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when, as a needy student, he denied himself food and clothes to buy some coveted volume, to the calm of his later days at Basle, he may be said, without much of a metaphor, to have lived on books. Rabelais' collection must have been a singularly characteristic one, for it contained all the naughty books of the day, tous les méchans livres, which the good curé was always on the watch to pick up, lest they should not be reprinted. Montaigne's library has been described for us by its owner-a round upper chamber, warm and well-lighted, encircled with five well-filled shelves, and commanding a view of garden, court, and wide-stretching champaign. There the immortal egotist lounged his days away over Plutarch and Seneca. Cervantes must have been fond of books, else he could never have written the description of Don Quixote's library. Besides, we have his own word for it, where he tells of his purchase of the Cid Hamet's manuscript. There is the right odour of the bookstall about that passage. Calderon, too, was of the brotherhood, as witness his picture of the student Cyprian sitting with his folios among the groves" of Daphne, by Orontes”
In the sweet solitude of this retreat,
The books thou brought'st me. Yet the Spain of those days, with its vast libraries, sealed with the seven seals of churlish officialism, must have been, after all, a sadly tantalising place for a bookworm. The great Mariana indignantly complains of the exclusiveness with which the national collections were devoted to royal neglect.
To pass to our own authors. We are all familiar with Chaucer's bookishness, and with the verses which tell how he left his office in the evening only to sit down "at another booke," and how his studies brooked no interruption but the songs of the birds in Maytime. Spenser, too, must have been in a way fond of books, though he has nothing to say about them; but we do not conceive of him as a student like Chaucer-his soul was too often taking flight through the greenwood. His friend, Sir Philip Sidney, seems to have been more of a bookman, and doubtless was often to be found, when the court and the camp could spare him, reading the poets on the lawn at Penshurst. There is a flavour of elegant erudition about the “Apologie for Poetrie”; every page bristles with those proper names in italics which announce the approach of some old friend. Lyly, too, though he could scarce carry his learning with becoming modesty, was evidently a close student. “Far more seemly were it for thee," he says, “to have thy study full of books than thy purse full of money.” Sir Walter Raleigh, like Sidney, was a man of letters as well as of action, and has left us, in the preface to his “History of the World," a panegyric on books which, in its quiet dignity of tone, suits well the character of its author and the circumstances of its composition.
It is a significant fact, and one greatly to the credit of books, that these writers of the Elizabethan era are at once among the most natural and also the most literary of our authors. The works of most of them are bathed in a delightful outdoor atmosphere; and breathe at the same time a scarcely less pleasing odour of the library. It is true that we must except from this remark the greatest of them all. Shakespeare's works are not only devoid of passages in praise of books, but they have not that air which speaks an author given to study. Doubtless we cannot fail to discover from them that Shakespeare was a well-read man-nay, we may gather that he was fond of reading—but there is nothing to show that he was fond of his books, which is a very different thing. The truth is that he was learned far above books, and so could not be expected to pay much reverence to those gods of lesser men, which to him were only tools.
His brother dramatists, far inferior to him in every respect, are for that very cause more apt for citation here. Not a few of these hardliving playwrights carried up with them from the quiet cloisters of Oxford or Cambridge a fondness for learning which, amid all the fumes of the “Mermaid" and the bustle of the “Globe," they never quite forgot. There is a snatch of the haughty scholasticism of Benet College about all that Marlowe wrote
Learning, in despite of Fate,
If anyone wishes to see how magnificently satanic the desire for knowledge may become, let him read the first act of “ Dr. Faustus." The proudest flights of learning can go no farther : it is a grappling with Jupiter for the thunderbolts. We need only to name Ben Jonson in order to call up before our readers a vision of the most ponderous erudition humanised by wit-combats and fagons of sack. Scholarship sits like a graceful coronet among the floral wreaths that encircle the “kindred brows” of Beaumont and Fletcher. here are few finer or better known apologies for books than the
passage wherein Charles “the elder brother” defends his choice of a studious life. Less familiar, but nearly as 'good, if we could forget that Aplotes, the scholar, is but a revengeful courtier in disguise, are the following lines from Ford's “Broken Heart." Prophilus, speaking of students, says,
Happy creatures !
Orgilus. Aplotes, sumptuous master, a poor wretch.
Books, Venus, books,
It would hardly be possible to find a better description of the mediæval scholar, who seems often to have sunk his manhood in his studies.
Daniel, Drayton, and Chapman are notable among the bookish authors of this period : the first of them wrote a whole poem to prove the superiority of a studious to an active life. Bacon, who took all knowledge to be his province, was of course a lover of books; his periods in their praise are as grand as Cicero's :
If the invention of the ship was thought so noble, which carrieth riches and commodities from place to place, and consociateth the most remote regions in participation of their fruits, how much more are letters to be magnified, which, as ships, pass through the vast seas of time, and make ages so distant to participate of the wisdom, illuminations, and inventions, the one of the other.
