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Title: Essays in Librarianship and Bibliography
Author: Garnett, Richard
Language: English
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                         _The Library Series_

                               EDITED BY

                          DR. RICHARD GARNETT


                        ESSAYS IN LIBRARIANSHIP
                           AND BIBLIOGRAPHY

_The Library Series_


    I. THE FREE LIBRARY: Its History and Present Condition. By J.
    J. OGLE, of Bootle Free Library.

    J. BURGOYNE, of the Tate Central Library, Brixton. With 141


    IV. PRICES OF BOOKS. By HENRY B. WHEATLEY, of the Society of

    GARNETT, C.B., LL.D., late Keeper of Printed Books, British







[Illustration: George Allen colophon]



The essays collected in this volume are for the most part occasional and
desultory, produced in compliance with requests of friends, or the
appeals of editors of bibliographical journals or organisers of library
congresses, to meet some special emergency, and treating of whatever
appropriate matter came readiest to hand. The most important of them,
however, though composed at considerable intervals, and devoid of any
conscious relation to each other, are yet united by the presence of a
pervading idea, which may be defined as the importance of scientific
processes as auxiliaries to library management.

It seems almost preposterous to speak of typography as a scientific
process, yet such it is in its relation to the graphic art which it
superseded as an agent in the production of books. It would be the
merest surplusage to advocate the application of printing to any class
of manuscript books but one; and that, strangely enough, is the book of
books, the catalogue. When it is considered how few of the great
libraries of Europe have as yet managed to get their catalogues printed,
and in how many the introduction of print is as yet resisted, or beset
with impediments hitherto insurmountable, it is clear that the benefits
of printing may even now be set forth with profit. Fortunately, however,
the question is but historical as regards the only library of which the
present writer can presume to speak. Typography has now reigned at the
British Museum for nearly twenty years, and any discussion of its
advantages or disadvantages contained in the following essays may be
regarded as out of date. It is hoped, nevertheless, that the historical
interest attaching to the subject may excuse the reproduction of these
papers. "Public Libraries and their Catalogues" (1879) depicts the
hesitations of a transition period when the subject was in the air, but
when the precise manner in which the introduction of print would take
place was as yet uncertain. "The Printing of the British Museum
Catalogue" (1882) describes the results of nearly two years of actual
work; and "The Past, Present, and Future of the British Museum
Catalogue" (1888) reviews the entire subject, both historically and with
a view to the eventual republication of the catalogue. A fourth paper,
contributed to the American Library Conference of 1885, has been
withheld, to minimise the repetition which may be justly alleged as a
defect in the essays now reprinted. The indulgent reader will consider
that it was impossible to travel repeatedly over the same ground
without frequent recurrence to the same facts and arguments: and it has
been thought better to tolerate an admitted literary blemish than to run
any risk of impairing the documentary value of the articles. If the
writer had once begun to alter, he might have been tempted to alter
much. Readers of the present day may feel surprise at the tentative
character of some portions of the first essay in order of date, and at
what seems almost a discouragement of the idea of a complete printed
catalogue. The principal reason was the moderate expectation then
entertained of any substantial help from the Treasury. As a matter of
fact, the annual grant bestowed in the first instance would have kept
the catalogue forty years at press; and, had a strictly alphabetical
order of publication been adopted, it would after some years have been
pointed out with derision that the great British Museum Catalogue was
still in its A B C. The writer, therefore, exerted what influence he
possessed to keep the idea of a complete printed catalogue in the
background, and to enforce that of the publication of single articles
complete in themselves which would be valuable as special
bibliographies. A mere fragment of letter A, it was manifest, could be
of little use beyond the walls of the Museum, but a separate issue of
the article Aristotle might have great worth. The situation was entirely
altered when the Treasury so increased their grant as to afford a
reasonable prospect of finishing the catalogue in twenty years instead
of forty. The fragmentary system of publication was thereupon quietly
dropped, and printing went on in steady alphabetical sequence. It is due
to the Treasury to state that, since this augmentation of the grant,
their treatment of this branch of the Museum service has been uniformly
liberal. It is to be hoped that this bountiful spirit will not expire
with the completion of the catalogue, but will find expression in a
reprint incorporating all the accessions which have grown up while it
has been at press, as proposed in a very able article in the _Quarterly
Review_ for October 1898.

After the application of print to the catalogue, mechanical process has
rendered no such service to the British Museum Library as the
introduction of the sliding-press, the subject of another essay. While,
however, printing was the result of half a century of incessant
controversy, the sliding-press seemed to fall from the clouds. Its
introduction was a _coup d'état_; five minutes sufficed to convince the
Principal Librarian of the soundness of the idea, and the thing was
virtually done. No more striking contrast can be conceived than that
between the condition of the Library the day before this feasibility was
demonstrated, oppressed by the apparently insoluble problem how to find
room for its books, and the condition of the Library the day after
solution, suddenly endowed with a practically indefinite capacity for
expansion, save only in the department of newspapers. No one
unacquainted with the internal economy of the Museum will fully
appreciate the saving of public money, to say no more, effected by this
simple contrivance.

Print and the sliding-press are now, along with the electric light,
undisputed possessions of the Museum; but telegraphy and photography,
the two other applications of scientific ingenuity recommended in this
volume, have not yet been enlisted in her service. When the printing
telegraph obtains a footing, ample occupation will be found for it. Its
most useful as well as most striking application, however, will probably
always be the one principally dwelt upon here, the enabling every demand
for a book made in the reading-room to be simultaneously registered in
the Library, thus abolishing at a stroke the vexatious delays that now
intervene between the writing of a ticket and its delivery in the proper
quarter. The advantage alike to the public and to the staff is so
obvious that the only question ought to be as to the applicability of
electrical power to the transmission of legible messages under the
special circumstances, which an intelligent course of experiments would
speedily determine.

If telegraphy has been neglected, the same cannot be said of
photography. The most perfect unanimity exists within and outside the
Museum with respect to the benefit which the adoption of photography as
a department of the regular work of the institution would confer alike
upon it and upon the public. Nevertheless, not a single step has been
taken since the writer brought the subject forward in 1884, preceded as
this had been by the successful introduction of photography at the
Bodleian Library in connection with the Oxford University Press.
Government seems unable to perceive the public benefit to be derived
from the cheap reproduction and unlimited multiplication with infallible
accuracy of historical documents and current official papers; and
although the Museum has of late successfully resorted to photography for
its own publications, this has necessarily involved the employment of a
professional photographer, whose charges are an insuperable impediment
to any considerable extension of the system. It cannot be too
emphatically reiterated that the question is entirely one of expense. So
long as the photographer is a private tradesman he must of necessity be
paid by his customers, and for any extensive undertaking must inevitably
charge prices embarrassing to public institutions and prohibitive to
private individuals. Make him a public salaried officer, and by far the
larger part of the cost is eliminated at a stroke. What may be done is
shown by the recent exploit of the Newbery Library at Chicago, referred
to in a note at page 86, which has turned the bewildering multitude of
the "accession" parts of the British Museum Catalogue into a single
alphabetical series by simply photographing the titles singly, and then
combining the copies in a catalogue. It is quite possible that the
enterprise may prove financially unremunerative, but this would not be
the case if it had been executed as a portion of the work of a national
institution controlled by the State, which on its part would have been
recouped, or nearly so, by the patronage of private customers. It is
only necessary to add that the State should on no account seek to make a
profit out of photography, and that all transactions between the Museum
or any other public department and the nation, where money is concerned,
should be conducted on the principle of affording the greatest possible
public advantage at the smallest possible cost.

Of the essays and addresses unconnected with this particular group not
much need be said. As before mentioned, they are in general mere
occasional pieces, called into being by the casual need for a literary
contribution or a speech. On such occasions the writer has always
endeavoured to select some subject somewhat out of the common track,
with a distinctly bibliographical flavour if possible, but not quite so
dry as an exact collation of all the known copies of the Gutenberg
Bible. In such a line he would have been little likely to distinguish
himself. The Pope is not always a theologian, nor need the Keeper of
Printed Books inevitably be a devotee of black-letter lore. The
bibliographical erudition apparent in the essay on South American
bibliography is entirely derived from Señor Medina's classic work upon
the subject.

The biographical notices at the end of the volume have afforded the
writer a welcome opportunity of paying a just tribute to men of eminence
in the world of librarianship. The memoir of Sir Anthony Panizzi may
demand some apology on the ground of the haste and slightness almost
inseparable from an obituary notice indited _currente calamo_. The fame,
however, of the man universally recognised as the second founder of the
British Museum, can well dispense with polished eulogy. The notices of
his successors, composed more at leisure, embody the writer's cordial
appreciation of public service, and grateful sense of personal kindness.
In conclusion, the author has to acknowledge his obligations to the
Council of the Library Association, to Messrs. Kegan Paul & Co., and to
others, by whose permission these essays are reprinted.

                                                      R. GARNETT.

_May 18, 1899._


  ADDRESS TO THE LIBRARY ASSOCIATION                                   1

  PUBLIC LIBRARIES AND THEIR CATALOGUES                               32



      CATALOGUE                                                      109


  PARAGUAYAN AND ARGENTINE BIBLIOGRAPHY                              127

  THE EARLY ITALIAN BOOK TRADE                                       141


  LIBRARIANSHIP IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY                           174

      CENTURY                                                        191

  ON SOME COLOPHONS OF THE EARLY PRINTERS                            197

      THE BRITISH MUSEUM                                             210


  PHOTOGRAPHY IN PUBLIC LIBRARIES                                    234

  THE TELEGRAPH IN THE LIBRARY                                       253

  ON THE PROTECTION OF LIBRARIES FROM FIRE                           258

  THE SLIDING-PRESS AT THE BRITISH MUSEUM                            262


  PREFACE TO BLADES' "ENEMIES OF BOOKS"                              283

  SIR ANTHONY PANIZZI, K.C.B.                                        288

  THE LATE JOHN WINTER JONES, V.P.S.A.                               304

  THE LATE HENRY STEVENS, F.S.A.                                     325

  THE LATE SIR EDWARD A. BOND, K.C.B.                                335

  INDEX                                                              341



There are times in the lives of institutions as well as individuals when
retrospect is a good thing; when it is desirable to look back and see
how far one has travelled, and by what road; whether the path of
progress has always been in the right direction; whether it may not have
been sometimes unnecessarily devious; whether valuable things may not
have been dropped or omitted, in quest of which it may be desirable to
travel back; whether, on the other hand, the journey may not have been
fertile in glad surprises, and have led to acquisitions and discoveries
of which, at starting, one entertained no notion. The interval of
sixteen years which has elapsed since the first meeting of this
Association at London, suggests that such a time may well have arrived
in its history. There is yet another reason why the present meeting
invites to retrospection. We can look back in every sense of the term.
All our past is behind us in a physical as well as in an intellectual
sense. We are as far north as ever we can go. There are, I rejoice to
think, British libraries and librarians even farther north than
Aberdeen, but it is almost safe to predict that there never will be
congresses. We are actually farther north than Moscow, almost as far as
St. Petersburg. Looking back in imagination we can see the map of Great
Britain and Ireland—and we must not forget France—dotted over with the
places of our meetings, all alike conspicuous by the cordiality of our
reception, each specially conspicuous by some special remembrance, as—

    "Each garlanded with her peculiar flower,
     Danced into light, and died into the shade."

The temptation to linger upon these recollections is very strong, but I
must not yield to it, because more serious matters claim attention, and
because time would not suffice, and because the interest of our members
and any other auditors must necessarily be in proportion to the number
of meetings they have themselves attended, while the time, alas! slowly
but certainly approaches when the first meetings will not be remembered
by any one. Yet in a retrospective address it would be impossible to
pass without notice the first two meetings of all, for it was by them
that the character, since so admirably maintained, was impressed upon
the Association. We first met at the London Institution in Finsbury
Circus under the auspices of the man who, above all men, has the best
right to be accounted our founder—the present Bodleian Librarian, Mr.
Nicholson. Meetings in London, I may say for the information of our
northern friends, labour under a serious defect as compared with
Aberdeen and other more favoured places—a deficiency in the accessories
of sight-seeing and hospitality. Not that Londoners are any less
hospitable than other citizens, but there are reasons patent to all
why in that enormous metropolis—till lately under such a very
anomalous system or no system of municipal government, and where
innumerable objects of interest are for the most part common
property—entertainments cannot be systematically organised, especially
at seasons of the year when unless, under the present dispensation, one
is an unpaired member of Parliament, it is almost a reproach to be found
in the metropolis. For all that, I scarcely think that any meeting was
enjoyed with zest equal to the gathering in that amphitheatre and
lecture room, nearly as subdued in light but nowise as cool as a
submarine grot. For we were doing then what we could not do afterwards
in the majestic hall of King's College, Cambridge, or in the splendid
deliberative chamber accorded to us by the liberality of the corporation
of Birmingham. We were legislating, we were tracing the lines of the
future; most interesting and important of all, we were proving whether
the conception of a Library Association, so attractive on paper, was
really a living conception that would work. That this question was so
triumphantly answered I have always attributed in great measure to the
presence among us of a choice band of librarians from the United States.
These gentlemen knew what we only surmised; they had been accustomed to
regard themselves as members of an organised profession; they felt
themselves recognised and honoured as such; they had ample experience of
congresses and public canvasses and library journals; they were just the
men to inspire English librarians, not with the public spirit which they
possessed already, but with the _esprit de corps_ which, in their then
dispersed and unorganised condition, they could not possess. They came
to me at least as a revelation; the horizon widened all round, and the
life and spirit they infused into the meeting contributed largely to
make it the success it was. Had we gone away then with the sensation of
failure, it is not likely that I should now be addressing you in
Aberdeen or elsewhere. But there was another ordeal to be faced. Critics
say that the second book or picture is very commonly decisive of the
future of an author or artist whose _début_ has been successful—it
shows whether he possesses staying power. Well, when next year we came
to Oxford, in that sense of the term we did come to stay. The variety
and the interest of the papers, and the spirit of the discussions,
showed that there existed both ample material for our deliberations and
ample interest and ability to render deliberation profitable. Here again
we were largely indebted to individuals, and my words will find an echo
in all who knew the late Mr. Ernest Chester Thomas, when I say that
never did he exhibit his gifts to such advantage, never did he render
such services to the Association, as on this occasion. His courtesy,
tact, and good humour all can emulate; the advantages which he enjoyed
in finding himself so thoroughly at home could have been shared by any
other member of the University; but the peculiar brightness with which
he enlivened and irradiated the proceedings was something quite his own.
I must not suffer myself to dwell on other gatherings—all equally
agreeable, some almost as memorable; but, lest I seem forgetful of a
very important branch of the work of the Association, I must briefly
allude to the monthly meetings held in London, where so many valuable
papers have been read—subsequently made general property by publication
in the Journal of the Association, if originally delivered to audiences
probably very fit, certainly very few. It is greatly to be regretted
that provincial members cannot participate in these gatherings, but this
is practically impossible, save by the annihilation of time and
space—the modest request, says Pope, of absent lovers.

I shall now proceed to take up some of the more interesting themes
broached at the first meeting of the Association, time not allowing me
to proceed further, and to remark upon the progress which may appear to
have been made in the interval towards accomplishing the objects then
indicated. I shall then venture some brief remarks on the library
movement at the present day, as concerns public feeling and public
sympathy in their effect on the status of librarianship as a profession.
My observations must of course be very desultory and imperfect, for an
adequate treatment of these subjects would absorb the entire time of the
present meeting. I have also always felt that the President's address,
though certainly an indispensable portion of our proceedings, is in one
aspect ornamental, and that the real business of a meeting, apart from
its legislative and administrative departments, is the reading of papers
and the discussion to which these give rise. I hope that these
discussions will be, like the Thames, "without o'erflowing, full."
Overflow we must not. It will be a great satisfaction to me if, when the
meeting is over, it should be found that everything written for it has
been heard by it, and that nothing has been "taken as read."

The most important subject introduced at the Conference of 1877 was that
of free libraries in small towns, but any remarks which I may offer on
this will come more appropriately into a review of the progress which
libraries are now making. Next in importance, perhaps, certainly in
general interest, were the discussions on cataloguing. In this
department I may congratulate the Association on material progress, to
which its own labours have, in great measure, contributed. There is much
more unanimity than there used to be respecting the principles on which
catalogues should be made. Admirable catalogues have been issued, and
continue to be kept up by the principal libraries throughout the
country, and if now and then some very small and benighted library
issues a catalogue whose _naïvetés_ excite derision, such cases are
very exceptional. Rules have been promulgated both here and in the
United States which have met with general assent, and I do not
anticipate that any material departure from them will be made. I only
wish to say, as every librarian is naturally supposed to regard his own
catalogue as a model, that I do not regard the British Museum Catalogue
in this light so far as concerns libraries of average size and type. The
requirements of large and small libraries are very different, and that
may be quite right in one which would be quite wrong in another. I can,
perhaps, scarcely express this difference more accurately than by
remarking that while the catalogue of a small, and more especially of a
popular, library, should be a finding catalogue, that of a large library
representing all departments of literature must be to a great extent a
literary catalogue. It is not meant merely to enable the reader to
procure his book with the least possible delay, but also to present an
epitome of the life-work of every author, and to assist the researches
of the literary historian. Hence the explanation and justification of
some points which have on specious grounds been objected to in the
Museum Catalogue. It has been thought strange, for instance, that
anonymous books of which the authorship is known—such as the first
editions of the Waverley Novels—should not be entered under the names
of the authors. Two excellent reasons may be given: because by so
entering the book the character of the catalogue as a bibliographical
record would be destroyed; and because by entering one description of
anonymous books in one way and another in another, there would be an end
to the uniformity of rule which is necessary to prevent a very extensive
catalogue from getting into confusion. Another instance is the
cataloguing of academical transactions and periodicals under the
respective heads of Academies and Periodical Publications, which has
been much criticised. It is quite true that the _Quarterly Review_ can
be found more easily under that head than under "Periodical
Publications, London," but it is also true that the grouping of all
academical and all periodical publications under these two great heads
is invaluable to the bibliographer, the literary historian, and the
statistician, who must be exceedingly thankful that the information of
which they are in quest is presented to them in a concentrated form,
instead of having to be sought for through an enormous catalogue. These
observations do not in any way apply to libraries of an essentially
popular character, and I merely make them by way of enforcing the
proposition that the works of such libraries and those of national or
university libraries are different, and that we must beware of a
cast-iron uniformity of rule. There is yet another intermediate class of
library, the comparatively small but highly select, such as college and
club libraries, which will probably find it more advantageous to pursue
an intermediate course, as I imagine they do, judging from the very
excellent specimens of cataloguing for which we are indebted to some of
them. And there is yet another class, the libraries of the collectors
of exceedingly rare literatures, such as the Chatsworth Library, Mr.
Huth's, and Mr. Locker-Lampson's. In such catalogues minuteness of
bibliographical detail is rightly carried to an extent uncalled for in
great miscellaneous catalogues like that of the British Museum, and
which, it is to be hoped, may never be attempted there, for if it were
it would disorganise the establishment. It is not the business of
librarians as public servants to provide recondite bibliographical
luxuries. These things are excellent, but they lie in the department of
specialists and amateurs, who may be expected to cultivate it in the
future as they have done in the past. The limits of public and private
enterprise must be kept distinct.

Another question of cataloguing which occupied the attention of the
Conference of 1877 was the important one of subject catalogues. In this
I am able to announce the most satisfactory progress. In the face of the
mass of information continually pouring in, the world has become alive
to the importance of condensing, distributing, and rendering generally
available the information which it possesses already. Three very
remarkable achievements of this kind may be noticed. The first is
Poole's Index to Periodicals, with its continuation, a work so
invaluable that we now wonder how we could have existed without it, but
so laborious that we could hardly have hoped to see it exist at all,
especially considering that it is an achievement of co-operative
cataloguing. In illustration of the want it supplies, I may mention that
it has been found necessary at the British Museum to reproduce the
preliminary tables by photography in a number of copies, the originals
having been worn to pieces. The next work I shall mention is the subject
index to the modern books acquired by the British Museum since 1880—two
bulky volumes, prepared in non-official time, with the greatest zeal and
devotion, by the superintendent of the Reading Room, Mr. Fortescue, and
continued by him to the present time. They are simply invaluable, and it
is only to be regretted that they have been issued at too high a price
to be generally available to the public. This is not the case with the
third publication which I have to mention—the classed catalogue issued
by Mr. Swan Sonnenschein, the utility of which is very generally known.
A cognate feature of the times is the great comparative attention now
paid to indexing, which is sometimes carried to lengths almost
ludicrous. The author of a work of information who does not give an
index is sure to be called over the coals, and with reason, for how else
is the reviewer to pick out the plums unless he actually reads the book?
I am not sure that this extreme facilitation of knowledge is in all
respects a good thing, but it is at present a necessary thing, and
correlated with that prevalence of abridged histories and biographies
which it is easy to criticise, but which has at least two good
points—the evidence it affords of the existence of a healthy appetite
for information among a large reading class, and the fact that
information is thus diffused among many to whom it would have been
inaccessible under other circumstances.

Connected with the subject of indexes is that of dictionary catalogues,
in which the alphabetical and the subject catalogues are found in a
single list. I retain the opinion I have always held, that this plan may
answer where the library and the catalogue are not extensive, but that
where they are, confusion results; the wood cannot be seen for the
trees. I therefore recommend the librarian of even a small library, in
planning his catalogue, as well as everything else, to make sure whether
his library may not be destined to become a great one. Half the
difficulties under which great libraries labour arise from the failure
to take from the first a sufficiently generous view of the possibilities
and prospects of the institution. With this view of dictionary
catalogues, it is not likely that they will be adopted at the British
Museum, but I have already explained more than once the facilities which
the Museum possesses for forming an unequalled series of subject
catalogues by simply, when the great general catalogue has been printed,
cutting up copies printed on one side only, and arranging them in a
number of indexes. There is no doubt that the Museum can amply provide
for its own needs in this manner, and thus remove the reproach under
which it has always laboured, and still labours, of having no subject
catalogue except Mr. Fortescue's. The question is whether the indexes
thus created are to become available for the service of libraries and
students all over the world by being published and circulated. The
solution of this question rests with the Government, and I have alluded
to it here principally in the hope of eliciting that expression of
public opinion without which Government is hardly likely to act. The
question will probably become an actual one towards the end of the
present century.

Mention of this question naturally leads to another, which occasioned
one of the most interesting discussions of the Conference of 1877—the
subject of the British Museum in its relation to provincial culture.
This was ably introduced by our friend Mr. Axon, who dwelt especially on
two points in which provincial culture could be promoted by the
Museum—the distribution of duplicates and the printing of the
catalogue. On both these I am enabled to announce the most satisfactory
progress since they were ventilated in 1877. As regards the distribution
of duplicates, indeed, further progress is impossible, for we have
distributed all we can spare. The subject was energetically taken up by
the present Principal Librarian, Mr. Maunde Thompson, shortly after his
accession to office, and the result has been that almost all the
principal libraries throughout the country have received important
benefactions from the Museum. Libraries of the rank of the Bodleian and
the Guildhall have, of course, received the first consideration; but
nearly all have had some accession, and in some instances provision has
been made for a regular supply of duplicate parliamentary papers. Since
the distribution of these duplicates the opportunity has further
presented itself, through the extensive purchases made at the sale of
the Hailstone Library, for enriching Yorkshire libraries with duplicate
tracts relating to that county, and I am sure that the trustees will
readily avail themselves of any subsequent occasions. I am aware that
some think that distribution might be carried even further, but I am
certain that this is not the case. We are bound in honour not to give
any presented books; valuable presented books must be protected by
second copies; copyright books cannot be parted with because receipts
have been given for them which, if the books disappeared, there would be
nothing to justify, while the books and the stamp showing the date of
reception may be required for legal purposes; finally, the international
copyright which used to provide the Museum with so many duplicates of
foreign books has now become utterly extinct in consequence of the Berne
Convention. The progress made in the far more important department of
the printing of the catalogue is already well known to you. I have been
able to give the Association a satisfactory report of progress on two
occasions, and I am now able to state that we have entered into letter
P. Some important gaps remain to be filled up, but on the other hand the
latter part of the catalogue is printed and published from U to the end.
If the Treasury continues its aid, I have little doubt that the whole
will be published some time before the end of the century. Mr. Axon
certainly did not exaggerate the value which such a publication would
possess for general culture, and I am only sorry that it is not as yet
properly recognised. Every large town ought to have a copy of the Museum
Catalogue, and the supply of the accession parts ought to be regularly
kept up. It is too late now to do what might have been done if the
importance of the undertaking had been recognised from the first: but
the oversight can soon be repaired if the catalogue is reprinted as soon
as completed, with the inclusion of all the additional titles that have
since grown up. The edition can then be made as large as is necessary to
accommodate every important town in the United Kingdom. But this will
not be done without the application of considerable pressure to the
Government, and this will not come without a much more general interest
on the part of the public than there is any reason to suppose exists at
present. This might, however, be created by judicious stimulus, which
must come in the first instance from librarians, who, though not
collectively a highly influential body, have many means of privately
influencing persons of weight, and making themselves directly and
indirectly heard in the public press.

I will take the opportunity of adding a few words for the honour of a
late eminent librarian. In the numerous papers which I have written on
the subject of the Museum Catalogue, I have always made a point of
bringing forward the inestimable services of the late Principal
Librarian, Mr. Edward Augustus Bond, in relation to it. Everything
which I have said I repeat. Without Mr. Bond the catalogue would not now
exist in print, or its appearance would at any rate have been
indefinitely deferred. In examining, however, non-official papers, I
have lately ascertained that Mr. Thomas Watts, one of my predecessors as
Keeper of Printed Books, advocated the printing of the catalogue as
early as 1855. Like myself, when I recommended printing, not on abstract
grounds, but from the impossibility of any longer finding space for the
catalogue in the Reading Room, Mr. Watts was led to adopt his view by
collateral considerations, which it would take too much time to explain
now, but which will be understood when I publish his paper, which I
purpose doing. Meanwhile I am glad to have paid this passing tribute to
the memory of the most learned and the most widely informed librarian
that the Museum or the country ever possessed.

Speaking of the publication of Museum catalogues since the foundation of
this Association, I ought not to forget that of the early English books
prior to 1640, edited by Mr. Bullen; or that of the maps, edited by
Professor Douglas; or the various catalogues of Oriental books and
manuscripts. The latter, prepared by Dr. Rieu, are treasures of
information, very much more than ordinary catalogues.

Another subject was introduced at the Conference of 1877, which admits
of wider development than any of those already mentioned, and in which
very much more remains to be done. I allude to the question of the
employment of photography as an auxiliary to bibliography, broached by
our lamented friend the late Mr. Henry Stevens, in his paper on
"Photo-Bibliography." Though the ideas suggested by Mr. Stevens were
highly ingenious, they were perhaps better adapted for development by
private enterprise than by library organisations. But they led up
directly to another matter of much greater importance, which I had
myself the honour of bringing before the Dublin Conference—the
feasibility of making book-photography national by the creation of a
photographic department at the British Museum. I need not repeat at
length what was then said by myself and other speakers respecting the
immense advantage of providing a ready and cheap means for the
reproduction of books in facsimile, by which rare books and perishing
manuscripts could be multiplied to any extent; by which press copies
could be provided at a nominal expense for anything that it was desired
to reprint; by which legal documents could be placed beyond the reach of
injury, and the vexed question of the custody of parish registers solved
for ever; by which a great system of international exchange could be
established for the historical manuscripts of all countries. The one
point which cannot be too often repeated or enforced is that the essence
of the scheme consists in the abolition of the private photographer, at
present an inevitable and most useful individual, but who is sadly in
the way of larger public interests. So long as a private profit has to
be made, photography cannot be cheap. Transfer this duty to a public
officer paid by a public salary, and the chief element of expense has
disappeared; while the slight expense of this salary and cost of
material, if it is thought worth while to insist upon its repayment,
will be repaid over and over by a trifling charge imposed upon the
public. Our Association took the matter up, but nothing tangible has as
yet resulted from its efforts, nor can much be fairly expected. We are
not a body adapted for public agitation, nor can we be; we have too
little influence as individuals; as a corporation we are too dispersed;
our general meetings are necessarily infrequent; we want organisation
and momentum. Nevertheless, very important progress in this direction
may be recorded, or I should not have been able to include it in my
address. It is due to the University of Oxford, which has established a
photographic department in connection with the Bodleian Library and the
University Press, which has shown the practicability of the undertaking,
and has already rendered important services to private persons and
public institutions, the British Museum among the latter. We are as yet
far from the ideal, for the University must of necessity make a higher
charge than would be requisite in a Government department, which might
indeed be but nominal. But an important step has been taken, and Oxford
will always have the honour of having taken the lead in the systematic
application of photography to library purposes, as the sister University
has that of having been the first, not merely to print a catalogue but
to keep a catalogue up in print.

Another subject which naturally attracted the attention of the
Association from the first was that of binding. There are few matters of
more consequence, and the increasing degeneracy of the bindings of
ordinary books, as issued by the publishers, renders it of more
importance to librarians than ever. This deterioration is, of course,
likely to extend to books bound for libraries, if librarians are not
very vigilant. I was amused the other day with the remark of an American
librarian, that he bound his newspapers in brown. I thought he exercised
a wise discretion, for the newspapers which were bound in green at the
Museum have become brown, like the withered leaf, and might as well have
been so from the first. I do not know that any important progress has
been made in ordinary binding, although our American friends, in their
_Library Journal_, are continually giving us ingenious hints which may
prove very useful. The buckram recommended by Mr. Nicholson has, I
think, maintained its ground; we use it to some extent at the Museum,
and are well satisfied. Goatskin also has been recently employed; it is
a beautiful binding, but liable to injury when a volume is subjected to
much wear and tear—a point which should always be carefully considered
before the binding of a book is decided upon. The better descriptions of
cloth seem to be improved, and very recommendable for books in moderate
use. I am continually struck with the excellence of the vellum bindings
we get from abroad, especially of old books, and wish very much that
means could be found of cheapening this most excellent material. In one
very important description of binding—roan and sheepskin—I fear we are
going back; not from any fault of the binders, but from the conditions
of modern life. I am informed that owing to the early age at which the
lives of sheep are now prematurely terminated, it is impossible to
obtain sheepskin of the soundness requisite for binding purposes, and
that books for which it is used must be expected to wear out much sooner
than formerly. It is also said, however, that this does not apply to the
sheep slaughtered in Australia and New Zealand, and if this is the case
it may be worth the while of librarians and bookbinders to enter into
communication with the farmers of those parts, through the medium of the
Colonial Agents General or otherwise.

Any positive progress that can be reported in binding rather relates to
the study, appreciation, and reproduction of old and precious bindings,
especially of foreign countries, and is mainly summed up in the record
of the exhibitions of bindings which have been held here, the literary
labours of Miss Prideaux and others, the numerous splendid reproductions
in chromo-lithography, published or to be published here or abroad, and
the tasteful designs of Mr. Zaehnsdorf, Mr. Cobden-Sanderson, and other
artists in this branch, which I am glad to see encouraged by the Arts
and Crafts Exhibition. The very deterioration of the bindings for the
many, to which I have had occasion to refer, stimulates the production
of choice bindings for the few. Liberal patronage will not be wanting,
and there is no reason why we should not have among us now Bedfords,
Roger Paynes, and even craftsmen of a more purely artistic type. Among
the signs of the times in this respect is to be noted the establishment
of the Grolier Club at New York, celebrated for the admirable examples
it has collected, and the interest and value of its publications.

There is another subject which came before the Conference of 1877,
which, but for our American friends, I should be unable to include in my
survey without infringing my principle of touching upon those subjects
alone in which substantial progress can be reported. It is that of
co-operative cataloguing, the subject of a note by M. Depping, and
indirectly of the late Mr. Cornelius Walford's paper on a general
catalogue of English literature. The success of Poole's Index has proved
that co-operative cataloguing, or at least indexing, is feasible. I
doubt if there is another instance, except one—a work of great national
importance, whose long condition of suspended animation and eventual
successful prosecution eloquently evince under what conditions
co-operation is practicable or impracticable. This is Dr. Murray's great
English dictionary, originally a project of the Philological Society.
Until Dr. Murray was invented, the Philological Society could do
nothing. The scheme absolutely required some one of competent ability
who would go into it heart and soul, sacrifice everything else to it,
and devote his whole time to it. When such a man was found in Dr. Murray
it is astonishing how soon willing co-workers abounded, and how readily
the mass of unorganised material already collected was got into shape.
So it will be, I believe, with all co-operative schemes. They will
require a head, a single directing mind. Whether this will be
forthcoming for the very useful work projected by the Association, the
completion of the British Museum Catalogue of early English printed
books by the preparation of a supplementary catalogue of such of these
books as are not in the Museum, is to me problematical, but time will
show. I am, for my part, of opinion that the undertaking had better be
delayed until the publication of the second edition of the Museum
Catalogue, which it is intended to issue as soon as the printing of the
general catalogue is complete, as this would considerably abridge the
labour of preparing the supplement. I have already, in the paper read at
Paris last year, expressed my opinion that the Museum Catalogue, when
complete, will afford the only practicable basis for the far more
important and extensive undertaking of a universal catalogue. Success in
such an undertaking would indeed be the triumph of successful
co-operation, but when the enormous difficulties of establishing
co-operation among the libraries, not of a single country only, but of
the whole civilised world, are considered, the difficulty may well
appear insuperable, until the various countries shall have approximated
much more nearly to the condition of a single country than they have
done as yet. Such, however, is the unquestionable tendency of the times,
depending upon causes which, so far as can be foreseen, appear likely to
operate with augmented intensity, and this movement may proceed far
enough to eventually bring with it the universal catalogue along with
the universal language, the universal coin, and the universal stamp.
Till within a short time ago I had reason to believe that a co-operative
catalogue, which I myself proposed several years ago, was on the point
of being undertaken. Some may remember that I once read a paper at a
London monthly meeting on the preparation of an index of subjects to the
Royal Society's catalogue of scientific papers, without which that great
store of information is in a measure useless. This paper was
re-published in _Nature_, the idea was taken up by Mr. Collins of
Edgbaston, the compiler of the indexes to Herbert Spencer's works, and a
few weeks ago success seemed about to crown his efforts. I now learn
with regret that the scientific men who met in conclave on the project
have not been able to agree, and I suppose it will remain in abeyance
until some Hercules-Littré arises and does it by himself.

Want of time precludes me from dwelling at length upon any other
subjects than those brought forward at the first Conference of our
Association. A brief enumeration, however, of some of the additional
subjects discussed at ensuing meetings, to within the ten years
immediately preceding our last meeting, will be serviceable as showing
the extent of its activity, and, did time permit, it would be possible
to show that satisfactory progress has been made in many of the
directions indicated. At Oxford, in 1878, besides recurring to many of
the themes previously treated, the Conference discussed the condition of
cathedral and provincial libraries, printing and printers in provincial
towns, size-notation, and, most interesting of all, the salaries of
librarians. At Manchester, in 1883, it considered the consolidation and
amendment of the Public Libraries Acts, the grouping of populous places
for library purposes, the free library in the connection which it has or
should have with the Board School, the extent to which novels should be
permitted in free libraries, and security against fire. In 1880, at
Edinburgh, the libraries of Scotland, and early printing in Scotland,
were the subjects of valuable communications, as were press and shelf
notation; copyrights, the disposal of duplicates, and the subject which
may be said to lie at the root of all the rest, "The Librarian and his
Work." In 1881, at London, besides important subjects previously
discussed, we heard of law libraries and library buildings. In 1882, at
Cambridge, a meeting ever to be remembered for the hospitality and
kindness of our distinguished and lamented President—Henry
Bradshaw—the Association heard for the first time of progress actually
made in printing the British Museum Catalogue, and papers were read on
the all-important subject of librarianship as a profession; on the work
of the nineteenth-century librarian for the librarian of the twentieth;
on public documents and their supply to public libraries; on local
bibliography; on the cataloguing of periodicals and academical
publications; and on electric lighting.

Here I suspend my survey, but I think quite enough has been said to
indicate the number and importance of the subjects taken up by the
Association, while the present condition of some of them, compared with
that which they held before they had become subjects of public
discussion, proves that the Association's labours have not been in vain
in the past, and the rapid development of library work on all sides
proves equally that there need be no apprehension of the failure of
material for its discussions in the future.

I may fitly conclude my address with some notice of this decided
increase of interest in libraries, especially as it relates to free
libraries; of the effect which it may be expected to produce upon the
status of our profession, and of the claims encouraged and the duties
imposed in consequence. Before coming to this division of my subject,
however, I ought, as this address is mainly retrospective, to record
briefly some exceedingly gratifying occurrences which the historian of
libraries will have to note. First among them I place two munificent
benefactions—Mr. Carnegie's gift of fifty thousand pounds to the people
of Edinburgh towards the formation of a public library, and Mrs.
Rylands' establishment of the Spencer Library, worth probably nearly a
quarter of a million, in the city of Manchester. The first is an
instance of that public spirit not unknown here, but I fear less known
than in the United States, which in that country frequently takes the
form of library donation or endowment, but here seldom enters that
channel except when a generous employer, like Mr. Brunner of Northwich,
builds a library mainly for his work-people. The second instance is
almost unprecedented. Donations of money for library purposes are not
infrequent, but that a public benefactor like Mrs. Rylands should
purchase a famous library at an enormous expense only to make it a
public library immediately afterwards, and should moreover take upon
herself the entire cost of the requisite buildings, and provide it with
a staff and funds for its further extension, are indeed an unprecedented
series of occurrences. I need not say that had Mrs. Rylands purchased
Lord Spencer's Library solely for herself, we should still have been
under deep obligation to her for preventing the books from going out of
the country. As it is, she has not only laid Britain under infinite
obligation, but I hope will prove to have in the long run raised the
standard of bibliographical research throughout the country, both by
bringing together so many bibliographical treasures, and by her
eminently judicious choice of a librarian. In this connection I may pass
on to another event of moment—the recent foundation of a
Bibliographical Society through the untiring exertions of Mr. Copinger.
It is very gratifying to find that the constituents of such a society
exist in a country where exact bibliography has been so little
cultivated, and there can be no doubt of the extent and interest of the
field which is open to such a body.

The spread of a taste for bibliography is further illustrated by the
fact that an enterprising publisher has found it worth while to produce
a series of bibliographical manuals under the able editorship of Mr.
Alfred Pollard, and that these have amply repaid him. I may further
notice the recent appearance of two works of great importance to English
bibliography: Professor Arber's transcripts of the registers of the
Stationers' Company, now on the point of completion, and the supplement
to Allibone's Dictionary of English Authors. Two great advances in
library construction also call for a word of recognition; the
introduction of the sliding press at the British Museum, which
indefinitely adjourns the ever-pressing question of additional space
both in this and in every other library to which it can be adapted; and
the general employment of the electric light, which insures libraries
against the worst enemy of all. While touching on library construction,
I must briefly allude to a very remarkable recent publication, the
article "Bibliotheca" in the German Cyclopædia of Architecture. This
exhaustive disquisition is illustrated with a number of views of
libraries in all parts of the world; not merely of their plans and
elevations, their stately saloons and commodious reading rooms, but of
the most humble details of library furniture. It ought to be

I have now to offer some concluding observations on the present
prospects of the library movement, as it affects our country and
ourselves. In both points of view there is, I think, much matter for
congratulation. We have progressed very decidedly since the period to
which I have been carrying you back in retrospect. As is often the case,
the foundation of this Association was both a symptom and a cause. It
indicated the existence of a feeling that libraries had not hitherto
occupied that position in public esteem which they ought to have; it
further powerfully contributed to secure this due position for them. I
think they are obtaining it. We cannot but be conscious of a wave of
public feeling slowly rising, the action of which is visible in the
establishment of new libraries, in the adoption of the Free Libraries
Act by communities which had long resisted it, in improved library
buildings and appliances, in acts of munificence like Mr. Carnegie's and
Mrs. Rylands's, and as a natural consequence, in the improved salaries
and status of librarians. I am aware that very much remains to be done
in this latter respect. No one can more earnestly desire that the
librarian's position were better than it is. It would not only be a boon
to the individual, but a sign full of hope for the community. We are
progressing, but we must progress much further. The key of the position
seems to me the restrictions imposed upon rates for library purposes.
If we could obtain more freedom for the ratepayers in this respect, and,
which would be much more difficult, persuade them to use it when they
had it, our free libraries might be in general what some of the more
favoured actually are. It is discouraging indeed to observe in a not
very wealthy community, when all necessary expenses have been met,
including the librarian's very inadequate salary, what a ridiculous
trifle remains for the acquisition of books.

There is only one way to obtain the desired end—to convince the public
that they are getting value for their money. The utility of the public
library must be visible to all men. It must be recognised as an
indispensable element of culture, and it must be shown, which is
unfortunately more difficult, that it is actually subserving this end,
not only for a few persons here and there, but for a considerable
proportion of the population. I am not opposing the admission of fiction
into public libraries, but it is evident that if fiction constitutes the
larger portion of the literature in request, the average ratepayer will
not think, nor ought he to think, that any case has been made out for
his inserting his hands more deeply into his pockets. I am quite aware,
of course, that librarians individually can do but little in this
direction. Whatever can be done should be done, for the entire case of
the librarian in claiming respect from the community and the material
advantages concatenated therewith is that he is, in however humble a
measure, a priest of literature and science; as truly, though not as
ostensibly, a public instructor as if he occupied the chair of a
professor. Let him endeavour to live up to this character, and in
proportion as the community itself becomes conscious of its shortcomings
and its needs, the librarian's estimation will rise and his position
improve. We need not despair; like Wordsworth's imprisoned patriot, "we
have great allies." The library movement itself is merely the fringe of
a great intellectual upheaval, most visibly personified in the School
Boards which now cover the country, but also obvious in many other
directions. This upheaval will elevate libraries along with it, if they
really are the instruments of intellectual culture we firmly believe
them to be. Let us ally ourselves with those concerned in the diffusion
of these educational agencies. Many of them feel, I know, that schools
ought to be the highway to something better, and that even if public
school instruction could be accepted as sufficient for the citizen, much
of it is inevitably lost from the divorce from all intellectual life
which too commonly supervenes when the boy leaves school. But, if the
school have but instilled a love of reading, the library steps in to
take its place:—

    "Chalice to bright wine
     Which else had sunk into the thirsty earth."

Let the librarian but recognise his true position, and eventually he
must find his true level. I do not think that librarians as a body are
chargeable with insensibility to their duties in this respect; but it
does need to be kept before their fellow-citizens, whose ideas of the
profession—derived from tradition, and from personal experience among
some of its inferior branches—are naturally different from those which
obtain among ourselves. The librarian will therefore do well to interest
himself in useful and philanthropic movements, avoiding, of course,
anything tinged with party spirit, political or religious. If he is a
vegetarian, or a theosophist, or anything that begins with _anti_, let
him be so unobtrusively.

I must not conclude without mentioning an incident connected with our
profession, which has recently given me great pleasure—the acquaintance
I was enabled to make with the students of the Library School, mostly
young assistants in provincial libraries, on their visit to London last
summer. I received a most favourable impression of their modesty,
intelligence, eagerness to learn, and general interest in their calling.
This bodes well for the librarians of the future. I trust that they and
all of us, and all whom the profession may receive into their ranks from
other sources, will labour to preserve that high ideal of the librarian
as a minister of culture, and no less that other possession, which our
Association—if it did not actually create—has so greatly fostered that
it may almost be looked upon as its creation, the feeling of fellowship
and _esprit de corps_. We do not meet merely to read papers and exchange
ideas, and provide for our administrative arrangements, but to
encourage and renovate something "better than all treasures that in
books are found"—the consciousness of mutual interest, and the feeling
of mutual regard, which will, I trust, be found reflected in the harmony
and business-like conduct of our present meeting.


[1:1] Aberdeen, September 1893.

[27:1] It has since been used in Mr. Burgoyne's volume on Library


"At the laundress's at the Hole in the Wall, Cursitor's Alley, up three
pairs of stairs, the author of my Church History—you may also speak to
the gentleman who lies by him in the flock bed—my index-maker." Thus
Mr. Edmund Curll, _apud_ Dean Swift, and the direction certainly does
not convey an exalted idea of the social status of the gentleman who
shared the hole of the ecclesiastical historian.

It is gratifying to remark the augmented consideration, in our day, of
this despised fraternity. There is no omission for which an author of
serious pretensions is now more frequently taken to task than that of an
index; and if on the one hand it is unsatisfactory that the offence
should be so frequent, it is on the other encouraging that its
obnoxiousness should be so generally recognised. "Every author,"
sententiously observes an American sage, "every author should write his
own index. Anybody can write the book." Without going quite to this
length, very many are disposed to affirm of a book without an index what
the Rev. Dr. Folliott, in "Crotchet Castle," affirms of a book without
matter for a quotation, namely, that it is no book at all. Now, what Mr.
Curll's index-maker was to Mr. Curll, librarians are to the general
republic of letters. Every visitor to the Reading Room of the British
Museum who is guided by the mere light of nature persists in styling the
catalogue "the index": their promotion in public consideration has
accordingly kept pace with that of their humbler allies, or rather
exceeded it, for if not starting originally from a point quite so
depressed, they have attained one much more exalted. The cause, however,
is the same in both cases—the enormous increase of knowledge, the need
of a rigorous classification of its accumulated stores, and the
development of a specialised class of workers to discharge this
function. Next to the importance of information existing at all is that
of its being garnered, classified, registered, made promptly available
for use. A good public library has been aptly compared to a substantial
bank, where drafts presented are duly honoured; and librarians, as such,
occupy much the same relation to the republic of letters as the
commissariat to the rest of the army—their business is not to fight
themselves, but to put others into a condition to do it. As a
consequence, their collective organisation is much more complete than of
yore; and their calling assumes more and more the character of a
distinct profession requiring special training, with a distinct tendency
to gravitate towards the Civil Service. Time has been when a
librarianship was most probably a sinecure, or at best a "Semitic
department," created for the express benefit of desert too angular and
abnormal to fit into recognised grooves. Lessing was a typical specimen
of this class of librarian, installed at Wolfenbüttel nominally to
catalogue books but in reality to write them. This type is now nearly
extinct in England, except here and there in one of those colleges which
Mr. Bagehot thought existed to prevent people from over-reading
themselves, or some cathedral, where the functions of librarian are
entrusted to a church dignitary or a church mouse. Elsewhere the
professional character of the librarian's pursuits is pretty generally
recognised; the need of special training and special qualifications is
commonly admitted; and the result has been a general improvement in the
status and consideration of librarians, the more satisfactory as it is
in no degree due to quackery or self-assertion, but has come about by
the mere force of circumstances. It may not be uninteresting briefly to
trace the steps by which librarianship has become a recognised
profession, and the public library an acknowledged branch of the State

"Prior to the year 1835," says Mr. Winter Jones, in his inaugural
address before the first Conference of Librarians, "there had been
little discussion, if any, about public libraries." In that year—the
year of the publication of the epoch-making works of Strauss and De
Tocqueville, and of the removal of Copernicus and Galileo from the
_Index Expurgatorius_—the complaints of a discharged clerk led, _more
Britannico_, to an inquiry into the state of the British Museum, which
would at that time hardly have been granted upon public grounds. From
that inquiry dates everything that has since been done. Some not very
judicious changes in the administrative machinery of the Museum were the
chief ostensible results, but the real service rendered was to create a
consciousness in the public mind of the deficiencies of the national
library—strengthened no doubt by the contemporaneous disclosures of the
condition of the public records. The way was then prepared for the truly
great man who assumed office as Keeper of the Printed Books in 1837, and
whose evidence had mainly created the impression to which we have
referred. To the administration of the British Museum, Sir Anthony
Panizzi brought powers that might have governed an Empire. Sir Rowland
Hill is not more thoroughly identified with the penny post than Sir A.
Panizzi with the improvements which have made the Museum what it is, and
not merely those affected immediately by himself, but those which owe,
or are yet to owe, their existence to the impulse originally
communicated by him. In 1839 the Museum received from Sir A. Panizzi and
his assistants its code of rules for the catalogue—the Magna Charta of
cataloguing. In 1846 the enormous deficiencies of the Library, as
ascertained by prodigious labour on the part of the librarian and his
staff, were fairly brought to the knowledge of the nation. In 1849 Sir
A. Panizzi's multitudinous reforms were tested and sanctioned by one of
the most competent royal commissions that ever sat, whose report offers
at this day a mass of most amusing and instructive reading. We may note
in its minutes of evidence, as subsequently in the yet more remarkable
instance of President Lincoln, how little able Mr. Carlyle is to
recognise his hero when he has got him, and may obtain a new insight
into the extraordinary powers of the late Professor De Morgan. In 1857
Sir A. Panizzi's exertions received their visible consummation in the
erection of the new Reading Room and its appendages, capable of
accommodating a million volumes; and about the same time his political
and social influence raised the Museum grant to an amount capable of
filling this space within thirty years. Such an example could not fail
to elevate the standard of librarianship all over the country, and it
was now to be supplemented by the movement with which the name of Mr.
Ewart is chiefly associated. The comparative failure of the Mechanics'
Institutes, from which so much had been expected, had led the friends of
popular education to take up the subject of free libraries. Mr. Ewart's
Act (1850) forms another era in library history, and its operation,
while slowly but surely covering the country with libraries supported
out of the rates, has tended more than anything else to elevate the
profession by making it a branch of the public service, and offering
some real, though as yet hardly adequate, inducement to men of ability
and culture to follow it. The recent library conferences have shown what
an admirable body of public servants England possesses in these
administrators of her free libraries. The next great era in library
history dates from 1876, when the practical genius of the Americans led
them to perceive the benefit of giving bibliothecal science a visible
organisation. The Philadelphia Conference of that year resulted in the
foundation of the American Library Association, the prototype of our
own. About the same time the _American Library Journal_—now the organ
of the library associations of both countries—was established, and the
Bureau of Education issued its volume of reports, the most valuable
collection, not merely of statistics, but of close and sagacious
discussion of library questions, that has yet been produced anywhere.
That the American example should have been so promptly imitated in this
country is mainly due to Mr. E. W. B. Nicholson, the librarian of the
London Institution. Mr. Nicholson conceived the idea of an English
conference on the American model. Messrs. Tedder, Harrison, Overall, and
other distinguished metropolitan librarians, contributed their time and
their marked capacity for business towards carrying it out. Mr. Winter
Jones, as Principal Librarian of the British Museum, gave the conference
_éclat_ by accepting the office of President, and the welcome presence
of a strong deputation of American librarians, together with some
distinguished representatives of the profession from the Continent,
imparted the international character which it alone needed to ensure
success. The second conference, held at Oxford, was equally successful,
and the present year is to witness a similar gathering at Manchester.
An English Library Association has been called into being, and the
_Library Journal_, the organ of this Association, equally with the
American, indicates and records the active development of library
science in both countries. One thought clearly underlies all these
various undertakings—that library administration actually is a science
and a department of the public service, and that it is only by these
matters being thus generally regarded that the librarian can render full
service to the public, or the public full justice to the librarian.

