celebrated bookbinder of the eighteenth century, who was
nicknamed by Dibdin "The Great Cropper," was, although in private life
an estimable man, much addicted to the vice of reducing the margins of
all books sent to him to bind. So far did he go, that he even spared
not a fine copy of Froissart's Chronicles, on vellum, in which was the
autograph of the well-known book-lover, De Thou, but cropped it most

Owners, too, have occasionally diseased minds with regard to margins. A
friend writes: "Your amusing anecdotes have brought to my memory several
biblioclasts whom I have known. One roughly cut the margins off his
books with a knife, hacking away very much like a hedger and ditcher.
Large paper volumes were his especial delight, as they gave more paper.
The slips thus obtained were used for index-making! Another, with the
bump of order unnaturally developed, had his folios and quartos all
reduced, in binding, to one size, so that they might look even on his

This latter was, doubtless, cousin to him who deliberately cut down all
his books close to the text, because he had been several times annoyed
by readers who made marginal notes.

The indignities, too, suffered by some books in their lettering! Fancy
an early black-letter fifteenth-century quarto on Knighthood, labelled
"Tracts"; or a translation of Virgil, "Sermons"! The "Histories of
Troy," printed by Caxton, still exists with "Eracles" on the back, as
its title, because that name occurs several times in the early chapters,
and the binder was too proud to seek advice. The words "Miscellaneous,"
or "Old Pieces," were sometimes used when binders were at a loss for
lettering, and many other instances might be mentioned.

The rapid spread of printing throughout Europe in the latter part of
the fifteenth century caused a great fall in the value of plain
un-illuminated MSS., and the immediate consequence of this was the
destruction of numerous volumes written upon parchment, which were used
by the binders to strengthen the backs of their newly-printed rivals.
These slips of vellum or parchment are quite common in old books.
Sometimes whole sheets are used as fly-leaves, and often reveal the
existence of most valuable works, unknown before--proving, at the same
time, the small value formerly attached to them.

Many a bibliographer, while examining old books, has to his great
puzzlement come across short slips of parchment, nearly always from some
old manuscript, sticking out like "guards" from the midst of the leaves.
These suggest, at first, imperfections or damage done to the volume; but
if examined closely it will be found that they are always in the middle
of a paper section, and the real reason of their existence is just the
same as when two leaves of parchment occur here and there in a paper
volume, viz.: strength--strength to resist the lug which the strong
thread makes against the middle of each section. These slips represent
old books destroyed, and like the slips already noticed, should always
be carefully examined.

When valuable books have been evil-entreated, when they have become
soiled by dirty hands, or spoiled by water stains, or injured by
grease spots, nothing is more astonishing to the uninitiated than the
transformation they undergo in the hands of a skilful restorer. The
covers are first carefully dissected, the eye of the operator keeping
a careful outlook for any fragments of old MSS. or early printed books,
which may have been used by the original binder. No force should be
applied to separate parts which adhere together; a little warm water
and care is sure to overcome that difficulty. When all the sections are
loose, the separate sheets are placed singly in a bath of cold water,
and allowed to remain there until all the dirt has soaked out. If not
sufficiently purified, a little hydrochloric or oxalic acid, or caustic
potash may be put in the water, according as the stains are from grease
or from ink. Here is where an unpractised binder will probably injure a
book for life. If the chemicals are too strong, or the sheets remain too
long in the bath, or are not thoroughly cleansed from the bleach before
they are re-sized, the certain seeds of decay are planted in the paper,
and although for a time the leaves may look bright to the eye, and even
crackle under the hand like the soundest paper, yet in the course of a
few years the enemy will appear, the fibre will decay, and the existence
of the books will terminate in a state of white tinder.

Everything which diminishes the interest of a book is inimical to its
preservation, and in fact is its enemy. Therefore, a few words upon the
destruction of old bindings.

I remember purchasing many years ago at a suburban book stall, a perfect
copy of Moxon's Mechanic Exercises, now a scarce work. The volumes were
uncut, and had the original marble covers. They looked so attractive in
their old fashioned dress, that I at once determined to preserve it. My
binder soon made for them a neat wooden box in the shape of a book,
with morocco back properly lettered, where I trust the originals will be
preserved from dust and injury for many a long year.

Old covers, whether boards or paper, should always be retained if in
any state approaching decency. A case, which can be embellished to any
extent looks every whit as well upon the shelf! and gives even greater
protection than binding. It has also this great advantage: it does not
deprive your descendants of the opportunity of seeing for themselves
exactly in what dress the book buyers of four centuries ago received
their volumes.


AFTER all, two-legged depredators, who ought to have known better, have
perhaps done as much real damage in libraries as any other enemy. I do
not refer to thieves, who, if they injure the owners, do no harm to the
books themselves by merely transferring them from one set of bookshelves
to another. Nor do I refer to certain readers who frequent our public
libraries, and, to save themselves the trouble of copying, will cut out
whole articles from magazines or encyclopaedias. Such depredations are
not frequent, and only occur with books easily replaced, and do not
therefore call for more than a passing mention; but it is a serious
matter when Nature produces such a wicked old biblioclast as John
Bagford, one of the founders of the Society of Antiquaries, who, in the
beginning of the last century, went about the country, from library to
library, tearing away title pages from rare books of all sizes. These
he sorted out into nationalities and towns, and so, with a lot of
hand-bills, manuscript notes, and miscellaneous collections of all
kinds, formed over a hundred folio volumes, now preserved in the British
Museum. That they are of service as materials in compiling a general
history of printing cannot be denied, but the destruction of many
rare books was the result, and more than counter-balanced any benefit
bibliographers will ever receive from them. When here and there
throughout those volumes you meet with titles of books now either
unknown entirely, or of the greatest rarity; when you find the Colophon
from the end, or the "insigne typographi" from the first leaf of a rare
"fifteener," pasted down with dozens of others, varying in value, you
cannot bless the memory of the antiquarian shoemaker, John Bagford. His
portrait, a half-length, painted by Howard, was engraved by Vertue, and
re-engraved for the Bibliographical Decameron.

