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forseide pryvyleges of schriftes and sepultures and othere, thei beth now
so multiplyed in conventes and in persons. That many men tellith that in
general studies unnethe, is it founde to sillynge a profitable book of ye
faculte of art, of dyvynyte, of lawe canon, of phisik, other of lawe
civil, but alle bookes beth y-bougt of Freres, so that en ech convent of
Freres is a noble librarye and a grete,[190] and so that ene rech Frere
that hath state in scole, siche as thei beth nowe, hath an hughe
librarye. And also y-sent of my Sugettes[191] to scole thre other foure
persons, and hit is said me that some of them beth come home azen for
thei myst nougt[192] finde to selle ovn goode Bible; nother othere
couenable[193] books." This strange accusation proves how industriously
the friars collected books, and we cannot help regarding them with much
esteem for doing so. Richard de Bury fully admits his obligations to the
mendicants, from whom he obtained many choice transcripts. "When indeed,"
says he, "we happened to turn aside to the towns and places where the
aforesaid paupers had convents, we were not slack in visiting their
chests and other repositories of books, for there, amidst the deepest
poverty, we found the most exalted riches treasured up; there, in their
satchells and baskets, we discovered not only the crumbs that fell from
the master's table for the little dogs, but indeed the shew bread without
leaven, the bread of angels, containing in itself all that is
delectable;" and moreover, he says, that he found these friars "not
selfish hoarders, but meet professors of enlightened knowledge."[194]