We now propose to offer a few observations on some of the points of
principal national concern connected with the administration of
libraries in general, and, as from this point of view is inevitable, of
the national library in particular. In so doing we must acknowledge our
special obligations to the following works, and recommend them to the
study of all interested in library subjects; 1. The Transactions and
Proceedings of the Conference of Librarians held in London, October
1877, edited by E. B. Nicholson and H. R. Tedder: Chiswick Press. 2. The
_Library Journal_, official organ of the Library Associations of America
and of the United Kingdom: Trübner. 3. Public Libraries in the United
States of America; Special Report. Washington: Bureau of Education. To
these may be added Mr. Axon's able article on the Public Libraries of
America in the last number of the "Companion to the Almanac."

It might seem that not much could be said respecting the mere purchase
of books, but even this department is subject to the general law of
specialisation, and the character of a collection must vary as it falls
within the category of national, academical, or municipal libraries. The
mission of the national library is the simplest: its character is
determined for it by the enactment which in most civilised states
constitutes it the general receptacle of the national literature, good,
bad, and indifferent, and imposes the corresponding obligation of
rendering itself the epitome of foreign literatures, as far as its means
allow. Every such library is the mirror of its time, and perhaps even
its services to contemporaries are of less real account than those which
it performs for posterity in preserving the image of the past. This is
the apology of the librarian's anxiety to collect what the uninitiated
regard as trash. Yesterday's news-sheet, waste paper to-day, will be
precious after a century, and invaluable after a millennium. The same
principle justifies the heavy expenditure which it is frequently
necessary to occur in procuring what is truly illustrative of the
history of a life or a nation, even when it comes in the costly shape of
a bibliographical rarity. A black-letter ballad on a Smithfield
martyrdom, a collection of cuttings illustrating Byron or Dickens, must
be secured for the national Museum if at all within the compass of its
resources. Hardly as much can be said for another class of rarities—the
vellum page or the sumptuous binding which makes a volume a work of art,
but adds nothing to the value or significance of its contents. Such
luxuries, the darlings of the genuine bibliographer, the tests of his
professional taste and the _chevaux de bataille_ of his collection, are
nevertheless only to be indulged in by a conscientious man when he is
certain that such an indulgence is compatible with the ends for which
national libraries exist. Even the ideal of rendering the library a
representative of the thought and knowledge of the age must either be
moderated, or pursued at the risk of incurring comparatively
expenditure. A new periodical gives pause: it must be taken, like a
wife, for better or worse; for once commenced it can seldom be dropped.
New editions of scientific works occasion much perplexity: it is equally
vexatious to be behind hand with the latest results of discovery, and to
spend money over something which is certain to be soon superseded by
something better still. In such cases compromise alone is possible, and
compromise can never be quite satisfactory. Such difficulties press less
heavily on the curators of academical libraries, where the demand for
universality is not preferred, and even an accidental circumstance may
legitimately impart a bias to the entire collection. The acquisition of
Professor De Morgan's books, for instance, has made it imperative upon
the University of London to be always strong in logic and mathematics,
at all events. The principle of specialisation, indeed, admits of being
carried very far in a large community, where it is possible to conceive
groups of libraries working in different directions to a common end,
and mutually completing each other. Such a system was supposed to have
been inaugurated at Oxford, although we have only heard of two colleges
which are actually working it out—Worcester, with its deliberate and
most laudable bent towards classical archæology; and All Souls', whose
noble collection of law books might, if law were more scientifically
taught in this country, contribute to make Oxford a great school of
jurisprudence. Some of the other college libraries, it is to be feared,
justify the philippic which Mr. Ernest Thomas, at the Oxford Conference,
clenched with this climax of scornful reference to a flagrant case, "The
librarian receives only ten pounds a year, and I am sorry to say that
even that is too much."

The municipal librarian has his peculiar difficulties. His means are
seldom large, and out of them he has frequently to provide for branch
libraries, involving numerous duplicates. He has to study not only what
his public wants, but what it thinks it wants; not only to make ready
for guests, but to "compel them to come in." This raises the difficult
question how far the taste for fiction should be condescended to in free
libraries. We cannot agree with those who think that public money may be
properly expended upon trashy novels, in the chimerical hope that the
appetite for reading they will probably create may be devoted to
worthier objects. It is far more likely to destroy any latent capacity
for serious reading which a more judicious treatment might possibly have
called forth. At the same time, the adverse experience of mechanics'
institutes has shown that it will not answer to be too austere in such
matters, and indeed the man who is capable of relishing Thackeray or
George Eliot is not far from the kingdom of culture. Other novelists of
a less purely intellectual cast may awaken the love or stimulate the
pursuit of knowledge. Scott indirectly teaches not a little history,
Marryat not a little geography; either might provoke a craving for
further information, and both are adapted to keep the mind in a state of
healthy curiosity, susceptible of new impressions and ideas. The
municipal librarian will also consider the especial circumstances of his
locality. Leeds, we understand, collects everything relating to the
history or processes of the woollen manufacture, and the example will no
doubt be generally followed. One of the most useful suggestions made at
the Librarians' Conference was that provincial librarians should make a
point of collecting publications printed in their own districts, as well
as the municipal documents which are rarely deposited in the British
Museum. It met with a cordial response, and we believe is being
extensively carried out.

Due provision having been made for replenishing the library with the
books most appropriate to its circumstances, the question of the
catalogue next presents itself. The controversies which used to prevail
on this point may be regarded as in a great measure laid to rest. The
rules of cataloguing, framed in 1839 by Sir A. Panizzi, Mr. Winter
Jones, and their staff, will, we believe, be now generally accepted by
bibliographers as embodying the principles of sound cataloguing.[43:1]
They may not be equally satisfactory to the general public, with its
preference for rough and ready methods; a very short experience,
however, will convince any man that such methods in cataloguing mean
simply hopeless confusion, and that it is far better that a book should
be now and then hidden away than that entire categories of books should
be entered at random, with no endeavour at principle or uniformity. On
the part of almost all qualified bibliographers, the Museum Catalogue
receives the sincerest form of flattery—imitation: the few points still
debated, such as whether anonymous books with no proper name on the
title-page should be entered under the first substantive or the first
word, are not material; and the impediments sometimes experienced in
consulting it arise from no defect in its cataloguing rules, but from
the great difficulty in digesting such long and complicated articles as
Academies into a perspicuous and logical arrangement. The problem is no
longer one of cataloguing, but of classification, and in this department
ample room remains for discussion and scientific progress. The question
of the strictly classified catalogue _versus_ the strictly
alphabetical, may, indeed, be considered as decided. The former method
may have answered in the library of Alexandria; but the multiplicity of
the departments of knowledge in our own day, their intricacy and the
nicety with which they blend and shade into each other, render
cataloguing solely by subjects a delusion. A catalogue of books on any
special subject must either be imperfect, or must contain a large number
of entries repeated from other catalogues; while, in any case, the
reader can never satisfy himself without a tedious search that the book
he has at first failed to find is not after all actually in the library.
If, nevertheless, a subject catalogue without a general alphabetical
arrangement is often useless, it must be admitted that an alphabetical
catalogue without a subject index is not always useful. It is somewhat
humiliating for the librarian unprovided with this valuable auxiliary,
to find himself dependent upon the classified indexes to the London
publishers' list and Brunet's _Manuel du Libraire_ for information which
he ought to be able to supply from his own catalogue. Even the Bodleian,
we perceive, is about taking measures to prepare an index of subjects,
and the Bodleian is a library for scholars who might not unfairly be
expected to bring their bibliographical information along with them. The
need must evidently be more imperative in libraries which assume a
distinctly educational function, and in those which, like the national
and most municipal collections, are supported at the expense of the
learned and the ignorant alike. The recognition of the want, however,
imposes an additional strain upon the resources of the institution,
which the British Museum, at all events, over-burdened as it is already,
cannot encounter without a considerable addition to its resources. The
question of classification is, moreover, most difficult of solution.
Only two points seem universally agreed upon: that the best subject
index must be far from perfect, and that the worst is far better than
none. Two principal methods are proposed for adoption. The first is the
simple and obvious one of recataloguing every book entered in the
Alphabetical Catalogue in the briefest possible form, and breaking up
these titles into sections, according to subject, the alphabetical order
being still preserved in each. Thus Simson's "History of the Gipsies"
would be found in the General Catalogue entered at length, and again in
an abridged form in a special index of books relating to the Gipsies,
which would refer the reader to the General Catalogue. The other system
is the so-called Dictionary Catalogue, which combines the main entry and
the subject entry in the same alphabetical series. In such a catalogue
Simson's book would be entered twice over, under Simson and under
Gipsies; while Paspati's "Dictionary of the Dialect of the Turkish
Gipsies," if the librarian were as accommodating as some of his
fraternity, would stand a chance of being catalogued four times over,
under Paspati, Gipsies, Turkey, and Dictionaries. This system, first
brought forward by Mr. Crestadoro, the very able librarian of the
Manchester Free Library, and retouched by Messrs. Jewett, Abbott, and
Noyes, in the United States, has been thoroughly discussed in Mr.
Cutter's masterly contribution to the American report on public
libraries. Mr. Cutter, on the whole, supports the plan, whose defects he
has nevertheless stated with his usual force and candour. The principal
objections are the great bulk of a catalogue constructed upon such a
plan, and the sacrifices of one of the principal advantages of an
alphabetical classed index, the congregation of a great number of minor
subjects into a grand whole. In such an index, for example, works on the
liberty of the subject, Bankruptcy, Divorce, though formed into special
lists, would still be found together within the covers of the same
comprehensive volume on law, and, taken all together, would afford a
general view of whatever existed in print upon that grand division of
human knowledge. In the Dictionary Catalogue, where authors and subjects
are thrown together in the same alphabetical series, this advantage
would be lost; Bankruptcy would be in one part of the catalogue, Divorce
in another, and a general view of the entire body of legal literature
would not be available at all. The inconvenient bulk of a Dictionary
Catalogue (except in the case of small libraries, and any small library
may one day become a large one), would be owing to the necessity for
multiplying cross-references. To take Mr. Cutter's own illustration, a
treatise "On the Abolition of the Death Penalty" must be entered along
with other books referring to the subject under the head of "Capital
Punishment." The average reader, however, will not think of looking for
it there. He will turn to "Death" or under "Penalty," and, not finding
the book under either heading, will conclude that it does not exist in
the library. Two cross-references to "Capital Punishment" must
accordingly be made for his accommodation; and, after a few generations
of literary industry, the catalogue, like the proverbial wood, would be
invisible on account of the entries, generally speaking; the cardinal
error of plans for dictionary catalogues appears to us to be an
excessive deference to the claims of the average reader. Nothing can be
more natural, considering that these plans originated in Manchester and
were perfected in the United States, where the educational character is
much more distinctly impressed upon libraries than in England, and where
the appetite for knowledge is as yet in advance of the standard of
culture. It is fortunate when the librarian is able to consider not
merely what may be most acceptable to a miscellaneous body of
constituents, but also what is intrinsically fit and reasonable.

We must hold, then, that the alphabetical index of subjects should be
the auxiliary and complement of the Alphabetical Catalogue, not a part
of it; that each book should be entered in it, as in the catalogue, once
and once only; that the minor indexes should be grouped together so as
to form collectively a whole (_e.g._ ornithology and ichthyology, as
sub-sections of zoology); and that the operations of cataloguing and
indexing should go on _pari passu_. If this is attended to for the
future, the future will take care of itself; but "not Heaven itself upon
the past has power," and it is discouraging to think upon the immense
leeway which remains to be made up in most of our great public
libraries. The experience of the Bodleian will be very valuable, and we
must confess to much curiosity to see how long the operation of
classifying its multifarious contents will take. In the British Museum
the foundation of a classed catalogue has already been laid by a simple
process. As fast as the titles have been transcribed for insertion in
the three copies of the catalogue by a manifold writer, a fourth copy
has been taken, and this copy is arranged in the order of the books on
the shelves. As the various subjects are kept together in the library,
such an arrangement is practically equivalent to a rough classed
catalogue, which could be digested into order with comparative facility.
The publication of such a classified index, reduced to the utmost
possible brevity, offers, as it seems to us, the best solution of the
vexed question of the publication of the Museum Catalogue. On this point
much remains to be said. Meanwhile, before quitting the subject of
cataloguing methods, a tribute is due to Mr. Cutter's important
contribution to the subject, in his rules for his Dictionary Catalogue.
Next after the settlement of the Museum rules in 1839, these form the
most important epoch in the history of cataloguing. Agreeing with the
latter rules in the main, and when differing, generally, as we must
think, not differing for the better, they nevertheless contain a most
valuable body of acute reasoning and apt illustration, which it did not
fall within the province of the Museum authorities to provide; they
bring unusual experience and ability to bear upon the intricate subject
of classification, and are further reinforced by most ingenious remarks
on the economy and manipulation of print, making the mere variations of
type instructive.

Assuming the catalogue to be completed, the question remains for
decision whether it shall be printed. In most cases this question is
easily determined with reference to the circumstances of the individual
library; but in one instance the nation claims a voice in the matter. It
is hardly necessary to say that we refer to the Catalogue of the British
Museum, the theme of forty years' controversy. Every one will admit the
intrinsic superiority of a catalogue in print over a catalogue in MS.
The question is, whether the advantage may not be bought too dear. To
form a sound opinion on this point it is necessary to have an
approximate estimate of the extent of the Museum Catalogue, and of the
expenditure and the time involved in the undertaking to print it. Some
statistics may accordingly be useful. The printed volume of the
catalogue containing letter A, published in 1841, has about 20,000
entries. It forms about a twentieth part of the catalogue as it now
exists, which would accordingly comprise about 2,000,000 entries, in
about 100 folio volumes. In addition, however, to these titles now
existing in the catalogue, there are about 200,000 titles and
cross-references awaiting final revision, and which, unless the present
state of this revision is very considerably accelerated, will not be
ready for several years. During all this period, titles for new
acquisitions will keep pouring in at the rate of 40,000 per annum. All
the time that the catalogue is at press, somewhere between a decade and
a generation, they will continue to pour in, and will have to be
included as far as possible. We must consequently expect to have to deal
with from 3,000,000 to 4,000,000 titles, occupying from 150 to 200
volumes folio. It is clear that no private individual could afford
either to purchase or to store such a catalogue. It would, therefore,
only be useful to such institutions as might buy it or receive it as a
gift. Unlike the newspapers we have mentioned, its usefulness would
diminish in the ratio of its antiquity, and it could only be kept up to
the mark by a succession of supplements. The total cost of providing it,
minus these supplements, may be roughly estimated at £100,000. We
scarcely think that Government will incur such an expenditure for such a

We should ourselves have little hesitation in pronouncing it undesirable
to print the Museum Catalogue as it stands, merely for the convenience
of the public. It is quite another question whether a recourse to print
may not be desirable in the interests of the Museum itself, and from
this point of view the answer must be widely different. It is desirable,
and will shortly become imperative. The reason is prosaic, but
unanswerable: the MS. catalogue cannot be much longer accommodated in
the Reading Room. Partly from necessity, partly from oversights, the
Museum Catalogue is most extravagant in the matter of space. To preserve
the alphabetical order of the entries, the titles are necessarily
movable, pasted, therefore, on each side of the catalogue leaf, thus
trebling the thickness of the latter. It is equally indispensable that
wide spaces should be left between the entries when a volume is first
laid down, and that when these become insufficient from the number of
additions, as is continually happening, the over-charged volume should
be divided into three or four. These inconveniences are unavoidable. It
can only be regretted that part of the available space of every slip is
lost in transcription; that scarcely a single transcriber appears to
have studied the art of packing; and that the catalogue is over-run with
practically duplicate entries of slightly differing editions,
transcribed at full length while they might have been expressed in a
single line. From all these causes the Museum Catalogue is rapidly
becoming unmanageable, and the time is approaching when the Reading Room
will contain it no longer. Something might no doubt be done to postpone
the evil day by excluding the map and music catalogues from the room;
but apart from its inconvenience, such a measure is obviously a mere
temporary palliative and ultimate aggravation of a difficulty which
acquires strength not _eundo_, but by standing still. The bulk of the
catalogue must be reduced, and we are not aware that any method has been
suggested, or exists, except a recourse to print. It is unfortunate that
this purely administrative measure, founded on no preference for print
over manuscript as such, but the simple dictate of an economic
necessity, should be so constantly confounded with the totally different
proposition to print and publish the catalogue like any other book, on
the expense and inutility of which we have already commented.
Publication is not in question: it is simply for the authorities to
consider whether the bulk of the MS. catalogue will not some day shut
out the public from access to it; and if this is found to be the case to
lose no time in averting the evil. We do not believe that the present
Principal Librarian, or his predecessor, entertains any doubt upon the
subject; the ultimate decision, however, rests neither with the
Principal Librarian nor the Trustees, but with the Treasury. From the
Treasury's point of view, it is to be observed that the present system
is financially justifiable only on condition of its being persisted in
to the end of time. If a resort to print will one day be compulsory,
existing arrangements are the climax of inconsiderate wastefulness. That
transcribing is cheaper than printing may be admitted, though it has
hardly been demonstrated. But to print is manifestly cheaper than to
print and transcribe also. Yet this is just what the Museum is doing if
the catalogue is ever to be printed at all. There are about 250,000
titles for the new catalogue still remaining to be transcribed. To
transcribe these at the present rate of progression would occupy about
fifteen years, but let us say ten. During this period titles for new
acquisitions would be coming in at the rate of 40,000 a year. These
would also be transcribed. The total number of transcripts would thus be
650,000. Now it seems to be seriously contemplated by the advocates of a
complete printed catalogue that all this enormous mass of careful copy
shall in a few years be completely superseded by print, and rendered
absolutely useless. After paying, let us say, threepence a slip to do
its work, the nation is to pay fourpence a slip more to undo it, and is
to be charged altogether twice as much as it need have been if it had
known what it wanted from the first. It is, indeed, high time for the
representatives of the nation in these matters to determine once and for
ever whether the catalogue is to be in print or manuscript. If MS., let
the idea of print be authoritatively discountenanced; but if print, let
the ruinous system be abandoned of paying highly for work performed only
to be undone.

The solution of these perplexities will be found, we think, in a strict
adherence to the principle that administrative arrangements must
primarily have respect to the advantage of the institution, which will
in the long run prove to be the advantage of the public. The Museum is
not bound to undertake the publication of an enormous printed catalogue
merely for the convenience of persons at a distance; but it will
introduce print in so far as print tends to economise its own funds, and
to obviate confusion and encumbrance in its own rooms. The two vital
points are to stop the waste incurred by transcribing what must
ultimately be printed, and to put an effectual check upon the portentous
growth of the catalogue. The first object may be attained by simply
resorting to print for the future, and pasting the printed slips into
the catalogue as the MS. slips are pasted now. The second can best be
accomplished by tolerating the mixture of printed and MS. slips in each
volume of the catalogue, until the volume has arrived from constant
accessions at such a bulk as to require breaking up, then printing the
MS. entries in that volume, and profiting by the economy in space of
print over MS. to rearrange the contents in double columns, which would
afford room for additions for an indefinite period. In this manner the
cost of printing would be spread over a long series of years, and the
catalogue would insensibly be transformed into a printed one by much the
same process as that by which Sir John Cutler's worsted stockings became
silk. Any requisite number of printed slips might be produced, and
offered by subscription to public institutions and private individuals.
The former might thus in process of time acquire the whole catalogue
without any violent strain upon their resources; the latter might
procure what they wanted without being compelled to take what they did
not want. It would at the same time be beneficial to the Museum and to
literature, if some of the most important articles were printed entire
and brought out as soon as possible for the sake of relieving the
pressure upon the catalogue. Such articles as Bible, Shakespeare,
Luther, Homer, embracing nearly complete bibliographies of the
respective subjects, would probably command a fair sale, and effect
something towards diminishing the inevitable cost of print.

The formation of a subject index to the Alphabetical Catalogue is a
matter of much less urgency to the Museum itself, but one of even
greater importance to the public. It could not be undertaken without
special assistance from the State, but would probably repay its cost in
a great degree, and has in any event the very strongest claims upon the
support of an enlightened government. It is moreover much less
formidable than appears at first sight. We have already explained how
the way for a more exact classification has been prepared by arranging
one copy of the catalogue in the order of the shelves. The apparent
magnitude of the task is further diminished by the following
considerations: 1. It requires no cross-references. 2. Titles may be
abbreviated to the utmost. 3. It can be temporarily suspended upon the
completion of any section. 4. The section of biography is classified
already, merely requiring the cross-references from the subjects of
biographies to be brought together; and several other extensive sections
need not be classified at all. Nobody, at least nobody worth taking into
account, wants catalogues of the titles of novels, plays, and sermons.
Classified lists of some other subjects, on the other hand, would be of
inestimable value, and there is one which, in the interests of the
Museum itself, should be undertaken without delay. Among the
inconveniences attending the ill-considered removal of the Natural
History collections to South Kensington—a measure forced on by the
Government against the wish of the working Trustees of the Museum—is
the injury likely to be inflicted upon them from want of access to a
library. Naturalists cannot study without books any more than without
specimens; but the Government which gratuitously created the want seems
in no hurry to supply it. The principle of a grant appears indeed to be
admitted; but at the rate at which this grant seems likely to be doled
out, English Natural Science will be placed at a serious disadvantage
for many years. Something may possibly be done by transferring
duplicates from Bloomsbury (a question, however, not to be decided in
haste), and some anonymous writers in scientific journals have modestly
suggested that all books on Natural History might go to Kensington; so
that a student of the physiology of colour, for example, would have to
read his Wallace at one end of the town and his Tyndall at the other.
We should, however, just as soon expect Parliament to decree on similar
grounds the cutting of the zoological articles out of the encyclopædias
as to enact that the national library of England should be the only
professedly imperfect library in the world. Indeed the argument cuts two
ways, for if it is fair that the mineral department should have
Cresconius Corippus to illustrate its gems, it must be equally fair that
the library should have the mineralogist's gems to illustrate its
Cresconius Corippus. Until then, the Natural History departments can
acquire a library of their own, it must be desirable for them to possess
a catalogue of everything relating to their subjects extant in the
British Museum. An abridged list, classified according to subject, might
be speedily furnished if Government would provide the compilers, and
would be an invaluable boon to the scientific world at large, abroad
quite as much as in England. Scientific authorities, of course, would be
consulted respecting the principles of classification, and we may take
this opportunity of repeating that while probably no subject-index has
been or can be free from inconsistency and ambiguity, none has ever been
too bad to be useful. That a high degree of excellence is attainable is
shown by Messrs. Low & Marston's alphabet of subjects to the London
Catalogue. The meritorious compiler, we should suppose, can hardly have
seen all the books he indexes; yet, so far as we are aware, he has only
committed one positive error, the very pardonable one of enumerating
Mr. Gosse's "On Viol and Flute" among works on musical instruments.

In connection with the subject of classification, reference should be
made to the excellent classified catalogue of manuscripts prepared by
the present Principal Librarian when keeper of the MS. department. It is
not yet printed or entirely complete, but is sufficiently advanced to be
exceedingly serviceable. Like most of Mr. Bond's reforms, it has been
achieved so quietly and unostentatiously, with no help from paragraphic
puffery, that few know of it except those whom it actually concerns. The
scholar goes to the Museum with no expectation of finding any such aid
to his pursuits, and hardly realises the boon until he finds himself
profiting by it. A perfect contrast in every point of view is afforded
by the remarkable proposal emanating from the Society of Arts that the
Museum should make and publish a catalogue of English books before 1641,
or just the period when books were beginning to be useful. The project
bespeaks a very imperfect appreciation of the needs of the institution
and the public. When the great problem of the Museum is to diminish the
pressure on its space, it is proposed to afflict it with yet another
catalogue. When the public is crying out for classified lists as aids to
knowledge, it is offered an alphabetical list with no attempt at
classification, and containing nothing worth classifying. When libraries
are becoming more and more valuable in proportion as they subserve
educational purposes, it is proposed to employ money and labour in
telling a few specialists what they already know. When the overworked
library is unable to discharge some of its most obvious duties, it is
proposed to detach not a little of its best strength for an utter
superfluity. Not only are new books to remain uncatalogued, but even the
final revision of the old books is to be delayed indefinitely, that what
has been already catalogued may be catalogued again.[59:1] The project
would hardly demand discussion, but for the possibility that it may
after all be forced upon the Museum, notwithstanding its repugnance to
the common-sense of the late and the present Principal Librarian. If
ridicule could kill, it could hardly have survived the discussion which
arose among its advocates at the late Oxford Conference. Those external
to the Museum suggested that the Museum should catalogue not only the
old English books it possessed, but also those it did not possess. The
Museum representatives, enamoured with the project as they were, pleaded
that it would be unreasonable to expect them to describe what they had
never seen. The other side concurred, but represented in turn that a
catalogue of such English books only as happened to be in a particular
library would be very imperfect, and of very little use. Having thus
mutually demonstrated the unreasonableness of the proposal from one
point of view, and its inutility from another, they agreed that it
should by all means be persevered with, and went home.

The subject of the classification of books within the library itself—a
matter of even more importance to the librarian than the preparation of
classified lists—has received a great impulse from the ingenious system
contrived by the principal editor of the _Library Journal_, Mr. Melvil
Dewey. Mr. Dewey—a remarkable instance of the combination of
disinterested enthusiasm with thorough business capacity—is devoted to
several other causes beside the causes of libraries, and among these is
the cause of the decimal system. His experience in the latter field has
given him the idea of dividing the departments of human knowledge
decimally. His scheme provides for a thousand divisions. Every tenth
number embraces some important section of knowledge, and the following
nine as many subjections or allied subjects admitting of classification
under the principal head. Thus number 500 might represent mathematics in
general, and 501 conic sections, analytical geometry, or any other
branch of the general subject. Further subdivisions, if needed, would be
made by appending letters to these numerals, as 501_a_, 501_b_. Each
book would be numbered in the order of its accession to the library, and
receive its place upon the shelves accordingly, so that there never
would be any doubt as to the press-mark or position of a book that had
once been properly classed. Our space does not permit us to dwell upon
many other points connected with the working of this ingenious scheme,
which, if inapplicable to the great old libraries whose catalogues, like
the Abbé Vertot's siege, are already done, deserves the most careful
consideration on the part of the founders of new institutions. It must,
as the inventor admits, receive some modification in practice from the
impossibility of accommodating books of all sizes upon the same shelf;
it is only to be feared that these and similar necessary condescensions
to the prosaic exigencies of space might in process of time throw it out
of gear altogether. Space is the librarian's capital enemy, and the more
cruel as it turns his own weapons against himself. The more ample the
catalogue, the more liberal the expenditure, the more comprehensive the
classification, the greater, sooner or later, are the difficulties from
lack of space. It is not too early to direct the earnest attention of
the public to the question of the accommodation of the national library.
The pressure upon its capacity, now merely beginning to be felt, will
soon become serious. It cannot from the nature of the case be divided or
dispersed; books required by readers must be within reach of the Reading
Room, or they might as well be nowhere. If the library does not receive
its fair share of the space about to be vacated by the Natural History
departments, the consequence will most assuredly be, first some years of
confusion and deadlock as regards all new acquisitions, and then a large
expenditure, superfluous with better management, upon new buildings,
whose space will be mortgaged before they are completed. It does not
seem to us very difficult to devise means for economising the existing
space to the utmost, and reconciling the interests of all the
departments concerned—but we must not be seduced into a disquisition
upon architecture.[62:1]

Free libraries and public reading-rooms are among the most important
departments of library administration in our day, and constitute the
most distinct expression of the growing conviction that the librarian is
called upon to be a great popular educator. This sentiment has attained
its fullest development in the United States, where the great free
libraries have taken a most important place among national institutions.
Not merely are such cities as Chicago and Cincinnati provided with
libraries of which any city might be proud, but the custodians have in
many instances gone beyond the strict limits of professional duty by not
merely furnishing reading for the people, but instructing the people
what to read. "They have tried," says Mr. Axon in the paper cited
already, "and with no small measure of success, to lead readers to
higher levels of intellectual interest, and to help all students to the
fullest acquaintance with the capabilities of the library." There are no
more remarkable examples of popular bibliography than the various
catalogues and helps published by the Boston Public Library. These
sheets, prepared by Mr. Justin Winsor, have been continued at Harvard
since the indefatigable editor's removal thither as professor of
bibliography. They include lists of the most important books in all
departments of literature, with a selection of the notices of the press
best adapted to explain their purport. Special bibliographies of great
value are frequently interspersed, and when it is considered that the
whole is rather a labour of love than of duty on Professor Winsor's
part, his diligence and acumen will appear not more worthy of praise
than his disinterested zeal. It might be well for the directors of
English free libraries to consider whether something similar could not
be produced by co-operation. The list of scientific books recommended to
students at the Radcliffe Library, Oxford, is most useful and creditable
as far as it goes. Generally speaking, the condition of free public
libraries in England may be considered satisfactory; among the directors
are many men not merely of administrative quality, but of high
bibliographical attainments. The principal obstacles to their usefulness
may be briefly characterised as the popular and municipal parsimony. Of
the former we have spoken; the latter requires to be dealt with
tenderly, and is not equally applicable to every locality; it is
nevertheless the fact that in many towns the allotted grant is
insufficient to maintain the library and librarian together. Nowhere is
the cause of free libraries so backward as in London, although the
Guildhall library is an honour to the city. The other metropolitan
districts, notwithstanding, continue deaf to Mr. Nicholson's earnest
expostulations; and although the number of readers at the British Museum
is as large as that institution can well deal with, it seems small in
comparison with the vastness of the metropolis and the occasions for
reference to books which continually arise in the daily life of even the
least lettered members of the community. The suggested opening at night
by the aid of the electric light would almost certainly attract a new
and valuable class of students, at present virtually excluded. It would
be premature to say much about the recent experiments with the electric
lamp; but we believe it may be stated that they have been highly
encouraging as far as they have gone, and that the question is safe in
the hands of Mr. Bond, to whom the public are already indebted for so
many signal improvements.[64:1] Should the experiments result in perfect
success, it is to be hoped that their object will not be frustrated by
the propensity of all governments to save where they ought to spend,
that they may spend where they ought to save. To allow the infinitesimal
risk of accident to the institution to obstruct the full development of
its usefulness would indeed be _propter vitam vivendi perdere causas_.

We have left ourselves no space for any observations upon the
circumstances of libraries on the Continent, although there is ample
evidence both of the activity of librarians and the public recognition
of their functions in France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. Nor can we
remark at length, as we gladly should have done, upon the tendency of
the peculiar circumstances of the United States to develop a most
valuable type of librarian, destined to exert more and more influence in
Europe as libraries become more and more the possession of the people at
large. Every advance in general knowledge tends to make them so, and the
whole movement towards improvement in library administration—some only
of whose features we have imperfectly striven to indicate—rests on the
more or less conscious perception of librarians that the growth of human
knowledge necessitates a strict classification with a view to facility
of reference; that this important function devolves to a considerable
extent upon them; and that, to qualify themselves for its discharge,
they must begin by perfecting their own systems.

     NOTE.—The advocacy of printing in this essay may appear
     somewhat undecided, and the tone towards the catalogue of the
     early English books altogether unjustifiable. The former
     peculiarity is explained by the writer's uncertainty what turn
     the negotiations with the Treasury for the introduction of
     printing might take, and his dread of compromising the plans
     of Sir Edward Bond, who knew nothing of the article until it
     was in type, when he read it, and returned it without remark.
     (See also pp. 75, 76, of this volume.) The observations
     respecting the early English catalogue were dictated by no
     hostility towards that undertaking in the abstract, but by
     indignation at the largeness of the staff employed upon a
     non-essential, while the final revision of the catalogue, the
     indispensable preliminary to a complete printed catalogue, was
     so languidly prosecuted that it seemed in danger of coming to
     a standstill. So matters continued until 1882, when the
     decided interference of the Principal Librarian, and the
     adoption of a suggestion tendered by the present writer,
     brought the final revision to a speedy completion, and removed
     the principal objection to the English catalogue.


[32:1] _New Quarterly Review_, April 1879.

[43:1] A revised edition of these rules, substantially the same in
principle, but different in wording and arrangement, was prepared in
the Department of Printed Books in 1895, and printed privately in the
following year.

[59:1] The line was drawn here to eliminate the Thomason tracts,
a special catalogue of which would be really valuable: just as in
"Erewhon," the date of operation of the retrospective enactment
prohibiting machinery was fixed in the middle of the fifteenth century,
in order to include a certain mangle.

[62:1] Within a few years the difficulty was solved by the introduction
of the sliding-press, the subject of another paper in this volume.

[64:1] It is almost needless to remark that soon after these lines were
printed the electric light was in successful operation at the Reading


The subject of my paper is one which has for many years attracted a
large share of attention from the world of letters. It formed a topic of
discussion at the first meeting of this Association; when few
anticipated within how short a period it would be possible to state that
not merely was a printed catalogue of books already in the Museum in
progress, but that the titles of all books received were also printed,
and issued in the form of an Accession Catalogue. Having already had the
honour of giving some account of the latter department of the
undertaking to the Conference at Manchester, I shall on the present
occasion confine myself principally to the printed catalogue of books
actually in the Library. I propose to offer a brief retrospect of what
has been done during the half-century over which the discussions
respecting the Museum Catalogue have extended; to indicate with
corresponding brevity what is doing now; to answer some natural
inquiries by anticipation; and, finally, having shown, I trust, that the
Museum is performing its part, to appeal for the national support
requisite to expedite the progress of this truly national undertaking.
Though compelled to withhold much illustrative matter of great interest,
I cannot forbear to remark upon the signal fitness of such a theme being
brought forward for discussion in the halls of the University of
Cambridge, whose library has, I believe, the honour of being the first
to demonstrate the practicability, not merely of printing a catalogue,
but of keeping a catalogue up in print. Three particulars will, I think,
clearly appear from this brief retrospect. That the initiation of the
British Museum Catalogue was the act of the Trustees of the British
Museum themselves. That, having prematurely commenced the publication of
an imperfect catalogue, they acted wisely and rightly in suspending it
until it could be resumed with effect. That, acting under the guidance
of Mr. Bond, whose name will ever be the name especially connected with
the Museum Catalogue in its aspect of a catalogue in print, they have
resumed it at the right time, and in the right manner.

I am unable to ascertain that any public demand for a printed catalogue
of the Museum Library existed in the year 1834. On April 12 of that
year, the Trustees of their own motion called upon Mr. Baber, then
keeper of printed books, to report upon the subject. This he did on
April 26. On April 30 he attended personally before them, stated his
views, and in particular offered the earnest advice to send no portion
of the catalogue to press until the whole was ready. During the
remainder of his keepership, and the early portion of that of his
successor Mr. Panizzi, the catalogue was the theme of constant
communication between these officers and the Trustees. On December 17,
1838, the Trustees announced their determination to commence not merely
the compilation but the printing of a catalogue, comprising all books
then in the Library, in the following year. Mr. Panizzi, though entirely
concurring with Mr. Baber's views as to the inexpediency of going thus
prematurely to press, accepted the responsibility imposed upon him by a
letter dated the next day. In the spring of 1839 the famous ninety-one
rules of cataloguing were framed by him, with the assistance of Messrs.
Winter Jones, Watts, Parry, and Edwards. On July 13 these rules were
sanctioned by the Trustees, and on August 8 the commencement of the
undertaking was formally announced by Mr. Panizzi, in a circular
addressed to the whole department. In July 1841, the first, and last,
volume of the catalogue was issued to the public. It was an admirable
catalogue, reflecting high credit upon all who had taken part in it,
especially Mr. Winter Jones, who had exercised a general
superintendence, Mr. Bullen, who had prepared the extensive and
difficult article Aristotle, and Mr. Rye, who had read the whole in
proof. But, although the catalogue continued to be actively prosecuted
in manuscript, the Trustees ceased to urge the continuance of the
printing, and not another sheet ever went to press.

Whence this abortive result? Mainly because the entire undertaking was
premature. The unfortunate determination to print letter A before the
whole catalogue was ready, excluded a considerable portion of letter A
itself. As other letters were proceeded with, it was inevitably
discovered that numerous books which in the old catalogue had been
entered under headings commencing with other letters required to be
brought under A, according to the new rules. Cross-references under A
were continually springing up, of course too late to be printed. In
fact, however, the publication of a printed catalogue at that time was
inexpedient for a more weighty reason. The Library was too deficient in
most branches of literature to deserve one; and it was not until these
deficiencies had been remedied by the unexampled exertions of Mr.
Panizzi, that an exact register of its contents could be contemplated
with satisfaction.

While discussion respecting the printing of the Museum Catalogue was
proceeding, the character of the catalogue itself was undergoing
modification. Great additions were daily being made to the number of
books. The new entries thus rendered requisite were at first made in the
old manuscript catalogue of additions interleaved with the original
printed catalogue of Sir Henry Ellis and Mr. Baber. Two alphabetical
series of titles, one printed and the other manuscript, were thus
comprised within the same volumes. The amalgamation of these two sets of
titles, and the consequent absorption of the catalogue commenced in 1839
into a more extensive general catalogue, was effected by the ingenious
and admirable suggestion, made independently in 1849 by Mr. Wilson
Croker and Mr. Roy, of the Library, that the entries, instead of being
written upon the leaf itself, should be written upon movable slips
pasted upon it, so that insertions might be made without any disturbance
of alphabetical order. The suggestion was promptly adopted, transcribers
were engaged to copy the great mass of accumulated titles, and, all
thoughts of printing the catalogue commenced in 1839 being laid aside
for the present, the titles prepared for it were also transcribed and
incorporated with those written for the books newly acquired. In 1851
this new catalogue, transcribed fourfold by the "carbonic" process, and
with copious space provided for insertions and interleavings, was placed
in the Reading Room in 150 volumes, or about as many as are now occupied
by letter B alone. The catalogue of 1839 and the supplementary catalogue
were thus put into a fair way to become one, and it became obvious that
printing must be deferred until the amalgamation was complete. It was
still, however, a fair question whether the catalogue might not be kept
up in print; whether it was better to transcribe titles fourfold as we
did then, or to multiply them indefinitely by print as we do now. I
cannot find that the practicability of keeping up a continually
augmenting catalogue in print was seriously considered, until, in
October 1861, it was proved by the introduction of print into the
University Library of Cambridge. Some years afterwards the system was
strongly pressed upon the attention of the Museum by the Treasury,
which had remarked the gradual and inevitable increase of expenditure in
binding, breaking up, interleaving and relaying the volumes of the
manuscript catalogue, increased by this time from 150 to 1500. I well
remember the pains which Mr. Rye, then keeper of the printed books, took
in investigating the subject, and I believe I may say that had it
depended upon him, the transition to print would have been effected
immediately. Other views, however, prevailed for the time; and when, in
October 1875, the subject was again brought forward by the Treasury, it
fell to my lot to treat it from a new point of view, suggested by my
observations in my capacity as superintendent of the Reading Room. I saw
that, waiving the question as to the advantage or disadvantage of print
in the abstract, it would soon be necessary to resort to it for the sake
of economy of space. There were by this time 2000 volumes of manuscript
catalogue in the Reading Room, exclusive of the catalogues of maps and
music. There would be 3000 by the time that the incorporation of the
general and supplementary catalogues was complete. Hundreds of these
volumes in the earlier letters of the alphabet were already swollen with
entries, and required to be broken up and divided into three. Sooner or
later every volume would have undergone this process. By that time there
would be 9000 volumes of manuscript catalogue, three times as many as
the Reading Room could contain, or the public conveniently consult. The
only remedy was to put a check upon the growth of the catalogue by
printing all new entries for the future, and to mature meanwhile a plan
for converting the entire catalogue into a printed one. I prepared, at
the request of Mr. Bullen, a memorandum embodying these ideas, and
entered into the subject more fully when, in January 1878, it was again
brought forward by the Treasury. These views, however, did not find
acceptance at the time. Mr. Winter Jones, and Mr. Newton, acting on the
latter occasion as deputy Principal Librarian, were, indeed, both
theoretically in favour of print; but it was thought that the desired
financial economy, the only point on which the Treasury laid any stress,
could be better obtained by the employment of Civil Service writers. The
question was thus left for Mr. Bond, who became Principal Librarian in
the following August. As keeper of the manuscripts, Mr. Bond's attention
had never been officially drawn to the catalogue of printed books, but,
as a man of letters, he had formed an opinion respecting it; and I am
able to state that he came to the Principal Librarianship as determined
to bestow the boon of print upon the catalogue and the public, as to
effect the other great reforms that have signalised his administration.
From the moment of his accession the question may be said to have been
virtually decided. In April 1879, I published an article in the _New
Quarterly Magazine_, foreshadowing almost everything that has since been
accomplished. In the summer of the same year, Mr. Bond, having secured
the concurrence of the Trustees, proposed to the Treasury to substitute
print for transcription in the case of all additions henceforth made to
the catalogue, a proposal which the Treasury could not refuse to
entertain, as it had originally come from itself. It was accordingly
accepted; the details of the scheme were settled by Mr. Bond in concert
with Mr. Bullen and the assistant keepers; the general supervision of
the printing was entrusted to my colleague Professor Douglas; and by the
beginning of the new year the press was fully at work. We had thus
successfully introduced print into the catalogue, and by diminishing the
size of the entries checked the enormous pressure upon our space which
threatened to swamp the catalogue altogether. We had also, by providing
for the issue of the new printed titles in parts at regular intervals,
enabled any subscriber to obtain a complete list of future additions to
the Museum. But this related to the future only; nothing had yet been
done to meet the public demand for a printed catalogue of all books
already in the Library. The satisfaction of this demand was the second
item in Mr. Bond's programme. In recommending his proposal to the
Treasury, he relied upon the same grounds that had been shown to exist
in the case of the Accession Catalogue. He pointed out the enormous
number of manuscript volumes, the ponderous unwieldiness of many among
them, the expense of perpetual breaking up, rebinding, and relaying; the
manifest advantage of compressing many volumes into one, and providing
space for additions for a practically indefinite period. On these
grounds, and not on literary grounds, the Treasury assented to the
proposal, and agreed to devote, for as long as they should see fit, a
certain annual sum for the gradual conversion of the manuscript into a
printed catalogue. It is desirable that this should be thoroughly
understood, as it affords the answer to some questions which may very
naturally be asked respecting the method of publication adopted for the
catalogue. Why is it not brought out at once, complete from A to Z?
Because the Treasury have not granted £100,000 for the purpose. They
simply make an annual allowance of limited amount, liable to be
withdrawn at any time. Might not, however, the allotted sum be employed
as far as it will go in printing the catalogue consecutively from the
beginning, instead of in selected portions? To this there are several
things to be said. The grant is made upon condition that it shall before
all things be employed in remedying the defects signalised by ourselves,
bringing cumbrous, overgrown volumes into a handy form, and putting a
stop to the perpetual rebinding and relaying. The most bulky volumes,
therefore, must in general be those selected for printing. An equally
powerful consideration is that we thus escape all danger of the reproach
that has hitherto attached to almost every similar undertaking, "This
man began, and was not able to finish." The funds on which we relied
might at any time fail us, and we might never progress beyond our A, B,
C. By making the printing a portion of the daily life of the
institution, a piece of administrative routine like cataloguing or
binding, we escape alike ambitious professions and ambitious failures.
Once more, a strictly alphabetical procedure would destroy one of the
most valuable features of the scheme, the separate issue of important
special articles, not merely to our limited body of subscribers, but
offered on a large scale to the public generally. We have already the
article Virgil in the press on this principle, and it is hoped that
Bible, Shakespeare, Milton, Homer, Dante, Academies, Periodicals, and
others, may ere long be added to the list. Even our ordinary volumes
frequently contain articles better printed now than twenty years hence:
one of the last completed, for instance, contains the article Gladstone.
It would indeed be well if our resources admitted of these three
operations being carried on simultaneously, the consecutive publication
of the catalogue, the compression of overgrown volumes wherever
occurring, the independent issue of important special articles. With
sufficient means to defray the additional cost of printing and provide
the needful literary revision, all three might very well go on _pari
passu_. I hope that the liberality of the Treasury, of which I desire to
speak with every acknowledgment, will rise still nearer to the height of
the occasion, and I believe it will. It will be seen that, granting the
principle of the conversion of the manuscript catalogue into a printed
one, there is no economy, but the reverse, in spreading the operation
over a long period. The longer it lasts, the greater will be the
accumulation of titles for accessions, to be included in the general
catalogue when the volumes to which they belong come to be printed in
their turn. Supposing that the whole catalogue could be put into type
to-morrow by the stroke of an enchanter's wand, we should have printed
three millions of titles. If the metamorphosis were deferred for forty
years, we should then print five millions. But if the work of printing
goes on during the forty years, as at its present rate of progress it
will, we shall have printed and paid for six millions, because half of
the two million accession titles will have been printed and paid for
twice over, first as accession titles, and again after their
incorporation into the general. It is not, however, so much upon such
economical considerations that I rely, as upon the conviction that the
Government will ultimately recognise our work as a truly national one;
to which end the people itself must contribute by a wider and warmer
recognition and a more liberal pecuniary support than has as yet been
accorded. Before entering further into this department of the subject, I
will briefly state what has been effected already, and describe the
method of procedure. Of the Accession Catalogue I have already spoken at
Manchester, and I have little to add to my observations upon that
occasion. The titles written for new acquisitions, instead of being
transcribed fourfold, are now sent to the printer as soon as a
sufficient number have accumulated. They are divided into three
principal sections; new English and foreign books; old English books;
old foreign books. They come back printed in regular alphabetical order,
and after the press has been corrected are distributed to subscribers
and such institutions as receive them gratuitously. Four copies are cut
up, and the titles inserted into the General Catalogue in their proper
places, occupying a mere fraction of the room required for the old
manuscript entries. The arrangements are under the superintendence of
Professor Douglas, and up to the present time about 130,000 entries have
passed under his inspection. The publication of the General printed
Catalogue proceeds as follows. Three or four volumes of the manuscript
catalogue having been selected to be combined in a volume of print, they
undergo in the first place a literary revision. Queries respecting
headings, authorship, and date are raised and settled, mistranscriptions
and wrong punctuation corrected, and the catalogue is weeded of its
practically duplicate entries by cutting these down to the mere phrase
"another edition; another copy," as the case may require. A second and
more troublesome revision then becomes necessary, for the order of the
entries frequently admits of great improvement. The titles having been
incorporated by a variety of persons, and the process of insertion
having now gone on for more than thirty years, many errors and
inconsistencies have inevitably crept in, and these require to be
rectified by an assistant of especial ability and experience in this
department of work, whose researches frequently originate a new set of
catalogue queries. At last, however, the copy goes to press, the proof
is promptly returned and corrected (we are content with a single
revise), and the three or four bulky volumes of manuscript are condensed
into a single handy and portable volume of type, printed in double
columns and on ordinary paper for subscribers, but for reading-room use
in single column on a strong vellum paper, adapted to bear rough
handling, the opposite column being left blank for insertions, and the
book supplied with guards to allow of interleaving. There have hitherto
been on the average 220 columns or 110 folios to a volume. On the
average of twenty entries to a column, which is rather under the mark,
this gives 4400 titles to each volume. The blank space left for
insertions and the provision for interleaving would allow of this number
of titles being quadrupled, but the weight of the paper prescribes a
limit which it would be inconvenient to transgress. Supposing that each
volume will take 9000 titles only, then, as the Reading Room will
accommodate 2000 volumes of catalogue without encroachment on the
reference library, sufficient space will have been provided for eighteen
millions of titles, or for three centuries' accumulations at the present
annual rate of increase. A year or two ago we were at an utter loss how
to accommodate less than three million titles. Several volumes are now
(September 1882) in hand in various stages of progress. The number fully
completed and placed in the Reading Room is twenty-two, which comprise
the contents of about 70 manuscript volumes, including, with many
others, all in letter A after the article Aristotle to the end. They
have cost, in round figures, £2450, or about £110 each. Arrangements
lately completed will diminish this cost by nearly a sixth, and the sum
economised will be available for additional printing. It ought to be
stated that all the extra work entailed by printing has been performed
by the ordinary Museum staff, with no addition to its resources, except
an arrangement by which two gentlemen work two or three hours' overtime.