A bad example often finds imitators, and every season there crop up for
public sale one or two such collections, formed by bibliomaniacs, who,
although calling themselves bibliophiles, ought really to be ranked
among the worst enemies of books.

The following is copied from a trade catalogue, dated April, 1880, and
affords a fair idea of the extent to which these heartless destroyers
will go:--


Colours. Many 3 inches square: the floral decorations are of great
beauty, ranging from the XIIth to XVth century. Mounted on stout
card-board_. IN NICE PRESERVATION, L6 6_s_.

 These beautiful letters have been cut from precious
     MSS., and as specimens of early art are extremely
     valuable, many of them being worth 15_s_. each."

Mr. Proeme is a man well known to the London dealers in old books. He is
wealthy, and cares not what he spends to carry out his bibliographical
craze, which is the collection of title pages. These he ruthlessly
extracts, frequently leaving the decapitated carcase of the books, for
which he cares not, behind him. Unlike the destroyer Bagford, he has
no useful object in view, but simply follows a senseless kind of
classification. For instance: One set of volumes contains nothing but
copper-plate engraved titles, and woe betide the grand old Dutch folios
of the seventeenth century if they cross his path. Another is a volume
of coarse or quaint titles, which certainly answer the end of showing
how idiotic and conceited some authors have been. Here you find Dr.
Sib's "Bowels opened in Divers Sermons," 1650, cheek by jowl with the
discourse attributed falsely to Huntington, the Calvinist, "Die and
be damned," with many others too coarse to be quoted. The odd titles
adopted for his poems by Taylor, the water-poet, enliven several pages,
and make one's mouth water for the books themselves. A third volume
includes only such titles as have the printer's device. If you shut
your eyes to the injury done by such collectors, you may, to a certain
extent, enjoy the collection, for there is great beauty in some titles;
but such a pursuit is neither useful nor meritorious. By and by the end
comes, and then dispersion follows collection, and the volumes, which
probably Cost L200 each in their formation, will be knocked down to a
dealer for L10, finally gravitating into the South Kensington Library,
or some public museum, as a bibliographical curiosity. The following has
just been sold (July, 1880) by Messrs. Sotheby, Wilkinson and Hodge, in
the Dunn-Gardinier collection, lot 1592:--


_A Collection of upwards of_ 800 ENGRAVED TITLES AND FRONTISPIECES,
ENGLISH AND FOREIGN (_some very fine and curious) taken from old books
and neatly mounted on cartridge paper in 3 vol, half morocco gilt. imp.

The only collection of title-pages which has afforded me unalloyed
pleasure is a handsome folio, published by the directors of the Plantin
Museum, Antwerp, in 1877, just after the purchase of that wonderful
typographical storehouse. It is called "Titels en Portretten gesneden
naar P. P. Rubens voor de Plantijnsche Drukkerij," and it contains
thirty-five grand title pages, reprinted from the original seventeenth
century plates, designed by Rubens himself between the years 1612 and
1640, for various publications which issued from the celebrated Plantin
Printing Office. In the same Museum are preserved in Rubens' own
handwriting his charge for each design, duly receipted at foot.

I have now before me a fine copy of "Coclusiones siue decisiones antique
dnor' de Rota," printed by Gutenberg's partner, Schoeffer, in the year
1477. It is perfect, except in a most vital part, the Colophon, which
has been cut out by some barbaric "Collector," and which should read
thus: "Pridie nonis Januarii Mcccclxxvij, in Civitate Moguntina,
impressorie Petrus Schoyffer de Gernsheym," followed by his well-known
mark, two shields.

A similar mania arose at the beginning of this century for collections
of illuminated initials, which were taken from MSS., and arranged on
the pages of a blank book in alphabetical order. Some of our cathedral
libraries suffered severely from depredations of this kind. At Lincoln,
in the early part of this century, the boys put on their robes in the
library, a room close to the choir. Here were numerous old MSS.,
and eight or ten rare Caxtons. The choir boys used often to amuse
themselves, while waiting for the signal to "fall in," by cutting out
with their pen-knives the illuminated initials and vignettes, which they
would take into the choir with them and pass round from one to another.
The Dean and Chapter of those days were not much better, for they let
Dr. Dibdin have all their Caxtons for a "consideration." He made
a little catalogue of them, which he called "A Lincolne Nosegaye."
Eventually they were absorbed into the collection at Althorp.