Old Robert Burton, whose life was passed among the libraries of Oxford, has left us a most curious and characteristic panegyric on study, some half-dozen pages in length, and stuffed with a myriad of quotations from the learned obscure.
While reading it we seem in a college library of the sixteenth century, where erudite dust lies thick, and where the books are all in Latin, and the authors' names defy pronunciation. Sir Thomas Browne is somewhat like him, but over the door of his study there is a skull. Master Richard Hooker had a better eye for a folio than for a wife. Izaak Walton tells a pretty story of him : “ In this time of his sickness," he says, “and not many days before his death, his house was robbed; of which he having notice, his question was, ' Are my books and written papers safe?' And being answered that they were, his reply was, "Then it matters not, for no other loss can trouble me.''
Cowley had threę loves-poetry, the country, and his books;
and it is pleasant to think that the last did not deceive him. The coveted solitude of Chertsey proved gall and wormwood ; the “Pindaric Odes” and the “ Davideis” have gone the way of all verse, but such delightful pieces of prose as that which tells how he read “Spenser” from a copy that lay in his mother's window, will keep his name green for ever. For Butler, there is a whole library buried in “ Hudibras,” and if further proof were wanted to show that its author was a student, it might be found in the fancy Selden conceived for him. What delight Milton had in his books among the trees at Horton ! what solace in the darkened London room ! and how nobly he has repaid them in that grand organburst of eloquence in the “Areopagitica," whence the thrilling periods, chord-like, go echoing on through the endless aisles of the ages.
The wits of the Restoration were, we fear, no true bookmen. They had cleverness enough to use their libraries to some purpose, but not sufficient solidity to revere them. Like the Duke of Buckingham, they were ready at any time to prefer a pimp to a poet. Even Dryden has nothing to say in praise of books. Davenant seems to have been more of a student, at least if we may judge from a long and somewhat cumbrous allegory of learning which occurs in the second book of his “Gondibert.” But we must not forget our old friend Pepys, who added to the endless list of his virtues that of being a collector and frequenter of bookstalls. There are in the “Diary” many such passages as this :
Hither come Mr. Battersby; and we falling into discourse of a new book of drollery in use, called Hudebras, I would needs go find it out, and met with it at the Temple : cost me 25. 6d. We quote no farther, in tenderness to the shade of the good old bibliomaniac. Far be it from us to expose the error of his judgment.
Pope must have enjoyed his library; we never hear mention of his name without thinking of the years he spent in his father's house at Brinfield, devouring the poets. There is a pleasant passage in one of his letters, where he tells of visiting Oxford, and lying in one of the most ancient dusky parts of the university, "rolled up in books." Swift was a "scholar, and a ripe and good one;" and Addison, though his learning was of a somewhat conventional cast, took care to make Mr. Spectator say a good word for books. Gay, among the street scenes of London, has not forgotten to paint us the stall where
Bending shelves with ponderous scholiasts groan,
Where sauntering 'prentices o'er Otway weep,
And squirts read Garth, till apozems grow cold. It was to a book that Prior owed his fortunes. “He had been taken, a boy,” says Burnet, “out of a tavern by the Earl of Dorset, who accidentally found him reading Horace, and he, being very generous, gave him an education in literature.”
In one of his poems, entitled “The Secretary,” Prior describes himself, at the Hague, driving out of a Saturday night, with his Horace on one side and a nymph on the other, while the gaping countryfolks allow
That, search all the province, you'll find no man dar is
So blest as the Englishen Heer Secretaris. How much of this happiness was due to the Horace and how much to the nymph, we will not venture to inquire.
Gray was notoriously a bookworm, so much so, indeed, that our libraries have doubtless been materially diminished by his devotion to his own. He preferred lying on a couch and devouring eternal new novels of Marivaux and Crébillon, to the toil of poetic composition. He could seldom be enticed from his retreat in Pembroke College, where he lay fenced round with the Greek poets and philosophers. When he did venture up to London, it was generally to bury himself near the British Museum, whose“ manuscripts and rarities by the cart-load” made ample amends for the annoyances of a city life. Thomson must have been something like him, for he was of the right bookish temperament—fat, luxurious, and lazy. And a countryman of Thomson, too—Allan Ramsay—was not only a maker and merchant of books, but a lover of them
A book he brings“Wi’ this," quoth he, “on braes I crack wi' kings.” It would be unpardonable, in an article of this kind, to omit a reference to Dr. Johnson and his circle, who were as fond of good books as they were of late suppers and flowing talk. doctor, of course, overtopped them all. “Sir," he said, "the foundation of knowledge must be laid by reading." He was fond of old black-letter volumes, and of looking at the backs of books; and Burton's "Anatomy of Melancholy" could get him out of bed two hours sooner than he wished to rise. There is no mistaking traits like these; they are the marks of what Leigh Hunt calls a “true hand.” Boswell was a not unworthy disciple of his master, and poor Goldsmith liked to have books about him when his