It is of course apparent that if a large portion of the catalogue is to
be put within reach of the present generation the scale of operations
must be greatly enlarged. We may one day see the whole of the printing
of the Museum a special department, like the Clarendon or Cambridge
University press, with a head and a staff of its own, and carrying on
operations by the side of which those I have been describing will appear
diminutive. At present the Museum force and the Museum grant are nicely
adapted to each other. With a stronger staff we could easily spend much
more money, with a weaker staff we could not spend what we do. Every
effort is of course made to expend the full amount within the year, not
only that it may not return unused into the Exchequer, but, from
consideration to the just claims of our printers, who have engaged a
number of extra hands whom they cannot afford to keep idle. Hence, as I
have stated, we are content with a single revise, and deliberately
prefer systematic energy to minute accuracy. Misprints and other
oversights will, no doubt, be detected, which a more deliberate
procedure would have obviated. I do not desire to have the air of
apologising for a catalogue which, even if tried by a severe standard,
will, I am persuaded, be pronounced a creditable work; but I wish it to
be understood that these blemishes, as well as some defects of
arrangement manifested in long sets of cross-references, are not unknown
or overlooked. They will diminish as the work proceeds; confident,
meanwhile, of a generous construction, we are deliberately of opinion
that it is infinitely better to run the risk of letting them pass than
to open a door to the capital enemy of all good administration—arrear.
Other shortcomings are necessitated by the fact that the Museum Library
is not an inert mass, but a living organism. You have not to deal with a
closed collection of books like the King's Library, whose authors are
dead, and to which no addition can ever be made. The very titles before
you have been prepared during the last forty years by twice forty
persons of various idiosyncrasies, whose work, with every care, it is
often no easy matter to harmonise. While the product of their
heterogeneous authorship is at press, the Accession Catalogue is in
progress under independent management; thousands of titles are annually
written and entered which will one day have to be amalgamated with the
general series, and discrepancies must sometimes occur. Moreover, the
catalogue of the world's literature partakes of the mobility of the
world itself. Designations are altered, as when successful generals
become barons, or popular churchmen bishops; anonymous authors are
brought to light; periodicals and works in progress are completed or
relinquished; errors are detected and corrected; improvements and
modifications are introduced. The catalogue of an institution like the
British Museum, dealing with a mass of matter already accumulated, and
intended to register an ever-accumulating mass of matter for ever and
ever, must not aspire to absolute perfection, and can never attain

A few words, in conclusion, upon the duty and interest of the public to
support the Museum undertakings, and the practical end at which, as it
seems to me, we ought to aim. The catalogue cannot, at the present rate
of progress, be completely printed in much less than forty years. We
shall all agree that this progress ought to be accelerated, but this can
only be by increased liberality from the Treasury. This will be accorded
in proportion to the Treasury's conviction of the value of our work, and
this conviction will greatly depend upon the appreciation of this
usefulness manifested by the public. If we are to do a national work, we
must have national recognition. I am not at all using the language of
complaint or disappointment. It would be well worth the Museum's while
to print the catalogue for its own sake, even if it did not dispose of a
single copy; and in fact the number of subscriptions is very much what
was expected. I wish, however, that we could succeed in this, as in some
other things, beyond expectation. Something is probably to be ascribed
to the peculiarly quiet manner in which this great change was effected.
Mr. Bond's reforms "come not with observation." A question which had
been so long and clamorously agitated while unripe was, being ripe,
settled in a few conversations, and with a little official
correspondence, so noiselessly and unostentatiously, that many of those
most interested in the matter have never heard of it. Many who have
heard of it are probably under the impression that the original high
terms of subscription have been maintained. This is not so. All the
sections of the Accession Catalogue are now issued for an annual
subscription of £3; and all volumes of the General Catalogue for an
annual subscription of £3, 10s. This does not bring it within the reach
of every purse: still there must be many students and men of letters in
easy circumstances who would find it well worth their while to secure on
such terms a register of the literature of the world. Our late lamented
friend and colleague, Professor Jevons, was a type of the class I have
in my mind; and I know that on the eve of his death he had determined to
become a subscriber. From another point of view it may be urged that to
support the Museum Catalogue is to take a long step towards the
attainment of the still grander object of a Universal Catalogue. At
present a Universal Catalogue is a Utopian Catalogue. I have the
greatest respect for those who have advocated it as an undertaking
immediately practicable. I have no doubt that the twentieth century will
speak of them as men before their age. But they _are_ before it. Their
project is at present intricate, indefinite, intangible. They want a
base of operations. As Sir Henry Cole himself discerned when he made his
not altogether fortunate experiment of printing a specimen article from
the Museum Catalogue, this catalogue supplies such a base. Let us know
clearly what is in it and what is not; let whatever it contains be put
clearly before the world in type; and we shall be able to proceed
systematically and intelligently to fill up its lacunæ from the
catalogues of other libraries, and from the special bibliographies which
are increasing and multiplying year by year. In saying "then" I would
not foreshadow a date which many of this generation may not hope to see.
My aspiration is that the completion of the Museum Catalogue in print
may coincide with the completion of the present century. This is an age
of anniversary demonstrations. When a great man dies he bequeaths to his
country—his centenary. It may be predicted that if the twentieth
century finds the world at peace it will be inaugurated with more
displays and solemnities than all preceding centuries together. Well, I
do not know how we could offer it a more acceptable gift than a register
of almost all the really valuable literature of all former centuries.
Such a register the British Museum Catalogue, if then completed, would
afford; and a precedent would be set for a similar issue every
succeeding century, or half or quarter century, as might be found most
expedient, which would show at one view what that particular interval of
time had effected for mankind in literature. Evidently, however, the
catalogue cannot at the close of this century be absolutely complete as
respects the Museum, as a host of accession titles will have been
growing up, a great part of which, coming after the volume which would
otherwise have included them has been printed, will be too late to be
comprised in the general alphabetical series. It may not, perhaps, be
too much to hope that the claims of culture upon the State will by that
time be sufficiently recognised to induce the Government to bear the
cost of reprinting the whole catalogue with these titles, that the
literary register may be as complete as possible, and to provide for the
regular repetition of the process at definite intervals. If, however,
this is not done, there is still another agent that may be invoked. When
the Museum shall have adopted Photography as it has adopted Electricity;
when it shall possess—and I trust that long ere that period it will
possess—a photographic department, an established branch of its
organisation in which, the salaries of the staff being defrayed as in
other departments by the State, there will be no expense to be
considered beyond the mere cost of chemicals, there need be no limit to
the reproduction of its treasures. Sculptures, coins, and prints can be
disseminated over every hamlet; manuscripts can be multiplied
indefinitely and exchanged with foreign libraries for corresponding
donations, illustrative of English history and antiquities; foreign and
country scholars will be able to consult rare books and unique
manuscripts without leaving their arm-chairs; and, above all, the
scattered portions of the nearest approach the world will have made to a
Universal Catalogue may be brought together, digested into alphabetical
order, and, reproduced in facsimile by this beautiful art—fit mate of
Printing in that she too preserves what would else perish, and brings
light into many a dark place—be given to the world.[86:1]


[67:1] Read before the Library Association, Cambridge, Sept. 1882.

[86:1] This forecast of the service which photography might render to
library catalogues would seem to have been inspired by the very spirit
of prophecy. See, in the _American Library Journal_ for March 1899,
an account by A. J. Rudolph of the success of the Newberry Library,
Chicago, "in printing a catalogue of the accessions accumulated in
the British Museum since 1880 to date, in one general alphabet by the
so-called blue-print process, a method of photo-printing." If the
Newberry Library can do this, the British Museum ought to be able
to incorporate its accession-titles with the general catalogue, and
reissue the latter from time to time, as frequently recommended in
this volume, and in a remarkable article in the _Quarterly Review_ for
October 1898.


The present and the future of the British Museum Catalogue are so much
more important than its past, that this part of our subject must be
touched with brevity. Resisting, therefore, every temptation to
expatiate upon the desert of ancient cataloguers, further than by the
observation that Moses and Homer were of the brotherhood, we begin with
June 21, 1759, when the Trustees of the British Museum, which
institution had been opened to the public in the preceding January,
recorded the following remarkable minute:—

"The Committee think proper to add that the requiring the attendance of
the officers during the whole six hours that the Museum is kept open is
not a wanton or useless piece of severity, as the two vacant hours (if
it is not thought a burden upon the officers) might very usefully be
employed by them in better ranging the several collections; especially
in the Department of Manuscripts, and preparing catalogues for
publication, which last the Committee think so necessary a work that
till it is performed the several collections can be but imperfectly
useful to the public."

From this we learn that the officers of the Museum had at that primitive
period of its history but two hours to spare from conducting visitors
over the building; that the Committee rather expected to be censured for
requiring any other duty from them; and that, though the Trustees
themselves thought catalogues useful and even necessary, there were
those who deemed otherwise. The Museum Library dispensed with a printed
catalogue until 1787, when one was issued in two volumes folio, the work
of three persons, two-thirds of whose time was otherwise occupied. It
would therefore be unjust as well as unbecoming to criticise its many
defects with asperity. The compilers seem to have adopted as their
principle that the cataloguer who looks beyond the title-page is lost.
They therefore enter "The London Prodigal" and "Mucedorus" under
Shakespeare with no impertinent scepticism as to the authorship;
bewilder themselves with no nice distinctions between the William Bedloe
who wrote against Mahometanism in 1615, and the William Bedloe who swore
away the lives of Roman Catholics in 1680; and achieve their crowning
glory by cataloguing the thirty-three thousand Civil War tracts at a
stroke under "Anglia" as "a large collection of pamphlets." If they had
tried to do more they would probably have done nothing. Their list,
meagre in every sense, and at the present day less interesting for what
it contains than for what it does not contain, served for twenty years,
when a beginning was made towards superseding it by the more elaborate
performance of Sir Henry Ellis and Mr. Baber. This catalogue, commenced
in 1807, was completed in 1819. The portion executed by Sir Henry Ellis
has been severely criticised. It was certainly unfortunate that _pastor
paganus_ should have been treated as the equivalent of _sacerdos
ethnicus_, and Emanuel Prince of Peace mistaken for Emanuel King of
Portugal. Its virtue, however, of portable brevity, has rendered it so
useful a substitute for its colossal successor on those not unfrequent
occasions when the wood could not be seen for the trees, that those thus
beholden to it will be little inclined to deal hardly with its notorious
errors and deficiencies.

Ellis and Baber's catalogue had scarcely been completed ere the need of
a new one began to be felt, partly on account of the magnificent
donation of the 60,000 volumes and 20,000 pamphlets of the King's
Library. Notions of classification were then in the ascendant, and in
1826 the Rev. T. Hartwell Horne, a bibliographer famed for strict method
and plodding industry, was engaged as a temporary assistant to carry
them out; together with Mr. (afterwards Sir Frederic) Madden, Mr. Tidd
Pratt, and other persons of literary ability. Seldom has an undertaking
so extensive left so little trace behind it. Mr. Horne's assistants
ascended to higher spheres, or evaporated entirely, and when called upon
in 1834 to report the progress of the previous year, he could only state
that he had personally arranged the classes of "chemical and medical
philosophy"; the latter, indeed, under twenty divisions, with such
subdivisions as "Treatises on Plethora," "Treatises on the Vis
Medicatrix Naturæ," "Use of Flagellation, Friction and Philtres." The
list may be commended to the study of those who think classification a
simple matter, or a classed catalogue serviceable otherwise than as an
index to an alphabetical one. Seven thousand pounds had been expended
upon the simple sorting of titles, a task merely preliminary to that of
printing them, which might be considered as at least nearly half done,
if only the influx of new titles could be stopped, which was impossible.
The Trustees wisely determined to throw no more good money after bad;
and the episode of classification came to an end in July 1834. Mr.
Baber, Keeper of Printed Books, had already proposed a plan for a new
printed catalogue, to be executed under the superintendence of a single
competent person, a description denoting Panizzi, then "an extra
assistant librarian." This scheme was set aside in favour of a far
inferior plan, by which the execution of the catalogue was entrusted to
four persons of very unequal degrees of capacity, virtually independent
of each other. The consequence was that the little they did required to
be done again. Panizzi became head of the Printed Book Department in
1837, and the long discussions which ensued between him and the Trustees
resulted eventually in the ninety-one famous rules which have since
formed the foundation of scientific cataloguing drawn up by him with
the assistance of Messrs. Winter Jones, Watts, Parry, and Edwards. Their
number has afforded a theme for much good-natured and ill-natured
satire; on examination, however, it will be found that a third of them
relate merely to arrangement, and that the remainder are far from
providing for all conceivable cases. It may be granted that their
complexity was incompatible with the Trustees' desire to produce a
printed catalogue at an early date, a desire in which their officer was
far from participating. The Trustees defeated their own object, partly
by allowing the catalogue to be commenced on so extensive a scale;
partly by requiring, or rather letting themselves be thought to have
required, that it should be actually printed, instead of merely ready
for press, by December 1844. This decision necessitated printing in
alphabetical succession, hence diverting much of the force which should
have been applied to compiling the catalogue, to the correction of the
press. It further condemned the work to inevitable imperfection, since
it was impossible to foresee what titles would be required to be written
under A, and such titles, excluded from the printed volume embracing
that letter, kept continually turning up during the entire progress of
the work. As the imperfections of this volume (published in 1841) became
more notorious, the demand for a printed catalogue gradually died away,
and Panizzi was left in possession of his ideal—a manuscript catalogue,
executed with a thoroughness and on a scale which seemed to render
printing for ever impossible. This, as we shall see, was destined to
break down in its turn; and the great librarian's objections to print
have met with a practical refutation. At the same time it must be
candidly acknowledged that, although Panizzi was wrong in abstract
principle, he was right as regarded the requirements of his own day. The
collection of books was at the time too limited to justify a printed
catalogue, and not too extensive to render a manuscript catalogue
inconveniently unwieldy. Panizzi's opposition to print was justifiable
under the circumstances then existing; his error was in failing to
foresee and provide for the far different state of things which he
himself was calling into existence. If, while maintaining the old order,
he had recognised and promoted the inevitable advent of the new, he
would not have left the renown of the introduction of print to a young
officer of the Manuscript Department, who, during the heat of the strife
over the question of print in 1848, was, as Sir Frederic Madden informed
the Royal Commission, "employed in seeing through the press the general
index to the Manuscript catalogues in the Reading Room. And I must say
that Mr. Bond has proved a most efficient and most praiseworthy

Panizzi wanted a catalogue: he had framed the rules for it with
completeness and precision never imagined before his time, but he was
entirely averse to the catalogue being printed. In his report of
November 17, 1837, he declared it unreasonable to expect that the public
should spend the enormous sum that the printing of a catalogue of the
whole of such a library requires, to suit the convenience of a small
portion of the community. There was much weight in the argument, and the
propounder of it could not foresee that he would himself in the long run
overthrow it by the extraordinary development he was destined to impart
to the library, and by consequence to the catalogue. When, eight years
after the date of the report just quoted, Panizzi's persevering efforts
obtained an annual grant of £10,000 to remedy the deficiencies of the
library, he started the catalogue on a road whose inevitable goal was
print. Library and catalogue increasing _pari passu_, it became
abundantly clear that recourse must some day be had to print for the
mere sake of reducing the bulk of the latter. This consummation was
accelerated by another of Panizzi's great measures—the introduction, at
the independent and almost simultaneous suggestion of Mr. Wilson Croker
and the late Mr. Roy, of the Library, of the system of keeping up the
catalogue by slips pasted on the leaf, and therefore easily removable,
thus preventing the disturbance of alphabetical order. As this gave
three thicknesses to the leaf, and the slips were at first pasted widely
apart, and were not, moreover, transcribed with any special regard to
economy of space, the hundred and fifty volumes placed in the Reading
Room in 1850 had swollen to fifteen times that number by 1875. This
development was attended by another unforeseen consequence; it became
actually more expensive to transcribe the catalogue than to print it.
The number of transcribers employed to copy titles, of incorporators
required to assign these to their proper places, of binders' men to
perform the manual work, the incessant shifting and relaying, inserting
new leaves and dividing and rebinding old volumes, were attended by
financial results which frequently elicited communications from the
Treasury. One of these happened to arrive in 1875, shortly after the
writer of these pages had become Superintendent of the Reading Room.
Being now in a position to report upon the subject, he pointed out what
had long been exceedingly plain to him, that the space available for the
accommodation of the catalogue was all but exhausted, and that on this
ground alone it would be imperative to reduce its bulk by printing at
least a portion of it. In 1878 his representations were renewed, this
time with great encouragement from Sir Charles Newton, then acting as
Principal Librarian, but nothing decisive was done until the accession
of the late Principal Librarian, Mr. E. A. Bond, in the autumn of the
same year. Mr. Bond had long made up his mind, on literary grounds, that
the catalogue ought to be printed; and finding himself now enabled to
give effect to his views, initiated negotiations with the Treasury which
led in due course to the desired result. In 1880 print was adopted for
the entries of all future additions to the library, thus putting an
effectual curb upon the growth of the catalogue. In 1881 the printing of
the catalogue as a whole was commenced, and has since been carried on
uninterruptedly. The order of publication was not at first alphabetical,
the Treasury's support having been partly gained by the promise to deal,
in the first instance, with the overgrown volumes in various parts of
the catalogue which would otherwise have required rebinding and
relaying. This accomplished, however, publication, as had always been
Mr. Bond's intention, glided into as close an alphabetical sequence as
is consistent with the fact that different portions of the same letter
are necessarily taken up simultaneously, and that some are much more
difficult to prepare for press than others. With the adoption of print
the history of the Museum Catalogue may be said to terminate for the
present, while its actual condition will appear from the statement now
to be given of the progress hitherto made.

By the time that these pages see the light about 190 parts or volumes of
the catalogue will have been issued. Averaging the number of entries as
5000 to a volume (notwithstanding that the volumes have of late been
made thicker), it will appear that 950,000 titles have been printed, or
nearly one-third of the entire work, allowing for the constant accession
of new material during its progress, as will be explained further on.
This gives an average of about twenty-four parts annually since the
commencement of printing in 1881; but as the amount of the Treasury
grant did not admit of the publication of more than fifteen parts
annually for the first two years, the average publication at present may
be taken as thirty. Speaking generally, it may be said that the
catalogue is in type from A to the end of G, and from V to the end of
the alphabet. This is nearly a third of the whole, and at the present
rate of progress it seems reasonable to conclude that the printing may
be completed in about twelve years. It should be hardly necessary to
explain to the reader who may be familiar with the appearance of the
catalogue in the Reading Room, that the ponderous folio he is accustomed
to there presents little resemblance to the parts as issued to
subscribers. Special copies of the latter, printed on one side of the
paper only, are laid down for Reading Room use on considerably larger
sheets of the strongest and toughest vellum paper procurable, and thus
the quartos are converted into folios. The printed strip when pasted
down occupies only the left side of the leaf, the blank portion
opposite, as well as that above and below, being reserved for the
additions continually accruing from the titles of new books received
after the printing of the volume,[96:1] which is further supplied with
guards to allow of interleaving. It has been computed that each volume
would contain 9000 titles, after which it must be divided, and that the
Reading Room will accommodate 2000 volumes, providing room for eighteen
millions of titles, or, at the present rate of cataloguing, for the
accumulation of three centuries to come. In 1880, just before the
introduction of printing, there was not room to place another volume. A
column of the type used in printing the catalogue weighs ten pounds, so
that supposing the work, when through the press, to consist of 600
volumes averaging 250 columns each, a million and a half pounds' weight
of type will have been employed.

From the preparation of the catalogue for strictly Museum purposes, we
pass to the arrangements for its issue to the public. Here we are
confronted by two very remarkable facts—one as gratifying as the other
is the reverse. For the _original subscribers_ the Museum Catalogue is
one of the cheapest books in the world. At its commencement it was not
expected that more than fifteen parts could be issued annually, and the
annual subscription was fixed at three pounds. In fact, however, the
rate of publication has for some years past averaged thirty parts, while
the terms of subscription remain unaltered. The subscription is,
therefore, virtually reduced by one-half, and the cost of each part,
with its 250 columns and 5000 titles, is just two shillings. It may be
doubted whether equal liberality has ever been shown by any public
institution. The case, however, of the subscribers of the future is far
otherwise, or rather say would be, if such subscribers could exist.
Nobody will take an imperfect catalogue, and the sum required for the
parts already printed is an almost insuperable obstacle in the way of
new subscribers, and an effectual bar to the further dissemination of
the catalogue, except by donation. It would be well worth while to
offer the parts already printed as a bonus, at a nominal or greatly
reduced price. Unfortunately, however, the number of copies printed
during the first year was comparatively limited, and the impression, as
regards these, would be exhausted almost immediately. The difficulty
would disappear if the Museum possessed that indispensable auxiliary to
its progress, a photographic department, in which the photographer's
salary and the cost of chemicals should be paid by the State; thus
allowing photographic work to be done gratuitously for the institution,
and at a merely nominal rate for the public. In this case the deficient
volumes would be supplied without any expense whatever, and the offer of
the perfected sets to the public at a nominal cost would probably ensure
sufficient subscribers for the remainder of the work. Until this great
step towards the popular dissemination of the Museum's treasures in all
departments has been taken, it will be necessary to reprint the earlier
volumes of the catalogue; and the £1500 required for this purpose might
probably be obtained from subscribers on condition of the other back
volumes being thrown in as a bonus at a greatly reduced price. The
longer the operation is delayed the more costly will it be for the
Museum, which runs the risk of eventually finding itself with a hundred
sets, mostly imperfect, on its hands, of which it will be impossible to
get rid otherwise than by donation. A subscription once commenced is not
likely to drop, as the value of a set of the catalogue depends upon its

It will now be naturally inquired, at what period may the completion of
the catalogue be looked for? The answer will be, about the end of the
century, if the Treasury grant is maintained at its present figure. The
amount expended in printing, inclusive of that incurred for printing the
titles of books added to the library, is about £3000 annually. Two years
ago the grant for purchases throughout every department of the
institution was reduced by two-fifths, and only half the amount has as
yet been restored. If a similar mistaken spirit of economy had affected
the grant for printing, the completion of the catalogue must have been
proportionately delayed. Any expectation, therefore, which may be held
out of the accomplishment of the work by the end of the century, or any
other date, must be understood to be entirely subject to the action of
the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has it in his power to retard
progress indefinitely, or interrupt it altogether. It must be
acknowledged that the behaviour of the Treasury towards this department
of the Museum service has hitherto been very liberal; and that the grant
for printing is as large as, with the numerous other demands upon the
library staff, can be employed to advantage. The preparation of copy for
the press, and its subsequent correction and revision, occupy the entire
time of several of the best assistants; and, were absolute
bibliographical accuracy aimed at, would require that of several more.
This cannot be had, and all pretension to minute accuracy has invariably
been disclaimed. It has been felt all along that a number of trifling
errors are preferable to the huge and unpardonable error of not
accomplishing the work at all. From what has been said, it will be
apparent that the publication of this catalogue is carried on under very
different conditions from those habitual in similar undertakings. Three
thousand pounds a year must be spent upon it; or, as regards Museum
purposes, must be thrown away. Any balance unexpended at the end of the
financial year must revert to the Treasury, and would be an
uncompensated loss as regards the Museum. This misfortune has hitherto
been avoided—partly by an energy and diligence on the part of the
gentlemen employed, of which it is impossible to speak too warmly or too
gratefully—partly by a resolute determination not to aim at an ideal
perfection, which, under the circumstances, would be absolutely

Ordinary visitors to the library may from one point of view be divided
into two classes, those who are astonished that it has not got every
book in the world, and those who marvel that it possesses so many books
as it does. Nothing is commoner than the remark, "I suppose you have
everything that ever was printed," unless it is the exclamation, "You
surely do not keep all the rubbish!" These two sets of ideas may be
taken to represent the two tendencies which affect every public library;
and by consequence every complete catalogue of its contents, that of
mechanical accretion, and that of intelligent selection. The operation
of the Copyright Act is, of course, responsible for most of the element
of "rubbish" in the catalogue; while a moment's thought will show the
impossibility of making the librarian a censor, and allowing him to
exclude whatever might not square with his prejudices or fancies. A
considerable part of the catalogue, therefore, must be devoted to
recording publications of little intrinsic value, but even here there is
an important reservation to be made. Time, which in so many instances
abates the value of what is really precious, makes in a fashion amends
by bestowing worth on what was once of little account. What would we not
give for a _Court Gazette_ of the days of Augustus, or a list of odds at
the Olympic games? There is absolutely no telling what value the most
insignificant details of the nineteenth century may possess for the
nineteenth millennium: even now men of letters might find the same
intellectual stimulus in many a trivial page of the Museum Catalogue, as
a distinguished living orator is said to find in Johnson's Dictionary.
Next to this automatic factor in the increase of the catalogue may be
named the element of seeming accident—the addition to the library of
various classes of books, now at one time, now at another, as apparent
chance, but actual law has prescribed. If we can imagine the various
constituents of the Museum Library piled upon one another in
chronological sequence, and a shaft driven down from the top, we may
conceive ourselves coming upon a succession of strata, as the geologist
finds when he bores for coal, or the archæologist when he explores the
site of a city where men have dwelt from the age of Hercules to the age
of Heraclius. The Museum was founded by a great physician; the library,
therefore, rests upon a sound substratum of old medical books. The King
was the next important benefactor; next above early medicine and natural
history, accordingly, comes a stratum of royal libraries from the first
Tudor to the last Stuart, each a miniature representative of the best
literature of its time. The Hanoverian sovereigns, though no great
patrons of letters, were diligent collectors of pamphlets: hence the
priceless collection of Civil War and other important tracts which
immediately succeeded the donations already mentioned. As the growth of
the Museum attracted further liberality ("To him that hath shall be
given"), the collection naturally took an impress from the tastes of the
private collectors by whom it was enriched. Hence abundant wealth in
classics and the early literature of the Latin family of languages,
accompanied by poverty in languages which the collectors did not
understand, and subjects for which they did not care. When, thanks to
Panizzi, the library at last obtained an adequate grant for purchases,
the librarian's own intelligence became a much more important factor
than formerly. To continue our metaphor, the contents of the recent
strata would be found far more composite than of old, and more puzzling
to the intellectual geologist. He would come upon various fragmentary
formations, as it were, in which, trifling and remote effects of
prodigious causes, he would discern vestiges of the great events of the
time. Thus the growth of Greater Britain is legible in piles of colonial
newspapers, and the Paris Commune is represented by a mass of
caricatures and the scorched books of an Imperial Prince, literally
saved out of the fire. It is the librarian's business at once to profit
by this tendency to the accumulation of specialities, and to counteract
it: to take advantage of every opportunity that may arise of enriching
the library in definite directions, and at the same time of providing
for the steady influx of miscellaneous literature, alike of the past and
of the present as regards foreign nations: of English contemporary
literature the Copyright Act, as above explained, takes sufficient care.
It seems paradoxical, but it is true, that the Museum should be the home
both of the books which every one expects to find in it, and of those
which no one expects to find—of the literary freight which can ride the
ocean, and of that which would perish without the haven of a public
library. The catalogue must be the mirror of the library, and it is not
the least of the many advantages of print that the public have now much
better means than formerly of judging how the most difficult functions
of librarianship have been understood and discharged at the Museum. In
this connection mention may be made of a minor feature of the
publication of the catalogue of considerable importance: the issue of
extra copies of special articles as excerpts, sold separately at the
lowest possible price. In this manner bibliographies, complete as far as
the Museum collections are concerned, of Aristotle, Bacon, Bunyan,
Byron, Dante, Goethe, and other writers of special importance have been
issued. These should be of great value to students, and would probably
have a large sale if their existence were more generally known. At
present, like other Museum publications, they suffer from imperfect
publicity. Another very valuable appendix to the catalogue of printed
books is the catalogue of maps and plans, reduced, under Professor
Douglas's direction, from upwards of three hundred of MS. to two volumes
of print as issued to the public, or fourteen as laid down for use in
the Reading Room. The four hundred and fifty MS. volumes of the
catalogue of music, it is hoped, are on the eve of undergoing similar

Apart from the errors which must inevitably creep into so vast a work,
dealing with such a variety of languages and literatures, and now in
progress for more than fifty years, a considerable amount of
imperfection is evidently inseparable from the very nature of the
undertaking. It does not and cannot represent the condition of the
library at any given moment. The volumes containing A, for example, will
comprise the books under that letter possessed by the Museum in 1882 or
1883; but T, which for reasons which we have no space to explain, will
probably be the last letter to be printed, will represent the condition
of the library, as regards that letter, about the year 1900. During the
whole progress of the catalogue an incessant shower of new titles
representing the new books continually being acquired, will have been
descending at the rate of some 40,000 a year. Those belonging to letters
not yet at press will have been taken up and absorbed by the catalogue
in its progress; those belonging to the letters already in type must
fall into a supplement. The article Thackeray, therefore, will be more
complete than Dickens, and Thucydides than Herodotus. As concerns the
student at the Museum, this is of no importance; the additions being
regularly incorporated in the Reading Room catalogue in the manner above
described. The catalogue as issued to subscribers, however, is
necessarily imperfect and irregular. Supposing, for example, that Lord
Tennyson and Mr. Browning were to simultaneously publish translations of
Homer when the printing of the catalogue had reached the article Jones,
Lord Tennyson's version would appear under Tennyson, but not under
Homer, and Mr. Browning's version would not appear at all. There is but
one way of obtaining a perfect index to the condition of the national
library at a given time: the catalogue must be reprinted along with the
numerous accessions which have been accumulating while the first edition
has been going through the press—a national undertaking which will
commend itself to men of letters more readily than to ministers of
finance. Should, however, the completion of the catalogue nearly
coincide with the commencement of the twentieth century, it may be hoped
that this will be one of the many ways in which, if the new century does
not, like its predecessors, find the nation traversing a crisis, the
epoch will assuredly be commemorated. It would remain to provide for the
regular reprinting of the catalogue with its accessions at intervals,
say of a quarter of a century. England would then possess a complete
index to the growth of the national library, and the world would have
the nearest approach to a register of all literature that, in the
absence of any feasible scheme for a universal catalogue by co-operation
among public libraries, it seems likely to obtain. Even this more
ambitious project might be promoted if public libraries would consent to
take the Museum Catalogue as a basis, and publish lists of such of their
own books as are not to be found in it. By this means the expense and
labour of cataloguing would be very greatly reduced, and the combination
of these lists with the Museum Catalogue, when this came to be printed
for the third time, say about 1925, would at last provide the
desideratum of a universal register of literature.

Ambitious undertakings like these, however, depend upon the co-operation
of many governments and many institutions. We can speak with more
confidence of the efforts of the Museum to provide what is only second
in importance to the catalogue itself—a classified index of its
contents. With this object in view several copies of the catalogue are
printed on one side only, that when completed they may be cut up, and
the titles sorted according to subject, and re-arranged in classified
lists. Thus by simply putting together all titles bearing the press
mark E, we shall obtain a separate catalogue of the Civil War Tracts;
and a similar proceeding as respects the titles marked F, will afford a
similar catalogue of the Croker collection of pamphlets on the French
Revolution. Classed indexes to the literature of any subject can be made
with equal facility, and as several copies of the catalogue will be
available for treatment in the manner suggested, they may be varied for
different objects, or to suit different systems of classification. For
all strictly Museum purposes it would suffice to paste the titles
excerpted on sheets of paper, but any of the indexes thus prepared might
be printed and published. The only difficulty or delay would arise from
the incorporation of the supplementary titles, which, as already
explained, will have been continually added during the printing of the
catalogue, and even this could be obviated by reprinting the entire
catalogue as suggested above.

These hints, imperfect as they are, should convince the reader that the
future of the Museum Catalogue, supposing the institution to be
maintained in its present condition of efficiency, will not be less
remarkable than its past. It will continue to make demands on the
liberality of successive generations, which will be the more readily met
the more the voluminous development of literature enforces the
conviction that, next to positive addition to the world's stock of
information, the most important service to culture is the preserving,
arranging, and rendering accessible the stores which the world already
possesses. The recovery of the catalogue of the Alexandrian Library, if
a less delightful, would probably be a more substantial gain to
knowledge than the recovery of any individual author. But what the
literature of the world is to the literature of ancient Greece, the
Catalogue of the British Museum is to that of the Alexandrian Library.


[87:1] _Universal Review_, October 1888.

[96:1] Soon after this was printed, three columns instead of one were
left blank, as the writer had recommended from the first.


But little has of late been heard of the proposed Universal Catalogue of
Literature, which was a favourite subject of discussion some years ago.
The cause may partly be the loss of some like Sir Henry Cole and the
late lamented Mr. Ernest Thomas, who were especially interested in the
project; but must be mainly, I should think, the growing perception of
the difficulty of the undertaking. It could no doubt be performed by a
sufficiently numerous body of competent persons, working under efficient
control, guided by fixed rules, and influenced by such consideration in
the shape of salary and pension as to induce them to devote their lives
to it. There is not, however, the least probability of the endowment of
such a college of cataloguers. If the Universal Catalogue is ever to be
attained, we must submit to proceed by gradual approaches, and to be
content with something very far short of perfection in the execution of
the work. We must take the printed catalogue of that library which most
nearly approaches universality as a basis, and we must appeal to the
administrators of other libraries to supplement its deficiencies;
without insisting upon too rigid a uniformity of method, which could not
be enforced.

While the project for a Universal Catalogue has remained in suspense,
another catalogue has been silently growing up in print, far enough
indeed from universality, but approaching it more closely than any other
work of the kind. Commenced in 1881, and likely, if the Treasury grant
is continued, to be completed at or a little before the close of the
century, the printed Museum Catalogue will be the register of about a
million distinct publications. If its contents do not comprise a
majority of the books existing in the world, they undoubtedly comprise a
very great majority of the books which it is really important to
catalogue. My recommendation to those who desire to see a Universal
Catalogue—as all do in theory—is to accept this confessedly imperfect
catalogue as a temporary substitute, and labour to perfect it by the
co-operation of the principal libraries throughout the world, not by
reconstruction, which would introduce confusion and delay the
undertaking indefinitely, but by the simple addition of such books in
their possession as the Museum Catalogue does not embrace. This would
further involve the establishment of some central authority to edit
these accessions, either incorporated with the Museum Catalogue or
separately, as circumstances might prescribe.

Even the Museum Catalogue, however, is at present inadequate to provide
a basis for a Universal Catalogue, for the reason that it is in
comparatively few hands. If general co-operation towards perfecting it
is to be invited, it must be widely disseminated. It must be reprinted,
and distributed gratuitously to all important libraries. It is,
moreover, defective in its published form (not in the copy used in the
Reading Room), even as regards the contents of the Museum itself, on
account of the number of accession titles which will have been steadily
accumulating during the eighteen or nineteen years of its passage
through the press. A large portion of these have been absorbed during
the printing; an equal number, perhaps, are excluded by the publication
of the volume of catalogue before the appearance of the book. Letter B,
therefore, is more complete than A, C than B, and so on. From the point
of view of the Universal Catalogue, reprinting is thus an absolute
necessity. It should take place at the earliest practicable date after
the completion of the catalogue. The Government cannot be reasonably
expected to provide the funds without strong pressure from public
opinion, and it is partly in the hope of stimulating this opinion that I
have ventured these observations. But if the Universal Catalogue is to
be anything more than a fair vision, we must do more than stimulate
others, we must organise ourselves. We must know what libraries
throughout the civilised world would be ready, upon receiving a copy of
the republished Museum Catalogue, to supplement its deficiencies by
furnishing the titles of such of their own books as are not to be found
there. We must establish a central committee or committees to take
charge of such titles, to cancel the innumerable duplicates, to reduce
the others to approximate conformity with the rules on which the basis
catalogue has been executed. We must have learned to what extent
pecuniary assistance to small or over-worked libraries may be necessary,
and have considered how to provide it. We must have determined whether
the General Catalogue is to embrace that of the Museum or to be merely
supplementary, and in either case have framed some estimate of the
probable expense, and of the means of meeting it. We must have decided
some important questions, as, for instance, whether pamphlets,
newspapers, public documents, should be included, whether oriental
books, to what extent cross-references should be allowed, if admitted at
all. These points and many others cannot be settled without active
intercommunication among librarians, and when I consider the attendant
difficulties I own I am not sanguine that the project will have matured
by the time that the Museum Catalogue is in print.

When, however, the difficulties of organisation have been at length
overcome, when the Museum Catalogue is actually in the hands of the
directors of all important libraries, and the task of supplying its
deficiencies is being steadily prosecuted in a hundred different places;
when the editorial committee is fairly engaged upon its task of revision
and incorporation, and public sympathy has been fully enlisted, as would
ere long assuredly be the case, the record of the world's literature
which now may seem to many an utopian project, will have been brought
within reach. In thus carrying it out we should have effected an object
of still greater importance—the establishment of an universal literary
registry, whose developments and ramifications it is impossible to
predict. Such an institution is hardly likely to come into being without
the tangible inducement of an Universal Catalogue; and it is on this
account, quite as much as its own, that an Universal Catalogue is
desirable. The organisation created to effect it would not be allowed to
perish, but would be maintained for objects more important still. All
these possibilities, however, will remain but visions unless they are
based upon the firm ground of some actually existing catalogue, which
may serve as a stepping-stone to the ideal catalogue of the future.

_Cæteris paribus_, there can be no doubt that the biggest catalogue must
be the best, and it is on this ground, and not from any claim of
superiority of execution, that I venture to recommend the Museum
Catalogue as this necessary basis and stepping-stone, and to affirm that
the problem of making an Universal Catalogue will be greatly simplified
if it is conceived as the problem of supplementing the deficiencies of
the most extensive partial catalogue we possess at present. The subject
is one eminently suitable for consideration at this conference, which,
as the first ever held upon the Continent, possesses stronger claims to
an international character than any of its predecessors.


[109:1] Communicated to the Fifteenth Annual Meeting of the Library
Association, Paris, September 1892.


Speaking to-night as President of the Bibliographical Society, I have
found it necessary to select some point of bibliography as the subject
of my discourse. The subjects which profitably occupy the ordinary
meetings of the Society would not be appropriate to a numerous and
various assemblage like the present. Now that Internationalism and
Imperialism are in the air, and that the thoughts of the Queen's
home-bred subjects have perforce been carried far beyond the precincts
of their native isles, I have deemed that interest might be felt in a
brief retrospect of the first steps by which the most intellectually
valuable of all the arts was transplanted from Europe to the other
quarters of the Old World. American typography I leave to our visitors,
better qualified to treat it. I prefer no claim to originality, but
rather rest the utility of my paper upon the advantage of bringing to
one focus a number of facts hitherto scattered through a number of
books, and by consequence but partially known.

I have often thought that our reunion with our Aryan brethren of
Hindostan, when, after millenniums of separation, we Europeans returned
to them in the characters of travellers, merchants, and missionaries,
may be compared to the meeting of Jacob and Esau. As of old, the younger
brother had been the more prosperous. We brought them more precious
gifts than any we could receive from them, and among these was the art
of printing. But it was out of our power to bestow such a boon upon the
more numerous yellow race, for it already possessed it. China and Korea
too had been acquainted with printing for centuries, and not merely with
block printing, but with movable types. These, however, were rarely
employed, in consequence, I imagine, of the great extent and complexity
of the Chinese alphabet, or rather syllabarium; and it no more entered
into the head of a Chinese to print a foreign language than it occurred
to a Greek of the Roman Empire to translate a Latin book. Amazing
consequences would have followed if China would but have reformed her
alphabet and communicated her art to her neighbours. Had it but found
its way to Constantinople by the tenth century, we should have preserved
most of that lost classical literature for which, with much to encourage
and much to dispirit, we are now sifting the dust of Egyptian catacombs.
It does indeed appear from recent discoveries among the papyri of
Archduke Rainier that the Saracens of Egypt had grasped the principle of
block printing in the tenth century, probably from intercourse with
China. But this does but increase the wonder that they should have
merely struck off a few insignificant documents and carried the idea no

Even when at length the art of printing became known in Europe, its
progress was for some time marvellously slow. For several years its
practice was confined to a single city, and this would probably have
continued still longer but for civil dissensions, which drove the
printers abroad. We need not be surprised, then, that it should have
been a hundred and six years after Gutenberg before any book proceeded
from a European press upon the continent of Asia; or, if we date from
the voyage of Vasco da Gama, now exactly four hundred years ago, we
shall see that sixty-four years, or two generations, elapsed before the
Portuguese conquerors gave a printing-press to India. There was probably
but little need for typography, either in the military or the civil
service; but in process of time another interest asserted itself—the
missionary. We shall find that the larger number of Spanish and
Portuguese books printed abroad, whether in America or in the East, were
designed for the conversion and instruction of the natives.

This was not, however, precisely the case with the first book printed in
India, or printed by Europeans in any part of the Old World outside of
Europe, although it was a religious book, "The Spiritual Compendium of
the Christian Life," by Gaspar de Leão, first Archbishop of Goa (Goa,
1561). The author had come out as Archbishop in 1560, and this book
appears to be either the full text or an abridgment of the sermons
preached by him in the visitation of his diocese in that year. It is
much to be hoped that a book so memorable for the circumstances of its
publication may be still extant; but Silva, in his Portuguese
bibliographical dictionary, does not, as he usually does when he can,
intimate the existence of a copy in the National Library of Lisbon or
elsewhere; nor does Martin Antonio Fernandes allude to the existence of
it, or any other of Archbishop Leão's writings at Goa, in the sermon
which he preached on the occasion of the translation of his remains in
1864. Archbishop Leão printed two other books at Goa—a tract against
the Jews, and another against the Mahometans; but these were posterior
to the second Goa book, a copy of which is in the British Museum—the
"Dialogues on Indian Simples and Drugs," by Garcia da Horta, printed at
Goa in 1563. This is a work of great merit, said to contain the first
account of Asiatic cholera. It is also remarkable as the first book in
which any production of Camoens was given to the world; for, although
the Lusian bard had written much, he had published nothing previous to
the appearance of a complimentary copy of verses to da Horta, prefixed
to this book. The Museum is, no doubt, indebted for its copy of this
very rare work to its founder, Sir Hans Sloane, for whom it would have
much interest. A Latin translation went through many editions, and the
original was reprinted in 1872.

Thirteen books are enumerated by Ribeiro dos Sanctos as having been
published at Goa up to 1655, and there were probably others of a merely
ephemeral character. The most interesting are a "Life of St. Peter in
Marathi," by Estevão da Cruz, 1634—if not a translation, perhaps the
first book, other than a catechism, written by a European in an Indian
vernacular; and the record of the proclamation of John IV. in 1641, when
Portugal recovered her independence. This book, which is in the British
Museum, indicates the lowest stage of typographical debasement, but is
interesting from its patriotic feeling.

Two Tamil books are said to have been printed by the Jesuits in 1577 and
1598 respectively, at Ambalakata, a place on the Malabar coast, probably
now ruined or known by some other name.

Before leaving India, I may mention a remarkable circumstance, not, so
far as I know, hitherto recorded in typographical history. It appears
from that marvellously interesting book, too soon interrupted, Mr.
Sainsbury's "Calendar of the Papers of the East India Company," that in
1624 the Shah of Persia, "having an earnest desire to bring into his
country the art of printing," was "very importunate" with the agents of
the Company at Ispahan, "to write for men skilful in the science, whom
he promises to maintain at his own charge." It does not appear that the
Company, who were then meditating the relinquishment of their Persian
branch as unprofitable, took any steps to fulfil the Shah's wishes, and
of course the casting of Oriental types in Persia, or their transport
thither, would have been very difficult undertakings. But the desire to
endow Persia with a printing-press nevertheless reflects the highest
honour upon the Shah, who was no less famous a person than Abbas the

From India we pass to China, and here an important discovery has been
made of late years. It has until very lately been universally believed
that the first book printed by Europeans in China was Eduardus de Sande,
"De Missione legatorum Japanensium ad Romanam Curiam" (Macao, 1590). My
friend, Señor José T. Medina, the Hercules and Lynceus of South American
bibliographers, has, however, found from the book itself that this
cannot be the case, for the writer of the preliminary address, Alexander
Valignanus, states that he has himself previously published at the same
place a book by Joannes Bonifacius, "De honesta puerorum institutione."
This must have appeared in 1589, if not sooner, and is undoubtedly the
first book printed by Europeans in China. Unfortunately it cannot be
produced, for it is not to be found. A copy may still be lurking in some
ancient library, and great will be his merit who brings it to light. It
may be mentioned that although the book "De Missione" principally
relates to Europe, and was compiled under the fiction of imaginary
conversations with the Japanese ambassadors (who really had visited
Europe and returned) for the information of the Japanese pupils of the
Jesuits, one chapter is an account of China for the benefit of European
readers. It is full of interest; and although its particulars have long
become common property, it would be well worth translating as a
contemporary account. Sande's book, it is needless to state, is of
exceeding rarity. It may be seen in a show-case in the King's library at
the British Museum, side by side with the very oldest South American

European publications in China since 1590 are numerous, and have been
enumerated by that distinguished Sinologue, M. Henri Cordier, in his
epoch-making bibliography. Time, however, compels me to pass to Japan,
where the subject has received most important illustration from the
labours of the present English minister to that country, Sir Ernest
Mason Satow. Sir Ernest found examples of the use of movable types in
Japan about 1598, and endeavoured to ascertain whether the art had been
imported from Korea, where, as I have already stated, it existed at a
much earlier period, or whether it was taught to the Japanese by the
Jesuit missionaries. The point remains undecided; but Sir Ernest's
researches have acquainted him with fourteen books printed by the
missionaries between 1591 and 1605—some in Latin, some in Japanese,
some in both languages. Some are religious in character, others
philological. One, exceptionally, is a translation into Japanese of
"Æsop's Fables," thus curiously restored to the East whence they
originally came. Sir Ernest, himself a Japanese scholar, has given a
minute account of all, with the aid of numerous facsimiles. All, of
course, are of the greatest rarity, and chiefly to be found in the
public libraries of London, Paris, Lisbon, Oxford, Leyden, and Rome, or
in the collection of the Earl of Crawford. Sir Ernest Satow mentions, in
an appendix, others which have been stated to exist, but have not been
recovered. Some of these, it is probable, were merely manuscripts. It
may be added that the frontispieces of these books, engraved by natives
under European direction, evince much talent, and that the same is the
case with similar work subsequently executed in South America and the

The extirpation of Christianity in Japan destroyed European printing in
that country; but books relating to Japan, chiefly acts of Japanese
martyrs, continued for some time to be produced at Manila, the capital
of the Philippines. The history of Manila printing is thoroughly
investigated in the classical work of Señor Medina, whom I have already
named as the discoverer of the real beginning of printing at Macao. It
seems probable that the art was directly imported into Manila from the
latter city. Two books—one in Spanish and Tagala, the other in
Chinese—appear as printed in 1593, then follows a gap of nine years,
after which publications begin to be tolerably frequent, and altogether
a hundred and twelve are enumerated up to the end of the seventeenth
century. A large proportion are in the vernacular languages. It is
remarkable that the Caxton of the Philippines was a Chinese convert,
whose celestial origin is disguised under the name of Juan de Vera. This
fact is only known by the testimony of a Dominican, since it is another
remarkable circumstance and peculiar to the Philippines, that for a very
long time the name of no private individual appears as that of a
printer, the imprint being always that of some religious or educational

One other important city in the Eastern Archipelago possessed printing
at an early date. This was Batavia. The Museum possesses treaties with
native princes printed there in 1668, and these were probably not the
first. A printed book also is referred to the same year.

Now, like Scipio, we must carry the war into Africa. As might be
expected in the Dark Continent, the appearance of the first African
printed book is a matter of some obscurity; not that the statements
respecting time and place and authorship are not precise, but because it
has hitherto been impossible to verify them. Nicolas Antonio, in his
"Bibliotheca Hispanica," distinctly mentions "Theses rhetoricæ, varia
eruditione refertæ," by Antonio Macedo, a celebrated Portuguese Jesuit
who is said to have had a hand in the conversion of Queen Christina of
Sweden, as printed at Funchal in Madeira in 1637. I cannot find that
this book has ever come to light, or that any other early production of
the Funchal press has been recorded, though one would think that such
must have existed. I need not say that the first African book would be a
treasure almost rivalling the volume with which Mexico initiated
American typography in 1539, or the Goa and Macao books whose probable
disappearance we have been lamenting. There is room for error; Antonio
hardly appears to have himself seen the book. But, on the other hand,
there may well be copies in the possession of persons to whom the
imprint Funchal suggests nothing. A Macao or Manila book at once
announces itself as something extraordinary by the peculiarity of its
paper, but a book printed in Madeira would probably be indistinguishable
in general appearance from contemporary productions on the Portuguese
mainland, whose appearance at the period was fully in keeping with the
then fallen fortunes of the nation. If, therefore, the book ever
existed, I shall not despair of its being found, most probably at
Lisbon, Funchal, or Rome. If its existence is mythical, the first
African printed book would probably be the catechism on baptism in the
Angola language by Francisco Pacconio, executed at Loanda, the capital
of the Portuguese settlements on the west coast, said at least to have
been printed there in 1641, but perhaps only sent out from Lisbon. If
actually printed at Loanda, it would be the first book printed on the
African mainland, and hence of the highest bibliographical interest. But
it may have been confounded with a similar catechism by the same author,
published at Lisbon in 1642. Books were printed at Santa Cruz de
Tenerife at least as early as 1754. Port Louis, the capital of
Mauritius, followed soon afterwards. Apart from official documents, the
first book printed in South Africa is G. F. Grand's "Memoirs of a
Gentleman" (Cape Town, 1814), exhibited at the British Museum. To
prevent misunderstanding, it may be remarked that the honour due to the
first African book has been claimed for a narrative of the capture of
the island of Terceira by the Marquis de Santa Cruz in 1583, but it is
clear that the date Angra, the capital of the island, is not an imprint,
but refers merely to the place where the despatch was written, and that
it was printed in Spain.

I am not quite sure whether Australia properly belongs to my subject,
but two circumstances of especial interest induce me to include it. One
is that the first Australian publication, the official _Sydney Gazette_
of 1803, is, I understand, at present a visitor to England in the
custody of Mr. Anderson, librarian of the public library at Sydney, who
contemplates reproducing it. The other is that what is believed to be
the first Australian book, as distinguished from a newspaper or official
notification, has been very recently acquired by the British Museum. It
is a narrative of the crimes and death of William Howe, the last and
worst of the bushrangers of Tasmania, and was printed at Hobart Town in
1817. It was noticed by the _Quarterly Review_ so long ago as 1819, when
it was prophesied that Australian bibliographers would one day fight for
it as fiercely as English collectors contend for Caxton's "Reynard the
Fox." If they do, they must fight with the Sydney Public Library, which,
I am informed, has three copies. There is also a copy in the Bodleian.