The late Mr. Caspari was a "destroyer" of books. His rare collection of
early woodcuts, exhibited in 1877 at the Caxton Celebration, had been
frequently augmented by the purchase of illustrated books, the plates
of which were taken out, and mounted on Bristol boards, to enrich
his collection. He once showed me the remains of a fine copy of
"Theurdanck," which he had served so, and I have now before me several
of the leaves which he then gave me, and which, for beauty of engraving
and cleverness of typography, surpasses any typographical work known to
me. It was printed for the Emperor Maximilian, by Hans Schonsperger, of
Nuremberg, and, to make it unique, all the punches were cut on purpose,
and as many as seven or eight varieties of each letter, which, together
with the clever way in which the ornamental flourishes are carried above
and below the line, has led even experienced printers to deny its being
typography. It is, nevertheless, entirely from cast types. A copy in
good condition costs about L50.

Many years since I purchased, at Messrs. Sotheby's, a large lot of MS.
leaves on vellum, some being whole sections of a book, but mostly single
leaves. Many were so mutilated by the excision of initials as to be
worthless, but those with poor initials, or with none, were quite good,
and when sorted out I found I had got large portions of nearly twenty
different MSS., mostly Horae, showing twelve varieties of fifteenth
century handwriting in Latin, French, Dutch, and German. I had each sort
bound separately, and they now form an interesting collection.

Portrait collectors have destroyed many books by abstracting the
frontispiece to add to their treasures, and when once a book is made
imperfect, its march to destruction is rapid. This is why books
like Atkyns' "Origin and Growth of Printing," 4o, 1664, have become
impossible to get.

When issued, Atkyns' pamphlet had a fine frontispiece, by Logan,
containing portraits of King Charles II, attended by Archbishop Sheldon,
the Duke of Albermarle, and the Earl of Clarendon. As portraits of
these celebrities (excepting, of course, the King) are extremely rare,
collectors have bought up this 4o tract of Atkyns', whenever it has been
offered, and torn away the frontispiece to adorn their collection.

This is why, if you take up any sale catalogue of old books, you are
certain to find here and there, appended to the description, "Wanting
the title," "Wanting two plates," or "Wanting the last page."

It is quite common to find in old MSS., especially fifteenth century,
both vellum and paper, the blank margins of leaves cut away. This will
be from the side edge or from the foot, and the recurrence of this
mutilation puzzled me for many years. It arose from the scarcity of
paper in former times, so that when a message had to be sent which
required more exactitude than could be entrusted to the stupid memory of
a household messenger, the Master or Chaplain went to the library, and,
not having paper to use, took down an old book, and cut from its broad
margins one or more slips to serve his present need.

I feel quite inclined to reckon among "enemies" those bibliomaniacs and
over-careful possessors, who, being unable to carry their treasures into
the next world, do all they can to hinder their usefulness in this. What
a difficulty there is to obtain admission to the curious library of old
Samuel Pepys, the well-known diarist. There it is at Magdalene College,
Cambridge, in the identical book-cases provided for the books by Pepys
himself; but no one can gain admission except in company of two Fellows
of the College, and if a single book be lost, the whole library goes
away to a neighbouring college. However willing and anxious to oblige,
it is evident that no one can use the library at the expense of the
time, if not temper, of two Fellows. Some similar restrictions are in
force at the Teylerian Museum, Haarlem, where a lifelong imprisonment is
inflicted upon its many treasures.

Some centuries ago a valuable collection of books was left to the
Guildford Endowed Grammar School. The schoolmaster was to be held
personally responsible for the safety of every volume, which, if lost,
he was bound to replace. I am told that one master, to minimize his risk
as much as possible, took the following barbarous course:--As soon as
he was in possession, he raised the boards of the schoolroom floor, and,
having carefully packed all the books between the joists, had the boards
nailed down again. Little recked he how many rats and mice made their
nests there; he was bound to account some day for every single volume,
and he saw no way so safe as rigid imprisonment.

The late Sir Thomas Phillipps, of Middle Hill, was a remarkable instance
of a bibliotaph. He bought bibliographical treasures simply to bury
them. His mansion was crammed with books; he purchased whole libraries,
and never even saw what he had bought. Among some of his purchases was
the first book printed in the English language, "The Recuyell of the
Histories of Troye," translated and printed by William Caxton, for the
Duchess of Burgundy, sister to our Edward IV. It is true, though almost
incredible, that Sir Thomas could never find this volume, although it
is doubtless still in the collection, and no wonder, when cases of books
bought twenty years before his death were never opened, and the only
knowledge of their contents which he possessed was the Sale Catalogue or
the bookseller's invoice.


READER! are you married? Have you offspring, boys especially I mean, say
between six and twelve years of age? Have you also a literary workshop,
supplied with choice tools, some for use, some for ornament, where you
pass pleasant hours? and is--ah! there's the rub!--is there a special
hand-maid, whose special duty it is to keep your den daily dusted and
in order? Plead you guilty to these indictments? then am I sure of a
sympathetic co-sufferer.