In the seventh chapter of his work, he deplores the sad destruction of
books by war and fire, and laments the loss of the 700,000 volumes, which
happened in the Alexandrian expedition; but the eighth chapter is the one
which the bibliomaniac will regard with the greatest interest, for
Richard de Bury tells us there how he collected together his rich and
ample library. "For although," he writes, "from our youth we have ever
been delighted to hold special and social communion with literary men and
lovers of books, yet prosperity attending us, having obtained the notice
of his majesty the king, and being received into his own family, we
acquired a most ample facility of visiting at pleasure and of hunting, as
it were, some of the most delightful covers, the public and private
libraries _privatas tum communes_, both of the regulars and seculars.
Indeed, while we performed the duties of Chancellor and Treasurer of the
most invincible and ever magnificently triumphant king of England,
Edward III., of that name after the conquest, whose days may the Most
High long and tranquilly deign to preserve. After first inquiring into
the things that concerned his court, and then the public affairs of his
kingdom, an easy opening was afforded us, under the countenance of royal
favor, for freely searching the hiding places of books. For the flying
fame of our love had already spread in all directions, and it was
reported not only that we had a longing desire for books, and _especially
for old ones_, but that any one could more easily obtain our favors by
quartos than by money.[195] Wherefore, when supported by the bounty of
the aforesaid prince of worthy memory, we were enabled to oppose or
advance, to appoint or discharge; crazy quartos and tottering folios,
precious however in our sight as well as in our affections, flowed in
most rapidly from the great and the small, instead of new year's gift and
remunerations, and instead of presents and jewels. Then the cabinets of
the most noble monasteries _tunc nobilissimos monasterios_ were opened,
cases were unlocked, caskets were unclasped and sleeping volumes
_soporata volumina_ which had slumbered for long ages in their sepulchres
were roused up, and those that lay hid in dark places _in locis
tenebrosis_ were overwhelmed with the rays of a new light. Books
heretofore most delicate now become corrupted and abominable, lay
lifeless, covered indeed with the excrements of mice and pierced through
with the gnawing of worms; and those that were formerly clothed with
purple and fine linen were now seen reposing in dust and ashes, given
over to oblivion and the abode of moths. Amongst these, nevertheless, as
time served, we sat down more voluptuously than the delicate physician
could do amidst his stores of aromatics, and where we found an object of
love, we found also an assuagement. Thus the sacred vessel of science
came into the power of our disposal, some being given, some sold, and not
a few lent for a time. Without doubt many who perceived us to be
contented with gifts of this kind, studied to contribute these things
freely to our use, which they could most conveniently do without
themselves. We took care, however, to conduct the business of such so
favorably, that the profit might accrue to them; justice suffered
therefore no detriment." Of this, however, a doubt will intrude itself
upon our minds, in defiance of the affirmation of my Lord Chancellor;
indeed, the paragraph altogether is unfavorable to the character of so
great a man, and fully proves the laxity of opinion, in those days of
monkish supremacy, on judicial matters; but we must be generous, and
allow something for the corrupt usages of the age, but I cannot omit a
circumstance clearly illustrative of this point, which occurred between
the bibliomanical Chancellor and the abbot of St. Alban's, the affair is
recorded in the chronicle of the abbey, and transpired during the time
Richard de Bury held the privy seal; in that office he appears to have
favored the monks of the abbey in their disputes with the townspeople of
St. Alban's respecting some possessions to which the monks tenaciously
adhered and defended as their rightful property. Richard de Wallingford,
who was then abbot, convoked the elder monks _convocatis senioribus_, and
discussed with them, as to the most effectual way to obtain the goodwill
and favor of de Bury; after due consideration it was decided that no gift
was likely to prove so acceptable to that father of English bibliomania
as a present of some of their choice books, and it was at last agreed to
send four volumes, "that is to say Terence, a Virgil, a Quintilian, and
Jerome against Ruffinus," and to sell him many others from their library;
this they sent him intimation of, and a purchase was ultimately agreed
upon between them. The monks sold to that rare collector, thirty-two
choice tomes _triginta duos libros_, for the sum of fifty pounds of
silver _quinginta libris argenti_.[196] But there were other bibliophiles
and bookworms than Richard de Bury in old England then; for many of the
brothers of St. Alban's who had nothing to do with this transaction,
cried out loudly against it, and denounced rather openly the policy of
sacrificing their mental treasures for the acquisition of pecuniary gain,
but fortunately the loss was only a temporary one, for on the death of
Richard de Bury many of these volumes were restored to the monks, who in
return became the purchasers from his executors of many a rare old
volume from the bishop's library.[197] To resume our extracts from the
Philobiblon, De Bury proceeds to further particulars relative to his
book-collecting career, and becomes quite eloquent in detailing these
circumstances; but from the eighth chapter we shall content ourselves
with one more paragraph. "Moreover," says he, "if we could have amassed
cups of gold and silver, excellent horses, or no mean sums of money, we
could in those days have laid up abundance of wealth for ourselves. But
we regarded books not pounds, and valued codices more than florens, and
preferred paltry pamphlets to pampered palfreys.[198] In addition to this
we were charged with frequent embassies of the said prince of everlasting
memory, and owing to the multiplicity of state affairs, we were sent
first to the Roman chair, then to the court of France, then to the
various other kingdoms of the world, on tedious embassies and in perilous
times, carrying about with us that fondness for books, which many waters
could not extinguish."[199] The booksellers found Richard de Bury a
generous and profitable customer, and those residing abroad received
commissions constantly from him. "Besides the opportunities," he writes,
"already touched upon, we easily acquired the notice of the stationers
and librarians, not only within the provinces of our native soil, but of
those dispersed over the kingdoms of France, Germany, and Italy."[200]

Such was bibliomania five hundred years ago! and does not the reader
behold in it the very type and personification of its existence now? does
he not see in Richard de Bury the prototype of a much honored and
agreeable bibliophile of our own time? Nor has the renowned "Maister
Dibdin" described his book-hunting tours with more enthusiasm or delight;
with what a thrill of rapture would that worthy doctor have explored
those monastic treasures which De Bury found hid in _locis tenebrosis_,
antique Bibles, rare Fathers, rich Classics or gems of monkish lore,
enough to fire the brain of the most lymphatic bibliophile, were within
the grasp of the industrious and eager Richard de Bury - that old "Amator
Librorum," like his imitators of the present day, cared not whither he
went to collect his books - dust and dirt were no barriers to him; at
every nook and corner where a stationer's stall[201] appeared, he would
doubtless tarry in defiance of the cold winds or scorching sun, exploring
the ancient tomes reposing there. Nor did he neglect the houses of the
country rectors; and even the humble habitations of the rustics were
diligently ransacked to increase his collections, and from these sources
he gleaned many rude but pleasing volumes, perhaps full of old popular
poetry! or the wild Romances of Chivalry which enlivened the halls and
cots of our forefathers in Gothic days.