The subject of the beginning of printing by Europeans in Asia and Africa
is one which must gain in interest as printing itself extends.
Typography in these countries is as yet but in its infancy, for it has
not laid hold of the mass of the people. It seems evident that the
cumbrous Oriental alphabets must eventually give way to the simplicity
of Roman type, and then one great bar to the intercommunication of ideas
among Oriental nations will have ceased to exist. It may be that they
will go a step further, and employ a single language for the purposes of
general intercourse. So far as we can see at present, this language can
hardly be any other than English. Should this come to pass, Lord
Beaconsfield's celebrated saying, "England is a great Asiatic power,"
will prove true in a deeper and wider sense than he intended, and we
shall look back with augmented veneration to the labours of the zealous
and disinterested men who paved the way for European culture by first
bringing the European printing-press to the far East.


[115:1] Read before the London Meeting of the Library Association, 1896.


[_Bibliographica_, vol. i., pt. 3, published by Messrs. Kegan Paul &

The great merit of the Spanish and Portuguese bibliographers has in some
degree missed recognition from the exceptional character of their
themes. They have done little for general bibliography or the literary
history of other nations, but, observant of the German precept, have
"swept before their own doors" in the most thorough manner. Nicolas
Antonio and Barbosa Machado have given magnificent examples of what may
be termed bio-bibliography, where not only the literary productiveness,
but the life of the author is the subject of investigation. There are
few books of the class to which resort can be made with so fair a
prospect of being able to find exactly what is required. The dimensions
of modern literature forbid the hope of such works being ever seen
again. Bibliography and biography must henceforth walk apart, or at
most, as in our own Dictionary of National Biography, one must sink into
a mere appendage to the other. Works like Antonio's or Machado's belong
to the extinct mammoths of the past: yet more modern Spanish and
Portuguese bibliographers have displayed equal diligence in more
restricted fields. It would be difficult to praise too highly the
research of a Mendez, a Salva, or an Icazbalceta, who, like their
predecessors, manage to convey the impression of having exhausted their
subjects. To these is now to be added Señor Jose Toribio Medina, a
Chilian gentleman who has taken an entire continent for his province. In
1891 he produced his bibliography of Chilian literature to 1810, the era
of South American independence. In 1892 the assistance of the Museo de
la Plata, stimulated by the approaching congress at Huelva in
commemoration of the discovery of America, enabled him to publish his
bibliography of the Argentine Republic, including Paraguay and Uruguay,
on a scale, and with a wealth of illustration, to ensure the book, if
not the author, a foremost place amongst bibliographical mammoths, and
to suggest that it might be used as collateral security for a new
Argentine loan, could such things be. Compared with the tiny but
serviceable lists of early South American books which Señor Medina has
so frequently published in limited editions, his present volume is as
the Genie outside the vase to the Genie within, and it must be the
earnest hope of all interested in bibliographical research, and
especially of all those who from personal acquaintance have learned to
appreciate his indefatigable patriotism and single-minded earnestness,
that the step now taken in advance may not be retraced, but that he may
find encouragement to produce the still more important bibliography of
Peru, now nearly ready for the press, with equal completeness, if not on
a scale equally magnificent. When this has been effected, Señor Medina
will be at no loss for more worlds to conquer. "We shall follow up the
subject," he says, "with the history of printing in the
Captain-Generalship of Quito, in Bogota, Havana, Guatemala, and, please
Heaven, in the Viceroyalty of Mexico, the cradle of the typographic art
in America. Finally, we shall publish the general history of printing in
the old Spanish colonies, for which we shall be able to employ a great
number of documents hitherto entirely unknown."

The history of South American typography is as interesting in a
bibliographical, as it is barren in a literary point of view. The
hand-list of the productions of the Lima Press in colonial days, already
published by Señor Medina, would alone be a sufficient indictment of
Spanish rule, and a sufficient apology for the mistakes of the
emancipated colonists. Apart from religious books published in the
native languages, and the grammars and dictionaries associated with
them, scarcely anything can be found indicative of intellectual life, or
imparting anything that the citizen needs to know. Public ceremonies,
bull-fights, legends of saints, theses in scholastic philosophy, make up
the dreary catalogue, and show how a lively and gifted people were
systematically condemned, in so far as their rulers' power extended, to
frivolity, superstition and ignorance. But if South America was for
nearly three centuries a desert for literature, it was and is a happy
hunting-ground for bibliography. The limited interest and limited
circulation of such books as were produced conspired to make them rare;
the best religious and philological works in Indian languages were
commonly worn out or mutilated by constant use; local difficulties
occasioned the production of others under peculiar and even romantic
circumstances; such as the half-dozen perhaps printed, certainly
published at Juli, twelve thousand feet above the level of the sea; or
those rude but deeply interesting Paraguayan books which form the
subject of Señor Medina's first chapter.[130:1]

The extreme difficulty of introducing any kind of literature into South
America under the Spanish régime, cannot be better illustrated than by
the history of the first Paraguayan book, now extant in a single copy in
the library of Señor Trelles, a citizen of the Argentine Republic. First
of all, about 1693, Father Jose Serrano translates Father Nieremberg's
treatise "on the difference between things temporal and things
eternal," into Guarani, the vernacular of the Paraguay Indians. Father
Tirso Gonzalez, the head of the mission, thinks it well that this
translation and another of Ribadeneira's "Flos Sanctorum," also made by
Father Serrano, should be printed nearer home than at Lima, the only
city in the vast South American continent then in possession of a
printing-press. Though they are religious works of the most edifying
character, it is necessary to memorialise the Council of the Indies.
Father Gonzalez does not make up his mind to this step until December
1699. At length, however, he writes to Spain, obtains permission, and,
by the beginning of 1703, types have been cast and the numerous
engravings in the Antwerp edition of Nieremberg's treatise copied by the
native Indians, whose extraordinary imitative talent is celebrated by
Father Labbe, who visited La Plata about this time. "I have seen," he
says, "beautiful pictures executed by them, books very correctly printed
by them, organs and all kinds of musical instruments. They make pocket
timepieces, draw plans, engrave maps, &c."[131:1] One thing, however,
they could not do, found types of proper hardness, inasmuch as the
requisite metal for alloy did not exist. The consequent blurred
appearance of the impression has led high authorities to assert that
the types were made of hard wood, which would not _a priori_ have
appeared improbable. The late lamented Mr. Talbot Reed, however, assured
the present writer that this could not have been the case; and Señor
Medina proves by an official letter, written in 1784, more than twenty
years after the ruin of the missions, that the material was tin. The
types which existed at that period have disappeared, the remains of the
printing-press are still extant in the La Plata Museum. Señor Medina
thinks that they ought to be restored: and so do we, provided only that
enough remains to distinguish restoration from re-creation.

The book, announced as about to be printed in January 1703, eventually
made its appearance in 1705; with the licenses of the Viceroy of Peru,
the Dean of Asuncion, and the acting provincial of the Jesuits, two
recommendations by divines, and two dedications by Father Serrano
himself, the first to the Holy Spirit, who is addressed as "Your
Majesty"; the second to Father Gonzalez. The place of imprint is given
as "en las Doctrinas," probably the mission station of Santa Maria la
Mayor. We must refer our readers to Señor Medina's volume for the
interesting and minute bibliographical particulars it affords, as well
as for the facsimiles of the original engravings, a remarkable episode
in the history of the art, and only made accessible through Señor
Medina's instrumentality, since the original exists in but a single

The reader will have observed Father Labbe's statement that he has seen
_books_ printed by the Indians. At least one other book, therefore,
should have been executed by them between 1705 and 1710, and Father
Serrano undoubtedly intended to publish his Guarani version of
Ribadeneira's "Flos Sanctorum." If he did, no trace of the publication
exists at present, nor is any further record of typography in Paraguay
found until 1721, when a little liturgical manual for the use of
missionaries, entirely in Guarani, with the exception of the first
fifteen leaves, was printed at the mission station of Loreto. In 1722
and 1724 the "Vocabulario de la Lengua Guarani" and the "Arte de la
Lengua Guarani," both by Antonio Ruiz de Montoya, a Peruvian missionary
of the seventeenth century, were reprinted from the original Spanish
editions, with copious additions, those to the latter work certainly,
those to the former probably, by Paulo Restivo. Both these books were
printed at Santa Maria la Mayor, as also was the catechism of Nicolas
Yapuguai, a native Paraguayan, in 1724. His "Sermones y Exemplos"
appeared at San Francisco Xavier in 1727, and in the same year and at
the same place was printed the letter of the unfortunate ex-governor
Joseph Antequera y Castro, indited in his prison at Lima, to his
adversary the Bishop of Paraguay, who apparently only allowed it to be
printed that he might add a more prolix reply. From this time until
after the overthrow of Spanish authority, all trace of a press in
Paraguay disappears. It should be added that the seven books recorded
are undoubtedly productions of one and the same press, although the
place of imprint is frequently varied. One curiosity remains to be
mentioned, a fragment of a Guarani catechism and syllabary, consisting
of two wooden leaves paginated 4 and 13, on which characters are cut in
relief precisely as in Chinese stereotypic printing. It is to be
supposed that they are older than the books printed with movable types.
They are in the library of Señor Lamas, to whom they were presented by
an English traveller.

Four out of these seven books are in the British Museum—the Vocabulario
and Arte of Ruiz de Montoya, Yapuguai's Catechism, and the letter of
Antequera y Castro. The first two were presented in 1818 by Mr. George
Bellas Greenough, the founder of the Geological Society. The Catechism
was purchased in 1889, and the letter in 1893. The latter is the only
copy hitherto known, and is the only one of the seven books of which
some portion is not facsimiled by Señor Medina.

Printing had died out in Paraguay before its introduction into any other
portion of the great La Plata region. It revived under Jesuit auspices
at Cordova, where towards the end of the seventeenth century a college
had been founded by Duarte y Quiros, which had become the chief
educational institution of the country. By 1765 it had attained
sufficient consequence to become sensible of the inconvenience of being
unable to print its theses and other academical documents, which, so
wretched was the provision then made for the intellectual needs of the
Spanish colonies, could only be done at Lima, more than a thousand miles
off on the other side of the Andes. The Viceroy of Peru was accordingly
appealed to, and permission obtained, fenced with all imaginable
precautions and restrictions. No time was lost in printing five
panegyrical orations upon the pious founder Duarte y Quiros, probably by
Father Peramas, which appeared in 1766. Two, or possibly three, minor
publications, now entirely lost, had followed, when the existence of the
press was abruptly terminated by the suppression of the Jesuits, and
Cordova never saw another until after the independence. The types,
however, not tin like the Paraguayan, but imported from Spain and cast
_secundum artem_, were preserved in the college, and in 1780 were
transferred to Buenos Ayres, where it had been resolved to introduce
typography; not for its own sake, but as a means of raising money
towards the support of a foundling hospital, endowed with the proceeds
of the printing-press. Official and ecclesiastical patronage were not
wanting; by the end of 1781 twenty-seven publications of various
descriptions, mostly of course on a very small scale, had issued from
the Buenos Ayres press. The first of any kind was a proclamation
relating to the militia, facsimiled by Señor Medina; the first deserving
the character of a book was, as in British North America, an almanac.
The most interesting from their subject were pastoral letters by two
bishops on the overthrow of the rebel cacique Tupac Amaru in Peru. The
press continued to thrive, and in 1789 it was necessary to procure a
new fount of type from Spain. The total number of publications known to
the end of 1810 is 851—a very large proportion of which, however, are
merely fly-sheets. Some, nevertheless, are of exceptional interest, such
as the translation of Dodsley's "Economy of Human Life," perhaps the
first translation of an English book ever published in Spanish America,
and the numerous broadsides attesting the impression at first produced
in the colonies by Napoleon's invasion of the mother country. Eight
proclamations by General Beresford during the brief occupation of the
city by the British forces in 1806 are of especial interest to
Englishmen. In one Beresford endeavours to conciliate the good-will of
the inhabitants by promising deliverance from the financial oppression
of the Spanish colonial system. They soon afterwards took the matter
into their own hands: the publications for the last months over which
Señor Medina's labours extend are chiefly proclamations by the Junta and
similar revolutionary documents. Among them, duly facsimiled by Señor
Medina, is the proclamation of the Junta, with the date of May 23, 1810,
announcing the virtual deposition of the Viceroy, the first document of
Buenos Ayrean independence, although the authority of Ferdinand the
Seventh is still acknowledged in name, and the autonomy of the country
was not proclaimed until 1816. Another curiosity, also facsimiled, is a
proclamation in Spanish and Quichua, "from the most persecuted
American," Iturri Patiño, to the inhabitants of Cochabamba in Upper
Peru, more than a thousand miles from Buenos Ayres, exhorting them to
welcome their deliverers. The interest is greatly enhanced by Señor
Medina's industry in tracing out other works of the writers, published
in other parts of South America.

The story of the introduction, expulsion, and revival of printing in
Monte Video is one of the most curious—we might almost say
dramatic—episodes in the history of the art. The city, which had
existed nearly two hundred years without any more typographical
implement than a stamping machine, was taken by an English expedition in
February 1807. With the invaders came an enterprising Briton whose name
is unfortunately not recorded, but who, before leaving England, had
invested in a printing-press and types, and brought them with him with
the view of earning an honest penny by dissipating South American
darkness. He received every encouragement from the English military and
naval authorities, but most probably had to train native compositors,
who could not be extemporised in a city destitute of a printing-press.
At all events he did not get to work till May, when the first production
of his press was a proclamation, from which it appears that General
Whitelock, whose expedition was to end so disastrously, at the time
considered himself entitled to exercise authority over the whole of
South America. And whereas it has been asserted that wherever an
Englishman goes the first institution he creates is a public-house, be
it noted that the next official announcement imposes a swinging tax
upon the public-houses already existing, without any loophole for local
option. On May 23, an eventful date in Argentine history, appeared the
first numbers of _The Southern Star, La Estrella de Sur_, a journal in
English and Spanish, conducted by Adjutant-General Bradford, proudly
displaying the lion and the unicorn, and addressing the native
population as "fellow-subjects," a description softened in the Spanish
version into _amigos_. The consternation produced by this portent at
Buenos Ayres was excessive. "The enemies of our holy religion, of our
king, and of the weal of mankind," declared the Audiencia, "have chosen
the printing-press as their most effectual weapon. They are diffusing
papers full of the most detestable ideas, even to the pitch of asserting
that their infamous and abominable religion differs very little from
ours." The misfortunes of the British arms, however, extinguished _The
Southern Star_ after the third number, and the publisher, whose property
in his press and types was guaranteed by the capitulation, was glad to
sell them to the Buenos Ayres Foundling Hospital for five thousand
pesos, which, whether in the spirit of speculation or by reason of the
deficiency of the circulating medium so unhappily chronic in those
regions, he received in cascarilla at the rate of twelve reals a pound.
The object of the authorities was no doubt to get the press and its
appurtenances away from Monte Video. Within three short years Buenos
Ayres became the focus of revolution, while Monte Video was still
precariously loyal. The Princess Regent and her advisers, then
established at Rio de Janeiro, finding that the revolutionists were
flooding the country with their pamphlets, invoked the power they had
striven to suppress, and deeming to cast out Satan by Beelzebub, shipped
a quantity of Brazilian type, very bad, to judge by Señor Medina's
facsimile, to Monte Video, where, for the short remaining period
comprehended in Señor Medina's work, it was employed in producing
Government manifestos and an official journal; edited for a time by
Father Cirilo de Alameda, of whom it is recorded that he never wrote
anything tolerable except a defence of the Spanish constitution, and
that this was adapted from a panegyric on the Virgin.

This slight notice can give but a very imperfect idea of the varied
interest and splendid execution of Señor Medina's volume, a work as
creditable to the country which has produced it for the excellence of
the typography and the beauty of the numerous facsimiles, as to the
author for the extent and accuracy of his research, and the curious and
interesting particulars, biographical as well as bibliographical, which
he brings to light on every page. Could the remainder of Spanish America
be treated in a similar style, that much-neglected part of the world
would rival, if not surpass, any European country in the external
dignity of its bibliographical record. This may be too much to expect,
but it is greatly to be hoped that Señor Medina will find means for
giving to the world what is actually indispensable to the completion of
his important task. He is a citizen of the most prosperous,
progressive, and orderly state in South America. It would be to the
honour of the rulers of Chili if, overlooking all political differences,
they gave their distinguished fellow-citizen the means of associating
the name of his country, as well as his own, with as meritorious an
undertaking as ever appealed to the sympathy of an enlightened State.


[127:1] _Historia y Bibliografia de la Imprenta en la America
Española._ (Parte Segunda, Paraguay y el Vireinato del Rio de la
Plata.) Por Jose Toribio Medina (La Plata, 1892).

[130:1] It has always been supposed that Paraguay was the first
country of South America to possess a printing-press after Peru,
but this honour may possibly be due to Brazil. In the memorial of
the inhabitants of the province of Pernambuco to John IV., King of
Portugal, beseeching his assistance in the expulsion of the Dutch
invaders (1645), printed in "O Valoroso Lucideno" by Manoel Calado,
Lisbon, 1648, the Dutch are accused of having propagated heresy by
means of tracts, "which have been found in the hands of many persons of
tender age." These _cartilhas_ must evidently have been in Portuguese,
they are more likely to have been printed than in MS., and it is
perhaps more probable that they were printed on the spot than exported
from Holland. If this is the case, Pernambuco is entitled to the
honour of being the first city in South America in which printing was
exercised after Lima.

[131:1] Several Spanish books printed at Manila in the eighteenth
century have frontispieces admirably engraved by native artists.
We have seen an English pamphlet printed in the Orange Free State,
prefaced by an apology for mistakes of the press on the ground that the
compositors were Hottentots.


[_Bibliographica_, vol. i. pt. 3, published by Messrs. Kegan Paul & Co.]

There are few inquiries more interesting than one into the character and
tendencies of an epoch, as ascertained by their reflection in its
literature. Such an investigation, if referring to modern times and
extended beyond a single country, must generally be incomplete on
account of the great mass of the materials, which defies any exhibition
of the literary tendencies prevailing at any given period over the whole
of Europe. In the first age of printing alone the number of books is not
absolutely unmanageable, and their bibliographical interest has ensured
their accurate description in catalogues. It would not be beyond the
power of industry to make a digest of the _incunabula_ of the fifteenth
century, so far as to show the number of books printed in each country,
their respective subjects, the frequency of reprints, the ratio of the
various classes to each other, the proportion of Latin to vernacular
books, and other particulars of this nature by which the intellectual
currents of the age might be mapped out.

The present essay is to be regarded as no more than a very imperfect
indication of the feasibility of such an undertaking. Observations,
sufficiently desultory, on the general character of the literature
published in Italy, from the introduction of printing into the country
to the end of the century, have suggested some remarks on the kind of
books which the early Italian printers found it profitable to produce,
and some inferences respecting the taste of the day, and the classes
which would be reached by the printing-press. To afford a really
satisfactory ground-work for such an inquiry, all known publications
should be enumerated (although the briefest titles would serve), and
tabulated according to their subjects. Deductions regarding the
intellectual aspects of the time might then be made with some
confidence, and the apparently dry and unpromising ground-work would
admit of rich illustration from the stores of contemporary literary
history. Any such fulness of treatment is, of course, as incompatible
with the space available in _Bibliographica_ as with the time at the
disposal of the writer. Enough, it is hoped, will have been done to show
how interesting a detailed analysis of the subject might be made. The
Roman and Venetian presses have been chiefly dwelt upon, inasmuch as
these two cities, the first in Italy to possess printing-presses, also
served to test the opposite systems of reliance upon patronage in high
quarters, or upon the free life of a busy and prosperous community. The
result is instructive, and has been confirmed by every similar
experiment in later times.

In examining the literature of the age, as represented by the
contemporary productions of the press, we are particularly impressed by
its utilitarian, and, as a corollary, its essentially popular character.
We do not employ this latter term as indicative of a relation between
the printers and the mass of the people, who at that period were
generally unable to read, but between the printers and their limited
public. In our times a considerable proportion of the current literature
of the day is produced without any reference to the needs and tastes of
the reading public. The author knows that he will not be read, but it
nevertheless suits him to put his opinions, his experiences, or his
skill in composition upon record; for the gratification of his
self-esteem, it may be, or the expression of his emotions, or as a
document for future reference, or as an act of duty, or for the pleasure
of friends, or for any one or more of these and many other conceivable
reasons. Were it not for the safety-valve afforded by the periodical
press, the number of books thus existing for the author's individual
sake would be very much more considerable. Hardly anything of this is to
be observed in the early ages of publishing. Scarcely a book is to be
found for which a public might not be reasonably expected, and which,
therefore, would not be produced without the expectation of profit. We
know that this expectation was not always realised from Sweynheym and
Pannartz's petition to Pope Sixtus IV., that he would indemnify them by
some public appointment for the loss of capital sunk in their unsold
publications, but the books were such as promised to command a sale, and
the reason of their failure was probably the competition of other
Italian presses. They were principally classical authors or Fathers of
the Church, and it may be that exigencies of Papal patronage led
Sweynheym and his partner to produce more of the latter class than was
prudent on strictly commercial grounds. If so, the case was quite
exceptional, and does not invalidate the general proposition that the
Italian printers of the Renaissance looked entirely, and in the main
intelligently, to the needs of their public. It is thus easy to discover
the character of this constituency, and to estimate its requirements.

For long after the invention of printing the books produced consist
mainly of four classes:—(1) Classical, (2) Grammatical, (3)
Theological, (4) Legal. The immense proportion of these in comparison
with other subjects demonstrates that the great majority of readers
belonged to the professional classes—teachers, or at least students at
the universities, divines, and practitioners of civil or canon law. Had
a leisured and cultured class existed, as in our times, we should have
seen more modern history and biography, more essays and facetiæ, more
vernacular poetry and fiction—all departments very slenderly
represented in the fifteenth century. Men evidently read for practical
ends, and invested their money in the expectation of a substantial
rather than an intellectual return. The class that now reads principally
for amusement, did not in that age read at all; but if it had, books
could not then be produced at the cheap rate required to ensure an
extensive circulation. If such books are costly, they must at all events
be solid, to give the purchaser an apparent return for his money; or the
expense must be distributed over a wide area by the agency of
circulating libraries, an institution which implies a numerous reading
public. Hence, a fact honourable to Renaissance literature, it includes
hardly anything that can be called trash. Copious in the number of its
publications, it is disappointingly meagre in their themes; many
branches of human activity hardly exist for it, but, at all events,
almost every one of its publications was produced in response to a real
need. Most of them have inevitably become obsolete, few have ever been,
or will be, utterly valueless.

The drawback to the generally sterling character of the early
Renaissance printing was want of enterprise on the part of the printers,
who were also the publishers. At the present day culture is greatly
promoted by the ambitious and competitive spirit of publishers, who look
far and wide for subjects likely to touch sympathetic chords in the
breast of the public, are always ready to listen to new ideas, to which
they frequently accord generous encouragement, compete among themselves
for promising writers, and are continually devising new schemes to
attract patronage by elegance, cheapness, artistic decoration, or the
supply of some want which the public has not yet found out for itself.
Very little of this is to be discovered in the fifteenth century.
Publishers seldom cared to transgress the safe ordinary round of
classics, divinity, and law. Occasionally there are symptoms of
alertness to the events of the day: thus, as soon as Cardinal Rovere
becomes Pope, his treatises on the Redemption and the perpetual
virginity of Mary are printed at Rome; and when the Jews are accused of
murdering a Christian boy, circumstantial accounts of the tragedy appear
in different parts of Europe. But, notwithstanding the intellectual
curiosity of the age, it would seem to have been a very unpromising one
for the literary manifestation of original genius of any kind. Works of
contemporary authors, other than of a purely utilitarian character, are
very rare. One of the most remarkable exceptions is the publication at
Naples in 1476 of the "Novellini" of Masuccio, a book whose scandalous
character would be sure to obtain it readers. Towards the end of the
century, works by living authors of eminence became more frequent, but
even then they are most commonly those of men like Sanazzaro,
influential in courts, and enjoying literary distinction long before
they went to press. One of the press's most important functions, the
encouragement of unknown ability, was hardly performed at all in that
age, and the principal reason was that the printers, though sometimes of
classical acquirements, were either too exclusively commercial in their
views or too limited in their resources to promote literary activity
outside of the beaten track. Our own Caxton appears a model of
intelligent adaptation to the tastes of his public, but he never finds
an author or exerts himself to give superior finish or elegance to a
book. It cannot but be thought that if Italy had in the fifteenth
century possessed a publisher of enterprising spirit and ample means, a
powerful impulse might have been imparted to Italian vernacular
literature. Such a person, indeed, would have perceived that the public
for such a literature, apart from its few classical examples, did not
then exist, but he would have deemed that the multitude of intelligent
men who could not read Latin would read Italian, if Italian were put
before them. Instead of hiring editors he would have hired authors, and
his enterprise might have been attended by momentous consequences.

Another token of the lack of a far-seeing speculative spirit is the
extraordinary period which elapsed before an Italian printer ventured
upon the publication of a Greek book. The interest in Greek literature
must have been very general, but instructors were probably scarce, and
few Italians had taken the trouble to learn it. The educational value of
the language, apart from the contents of the books composed in it, was
utterly unsurmised, and the reader was fully satisfied if he could
obtain a faithful Latin translation, which in the majority of cases was
not yet to be had. Had printed Greek texts been placed in the way of
readers, a vast impulse would have been given to the study of the
language, and a publisher of genius, labouring to create the taste he
did not find, might have greatly accelerated the course of European
culture. Greek grammar, even, awaited the typographer until 1476, and
Greek literature for some years longer. No originality was infused into
the business of publishing until the advent of Aldus, almost as much the
father of modern bookselling as Gutenberg is the father of printing.

Leaving the question of what the Renaissance printers and publishers of
Italy might have done, we proceed to illustrate what they did by a brief
analysis of the character of their productions during the first few
years of their activity, especially in Rome and Venice. The survey is
necessarily very imperfect, for a large proportion of their productions
are not dated, and the exact year is usually a matter of conjecture. We
must confine ourselves to the list of dated books given by Panzer, which
might admit of considerable extension. It is not likely, however, that
this would materially affect the mutual proportion of the various
classes of literature, the point with which we are principally

Printing was established at Rome in 1467 by the removal of Sweynheym and
Pannartz from Subiaco. Five books are recorded to have been printed
there in that year; two classics (Cicero's "De Oratore" and "Epistolæ ad
Familiares"), two editions of the fathers, and one grammatical work. In
1468 six more make their appearance, one classical, three patristic, one
theological, and one medical. In 1469 commences the great run upon
classical writers, which continued for some years. Of the twelve books
enumerated by Panzer as produced in this year, all but one are
classics, and the apparent exception is a defence of Plato by Cardinal
Bessarion. All but one are printed by Sweynheym and Pannartz, with
prefaces by the Bishop of Aleria as editor-general. This striking
development of activity indicates the first organised attempt to
monopolise a special department of the book-trade, which might possibly
have succeeded if Rome had then, as now, been the capital of an united
Italy. The other Italian cities, however, had no intention of being
excluded from the practice of the new art, and the same year witnessed
the introduction of typography into its true Italian metropolis, Venice,
combined, however, with an audacious attempt to obtain a monopoly.
Joannes de Spira, the first printer in Venice, not content with
obtaining protection for his publications, claimed and obtained the sole
right of printing books in the city for five years. Men had evidently as
yet but little conception of the importance of the new art; but the
death of the printer within the year released the Venetian State from
the obligation it had so inconsiderately undertaken, and it was by this
time sufficiently enlightened not to renew it in favour of his brother
Vindelinus, who, however, remained for some time among the most
distinguished of Venetian printers.[149:1]

Before leaving the year 1469, we should mention the first Italian
instance of a printed translation of a Greek classic, the Italian
Strabo, published by Sweynheym and Pannartz without date, but which is
known to have belonged to this year. In 1470 the run on classics
continues, the same number as in the previous year being printed, mostly
by Sweynheym and Pannartz, but a revival is apparent in other branches
of literature, the number of books in theology being nearly equal to
that of the classics. Another translation from the Greek appears, that
of Plutarch's Lives, rendered by various hands, with the preface of J.
A. Campanus. The most remarkable production of the Roman press for this
year, however, is a small tract, which affords the first example of
recourse to printing by a Pope for an official purpose. It is the brief
of Pope Paul II., enacting that the Jubilee shall henceforth be
celebrated every twenty-fifth year, and consequently in 1475, which he
did not live to see. This interesting document has been recently
acquired by the British Museum. In 1471, as is most probable, another
Government publication appeared, "The Civic Statutes of Rome," as
revised by Paul II.; and the election of his successor Sixtus, in the
same year, produced the first two examples of official publications,
afterwards very frequent, the congratulatory harangues pronounced by
ambassadors upon occasion of their tendering homage to the Pope.

Twelve classical publications grace the year, mostly from the press of
Sweynheym and Pannartz, as well as the first volume of their great
edition of the "Biblical Commentary" of Nicolaus de Lyra. The remaining
four volumes appeared in the year following, and the last was freighted
with the memorable appeal to Pope Sixtus IV., composed by the Bishop of
Aleria in the name of the printers, which throws so vivid a light on the
vicissitudes of the book-trade in Rome. They have printed 12,475 sheets,
_acervum ingentem_, for which it is marvellous that paper or types
should have been found. Their spacious premises are choked with unbound
sheets in quinions (_quinterniones_), but void of victual and drink.
Will the Pope give them some little office, by aid of which they may be
able to provide for themselves and their families? Rome was manifestly
no place for classical publishers, even under a Pope who did so much for
the encouragement of learning as Sixtus. The forlorn estate of Sweynheym
and Pannartz, contrasted, as we shall see, with the flourishing
condition of the Venetian book-trade at the time, shows that even at a
period when reading, to say nothing of the scholarship required to
master the literature of the day, was not a general accomplishment, the
bookseller's best patron was the public. Probably, however, the
hardships of the firm may have been somewhat exaggerated by the eloquent
pen of the Bishop of Aleria; for in this very year they appear as
printing ten books, and in the following year seven. Two of these are
new editions of works previously issued by them, showing not only that
the original impression was sold out, but that it was thought profitable
to undertake another.

In 1474 the names of the printers entirely disappear as partners.
Sweynheym is known to have died before 1478 (when the Ptolemy, which he
had begun to prepare for the press, was published by Arnold Buckingk),
but at what particular time is uncertain. Pannartz comes forward by
himself in December 1474, and in the following year he occurs as the
printer of eight books, chiefly classical. In 1476 he prints three, but
his activity abruptly terminates in March, a period coinciding with a
collapse in Roman publishing, best illustrated by a comparative table:—

    1475  53  books.
    1476  24  books.
    1477  14  books.
    1478  15  books.
    1479  11  books.
    1480   9  books.

No doubt many undated books were published in these years, and after
1480 some revival is apparent, but the quality of the publication is
greatly lowered. Classics continued to be printed, but they retire into
the background before canon and civil law, and the apparent number is
greatly helped out by ephemeral pamphlets, such as papal briefs and
addresses on public occasions. The endeavour to render Rome an
intellectual centre had manifestly failed, nor has she deserved this
character at any subsequent period, except for the few years during
which wits and scholars gathered around Leo X. Before leaving the
subject, nevertheless, a tribute should be paid to the merits of Joannes
Philippus de Lignamine, a native of Messina, apparently a man of good
family, and not improbably the first native Italian to exercise the
typographic art, in whose productions may be traced rudimentary ideas of
a higher order than were vouchsafed to his mercantile contemporaries. It
can hardly be by accident that the same man who in 1472 prints the first
vernacular book that had appeared in Rome, should in the same year
publish, although in Latin, the first biography of an Italian
contemporary, his own memoir of his own sovereign, Ferdinand of Naples;
should in 1473 issue the vernacular poetry of Petrarch; and in 1474 a
book of such national interest as the "Italia Illustrata" of Flavio
Biondo. His publications are always of high quality, and it would be
interesting to learn more respecting him. He is described as a member of
the Pope's household, and was certainly something more than a
professional printer.

The establishment of printing at Rome had naturally ensued upon the
migration of the printers from the small adjoining town of Subiaco, and
the choice of the latter place as the cradle of Italian typography had
probably been determined by the German nationality of the majority of
the inmates of its celebrated monastery. The introduction of printing
into Venice, two years after Rome, was probably less the effect of
accident. Joannes de Spira, who, as we have seen, so promptly secured a
monopoly of so much value as the exclusive exercise of printing for five
years, must have been an enterprising and far-seeing man, to whom the
opulence and comparative freedom of Venice would offer greater
attractions than the doubtful patronage of an Italian despot. This view
of his character is confirmed by the boldness of his first undertakings.
Before obtaining any privilege he had produced two of the most
voluminous works of antiquity then accessible—Pliny's Natural History
and Cicero's Epistolæ ad Familiares. The soundness of his judgment was
evinced by the demand for a second edition of his Cicero within four
months, an unusual occurrence in the history of early printing. Tacitus
followed, and the German printer's patriotism is indicated by his
description of the Germania as "libellus aureus." His brother and
successor, Vindelinus, displays even greater energy, producing fifteen
books within the year 1470, among them so important a work as Livy's
History, and gaining especial honour as the first printer of Petrarch.
The rest are almost entirely classical, and so are the few books printed
in this year by his rival, Nicolas Jenson, the most elegant of all the
Italian printers. In 1471 Venetian printing takes a wider range; law
books increase; Jensen produces books of morals and of religious
edification in the vernacular; Christopher Valdarfer publishes the
Decameron of Boccaccio. More important still is the appearance of two
independent Italian translations of the Bible, one from the press of
Vindelinus, one without name of printer. As no other Italian city
emulated the example of Venice, an example frequently repeated by her
before the close of the century, we are justified in assuming that in no
other Italian city could such a thing be done. Interesting too is a
vernacular translation of Cardinal Bessarion's exhortation to the
Italian princes to take arms against the Turk, showing a public for
productions of contemporary interest, outside the ranks of those who
could read Latin. In the following year, 1472, printed editions of no
fewer than six classical authors make their appearance at Venice,
Cicero's Tusculan Questions; Catullus, with Tibullus and Propertius, and
the Silvæ of Statius; Ausonius, with a considerable appendix of minor
poets; Macrobius's commentary on the "Somnium Scipionis," and the
authors of "De Re Rustica." Although some of the cities dependent upon
Venice—Padua, Treviso, Verona—were beginning to have printing-presses,
their typographers were not equal to such undertakings, and Venice must
have been the headquarters of production and distribution for her
extensive and opulent territory, and probably for many of the
neighbouring states. Her abundant capital and industry, liberal
administration in non-political matters, and the confluence of strangers
must be reckoned among the principal causes of this activity, to which
Mr. Horatio Brown adds another, the abundance and excellence of paper,
which the Venetian senate had protected a century before by prohibiting
the export of rags from their dominions.

The extent and growth of the Venetian book-trade will appear by the
following notice of the number of works printed from 1469 to 1486, which
would be considerably augmented if dates could be safely assigned to
undated books:—

    1469    4  books.
    1470   22  books.
    1471   48  books.
    1472   36  books.
    1473   28  books.
    1474   40  books.
    1475   37  books.
    1476   52  books.
    1477   55  books.
    1478   64  books.
    1479   16  books.
    1480   71  books.
    1481   79  books.
    1482   74  books.
    1483  104  books.
    1484   66  books.
    1485   84  books.
    1486   71  books.

By 1495 the number of publications has risen to 119, the general
character of the books remaining much as before. The productions of the
Venetian press from 1469 to 1500 occupy more space in Panzer's catalogue
than those of Rome, Florence, Naples, Milan, Bologna, Brescia, Ferrara,
Padua, Parma, and Treviso put together.

Space allows only a brief glance at the typographical productions of the
five most important of the seven Italian cities which possessed
printing-presses by 1471—Bologna, Ferrara, Florence, Milan and Naples.
Bologna, as might be expected in a university city, especially produces
erudite books, particularly in philosophy, mathematics, and medicine.
Petrarch and Boccaccio, however, relieve the general aridity, and there
is a fair sprinkling of classics. Ferrara's taste lies much in the same
direction, but it is remarkable for a school of Hebrew printing, and
does itself honour by the _editio princeps_ of Seneca's tragedies, and
even more so by that of Boccaccio's "Teseide," the first publication of
an Italian epic poem other than the "Divina Commedia." Florence appears
more tardy in developing the new art than might have been expected under
Medicean rule; and her early productions would seem comparatively
unimportant but for Bettini's "Monte Sancto di Dio" (1477), the first
example of a printed book containing copperplate engraving, and the
famous Dante of 1481, partly illustrated in the same manner. The
artistic eminence of Florence renders the production of this work within
her precincts especially significant; and in 1490 a school of
wood-engraving arises which surpasses the Venetian, and often confers
great artistic value upon typographical productions otherwise of little
account. Another interesting feature of Florentine typography, from
about 1480 until the end of the century, is the number of original
publications by native men of letters, such as Politian, the Pulcis,
and, in quite a different manner, Savonarola. Florence understood the
duty of encouraging contemporary talent better than any other Italian
city; yet, although she was the Athens of Italy, and possessed its
Pericles, the comparison between the extent of her typographical
production and that of Venice shows that the public is the better
patron. When, at a much later period, wealth and public spirit departed
from Venice to an extent which they never did from Florence, the lead
passed to the latter city.

Milan is, for the first few years, principally devoted to the classics,
upon which law and theology gradually gain ground. Its great glory is
the first book printed in Greek—Lascaris's Grammar, 1476. Simoneta's
"History of Francesco Sforza," put forth by the authority of Lodovico
Sforza about 1479, is also a memorable book. Naples, where printing was
never very active, does little for classical literature, but produce
numerous works by local writers of distinction, from Archbishop
Caraccioli to the licentious Masuccio. The number of Hebrew books is a
remarkable feature.

This slight degustation—analysis it cannot be called—of the fruits of
Italian Renaissance literature confirms the proposition with which we
began, that it was far more utilitarian than that of ages often
stigmatised as matter-of-fact and prosaic. The reproductions of
classical authors were not in general stimulated by enthusiasm for their
beauties, but by their utility, either for the information they
contained, or as books for school or college. Outside their circle very
little of a fanciful or imaginative character appeared, and this chiefly
in the shape of impressions of vernacular authors, such as Dante,
Petrarch, and Boccaccio. Original genius was at almost as low an ebb as
it has ever been, although a band of most gracefully accomplished men of
letters surrounded Lorenzo de' Medici, and Ariosto and Machiavelli were
growing up. In partial explanation of this circumstance, it may be
remarked that the fifteenth century, brilliant in its inventions and
discoveries, was, in a literary point of view, one of the most
unproductive periods in European history. Petrarch and Boccaccio in
Italy, Chaucer in England, left no successors; with the exception of
Æneas Sylvius, it would be difficult to point to any writer of the first
half of the century eminent by his achievements in elegant literature.
Had printing been invented in the thirteenth century, or in the age of
Elizabeth, we might have had a different story to record; but it must
now be said that for a long time it did little for the encouragement of
genius, hardly even of high talent. Yet the age as a whole was by no
means flat or prosaic, only its imagination was more powerfully
attracted to art than to letters, and a spiritual charm is chiefly
recognisable among its books in proportion as art has influenced them,
whether in the design of exquisite type or of beautiful illustration.
This utilitarian character of literature, as we have remarked, tended to
discourage readers for amusement or for the love of letters; and this in
turn discouraged printers and publishers from any serious effort to
provide vernacular reading. Literature accordingly remained for a long
time the property of the humanists, which is as much as to say that it
was imitative and not creative. The merits and defects of this excellent
class of men cannot be better exhibited than by their attitude towards
Greek. It was not one of indifference, they translated Greek authors
into Latin with exemplary pains; but they thought this quite
sufficient, and made no effort to render the originals accessible. They
valued Greek authors for their information, not for their style, and had
no idea of the value of the language as an instrument of education. A
creative epoch was required for this, such as speedily came with the
overthrow of the old order of Italy, with the discovery of America,
above all, with the Reformation. No age can bestow so great a boon upon
literature as the fifteenth century did by the invention of printing;
but it was not an age in which the hero flourished conspicuously as man
of letters.


[149:1] It seems to have been afterwards sought to imply that Spira's
monopoly was intended only to protect his copyright in books actually
published by him, but the language of the original document is clear.
It may be remarked that, did not other arguments abundantly suffice,
this transaction would prove the date 1461, in Nicolas Jenson's _Decor
Puellarum_, to be a misprint, as if he had printed before 1469 he would
have acquired a _locus standi_ which could not have been ignored in
Spira's favour.


I feel that I owe an apology for presenting you with anything so scrappy
and disconnected as the paper you are to hear to-night. Being
unexpectedly called upon to fill a gap at a time when pressure of
occupation prevented my writing anything requiring care or study, I
bethought me of the story of the minister who, when about to officiate
as a substitute for another, received at the same time a hint that the
congregation were particular about quantity no less than quality, and
that they would expect the length of his public exercises to attain the
average of the regular incumbent. The absent gentleman was remarkable
for fluency, the _locum tenens_ was a man of few words. He did his best,
but by-and-by found himself with a vacant quarter of an hour and a
vacant head; when suddenly a happy thought flashed into the void, and he
exclaimed, "And now, O Lord, I will relate an anecdote." I too in my
emergency have taken refuge in anecdotage, and, in default of anything
of my own, I am about to bore or entertain you with some anecdotes of
book-collectors of the seventeenth century, borrowed from that
illustrious gossip and anecdote monger, Nicius Erythræus, with a brief
account of whom I will preface my paper.

I scarcely think that I shall underrate the amount of information
respecting Nicius Erythræus current at this time in this country by
remarking that the name is probably best known as a pseudonym of
Coleridge, under which his poem of "Lewti," a Circassian love-chant, was
first given to the world, and most readers will have deemed his adoption
of it a mere freak. I confess that I am myself unable to discover what
Nicius Erythræus has to do with the Circassians, but it is not an
imaginary name, being the Latinisation of that of Vittorio dé Rossi, an
Italian Jesuit, who flourished during the last quarter of the sixteenth,
and the first half of the seventeenth century, and, always writing in
Latin, translated his vernacular appellation into that language. The
circumstance of his having written in Latin is no doubt one principal
reason why he is now so little remembered. He was one of the pioneers of
a reviving form of literature, the anecdotic. Poggio Bracciolini had
written a very popular book of anecdotes in the fifteenth century, but
his tales are often mere Joe Millers, and not always authentic. Nicius's
stories are _bona-fide_ anecdotes or reminiscences of actual personages,
with most of whom he had conversed. All roads, it is said, lead to Rome,
and his position as an ecclesiastic about the Papal court, albeit a
hungry and discontented one (he had sorely prejudiced himself by a
romance, the "Eudemia," in which he had made too free with the
characters of influential people), brought him into contact with every
man of mark who resorted to it, whether a denizen of Rome or a foreign
visitor. His gallery of portraits includes two persons of much interest
to Britain, John Barclay, Scot by descent if French by birth, author of
the "Argenis"; and Teresa, the fair Armenian, who wedded our countryman
Sir Robert Sherley, in his adventurous Persian travels. In my opinion he
is a most entertaining writer, lively and animated, with a bright
descriptive touch; an elegant Latinist, and though much given to
relating stories which the subjects of them would have wished to consign
to oblivion, he is at bottom very good-natured. His principal work is
his "Pinacotheca," or Portrait Gallery, in three parts, each containing
a hundred sketches of contemporaries, all people of some note, if only
for their eccentricities, and many of whom, but for him, would now be
utterly unknown. He doubtless retails much gossip at second-hand, but I
do not think that he has invented anything, and I believe that we see
his contemporaries in his pages much as they really were. For proofs,
authorities, _pièces justificatives_, you must look elsewhere, and
Nicius shuns a date as if it were the number of the beast.

Perhaps the most interesting of the particulars relating to library
matters imparted by my author are those respecting a man second only to
Grolier as a patron of fine binding, but of whose personal character
and habits, were it not for Nicius, we should know nothing. Every one
interested in the bibliopegic art is more or less acquainted with the
beautiful bindings executed for Demetrius Canevarius, physician to Urban
VII., elected Pope in 1590, but whom all his leech's skill could not
keep alive upon the Papal throne for more than twelve days. This
certainly does not seem to have been the fault of the physician, who
was, Nicius tells us, a Genoese of noble family, who condescended to the
medical profession in the hope of becoming rich. In this there is
nothing to criticise; but unfortunately, avarice seems to have been his
master passion, indeed his only passion, except the love of books, which
has given him an honourable place in literary history. Having removed
from Genoa to Rome, he soon obtained the confidence of many of the
Cardinals, and became the most celebrated and opulent physician of his
day. But his habits were most parsimonious; he never, in his own house,
says Nicius, tasted fowl or fish, or anything that any sumptuary law
could have forbidden in any age. He lived by himself; his meals,
consisting of bread, soup, and a scrap of meat, were brought him by an
old woman who never entered the house, and drawn up to the first floor
in a basket. He bought his new clothes ready made, and his second-hand
clothes from the Jews. As soon as he got any money, he put it out to
interest, and when he got the interest upon that, he put it out again.
The one exception to this parsimony was the expense to which he went in
buying books. Dry as pumice, says Nicius, in every other respect, in
this he was most liberal; if you look, that is, to the total sum he
expended, and not to the prices he gave for individual books. For he
beat the booksellers down unrelentingly, and would carry off their books
at much lower prices than they asked, notwithstanding their lamentations
and complaints that they were going to be ruined. How could he achieve
this? By the magic of ready money; the bibliopole found it better after
all to part with the book at a small profit for money down than to keep
it on his shelves till some one bought it and forgot to pay. Thus was
Canevarius unknowingly a forerunner of the political economists, and an
initiator of the principle of small profits and quick returns. Of the
bindings which constitute his glory with posterity Nicius says nothing;
but ascribes his prowess as a collector in great measure to a love of
fame. No unworthy motive either, but it is likely that public spirit had
quite as much to do with it; for Canevarius not merely collected the
library which he expected to perpetuate his name with posterity, but
bequeathed it to his native city of Genoa, and left by his will an
annuity of two hundred crowns to a caretaker. It would be interesting to
learn what became of the books and the pension; if the facts are not
already upon record they ought to be investigated. From the preface to a
posthumous work of Canevarius, published by his brother, it would almost
seem that the family had some control over it, and if so they may have
dilapidated it. If the library, when transmitted to Genoa, contained all
the elaborate bindings which are now esteemed so precious, it was a
bequest of more value than could have been supposed at the time. Though
stingy and covetous in his life, Canevarius was a benefactor to many at
his death. He left, Nicius says, such a multitude of legacies, and such
a host of minute directions to be observed after his decease, that his
will was as big as a book. The ruling passion of parsimony remained with
him, and he gave a remarkable instance of it in his last illness.
"When," says Nicius, "ten days before his death, an old woman who had
come to nurse him gave him an egg to suck, and then took a new napkin
from a cupboard to wipe his lips; 'What mean you,' cried he, 'by
spoiling a new napkin? was there never a tattered one in the house?
Depart to the infernal regions!'" Yet even here Canevarius emerges
victorious, for the disparaging biographer is constrained to admit that
he _had_ a new napkin.

The next chapter of bibliographical anecdote which I propose to cite
from Nicius Erythræus is not derived from his Pinacotheca, but from his
Epistles. It relates to persons of more importance than Demetrius
Canevarius, to no less a man, indeed, than Cardinal Mazarin, and to the
eminent French scholar Gabriel Naudé, then (1645) employed as his agent
in collecting the first Mazarin Library, so unhappily destroyed and
dispersed a few years afterwards by the hostile Parliament of Paris.
Naudé has deplored the fate of the collection in a book devoted to it,
and Nicius, his intimate friend and correspondent, powerfully confirms
the loss which letters thus received by his description of Naudé's
exertions as a collector, in a letter he writes to Cardinal Chigi, Papal
nuncio in Germany. After mentioning that Naudé had seventeen years
before obtained great credit by a work "On the Formation of Public
Libraries," and that Mazarin having laid the foundation of his library
by buying that of a Canon of Limoges, consisting of six thousand
volumes, Naudé had doubled this number by purchases within one year; he
adds, "Finding nothing more to buy in Paris he went to Belgium, and
there took the pick of the market; and this year has come to Italy,
where the booksellers' shops seem devastated as by a whirlwind. He buys
up everything, printed or manuscript, in all languages, leaves the
shelves empty behind him, and sometimes comes down upon them with a
rule, and insists upon taking their contents by the yard. Often, seeing
masses of books accumulated together, he asks the price of the entire
lot; it is named; differences ensue; but, by dint of urging, bullying,
storming, our man gets his way, and often acquires excellent books among
the heap, for less than if they had been pears or lemons. When the
vendor comes to think over the matter, he concludes that he has been
bewitched, and complains that he would have fared better with the
butterman, or the grocer. Did you see our Naudé coming out of a
bookseller's shop you could never help laughing, so covered from head
to foot is he with cobwebs, and that learned dust which sticks to books,
from which neither thumps nor brushes, it seems, would ever be able to
free him. I have seen multitudes of Hebrew books in his bedroom, so
stained and greasy and stinking, that one's nose seemed damaged
irrecoverably; they must have been disinterred from Jewish kitchens,
smelling as they did of smoke, soup, cheese, pickles, or rather of a
mixture of each and all these aromas. If he gives them a place in his
library, he will undoubtedly bring in the mice; they will flock in from
Paris and the suburbs, hold their feasts, convoke their parliaments, and
deliberate on the ways and means of resisting the cats, their capital
enemies. But, without joking, Naudé means that Paris shall have the
finest public library in Europe."