Dust! it is all a delusion. It is not the dust that makes women anxious
to invade the inmost recesses of your Sanctum--it is an ingrained
curiosity. And this feminine weakness, which dates from Eve, is a common
motive in the stories of our oldest literature and Folk-lore. What made
Fatima so anxious to know the contents of the room forbidden her by
Bluebeard? It was positively nothing to her, and its contents caused not
the slightest annoyance to anybody. That story has a bad moral, and it
would, in many ways, have been more satisfactory had the heroine been
left to take her place in the blood-stained chamber, side by side with
her peccant predecessors. Why need the women-folk (God forgive me!)
bother themselves about the inside of a man's library, and whether
it wants dusting or not? My boys' playroom, in which is a carpenter's
bench, a lathe, and no end of litter, is never tidied--perhaps it can't
be, or perhaps their youthful vigour won't stand it--but my workroom
must needs be dusted daily, with the delusive promise that each book and
paper shall be replaced exactly where it was. The damage done by such
continued treatment is incalculable. At certain times these observances
are kept more religiously than others; but especially should the
book-lover, married or single, beware of the Ides of March. So soon as
February is dead and gone, a feeling of unrest seizes the housewife's
mind. This increases day by day, and becomes dominant towards the middle
of the month, about which period sundry hints are thrown out as to
whether you are likely to be absent for a day or two. Beware! the fever
called "Spring Clean" is on, and unless you stand firm, you will rue it.
Go away, if the Fates so will, but take the key of your own domain with

Do not misunderstand. Not for a moment would I advocate dust and dirt;
they are enemies, and should be routed; but let the necessary routing be
done under your own eye. Explain where caution must be used, and in
what cases tenderness is a virtue; and if one Eve in the family can
be indoctrinated with book-reverence you are a happy man; her price is
above that of rubies; she will prolong your life. Books MUST now and
then be taken clean out of their shelves, but they should be tended
lovingly and with judgment. If the dusting can be done just outside the
room so much the better. The books removed, the shelf should be lifted
quite out of its bearings, cleansed and wiped, and then each volume
should be taken separately, and gently rubbed on back and sides with a
soft cloth. In returning the volumes to their places, notice should be
taken of the binding, and especially when the books are in whole calf
or morocco care should be taken not to let them rub together. The best
bound books are soonest injured, and quickly deteriorate in bad company.
Certain volumes, indeed, have evil tempers, and will scratch the faces
of all their neighbours who are too familiar with them. Such are books
with metal clasps and rivets on their edges; and such, again, are those
abominable old rascals, chiefly born in the fifteenth century, who are
proud of being dressed in REAL boards with brass corners, and pass their
lives with fearful knobs and metal bosses, mostly five in number, firmly
fixed on one of their sides. If the tendencies of such ruffians are not
curbed, they will do as much mischief to their gentle neighbours as when
a "collie" worries the sheep. These evil results may always be minimized
by placing a piece of millboard between the culprit and his victim. I
have seen lovely bindings sadly marked by such uncanny neighbours.

When your books are being "dusted," don't impute too much common sense
to your assistants; take their ignorance for granted, and tell them at
once never to lift any book by one of its covers; that treatment is sure
to strain the back, and ten to one the weight will be at the same time
miscalculated, and the volume will fall. Your female "help," too, dearly
loves a good tall pile to work at and, as a rule, her notions of the
centre of gravity are not accurate, leading often to a general
downfall, and the damage of many a corner. Again, if not supervised and
instructed, she is very apt to rub the dust into, instead of off, the
edges. Each volume should be held tightly, so as to prevent the leaves
from gaping, and then wiped from the back to the fore-edge. A soft brush
will be found useful if there is much dust. The whole exterior should
also be rubbed with a soft cloth, and then the covers should be opened
and the hinges of the binding examined; for mildew WILL assert itself
both inside and outside certain books, and that most pertinaciously. It
has unaccountable likes and dislikes. Some bindings seem positively to
invite damp, and mildew will attack these when no other books on the
same shelf show any signs of it. When discovered, carefully wipe it
away, and then let the book remain a few days standing open, in the
driest and airiest spot you can select. Great care should be taken not
to let grit, such as blows in at the open window from many a dusty road,
be upon your duster, or you will probably find fine scratches, like an
outline map of Europe, all over your smooth calf, by which your heart
and eye, as well as your book, will be wounded.

"Helps" are very apt to fill the shelves too tightly, so that to extract
a book you have to use force, often to the injury of the top-bands.
Beware of this mistake. It frequently occurs through not noticing that
one small book is purposely placed at each end of the shelf, beneath the
movable shelf-supports, thus not only saving space, but preventing the
injury which a book shelf-high would be sure to receive from uneven

After all, the best guide in these, as in many other matters, is "common
sense," a quality which in olden times must have been much more "common"
than in these days, else the phrase would never have become rooted in
our common tongue.

Children, with all their innocence, are often guilty of book-murder. I
must confess to having once taken down "Humphrey's History of Writing,"
which contains many brightly-coloured plates, to amuse a sick daughter.
The object was certainly gained, but the consequences of so bad a
precedent were disastrous. That copy (which, I am glad to say, was
easily re-placed), notwithstanding great care on my part, became soiled
and torn, and at last was given up to Nursery martyrdom. Can I regret
it? surely not, for, although bibliographically sinful, who can weigh
the amount of real pleasure received, and actual pain ignored, by the
patient in the contemplation of those beautifully-blended colours?

A neighbour of mine some few years ago suffered severely from a
propensity, apparently irresistible, in one of his daughters to tear his
library books. She was six years old, and would go quietly to a shelf
and take down a book or two, and having torn a dozen leaves or so down
the middle, would replace the volumes, fragments and all, in their
places, the damage being undiscovered until the books were wanted for
use. Reprimand, expostulation and even punishment were of no avail; but
a single "whipping" effected a cure.

Boys, however, are by far more destructive than girls, and have,
naturally, no reverence for age, whether in man or books. Who does not
fear a schoolboy with his first pocket-knife? As Wordsworth did not

              "You may trace him oft
     By scars which his activity has left
     Upon our shelves and volumes. * * *
     He who with pocket-knife will cut the edge
     Of luckless panel or of prominent book,
     Detaching with a stroke a label here, a back-band there."
                             _Excursion III, 83_.