We must not overlook the fact that this Treatise on the Love of Books was
written as an accompaniment to a noble and generous gift. Many of the
parchment volumes which De Bury had collected in his "_perilous
embassies_," he gave, with the spirit of a true lover of learning, to the
Durham College at Oxford, for the use of the Students of his Church. I
cannot but regret that the names of these books, _of which he had made a
catalogue_,[202] have not been preserved; perhaps the document may yet be
discovered among the vast collections of manuscripts in the Oxonian
libraries; but the book, being written for this purpose, the author
thought it consistent that full directions should be given for the
preservation and regulation of the library, and we find the last chapter
devoted to this matter; but we must not close the Philobiblon without
noticing his admonitions to the students, some of whom he upbraids for
the carelessness and disrespect which they manifest in perusing books.
"Let there," says he, with all the veneration of a passionate booklover,
"be a modest decorum in opening and closing of volumes, that they may
neither be unclasped with precipitous haste, nor thrown aside after
inspection without being duly closed."[203] Loving and venerating a book
as De Bury did, it was agony to see a volume suffering under the
indignities of the ignorant or thoughtless student whom he thus keenly
satirizes: "You will perhaps see a stiffnecked youth lounging sluggishly
in his study, while the frost pinches him in winter time; oppressed with
cold his watery nose drops, nor does he take the trouble to wipe it with
his handkerchief till it has moistened the book beneath it with its vile
dew;" nor is he "ashamed to eat fruit and cheese over an open book, or to
transfer his empty cup from side to side; he reclines his elbow on the
volume, turns down the leaves, and puts bits of straw to denote the place
he is reading; he stuffs the book with leaves and flowers, and so
pollutes it with filth and dust." With this our extracts from the
Philobiblon must close; enough has been said and transcribed to place the
Lord Chancellor of the puissant King Edward III. among the foremost of
the bibliomaniacs of the past, and to show how valuable were his efforts
to literature and learning; indeed, like Petrarch in Italy was Richard De
Bury in England: both enthusiastic collectors and preservers of ancient
manuscripts, and both pioneers of that revival of European literature
which soon afterwards followed. In the fourteenth century we cannot
imagine a more useful or more essential person than the bibliomaniac, for
that surely was the harvest day for the gathering in of that food on
which the mind of future generations were to subsist. And who reaped so
laboriously or gleaned so carefully as those two illustrious scholars?

Richard de Bury was no unsocial bookworm; for whilst he loved to seek the
intercourse of the learned dead, he was far from being regardless of the
living. Next to his clasped vellum tomes, nothing afforded him so much
delight as an erudite disputation with his chaplains, who were mostly men
of acknowledged learning and talent; among them were "Thomas Bradwardyn,
afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury; and Richard Fitz-Raufe, afterwards
Archbishop of Armagh; Walter Burley, John Maudyt, Robert Holcote, Richard
of Kilwington, all Doctors in Theology, _omnes Doctores in Theologia_;
Richard Benworth, afterwards Bishop of London, and Walter Segraffe,
afterwards Bishop of Chester;"[204] with these congenial spirits Richard
de Bury held long and pleasing conversations, doubtless full of old
bookwisdom and quaint Gothic lore, derived from still quainter volumes;
and after meals I dare say they discussed the choice volume which had
been read during their repast, as was the pious custom of those old days,
and which was not neglected by De Bury, for "his manner was at dinner
and supper time to have some good booke read unto him."[205]