I need not dwell further on the sad fate of this magnificent collection,
nor remind you that Mazarin formed a second which, especially for one
book's sake, has endeared him to many who know little of him as a
statesman, and that little not always to his advantage. After hearing of
his munificence and indomitable spirit in the collection of books, we
may feel more reconciled to the first book ever printed in Europe being
popularly associated with his name, although "Gutenberg Bible" would
still be the more appropriate designation.

My next anecdote relates to a book-hunter not less enthusiastic and
determined than Mazarin or Naudé, but much less known to fame, unknown,
in fact, were it not for our good Nicius Erythræus. Prosper Podianus, a
Perugian, but living at Rome, cared, says Nicius, from his youth upwards
but to find out who had written a book upon any subject, at what price
it was to be had, and how he was to get it. His life was consequently
spent in frequenting booksellers' shops and stalls, which latter seem to
have become an established institution in Nicius's time, although, as
would appear, the dealers were not always sufficiently civilised to have
actual stalls, but merely strewed the books upon the ground. (It would
be highly interesting could we ascertain when and where the art of
printing first acquired sufficient development to make it practicable
and profitable to set up a second-hand bookstall.) As Podianus really
was a connoisseur, and knew well what he was about, he frequently picked
up some precious volume for a trifle, and was far from imitating the
conscientiousness of Giovenale Ancina, Bishop of Saluzzo. This excellent
prelate, it is credibly reported, having observed a valuable book amid a
pile heaped upon the ground, as above mentioned, on learning that it was
to be had for a penny, turned short upon the bookseller, rated him
soundly for his ignorance, and gave him a scudo. Different indeed from
the conduct of a lady narrated to me the other day, who, seeing a copy
of the first edition of George Meredith's Poems, commercially worth ten
or twelve guineas, priced at two shillings, and knowing its value right
well, marched with it into the shop and beat the bookseller down to
eighteenpence. I know not whether I more admire or execrate that woman.

Podianus could hardly be expected to emulate the magnanimity of Bishop
Ancina, considering that if he had often had to give scudi for his
books, he would have been reduced to the necessity of stealing them. He
was rich, however, in a thrifty wife, to whom her husband's goings-on
were an enigma and an abomination. Finding that remonstrances availed
nothing, whenever money for housekeeping was absolutely necessary, she
would lay hold of a book, and pledge it with the butcher or baker or
candlestick-maker, when Podianus would be necessitated to redeem it
somehow. He himself rarely dined and did not always sleep at home, being
sure of free quarters from other bibliophiles, who hoped that he would
one day bequeath them his library. At length he was persuaded to make a
donation of it in his lifetime, on condition that the books should
remain in his possession until his death. Either oblivious of this, or
wishing to secure other patrons, he made another prospective donation of
the books to the fathers of a certain monastery, who inscribed the
record of his benefaction upon a marble tablet, to be put up in their
chapel after his death. When this event took place, they swooped down
upon the prize, only to find a still more recent beneficiary in
possession. In their mortification they effaced the laudatory
inscription from the tablet, only leaving the initial letters D. O. M.,
which were commonly interpreted, Daturis Opes Majores—to those who
shall leave us a more substantial legacy.

Nicius mentions one more mighty book-hunter, Cardinal Peranda, of whom,
however, beyond the fact that he was enthusiastic and indefatigable in
the pursuit, we learn nothing bibliographically memorable but his
misadventure with a pet monkey, which, having got hold of the cotton
stopper of the ink-bottle (for so I must render _gossypium_ according to
my present lights) saturated with ink, must needs employ it upon the
most precious book in his whole library. An enemy of books this which
has escaped the attention of Mr. Blades. I will conclude with an
anecdote not strictly bibliographic or bibliopolic, but not unconnected
with the special objects of our Association, inasmuch as it proves the
use in Italy, early in the seventeenth century, of a minor invention
serviceable to bookmen—blotting-paper. It is the story of Muzio Oddi,
mathematician and engineer, who, though debarred from pen and ink,
solaced his imprisonment at Pesaro by the composition of mathematical
treatises, written on sheets of blotting-paper, at first by charcoal cut
to a point, afterwards, having given more stability to his paper by
pressing several sheets together, by a reed-pen dipped in ink made from
charcoal and water, and kept in a walnut shell. Sir Edward Thompson has
shown from an old record that blotting-paper was known in England in
the middle of the fifteenth century; yet sand was in more common use to
a comparatively recent date. It is a remarkable circumstance that sand
was used instead of blotting-paper in the Reading Room of the British
Museum as late as 1838, and was then only discontinued on the
representation of Mr. Panizzi that it got into the books. If, however,
Oddi was able to procure so many sheets of it when he could not get
writing-paper, it must have been common in Italy at the period of his
imprisonment, which would probably be about 1620. I must not omit to add
that this ingenious man made the compasses he required out of twigs of
olive wood, that the books he composed under such difficulties were
actually published, and that he was eventually liberated, and died in
wealth and honour.

These few anecdotes from a restricted field of human activity may afford
some idea of the opulence of Nicius Erythræus in humorous, and at the
same time urbane gossip. He was a quaint, pleasant man, something
between Pepys and Aubrey, not of the highest intellectual powers, but a
fair judge of other men, a good scholar and Latinist, and with quite
sufficient sense to know when a story was worth repeating. He has
preserved much that would have been lost without him, and has made a
sunshine in that very shady place, the Rome of the seventeenth century.
His main defect, ornate prolixity when simple brevity would have been
more appropriate, is the besetting sin of most Jesuit prose writers. He
seems just the sort of useful, entertaining, neglected writer, whom the
presses of our Universities might advantageously reproduce, and the
illustration of his text would afford congenial employment to an
accomplished editor.


[161:1] Read before the Monthly Meeting of the Library Association,
London, April 1898.


The natural reaction against over-statements respecting the darkness of
the dark ages, has led to the counter-statement that they were not dark
at all. We librarians know better. We know that they must have been in
darkness, inasmuch as our body did not exist to enlighten them. There
can have been no librarians where there were no libraries; and the lists
of collections of manuscripts preserved to our times sufficiently prove
that no set of men professionally interested in the custody of stores so
diminutive can have been required. The function of librarian must have
been one of the numerous offices discharged cumulatively by a single
monk, upon whom it may sometimes have been imposed by way of penance. It
was otherwise in classical antiquity. To say nothing of the Alexandrian
Library, and its connection with men as distinguished as Callimachus and
Apollonius, so late as near the close of the third century of our era
the decree of the Emperor Tacitus, that the historical works of his
illustrious namesake should be transcribed and placed in the public
libraries throughout the empire, indicates the existence of numerous
institutions of this description, under responsible officers, servants
of the State, or the municipality.

Almost all personal trace, however, of the famous librarians of
antiquity has disappeared; but the interest attaching to the slow
emergence of their modern representatives from the flood of ignorance
and barbarism rivals that which the history of their prototypes would
excite, could this be recovered. It would be interesting to know when
and where in Renaissance, or post-Renaissance times, the accumulation of
books first became so considerable as to demand the whole time of the
officer entrusted with their custody, and thus to give birth to
librarianship as a distinct profession. Into this inquiry I do not
propose to enter. I wish merely, on the present occasion, to direct your
attention to the evidence borne about the middle of the seventeenth
century to the development at that period attained by librarianship, and
the conception of its duties and possibilities entertained by John Dury,
a man in advance of his times.

Dury was by birth a Scotchman, and by profession a divine. He had
signalised his appreciation of libraries at an early age by repairing to
Oxford with the object of studying in the Bodleian. He is entitled to
figure on the roll of librarians himself, having been appointed
deputy-keeper of the Royal Library after the execution of Charles I.,
which charge may very probably have suggested to him those thoughts on
the duties of librarians and the standard of librarianship, of which I
am to give you an account. The main object of his life, however, was the
even more important but certainly less hopeful undertaking of allaying
the acrimony of religious zealots. In pursuance of this mission we find
him almost more abroad than at home; ever labouring to appease the
dissensions of Protestants, now negotiating with Gustavus Adolphus, now
with the Synod of Transylvania; now at Utrecht, now at Brandenburgh, now
at Metz, where he submitted to the loss of his "great, square, white
beard," as a peace offering to the prejudices of French Protestantism.
He eventually, long after the Restoration, died in Hesse, where he was
entertained and protected by the Regent. It is to be feared that nothing
came of his well-meant endeavours but the witness of a good conscience
and the blessing that rests upon peace-makers. It may, perhaps, have
been inferred that he was not in all respects the most practical of men,
and this, indeed, appears from his works on education rather than from
his suggestions on libraries. But his utopianism was less owing to
infirmity of judgment than to the habitual elevation of his moral and
intellectual standard. He thought better of his fellow-men than they
deserved, and was himself a man of eminent desert. If his own writings
did not survive to speak for him, it would be sufficient to record that
he was the intimate friend of Samuel Hartlib, the foreign guest to whom
England is so greatly indebted as philanthropist and practical
agriculturist, and to whom several of his own treatises are inscribed.

The tract in which Dury published his ideas respecting the duties of a
librarian is entitled "The Reformed Library Keeper; with a Supplement to
the Reformed School, as subordinate to Colleges in Universities"
(London, 1650). It appears with a brief preface by Samuel Hartlib, to
whom the "Library Keeper" is addressed in the form of two letters, and
who had already published Dury's "Reformed School," to which another
portion of the tiny pamphlet is a supplement.

From the general drift of Dury's observations, it would appear that in
his view, which was very probably correct, librarianship had in his day
reached such a degree of development as to have become an independent
profession, but not such a degree as to be a very useful one. It was
necessary to have librarians, but librarians, as such, had not enough to
do to constitute them very important or valuable members of the
community. The remedy for this state of things was destined to come
slowly, partly by increase of books, and even more by an increase of
readers. We know that the profession at present finds ample employment
for well-nigh all the energies of its most active members. This was far
from the case in Dury's day, and being unable so to accelerate the march
of intellect as to find sufficing occupation for the librarian, and at
the same time hating to see a functionary potentially so important
comparatively useless, he not unnaturally sought to provide him with
other vocations in which the more technical work of librarianship would
have been merged. In so doing he anticipated the modern idea, especially
rife in America, that the librarian should not only be a custodian and
distributor of books, but a missionary of culture. Hence came the
further idea that more being expected of the librarian more should be
given him, and the office thus made worthy of the acceptance of men of
parts and learning. Thus we find Dury, from a comparative outsider's
point of view, coming to magnify the librarian's office and demand
generous treatment for its incumbent, very much in the tone now held by
the organs and representatives of the profession itself. It must be
borne in mind that he speaks not so much in the interest of librarians
as of the public; and pleads for them less in their capacity as
custodians of books than with reference to the educational functions
which he wishes to see superadded to their ordinary duties.

It will now be well to let him speak for himself.

"The library keeper's place and office in most countries are looked upon
as places of profit and gain."

Rather a startling statement to us, who have been accustomed to look
upon librarianship as under the special influence of the planet Saturn,
which is said to preside over all occupations in which money is obtained
with very great difficulty. It would seem, however, that mean as the
prizes of librarianship might be, they were yet scrambled for.

"And so," he continues, "accordingly sought after and valued in that
regard and not in regard of the service which is to be done by them unto
the Commonwealth of Israel. For the most part men look after the
maintenance and livelihood settled upon their places more than upon the
end and usefulness of their employments. They seek themselves and not
the public therein, and so they subordinate all the advantages of their
places to purchase mainly two things thereby, viz., an easy subsistence
and some credit in comparison of others, nor is the last much regarded
if the first may be had. To speak in particular of library keepers in
most universities that I know, nay, indeed, in all, their places are but
mercenary, and their employment of little or no use further than to look
to the books committed to their custody, that they may not be lost or
embezzled by those that use them, and this is all."

Dury has, no doubt, here put his finger upon the main cause of the low
condition of the librarianship of his day. The general conception of the
librarian's functions was far too narrow. He was allowed no share in the
government of his own library. He had not necessarily anything to do
with the selection of new books, nor was it expected of him that he
should advise and direct the studies of those resorting to the
collections committed to his care. In fact he was not usually qualified
for such activity, or even for the minor task of making these
collections serviceable by means of catalogues and indexes. The
development of literature had advanced so far as to necessitate the
library custodian, but had not yet produced the library
administrator—the Denis and Audiffredi of the succeeding century. Dury
saw this, and also saw that the ideal librarian he had conceived in his
own mind would need better pay that he might do better work. One
exception to his apparently sweeping statements must be noted. Bodley's
librarians in the seventeenth century were undoubtedly men of high
literary distinction. Yet even here the arrangements for the librarian's
remuneration were unsatisfactory, and wrong in principle.

"I have been informed," says Dury, "that in Oxford the settled
maintenance of the library keeper is not above fifty or sixty pounds per
annum, but that it is accidentally _viis et modis_, sometimes worth a
hundred pound. What the accidents are, and the ways and means by which
they come, I have not been curious to search after."

So we are not to know by what shifts Mr. Nicholson's seventeenth-century
predecessor mended his salary. "Hay and oats," says Dean Swift, "in the
hands of a skilful groom will make excellent wine, as well as ale, but
_this_ I only _hint_."

Dury now proceeds to develop his ideas in a fine and wise passage:—

"I have thought that if the proper employments of library keepers were
taken into consideration as they are, or may be made useful to the
advancement of learning; and were ordered and maintained
proportionately to the ends which ought to be intended thereby, they
would be of exceeding great use to all scholars, and have an universal
influence upon all the parts of learning, to produce and propagate the
same into perfection. For if library keepers did understand themselves
in the nature of their work, and would make themselves, as they ought to
be, useful in their places in a public way, they ought to become agents
for the advancement of universal learning; and to this effect I could
wish that their places might not be made, as everywhere they are,
mercenary, but rather honorary; and that with the competent allowance of
two hundred pounds a year [equivalent to about six hundred nowadays],
some employments should be put upon them further than a bare keeping of
the books. It is true that a fair library is not only an adornment and
credit to the place where it is, but an useful commodity by itself to
the public; yet in effect it is no more than a dead body as now it is
constituted, in comparison of what it might be, if it were animated with
a public spirit to keep and use it, and ordered as it might be for
public service. For if such an allowance were settled upon the
employment as might maintain a man of parts and generous thoughts, then
a condition might be annexed to the bestowing of the place; that none
should be called thereunto but such as had approved themselves zealous
and profitable in some public ways of learning to advance the same, or
that should be bound to certain tasks to be prosecuted towards that end,
whereof a list might be made, and the way to try their abilities in
prosecuting the same should be described, lest in after times
unprofitable men creep into the place to frustrate the public of the
benefit intended by the donors towards posterity. The proper charge,
then, of the honorary library keeper in a university should be thought
upon, and the end of that employment, in my conception, is to keep the
public stock of learning, which is in books and manuscripts; to increase
it, and to propose it to others in the way which may be most useful unto
all; his work, then, is to be a factor and trader for helps to learning,
and a treasurer to keep them, and a dispenser to apply them to use, or
to see them well used, or at least not abused."

This established, Dury proceeds to point out how the library should be
made useful. His main idea is that a library should be a kind of
factory, and it is astonishing how often he contrives to introduce the
word "trade" into his proposals. Underlying this peculiar phraseology is
the thought that so long as the library only exists for the advantage of
those who may choose to resort to it, it is like a talent buried in a
napkin; that to be really useful it must go to the public, and that the
librarian must place himself in active communication with men of
learning. It was hardly conceived in Dury's day that any but scholars
could have occasion for libraries, but translating his proposals into
the language of our time, it will appear that they contemplate such an
ideal of librarianship as is professed in America, and is realised with
no small success in many of our leading free libraries. The first
condition is a good catalogue:—

"That is," says Dury, "all the books and manuscripts according to the
titles whereunto they belong, are to be ranked in an order most easy and
obvious to be found, which I think is that of sciences and languages,
when first all the books are divided into their _subjectam materiam_
whereof they treat, and then every kind of matter subdivided into their
several languages."

Evidently Dury was little troubled with the questions which have so
exercised librarians since his time. "The subject-matter of which a book
treats" is not always easy to ascertain. It might have puzzled Dury
himself to decide whether his own tract should be catalogued along with
books on libraries, or with the "Reformed School" to which it is
professedly an appendix, and to which half its contents have a direct
relation. The suggestion that books should be catalogued by languages
was propounded before the British Museum Commission of 1849, and
promptly dismissed as the fancy of an amateur. It would be curious to
see Pope's Homer in one catalogue, Voss's in another, and the original
in a third.

Dury next judiciously adds that room must be left in the library for the
increase of books, an indispensable condition not always easy of
fulfilment; and that "in the printed catalogue a reference is to be made
to the place where the books are to be found in their shelves or
repositories." That is, the catalogue must have press-marks; in which
suggestion Dury was two centuries ahead of many of the most important
foreign libraries. It will be observed that he takes it for granted that
the catalogue shall be printed, and in this he was ahead of almost all
the libraries of his time, and until lately of the British Museum. In
fact he could not be otherwise, for a printed catalogue is an essential
condition of his dominant idea that the librarian should be a "factor"
to "trade" with learned men and corporations for mutual profit. Hence he
prescribes "a catalogue of additionals, which every year within the
universities is to be published in writing within the library itself,
and every three years to be put in print and made common to those that
are abroad."

The full plan of communication is unfolded in the following passage:—

"When the stock is thus known and fitted to be exposed to the view of
the learned world, then the way of trading with it, both at home and
abroad, is to be laid to heart both for the increase of the stock and
for the improvement of its use. For the increase of the stock both at
home and abroad, correspondence should be held with those that are
eminent in every science to trade with them for their profit, that what
they want and we have, they may receive upon condition; that what they
have and we want, they should impart in that faculty wherein their
eminence doth lie. As for such as are at home eminent in any kind,
because they may come by native right to have use of the library
treasure, they are to be traded with all in another way, viz., that the
things which are gained from abroad, which as yet are not made common
and put to public use, should be promised and imparted to them for the
increase of their private stock of knowledge, to the end that what they
have peculiar, may also be given in for a requital, so that the
particularities of gifts at home and abroad are to meet as in a centre
in the hand of the Library Keeper, and he is to trade with the one by
the other, to cause them to multiply the public stock, whereof he is a
treasurer and factor.

"Thus he should trade with those that are at home and abroad out of the
university, and with those that are within the university, he should
have acquaintance to know all that are of any parts, and how their view
of learning doth lie, to supply helps unto them in their faculties from
without and from within the nation, to put them upon the keeping of
correspondence with men of their own strain, for the beating out of
matters not yet elaborated in sciences; so that they may be as his
assistants and subordinate factors in his trade and in their own for
gaining of knowledge."

Further instructions follow respecting the control to be exercised over
the librarian, who is to give an account of his stewardship once a year
to the doctors of the university, who are themselves, each in his own
faculty, to suggest additional books proper to be added to the library.
Dury seems to have no doubt that funds will always be forthcoming, as
well as for the librarian's "extraordinary expenses in correspondencies
and transcriptions for the public good." It seems to be expected that he
will frequently make advances out of his own pocket. Dury glides lightly
over these ticklish financial details, which, however, remind him of the
existence of a law of copyright, and the probable accumulation of
accessions undesirable from the point of view of mere scholarship. His
observations on this point are full of liberality and good sense:—

"I understand that all the book-printers or stationers of the
Commonwealth are bound of every book that is printed, to send a copy
into the University Library; and it is impossible for one man to read
all the books in all faculties, to judge of them what worth there is in
them; nor hath every one ability to judge of all kind of sciences what
every author doth handle, and how sufficiently; therefore I would have
at this time of giving accounts, the library keeper also bound to
produce the catalogue of all the books sent unto the University's
library by the stationers that printed them; to the end that every one
of the doctors in their own faculties should declare whether or no they
should be added, and where they should be placed in the catalogue of
additionals. For I do not think that all books and treatises, which in
this age are printed in all kinds, should be inserted into the
catalogue, and added to the stock of the library; discretion must be
used and confusion avoided, and a course taken to distinguish that
which is profitable from that which is useless; and according to the
verdict of that society, the usefulness of books for the public is to be
determined. Yet because there is seldom any books wherein there is not
something useful, and books freely given are not to be cast away, but
may be kept, therefore I would have a peculiar place appointed for such
books as shall be laid aside to keep them in, and a catalogue of their
titles made alphabetically in reference to the author's name and a note
of distinction to show the science to which they are to be referred." It
seems then, that if Dury could have advised Bodley, and Bodley had
listened to him, the Bodleian would have been rich in early
Shakespeares, and might have preserved many publications now entirely

Dury's second letter on the subject merely repeats the ideas of the
first with less practical suggestion and in a more declamatory style. It
contains a striking passage on the ruin of the library of Heidelberg, a
terrible warning to librarians. It had books, it had manuscripts, but it
had no catalogue, and its candlestick was taken away.

"What a great stir hath been heretofore, about the eminency of the
library of Heidelberg, but what use was made of it? It was engrossed
into the hands of a few, till it became a prey unto the enemies of the
truth. If the library keeper had been a man that would have traded with
it for the increase of true learning, it might have been preserved unto
this day in all the rareties thereof, not so much by the shuttings up of
the multitude of books, and the rareness thereof for antiquity, as by
the understandings of men and their proficiency to improve and dilate
knowledge upon the grounds which he might have suggested unto others of
parts, and so the library rareties would not only have been preserved in
the spirits of men, but have fructified abundantly therein unto this
day, whereas they are now lost, because they were but a talent digged in
the ground."

Well said! and it may be added that one good reason for printing the
catalogue of a great library is that, in the event of its destruction,
it may at least be known what it contained. The greatest library in the
world was within an ace of destruction under the Paris Commune: had it
perished, the very memory of a large part of its contents would have
been lost. Respecting Heidelberg, it should be remarked that the
destruction was not quite so irreparable as would appear from Dury's
passionate outburst. The books and manuscripts to a considerable extent
went not to the Devil but to the Pope, though Dury probably could see
little difference. But even the Pope did not ultimately retain them. No
fewer than eight hundred and ninety MSS. were subsequently carried off
by Napoleon, and being thus at Paris at the entry of the allies, were
reclaimed by the Bavarian Government, and restored to the University of
Heidelberg, with the sanction of the Pope, at the special instance of
the King of Prussia.[188:1]

Appended to the tract is a short Latin account, also by Dury, of the
Duke of Brunswick's library at Wolfenbuttel, famous on many grounds, and
especially for having had Lessing as its librarian. It appears that on
May 21, 1649, it was estimated to contain 60,000 treatises by 37,000
authors, bound in 20,000 volumes, all collected since 1604. It must
therefore have been administered with an energy corresponding to the
demands of Dury, who concludes his enthusiastic account with an
aspiration which every librarian will echo on behalf of the institution
with which he is himself connected:—

"Faxit Deus, ut Thesaurus hic rerum divinarum æternarum sit et ipse
æternus, neque prius quam mundi machina laboret aut intercidat."

It will have been observed that Dury's suggestions have reference solely
to university libraries. The conception of a really popular library did
not then exist, and it may be doubted whether in any case even one so
much in advance of his time could have reconciled himself to the idea of
a collection where every description of literature, embodying every
variety of opinion, should be indiscriminately accessible to every
condition of men. But this very limitation of his views should render
his admonition, and his lofty standard of the librarian's duty, more
interesting and significant to the librarians of the nineteenth century.
For if the advising function was rightly deemed so important in him who
had to consult with university professors, men probably of more learning
than himself, much more is its judicious exercise required in him who
has to aid the researches and direct the studies of the comparatively
ignorant. "The Reformed Library Keeper," therefore, has a message for
our age as well as its own; and we need not regret the half-hour we have
spent with good old John Dury, the first who discovered that a librarian
had a soul to be saved.


[174:1] Read at the Monthly Meeting of the Library Association, March

[188:1] See Wilken, "Geschichte der Bildung, Beraubung, und Vernichtung
der alten Heidelbergischen Büchersammlungen" (Heidelberg, 1817).


The MS. correspondence of Conyers Middleton with Lord Hervey, acquired
by the British Museum in 1885, contains, incidentally, evidence
respecting the source from which fine paper, suitable for printing
handsome books, was derived by English publishers until nearly the
middle of the eighteenth century. Much of this correspondence relates to
the progress of Middleton's "Life of Cicero," Lord Hervey, to whom the
book was dedicated, and who had been zealous in procuring subscribers,
frequently urging more expedition, and Middleton assigning various
causes for delay. At last, under date of April 6, 1740, Middleton
mentions one which he regards as for the time insuperable. War against
Spain, it should be noticed, had been declared in November 1739, and
Spain had at the time troops in Italy, and considerable naval strength
in the Mediterranean.

"As to Tully," says Middleton, "I am ashamed almost to mention it, on
account of a total cessation of the press from want of paper, occasioned
by the uncertain return of ships from Genoa since the commencement of
the war, during which our large paper is exhausted, and not a sheet of
it to be had in London till a fresh cargo arrives, which is expected,
however, every day. The booksellers did not give me the least hint of
this till it was too late to be remedied, knowing that it would vex me,
as it really has done, yet there is no help but patience. But we may
possibly retrieve this loss of time by employing several presses at once
as soon as we get paper, since I have now finished all my part, and
assure your lordship that there is not a subscriber so desirous to read
as I am to get it out of my hands."

On April 27, Middleton repeats his assurance that "no one is half so
impatient to read as I am to publish." This does not satisfy Lord
Hervey, who writes on May 27: "I cannot, nor ought to conceal from you
the general dissatisfaction and murmuring there is among your
subscribers at the long delay of the publication of your work. I tell
the story of the disappointment you met with in the paper, but am
answered by almost everybody that this need not and should not hinder
your publishing at least the first volume. I could wish that some way
could be contrived, without you or your bookseller running any risk, to
let the first part come out immediately. Could you not do it by a
previous advertisement relating the misfortune of the paper, and saying
whoever was willing to pay the second payment should have the first part
delivered to them?"

Middleton replies on June 3: "As to the publication, all I can say is
that as soon as paper arrives, your lordship shall be master both of the
time and the manner, so far as is in my power; but until we get a
recruit of paper, which has long been wholly exhausted, it is not
possible to publish the first volume, since there are two sections of it
still unprinted."

On June 17, however, he reports a change for the better: "Our paper
arrived in the Downs last week, and is in port probably by this time, so
that we shall now carry on our work with all possible vigour; and if we
cannot publish both the volumes in Michaelmas term, which my managers,
however, promise me to do, I will undertake at least at all adventures
for the publication of the first."

The work still did not progress. Middleton writes on August 24: "I
should sooner have paid my thanks if I had not been tempted to wait
these two or three posts by the daily expectation of being able to send
you some good news from the press, but I have the mortification still to
acquaint your lordship that we have not printed a sheet since I saw your
lordship, and though I wrote to my bookseller above three weeks ago to
know what end we are to expect to this unaccountable interruption, yet I
have not heard a word from him."

But on September 4 he reports himself at the end of his troubles, so far
as concerns the supply of paper: "I could not omit the first opportunity
of acquainting your lordship that we have received a stock of paper at
last from Genoa, sufficient for finishing the first volume, _and have
provided a quantity also of our own manufacture, which is the better of
the two_, for carrying on the second volume at the same time, which I
have ordered to be committed immediately to the press, and hope that we
may be able still to publish both the volumes before Christmas."

The book did, in fact, appear about February, 1741. An examination of
the copies in the King's and Cracherode Libraries, British Museum,
confirms the statements in Middleton's letters. The work is printed on
two different qualities and descriptions of paper. By much the larger
part of the first volume, extending in the King's Library copy to p.
472, sig. Ooo, and in the Cracherode copy to p. 464 (misprinted 264),
sig. Nnn, but not including the dedication, preface, or list of
subscribers, is impressed on a very fine thick paper, without name,
date, or device, except two watermarks, frequently interchanged,
resembling respectively an escutcheon and a _fleur-de-lis_. The
remainder of the volume, and the whole of vol. 2, are executed upon a
good, but thinner and inferior, paper, with no clue to the date or place
of manufacture. The first leaf for which this new paper is employed is
greatly stained in both copies, apparently from contact with the Italian
paper, as the same is the case with the last leaf of the preliminary
matter. Some other leaves are slightly stained, especially near the end.
The leaves in finest condition are those of the dedication to Lord
Hervey and the preface, which were printed last, and with which especial
care would be taken. The portion of the first volume printed on the
English paper is not so considerable as Middleton seems to have at one
time expected, consisting, instead of two sections, of only a portion of
section 6, the last in the volume. It must be supposed that the paper
"in the Downs" proved sufficient to carry the impression on to the point
where the Italian paper fails. The difference between the thickness of
the two papers is such that although vol. 2 has only 36 pages less than
vol. 1, it weighs 11¼ oz. less, or about ⅛.

It appears unquestionable, then, that about the year 1740 English
publishers depended for the execution of fine books upon paper imported
from Genoa, and that the interruption of the supply from this quarter
occasioned great inconvenience for a time, keeping an important book at
a standstill for several months, but soon called the manufacture of fine
paper into activity, as a branch of English industry. It would be
interesting to know how long before 1740 this trade originated, and how
long after that date it continued. It is scarcely likely that it
flourished during the warlike times of Queen Anne; but it probably
revived during the quarter-century of tranquillity which followed the
Treaty of Utrecht. It is not probable that it long survived the
development of the manufacture of fine paper in England. Though inferior
to the Italian, the English paper was quite good enough to displace this
if it had the advantage of superior cheapness, as it certainly must have
had. Ample materials for deciding these questions probably exist on the
shelves of the King's Library.

It should be mentioned that there was an impression of the "Life of
Cicero" on small paper, but the great majority of the splendid list of
subscribers prefixed to the work appear as subscribing for large-paper

     NOTE.—The writer might have remarked that Brian Walton, in
     the preface to his superb edition of the Polyglott Bible
     (1657) expresses, in a passage afterwards suppressed, his
     obligation to the Protector and the Council of State, for
     having remitted in his behalf the duty on paper; which is
     undoubtedly to be understood of a tax on paper imported from


The paper to which I am about to invite attention belongs to the class
which Mr. Chancellor Christie has very justly entitled "haphazard
papers," lying outside the proper work of the Library Association, and
contributing little or nothing to promote it. It is written to recommend
a slight literary undertaking which could not possibly find a place in
the programme of our body. It can only plead that a certain variety has
always been thought conducive to the interest of our gatherings; that it
may be well to show that no province of book-lore is altogether too
remote for our attention; and that a prolusion on an out-of-the-way
subject may have, so to speak, a kind of decorative value; as a sprig of
barberries, though nobody wants to eat it, may serve as garnish for a
substantial dish. The little enterprise I have to recommend is the
publishing, in a small volume, of such colophons, or attestations of the
completion of a book by a printer, as belong to the fifteenth century,
and possess individual features of interest, not being mere
matter-of-fact announcements or repetitions from former productions of
the same press.

There are two main sources of interest in the colophon—the biographical
and the personal. Taking the former first, it may be remarked that for a
long time the colophon supplied the place of the title-page. It would be
impossible to give a catalogue of very early title-pages, for very early
books had no title-pages. In his charming and beautifully illustrated
papers on the "History of the Title-Page," recently published in the
_Universal Review_—which I strongly recommend to your perusal—Mr.
Alfred Pollard, of the British Museum, tells us that the first English
title-page is assigned to the year 1491. It had come into use sooner on
the Continent, but the first example, which still requires to be
definitely ascertained, was probably not earlier than 1476, or more than
twenty years subsequent to the invention of printing. It was not until
1490 that title-pages became the rule, or until 1493 that the printer's
or publisher's name began to be given upon the title. Up to this date,
then, even when the book has a title-page, the printer or publisher can
only be ascertained from the colophon, and before 1490 you must
generally go to the colophon even for the description of the book. The
reason is, no doubt, the extent to which the printer was influenced by
the example of his predecessor, the copyist. It was more natural for the
scribe to record the completion of his labours at the end of his
manuscript than to announce their commencement on the first leaf. In
expressing his satisfaction and thankfulness on the last page he would
naturally mention the name of the book he had been engaged upon, and
hence his successor, the printer, inherited the habit of giving all
information about a book not stated in a prologue or table of contents,
at the end instead of at the beginning—in a colophon rather than on a
title-page. The same custom had prevailed in classic times. The ancient
title, when inscribed within the covers of the manuscript, was, says
Rich, "written at the end instead of the commencement, at least it is so
placed in all the Herculanean MSS. which have been unrolled." Sometimes,
however, it was written on a separate label affixed to the roll so as to
hang down outside: and on the same principle it may be conjectured that
when manuscripts came to be bound, much of the inconvenience occasioned
by the want of a title was obviated by the title being written on the

It must, nevertheless, seem surprising that so simple and useful a
contrivance as a title-page should not have been thought of sooner. In
one respect, however, the employment of the colophon for so long a
period is not to be regretted. If the title-page is more practical, the
colophon is more individual and characteristic. The title-page may tell
us something of the character of the author when it is his own wording,
but as a rule nothing of the printer beyond the bare facts of his
locality and his existence. But into the colophon the early printer has
managed to put a great deal of information about himself. He often
becomes, or at least hires, a poet. He boasts, and generally not without
ground, of his industry and accuracy. He usually records the precise day
when his work was completed, and sometimes the exact time spent upon it.
He sometimes, as in an instance quoted by Mr. Pollard, brings in a
bishop to help his book with a recommendation.

All this is very interesting so far as it helps to make the old printers
real to us. We would fain know more of men to whom we are so greatly
indebted, and who, we are sure, must have been individually interesting.
I will not say that this early age was the heroic age of printing, for
the history of the art is fertile in examples of heroism down to this
day; and perhaps the greatest man who ever exercised it—Benjamin
Franklin—was a modern. But there certainly must have been a romance
about the early days of printing not easily reproduced now. Romantic
circumstances must have attended the flight of the first printers from
the besieged city of Mentz, where the art had been exclusively carried
on for so many years.

When we see how largely these German emigrants settled in Italy and
France, and had almost a monopoly of Spain, we perceive that they must
have been men of great enterprise. How did they overcome the
difficulties that must have beset them as settlers in foreign countries?
Is it not a fair conjecture that the difficulty of language was partly
overcome by their being men of liberal education, and speaking Latin?
Still they would have workmen to direct; did they bring journeymen of
their own country with them, or instruct foreigners? The interest
attaching to this question tempts me to a brief digression into a
subject not properly comprised in my essay; the colophon, so far as I am
aware, throwing no light upon it. It seems probable that foreign
printers were attended in their migrations by bodies of journeymen; for
in the privilege granted by the Venetian Senate in 1469 to Joannes de
Spira, the first Venetian printer, he is said to have come to live in
Venice with his wife, his children, and his entire _familia_. The
_familia_, then, is expressly distinguished from his wife and children;
besides which the word never means in the classical writers, nor, so far
as I can discover, in the mediæval either, family in our sense of
kindred, but only in that of household: and as he is not likely to have
brought domestic servants with him, must be understood to denote here
the troop of workmen of whom he was the head; who had evidently also
immigrated with him. We are also told that a priest, Clemente Patavino,
probably the first Italian who ever exercised the art of printing,
taught himself by his own ingenuity, without having ever seen any one at
work. From this we may infer that the presses were jealously guarded,
and that the workmen were not Italians, or Clemente could not have been
the first Italian to learn the craft. His first book was printed in
1471, several years after the introduction of printing into Italy.

Other interesting questions respecting the early printers remain which
we should much like to have answered. Did they try to keep their art and
mystery secret? Were they their own type-founders? Were their types cast
near the scene of their labours, or transported from great distances?
How did they set about obtaining the favour of the great men who
patronised them? Was their discovery universally welcomed by the
learned? or did some consider that books were low, and manuscripts alone
worthy the attention of a self-respecting collector? Were they stunned
by the objurgations of angry copyists? or endangered by any supposed
connection with the black art? Were they in general their own editors
and proof-correctors? and what were their relations with the scholars
who aided them with annotations, or wrote dedications for their books?
At a considerably later period we obtain most satisfactory insight into
the economy of a great printing establishment from the memoirs of the
house of Plantin, at Antwerp. For these early times, except for such
information as may be derived from the accidental discovery of contracts
and similar documents, we must depend upon hints gleaned from the books
themselves, which are usually found in their colophons.

Neither my time nor yours would admit of my entering into the matter
very deeply at present, but I have selected a few instances, entirely
from books printed at Rome and Venice, which may serve to indicate what
illumination colophons may occasionally contribute to the obscurity of
early typography, and sometimes to that of the manners and ideas of the
times. And here I may remark incidentally, that the history of early
printing is highly creditable to the age which fostered the art, and to
those who exercised it, without, one may almost say, producing a single
frivolous book for fifty years. An account of it mainly from the point
of view of its contact with human life—the books which the early
printers thought worth reproducing, the success of these, as attested by
the comparative frequency of their republication, the proportion in
which studies and professions, arts and trades, respectively benefited
by the new discovery, would make a fascinating story in the hands of a
writer of insight and sympathy. We have materials enough; it is now
required to make the dry bones live.

In a colophon it will naturally be expected that among the sentiments
more frequently finding expression, should be the printer's joy in his
art, and assertion of its claims to admiration. Udalricus Gallus, of
Rome, boasts that he can print more matter in a day than a copyist can
transcribe in a year: "Imprimit ille die quantum non scribitur anno."
The same printer tells the geese that saved the Capitol that they may
keep their quills for the future, as the cock (_Gallus_) has cut them
out. Joannes de Spira, the first printer established at Venice, declares
that his first attempt has so far surpassed the work of the scribes that
the reader need set no bounds to his anticipations; just as an electric
light company might advertise "Gas entirely superseded." He celebrates
his type as more legible than manuscript:

    "Namque vir ingenio mirandus et arte Joannes
       Exscribi docuit clarius ære libros."

Now the word _docuit_ (_taught_) is not really appropriate to one who
merely exercised an art he had learned from others. The question might
be raised whether the reference is not to the inventor of printing,
Joannes Gutenberg, and whether in this book of 1469 we have not the
earliest testimony to his invention of printing. If so, this is indeed a
precious colophon; but I suppose it must be admitted to be more likely
that Spira was thinking of himself, or that his poet was not
over-discriminating in his praise of his employer. The point, however,
is worth considering. Spira's brother, Vindelinus, enunciates the
excellent maxim that the renown of a printer is rather to be estimated
by the beauty than by the number of his productions:

    "Nec vero tantum quia multa volumina, quantum
       Qui perpulchra simul optimaque exhibeat."

Nothing, indeed, is more characteristic of the early printers than the
stress they laid upon accuracy. From another colophon we learn that an
edition of Sallust at that early period consisted of five hundred
copies. In another the same printer declares that he will deign to sell
nothing that is not perfectly correct. In another he talks of having
carefully expurgated his author, as if he had been printing Juvenal or
Martial, but as the author is a divine the remark can only refer to the
correctness of the text. John of Cologne goes further still, and asserts
that his book is absolutely immaculate:

    "Emptor, habes careant omni qui crimine libri,
     Quos securus emas, procul et quibus exulat error."

Occasionally the corrector's name is mentioned. A remarkable instance of
this is where Vindelinus de Spira prints an Italian book, the "Divine
Comedy," the language of which he probably would not understand, when
Christoval Berardi, of Pesaro, is especially named as the corrector in
an Italian sonnet probably composed by himself. In an instance of an
arithmetical work the printer, Erhard Ratdolt, distinctly claims the
merit of the correctness of the press as his personal merit, and we
learn from other sources that he was a good mathematician.

Another class of colophon sets forth the deserts of the author instead
of those of the printer, and it is noteworthy that these, when in verse,
are generally expressed in a more elegant style. It is to be regretted
that the verses written for Sweynheym and Pannartz, the fathers of the
art in Italy, were generally so bad; yet there is something to be
learned from them. We discover that they thought it necessary to
apologise for their uncouth German names (_Aspera ridebis Teutonica
nomina forsan_); and that a Roman patrician named Maximus—a man to be
ever honoured for his public spirit—had given them and their press
house-room in his palace. We learn from other colophons that an edition
of Sallust consisting of four hundred copies, and that two editions of
Cicero's Epistles to his friends, were carried through the press in four
months. The comparative cheapness of typography is also a frequent
matter of congratulation. It is said to have brought Virgil within the
reach of all scholars, and to have enabled every man to be his own
lawyer; but the printer seldom tells us what the price of the volume
was. We observe that the trade of the book-producer has not yet become
differentiated into the two great classes of printers and publishers.
While, as before remarked, there is every reason to conclude that the
early printers were persons of liberal education, we do not, so far as I
am aware, find evidence of this mechanical craft being exercised by men
of gentle blood. I have, however, already mentioned the priestly
printer, Clemente Patavino, and a colophon reveals that the printers of
one book were two priests. One rather wonders what became meanwhile of
their religious duties. I suppose that a priest would not in general
have been allowed to follow a secular calling, at least openly, but in
this instance of printing there is no attempt at concealment. A
circumstance honourable in its way to the craft to which we owe our
existence, and suggesting that the ecclesiastical authorities of the
fifteenth century thought of printers as our friend Mr. Dewey rightly
tells we ought to think of librarians.

Enough, perhaps, has been said to warrant the suggestion of a little
book of colophons, bringing together what must now be laboriously hunted
up from Panzer, Hain, and similar authorities. Its principal aim should
be to collect whatever might illustrate the feelings with which the
ancient printers regarded themselves and their art in the fifteenth
century; but every colophon should also be given which throws a light on
contemporary history and public feeling on any subject. I should, for
instance, include that in which the peaceful character of Paul II.'s
pontificate is recognised by the epithet "placatissimum," and any that
conveyed a compliment to a king, doge, or any leading personage of the
time. Such a little volume, tastefully executed, something after the
pattern of Monsieur Müntz's delightful little book in the Vatican
Library under Platina, would, I believe, be a favourite companion with
many an amateur of ancient typography.

In conclusion, I may say a few words respecting what we are endeavouring
to do at the British Museum for the illustration of early printing. Of
the little exhibition of title-pages and colophons displayed at the
Association's visit to the Museum yesterday, since you have all seen it,
I need only say that the credit of collecting and arranging it is
entirely due to Mr. Pollard, whose essay on the subject I have already
recommended to your perusal. A more permanent collection is
contemplated, which I believe will be of substantial benefit to the
study of ancient printing. When the requisite funds are procured, as it
is hoped will shortly be the case, it is intended to provide additional
glazed presses in the library, with the view of bringing together
examples of every description of type used by a printer of incunabula,
that is, of books produced during the fifteenth century. Mr. Aldrich, a
gentleman deeply versed in typographic lore, to whom the selection of
these examples will be entrusted, will arrange them as far as possible
in the alphabetical order of the towns where the art of printing was
exercised, keeping the works of each printer together. This collection,
though not shown to the public, will always be accessible to experts.
Its value to them is obvious, and we hope it will also be of material
service in disclosing the numerous deficiencies of the Museum in
representative specimens of early type, and prompting efforts to make
them good. There is no idea of assembling together all the incunabula in
the Museum, which would be impracticable for many reasons, but only
representative examples of the various types. The foundation, however,
of a general catalogue of incunabula has been laid in a manner which I
have previously stated to the American Library Association, namely, by
printing copies of the catalogue on one side only. When the catalogue is
finished we shall, by merely cutting out the entries of any particular
description of books, obtain a classed catalogue of the entire subject,
among others, of our incunabula; this list can be placed in the
reading-room for general reference, and, if sufficient encouragement is
forthcoming, be reprinted and published as a distinct catalogue, revised
with the careful attention to minutiæ which would be out of place in a
general working catalogue like that of the entire library, but which may
well be expected in a speciality. The standard of accuracy has risen,
and bibliographers are dissatisfied with what many deemed excessive
nicety when the Museum rules were framed. It is improbable that I shall
have any concern with this catalogue of the future: if I had, I would
ask the Trustees' leave to dedicate it to the memory of the man to whom
we are chiefly indebted for this particular development of scientific
cataloguing—Henry Bradshaw.


[197:1] Read at the Annual Meeting of the Library Association, London,
October 1889.


The purpose of this paper is to present a brief account of the system
followed in the classification of books on the shelves of the British
Museum library.

It will be understood that this does not amount to an enumeration of all
the subjects which might suitably be recognised as distinct in a
classified catalogue, but only of such as possess sufficient importance
to occupy at least one book-press in the library.

Subjects which from a philosophical point of view might properly be
separated, must in actual library arrangements frequently be combined
for want of room.

It is further to be borne in mind that the classification now to be
described does not in absolute strictness apply to the entire library,
but to the acquisitions—comprising, however, nearly four-fifths of the
whole—made since Sir Anthony Panizzi's accession to office as keeper of
the printed books. The books in Montague House were indeed
scientifically arranged on their removal to the new premises, but space
was then wanting to carry out the views entertained by the officer
principally entrusted with their arrangement—the late Mr. Thomas Watts,
a gentleman of prodigious memory and encyclopædic learning. Mr. Watts
subsequently obtained space more in correspondence with the
comprehensiveness of his ideas, and the Museum library will bear the
impress of his mind for all ages. With his name will be associated that
of the late keeper, Mr. Rye, for many years his coadjutor, and whose own
independent arrangement of the Grenville library and the
reference-library of the reading-room will always be cited as models for
the disposition of limited collections. I trust to be excused this brief
reference to gentlemen prematurely lost to our profession—the former by
death, the latter by indisposition, brought on, it is to be feared, by
over-application to his official duties. To the example of the former
and the instruction of the latter I am indebted for whatever claim I may
have to address you on a subject to which I can contribute little of my

The classification of a great library is equivalent to a classification
of human knowledge, and may, if men please, become the standard or
symbol of conflicting schools of thought. It might, for example, be
plausibly maintained that knowledge, and therefore the library, should
begin with the definition of man's relation to the unseen powers around
him—that is, with Natural Theology. Or with man himself as the unit of
all things human—that is, with Anthropology. Or, on Nature's own
pattern, with the most rudimentary forms of existence. Hence, as we
heard yesterday from the distinguished gentleman who here represents the
fifth part of the world, the reading-room library at Melbourne begins
with works on the subject of Sponges. Fortunately for the neutral
bibliographer, there exists a book which not only holds in civilised
countries a place unique among books, but which has further established
its claim to precedence by the practical test of being the first to get
itself printed. The Museum classification accordingly begins with the
Bible, and I venture to express the opinion that every sound
classification will do the same.

When the next question emerges, how to arrange the Bible itself, we
alight at once upon a few simple principles, which, with the necessary
modifications, will prove applicable throughout. It is obvious that
entire Bibles should precede parts of Bibles; that originals should
precede translations; the more ancient originals, the more recent; and
Bibles in both the original tongues those in one only. We thus obtain
the following arrangement at starting: Polyglots, Hebrew Bibles, Greek
Bibles. It is equally apparent that Greek cannot be fitly succeeded by
any tongue but Latin; that Latin is most naturally followed by its
modern derivatives; that these draw after them the other European
languages in due order; the Slavonic forming a link with the Oriental,
which in their turn usher in the African, American, and Polynesian.

Concordances, consisting of the words of the Bible detached from their
context, form a convenient link with Commentaries. The latter fall into
two principal sections, according as they relate to Scripture in its
entirety or to some particular part. In arranging the former, the
erudite labours of scholars are, as far as possible, kept apart from the
popular illustrative literature of modern days. The order of
commentaries on separate books must, of course, correspond with that of
the books themselves in the canon of the Bible.

Next succeeds the very important class of literature representing the
Bible in contact with society through the medium of the Church. The most
obvious form of this relation is the liturgical. Liturgies accordingly
succeed Scripture in the Museum arrangement, precedence being given to
the various Churches in the order of their antiquity. A minor but very
extensive class of Liturgy, the Psalm and Hymn, naturally follows as an
appendix, preceding Private and Family Devotion, which prefaces works on
liturgical subjects in general. The next great department of this class
of literature ensues in the shape of Creeds and Catechisms. These pass
into formal expositions of dogmatic theology, including theological
libraries; which lead to the collected works of divines, commencing with
the Fathers. The same order is observed here as in the arrangement of
the Bible in its various languages: the Greek Fathers leading to the
Latin, the Latin to the divines of the nations speaking languages
derived from the Latin, and these to the Teutonic nations, a division
practically equivalent to one into Catholic and Protestant. The general
theological literature of each nation follows in the same order,
excluding works treating of special theological questions, but including
all the immense mass of printed material relating to the Reformation and
the controversies resulting from it down to the present day. With these
the subject of General Theology may be deemed concluded, and we enter
not only upon a fresh department, but upon a fresh numeration. The
book-presses embracing the subjects hitherto described all bear numbers
commencing with 3000. With the new department 4000 commences, and the
same remark, _mutatis mutandis_, is applicable to every succeeding
principal division. I must pass very lightly over the numerous sections
of this second section. Beginning with the fundamental questions of the
being of a God and the truth of Christianity, it embraces every special
question which has formed the subject of discussion among Christians, in
the order which commended itself as most logical to the original
designer of the arrangement. These controversies conduct to the common
ground of Religious Devotion and Contemplation, including the important
departments of Tracts and Religious Fiction; and these to devotion in
its hortatory form—_i.e._, Sermons, classified on the same linguistic
principle as Scripture, and divided into the great sections of collected
discourses and separate sermons. With these the subject of specifically
Christian Theology terminates, and is succeeded by the great and
growing department of Mythology and non-Christian Religion. Judaism
follows, leading by an easy transition to Church History. A few words on
the arrangement of this section will save much repetition, as the
principle here exemplified is never departed from. It demonstrates the
advantage of beginning with a subject like the Bible, respecting the
correct arrangement of which there can be no dispute, and which serves
as a norm for all the rest. As the Bible necessarily commenced with
Polyglots, so Church History begins with General Church History; the
various nations succeed in their linguistic, which is practically also
their geographical order, provision being, of course, made for the
intercalation of sub-sections where necessary, as for instance one on
English Nonconformity. Polynesia, as the last member of this
arrangement, naturally introduces the next subject—Missions—which in
turn brings on Religious Orders, including Freemasonry. Religious
Biography follows, arranged on the same principle as Religious History,
which is always carried out wherever practicable. Finally, the whole
class is concluded by the small but important division of Religious

Divine Law is evidently most fitly succeeded by Human Law, or
Jurisprudence. The fulness with which the preceding section has been
treated will enable me to pass very cursorily over this and its
successors. I may be pardoned, however, one remark suggested by the
introduction of a new division—that in the classification of a library
it should be considered whether the scope of the collection is special
or general. In arranging a mere collection of Law Books it would be
proper to commence with works treating of the general principles of
Jurisprudence. In arranging a great library, regard must be had to the
harmonious connection of the parts, and accordingly the Museum
arrangement commences with Ecclesiastical Law as the natural sequel of
Theology. Bulls, Councils, Canon-Law and Modern Church-Law introduce the
great section of Roman Law. Oriental Law follows, the Laws of the
Continental Nations succeed in the order previously explained, and thus
room is only found for General Jurisprudence at a comparatively late
period, at the beginning of the numeral series 6000. It brings after it
such minor subjects as Prison-Discipline and Forensic Medicine. The
remaining space of the section is occupied by the Law of the
English-speaking nations, which requires most minute subdivision.