Pleased, too, are they, if, with mouths full of candy, and sticky
fingers, they can pull in and out the books on your bottom shelves,
little knowing the damage and pain they will cause. One would fain cry
out, calling on the Shade of Horace to pardon the false quantity--

     "Magna movet stomacho fastidia, si puer unctis
     Tractavit volumen manibus."  _Sat. IV_.

What boys CAN do may be gathered from the following true story, sent me
by a correspondent who was the immediate sufferer:--

One summer day he met in town an acquaintance who for many years had
been abroad; and finding his appetite for old books as keen as ever,
invited him home to have a mental feed upon "fifteeners" and other
bibliographical dainties, preliminary to the coarser pleasures enjoyed
at the dinner-table. The "home" was an old mansion in the outskirts
of London, whose very architecture was suggestive of black-letter and
sheep-skin. The weather, alas! was rainy, and, as they approached the
house, loud peals of laughter reached their ears. The children were
keeping a birthday with a few young friends. The damp forbad all outdoor
play, and, having been left too much to their own devices, they had
invaded the library. It was just after the Battle of Balaclava, and the
heroism of the combatants on that hard-fought field was in everybody's
mouth. So the mischievous young imps divided themselves into two
opposing camps--Britons and Russians. The Russian division was just
inside the door, behind ramparts formed of old folios and quartos taken
from the bottom shelves and piled to the height of about four feet.
It was a wall of old fathers, fifteenth century chronicles, county
histories, Chaucer, Lydgate, and such like. Some few yards off were the
Britishers, provided with heaps of small books as missiles, with which
they kept up a skirmishing cannonade against the foe. Imagine the
tableau! Two elderly gentlemen enter hurriedly, paterfamilias receiving,
quite unintentionally, the first edition of "Paradise Lost" in the
pit of his stomach, his friend narrowly escaping a closer personal
acquaintance with a quarto Hamlet than he had ever had before. Finale:
great outburst of wrath, and rapid retreat of the combatants, many
wounded (volumes) being left on the field.


ALTHOUGH, strictly speaking, the following anecdote does not illustrate
any form of real injury to books, it is so racy, and in these days of
extravagant biddings so tantalizing, that I must step just outside the
strict line of pertinence in order to place it on record, It was sent
to me, as a personal experience, by my friend, Mr. George Clulow,
a well-known bibliophile, and "Xylographer" to "Ye Sette of ye Odde
Volumes." The date is 1881. He writes:--

"_Apropos_ of the Gainsborough 'find,' of which you tell in 'The Enemies
of Books,' I should like to narrate an experience of my own, of some
twenty years ago:

"Late one evening, at my father's house, I saw a catalogue of a sale of
furniture, farm implements and books, which was announced to take place
on the following morning at a country rectory in Derbyshire, some four
miles from the nearest railway station.

"It was summer time--the country at its best--and with the attraction
of an old book, I decided on a day's holiday, and eight o'clock the next
morning found me in the train for C----, and after a variation in
my programme, caused by my having walked three miles west before I
discovered that my destination was three miles east of the railway
station, I arrived at the rectory at noon, and found assembled some
thirty or forty of the neighbouring farmers, their wives, men-servants
and maid-servants, all seemingly bent on a day's idling, rather than
business. The sale was announced for noon, but it was an hour later
before the auctioneer put in an appearance, and the first operation in
which he took part, and in which he invited my assistance, was to make
a hearty meal of bread and cheese and beer in the rectory kitchen. This
over, the business of the day began by a sundry collection of pots,
pans, and kettles being brought to the competition of the public,
followed by some lots of bedding, etc. The catalogue gave books as the
first part of the sale, and, as three o'clock was reached, my patience
was gone, and I protested to the auctioneer against his not selling in
accordance with his catalogue. To this he replied that there was not
time enough, and that he would sell the books to-morrow! This was too
much for me, and I suggested that he had broken faith with the buyers,
and had brought me to C---- on a false pretence. This, however, did not
seem to disturb his good humour, or to make him unhappy, and his answer
was to call 'Bill,' who was acting as porter, and to tell him to give
the gentleman the key of the 'book room,' and to bring down any of the
books he might pick out, and he 'would sell 'em.' I followed 'Bill,' and
soon found myself in a charming nook of a library, full of books,
mostly old divinity, but with a large number of the best miscellaneous
literature of the sixteenth century, English and foreign. A very short
look over the shelves produced some thirty Black Letter books, three or
four illuminated missals, and some book rarities of a more recent date.
'Bill' took them downstairs, and I wondered what would happen! I was
not long in doubt, for book by book, and in lots of two and three, my
selection was knocked down in rapid succession, at prices varying from
1_s_. 6_d_. to 3_s_. 6_d_., this latter sum seeming to be the utmost
limit to the speculative turn of my competitors. The _bonne bouche_ of
the lot was, however, kept back by the auctioneer, because, as he said,
it was 'a pretty book,' and I began to respect his critical judgment,
for 'a pretty book' it was, being a large paper copy of Dibdin's
Bibliographical Decameron, three volumes, in the original binding.
Suffice it to say that, including this charming book, my purchases did
not amount to L13, and I had pretty well a cart-load of books for my
money--more than I wanted much! Having brought them home, I 'weeded them
out,' and the 'weeding' realised four times what I gave for the whole,
leaving me with some real book treasures.