And now in bidding farewell to the illustrious Aungraville - for little
more is known of his biography - let me not forget to pay a passing
tribute of respect to his private character, which is right worthy of a
cherished remembrance, and derives its principal lustre from the eminent
degree in which he was endowed with the greatest of Christian virtues,
and which, when practised with sincerity, covereth a multitude of sins;
his charity, indeed, forms a delightful trait in the character of that
great man; every week he distributed food to the poor; eight quarters of
wheat _octo quarteria frumenti_, and the fragments from his own table
comforted the indigent of his church; and always when he journeyed from
Newcastle to Durham, he distributed twelve marks in relieving the
distresses of the poor; from Durham to Stockton eight marks; and from the
same place to his palace at Aukeland five marks; and and when he rode
from Durham to Middleham he gave away one hundred shillings.[206] Living
in troublous times, we do not find his name coupled with any great
achievement in the political sphere; his talents were not the most
propitious for a statesman among the fierce barons of the fourteenth
century; his spirit loved converse with the departed great, and shone
more to advantage in the quite closet of the bibliomaniac, or in
fulfilling the benevolent duties of a bishop. Yet he was successful in
all that the ambition of a statesman could desire, the friend and
confidant of his king; holding the highest offices in the state
compatible with his ecclesiastical position, with wealth in abundance,
and blessed with the friendship of the learned and the good, we find
little in his earthly career to darken the current of his existence, or
to disturb the last hours of a life of near three score years. He died
lamented, honored, and esteemed, at Aukeland palace, on the fourteenth of
April, in the year 1345, in the fifty-eighth year of his age, and was
buried with all due solemnity before the altar of the blessed Mary
Magdalene, at the south angle of the church of Durham. His bones are now
mingled with the dust and gone, but his memory is engraven on tablets of
life; the hearts of all bibliomaniacs love and esteem his name for the
many virtues with which it was adorned, and delight to chat with his
choice old spirit in the Philobiblon, so congenial to their bookish
souls. No doubt the illustrious example of Richard de Bury tended
materially to spread far and wide the spirit of bibliomania. It certainly
operated powerfully on the monks of Durham, who not only by transcribing,
but at the cost of considerable sums of money, greatly increased their
library. A catalogue of the collection, taken some forty years after the
death of De Bury, is preserved to this day at Durham, and shows how
considerably they augmented it during a space of two hundred years, or
from the time when the former list was written. If the bibliomaniac can
obtain a sight of this ancient catalogue, he will dwell over it with
astonishment and delight - immaculate volumes of Scripture - fathers and
classics bespeak its richness and extent, and Robert of Langchester, the
librarian who wrote it, with pious preference places first on the list
the magnificent Bible which bishop Hugo gave them many years before. This
rare biblical treasure, then the pride and glory of the collection, is
now in the Durham Library; but to look upon that fair manuscript will
make the blood run cold - barbarous desecration has been committed by some
bibliopegistical hand; the splendid illuminations so rich and spirited,
which adorned the beauteous tomes, dazzled an ignorant mind, who cut them
out and robbed it of half its interest and value.

From near 600 volumes which the list enumerates, I cannot refrain from
naming two or three. I have searched over its biblical department in vain
to discover mention of the celebrated "Saint Cuthbert's Gospels." It is
surprising they should have forgotten so rich a gem, for although four
copies of the Gospels appear, not one of them answers to its description;
two are specified as "_non glos_;" it could not have been either of
those, another, the most interesting of the whole, is recorded as the
venerable Bede's own copy! What bibliophile can look unmoved upon those
time-honored pages, without indeed all the warmth of his booklove
kindling forth into a very frenzy of rapture and veneration! So fairly
written, and so accurately transcribed, it is one of the most precious of
the many gems which now crowd the shelves of the Durham Library, and is
well worth a pilgrimage to view it.[207] But this cannot be St.
Cuthbert's Gospels, and the remaining copy is mentioned as "_Quarteur
Evangelum_," fol. ii. "_se levantem_;" now I have looked at the splendid
volume in the British Museum, to see if the catchword answered to this
description, but it does not; so it cannot be this, which I might have
imagined without the trouble of a research, for if it was, they surely
would not have forgotten to mention its celebrated coopertoria.

Passing a splendid array of Scriptures whole and in parts, for there was
no paucity of sacred volumes in that old monkish library, and fathers,
doctors of the Church, schoolmen, lives of saints, chronicles, profane
writers, philosophical and logical treatises, medical works, grammars,
and books of devotion, we are particularly struck with the appearance of
so many fine classical authors. Works of Virgil (including the Æneid),
Pompeius Trogus, Claudius, Juvenal, Terence, Ovid, Prudentius,
Quintilian, Cicero, Boethius, and a host of others are in abundance,
and form a catalogue rendered doubly exciting to the bibliophile by the
insertion of an occasional note, which tells of its antiquity,[208]
rarity, or value. In some of the volumes a curious inscription was
inserted, thundering a curse upon any who would dare to pilfer it from
the library, and for so sacrilegious a crime, calling down upon them the
maledictions of Saints Maria, Oswald, Cuthbert, and Benedict.[209] A
volume containing the lives of St. Cuthbert, St. Oswald, and St. Aydani,
is described as "_Liber speciales et preciosus cum signaculo deaurato_."