Next to Divinity and Law, the third rank among the pursuits of the human
mind was anciently assigned to Medicine. We have learned to recognise
that Medicine, however practically important, ranks scientifically only
as a department of Biology. The next section, accordingly, commences
with general Natural History, continuing through the natural kingdoms of
Botany, Geology, and Zoology, including Veterinary Surgery, with their
appropriate subdivisions, and then embracing Medicine—first in its
general aspect, as medical principle and practice; then in its great
leading divisions of Physiology, Pathology, Therapeutics, &c.; again, as
Special Pathology; finally, in such comparative minutiæ as professional
controversies and bills of mortality. The divisions of Art—the next
class—are simple and obvious. They may be enumerated as Archæology,
Costumes, Numismatics, Architecture, Painting, Sculpture, first as
treated collectively, and then as treated separately; and, finally,
Music. Fine Art is succeeded by Useful Art, and the interval bridged
over by Field-Sports, Games of Chance, and Games of Skill. No
subdivision of the Useful Arts has been attempted beyond the separation
of Cookery and Domestic Economy from the rest, and the addition of two
special sections, one for the catalogues of industrial exhibitions, the
other for the voluminous and important publications of the South
Kensington Museum.

The extensive and miscellaneous division which succeeds may, perhaps,
best be defined under the head of Philosophy, alike in its scientific
principles and in its application to human life. Commencing with
Political Philosophy, or the Science of Government, it runs rapidly
through the politics of the various nations, in the geographical order
previously detailed, passes into Political Economy, with the allied
subjects of Finance, Commerce, and Social Science; thence into
Education, and, by the minor morals so intimately allied with the latter
subject, into Ethics, including works on the condition of Woman, Peace,
Temperance, and similar topics. Speculative Philosophy succeeds,
introducing Mathematics, on which hangs the great department of Applied
Mathematics, including all physical sciences except the biological. The
various branches are carefully discriminated, and room is found among
them for the so-called Occult Sciences, and for Military and Naval
matters, the series appropriately concluding with Chemistry, or the
science which aims at the resolution of all matter into its original
elements. The remaining sections, though most important and extensive,
are very simple in arrangement, and may be dismissed very briefly. They
are: History; Geography, with Voyages and Topography; Biography; Poetry
and the Drama; Belles Lettres, including Fiction; and Philology. The
arrangement is invariably the same: collected works on each subject
being placed first, and a geographical order being adopted for the rest
when the conditions of the case allow. Genealogy is regarded as an
appendix to History; Letters to Biography; Elocution, with Literary
Criticism and Bibliography, to Poetry and the Dramatic Art. The class of
Belles Lettres is headed by Libraries and Cyclopædias.

It should be stated that the system here explained refers in the
strictest sense only to works complete in themselves, and not to
Periodicals, Academical Publications, and State Papers, which are placed
separately. Although, however, these constitute distinct series, the
principle of classification is practically identical. The same remarks
apply to the Oriental departments of the collection, the Grenville
library, and the reference-library of the reading-room.

Such is, in its main features, the system of book-press arrangement
which I have undertaken to describe. I have no fear but that it will be
pronounced in essentials logical and philosophical. It has undoubtedly
proved eminently convenient in practice. That it should be open to
revision on some points is inevitable from the nature of things, and
from two circumstances more especially—its gradual development as
subject after subject was added to the library, and the degree in which
it represents the idiosyncrasy of a single mind. Some minor oversights
must be admitted. Geology, for example, should unquestionably have
preceded Botany. I venture more extensive criticisms with hesitation,
yet I cannot help remarking that I perceive no valid reason for the
severance of so manifest a branch of History as Biography from the
parent stem by the intrusion of the entire department of Geography;
while it appears to me that the Useful Arts would have formed, through
Domestic Economy, a more natural sequel to Medicine than Fine Art, and
in arranging the latter department I should have assigned the last
instead of the first place to Archæology and its allied subjects.
Forensic Medicine might also have been conveniently placed at the _end_
of Law, to connect that subject with Natural Science. I should further
feel much inclined to form a class for Encyclopædias immediately after
Philology; both because dictionaries of general knowledge seem
legitimate successors to dictionaries of languages, and that the end of
the classification might be answerable in dignity to the beginning. I am
aware how much room for diversity of opinion may exist on these and
similar points. On a more serious defect there can be no difference of
opinion, but it is a defect inherent in all finite things. In an ideal
classification by book-press one separate press, at least, would be
provided for each subject, however minute. But an ideal library would
also have room for each subdivision. We cannot have the ideal
classification without the ideal library, and, although I hazard nothing
in saying that, thanks to the genius of the designer, Sir Anthony
Panizzi, economy of space in the new buildings of the Museum has been
carried to the utmost extent conceivable, space is still insufficient to
provide a distinct niche for every well-marked division of a subject.
Upwards of five hundred such subdivisions are provided for; nevertheless
this large number is not exhaustive. Without such an exhaustive
distribution, the actual classification on the shelves, which is all I
have undertaken to describe here, can never be conterminous with the
ideal classification of the study. If, however, the Museum library has
been unable to achieve an infinity of space, it has secured a
practically indefinite numerical expansiveness by the elastic system
referred to in our President's address, in further illustration of which
I may be allowed a few words. On the removal of the books from Montague
House, about 1838, the cumbrous and antiquated, but I imagine then
nearly universal system of press-notation by Roman letters was exchanged
for one by Arabic numerals.[221:1] These numbers were nevertheless
consecutive, and thus no space was left for insertions. Supposing, for
example, that you have three presses standing together, numbered 1, 2,
and 3, and respectively occupied by Botany, Horticulture, and
Agriculture, it is clear that when your press of Botany is full, you
must either duplicate your No. 1, or commence your subject afresh with
No. 4. Mr. Watts, however, set his numbers loose, leaving a set of spare
numbers after each, for future employment, proportioned to the probable
extent of the subject. Thus, in the case supposed, while his Botany
would still have been 1, his Horticulture might have been 10, and his
Agriculture 15. When more room is wanted for Botany, the other two
subjects are moved one press farther on, leaving the press formerly
occupied by Horticulture vacant for the Botanical additions. The
numbering of the presses is altered, but not the numbering of the books,
and the catalogue is not interfered with. The respective subjects thus
never get out of due numerical succession; and when, on the opening of
the new library in 1857, the books thus numbered were brought from their
former confined quarters, and spread over a far larger area, the
removal was effected without the alteration of a single press-mark. As
the books in any one press may thus come to occupy another, it is, as
observed by Mr. Winter Jones, essential that all presses should be
exactly of the same dimensions.

There is one incidental circumstance connected with the Museum
press-arrangement of such importance that I may hope to be allowed a few
words respecting it, although I adverted to it in the course of the
discussion yesterday. I allude to the fourth copy of the catalogue. It
is generally known that the titles of books catalogued at the Museum are
transcribed trebly on carbonic tissue-paper by a manifold writer, and
that the catalogue is thus kept up in triplicate. But I suspect it was
not generally known until the delivery of the President's address that a
fourth copy is taken at the same time. These fourth slips are kept in
boxes, and then arranged, _not_ in alphabetical order as in the
catalogue, but according to the position of the books upon the shelves.
Now, as each shelf is restricted to a single subject, it follows that an
arrangement by shelves is tantamount to an arrangement by subjects—that
is, a classed catalogue. A great deal, of course, remains to be done
both in the way of subdivision and of incorporation; it is nevertheless
the fact that—thanks to the foresight of Sir Anthony Panizzi and Mr.
Winter Jones—the foundation of a classed Index to Universal Literature
has been laid by simply putting away titles as fast as transcribed,
without the nation having hitherto incurred any cost beyond that of the
pasteboard boxes. The apparently gigantic task being thus far
simplified, I earnestly trust that public aid may be forthcoming for its
completion, ere the accumulation of titles shall have rendered it too
arduous. Fully sympathising with our friend Mr. Axon's wish to see the
Museum Catalogue in print, I am yet averse to attempting to print it
just as it stands: in the first place, because I regard the undertaking
as beyond our strength; and in the second place, because, although such
a catalogue would tell the student at a distance what books by
particular _authors_ were in the library, it would not tell him what
books on particular _subjects_ existed there; the latter, as it appears
to me, being the more urgent necessity of the two. I should therefore be
inclined to recommend the preparation of an abridged classified index,
compiled from the fourth-copy slips I have been describing, and its
publication from time to time in sections severally complete in
themselves, as affording the best means for a gradual solution of the
problem. Most of these sections, I have little doubt, would by their
sale nearly repay the expense of publication, which a complete
alphabetical catalogue of the library certainly would not. These
remarks, it will be perceived, coincide with those made yesterday by Mr.
Vickers, which struck me as eminently sensible and practical.

I have prepared a list of the subjects comprised in the classification
of the Museum, which I put in for your examination. For a list of the
principal systems proposed for the classification of libraries, I may
refer to Petzholdt's "Bibliotheca Bibliographica." It is in so far
deficient that it necessarily contains no reference to the recent
labours of our American friends and colleagues, who, coming to the
subject with unbiased minds and an inventive ingenuity and fertility
equalled by no other nation, have already done so much to advance the
frontiers of the librarian's science.


[210:1] Read before the London Conference of Librarians, October 1877.

[221:1] It deserves to be recorded that at this period, and for some
time afterwards, books were not labelled externally, but merely
press-marked inside the covers. When labels were introduced, at the
suggestion of Mr. Winter Jones, the printing of the first set cost £800.


We all remember the excellent paper read at the Oxford Conference by Mr.
J. B. Bailey, sub-librarian at the Radcliffe Library, upon the advantage
of a subject-index to scientific periodicals. Mr. Bailey spoke with just
praise of the splendid alphabetical catalogue issued by the Royal
Society, but observed that from the nature of the case this is "nearly
useless in making a bibliography of any given subject, unless one is
familiar with the names of all the authors who have written thereon."
This is manifestly the case. As an illustration both of the value and
the deficiencies of the Royal Society's index, I may mention that while
on the one hand it has enabled me to discover that my father, chiefly,
celebrated as a philologist, has written a paper on the curious and
perplexing subject of the formation of ice at the bottoms of rivers, the
existence of which was wholly unknown to his family, it does not on the
other hand assist me to ascertain, without a most tedious search, what
other writers may have investigated the subject, or, consequently, how
far his observations are in accordance with theirs. Multiply my little
embarrassment by several hundred thousand, and you will have some idea
of the amount of ignorance which the classified index suggested by Mr.
Bailey would enlighten. We may well believe that the only objection he
has heard alleged is the magnitude of the undertaking, and must
sympathise with his conviction that, granting this, it still ought not
to be put aside, merely because it is difficult. I hope to point out,
however, that so far as concerns the scientific papers, to which alone
Mr. Bailey's proposal relates, the difficulty has been over-estimated,
that the literary compilation need encounter no serious obstacle, and
that the foundation might be laid in a short time by a single competent
workman, such as Mr. Bailey himself. Of an index to literary papers I
shall speak subsequently; and, there, I must acknowledge, the
difficulties are much more formidable. But as regards scientific papers,
it appears to me that the only considerable impediment is the financial.
When the others are overcome, then, and not till then, we shall be in a
favourable position for overcoming this also. The reason why the
formation of a classified index to scientific papers is comparatively
easy, is that the groundwork has been already provided by the
alphabetical index of the Royal Society. We have the titles of all
scientific papers from 1800 to 1865 before us, and shall soon have them
to 1873. Though it might be interesting, it is not essential to go
further back. We have now to consider how best to distribute this
alphabetical series into a number of subject-indexes. To take the first
step we merely require a little money (the first condition of success in
most undertakings), and some leisure on the part of a gentleman
competent to distinguish the grand primary divisions of scientific
research from each other, and avoid the errors which cataloguers have
been known to commit in classing the star-fish with constellations, and
confusing Plato the philosopher with Plato a volcano in the moon. I need
only say that very many of our body would bring far more than this
necessary minimum of scientific knowledge to the task. I may instance
Mr. Bailey himself. The money would be required to procure two copies of
the alphabetical index (which, however, the Royal Society would very
likely present), and to pay an assistant for cutting these two copies up
into strips, each strip containing a single entry of a scientific paper,
and pasting the same upon cardboard. It would be necessary to have two
copies of the alphabetical catalogue, as this is printed on both sides
of the paper; and as the name of the writer is not repeated at the head
of each of his contributions, and would therefore have to be written on
the card, close supervision would be required, or else a very
intelligent workman. When this was done, the entire catalogue would
exist upon cards, in a movable form instead of an immovable. The work of
the arranger or arrangers would now begin. All that he or they would
have to do would be to write somewhere upon the card, say in the left
hand upper corner, the name of the broad scientific division, such as
astronomy, meteorology, geology, to which the printed title pasted upon
the card appertained, and to put each into a box appropriated to its
special object, preserving the alphabetical order of each division. We
should then have the classed index already in the rough, at a very small
relative expenditure of time, money, and labour. For the purposes of
science, however, a more minute subdivision would be necessary. Here the
functions of our Council would come into play, and it would have a great
opportunity of demonstrating its usefulness as an organising body by
inducing, whether by negotiation with individuals or with scientific
corporations like the Royal Society, competent men of science to
undertake the task of classifying the papers relating to their own
special studies. Men of science, we may be certain, are fully aware of
the importance of the undertaking, which is indeed designed for their
special benefit; and although they are a hard-worked race, I do not
question that a sufficient number of volunteers would be forthcoming.
When one looks, for example, at the immense labour of costly and
unremunerated research undertaken by a man like the late Mr. Carrington,
one cannot doubt that men will be found to undertake the humbler but
scarcely less useful and infinitely less onerous task of making the
discoveries of the Carringtons generally available. I am sure, for
instance, that such men as Mr. Knobel and Mr. Carruthers would most
readily undertake the classification of the astronomical and the
botanical departments respectively, provided that their other
engagements allowed; as to which, of course, I cannot affirm anything.
Supposing our scientific editors found, they would proceed exactly in
the same manner as the editor who had already accomplished the
classification in the rough. Each would take the cards belonging to his
own section, and would write opposite to the general subject-title
written by the first classifier the heading of the minor sub-section to
which he thought it ought to be referred; thus, opposite Botany—Lichen,
and so on. He would then put the title into the box or drawer belonging
to its sub-section, and when the work was complete, we should have the
whole catalogue in a classified form, digested under a number of
sub-headings. Some preliminary concert among the scientific editors
would, no doubt, be necessary, and a final revision in conformity with
settled rules. It might be questioned, for example, whether a
dissertation on camphor properly belonged to botany, chemistry, or
materia medica; whether the subject of the gymnotus was ichthyological,
anatomical, or electrical; whether in such dubious cases a paper should
be entered more than once. It would save time and trouble if these
points could be determined before the classification in the rough was
commenced; in any case considerable delay from unavoidable causes must
be anticipated. It is to be remembered, on the other hand, that the work
could under no circumstances be completed until the publication of the
Royal Society's alphabetical index of papers from 1865 to 1873 was
finished, which, I suppose, will not be the case for two or three years.
There will, therefore, be sufficient time to meet unforeseen causes of
delay. If the classified index could be ready shortly after the
alphabetical, if we could show the world that the work was not merely
talked about as desirable, but actually done in so far as depended upon
ourselves and the representatives of science; that it already existed in
the shape of a card catalogue, and needed nothing but money to be made
accessible to everybody—then we should be in a very different position
from that which we occupy at present. I cannot think that so much good
work would be allowed to be lost. The catalogue, not being confined to
papers in the English language, would be equally useful in every country
where science is cultivated, and would find support all over the
civilised world. Either from the Government, or from learned societies,
or the universities, or the enterprise of publishers, or the interest of
individual subscribers, or private munificence, means would, sooner or
later, be forthcoming to bring the work out, and thus erect a most
substantial monument to the utility of our Association. It would
obviously be important to provide that scientific papers should be
indexed not only for the past, but for the future. If, as I trust, the
Royal Society intends to continue the publication of its alphabetical
index from time to time, the compilers of the classified index will
continue to enjoy the same facilities as at present. There must be some
very effectual machinery at the Society for registering new scientific
papers as they are published. What it is we may hope to learn from our
colleague, its eminent librarian, who must be the most competent of all
authorities on the subject. Mr. Bailey draws attention to several
scientific periodicals as useful for bibliographical purposes, and I may
mention one which seems to be very complete.[231:1] It is published at
Rome. The number for last December, which I have just seen, is so
complete that, among a very great number of scientific papers from all
quarters, it records those on the telephone and the electric light, in
the "Companion to the British Almanac," which, I think, had then been
only announced here, not published, omitting the other contributions as
non-scientific. It further gives a complete index to the contents of the
_Revista Cientifica_, a Barcelona periodical, which had apparently just
reached the editor, from its commencement in the preceding April. By
this list I learn that the electric pen, the subject of our colleague
Mr. Frost's recent paper, had been the theme of a communication to a
Barcelona society in May last. It certainly seems as if any library that
took this periodical in, and transcribed the entries in its
bibliographical section on cards properly classed, would be able to
keep up a pretty fair subject-index to scientific papers for the future.
I must, in conclusion, say a few words on a subject-index to the
transactions of literary societies. The prospect is here much more
remote, from the want of the almost indispensable groundwork of a
general alphabetical index. We have seen what an infinity of trouble in
collecting, in cataloguing, and in transcribing will be saved by the
Royal Society's list in the case of scientific papers, and are in a
position to appreciate the impediments which must arise from the want of
one in this instance. The work could be done by the British Museum if it
had a proportionate addition to its staff, or by a continuance of the
disinterested efforts which are now devoted to the continuance of Mr.
Poole's index to periodicals. Failing these, the most practical
suggestion appears to me Mr. Bailey's, that the undertaking might be to
a considerable extent promoted by the respective societies themselves.
If the secretaries of the more important of these bodies would cause the
titles of the papers occurring in their transactions to be transcribed
upon cards and deposited with this Association, we should accumulate a
mass of material worth working upon, and which could be arranged while
awaiting a favourable opportunity for publication. In some instances
even more might be done. The library of the Royal Asiatic Society, for
example, contains not merely its own transactions, but those of every
important society devoted to Oriental studies, as well as all similar
periodicals. Our friend, Mr. Vaux, could probably, in process of time,
not only procure transcripts of the papers contained in these
collections, but could induce competent Orientalists to prepare a scheme
of classification, and such a classified list, complete in itself and of
no unwieldy magnitude, could be published as a sample and forerunner of
the rest. The initiative in such proposals, as well as those referring
to scientific papers, should be taken by our Association, which can
negotiate with eminent men and learned bodies upon equal terms, and
speak with effect where the voice of an individual would be lost. The
desideratum of a classed index, in a word, affords our Society a great
opportunity of distinguishing itself. It is this aspect of the matter,
no less than the importance of the matter itself, that has encouraged me
to bring it under your notice.

     NOTE.—This paper, the first on the subject, so far as known
     to the author, attracted the attention of a gentleman of great
     ability, Mr. Collins of Edgbaston, known as the indexer and
     tabulator of Mr. Herbert Spencer's writings. He pressed the
     necessity of a classed index of scientific papers upon the
     attention of the Royal Society, which at one period seemed
     about to take the matter up; but the plan, so far as concerned
     Mr. Collins, was ultimately laid aside. Ere long, however, it
     was revived, and the task of classification is now being
     actively carried out, upon what precise system the writer is
     not aware, but doubtless upon one which has received mature


[225:1] Read at the March Monthly Meeting of the Library Association of
the United Kingdom, and published in _Nature_, October 9, 1897.

[231:1] _Bullettino di bibliografia e di storia delle scienze
matematiche e fisiche._ Pubbl. da B. Boncompagni (Rome, 1868), &c.


The subject of my paper has been already most advantageously introduced
to you by the precious broadside of William de Machlinia, exhibited
yesterday by Lord Charles Bruce; which, but for photography enlisted in
the cause of scholarship, few of us would ever have beheld. It is
equally commended by the pithy remark which fell from Mr. Bradshaw, "The
best description of a book is the book itself." It is, nevertheless, my
desire to bring under your notice the advantage of annexing a
photographic department to national libraries or other similar
institutions of first-class importance, as an integral portion of the
institution. The significance of the proposal consists in the last
clause. At the present moment any public library can have almost
anything it wishes photographed by paying for it, and so can any private
individual. But private individuals do not fill their houses with
photographic reproductions of nature and art; and in comparison with the
enormous results which might be obtained, public libraries, and, indeed,
public institutions of any kind, have as yet hardly made more use of the
potent agent which science has put into their hands than the Coreans,
of whom Mr. Bullen has told us, made of the invention of movable type.

Sure as I am of an indulgent audience, I shall perhaps yet more
powerfully bespeak your attention if I tell you that the special cause
which has determined me to bring this question forward at Dublin is a
recent occurrence particularly interesting to Ireland—the transfer, by
direction of the Government, of the Irish portion of the Ashburnham MSS.
from the British Museum to the Royal Irish Academy. I am not here to
protest against this decision. I accept it as an accomplished fact: and
may sincerely profess that, so far as the interests of Celtic scholars
in Ireland are promoted, I am glad of it. But on the same principle I
must condole with the Celtic scholars in England, many of them Irishmen,
who must, at least until the distant period when Mr. Gilbert's truly
national undertaking is complete, repair to Dublin to consult what they
might have seen in London. The point to be insisted upon is, that if the
Museum had possessed a photographic department, the question whose
interests were to be sacrificed could not have arisen at all. Though, as
recently pointed out by Dr. Hessels, the photograph may not be
absolutely unerring in the reproduction of minute facsimile, if made
with due care it is practically adequate in the vast majority of
instances. We have just heard the Dean of Armagh's testimony to the
accuracy as well as the beauty of the facsimiles of ancient Irish MSS.
made under the direction of Mr. Gilbert. The photographic reproduction
is sometimes even preferable to the original manuscript, bringing out
and restoring faded letters. Given such a facsimile, and, save as a
matter of sentiment, it would be almost indifferent whether the original
reposed upon the shelves of London or of Dublin. With it, the scholar
need rarely brace himself up for a long and expensive journey to one
city or the other. With it, the national treasure is doubly, trebly,
tenfold, or a hundredfold if you like, protected against theft, injury,
or destruction. With it, Ireland might soon possess, at a nominal cost,
facsimiles of all MSS. illustrating her ancient language or history, and
not merely the Ashburnham. But if these propositions are true of the
British Museum, they are true of every national institution. If they
apply to Celtic scholars, they apply to all scholars. If they apply to
the Ashburnham MSS., they apply to all MSS., including parish registers
and public documents; if to these, then to printed books of rarity and
value; and no less to every picture and statue, engraving and medal.
Think of the boundless field thus opened up for the dissemination of
instruction and enjoyment, for the insurance of irreplaceable wealth,
and great must be the wonder that scarcely a corner of it should
hitherto have been occupied.

The cause, nevertheless, is very simple. Photographic reproduction has
not as yet been regarded as a duty incumbent upon a public library, and
has not, accordingly, been provided for out of the public funds. The
same principle has not been applied to it which obtains in the case of
binding, lighting, cleaning, attendance, and other things apart from the
buying of books which are recognised as essential to the efficiency of
such an institution. It follows that photography is so dear as to be
rarely resorted to by private individuals; and that its exercise by
public institutions is impeded not only by considerations of expense,
but also by indispensable but vexatious formalities and restrictions.
Photography, while in private hands, must be costly; first and foremost,
because the photographer must live. Again, if he is an artist of the
accuracy of manipulation required for the work of a public library, he
must be enabled and entitled to put a high value on his services. Again,
he has invested capital both in his education and his working apparatus,
on which he must have interest. Once more, he works by the piece, and
piece labour is always the highest paid. Yet once again, his
remuneration comes to him entirely in money, and not in social position
or distinction. Besides, the demand for the description of photographic
reproduction which a public library would require is as yet but limited,
and partly from these very difficulties of supply. In portraiture, for
which everybody is a customer, and to a less degree in landscape and the
reproduction of works of art, we see that competition has brought the
desired article within reach of the masses. But in photographing books
and MSS. the cost is still very disproportionate to the amount of labour
or the value of material. We move in a vicious circle, the difficulty
of supply restricts demand, and the feebleness of demand obstructs
supply. Nor, were the demand more extensive, would the public be
effectually served by national institutions, so long as the system of
private photography and piece-work endured: for the artist must have his
profit, put it how you will: and it is this simple, and in the present
state of things, legitimate condition, which cripples the library and
museum on this side of their activity; and, while enriching the
individual, impoverishes the State in its spiritual aspect, by impeding
the free circulation of intellectual wealth.

If the cause is as simple as I have stated, the remedy, fortunately, is
no less so. In so far as photography for public objects is concerned, we
must suppress the photographer as a tradesman. The State must enlist
him, pay him a fixed salary, requiring his whole time in return, and
minimise this source of expense by allowing him the rank of a civil
servant, and a status on a par with that of any other head of a
department. It must also provide the assistance which would be
requisite, and the necessary apparatus and chemicals. The photographer's
time being thus paid for, his profit abolished, and the material
provided for him, what source of expense remains? Absolutely none, until
there is a tax upon sunshine.

It may still be fairly inquired:—

1. Whether such an undertaking is within the legitimate sphere of

2. Whether it is of sufficient public utility to justify Government

3. How far such action would be remunerative financially?

On the first point I shall say hardly anything. I can conceive no
greater objection in principle to an official photographer than to an
astronomer-royal, and I do not expect to hear any objections to the
latter functionary in the city of Sir William Rowan Hamilton and Dr.

Nor do I apprehend that many among us will require to be convinced of
the advantage of photography as an auxiliary to library work. It has
already been sufficiently impressed upon us by our friend Mr. Henry
Stevens. We meet here, however, in the hope that our voice on this and
other subjects will penetrate beyond our own circle, and arrest the
attention of many to whom these topics are at present unfamiliar. It is,
further, by proving the utility of photography as an auxiliary to
libraries and museums, and the extent to which these institutions are
trammelled by the present impediments to its exercise, that I shall best
encounter the more difficult question of the financial advantage of the
proposal. For we shall all agree that the more generally useful anything
may be, the more likely it is to be profitable.

I shall therefore point out very briefly the great benefit which the
British Museum, the institution with which I am best acquainted, might
derive from incorporating photography as an organised part of its
system, instead of taking the photographer up to lay him down again. I
shall next adduce several instances within my own knowledge in which
cheap photography would have been of material benefit to individual
frequenters of the Museum; sufficient, it seems to me, to justify the
conclusion that a public need exists, to supply which might be
profitable even in a pecuniary sense. Lastly, I shall look beyond the
needs of any individual library, or any particular class of customers,
and endeavour to point out ways in which a national photographic
institution, preferably, I think, placed in connection with the British
Museum, might subserve public objects of paramount importance.

I have said that, to be adopted to any purpose by a public institution,
photography must become a portion of the organism of the institution
itself. That is, the institution must be the photographer's employer,
not his customer. If otherwise, all sorts of needful but troublesome
official formalities must exist, which combine with the obstacle of
expense to reduce photographic enterprise to a minimum. If a complicated
piece of official machinery has to be set in motion every time a
photograph is wanted, whether by a public department or a private
individual, the want is not likely to be often acknowledged, much less
when a moderate outlay will soon bring both to the end of their tether.
Abolish the relations of tradesman and customer, pay the photographer
once for all by an adequate salary, provide apparatus and chemicals with
sufficient liberality, and you at once cut off whatever has hitherto
hindered and arrested the enlistment of the art in the service of
culture. Instead of an artist working now and then as he may happen to
get an order, which he seldom does except in absolutely urgent cases,
you have one bound to devote the whole of his time to earning a moderate
fixed salary, and, if he is the right sort of man, making it his pride
and pleasure to do so. Instead of an institution doing comparatively
little work, and supported by the reluctant contributions of
comparatively few customers, you have one supported on a large scale at
a cost individually imperceptible. Instead of heads of departments
considering how little they can manage to spend, you will have them
encouraged to tax their new auxiliary's resources to the utmost by the
consideration that, the prime elements of expense being eliminated, it
will, in fact, hardly be possible to spend anything. Here I may be met
by an objection which deserves a reply. "Granting," it may be said, "the
propriety of employing the photographer for strictly national purposes,
why tax the entire community, however lightly, for the benefit of the
small portion of it which may happen to want photographs? Is it right to
take a farthing out of Brown's pocket to save Jones five guineas?" I
scarcely expect that any among us will raise that objection, because,
pursued to its logical consequences, it would abolish every museum and
library supported out of rates or taxes. But, to anticipate it in the
quarters where it may be urged, I shall prove that the benefits of cheap
photography, applied to artistic and literary purposes, extend far
beyond the actual purchasers of photographs, inasmuch as the present
restrictions act injuriously and indeed prohibitively upon undertakings
of admitted general utility, both public and private.

In illustration of the impediments which the present system opposes to
such undertakings, I may instance the difficulty of meeting the
legitimate demands of provincial museums. Residents in the provinces,
equally with residents in the metropolis, contribute to the support of
institutions like the British Museum, and are entitled to expect that
they should, as far as possible, participate in its advantages. There
are, I believe, many well-meaning people so impressed with the justice
of this demand that to give it satisfaction they are prepared to
permanently dislocate the national collection, or to despatch portion
after portion on an itinerating tour throughout the provinces. I need
not seek to convince you that this specious suggestion is unsound; that
the moral and historical and artistic significance of the collection
depend upon its universality and the preservation of the delicate links
and gradations of its several parts, and that the loss of the metropolis
would by no means be the gain of the provinces. It is nevertheless the
duty of the central institution to compensate the provinces in every
possible way for their inevitable disadvantages, and though photography
will not do everything in this respect, it will do much. In sculpture,
coins, engravings, and drawings in outline or of neutral tint, the
smallest town in the kingdom might be almost on a par with the
metropolis for every purpose of instruction or refinement. By enabling
them to be so we should not be creating a luxury, but redressing a
grievance. On this ground alone Government might fairly be asked to move
in the matter. How much, too, might be effected by such artistic and
archæological handbooks, photographically illustrated, as could be
produced for a trifle if the process were no element in the expense! How
much can be and is done even under existing difficulties is shown by the
exquisite autotype illustrations of some of the catalogues of selected
coins and medals recently published by the Numismatic Department of the
British Museum. They prove how easily the entire collection might be
made available for study and inspection all over the kingdom—ay, and in
foreign countries and colonies—and confirm the proposition I have
advanced, that the expenditure of public money in cheapening
photographic reproduction is not merely a boon to the purchaser, but to
the general public.

The circulation of photographs of works of art, though important to
individual collectors, is rather the affair of public institutions. The
similar circulation of books and MSS., the aspect of the question with
which we as librarians are particularly concerned, is more directly
interesting to private individuals, and on this account has attracted
comparatively little notice. I am not sure, however, that it is not the
more important of the two, nor that it may not, after all, be the branch
most susceptible of profitable development. In the matter of rare
books, demand has now almost killed supply. The wish to possess them is
more general than ever, but the means of gratifying it become from day
to day more restricted by the tendency of such books to drift into
public libraries, or into large private collections where they may be
locked up indefinitely, and especially by the competition of America. At
this juncture, photography, particularly in its form of
photo-zincography, steps in, and offers the means of doing for the
amateur of ancient and curious literature, for maps and MSS., precisely
what the printing-press does for the great body of readers. All we need
is that the obstacles which still render this process expensive, except
when applied to objects in great demand, should be removed, that the
scholar should be enabled to procure a cheap photographic reproduction
as easily as the general reader can obtain a cheap book. Such scholars
are numerous enough, I feel convinced, to defray the cost of material
and of minor assistance, leaving in the worst case nothing for the State
to pay but the insignificant salary of the chief photographic officer.
Now let us take the case of another class of students, who deserve even
more consideration, the collators of MSS. and rare books. Why should the
scholar of the nineteenth century be in no better position than the
scholar of the sixteenth? Why should he continue to be exposed to
hardships which science has met? Think of the waste of human effort, the
fret and friction of human temper entailed by the inability to procure
accurate facsimiles. Why should the scholar of an age of light get no
good from the sun? Think of the long journeys, the long residences, the
interminable correspondences of scholars, the mechanical labour if they
are their own copyists, the expense and probable inaccuracy if they are
not. Do we often see a critical edition of a classic without a lament
that the editor has been unable to inspect some MS. at Madrid or Moscow?
Did not the Biblical world wait thirty years for a facsimile of the
Vatican MS., which a photographer would have produced in a small
fraction of the time? And did it not prove an imperfect facsimile after
all? Did not the learned Meibomius, albeit a ponderous Dutchman, ill
adapted for equitation, ride all the way from Leyden to Bologna, allured
by the unhappily misleading announcement, _Habemus Petronium integrum_?
To come nearer to our own times, I may report (since I rather suspect it
has been the germ of the whole subject in my mind) a conversation I have
myself had with the Rev. Dr. Hayman, then editing the Odyssey, and most
anxious to take our Museum MSS. of the poem home to his rectory in the
north of Lancashire. I told him that the idea was contrary to the Museum
statutes, to Act of Parliament, and to the eternal fitness of things. He
said that he would give security to any amount. I said that money would
not compensate the Museum or the world of letters for the loss of an
unique MS., and that it would be shocking to place a scholar, possibly
poor, under obligations which might involve the loss of all he was
worth. "Oh, as to that," he said, "as soon as I got the MS. home I
should insure it for its full value." "Yes," I replied, "and deprive us
of the only security we had for your vigilance." But I think we could
have trusted Dr. Hayman with a photograph, or he could probably have
bought one for the cost of his railway fare to and from London.

Let me now adduce some minor instances of the inconvenience created, at
the Museum alone, by the absence of photographic facilities. The
Congress of Orientalists has felt the want of Oriental MSS. deposited in
England so keenly as to have unanimously concurred in a perfectly futile
memorial to allow them to be sent to the Continent. The Austrian
Government lately addressed an official request for the loan of an
exceedingly rare book, which, if the Museum had possessed it, they could
not have had, but of which, if an official photographic department had
existed, they might have obtained the facsimile for a trifle. With due
photographic facilities at Basle we might each of us have taken home a
perfect facsimile of the memorable letter of Fichet which Mr. Bullen has
brought to our notice, the accurate typographic reproduction of which
will assuredly tax the resources of the printers of the "Library
Chronicle." The Dean of Armagh could tell us how much he had recently to
pay for the transcription of an entire book on Irish history at the
Museum, though the charge was as low as possible. I have seen an
accomplished lady, the wife of a Professor of Fine Art, toiling day
after day for weeks together, laboriously tracing plans of architectural
structures for the illustration of her husband's lectures, which plans,
under the conditions contemplated, she could have carried away in
facsimile for a few shillings. I have known weeks employed and twenty
pounds expended in copying a manuscript grammar of an African language;
and a rare old English book transcribed, every word of it, to obtain a
reprint. I have now a colleague in the Museum coming early and staying
late out of his official time to transcribe an almost illegible Coptic
manuscript, a photograph of which would have answered every purpose.
Another colleague wished to give a facsimile page of a very curious MS.
he had edited for a learned society; but was prevented by the cost;
conversely, the same gentleman, thanks to photography, is at present
deciphering a most obstinate MS. for the Corporation of
Stratford-on-Avon, without having to go there or make himself
responsible for the safe custody of the document. I know that the
charges of the skilful men who restore missing passages of books in
facsimile are, inevitably I suppose, so high that nobody who can help it
will employ them. I have a mutilated book on my table at this moment
which I earnestly wish could be entrusted to one of them, but I fear it
will not do. Now, when we consider that it has been found practicable to
facsimile the rare original edition of "Goody Two Shoes," with numerous
woodcuts, by photo-zincography, and publish it at half-a-crown, it is
clear that there must be something wrong about this exorbitant cost
which so effectually hinders the very work which photography, in our
age, seems so especially called upon to perform, of counteracting the
inevitable tendency of old books to scarcity and consequent dearness. Of
the numerous official services which photography could render in a
library, such as saving time in copying documents, or restoring damaged
leaves of catalogues, I say nothing, for fear of occupying your time
unduly; and of the innumerable uses to which it can be turned by an
ingenious bibliographer I am also silent for the same reason, and
because I regard this branch of the case as the especial property of Mr.
Henry Stevens, who has proved it experimentally, and who has, I hope,
more to tell us respecting it. I will merely remark that under all
disadvantages, the last four volumes of the British Museum Catalogue of
Greek Coins contain 116 autotype plates, with representations of nearly
2000 coins. What might not be done if the Museum were its own

Instances so numerous, representative without doubt of a very large
number which have not come to my knowledge, encourage the hope that the
establishment of a photographic department at the Museum would be even
financially successful. One very strong fact may be adduced, that
proposals have been actually made to obtain a photographic copy of the
great Chinese Cyclopædia, occupying eighteen hundred volumes. The
proposition, needless if the Museum had possessed a photographic
establishment of its own, was that the parties should take the
Cyclopædia away and photograph it themselves. It could not be granted,
although the sum offered was no less than five hundred pounds, which
would have about paid the proposed photographic officer's salary for a
whole year. The fact is conclusive both of the need of photography as an
auxiliary to library work, and of the encouragement which a well-managed
endeavour would be sure to meet. Like the penny post and the telegraph,
once fairly launched, it would raise the wind for itself. "Work," says
George Eliot, "breeds:" and the great initial difficulty removed,
unsuspected developments and applications are sure to be thought of.
Much prudence and judgment would be requisite in working the scheme.
Competition with professional photographers must be avoided; and the
work of the institution confined to reproducing objects in its own
collections, or those of other public institutions, or such in private
hands as possessed a distinct literary, artistic, or scientific impress
and value. The locality should be the British Museum, because, while we
are able to receive articles from any other place on deposit, we are
disabled from even temporarily parting with our own. If so, the
management must, of course, rest with the Museum authorities, as we
could not allow an _imperium in imperio_. It will be admitted that under
the present Principal Librarian the Museum has fully earned the
confidence of the public, and that this has been largely gained by the
readiness shown to enlist mechanical processes in aid of library work,
particularly printing and electricity. The introduction of photography
would be but a further development of the same principle; and although
much consideration and discussion will evidently be necessary, I am not
without hope that Mr. Bond, who has brought print into the catalogue and
electricity into the Reading Room, may make the sun-crowned nymph, now
an inmate who charges for her lodging instead of paying for it, a
daughter of the house. Many questions will arise which only experience
can solve. The work which the institution does for itself and that which
it does for others must not be allowed to get into each other's way, and
the adjustment of the scale of charges will require serious
consideration. On the one hand, the very essence of the scheme is to
reduce the cost of photography for literary or educational purposes to a
minimum; and high prices would evidently be extortionate when the main
elements of cost had been suppressed. On the other hand, the _bona
fides_ of customers must be guaranteed; and the Treasury will scarcely
help unless the obligation to recoup it as far as possible is
acknowledged and acted upon. The best principle, I apprehend, would be
to proportion charges as nearly as possible to the expenditure of
material—a variable quantity, depending upon the amount of work
done—and to look upon the salaries of the photographic officer and his
assistants as expenses to be covered as far as possible—but with which
the State is not bound to concern itself more than with the salaries of
other literary and artistic servants from whom it does not expect
pecuniary returns.

Ere I quit the subject, suffer me to advert to one aspect of it of
national and even international concern. I allude to the service which
photography can render in the preservation and dissemination of the
national records. The Record Office, in London at least, is no doubt as
nearly fireproof as a building can be made; its guardians must say
whether it is so absolutely impregnable as to supersede all need for the
precaution of making a duplicate copy of any of its treasures. But I
know that it has unique documents relating to the most interesting
events in Scotch history, facsimiles of which would be acceptable
throughout Scotland. I imagine that these are but types of a large class
of documents; and I am sure that the sight of papers relating to
memorable transactions, or bearing the signatures of memorable men,
would foster historical study and patriotic feeling throughout the
length and breadth of the land. But there is another class of records,
for whose safety and accessibility measures should undoubtedly be taken.
I refer to the parish registers. This is no new idea; it has been
frequently proposed that such documents should be removed to London and
collected in a great central repository. To this, as regards the
originals, I cannot assent, both from respect for the rights of property
and from the fear lest some unlucky day the registers of the entire
kingdom might disappear in one common catastrophe. Photography would
solve the problem. With regard to the international aspect of the
question, it may be fairly expected that if we lead, other nations will
follow, and that we shall have to follow if we let them lead. Suppose
that France and we have taken the step in concert, we shall be in a
position to mutually exchange copies of all the important documents
illustrative of the history of either nation contained in the archives
of both. Suppose Italy and Spain to join, and we may have the chief
materials of English history at home, and shall no longer be obliged to
despatch agents to calendar Venetian state papers, or unriddle the
ciphered scrolls of Simancas. The conception is so fruitful, its
application is so manifold and momentous, that I half recoil, like Fear,
afraid of the picture myself have painted. Yet I believe there is
nothing in it that upon sober examination will not be found to follow
naturally from the simple propositions with which I began, that the
photographic reproduction of national property should be the concern of
the nation; and that to a great museum or library photography should be,
not a tool, but a limb.


[234:1] Read before the Library Association, Dublin, September 30, 1884.


Library administration, like all other departments of human activity in
this age, must experience the results of the unexampled development of
science in its application to the affairs of life. The most immediately
obvious of these are the mechanical: so simple a device as the
sliding-press, as will be shown in its place, has saved the nation
thousands of pounds. The most promising field for such achievements has
hitherto been the United States of America, where the application of
scientific contrivances to ordinary purposes is more general than in
Europe, and where the more important libraries are new structures, where
improvements can form part of the original plan, with no fear of
impediment from arrangements already existing. Next to mechanics,
photography and electricity may be named as the scientific agencies
chiefly adapted for the promotion of library service. Photography has
been sufficiently treated in another essay in this volume. The services
of electricity will be most cordially acknowledged by those who best
remember the paralysis of literary work, alike official and private,
engendered by a fog at the British Museum, and in particular recall the
appearance of the Reading Room, a Byzantine "tower of darkness," with a
lantern dimly burning in the centre, the windows presenting the
appearance of slate, and dubious figures gliding or stumbling through
the gloom—attendants brought in from the library to take care that the
handful of discontented readers did not profit by the opportunity to
steal the books. All this nuisance has been abolished by the electric
light, which not only renders the Reading Room available for the public
on dark days, but allows the ordinary work of the Museum to be carried
on in all departments; the same may be said of all other libraries. The
beautiful, potent, and above all safe electric ray is an advantage to
all, and in dark days a passage from death unto life for those libraries
where, as in the Museum, gas has been proscribed on account of its
danger and its injurious effects upon books.

The services of electricity to libraries, however, are by no means
exhausted by the electric light. It is capable of rendering aid even
more important, and the more so in proportion to the extent of the
library. The need for rapid communication throughout large buildings has
been in some measure met by the telephone, whose usefulness is impaired
by its incapacity for transmitting and recording written messages.
Recourse must be had to the telegraph—not, of course, that ordinary
description of the instrument where the record is made in dots and
dashes, intelligibly solely to the expert—but the printing telegraph,
where the message appears in clear type, or a facsimile of the
transmitter's handwriting. The use of such telegraphs for various
purposes, especially those of the Stock Exchange, is now very familiar,
and there is perhaps no place where it could be introduced with more
signal advantage than the Reading Room of the British Museum.

There is no great reason at present for complaint of delay in bringing
books from the Museum library to the Reading Room; but the system is
not, as so many other points of Museum administration are, one to
challenge the administration and emulation of other libraries. It is
impossible to observe its working without pronouncing it cumbrous and
below the present level of civilised ingenuity. The reader writes his
ticket at the catalogue desk, generally with a pen trying to his temper,
and the captive of his bow and spear. He then walks some distance to
deposit it in a basket on the counter, where it remains until a boy is
at hand to carry it to the corridor outside the Reading Room, where it
is put into a clip and drawn up to the gallery. All these operations are
indispensable so long as recourse is solely had to human muscle, but
they evidently involve great loss of time. The object to be aimed at
should be _the delivery of the ticket at the table of the attendants who
procure the book in the library simultaneously with its being written in
the Reading Room_; and this seeming impossibility can be achieved by the
employment of a writing telegraph by which, as fast as the message is
written at one end of the wire, it is recorded in facsimile at the
other. The present writer has experimented with the American
Telautograph, and, so far as the experiments went, nothing could be more
satisfactory. No knowledge of telegraphy whatever is required from the
operator: he simply inscribes his message with a style on a piece of
tissue-paper, and it reappears simultaneously at the other end of the
wire. Nothing seems necessary but to furnish the catalogue desks with
electrical transmitters (which occupy no great space) instead of
inkstands, and to provide for the carrying of the wires out of the room.
When the writer endeavoured to introduce electrical communication in
1894, he feared that this requisite would present difficulties, but was
assured by experts that it really offered none. The ticket written by
the reader might be retained by him as a memorandum: if it could be
repeated in _duplicate_ at the other end, one copy might be treated as
now; the other, with any necessary correction, might be pasted at once
into the register, saving all the time now occupied in registration.

It is of course perfectly possible that hitches and breakings down might
at first occur from time to time, from the delicacy of the machine
employed, or from other causes. The machines have not been properly
tested, nor can they be, except by a continuous course of experiment.
But whence this morbid fear of experiment? After Darwin's definition,
the apprehension should surely be on the other side. A single machine,
kept at work for a week, would be sufficient to test the principle. The
first experiments with the electric light at the Museum were anything
but promising, but Sir Edward Bond persevered, and the result is what we

And how brilliant a result the establishment of telegraphic
communication would be! The saving of time is no doubt the most
practical consideration, but apart from this, how vast the improvement
in the economy of the Reading Room! No more troops of boy attendants,
with the inevitable noise and bustle; nothing but the invisible
messenger speeding on his silent errand, and the quiet delivery of books
at the desks: an unparalleled scene of perfect physical repose in the
midst of intense mental activity. Of course the improvement would not
stop with the Reading Room, and ere long all departments would be
connected by the writing telegraph.

This paper, of course, is not written with any view of recommending the
Telautograph. Instruments better adapted for the purpose may exist,
although the writer has not met with them. He originally proposed the
employment of a printing telegraph as a means of abridging delays in the
Reading Room as long ago as 1876. The great improvements in
administration introduced at that time, however, rendered the need less
urgent; nor, perhaps, was electrical science itself then sufficiently
developed. Acquaintance with the Telautograph led him to take the
subject up again in 1893 and 1894, and he still hopes to find the
electric force a match for _vis inertiæ_.


Of all the library's enemies, the most terrible is fire. Water is bad
enough; is it not recorded that the 450 copies of the Bible Society's
translation of the Gospel of St. Matthew into Manchu, printed on the
soft silken paper of China, were destroyed by an inundation of the Neva?
But such damage can rarely occur, unless when the element of the Sylph
is invoked to combat the element of the Salamander. The muddy waters of
the Neva, also, were probably more pernicious than the "salt sea
streams" would have been. We ourselves have transcribed manuscripts of
Shelley's which had been for months at the bottom of the Mediterranean,
and which, although protected by package, had evidently been soaked with
salt water. Exposure to fire for a hundred-thousandth part of the period
would not have left a letter legible.

The librarian's vigilance and resource, accordingly, ought to be
enlisted against fire in an especial manner, and no contrivance should
be overlooked that seems to afford the least prospect of controlling or
mitigating its ravages.

On July 17, 1884, experiments were made in the garden of Mr. Bernard
Quaritch, the eminent bookseller, with fire-proof cases devised by Mr.
Zaehnsdorf, equally distinguished as a binder, and were reported in the
_Academy_ of July 26. Three books, each enclosed in a separate case,
were put into a fire, and kept there for half-an-hour. On their being
extracted, "one, which had been in a case lined with tin, unpierced with
air-holes, suffered only in its binding, which had been slightly
damaged, not directly by the fire, but only by the heated metal. A
second, of which the case was of the usual kind, but also unpierced with
air-holes, came out intact. The third, in a case resembling that of the
second, but pierced with air-holes of good diameter, suffered most, the
fire, and the water by which the fire was extinguished, having both
found admission through those punctures, the water being the more
deleterious agent of the two. This book was, however, not materially
injured. From this experiment it may be concluded that a good case will
in almost all instances preserve a book from destruction by fire, that a
metal lining to the case is not necessary, and that the air-holes (which
experiments of a different kind have proved to be indispensable) should
be small and numerous, distributed over the top and front edges, and not
only on the top."

In 1894, the chief part of the library of Lord Carysfort at Elton Hall,
Peterborough, was destroyed by fire, these books only escaping which had
been protected by Mr. Zaehnsdorf's cases. On October 3, 1896, Lord
Carysfort wrote: "A few of my books which were in cases were quite
preserved from serious injury, the cases having been blackened and
destroyed, while the book and its binding were scarcely discoloured.
Since the fire I have had all my valuable books put into cases such as
you make."