"Some weeks afterwards I heard that the remainder of the books were
literally treated as waste lumber, and carted off to the neighbouring
town, and were to be had, any one of them, for sixpence, from a cobbler
who had allowed his shop to be used as a store house for them. The news
of their being there reached the ears of an old bookseller in one of
the large towns, and he, I think, cleared out the lot. So curious an
instance of the most total ignorance on the part of the sellers, and
I may add on the part of the possible buyers also, I think is worth

How would the reader in this Year of Grace, 1887, like such an
experience as that?


IT is a great pity that there should be so many distinct enemies at
work for the destruction of literature, and that they should so often be
allowed to work out their sad end. Looked at rightly, the possession of
any old book is a sacred trust, which a conscientious owner or guardian
would as soon think of ignoring as a parent would of neglecting his
child. An old book, whatever its subject or internal merits, is truly
a portion of the national history; we may imitate it and print it in
fac-simile, but we can never exactly reproduce it; and as an historical
document it should be carefully preserved.

I do not envy any man that absence of sentiment which makes some people
careless of the memorials of their ancestors, and whose blood can
be warmed up only by talking of horses or the price of hops. To them
solitude means _ennui_, and anybody's company is preferable to their
own. What an immense amount of calm enjoyment and mental renovation
do such men miss. Even a millionaire will ease his toils, lengthen his
life, and add a hundred per cent. to his daily pleasures if he becomes
a bibliophile; while to the man of business with a taste for books,
who through the day has struggled in the battle of life with all its
irritating rebuffs and anxieties, what a blessed season of pleasurable
repose opens upon him as he enters his sanctum, where every article
wafts to him a welcome, and every book is a personal friend!


   _Academy, The_, 23.
   Acanis eruditus, 77, 78.
   Acts of the Apostles, quoted, 4.
   Aglossa pinguinalis, 76.
   Albermarle (Duke of), portrait by Logan, 126.
   Althorp library, 124.
   Anderson (Sir C.), 55.
   Anobium paniceum, 77, 78.
   Anobium pertinax, 77, 78, 87, 88.
   Antiquary, The, 54.
   Antwerp, Monks at, 57, 58.
   Asbestos fire, 27.
   Ashburnham House, Westminster, 10.
   Asiarch, an, 7.
   Athens, Bookworm from, 81.
   Atkyns' Origin and Growth of Printing, 126.
   Auctioneer, story of, 145.
   Austin Friars, 15.
   Bagford (John), the biblioclast, r: 18.
   Balaclava, battle of, 143.
   Bale, the antiquary, 9.
   Bandinel (Dr.), 87, 88.
   Beedham, B., 52.
   Bible, the first printed, burnt at Strasbourg, 13.
    -- the "bug" edition, 95.
   Bibliophile, pleasures of a, 153.
   Bibliotaph, a, 129.
   Bibliotheca Ecclesiae Londino-Belgicae, 16.
   Binder's creed, 31.
    -- plough, 105.
   Binding, care to be taken of, 134.
    -- quality of good, 104.
   Bird (Rev. -), 55.
   Birdsall (Mr.), bookbinder, 80.
   Birmingham Riots, 11.
   Black-beetles, enemies of books, 94.
   Black-letter books in United States, 91.
   Blatta germanica, 65.
   Boccaccio, 48-50.
   Bodleian, hookworms at, 87.
   Bookbinders as enemies of books, 103.
   Books, absurd lettering, 111.
    -- burnt at Carthage; at Ephesus, 4.
    -- burnt in Fire of London, 10.
    -- burnt by Saracens, 3.
    -- captured by Corsairs, 18.
    -- cleaning of, 114.
    -- deprived of title pages, 118, 119.
   Books destroyed at the Reformation, Si.
    -- dried in an attic, 16.
    -- examination of old covers, 116.
    -- how to dust them, 134.
    -- injured by hacking, i x i.
    -- lost at sea, 17, 18.
    -- margin reduced to size, 111.
    -- mildew in, 136.
    -- from monasteries destroyed, 9.
    -- restoration when injured, 114.
    -- restored after a fire, 15.
    -- scarce before printing, 2.
    -- sold to a cobbler, 52, 149.
    -- too tight on shelves, 137.
    -- their claims to be preserved, 151.
    -- used to bake "pyes," 10.
    -- which scratch one another, 134.
   Book-sale in Derbyshire, 145.
   Bookworm, the, 67-93.
    -- attempt to breed, 81-3.
    -- from Greece, 82.
    -- in paper box, 89.
    -- in United States, 91.
   Bookworms' progress through books, 84.
    -- race by, 86.
   Bosses on books, 135.
   Boys injuring books, 139.
    -- in library, story of, 140.
   Brighton, black letter fragments, 59.
   British Museum, Boccaccio's Fall of Princes, 61.
   British Museum free from the "worm," 83.
    -- burnt book exhibited at, 11.
   Brown spots in books, 24.
   Bruchium, 3.
   Burckhardt's Arabic MSS., 77.
   "Bug" Bible, 95.
   Burgundy (Duchess of), 130.