Thomas Langley, who was chancellor of England and bishop of Durham in the
year 1406, collected many choice books, and left some of them to the
library of Durham church; among them a copy of Lyra's Commentaries stands
conspicuous; he also bequeathed a number of volumes to many of his
private friends.

There are few monastic libraries whose progress we can trace with so much
satisfaction as the one now under consideration, for we have another
catalogue compiled during the librarianship of John Tyshbourne, in the
year 1416,[210] in which many errors appearing in the former ones are
carefully corrected; books which subsequent to that time had been lost or
stolen are here accounted for; many had been sent to the students at
Oxford, and others have notes appended, implying to whom the volume had
been lent; thus to a "_Flores Bernardi_," occurs "_Prior debit, I Kempe
Episcopi Londoni_." It is, next to Monk Henry's of Canterbury, one of the
best of all the monkish catalogues I have seen; not so much for its
extent, as that here and there it fully partakes of the character of a
catalogue _raisonné_; for terse sentences are affixed to some of the more
remarkable volumes, briefly descriptive of their value; a circumstance
seldom observable in these early attempts at bibliography.

In taking leave of Durham library, need I say that the bibliomaniacs who
flourished there in the olden time, not only collected their books with
so much industry, but knew well how to use them too. The reader is
doubtless aware how many learned men dwelled in monkish time within those
ancient walls; and if he is inquisitive about such things has often
enjoyed a few hours of pleasant chat over the historic pages of Symeon of
Durham,[211] Turgot and Wessington,[212] and has often heard of brothers
Lawrence,[213] Reginald,[214] and Bolton; but although unheeded now, many
a monkish bookworm, glorying in the strict observance of Christian
humility, and so unknown to fame, lies buried beneath that splendid
edifice, as many monuments and funeral tablets testify and speak in high
favor of the great men of Durham. If the reader should perchance to
wander near that place, his eye will be attracted by many of these
memorials of the dead; and a few hours spent in exploring them will serve
to gain many additional facts to his antiquarian lore, and perhaps even
something better too. For I know not a more suitable place, as far as
outward circumstances are concerned, than an old sanctuary of God to
prepare the mind and lead it to think of death and immortality. We read
the names of great men long gone; of wealthy worldlings, whose fortunes
have long been spent; of ambitious statesmen and doughty warriors, whose
glory is fast fading as their costly mausoleums crumble in the hands of
time, and whose stone tablets, green with the lichens' hue, manifest how
futile it is to hope to gain immortality from stone, or purchase fame by
the cold marble trophies of pompous grief; not that on their glassy
surface the truth is always faithfully mirrored forth, even when the
thoughts of holy men composed the eulogy; the tombs of old knew as well
how to lie as now, and even ascetic monks could become too warm in their
praises of departed worth; for whilst they blamed the great man living,
with Christian charity they thought only of his virtues when they had
nothing but his body left, and murmured long prayers, said tedious
masses, and kept midnight vigils for his soul. For had he not shown his
love to God by his munificence to His Church on earth? _Benedicite_,
saith the monks.

FOOTNOTES:

[153] Bede's Eccles. Hist., B. iii. c. xvi.

[154] Bede, B. iv. c. xxvii.

[155] Marked Nero, D. iv. in the Cottonian collection.

[156] The illuminations are engraved in Strutt's _Horda_.

[157] There is prologue to the Canons and Prefaces of St. Jerome and
Eusebius, and also a beautiful calendar written in compartments,
elaborately finished in an architectural style.

[158] He also transcribed the Durham Ritual, recently printed by the
Surtee Society; when Alfred wrote this volume he was with bishop
Alfsige, p. 185, 8vo. _Lond._ 1840.

[159] For an account of this rare gem of Saxon art, see _Selden
Præf. ad. Hist. Angl._ p. 25. _Marshall Observat. in Vers. Sax.
Evang._, 491. _Dibdin's Decameron, p._ lii. _Smith's Bibl. Cotton.
Hist. et Synop._, p. 33.

[160] Simeon of Durham translated by Stevens, p. 87.

[161] Simeon of Durham, by Stevens.

[162] Ep. viii.


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