These circumstances having accidentally become known to the writer, he
thought it his duty to test Mr. Zaehnsdorf's cases for himself. Two of
these, filled with printed papers of no value, were placed (April 1897)
on a very hot fire in the writer's own study, in the presence of Mr.
Zaehnsdorf and several officers of the library of the British Museum.
The result was highly satisfactory. Though the cases were greatly
damaged, the papers received very little injury, and this only when they
were in actual contact with the bottom and sides of the cases. Had they
been bound volumes, nothing would have suffered except the edges of the

It seems evident that Mr. Zaehnsdorf's invention well deserves the
attention of wealthy collectors of precious books. There is a serious
obstacle to its introduction on an extensive scale into great libraries
from the expense of the cases, which at present average about a pound a
piece. It is probable, however, that cases could be contrived to take
books by the shelf-ful instead of single volumes. In any event, however,
it would be well worth while to employ them for the protection of books
of extreme rarity and inestimable manuscripts, as well as the archives
of great libraries, and artistic and scientific departments in general,
which, when calendared, as they must one day be if they have not been
burned first, will be among the most valuable of materials for the
history of culture.

It is no doubt true that the best protection against fire is not any
mechanical device, but the contiguity of a good fire brigade. But at
Elton Hall the nearest brigade was many miles off, and, be it as near as
it will, it is also true that such devices are not exposed to the
negligences, misunderstandings, and other infirmities incident to
mortals which may in an evil hour paralyse the operations of human
agents; and that the most efficient brigade will be greatly helped by
anything which, by retarding the progress of a conflagration, holds it
back from gaining the mastery before the opposing forces have been fully
brought into play. This important object might also be promoted by the
employment of wood specially seasoned by a chemical process. Experiments
made on behalf of the British Museum in the spring of 1898 have been
highly satisfactory, evincing that although wood so treated will char,
it will not, properly speaking, burn, and that the use of it for floors
and shelving would materially impede the process of combustion.


The object of this paper is to give a short account of the sliding-press
or hanging book-press now in use at the British Museum, and to suggest
the importance of its introduction elsewhere where possible, and of
regard being had to it in forming the plans of libraries hereafter to be
built. Every successful library is destined to be confronted sooner or
later with the problem how to enlarge its insufficient space. Without
considerable financial resources such enlargement has hitherto been
absolutely impracticable, and even where practicable has rarely been
carried into effect without a long period of makeshift, discomfort, and
disorganisation, for which the enlargement itself affords only a
temporary remedy. The great advantages of the sliding-press in this
point of view are two: it allows expansion within the edifice itself,
without the necessity of additional building, and it enables this
expansion to be effected gradually out of the regular income of the
library without the need of appealing for the large sums which would be
required by extensive structural additions to the existing edifice.

I may assume that all present have seen, or will see, the photographs of
the Museum sliding-press exhibited to the Conference, with the
accompanying description. I may therefore be very brief in my account of
it here, and simply characterise it as an additional bookcase hung in
the air from beams or rods projecting in front of the bookcase which it
is desired to enlarge, provided with handles for moving it backwards and
forwards, working by rollers running on metal ribs projecting laterally
from the above-mentioned beams or rods, and so suspended from these ribs
as absolutely not to touch the ground anywhere. These are its essential
characteristics, without which it would be indeed an additional
book-press, but not a hanging-press or sliding-press. In recommending
this system of additional accommodation, I by no means wish to insist
upon this special form as the only one adapted for the necessities of a
library. I have no doubt that in very many libraries the arrangement of
the projecting beams or rods would be inapplicable, and that it would be
better to resort to the original form of the idea, from which the Museum
derived its own application of it—the idea, namely, of a skeleton door
made in shelves, hinged upon the press requiring expansion, running on a
wheel resting upon a metal quadrant let into the floor, and opening and
shutting like any ordinary door. I have merely to affirm that for the
Museum the adaptation we have made is a very great improvement; but
this is due to the peculiar construction of the rooms to which the new
press has hitherto been chiefly confined. Rooms of this pattern do not
generally exist in public libraries, and where they are not found I am
inclined to think that the plan which I have just described, the
prototype of the Museum sliding-press, may be found the more
advantageous. I also think, however, that for reasons quite unconnected
with the sliding-press, this pattern of room ought to be imitated in
libraries hereafter to be built, and when this is the case, it must
inevitably bring the Museum press after it. It will therefore be worth
while to describe this style of building, in order that the mutual
adaptation of it and of the sliding-press may be clear. It consists of
three storeys lighted entirely from the top. It is therefore necessary
for the transmission of light from top to bottom that the floors of the
two upper storeys should be open; and they are in fact iron gratings. It
follows that the floor of the highest storey must form the ceiling of
the second, and the floor of the second the ceiling of the third. Here
is the key to the sliding-press system. The beams or rods which I have
described as projecting from the presses that line the wall already
existed in the shape of the bars of the grating, and did not require to
be introduced. Nothing was needful but to provide them with flanking
ribs projecting at right angles, from which, as you see in the
photographs, the additional press could be suspended by rollers,
admitting of easy working backwards and forwards, and then the
sliding-press was fully developed out of the skeleton door. No thought
of it had ever crossed the minds of the original designers of the
building; yet they could have made no better arrangement had this been
planned with an especial view to its introduction. They had even made
the storeys of exactly the right height, eight feet. I have not hitherto
mentioned that the press takes books both before and behind, because
this feature is not essential, and must indeed be departed from when the
press is applied to the accommodation of newspapers and such like large
folios. For ordinary books it is manifestly a great advantage, but
carries with it the obligation that the presses shall not be higher than
eight feet, or, when full on both sides, they will be too heavy to work
with comfort, unless, which I do not think impracticable, machinery for
the purpose should be introduced.

The principle of a sliding or hanging-press is, so far as I know,
entirely peculiar to the British Museum, and hardly could have
originated elsewhere than in a building possessing, like the Museum,
floors and ceilings entirely grated. The main point, however, the
provision of supplementary presses to increase the capacity of the
library without requiring additional space, had previously been worked
out in at least two libraries. The earliest example, apart from casual
and accidental applications at Trinity College, Dublin, and, as I have
been told, the Bodleian, was, I believe, at Bradford Free Library, and
the gentleman entitled to the credit of its introduction there was Mr.
Virgo, the librarian. Mr. Virgo's contrivance was, I understand, a
double door, not hinged on to the original press in one piece, as in the
pattern I have just described, but opening in two divisions to right and
left, as frequently the case in cupboards. I speak, however, with some
uncertainty, for when, writing on the subject in Mr. Dewey's _Library
Notes_, and most anxious to give Mr. Virgo all due credit, I applied to
him for particulars of his invention, modesty, as I must suppose,
rendered him silent, or at best but insufficiently articulate. I hope he
may be present to-day, and that the Conference may hear the particulars
from himself. It is due, however, to the Bethnal Green Library, the
other institution to which I have referred as having given effect to the
principle of press expansion _in situ_, to state most explicitly that
the idea of its application at the Museum was derived wholly and solely
from Bethnal Green; that the Bradford example, though it had been set
for some years previously, was never heard of at the Museum until the
model had been constructed and the first presses ordered; and that I am
satisfied that Bethnal Green knew as little of Bradford as the Museum
did. The Bethnal Green inventor was, I am informed, the late Dr. Tyler,
the founder and principal benefactor of the institution, and, as
elsewhere, the device was resorted to by him under the pressure of a
temporary emergency—in this case the accumulation of specifications of
patents annually presented by the Patent Office. The introduction of the
principle at the Museum dates from a November evening of 1886, when,
going down to attend a little festivity on occasion of the reopening of
the Bethnal Green Library after renovation, I was shown the
supplementary presses by the librarian, Mr. Hilcken. I immediately saw
the value of the idea, and next morning sent for Mr. Jenner, assistant
in the Printed Book Department, in whose special fitness I felt great
confidence, from his admirable performance of the duty of placing the
books daily added to the Museum, which frequently requires much
ingenuity and contrivance. I told Mr. Jenner what I had seen, and
desired him to consider whether he could devise a method of adapting the
Bethnal Green system to the exigencies of the British Museum. He did
consider: he went down to Bethnal Green and saw the presses employed
there, and, to his infinite credit, hit upon the plan of suspending the
presses from the grated floors of the upper storey in the manner shown
by the photograph, which, as I have already pointed out, is entirely
original. A model was constructed by the aid of Mr. Sparrow, the
ingenious locksmith of the Museum. Mr. Bond, then principal librarian,
took the matter up warmly, the first batch of presses was ordered early
in 1887, and from that time forward we have had no difficulty at the
Museum in providing space for ordinary books, although some structural
alterations will be requisite before the sliding-press can be applied to
the whole of the New Library, and it must be modified if it is to be
made serviceable for newspapers. A new room in the White Wing, not
admitting of a grated ceiling, has been specially adapted with a view to
the introduction of the press, and may be usefully studied by librarians
about to build, although I think that some modifications will be found
expedient. I have pleasure in adding that on my report of June 1, 1888,
in which I went into the whole matter very fully, the trustees obtained
from the Treasury a gratuity of £100 for Mr. Jenner and of £20 for Mr.
Sparrow, in recognition of their services.

I have designedly said recognition, not recompense, for no grant likely
to be awarded by the Treasury would bear any proportion to the saving
effected on behalf of the nation. To make this clear I will adduce some
particulars stated in my report to the trustees. Eight hundred
sliding-presses can be added to the New Library at the Museum without
any modification of the building as it stands, and 300 more by certain
structural alterations. The cost of a press being about £13, this gives
£14,300 for the 1100 presses, or, with a liberal allowance for the cost
of the alterations, say £15,000 altogether. Each press will contain on
the average about 400 volumes, showing a total of 440,000 volumes, or
about seven times the number of books in the great King's Library added
to the capacity of the New Library, without taking in another square
inch of ground. Excluding newspapers, periodicals, Oriental
books—otherwise provided for—and tracts bound in bundles, and assuming
an annual addition of 20,000 volumes of other descriptions, this
provides for twenty-two years. But much more may be said, for, whether
in the form of swinging door or sliding-press, the principle of
expansion _in situ_ can undoubtedly be carried out through the greater
part of the Old Library, as well as in the basement of the New.[269:1]
What additional space this would afford, I have not endeavoured to
estimate. Another immense advantage connected with the system is the
facility it offers of gradual expansion. Any other enlargement requires
new building; new building requires a large sum to be raised by a great
effort of rating, borrowing, or subscribing; and too frequently the
adjoining ground is preoccupied, and must be acquired at a great
additional expense. Fifty thousand pounds would, I believe, be a very
moderate estimate for such accommodation, if obtained by building, as
the Museum gets from the sliding-press for £15,000, supposing even that
the ground were free to build upon. In our case, however, this ground
must have been purchased. We may well imagine the Trojan siege we should
have had to lay to the Treasury, to obtain the money; the delays of
building when this was eventually forthcoming; and the fearful
inconvenience which would have existed meanwhile. Now we simply put down
a sum in the annual estimates for as many sliding-presses as are likely
to be required during the ensuing financial year, introduce them
wherever they seem to be necessary, and hope to go on thus for an
indefinite number of years. Any new apartment, complete in itself, must
involve waste, for some parts of it must necessarily fill up faster than
others; but in the sliding-press is a beautiful elasticity; it can be
introduced wherever it is seen to be wanted, and nowhere else. Finally,
and for the Museum this is most important, the additional space gained
is in the close vicinity of the Reading Room. A new building must have
been at a distance, involving either great inconvenience in the supply
of books to readers, or an additional Reading Room, catalogue, reference
library, and staff.

I think enough has been said to convince librarians of the expediency of
taking the sliding-press, or some analogous contrivance, into account,
in plans for the enlargement of old libraries, or the construction of
new ones. Some libraries will not require it, either because they are on
too small a scale; or because, like branch libraries in great towns,
they admit of being kept within limits; or because, like Archbishop
Marsh's Library at Dublin, they are restricted to special collections.
But all experience shows that it is impossible to provide for the wants
of a great and growing library on too generous a scale, or to exhibit
too much forethought in preparing for distant, it may be, but ultimately
inevitable contingencies. York Cathedral Library might have seemed safe,
but see the burden which Mr. Hailstone's recent benefaction has laid
upon it. To the librarian it may be said of Space what the poet said of

    "Whoe'er thou art, thy master see,
     He was, or is, or is to be."

I should add that the cost of a sliding-press, or of a door-press,
might probably be much less to a provincial library than to the Museum,
where the shelves are constructed in the most elaborate manner for
special security against fire.

In fact, I believe that the sliding-press is only one corner of a great
question, and that in planning large libraries it will be necessary to
take mechanical contrivances into account to a much greater extent than
hitherto. I am especially led to this conclusion by some particulars
which have reached me respecting the new Congressional Library at
Washington. I am unable to state these with the requisite accuracy, but
I hope that some American friend may be present who can supply the

I have to add that the photographs of the sliding-press here exhibited
by me were taken by Mr. Charles Praetorius, and that copies can be
obtained from him. He may be addressed at the Museum. I hope that they
fulfil their purpose; they cannot, however, of course, represent the
press so well as the model of it constructed by Mr. Sparrow for the
exhibition of library appliances at Antwerp, where it was shown last
year. This is now exhibited to the public in the King's Library, and Mr.
Sparrow could probably produce copies of it if desired. An account of
the press was contributed by Mr. Jenner to the _Library Chronicle_, and
by me to Mr. Melville Dewey's _Library Notes_, both in 1887.


[262:1] Read at the Annual Meeting of the Library Association, held at
Nottingham, September 1891.

[269:1] Since this was written, the engineers of the Board of Works
have reported that the sliding-press system can be safely extended to
the galleries, which more than doubles the estimate of increased space
given on the preceding page.


The interesting paper[272:2] to which you have just listened may well
serve as introductory to a somewhat fuller treatment on my part of the
question of providing adequate space for future accessions of books, so
immensely important for all libraries, but especially so for public
libraries, and for these in the ratio of their probable extent and
consequent usefulness. When I had an opportunity of describing the
British Museum sliding-press to the Nottingham conference, I dwelt upon
the utility of the invention in this point of view as much as upon the
mechanism of the press itself; and as the point is one which cannot be
too much insisted upon, I shall take this opportunity of returning to
it. Before doing so, however, or mentioning any further contrivances for
economising space that may have suggested themselves, I may be allowed
to tender my personal acknowledgments to Mr. Mayhew for the ingenuity
which he has evinced, and to say that I am very desirous that his
invention should be brought into practical operation at the Museum as
soon as possible. We ought, I think, to exemplify every useful device
both in press construction and other departments of library work that we
may have the good fortune to introduce, both for our own credit and for
the advantage of other libraries which may be disposed to inquire into
our methods. I hardly expect that the pivot-press will replace the
sliding-press to any great extent at the Museum, because, as I have
previously stated, although the designers of the larger portion of our
library had not the most remote conception of the sliding-press, they
could not have provided for it more effectively if they had foreseen and
contemplated its introduction. But, when the need for procuring
additional space by mechanical contrivance makes itself felt, as must
inevitably be the case one day in all really important libraries,
difficulties will be found in the introduction of the sliding-press
which will not exist in the case of the pivot-press. Unless expressly so
designed, libraries will seldom be provided, as the Museum was, with a
grated ceiling from which the sliding-press can be suspended without
more ado, and the construction of such a ceiling is a formidable and
expensive piece of work. This difficulty may indeed be overcome by
making the sliding-press run upon the ground, as at Bethnal Green and
the basement of the Museum, but this throws the entire weight upon the
floor, which, though unobjectionable on a basement, may be dangerous in
upper storeys. I am inclined to believe, therefore, that the pivot-press
may be used with excellent effect in many instances, especially from
its simplicity and ease of construction, when a sudden need arises for
the accommodation of a new accession of books. I may further draw
attention to a special merit—its singular lightness even when full of
volumes. A child can work it with ease, unlike the sliding-press, which,
when quite full, may tax the strength of a powerful man.

Respecting the history of this press I have only to say that, so far as
I am aware, it originated with Mr. Mayhew at the British Museum; I
should, nevertheless, be in no way surprised to learn that it, or
something resembling it, had already been in use in other libraries. If
so, this is not known at the Museum. It did not, like the sliding-press,
come to us as an importation to be developed, but originated, so far as
I know, entirely with Mr. Mayhew. If he took a hint from any quarter, it
may have been from those revolving book-stands which some of us, no
doubt, use in our own studies, so admirable for their compactness and
the readiness with which the desired book is brought to hand, but
unfortunately so dear. I do not know why they should always be
constructed in wood, and have often thought that if Birmingham
manufacturers would turn them out on a large scale in metal, they would
meet with a remunerative demand.

I now come to the general question of providing space in libraries for
indefinite future accessions. This does not seem to me to have as yet
received attention in any degree proportionate to its importance.
Perhaps I am the more impressed with it from its having been my duty for
a long series of years to place the new acquisitions of books received
at the British Museum. The want of space for particular descriptions of
books was thus daily forced upon my attention, as well as the alarming
prospect of a total failure of space at no very distant day, unless this
could be averted by some mechanical contrivance, the possibility of
which dawned upon nobody until that accidental visit of mine to the
Bethnal Green Library, which I have related to you upon a former
occasion. The problem, you must remember, was not merely to find space
for books, but to find it near the Reading Room. The Trustees might
conceivably have acquired then, as they have most happily acquired last
summer, extensive space for building in the neighbourhood, and this
might be invaluable for the deposit of particular classes of literature,
such as newspapers and official publications. But this would not have
helped us with the mass of literature continually required for the
Reading Room, for it is absolutely necessary that this should be close
at hand. Supposing that room could have been provided in a new building
for the classes of publications I have mentioned, the difficulty would
have recurred as soon as the space thus gained had been filled up; and
ultimately we should have had to choose between allowing the library to
fall into a condition of chaos, and removing the Antiquities Department
elsewhere, thus devoting noble rooms to purposes for which they were not
constructed, and for which they are in no respect adapted. Things were,
indeed, fast approaching this point when the introduction of the
sliding-press, like a breeze springing up for the rescue of a drifting
vessel, carried us safely past the rock upon which we seemed destined to

The answer to the question whether libraries in general will not,
without special precautions, find themselves in the position which the
British Museum has so fortunately escaped, depends upon the reply to
another question, which we must all answer in the affirmative, or we
should not be here: "Is the system of free public libraries going to be
a success?" If so, it is evident that the present development of free
libraries very imperfectly represents that which they are destined to
attain within a century. They cannot be kept at the level of public
requirements without being continually supplied with the best and newest
literature. It will be useless to expect the community to interest
itself for a library full of obsolete treatises or statistics which have
ceased to be accurate, or histories not brought down to date, or fiction
reflecting the taste of the last generation. Periodicals and newspapers
will have continued to prolong themselves automatically; municipal and
other local records will have multiplied; and, if the library has really
done its work, and compelled recognition as an essential constituent of
civilisation, the funds provided for its augmentation will no longer be
upon their present restricted footing, and it will have been largely
enriched by donations. Evidently, therefore, the question of space will
have become very pressing, and the librarians of the future will have
good reason to reproach the short-sightedness of their predecessors if
the problem has been left entirely to them. One rough-and-ready method
of providing space might indeed be suggested—to sell the old books, and
buy new ones with the proceeds; but to say nothing of the invariably
unsuccessful financial results of such operations, and the
discouragement to students and to donors, I need not point out that a
library administered on such principles would be no better than a book
club. I am not aware how far any of our free libraries may already be
suffering embarrassment in the matter of space, but I can mention a
circumstance which may appear significant. We used to hear a great deal
about the stores of duplicate books accumulated at the British Museum,
and the advantage which would ensue from their distribution among
provincial libraries. Well, a few years ago we acted upon the
suggestion, and did distribute all that could be spared. When only a few
volumes could be given all went smoothly; but when long sets, especially
of parliamentary papers, were offered, with a promise of their being
kept up, if possible, we met with an unexpected coyness; some libraries
declined, others made difficulties; and one, which is entitled to
receive continuations regularly, has now postponed taking its due for
more than a year. I know not how to account for this, except on the
hypothesis of deficient space.

The question whether I am right in laying so much stress on the timely
provision of space in libraries depends, as I have intimated, upon the
more serious question, whether the library movement is to prove a
success. If it is not, we need not trouble ourselves. If the present
free libraries—at least those in populous towns and centres of
intellect and industry—are not to be the nuclei of much more important
institutions than they are at present; if they are not to become the
pride of their respective districts, and to be supported by them upon a
much more liberal scale than is now the case; if they are not to expect
liberal accessions from the generosity of private donors; if they are
not to be affiliated with whatever agencies exist around them for the
promotion of culture; if, shedding from time to time what they may deem
their obsolete books, they are to renounce all claim to an historical
character, and only provide for those needs for which the circulating
library exists already; then, indeed, the question of space need not
concern us. But if the reverse of all this is to be the case; if they
are to become noble libraries, store-houses of local and municipal as
well as merely utilitarian literature; if all descriptions of English
literature are to be at least fairly represented; if private collectors
are to be made to see that the local library would afford a worthy
repository for their books; then the question of space cannot be too
attentively considered, or, in the height of success, the library may
break down. You know the value of land in large towns, and the
costliness of extending any premises that may be situated in a good
quarter, and surrounded by shops, or warehouses, or public buildings.
The possibilities of future extension should never be lost sight of when
a site for a library is selected. But, as the most desirable site cannot
always be had, it is still more important so to plan the library from
the first that it may be susceptible of inner development, without
trenching upon the adjoining land; and where, in the case of existing
libraries, this precaution has been neglected, to lose no time in
adapting the library for interior extension, if possible. At the Museum
we have at present two methods—the sliding-press, whether suspended or
resting on the ground, and the pivot-press. Both these have been
described to you. But they by no means exhaust the possibilities of
economising space, and I wish to draw your attention to other ingenious
methods, which, however, I am not about to describe, for I take this to
be the proper business of the inventor. That they must be worth
attention you will all agree, when I tell you they are devised by Mr.
Virgo. Mr. Virgo, as his name seems to imply, is a gentleman of singular
modesty. I do not think that, but for me, he would ever have received
the credit due to him for his share in the invention of the
sliding-press; nor do I think that he has done nearly enough to bring
his ingenious ideas forward for the general good. I hope he will do so,
either at this meeting, or ere long in the pages of THE LIBRARY, or some
other suitable medium. I shall not attempt to trespass upon his ground,
but will very briefly make a suggestion for book accommodation in a
restricted space, which his ingenious contrivances may have prompted,
although to find its exact prototype we must go back to the earliest
libraries that have ever existed.

These, as we all know, were the libraries of the kings of Babylon and
Assyria. Paper and parchment not having been then invented, literature
could only be inscribed on some hard substance. Wood or metal might have
been used, but the substances employed by the Assyrians seem to have
been almost exclusively stone, clay, or terra cotta. An incised stone
slab may be an excellent vehicle for a brief record intended to remain
fixed in the same place, but for a chronicle or a liturgy, or a set of
astronomical observations, or any other of the staple productions of
Babylonian or Assyrian literature it is objectionable in two
respects—it is profuse of space, and it is not easily portable. The
King of Assyria, like the King of Persia of a later date, had doubtless
frequent occasion to send for the chronicles of his kingdom to refresh
his memory respecting the treason of some Bigthan or Teresh, or the
services of some Mordecai. The Assyrian historians or librarians,
therefore, devised the inscription of their literature upon cylinders,
usually hexagonal prisms, giving six faces instead of one, and
possessing the double advantage of easy portability, and of bringing the
largest amount of writing possible into the smallest possible space. The
question of portability does not concern us now (though I may remark
incidentally that in very extensive libraries it offers a decisive
argument against the card catalogue), but it does appear to me worthy of
consideration whether, in endeavouring to make room for our books, we
might not occasionally employ the hexagonal form of press, fixed or
revolving, and thus revert with advantage to the method which our most
primitive predecessors adopted to make room for their writings. The
hexagonal prism has the advantage of affording more space practically
available within less area than any other geometrical figure. It seems
well adapted for use in the central area of large rooms as a supplement
to the wall space; for the extension of wall space when presses are run
out from the sides towards the centre of the room; and for the storage
of valuable books or other objects which it is desirable to keep apart.
A case of this description could be partially glazed to allow of the
exhibition of a portion of the contents level with the eye; and many
other applications might probably be found for the hexagonal book-press
or cabinet in libraries constructed with an especial view to its
introduction. It may be that such presses or cabinets, admitting as they
would of being made of any degree of strength, or of being lined or
protected in any manner, and of being wholly or partially glazed or
unglazed as desired, would be best of all adapted for the custody of
objects of art or archæology—"infinite riches in a little room." Yet,
even if so, libraries and museums are so frequently under the same
management that the subject cannot be deemed inappropriate for a
congress of librarians.

I will finally mention another method of obtaining increased space for
the display of books, MSS., and other exhibited objects. The lower part
of ordinary bookcases can be converted into show-cases by placing
against them, attached or unattached, light tables with glazed tops,
resting on wheels to allow of easy withdrawal when access to the case is
required. This would greatly increase the exhibition space in libraries
and museums, and might sometimes allow the centre of a fine room to be
free from obstruction, and available for lectures and meetings. Applied
to ordinary wall cases, it might admit of the display of many objects
supposed to be exhibited, but which in reality are not so, being placed
too high or too low to be seen.


[272:1] Read at the Annual Meeting of the Library Association, Belfast,
September 1894.

[272:2] A paper by Mr. H. M. Mayhew, of the British Museum, on "A
Revolving Extension Press."


The precept "Love your Enemies" was never intended for the enemies of
books, because the enemy of books is not an individual foe, but _hostis
humani generis_. The value of books, as of other things, may be
superstitiously overrated. We are accustomed to speak of them as if they
were in themselves the wisdom, or the knowledge, or the genius, of which
they are, in fact, only the receptacles. They are not the honey of the
human hive, but only the treasure-cells in which it is stored, and the
analogue of the bee is the author. But even in this restricted point of
view, their function is so important that to destroy them is a crime of
_lèse-humanité_; and it is not known that any one ever enunciated their
destruction as a sound principle, unless it were the Caliph Omar. Even
he, if the famous _bon-mot_ attributed to him is genuine, was willing to
spare one book; and could his life have been prolonged for a century or
two, he would have discovered that in reprieving the Koran he had
authorised the creation of a very considerable literature. The number of
commentaries upon the Koran actually existing is not small; what would
it have been had it been necessary to prove that all history, and
geography, and astronomy, and everything else that man needed to know,
was implicitly taught therein?

No such gigantic figure as the destroyer of the Alexandrian Library,
brandishing, like the spectre of Fawdon, a blazing rafter, whose light
streams down the centuries, occupies a post of honour in Mr. Blades'
volume. In comparison, he may almost be likened to that poet who
adjured, "Now, Muse, let's sing of rats," having previously struck out
mice as below the dignity of the subject. The foes he enumerates are
Fire, Water, Gas and Heat, Dust and Neglect, Ignorance, Book-worms,
Other Vermin, Bookbinders, and Collectors. To these another might be
added—Sinister Interests, which cannot be classified under the head of
Ignorance, for they know well that the existence of books is
incompatible with their own. It would be a curious subject of inquiry
whether these interests, whose potency in mutilating valuable books and
hindering their dissemination, sometimes until it has become too late
for the world to profit by them, is unfortunately quite unquestionable,
have ever succeeded in actually destroying any work of real importance
to mankind. The number that have on this account never been written at
all is no doubt enormous, but from the nature of the case cannot be
ascertained, and the loss from this cause must be in every sense of the
word inestimable. It would, however, probably be found that the book
which once got written also managed to get printed, though sometimes
with such secrecy that it might almost as well have remained in
manuscript. Far more mischievous was the effect of pressure upon the
books which did appear under the authority of a licenser, either
emasculated by him or by the author. Whether the censors ever succeeded
in suppressing a worthy book or not, it is pretty certain that they
never succeeded in suppressing a pernicious one.

Such speculations would have been alien to the pacific and debonair
spirit of Mr. Blades—a man devoid of gall, and ill-equipped for
thornier paths of controversy than the definition of a folio or the date
of a Caxton. In these he was formidable, not merely from his natural
ability, but from his practical acquaintance with the mysteries of
printing, an accomplishment rarely possessed by bibliographers. He was
able to deal, and willing to receive, hard blows; but his gentle spirit
doubtless rejoiced to find in the "Enemies of Books," as he conceived
and treated the theme, a subject on which all the world thought as he
did. No one, even in this age of rehabilitations, is likely to
constitute himself the apologist of mice and book-worms. If a criticism
were ventured on Mr. Blades' method, it might be whether, with the
exception of these zoological enmities, the various forms of hostility
of which he treats should not be grouped under a single head—that of
Ignorance. Ignorance misleads the peccant bookbinder, so sternly rebuked
by Mr. Blades; ignorance (when it is not hard necessity) exposes books
to the decomposing effects of gas; ignorance overlooks the need for
ventilation; ignorance appraises a book by its exterior, and sacrifices,
it may be the "o'er-dusted gold" of a Caxton, or it may be a work of
true genius in a cheap and ordinary edition. Mr. Blades, on the one
hand, has rescued Pynsons on their way to the butter-shop; and we, on
our part, have redeemed Emily Brontë's last verses—almost the noblest
poem ever written by a woman in the English language—from a volume half
torn up, because, forsooth, it had little to boast in the way of
external appearance. There is another kind of ignorance, which perhaps
operates towards the preservation of books—that fond conceit which
leads a man to ascribe incredible rarity to a book of which none of his
neighbours have heard, or vast antiquity to one no older than his
grandfather. Numbers of books, especially in the United States, have
owed their preservation to such amiable delusions; but unfortunately
their preservation is in most cases a very small benefit.

Whether or no Mr. Blades' treatise might have been more comprehensive
and philosophical, it is undoubtedly very practical, and all its
precepts deserve respectful attention, especially those which have any
reference to heat or ventilation. Book-worms in this favoured country
are now nearly as extinct as wolves (we have seen some imported from
Candia); and against book thieves there is no remedy but lock and key.
The spiritual enemies of literature in this age accomplish their
purpose less by the destruction of good books than by the
multiplication of bad ones, and the present is hardly a suitable
occasion to deal with them. To part, as Mr. Blades would have desired,
so far as may be in charity with all men, we will conclude with the
observation that this much may be said even for the enemies of
books—that they have unintentionally highly encouraged the race of
bibliophilists, whether bookhunters or booksellers. If books had always
received the care and attention which they ought to receive, the
occupation of this interesting class would be as gone as Othello's. The
Gutenberg Bible would exist in two hundred and fifty copies, more or
less. The Caxtons would be numerous, perfect, and in excellent
condition. To find a unique, one would have to resort to such
curiosities as a single impression on vellum, or a special copy prepared
for presentation upon some extraordinary occasion.


[283:1] Edition of 1896.


Italy has been fertile in eminent librarians. Magliabecchi was probably
the most learned librarian that ever lived; Audiffredi was the creator
of scientific cataloguing; to Battezzati the practical librarians of the
United States confess themselves indebted for some of their apparently
most original ideas. But it is Sir Anthony Panizzi's especial
distinction to have added to much of the erudition of a Magliabecchi and
all the bibliographical skill of an Audiffredi the more commanding
qualities of a ruler of men. He governed his library as his friend
Cavour governed his country, and in a spirit and with objects nearly
similar, perfecting its internal organisation with one hand, while he
extended its frontiers with the other.

Born on September 16, 1797, at Brescello, in the province of Reggio, in
the duchy of Modena, at that time a part of the Cisalpine Republic,
Antonio Panizzi came into the world as the citizen of at least a
nominally free state, but grew up the subject, first of a foreign
intruder, and afterwards of the worst of the petty despots of Italy.
These circumstances indirectly determined his future career. As a man
of thought and feeling he could but be a patriot; as a man of action he
could but be a conspirator. After receiving his education at the Lyceum
of Reggio and the University of Parma, which he quitted with honourable
attestations of his proficiency, he prepared to practise as an advocate,
but speedily became implicated in the political commotions of the time.
It was the day of the Holy Alliance, when the Spanish Revolution had
called the Italian into life:—

    "Spain calls her now, as with its thrilling thunder
     Vesuvius wakens Ætna, and the cold
     Snow-crags by its reply are cloven in sunder."

While Shelley was writing, Panizzi was acting. In 1821 he was denounced
to the Modenese Government, saved himself by flight, narrowly escaped
arrest by the Austrians at Cremona, and, after a short residence in
Switzerland, whence he was expelled at the instance of Austria and
Sardinia, arrived in England in the May of 1823. The Modenese
authorities proceeded to try him in his absence, and having duly
sentenced him to be executed in effigy (October 1823), sent him a bill
for the legal expenses thus incurred. Panizzi, with equal humour,
replied negatively in a letter subscribed "L'anima di Panizzi," and
dated "Campi Elisei, regno diabolico," rather a shock to received ideas
of geography.

The Elysian Fields were apparently at that time situated in Liverpool,
whither Panizzi had repaired, provided with introductions from Ugo
Foscolo to Dr. Shepherd and to William Roscoe, the men who, with James
Martineau, have given Liverpool a place in the history of letters.
Liberality of opinion united him to both these eminent persons, and his
Italian origin and Italian enthusiasm necessarily proved the most potent
recommendations to the historian of Lorenzo de' Medici and Leo X. From
Roscoe, indeed, he received all the affection of a parent, but these
were the days of the Liverpool scholar's adversity. Panizzi,
nevertheless, probably owed to him the introduction to Lord Brougham
which proved the turning-point in his career. He is said to have been of
great assistance to Brougham in the Wakefield trial. In 1828, furnished
with further introductions from Roscoe to Samuel Rogers and Sir Henry
Ellis, he quitted Liverpool to assume, at Brougham's invitation, the
post of Professor of Italian in University College, London. He had
supported himself while in Liverpool as a teacher of Italian; little
record remains of the struggle, but it must have been severe. The
present writer has heard him say, while lamenting the miserable salaries
paid to supernumerary assistants in the Museum thirty years ago, that he
had notwithstanding maintained himself upon much less. One indispensable
acquisition he made at Liverpool, a ready command of our language,
entirely unacquainted with it as he was upon his arrival in this
country. Neither his accent nor his idiom was ever free from traces of
his foreign extraction, but when he wrote the latter circumstance was
rather favourable to him. The peculiarity of manner contributed to the
general impression of originality, and the massiveness of his thoughts
was agreeably relieved by the raciness of his style.

The study of Italian, an indispensable branch of polite accomplishment
in Elizabeth's time, was becoming a speciality or a tradition in George
IV.'s. The professorship existed rather for the College's sake than the
students'. Panizzi produced an Italian Grammar and Reading Book, and
gave oral instruction to the few who required it. His attention,
however, was mainly engrossed by a much more important undertaking,
which would have given him reputation, had he achieved nothing else.
Nearly three centuries had elapsed without an edition of Boiardo's
"Orlando Innamorato," of which the "Orlando Furioso" is but a
continuation, and without which the latter poem is not fully
intelligible. Some occasional rusticity of diction, so pedantic is
Italian purism, had sufficed to obscure the merits of a poem which
Signor Villari, writing in an age more familiar with generous ideas,
celebrates for "its moral seriousness, its singular elevation, its world
full of variety, of imagination, of affection,"—qualities, indeed,
which had militated against it in the day of Italy's degeneracy, and had
caused preference to be universally accorded to the brilliant but
half-jocular _rifacimento_ by Berni. Sir Anthony Panizzi was the man to
be attracted by such qualities; he must, moreover, have felt an especial
interest in Boiardo as a native of the same district of Reggio from
which he himself sprang. He determined to rescue him from oblivion, and
effectually accomplished his purpose by editing him along with Ariosto
(1830-1834). The first volume of this fine edition, dedicated to his
benefactor Roscoe, is occupied by his celebrated dissertation on Italian
romantic poetry, especially remarkable for the reference of mediæval
romances to Celtic sources, and containing analyses of the "Teseide,"
the "Morgante," the "Amadigi," and others of the less read Italian
romantic epics. It is further graced by translations contributed by Lady
Dacre, Mr. Rose, and Mr. Sotheby. The second volume is prefaced by a
memoir of Boiardo, with an essay making him full amends for the long
usurpation of his fame by his adapter Berni. The corrupt text of the
"Orlando Innamorato" is restored with great acumen from a collation of
rare editions principally contributed by the Right Hon. Thomas
Grenville, and, as well as that of the "Furioso," is accompanied by
valuable notes. At a later period Sir Anthony edited Boiardo's minor

The distinguished assistance which Panizzi had been able to command for
his edition evinces the hold which he had already acquired upon the best
English society. His urbanity and charm of manner, no less than his
accomplishments, made him irresistible. He was intimate at Holland
House, and on terms of personal friendship with most of the Liberal
statesmen who mainly directed English policy for the next thirty years.
His friends now came into power, and Lord Brougham used his influence
as an _ex officio_ Trustee of the British Museum to secure his
appointment as an extra assistant librarian of the Printed Book
Department (April 27, 1831). When one considers what Panizzi found the
Museum and what he left it, one is in danger of being betrayed into
injustice to the institution and its administrators at that period.
Miserably inadequate as it must appear if tried by our present standard,
there was no conscious deficiency on the part of its official
representatives, and it fully corresponded to the ideal of the public.
The nation, in fact, had scarcely the remotest idea of the organisation
of literary and artistic collections as a branch of the public service.
The records were in a shameful state of dilapidation; the Museum itself
existed only by accident; the National Gallery did not as yet exist at
all. Men like Hallam could honestly confess their perfect content with
the Museum as it was, and, unquestionably, it numbered among its
officers persons of the highest eminence. To mention only Sir Anthony's
immediate official superiors, the Keeper of the Printed Books was a most
accomplished scholar, the Assistant-Keeper had made the standard
translation of Dante. If there was an uneasy spot anywhere it was the
catalogue. The old printed catalogue had become inadequate. Mr. Hartwell
Horne had for some time been engaged on the compilation of a classed
catalogue, which did not seem to promise good results. Mr. Baber, the
Keeper, saw that a good alphabetical catalogue was the indispensable
condition of a classed catalogue, and Panizzi loyally supported him. The
Trustees appeared to be irresolute. While this question was in agitation
the grievances of an assistant, very properly dismissed from the MS.
Department, brought about a Parliamentary inquiry into the general
management of the Museum. In July 1836, Panizzi appeared before the
Committee, and courageously, yet with perfect good taste and official
decorum, laid bare the enormous deficiencies of the national library. A
still more valuable contribution was the mass of evidence supplied by
him with reference to the condition and administration of foreign
libraries, the result of journeys to the Continent undertaken with the
express object of collecting it, and occupying many hundred folio pages
in the Appendix to the Committee's Report. Most valuable of all,
perhaps, was his clear enunciation of the principle that the Museum
ought not to be a mere show-place, as the Government and the country
then practically concurred in regarding it, but a great educational
agency. This principle, emphatically expressed by him before the
Committee, gives the keynote of all his administrative action.

Merits like these could not go unrecompensed, even though they might
have rather alienated than conciliated some of those whose duty it was
to reward them. In July 1835, a proposal to raise Panizzi's salary had
been shelved in a manner which so excited Mr. Grenville's indignation
that he never attended another meeting of the Trustees. In 1837 Mr.
Baber's resignation of the Keepership of the Printed Books placed
Panizzi in a delicate position. Mr. Cary, the translator of Dante, his
immediate superior in office, had every claim to promotion on the
grounds of seniority and literary distinction, but Mr. Cary had recently
recovered from an attack of insanity. In reply to incessant
insinuations, Mr. Panizzi's high-minded conduct in the matter was
reluctantly stated by himself before the Royal Commission of 1849, and
the account is fully confirmed by a narrator who had himself had sharp
conflicts with him, Mr. Edwards, in his "Founders of the British
Museum." Mr. Cary, it ultimately appeared, thought that his past
services entitled him to "that alleviation of labour which is gained by
promotion to a superior place"(!). It must be remembered that there were
no superannuation allowances in those days.

Panizzi did not expect or intend his labours to be alleviated by
promotion. He took office at a most critical time, when the books were
being transferred from Montague House to their new quarters, when the
question of the catalogue was ripe for decision, and when the public
were beginning to suspect the deficiencies of the library. The removal
was promptly effected, and some of the assistants temporarily engaged to
aid in it remained, and proved most valuable officers of the Museum. The
undertaking of the catalogue led to much tedious discussion, but in
December 1838, Panizzi declared his readiness to accept this formidable
addition to his ordinary duties, and early in 1839 the cataloguing
rules, which have ever since been regarded as models, were framed by him
with the assistance of Messrs. Winter Jones, Watts, Parry, and Edwards.
Mr. Jones assumed the general direction of the catalogue; Mr. Watts
undertook the arrangement of the new acquisitions on the shelves; the
cataloguing of these was chiefly intrusted to the Rev. Richard Garnett,
Mr. Cary's successor as Assistant-Keeper. A misunderstanding, for which
Panizzi was in no respect responsible, interfered with the progress of
the general catalogue. It was announced that it must be proceeded with
in alphabetical order, and much time was lost before Panizzi was
permitted to resort to the more expeditious plan of cataloguing the
books shelf by shelf. The Trustees were further represented as demanding
that it should all be in type by a fixed date, and much time and labour
were accordingly wasted in printing the first volume, containing letter
A, which, as books requiring to be entered under headings commencing
with this initial constantly occurred during the subsequent progress of
the catalogue, inevitably proved exceedingly defective. The catalogue
has nevertheless been now for a long time substantially completed in
MS., and for the most part incorporated with the much more extensive
supplementary catalogue of books acquired during its progress; the
question whether and how it should be printed is too extensive to be
entered upon here. Even more of Panizzi's attention was claimed by his
third task, the ascertainment of the deficiencies of the library. Rich
in classics, in the bibliographic treasures collected by such amateurs
as Mr. Cracherode, in history and some other subjects to which especial
attention had been paid by the King's Librarian, in its unique
collections of English and French revolutionary tracts, in the
departments of natural science represented by the Banksian Library, the
Museum was still deplorably poor in most branches of general literature,
in German almost ludicrously so. Aided by Mr. Jones and Mr. Watts,
Panizzi commenced an active investigation into the condition of the
library in this respect. The results were embodied in his celebrated
report of 1845, subsequently published as a Parliamentary paper, which,
backed by his political and social influence, caused an increase to
£10,000 of the annual grant for the purchase of books. Another important
step in the same direction was the enforcement of the Copyright Act,
hitherto but negligently attended to by the Secretary to the Museum.
Upon this duty being intrusted to Panizzi, he discharged it with a
vigour that soon brought reluctant publishers to their senses, and he
even personally undertook an expedition through Scotland, Wales, and
Ireland, for the sake of enforcing the observance of the Act. Yet
another accession due to him was the matchless Grenville Library,
perhaps the finest collection of books ever formed by a private
individual. Mr. Grenville himself declared that the nation was solely
indebted to Mr. Panizzi's influence with him for this magnificent gift;
and Panizzi's minute instructions for its removal, addressed to Mr.
Rye, afterwards Keeper of the Printed Books, are still extant to evince
his anxious care for the collection, his perfect knowledge of it, and
his grasp of every administrative detail, from the greatest to the
smallest. With such accessions from so many sources, it is hardly
surprising that the volumes originally under Mr. Panizzi's charge should
have multiplied fivefold by the time he quitted the Museum. It would be
endless to describe his numerous improvements in such matters of library
detail as stamping, binding, and supplying the Reading Room. The most
important of any was the introduction of movable and multifold slips
into the catalogue, largely due to a suggestion from Mr. Wilson Croker.

The Royal Commission of 1847-49 deserves to be considered the
turning-point of Sir A. Panizzi's administration. Up to this time,
however caressed in highly cultivated circles, he had been unpopular
with the public, who could not be expected to know how his plans were
cramped and thwarted, and were in many instances illiberally prejudiced
against him as a foreigner. The Commission gave him a welcome
opportunity of at once challenging inquiry into complaints, and of
making known the signal improvements already effected by him. His
invitation to complainants to come forward—widely circulated through
the notice taken of it by this journal—elicited a number of attacks,
which, with the replies, may be found in the Parliamentary Blue Book,
and form as instructive and amusing a body of reading as ever Blue Book
contained. The Commissioners, who included men of letters like Lord
Ellesmere, and men of business like Lord Canning and the present Duke of
Somerset, could but report that not one charge had been established in
any single particular. It is abundantly clear that very few of the
complainants had any definite notion of what they wanted, and the
frivolousness of their imputations, even had they been well founded,
arouses something like indignation when contrasted with the immense
services which Panizzi was at the time rendering without receiving any
credit at all. This triumphant vindication of his management, however,
made him omnipotent with the Trustees and the Government, and paved the
way for the greatest undertaking of his life. It is needless to describe
a structure so familiar to all English men of letters as the new Reading
Room. The original design, sketched by Mr. Panizzi on April 18, 1852,
was submitted to the Trustees on May 5 following. By May 1854, its
originator's indomitable perseverance and extensive influence had
prevailed to obtain the large grant necessary for the commencement of
the work, which was completed and opened to the public in May 1857. The
part generally visible—Mr. Smirke's contribution to the plan—though
architecturally the most imposing, is hardly the most remarkable portion
of a structure providing space for three hundred readers and a million
volumes on ground previously wasted and useless. Every detail was either
devised or superintended by Sir A. Panizzi, and it is not too much to
affirm that no edifice has existed more perfectly reconciling grandeur
of general effect with an accurate adaptation of means to ends in the
very smallest things. One thing alone is wanting, that the reference
library should be as far above competition as the Reading Room, and
this, too, will be accomplished when the exigencies of space allow the
present Principal Librarian's plans to be carried out. The attempts that
have been made to deprive Sir A. Panizzi of the credit of the conception
are futile. Any one could see that the space in the quadrangle was
wasted. The present writer himself made the remark to an officer of the
Museum at the age of fourteen. But it was one thing to discern the evil
and another to provide the remedy.

In 1856 Sir A. Panizzi succeeded Sir Henry Ellis as Principal Librarian,
being himself succeeded as Keeper of the Printed Books by Mr. Winter
Jones. His administration of the Museum as a whole was carried on in the
same spirit as his administration of the library, but, except for the
great impetus given to purchases generally, was not distinguished by
equally striking incidents. His work for the library had been mostly
performed, and the affairs of the other departments afforded less scope
for the display of his peculiar qualities. Two or three slight
administrative mistakes may be admitted without derogation to his fame,
for they can be shown to have originated in every instance from an
excessive regard for what he himself considered the true interests of
his subordinates. This was ever a passion with him, and every
improvement in the position of the officials of the Museum effected
during his connection with the establishment may be traced to his
influence. Exhausted at length with work, he retired on his full salary
in July 1866. He took up his residence in Bloomsbury Square, almost
within call of the Museum, and ceased not to the last to exhibit the
warmest interest in the institution. In 1869 he accepted the honour of
knighthood, which he had frequently declined. His death on April 8 has
already been recorded in our pages.

Little can be said here of Sir A. Panizzi's activity as a politician and
patriot. It was probably little less important or beneficial than his
activity as a librarian, and possibly occupied hardly less of his time
and thoughts. It was, however, wholly below the surface, and the
materials for defining and appreciating it are at present wanting. There
can be no question that he served the cause of Italy most effectually by
his intimacy with the leading English statesmen, who admired and
confided in him. Thoroughly Anglicised, he knew how to appreciate the
currents of English sentiment, and predicted to Lord Palmerston that the
Conspiracy Bill would occasion the downfall of his government. With this
statesman, as well as Lord Russell, he was most intimate; and he
received touching proofs in his last illness of the regard of Mr.
Gladstone, whose famous pamphlet on the Neapolitan prisons sounded a
note originally struck by Panizzi. Sir James Hudson, the English Envoy
at Turin, was one of his most trusted friends, and their mutual
understanding was of great service to the Italian cause. Cavour
thoroughly confided in him, and vainly tempted him to a political career
in Italy by the offer of a senatorship. Though devoted to the house of
Savoy, he cordially sympathised with Garibaldi, in whose English
reception he had a great share, and whom he accompanied on that occasion
to the tomb of Ugo Foscolo. He reckoned the Orleans princes among his
friends, and a community of literary tastes especially linked him to the
Duke d'Aumale. While his sympathies and connections were thus Liberal,
his relations with statesmen on the other side were always most
amicable. We believe that the flattering resolutions of the Trustees
passed on occasion of his resignation were moved by Mr. Walpole and
seconded by Lord Beaconsfield.

Besides the works we have mentioned, Sir Anthony Panizzi was the author
of an essay in Italian entitled "Chi era Francesco da Bologna?" in which
that artist, the inventor of italic type, is identified with the great
painter Francesco Francia; and the editor of Lord Vernon's sumptuous
verbatim reprint of the first four editions of the Divine Comedy,
respectively printed at Foligno, Jesi, Mantua, and Naples. He further
wrote some pamphlets on questions connected with the British Museum and
the Catalogue of the Royal Society's Library, and contributed several
articles on political and literary subjects to the _Edinburgh_,
_Quarterly_, and _North British Reviews_.

Sir Anthony Panizzi's was a rich and complex nature, and his character
cannot be sketched in a phrase; else we might feel tempted to sum it up
in two characteristics, magnanimity and warmth of heart. Other traits,
however, must be added to complete the portrait—prodigious power of
will, indomitable perseverance, hatred of inefficiency and pretence,
active and disinterested kindness, impetuosity held in check by
circumspect sagacity. He might be said to combine the characteristics of
the land of his birth and the land of his adoption: his moral nature
seemed English, his intellect Italian. Warmth of feeling gave after all
the keynote to his existence. He was, indeed, jealous of his well-won
fame, but fame was not his main object. If he greatly helped his Museum,
his country, his colleagues, it was because he began by greatly caring
for them. In labouring for the public he erected an imperishable
monument for himself:—

    "Ipsa quidem virtus sibimet pulcherrima merces;
     Dulce tamen venit ad manes, cum gloria vitæ
     Durat apud superos nec edunt oblivia laudem."