   Cambridge Market, 97.
   Caskets (the three), Shakspeare, 60.
   Caspari (Mr.), a collector, 124.
   Cassin (Convent of Mount), 49.
   Caxton, William, 130.
    --his use of waste leaves, 90.
    --Canterbury Tales, used to light a fire, 53.
    -- Golden Legend, ditto, 52.
    --Lyf of oure Ladye, 89.
   Caxtons saturated by rain, 22.
    --spoilt in binding, 107.
    --discovered in British Museum, 108.
   Charles II, portrait by Logan, 126.
   Chasles (Philarete), 52.
   Child tearing books, 139.
   Children as enemies of books, 138.
   Choir boys injuring MSS., 124.
   Christians burnt heathen MSS., 7.
   early, 6.
   Clarendon (Earl of), portrait by Logan, 126.
   Clasps on books, injury from, 135.
   Clergymen as biblioclasts, 64.
   Clulow (Mr. George), 144.
   Coal fires objectionable in libraries, 27.
   Codfish, book eaten by a, 96.
   Cold injures books, 26.
   Collectors as enemies of books, 117.
   College quadrangle, 41.
   Colophon in Schoeffer's book, 123.
   Colophons (collections of), I IS.
   Commonwealth quartos, 44.
   Communal libraries in France, 48.
   Cotton library; partially burnt, 10.
   Cowper, the poet, on burnt libraries, 12.
   Crambus pinguinalis, 76.
   Cremona, books destroyed at, 8.
   Croton bug, 95.

   Damp, an enemy of books, 24.
   Dante, 50.
    -- The Inferno, 106.
   Derbyshire, book sale in, 145.
   Dermestes vulpinus, 89.
   De Rome, the binder, 47, 48, 110.
   De Thou, 110.
   Devil worship, 5.
   Devon and Exeter Museum, 101.
   Diana, Temple of, 6.
   Dibdin (Dr.), 110.
    --sale of his Decameron, 148.
    --his books, 25.
   D'Israeli (B.), 17.
   Doraston (J.), Poem on Bookworne, 67, 76.
   Dust, an enemy of books, 39.
    -- and neglect in a library, 39-50, 133.
   Dusting books-how to do it, 136.
   Dutch Church burnt, 15.
    -- library at Guildhall, 16.

   Ecclesiastical Commissioners, 53.
   Edmonds (Mr.), bookseller, 58.
   Edward IV, 130.
   Edwards (Mr.), bookseller, 18.
   Electric light in British Museum, 32.
   Ephesus, 5.
   "Eracles," 111.
   "Evil eye," the, 6.
   "Excursion, The," 139.

   Fire, an enemy of books, 1-16.
    -- of London, 10.
   Flint (Weston), account of black-beetles in New York
   libraries, 95.
   Folklore, ancient, 5.
   "Foxey" books, 25.
   Francis (St.) and the friars, 37.
   French Protestant Church, 53.
   Frith (John), 96.
   Froissart's Chronicles, 110.
   Frost in a library, 26.

   Garnett (Dr.), 81.
   Gas injurious, 29-38,
   Gatty's (Mrs.) Parables, 76.
   German Army at Strasburg, U.
   Gesta Romanorum, 66.
   Gibbon, the historian, 2.
   Glass cases preservative of books, 27.
   Golden Legend, by Caxton, 52.
   Gordon Riots, 11.
   Government officials as biblioclasts, 65.
   Grenville (Rt. Hon. Thos.), 56.
   Guildford, library at school, 129.
   Guildhall, London, library at, 0.
   Gutenberg, 123.
    -- documents concerning, burnt, 13,
   Gwyn, Nell, housekeeping book of, 65.
   "Gyp" brushing clothes in a library, 44.

   Hannett, on bookbinding, 76.
   Havergal (Rev. F. T.), 76.
   Heathens burnt Christian MSS., 7.
   Heating libraries, 27.
   Hebrew books burnt, 8.
   Hereford Cathedral library, 76.
   Hickman family, 56.
   Histories of Troy, 111.
   Holme (Mr.), 77.
   Hooke (R.), his Micrographia, 71-75.
   Horace's Satires, 140.
   Hot water pipes for libraries, 26.
   House-fly, an enemy of books, 102.
   Hudde, Heer, a story of, 17.
   Hwqhrey's History of Writing, 138.
   Hypothenemus eruditus, 76.

   Ignorance and Bigotry, P-66.
   Illuminated letters fatal to books, 51.
    -- initials, collections of, 123.
   Indulgence of 15th Century spoilt by a binder, 109.
   Inquisition in Holland, 63.

   Kirby and Spence on Entomologists, 75, 101.
   Knobs of metal on bindings, 135.
   Koran, The, 7.

   Lamberhurst, 61.
   Lamport Hall, 58.
   Lansdowne Collection of MSS., 60.
   Latterbury, copy of, at St. Martin's, 54.
   Leather destroyed by gas, 30.
   Lepisma, 96.
    -- mistaken for bookworm, 75.
    burnt: by Caesar, 3.
     --- at Dutch Church, 15.
     --- at Strasbourg, 13.
    neglected in England, 15, 22, 40.
    at Alexandria, 3.
    of the Ptolemies) 3.
   Library Journal, The, 94.
   Lincoln Cathedral MSS., 124.
   Lincolne Nosegaye, 124.
   London Institution, 31.
   Lubbock (Sir J.), 90.
   Luke's, St., account of destruction of books, 4.
   Luxe des Livres, 47.
   Luxury and learning, 42.