[288:1] _Athenæum_, April 19, 1879.


The conference of the Library Association at London, in 1881, was
painfully signalised by the funeral in the same city of its first
President, who had presided over its inauguration at the preliminary
London conference four years previously, and to whose countenance it had
been indebted for much of the success which attended its establishment.
A short notice of Mr. Winter Jones's distinguished career as a librarian
seems to be demanded by his services to the Association and his peculiar
relation to it as its first President, no less than by the position
which, in his capacity of Principal Librarian of the British Museum, he
so long occupied at the head of the profession of librarianship in this

John Winter Jones was born at Lambeth, June 16, 1805, and belonged to a
family long established in Carmarthenshire, and already honourably
connected with literature. His father, John Jones, Esq., author of
"Hawthorn Cottage" and other tales, for many years edited the _Naval
Chronicle_ and _European Magazine_. His grandfather, Mr. Giles Jones,
had been secretary to the York Buildings Water-Works, and according to
the unanimous tradition of the family was author of several of the
admirable little books published for children about the middle of last
century by Newbery & Co., including the renowned "Goody Two Shoes." No
more conclusive proof of the merit of "Goody Two Shoes" could be given
than the able argument by which Mr. Charles Welsh has recently sought to
attribute the authorship to Goldsmith. While agreeing with Mr. Welsh
that the book is not unworthy of Goldsmith in humour, philanthropy, and
simple truth to nature, we are unable to discover any such similarity of
style as to warrant its being ascribed to him. On the other hand, the
peculiar vein of dry humour characteristic of "Goody Two Shoes"
reappeared in Mr. Winter Jones's conversation in so remarkable a degree
as to justify the impression that he had preserved a family trait.
Assuredly, had he ever essayed his powers in the field of imaginative
literature, "Goody Two Shoes" is the kind of work which one would have
expected him to have produced. A great-uncle, Mr. Griffith Jones, had
been the friend of Johnson and Goldsmith; an uncle, Mr. Stephen Jones,
was also known in literature, especially as the author of "Masonic
Miscellanies," and editor and continuer of Baker's "Biographia
Dramatica." Mr. Winter Jones's mother, Mary Walker, was cousin to the
academician Smirke; nor, in the list of remarkable persons connected
with him, should his nurse be forgotten, Anne Parker, widow of the
unfortunate Parker who was executed as ringleader of the mutiny at the

Mr. Jones received his education at St. Paul's School. He does not
appear to have been eminent as a classical scholar, but some youthful
letters show how early he had acquired the power of writing excellent
English. He was, moreover, unusually precocious as an author, although
his first attempt was by no means ambitious. In 1822 appeared an
anonymous little book, now exceedingly rare, "Riddles, Charades, and
Conundrums: with a Preface on the Antiquity of Riddles," containing a
considerable number of original enigmas—a truly quaint and exceptional
performance for a youth of seventeen. Mr. Jones's juvenile ambition,
however, was stimulated to this undertaking by an accomplished lady,
Mrs. Davies, mother of Sir Lancelot Shadwell, who thought highly of his
talents, and had a considerable share in it.

The profession designed for Mr. Jones was that of a Chancery barrister.
After leaving school he became the pupil of Mr. Bythewood, of Lincoln's
Inn, the most eminent conveyancer of his day, who had a very high
opinion of him.[306:1] He must, however, have devoted much of his time
to studies not of a legal nature, for about this time he became an
excellent scholar in the modern languages, not taught, or taught
imperfectly, in St. Paul's School. His proficiency is proved by a little
volume undertaken for his own amusement, but published at the suggestion
of his sister: "A Translation of all the Greek, Latin, Italian, and
French Quotations in Blackstone's Commentaries, and in the notes of the
editions by Christian, Archbold, and Williams. By J. Winter Jones,
1823." He also made the index to the new edition of Wynne's "Eunomus, or
Dialogues concerning the Law and Constitution of England."

Just as Mr. Jones was looking forward to being called to the Chancery
Bar his prospects were clouded, and his course in life altogether
changed, by a most serious illness, greatly aggravated by the improper
treatment of a physician who entirely mistook the nature of the
complaint. The result was a temporary loss of voice, accompanied by a
weakness of the chest which for several years rendered any speaking in
public impossible. Between ill-health and the want of introductions and
connections in any but the legal profession, Mr. Jones seems to have
been unable for some years to follow any definite calling. He pursued
his studies as far as possible, learned Spanish from the refugees who at
that time abounded in Islington and Somers Town, and even acquired some
knowledge of Russian, destined to be very useful in future years. To
this time also belonged his acquaintance with Jerdan and Godwin. He knew
the latter intimately, and was impressed by his intellectual eminence,
but used to describe him as a man selfish in minor things, who must,
like Harold Skimpole, always have his plate of fruit, no matter the
price or the season. Of the second Mrs. Godwin he had a higher opinion
than seems to have been usually entertained by her acquaintance. A
narrow escape of his life which he had at this time may be best narrated
in his own words, so characteristic of the man's coolness and aversion
to fuss or display, even when the occasion might seem to excuse them:—

                               "SOUTHAMPTON, _September 9, 1833_.

    "MY DEAR FATHER,—I am extremely sorry that I cannot profit by
    your directions for swimming. On Friday week I went to bathe at
    the new baths, being my second attempt in cold water. No one
    was in the bath at the time, nor was there any rope, but as I
    thought the place was perfectly safe, I plunged in backwards
    according to the directions I had received. I sank, of course,
    and throwing up my chest rose immediately, but when in the
    water I lay on my back motionless from cramp in my stomach.
    By no effort that I could make could I force down my feet or
    turn, and my struggles caused my head to dip so frequently
    that had assistance been delayed a minute longer I must have
    been suffocated. I fortunately recollected having read that
    persons are sure to float if they throw back the head as far as
    possible, thereby elevating the chest, and remain quite quiet.
    This saved me. I mentioned the circumstance to Dr. Shadwell,
    and he strongly recommended me to abstain from the water at
    present, as it evidently did not agree with me."

About two years from the date of this letter, Mr. Jones obtained his
first important public employment as a secretary to that then itinerant
body, the Charity Commissioners. The charitable institutions of England,
long corrupted and misused, were receiving a much-needed overhauling,
one of the indirect fruits of the Reform agitation. Perambulating bodies
of commissioners were traversing the length and breadth of the land,
"wanting to know, you know," and eliciting an amount of information
which could not have been obtained without the direct personal pressure
of inquisitors upon the spot. Their labours produced much excellent
fruit, and restored a vast amount of charitable endowment to its
legitimate uses. The records survive in ponderous Blue-Books; and the
student of general literature may derive an idea of the nature of their
investigations, which it is to be hoped he will not take too literally,
from the lively ridicule of "Crotchet Castle." When the satirist
declared that the labours of the Commissioners did no good to any living
soul, he certainly ought to have excepted Mr. Winter Jones, who accepted
his appointment—as he told the present writer—mainly in the hope of
re-establishing his shattered health by a course of travel and living in
the open air. This object he fully attained. The few letters he wrote to
his family on his tour that have been preserved are full of racy
humour, and suggest what a page of English life might have been
presented by a record of the more private experiences of the Commission,
too familiar to be registered in Blue-Books. As nothing of the sort
exists, it may not be improper to preserve two specimens here,
notwithstanding their want of connection with bibliography:—

                             "MARKET HARBOROUGH, _Nov. 20, 1836_.

    "Harborough is a monstrously stupid place, possessing no
    interest that I have yet discovered either in the form of
    situation or antiquities. The inhabitants of the county are
    principally graziers and fox-hunters, men of substance,
    coarse in their manners, and tolerably hospitable. Of the
    few clergymen I have yet seen, little can be said in praise.
    One has been suspended for his profligate habits; another
    drinks so hard that he is incapable of performing the duties
    of his church, being frequently insane; and a third attended
    yesterday at our board with his church-warden, both of whom
    were so fuddled that they could with difficulty make themselves
    understood. . . . We have a vast deal of business to transact,
    and every prospect of our work increasing. The labour is not so
    much occasioned by the extent or intricacy of the charities,
    as by the provoking stolidity of those who ought to be fully
    informed upon the subject. There exists in this part of the
    county a very extraordinary charity founded by a clergyman
    named Hanbury, who prepared seventeen deeds for the foundation
    of various branches of one grand charity. The property settled
    is directed to accumulate until the proceeds amount to £10,000
    per annum (they are at present about £500), when a cathedral
    is to be erected at a cost of £150,000, and professorships
    of music, poetry, philosophy, botany, &c. &c., established.
    One of his deeds he heads, 'Beef for ever,' another, 'Organs
    for ever,' a third, 'Schools for ever,' with much of the same
    oddity. He has published a thick octavo volume with an account
    of his charity and a copy of his foundation deeds. The latter
    occupy 248 pages of the work, so if I have to abstract the
    whole of them it is impossible to say when my labours will end."

                                      "LEICESTER, _Feb. 5, 1837_.

    "Our third and last visit was to a Mr. Hildebrand, a clergyman,
    and head-master of the Kibworth free grammar school. This poor
    fellow has just had his wife, mother-in-law, eight children,
    and two servants confined to their beds with influenza, and
    I never beheld an assemblage of more ghastly objects than we
    formed at the dinner-table. With the exception of one, we had
    all pale cheeks, red eyes, and every other sort of _phizzical_
    ugliness, the excepted one had a blue complexion approaching to
    black. Mr. Hildebrand, however, assured me the next morning at
    breakfast that the hearty dinner he had made, and drinking as
    much wine as pleased him (he was, by-the-bye, a long time in
    being pleased) had completely removed his disorder. I may make
    the same remark respecting myself. The necessity I have been
    under of drinking wine every day has almost totally removed my
    complaint. I have nothing now to complain of but a considerable
    degree of nervous debility, which I hope will depart in a few

The conclusion of the rural peregrinations of the Commission at the
beginning of 1837 threatened Mr. Jones with loss of employment, although
he was still engaged in town in reducing its voluminous proceedings to
print, and the extant correspondence shows that his work was very
important. He says in a letter of this period:—

"I am ready to be knocked down to the highest bidder in any honourable
service, and have no objection to write speeches and pamphlets and frame
bills for laws and schemes for mines provided I am properly remunerated,
but there's the rub." The real occupation of his life, however, was
unexpectedly at hand. Within two months after writing as above he was
appointed (April 1837) to the situation of permanent assistant in the
Printed Book Department of the British Museum. The suggestion that he
should apply for this post seems to have come from his friend Mr.
Nicholas Carlisle, an assistant-officer who had come to the Museum from
Windsor, along with the King's Library, and who is perhaps best
remembered by a work on the endowed grammar schools of England, valuable
in its time. The application was, moreover, strongly supported by Mr.
Johnstone, a member of the Charity Commission, who had been greatly
impressed by Mr. Jones's efficiency in his secretaryship, and who
enlisted his father, Sir Alexander Johnstone's, influence with the
Archbishop of Canterbury, in whose hands all appointments to the Museum
then practically rested. At the end of 1837, upon the resignation of the
Assistant-Keeper, Mr. Cary, Mr. Jones became a candidate for the office.
Short as his connection with the Museum had then been, he still had the
claim of seniority. But he had gained the esteem and confidence of Mr.
Panizzi, the Keeper, and Mr. Panizzi was obnoxious to persons
influential with the Archbishop, who accordingly replied that "his
connection with the establishment is of recent date," and apprehended
"that due consideration for the claims of others will put it out of my
power to serve him upon the present occasion." Who these others were did
not appear, and it seemed still more difficult to identify them when,
after some delay, the appointment was conferred upon a gentleman,
undoubtedly possessed of the highest talents and the greatest
attainments, but who could have no claim upon the Museum, as he had no
connection with it. It is to Mr. Jones's honour that he manifested no
resentment, and always maintained the most friendly relations with his
successful competitor, whose son now records the fact. "But," he said to
the writer many years afterwards, "from that hour I determined that I
would be Principal Librarian."

From this time forward Mr. Jones's history is almost entirely identified
with that of the library of the British Museum. He was entering upon
his duties at the period of the most important changes that have ever
taken place in that institution. The Parliamentary Committees of 1835-36
had proved the necessity for extensive reforms in every department of
the Museum. The Trustees had already been for some years occupied with
plans for a new catalogue of printed books. The removal of the library
from its old quarters in Montague House to the new buildings was about
to take place. It was fortunate, indeed, that just at this juncture the
library should have acquired so eminent an administrator as Sir Anthony
Panizzi, and in Mr. Jones an assistant who, though not especially gifted
with the power of initiative, was in diligence, fidelity, accuracy,
intelligence, and calm good sense as efficient a lieutenant as an able
administrator could desire.

After the removal of the library had been completed, with the assistance
of Messrs. Watts and Bullen, the next important task was the preparation
of the rules for the new catalogue, in which it is probable that Mr.
Jones took the largest share. They were prepared under Mr. Panizzi's
chief direction, with the co-operation of Messrs. Jones, Watts, Parry,
and Edwards. The extent of time devoted to them, and the extreme
thoroughness of the discussion, appears from Mr. Parry's evidence before
the Royal Commission of 1849, and Mr. Edwards's history of the British
Museum. They were finally accepted by the Trustees and officially
promulgated in July 1839. In one important respect, the rule to be
adopted for cataloguing anonymous books, the judgment of the compilers
was overruled by the Trustees, and this is the source of many of the
criticisms to which the rules themselves have been subjected. As a
whole, they have received almost universal approbation; and their merit
is sufficiently established by the circumstance of their having formed
an epoch in bibliography as the basis of all subsequent work of the same
nature. Very much of the discrepancy of opinion as regards cataloguing
results from the failure to distinguish between the requisites of large
and small libraries. The present writer is bound to say that in his
opinion the alteration introduced by the Trustees is justified by a
consideration of which the Trustees probably did not think, its indirect
effect in providing, in the case of anonymous books, some kind of a
substitute for what was then, and is still, the great deficiency of the
British Museum library, an index of subjects. The same remark applies to
the adoption of the headings "Academies," "Ephemerides," and "Periodical
Publications," the introduction of biographical cross-references, and
other features of the catalogue, perhaps exceptionable in theory, but
assuredly very convenient in practice.

The catalogue was now (August 1839) fairly commenced under the immediate
personal direction and responsibility of Mr. Panizzi. Mr. Jones,
however, held from the first a primacy among the assistants actually
engaged in its compilation, which became enhanced as the difficulties of
the task became more apparent from day to day. It had been supposed
that the old titles might pass with slight examination: they proved to
require the most careful revision; and the work of the revisers needed
to be in its turn revised. Subject to a reference to Mr. Panizzi in
extreme cases, Mr. Jones was the ultimate authority. His clear head,
legal habit of mind, and attention to minute bibliographical accuracy,
rendered him invaluable in this capacity, and his decisions constitute
the basis and most essential part of the body of unprinted law which
unforeseen exigencies gradually superinduced upon the original rules. He
also took a leading part in the revision of the proofs. The causes of
the suspension of the printing of the catalogue have been so fully
treated by the writer in a paper at the Cambridge meeting of the Library
Association, that it is needless to enter upon them here. It made no
difference to the amount of Mr. Jones's labours, except as regarded the
correction of the press. He continued to work upon the catalogue and
also upon the supplementary catalogue of books added to the library,
both as reviser and as general supervisor, until he became Keeper of
Printed Books in 1856. His other duties were numerous and important: he
exercised, in particular, the immediate control of the attendants, a
responsibility the more onerous in proportion to the continual increase
of the establishment. In 1843 he was engaged along with Mr. Watts in
collecting the materials on which Mr. Panizzi based his famous report on
the deficiencies of the library, which ultimately occasioned so large
an increase in the annual grant. In 1849 he prepared for the Royal
Commission that crushing exposure of Mr. J. P. Collier's notions of
short and easy methods of cataloguing which should be especially valued
by librarians, as it is perhaps the best practical illustration to be
found anywhere of the difficulties attaching to the correct
bibliographical description of a book. He was also enabled to devote
some attention to literature. About 1842 he wrote a large number of
articles for the Dictionary of Universal Biography, edited by Mr. George
Long for the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, a great and
meritorious undertaking, unfortunately not carried beyond letter A,
although the continuation as far as BE was actually in type. Mr. Jones's
articles chiefly treated of obscure or forgotten writers, and required
much research. He also contributed to the _Quarterly_ and _North
British_ Reviews; his article in the latter on the British Museum
Library (1851) is the best account of its administration to be found
anywhere. He carried on an extensive correspondence with Mr. Wilson
Croker, who continually had recourse to him for information on literary
subjects. In 1847 he contributed to the _Archæologia_ "Observations on
the Division of Man's Life into Stages," with especial reference to
Shakespeare's descriptions of the seven ages of man, and about this time
wrote several other papers. In 1850 he edited for the Hakluyt Society
"Divers Voyages touching the Discovery of America"; and in 1856, "The
Travels of Nicolò Conti in the East," translated from the Italian of
Poggio Bracciolini. In 1858 he translated for the same Society the
Oriental travels of Lodovico di Varthema, edited, with a preface, by his
friend Dr. G. P. Badger.

Upon the death of the Rev. Richard Garnett in 1850, Mr. Jones became
Assistant-Keeper of Printed Books, and succeeded Mr. Panizzi as Keeper
upon the latter's promotion to the Principal Librarianship in March
1856. His period of office as Assistant-Keeper was chiefly distinguished
by the erection of the new Reading Room, and the libraries in connection
with it. The design of this grand and commodious structure belongs
entirely to Sir A. Panizzi; but Mr. Jones saw the original sketch
(engraved in the catalogue of the Reading Room reference library) as
soon as it was made, and was consulted upon every detail during the
progress of the work. One of his first duties as Keeper was to edit,
with a valuable preface, the above-mentioned catalogue, which had been
entirely prepared by Mr. W. B. Rye, late Keeper of the Printed Books. As
Keeper Mr. Jones paid the greatest attention to the organisation of his
department, which he maintained in the highest condition of efficiency.
The number of titles written annually for the catalogue was unequalled
before or since, and the department never had so many assistants of
literary distinction. He followed in his predecessor's steps in using
every possible endeavour to increase the library, both numerically and
by the acquisition of special bibliographical treasures. The annual
grant, long diminished from want of room to store accessions, was
raised to £10,000 in 1857, and Mr. Jones proceeded to expend it with the
assistance of the vast literary knowledge of his colleague Mr. Watts,
and valuable aid in the acquisition of German and other old foreign
books from Mr. Albert Cohn, of Berlin; in American literature from the
enterprising and indefatigable Mr. Henry Stevens; and in ancient
service-books from Mr. William Maskell. Among the many important
official documents prepared by him may be mentioned a memorandum of
objections to the recommendations of the Royal Commissioners; and
reports on additions to the staff, on the superannuation of assistants,
on Civil Service examinations, and on vellum books.

In July 1866, Mr. Winter Jones, having previously acted as Deputy
Principal Librarian from December 1862 to May 1863, became Principal
Librarian on the retirement of Sir A. Panizzi. It will have been
inferred from the tenor of the preceding narrative that his abilities
rather qualified him to maintain an existing system in a high state of
efficiency than to initiate alterations, and such was precisely the part
marked out for him by the character of the times. The institution,
thoroughly reorganised during the last thirty years, required rest, and
no impulse was felt towards the reforms and developments which have
proved practicable and salutary under his successor. The great question
of the removal of the Natural History collections to South Kensington
had been determined for good or ill before he took office, and no
question of corresponding public interest arose under his
administration. He presided, however, over a committee formed to
consider the proposed transfer of the South Kensington Museum to the
Trustees of the British Museum, but its deliberations led to no result.
He was especially careful in ascertaining the qualifications of persons
recommended for appointments in the Museum. His method,
clear-headedness, and general capacity for business rendered him highly
acceptable to the Trustees, especially those who, like the Duke of
Somerset, Mr. Walpole, and Mr. Grote, took a peculiarly active share in
the affairs of the institution. With Mr. Grote he was particularly
intimate, and frequently visited him, and subsequently his widow, at
their charming residence near Shere.

In 1877 his health, which for the last forty years had been good, began
so far to fail as to render a winter residence in London exceedingly
difficult to him. He obtained a four months' leave of absence, in the
hope of an amelioration which did not take place. That his mental, and
to a considerable degree his physical vigour were unimpaired, he had
just proved by the transaction which entitles him to a record in the
_Transactions of the Library Association_. It will be remembered how
upon the foundation of the Association, a proposition, well calculated
to enlist support, was made, that its presidency should be conferred
upon a gentleman whose writings have laid the profession under deep
obligations.[320:1] It is not the least of Mr. E. B. Nicholson's many
services to the Association which he called into being, to have
discerned that it could not in its infant stage prosper without official
patronage, and that, without prejudice to individual claims, its fitting
head at that period would be the chief librarian of the chief library,
the Principal Librarian of the British Museum. He accordingly invited
Mr. Jones to accept the office of President, and to invest the young
society with the sanction of official prestige, by consenting to open
its first Congress, and deliver an inaugural address. Mr. Jones, however
favourably disposed to Mr. Nicholson's project, might well have declined
on the ground of engrossing public duties and delicate health, but he
did not. The members of the Association will long recollect his
appearance in the chair at the preliminary London meeting of 1877; the
staunch persistence with which, though evidently suffering from
indisposition, he delivered his carefully prepared inaugural discourse;
and the firmness and dignity with which he conducted the proceedings
until the close of the morning's meeting. It was his last act of
importance as a librarian. His temporary retirement during the ensuing
winter having failed to recruit his health, he resigned in August 1878,
receiving a farewell address from his colleagues, and the individual
tributes of several of the leading Trustees. He withdrew to Henley,
where he had erected a residence at a considerable elevation, commanding
a charming view; his winters were spent at Penzance, where, not long
before his death, he showed his undiminished interest in research by
delivering a lecture upon the Assyrian discoveries. The present writer
visited him at Henley in June 1881, and found him, although suffering
somewhat from asthma, in tolerable health and excellent spirits,
interested in the affairs of the world, and happy in the affection of
his family. On the morning of September 7, after having entertained a
party of young people to a late hour with great good humour, he was
found dead in his bed. He had died of disease of the heart. He was
interred at Kensal Green, his funeral being attended by most of his
Museum colleagues then in town. He had married in 1837 the daughter of
William Hewson, Esq., of Lisson Hall, Cumberland, a very amiable lady,
who predeceased him by a few years, and whose protracted indisposition
in the latter years of her life occasioned him much sorrow. He left one
married and one unmarried daughter.

       *       *       *       *       *

It may surprise those slightly or only officially acquainted with Mr.
Jones to be informed that one of his principal characteristics was
extreme kindness of heart, but such would be the opinion of all who knew
him intimately. He was not emotional, but his affections were warm and
deep: he was not impressionable, but kindness was with him an innate
principle. If he ever seemed to act with harshness, it was from a
constraining sense of official duty, and it might easily be seen that
the necessity was very disagreeable to him. It was exceedingly
difficult, for instance, to get him to take steps for the removal of
attendants whose incapacity from ill health had long been notorious: and
he may be censured for having sometimes closed his eyes to circumstances
of which he should have taken notice. What seemed in him stiffness—and
had all the disadvantageous effects of stiffness—was in reality a
reserve which made him appear constrained where men of less real
courtesy and kindness would have seemed facile and genial. His was
indeed by no means an expansive nature, but it was a very genuine one;
he was deeply beloved in his family; his friendships were solid and
lasting; and he exhibited that general criterion of a good heart,
kindness to children and animals. He says in an early letter: "On Friday
last I went out fishing. The weather was very fine for sailing, but not
at all adapted for the sport we had in view: which was a great source of
satisfaction to me, for spitting the poor worms for bait was a dreadful
task to my unpractised nerves; and tearing the hook out of the throat of
the animal when caught was, if possible, still worse." He despised
claptrap popularity, and was perhaps even unduly indifferent to the
shows and surfaces of things. This concern for reality, however,
combined with his legal education, made him a lover of justice; and he
thus earned the respect and confidence of his subordinates, who knew
that they might fully rely upon his equitable consideration, and his
support in trials and difficulties. His judgment of men was in general
very correct, though he was capable of being swayed by long intimacy or
personal liking. He was on various occasions subjected to considerable
obloquy, but as this always arose from his opposition to the interested
views of individuals, it only redounded to his credit with those
acquainted with the circumstances. His literary tastes were such as
befitted the bibliographer, but he admired many poets and novelists,
especially Shakespeare, Goethe, Ariosto, and Wieland. He possessed a
peculiar vein of dry humour, which he occasionally manifested with great
effect. Intellectually, he represented one of the most frequent types in
the generation to which he belonged—the generation of Grote and Mill
and Cornewall Lewis—the essentially utilitarian.

He was not the man to innovate or originate, but was admirably qualified
for the work which actually fell to his lot—first to be the right hand
of a great architect, then to consolidate the structure he had helped to
erect, and prepare it for still vaster extension and more commanding
proportions in the times to come.


[304:1] Contributed to the _Transactions of the Library Association_,

[306:1] Mr. Bythewood bequeathed to Mr. Jones his gold repeater watch,
valued at one hundred guineas; and Mr. Jones received in after years a
precisely similar legacy from Sir Anthony Panizzi.

[320:1] Mr. Edward Edwards.


With the exception of the death of the late Henry Bradshaw, taken away
so nearly at the same time, the Library Association could have sustained
no loss more sincerely regarded by its members in the light of a
personal bereavement than that which it has suffered by the death of
Henry Stevens, on February 28. Mr. Stevens's interest in the Association
has been so warm, his counsel so valuable, his genial presence and witty
discourse such recognised features of attraction at its gatherings, that
his loss must be felt as one almost impossible to supply. It must be
long indeed before any one can fill Mr. Stevens's place as a link
between the librarians of Europe and America, and it may be much longer
yet before the happy union of bibliographical attainments with social
qualities is witnessed to a like extent in the same individual.

Henry Stevens was born August 24, 1819, at Barnet, Vermont, U.S., hence
the initials, G.M.B. (Green Mountain Boy), prized by him, there is
reason to surmise, above his academical and antiquarian distinctions. He
was sixth in descent from Cyprian Stevens, who had emigrated in the days
of Charles I. The family came originally from Devonshire. It had had
its share of colonial celebrity and adventure; one ancestor had
successfully defended a fort against the French; another had been stolen
by the Indians, and ransomed for a pony. After receiving a fair ordinary
education at the school of his native village, and two local seminaries,
Mr. Stevens, at the age of seventeen, began to teach with a view of
obtaining means to take him to college. He received from twelve to
sixteen dollars a month, boarding with his pupils' families, "three days
to a scholar, except when the girls were pretty, and in that case four."
In October 1838 he proceeded to Middlebury College, defraying his
travelling expenses by peddling cheeses contributed for that purpose by
his excellent mother. His father, a man of literary tastes and culture,
founder and President of the Vermont Historical and Antiquarian Society,
seems to have been always behindhand with the world, and to have been
unable to aid his son to any material extent. It was customary for
students thus destitute of support from home to defray their college
expenses by teaching in the winter months. Stevens obtained leave to try
his fortune at Washington, relying on the patronage of Governor Henry
Hubbard, then Senator for New Hampshire. He called upon him accordingly,
and though he was a Whig and the Senator a Democrat, he found himself,
as if by magic, clerk in the Treasury Department "in charge of the
records and correspondence of the Revenue Cutter Service," with a salary
of a thousand dollars a year. He was soon afterwards transferred to a
clerkship in the Senate, where after a while he was employed as clerk to
the Senate branch of the Joint Committee of the Congress for
investigating the claims of Messrs. Clark & Force under a contract for
publishing the American Archives, which it was desired to terminate.
Much time and labour had been expended upon the volumes already printed,
but it was generally surmised that the contract would be broken,
because, as a Democrat remarked, "it would cost more than the building
of the Capitol, and, what was worse, both the editor and the printer
were Whigs." The Committee, who seem to have had no taste for literary
drudgery, turned the task of digesting the papers entirely over to Mr.
Stevens, who on his part, finding the documents intrusted to him
insufficient, scraped acquaintance with Colonel Peter Force himself, and
extracted abundant information from him without divulging his official
position. At length the digest was ready, and the Committee, convoked
for the purpose, heard their officer read the whole, up to the entirely
unexpected and unwelcome conclusion, "Resolved, that this contract
cannot be broken." Stevens was severely taken to task for his
presumption, when Daniel Webster, a member of the Committee, interfered
on his behalf, and advocated his view with such effect that "the
Committee was discharged from further consideration of the subject." The
contract was shortly afterwards rescinded. The service Stevens had
nevertheless rendered to Force had an important influence on his
subsequent career. Quitting Washington, as he had always intended to do,
and repairing to complete his education at Yale College, he took with
him a commission from the Colonel to collect books, pamphlets, and MSS.
in aid of the American Archives, which not only helped to provide the
expenses of his University course, but endowed him with knowledge,
tastes, and aptitudes qualifying him for future eminence as book-hunter
and bookseller. Another main source of income was his fine penmanship,
both as transcriber and teacher. He took his B.A. degree in 1843, and in
1843-44 studied law at Harvard under Justice Story, continuing to act as
agent for Colonel Force, and forming connections with other collectors.
At length, in 1845, he determined to visit England on literary errands,
not expecting to be absent more than one or two years. Fortified by
introductions from Francis Parkman and Jared Sparks, he took his
departure, and in July 1845 found himself at the North and South
American Coffee-House, the bearer of a huge bag of despatches for the
United States Minister, Mr. Everett, and of a tiny one of forty
sovereigns of his own. Mr. Everett's influence opened the State Paper
Office to him; and ere the sun set on his first day in London he had
visited the four great second-hand dealers of the day, Rodd, Thorpe,
Pickering, and Rich. The last-named had just acquired the valuable
library of M. Ternaux-Compans, and Mr. Stevens immediately purchased
£800 worth on behalf of Mr. John Carter Brown of Providence, Rhode
Island, from whom he had a general commission to forage, and who showed
wisdom as well as spirit in ratifying his agent's decided action. Those
were the golden days of speculation in books relating to America, when
rarities could be obtained for hardly more shillings than they now cost
pounds. Mr. Stevens probably contributed more than any other man to
terminate this happy state of things. While, on the one hand, he
ransacked the chief European capitals as agent for wealthy American
collectors, on the other hand he drained America on behalf of the
British Museum, then for the first time entering into the market to any
considerable extent. Mr. Panizzi had just prepared his celebrated report
on the deficiencies of the Museum Library, in which he had said: "The
expense requisite for accomplishing what is here suggested—that is, for
forming in a few years a public library containing from 600,000 to
700,000 printed volumes, giving the necessary information on all
branches of human learning, from all countries, in all languages,
properly arranged, substantially and well bound, minutely and fully
catalogued, easily accessible and yet safely preserved, capable for some
years to come of keeping pace with the increase of human knowledge—will
no doubt be great; but so is the nation which is to bear it. What might
be extravagant and preposterous to suggest to one country may be looked
upon not only as moderate, but as indispensable in another." With such
views on Panizzi's part, he and Stevens fortunately encountered. Ere
they had been long acquainted, a proposal came from the former, that
Stevens should undertake the agency for the supply of American books.
Stevens at first hesitated; he had not contemplated remaining in Europe.
He soon saw his way to accept it, and, in his words, "an exodus of
American books to the British Museum commenced that has not ceased at
the present time."

It would be impossible within the limits of this notice to enumerate all
the important transactions in which Mr. Stevens was engaged, or the
numerous instances in which his ready and inventive intellect was
exerted for the furtherance of bibliography. One of his most important
enterprises was the purchase of Humboldt's library, which resulted in
disappointment. The Civil War supervening, his American patrons "shut up
like clam shells," and most of the books were ultimately destroyed by
fire while warehoused in London. A portion, however, had been previously
separated, and the British Museum possesses numerous presentation copies
to Humboldt, with the autographs of the authors. Members of the Library
Association who were present at the Liverpool meeting will long remember
Mr. Stevens's humorous account of his dealings with Mr. Peabody, and of
his dismay when the collection formed by the philanthropist for
presentation to his native town, at an average cost of one shilling a
volume, was described in the local paper as the special selection of
that intelligent bibliographer, Henry Stevens, Esq. Mr. Stevens's
relations with the most important of all his customers, Mr. James
Lennox, have been so recently detailed to the Association that it is
needless to do more than allude to his narrative as one of the most racy
of literary monographs, affording an excellent idea of the writer's
quaint, shrewd, and anecdotical conversation. It has been republished by
his son in an elegant volume. Another remarkable passage in his life was
his active share in originating and organising the Bible department of
the Caxton Exhibition, when he propounded views respecting Miles
Coverdale which involved him in many a polemic, and devised for the two
different recensions of the Bible of 1611 the appellations of "Great He"
and "Great She" Bible, which they seem likely to retain. The most
interesting, perhaps, of all Mr. Stevens's achievements was his
redemption of Franklin's MSS. from oblivion. Bequeathed by Franklin to
his grandson, they had been only partially published, after a long delay
and with suppressions which exposed William Temple Franklin to the
unjust imputation of having disposed of a great part of them to the
British Government. In fact they had been put aside and forgotten after
Temple Franklin's death in Paris, and had eventually come into the
possession of an old friend of his who repeatedly offered them for sale,
but could find no customer, from the universal belief that they had
already been printed and published. Mr. Stevens acquired them in 1851,
and after thirty years' delay, and spending a thousand pounds over and
above the original price in cataloguing, binding and adding to their
number, ultimately disposed of them to the United States Government.
Their eventful history, involving a complete vindication of Temple
Franklin and the British Government, is told in a privately printed
volume of his own, accompanied with beautifully engraved portraits and a
valuable bibliography of books by and concerning Franklin. The
collection is also the subject of an article in the _Century_ for June

Notwithstanding the engrossing nature of his pursuits, Mr. Stevens was
always striving to aid bibliography by his pen. For this, in addition to
his knowledge and acumen, and a cultivated taste which served him
admirably on questions of typography, he possessed the qualifications of
untiring industry and great facility of composition. He did much, and
would have done more but for the sanguine temper which led him to
undertake more than he could complete, and the fastidiousness which
indisposed him to let work go out of his hands while anything seemed
lacking to perfection. He left several bibliographical or biographical
memoirs wanting hardly anything of completeness but the final
imprimatur. Among them may be mentioned a life of Thomas Heriot, the
mathematician, and a friend of Ralegh; an essay on Columbus's
administration in the West Indies; and an account of the newly
discovered globe by John Schoner. Another work of which he frequently
spoke, a volume of British Museum reminiscences supplementary to Mr.
Fagan's life of Sir Anthony Panizzi, existed, it must be feared, only as
a project. It would have required leisure which he never possessed. The
most purely literary and perhaps the most important of his publications
was his _Historical and Geographical Notes on the earliest discoveries
in America_, a subject on which he was most enthusiastic. His catalogue
of the American literature in the British Museum to the year 1856 is
also a valuable publication, as are likewise his _Bibles in the Caxton
Exhibition_, already mentioned, and his catalogues of the
bibliographical curiosities relating to America in his own possession,
issued under the title of _Historical Nuggets_, in 1862. A second series
was in course of publication at his death. He had devoted great
attention to the reproduction of title-pages and frontispieces by
photography and photo-gravure. His admirable paper on the subject, read
in 1877, will be fresh in the memory of members of the Association, as
also the companion essay entitled "Who spoils our English Books?" read
at the Cambridge meeting, a characteristic example of his humorous
manner, not intended to be taken quite _au pied de la lettre_. His
letters from Europe to his father are, we trust, destined to see the
light. He was a frequent contributor to the _Athenæum_, especially on
the history of the English Bible and early discovery in America, and his
communications were always highly valued.

It is unnecessary to enter at length into Mr. Stevens's personal
character when addressing a public to most of whom he was personally
known. Perhaps his most distinguishing characteristic was his eminent
large-heartedness. He had room in his mind for every individual and
every interest. He was cheerful, genial, expansive, and preserved his
buoyancy of spirit under circumstances the most trying and vexatious. He
possessed great sweetness as well as great liberality of disposition;
his combativeness was devoid of every particle of rancour; shrewd and
crafty, he was yet open and candid. Intent, as he could not help being,
on his own advantage as a trader, the interests of his customer had a
very definite place in his mind. He worked for his patrons even more
than for himself, and prided himself more upon having made another man's
library than he would have done upon having made his own fortune. As a
man of business, his principal defect was an over-sanguine temper; the
spring, nevertheless, of his enterprise, and hence of his success. "Si
non errasset fecerat ille minus."

Mr. Stevens died of a general decay of constitution resulting in dropsy,
against which his vigorous constitution and indomitable cheerfulness
contended with great hope of success to the very last. He had been
married for upwards of thirty years to a highly accomplished lady, whose
daughter by a former marriage is the widow of Mr. Hawker, the celebrated
Vicar of Morwenstow. His son, Mr. H. N. Stevens, succeeds to the
direction of his business, and inherits his literary and bibliographical


[325:1] _Library Chronicle_, vol. iii., 1885.


The record of the life of the late Sir Edward Augustus Bond is one of
steady unbroken success, so quiet and uniform as almost to conceal the
credit to which he is entitled as a man of original mind and a vigorous
innovator and reformer. Born on December 31, 1815, the son of a
clergyman and schoolmaster at Hanwell, he entered the Record Office at
seventeen, and there, under the tuition of Sir Thomas Hardy and the Rev.
Joseph Hunter, laid the foundation of his extensive palæographical
acquirements. Having obtained a thorough acquaintance with mediæval
hand-writings, so far as this is attainable from English and French
records and charters, he passed in 1837 to the more varied and extensive
field afforded by the British Museum, where continuous experience made
him a master of palæography in every department. The sudden and much
regretted death of Mr. John Holmes in 1854 made Bond Assistant-Keeper of
Manuscripts sooner than could have been anticipated, and in 1867 he
succeeded his chief, Sir Frederic Madden, as head of the department.
During thirty years he had been known as an exemplary and diligent
official, who enjoyed the confidence and esteem both of his immediate
superior and of the head of the Museum, Sir A. Panizzi; yet few were
prepared for the sweeping and vigorous measures by which, within a few
years, he reorganised his department, reformed many defects which had
been allowed to creep in, did away with the extraordinary mass of
arrears which he found existing, and brought the work up to the high
standard of regularity and efficiency which it has maintained ever
since. Concurrently with these reforms, he executed the classified index
of MSS. which has proved of such essential assistance to students, and
performed a service, felt far beyond the precincts of the Museum, by the
foundation of the Palæographical Society, whose selections of authentic
facsimiles from MSS. of varied character in separate libraries may be
said to have made palæography an exact science. Their value was evinced
in the celebrated controversy respecting the date of the Utrecht
Psalter, in which Bond took the leading part. This, however, was about
the only occasion on which he came prominently before the public. His
modesty and reserve kept him almost unknown beyond his own department;
it was a genuine surprise to the world and to himself when, in 1878, he
succeeded Mr. Winter Jones as Principal Librarian. The appointment had
been looked upon as the appanage of Sir Charles Newton, at that time the
most conspicuous officer of the Museum, and he might undoubtedly have
filled it, if a brief experience as Mr. Jones's deputy of its arduous
and engrossing nature had not made him decline it as incompatible with
his cherished archæological pursuits.

Sir Edward Bond's career as Principal Librarian repeated the history of
his keepership upon a larger scale. As before, he was inflexibly
diligent in his attention to routine duties, and boldly original when an
emergency arose requiring special action. He saw that the time had come
for the introduction of electric lighting into the Museum, and achieved
this invaluable improvement in the face of many discouragements. The
enormous bulk of the catalogue threatened to drive everything else out
of the Reading Room. Sir Edward Bond first curbed the evil by
introducing print for the accession titles, and then induced the
Treasury to consent to the printing of the entire catalogue, a vast
undertaking now on the verge of completion. His openness of mind was
shown in no respect more forcibly than in his prompt appreciation of the
sliding-press, an idea altogether new to him. An ordinary official would
have hesitated, objected, and deferred action until some other
institution had shown the way. Sir Edward Bond no sooner saw the model
than he adopted the invention, and won the honour for the Museum. In his
time the separation of the Natural History departments from the
Bloomsbury Museum was consummated, and the White Wing erected with its
newspaper rooms and admirable accommodation for the departments of MSS.
and prints and drawings. The facilities for public access to the Museum
were greatly extended under him. Of the many important acquisitions
made in his term of office, the Stowe Manuscripts were perhaps the most
remarkable. He retired in 1888, among the most gratifying testimonies of
the respect and affection he had won for himself. His manner had been
thought cold and reserved, and such was indeed the case; but the better
he was known the more apparent it became that this austerity veiled a
most kind heart and a truly elevated mind, far above every petty
consideration, and delighting to dwell in a purely intellectual sphere.
After his resignation he spent upwards of nine years in an honoured and
dignified retirement. He had been made a C.B. while Principal Librarian,
and his last days were solaced by the bestowal of the higher distinction
of K.C.B., which ought indeed to have been conferred much sooner. He
died at his house in Bayswater on January 2, 1898, two days after
completing his eighty-second year.

As a palæographer, whose life had been spent among MSS., Sir Edward Bond
could not be expected to take the same warm interest in the Library
Association that may reasonably be looked for in a librarian chiefly
conversant with printed books, but he well understood the duty in this
respect imposed upon him by his office as Principal Librarian, and
evinced this by presiding over the London meeting of 1887. He married a
relative, Miss Caroline Barham, daughter of the famous author of the
"Ingoldsby Legends." Lady Bond survives her husband, and he has left
five daughters, all married. He wrote no independent work, but edited
the _Statutes of the University of Oxford_, the _Trial of Warren
Hastings_, and several books for the Hakluyt and other Societies,
besides contributing numerous memoirs to the _Transactions_ of his own
special creation, the Palæographical Society.


[335:1] Contributed to _The Library_, May 1898.


  Abbas the Great, Shah of Persia, wishes to introduce printing into
      Persia, 119

  Africa, question as to first introduction of printing into, 123

  Aldrich, Stephen J., of the British Museum, an authority on
      incunabula, 208

  Ancina, Bishop, his integrity, 169

  Antequera Castro, Joseph, author of a book printed in Paraguay, 133

  Baber, Rev. H. H., his Museum catalogue, 85;
    his plan for an improved catalogue, 90

  Bailey, J. B., on subject indexes to scientific periodicals, 225

  Beresford, General, prints proclamations in Buenos Ayres, 136

  Bethnal Green Library, its contrivance for the accommodation of books,
      the prototype of the British Museum sliding-press, 267

  Bible, the foundation of the system of classification adopted at the
      British Museum, 212

  Blades, William, his "Enemies of Books," 283-287

  Bond, Sir Edward Augustus, K.C.B., Principal Librarian of the British
      Museum, his services to the British Museum Printed Catalogue, 15;
    his negotiations with the Treasury, 65, 73, 94;
    memoir of, 335-339

  Bonifacius, Joannes, author of the first book printed by Europeans
      in China, 121

  Bradshaw, Henry, 209

  British Museum Catalogue, how far a model for other catalogues, 7

  Canevarius, Antonius, collector of books and amateur of bindings, 164-166

  Carlisle, Nicholas, 312

  Cary, Rev. Henry, 295

  Classed indexes to Museum Catalogue, how to be made, 106

  Classification of Books on the shelves of the British Museum, Library,

  Clemente Patavino, early Italian printer, 201

  Cole, Sir Henry, 84, 109

  Collins, C. H., Esq., of Edgbaston, advocates a classified index of
      scientific papers, 22

  Colophons of the early printers, 197-209

  Cordier, M. Henri, Chinese bibliographer, 121

  Crestadoro, Mr., advocates dictionary catalogues, 46

  Cutter, C. W., his report on catalogues, 46;
    his cataloguing rules, 48

  Dewey, Melvil, on the decimal system of classification, 80

  Douglas, Professor R. K., Keeper of Oriental Books and MSS., his
      catalogue of the Museum collection of maps, 15;
    supervises catalogue of accession titles, 74

  Duarte y Quiros, founder of a college at Cordova, La Plata, 134

  Dury, John, 175-190, _passim_

  Edwards, Edward, 320

  Electric Light in British Museum, 253, 254

  Ellis, Sir Henry, his Museum catalogue, 85

  Ewart, William, M.P., founder of free public libraries in Great
      Britain and Ireland, 36

  Fire, protection of libraries against, 258-261

  Fortescue, G. W., Keeper of Printed Books, his subject indexes to
      British Museum catalogue, 10

  Foscolo, Ugo, 289

  Gallus, Udalricus, early Italian printer, 203

  Garcia da Horta, author of the second book printed by Europeans in
      India, 118

  Grand, G. F., author of the first book printed in South Africa, 125

  Grenville, Right Hon. Thomas, 292, 294

  Heidelberg Library, pillaged and partly restored, 187, 188

  Hervey, Lord, and Conyers Middleton, 191-193

  Horne, Rev. T. H., his project for a classed catalogue, 89

  Howe, William, bushranger, book relating to him the first printed in
      Australasia, 125

  Jenner, Henry, assistant in the Library of the British Museum, his
      share in the introduction of the sliding-press, 267;
    rewarded by the Treasury, 268

  Johnstone, Mr., procures Mr. Winter Jones an appointment in the
      British Museum, 313

  Jones, Giles, author of "Goody Two Shoes," 305

  Jones, John Winter, Principal Librarian of British Museum, memoir of,

  Labbe, Father, his travels in La Plata, 130

  Leão, Gaspar de, Archbishop of Goa, author of the first book printed
      by Europeans in India, 117, 118

  Lignamine, Joannes Philippus de, early Italian printer, 153

  Macedo, Antonio, his _Theses rhetoricæ_, 123

  Mayhew, Henry M., assistant in library of the British Museum, his
      invention of the pivot-press, 272

  Mazarin, Cardinal, formation of his first library, 166

  Medina, Señor Jose T., on first European printing in China, 120;
    on South American bibliography, 128-140, _passim_

  Middleton, Conyers, delay in publication of his "Life of Cicero," 190-195

  Murray, Dr., his great English Dictionary, 20

  Naudé, Gabriel, collects books for Cardinal Mazarin, 166-168

  Newton, Sir Charles, K.C.B., favours printing Museum catalogue, 94

  Nicholson, E. W. B., Bodley's Librarian, founder of the Library
      Association of the United Kingdom, 3, 37

  Nicius, Erythræus, 162-173, _passim_

  Oddi, Muzio, his ingenuity, 171

  Panizzi, Sir Anthony, K.C.B., Principal Librarian of the British
      Museum, his services to the British Museum, 35, 36;
    undertakes printing of Museum catalogue, 69, 90-92;
    memoir of 288-303

  Paper, fine, manufacture of, in England, 191-196

  Peranda, Cardinal, 171

  Photography, advantages of its introduction as an official department
      of the British Museum, 16, 17, 85, 86, 234-252

  Podianus, Prosper, a mighty book-hunter, 168-170

  Pollard, Alfred William, on the title-page, 198

  Poole's Index to Periodicals, 9

  Ribeiro dos Sanctos, Portuguese bibliographer, 118

  Roscoe, William, 290

  Ruiz de Montoya, Antonio, author of books printed in Paraguay, 133

  Rye, William Brenchley, Keeper of Printed Books, his services to the
      classification of the Museum Library, 211

  Rylands, Mrs., her public spirit, 25

  Sande, Eduardus de, author of the second book printed by Europeans in
      China, 120

  Sainsbury, William Noel, his calendar of the papers of the East India
      Company, 119

  Satow, Sir Ernest Mason, K.C.B., on printing in Japan, 121, 122

  Scientific Papers, subject indexes to, 225-233

  Serrano, Father Jose, his translation of Father Nieremberg into Guarani,
      the first book printed in Paraguay, 131, 132

  Sliding-Press, the, at the British Museum, 262-271

  Sparrow, Mr., locksmith at the British Museum, 267, 271

  Spira, the brothers, early printers at Venice, 149, 203, 205

  Stevens, Henry, of Vermont, his paper on Photo-Bibliography, 16, 239;
    memoir of, 325-334

  Sweynheym and Pannartz, early printers at Rome, 143, 148, 149, 150,
      151, 152

  Telautographic writing telegraph, 256

  Telegraph, writing, advantage of introduction of, into Reading Room of
      British Museum, 254, 257

  Thompson, Sir E. M., K.C.B., on use of blotting paper in the Middle Ages.

  Universal Catalogue projected by Sir Henry Cole, 83, 84, 109-114

  Venetian book-trade, 153, 156

  Vera, Juan de, first printer in the Philippines, 122

  Virgo, Mr., his ingenuity, 266, 279

  Watts, Thomas, Keeper of Printed Books, British Museum, advocated
      printing the catalogue in 1855, 15;
    founder of the system of classification followed at the British
      Museum, 211

  Whitelock, General, prints proclamations in Monte Video, 137

  Wolfenbuttel Library, 189

  Yapuguai, Nicolas, author of books printed in Paraguay, 133

  Zaehnsdorf, Mr., bookbinder, his device for the protection of books
      against fire, 259-261


  Edinburgh & London


Variations in spelling and hyphenation remain as in the original.

Ellipses match the original.

The following corrections have been made to the original text:

    Page 152: publication is greatly lowered.[original has a comma]

    Page 172: the Rome of the seventeenth[original has
    "seventeeth"] century

    Page 321: the staunch[original has "stanch"] persistence with

    Page 341: Bible, the foundation of the system of
    classification[original has "classifiation"] adopted

    Page 342: Photography, advantages of its introduction[was split
    across a line break without a hyphen] as an official department
    of the British Museum, 16, 17,[original has a semi-colon] 85,
    86,[original has a semi-colon] 234-252

    Page 343: Thompson, Sir E. M., K.C.B., on use of blotting paper
    in the Middle Ages, 171[original has a period instead of a
    comma and page number is missing]

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