   Machlinia, book printed by, 106.
   Magdalene College, Cambridge, 128.
   Maitland (Rev. S. R.), 54.
   Mansfield (Lord), ij.
   MS. Plays burnt, 60.
   Manuscripts, fragments of, 126.
   Margins of books cut away, 49, 127.
   Maximilian (The Emperor), 125.
   Mazarin library, Caxton in, 52.
   Metamorphoses of Ovid, by Caxton, 10.
   Micrographia, by R. Hooke, 71.
   Middleburgh, 17.
   Mildew in books, 136.
   Minorite friars, 37.
   Missal illuminations, sale of, 119.
   Mohammed's reason for destroying books, 7.
   Mohammed II throws books into the sea, 21.
   Monks at Monte Cassino, 49.
   Mould in books, 24.
   Mount Cassin, library at, 50.
   Moxon's Mechanic Exercises, 115.
   Muller (M.), of Amsterdam, 62.

   Newmarsh (Rev. C. F.), 54.
   Niptus Hololeucos, 101.
   Noble (Mr.), on Parish Registers, 61.
   Notes and Queries, 77.

   Oak Chest, 44.
   OEcophora pseudospretella, 79.
   Offer Collection of Bunyans, 14.
   On, Priests of, 69.
   Overall (Mr.), Librarian at Guildhall, 16.
   Ovid, Metamorphoses by Caxton, 10.
   Oxenforde, Lyf of therle, 10.

   Paper improperly bleached, 25.
   Papyrus, 68.
   Paradise Lost, 142.
   Parchment, slips of, in old books, 112.
   Parish Registers, carelessness, 62.
   Parnell's Ode, 70.
   Patent Office, destruction of literature at, 65.
   Paternoster Row, io.
   Paul, St., 6.
   Pedlar buying old books, 54, 55.
   Peignot and hookworms, 79.
   Pepys (Samuel), his library, 128.
   Petit (Pierre), poem on bookworm, 70.
   Philadelphia, wormhole at, 92.
   Phillipps (Sir Thos.), 129.
   Pieces of silver or denarii, 5.
   Pinelli (Maffei), library of, 18.
   Plantin Museum, 122.
   policemen in Ephesus, 7.
   Portrait collectors, 127.
   Priestley (Dr.), library burnt, 11, 12.
   Printers, the first, 13.
   Printers' marks, collection of, 119.
   -- ink and bookworms, 80.
   Probrue (Mr.), 120.
   Ptolemies, the Egyptian, 3.
   Puttick and Simpson, 15.
   Pynson's Fall of Princes, 61.

   Queen Elizabeth's prayer-book, 98.
   Quaint titles, collections of, 121.
   Quadrangle of an old College described) 41.

   Rain an enemy to books, 21.
   Rats eat books, 97.
   Recollet monks of Antwerp, 57.
   -Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye, 130.
   Reformation, destruction of books at, 9.
   Restoration of burnt books, 11.
   Richard of Bury, 47.
   Ringwalt's Encyclopaedia, 92.
   Rivets on books, 135.
   Rood and Hunte, 53.
   Rot caused by rain, 21.
   Royal Society, London, 71.
   Rubens' engraved titles in Plantin Museum, 122.
    -- autograph receipts, 122.
   Ruins of fire at Sotheby and Wilkinson's, 14.
   Rye (W. B.), 61, 83.
   St. Albans, Boke of, 54.
   St. Martin's-le-Grand, French church, 53.
   St. Paul's Cathedral, books burnt in vaults of, 10.
   Sale catalogues, extracts from, 119.
   Schoeffer (P.), 123.
   Schonsperger (Hans), 125.
   Schoolmaster and endowed library, 129.
   Scorched book at British Museum, 11.
   Scrolls of magic, 6.
   Serpent worship, 5.
   Servants and children as enemies of books, 131-144.
   Shakesperian discoveries, 58.
   "Shavings" of binders, 31.
   Sheldon (Archbishop), portrait by Logan, 126.
   Sib's Bowels opened, 121.
   Smith (Mr.), Brighton bookseller, 64.
   Sotheby and Wilkinson, 125.
    -- fire at their rooms, 14.
   Spring clean, horrors of, 133.
   Stark (Mr.), bookseller, 55-58.
   Stealing a Caxton, 54.
   Steam press, 40.
   Strasbourg, siege of, 13.
   Sun-light of gas, 29, 32.
   Sun worship, 5.
   Sylvester's Laws of Verse, 71.

   Taylor, the water-poet, 121.
   Teylerian Museum, Haarlem, 128.
   Theurdanck, prints in, 125.
   Thonock Hall, library Of, 56.
   Timmins (Mr.), 50.
   Title-pages, collections sold, 122.
    -- volumes of, 118.
   Title-pages, old Dutch, 120.
   Tomicus Typographus, iox.

   Utramontane Society, called "Old paper," 63,
   Unitarian library, 13,
   Universities destroy books, 9.

   Value of books burnt by St. Paul, 4.
   Vanderberg (M.), 57.
   Vermin book-enemies, 94-102.
   Pox Piscis, 96.

   Washing old books, x6.
   Water an enemy of books, 17-28.
   Waterhouse (Mr.), Si.
   Werdet (Edmond), 48, 57.
   Westbrook (W. J.), 102.
   Westminster Chapter-house, 97.
    -- skeletons of rats, 97.
   White (Adam), 83.
   Wolfenbuttel, library at, 23.
   Woodcuts, a Caxton celebration, 124.
   Wynken de Worde, fragment, 59.

   Ximenes (Cardinal) destroys copies of the Koran, 8.

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