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de l'Ivresse,' a humorous (and scarce) little volume first published in 1714.
Ebrietatis Encomium-or, The Praise of Drunkenness. Wherein is authentically and most evidently proved the Necessity of frequently getting drunk; and that the practice of getting drunk is most Ancient, Primitive, and Catholic. Confirm'd by the example of Heathens, Turks, Infidels, Primitive Christians, Saints, Popes, Bishops, Doctors, Philosophers, Poets, Free-Masons, and other Men of Learning in All Ages. By a Person of Honour.
price 2s. 6d. 1 How it intrigues one to know who were the Saints, Popes, and Bishops thus addicted to tippling! Truly a chronique scandaleuse, and one which would surely have appealed to Louis Maimbourg, that ingenious Jesuit historian, had it but appeared in his day. We are told that he never took up his pen till he had heated his imagination by wine, nor ever attempted to describe a battle till he had drunk two bottles
- lest, as he said jestingly, the horrors of the combat should enfeeble his style! Perhaps this trait in his character also explains how it was that'he signalised himself by strange descriptions and burlesque sallies of humour in the pulpit,' and that his works exhibit 'great fire and rapidity in
1 This was one of the five publications on account of which Curll was set in the pillory in 1725.
their style.'1 At all events he lived to be seventysix, which is some consolation to those who seek to impart originality to their work by this means.
Here is another volume that we should like to possess, from the same catalogue.
The Court Gamester : Or, Full and Easy Instructions for playing the Games now in vogue, after the best Method, as they are Played at Court, and in the Assemblies, viz. Ombre, Picquet, and the Royal Game of Chess. Wherein the Frauds in Play are detected, and the Laws of each Game annex'd, to prevent Disputes. Written for the Use of the young Princesses.2 By Richard Seymour,
Esq. price 2s. Evidently Richard Seymour, Esq., had some experience of the young princesses' play. One wonders whether the disputes were frequent and heated, and whether Richard was the detector or detected with regard to the ‘Frauds in Play'!
Enough, however, of examples : you will find abundance in these old catalogues to keep you interested and amused for many an hour. Moreover, your natural inquisitiveness will enabie you to discover a great deal about books and authors which you would otherwise never, perhaps, come across. For certain titles will excite your interest and curiosity, so that you will look up' the
i L'Advocat: Dict. Histor. 2 The Italics are not ours.
volume in your bibliography. Then you will turn to your biographical dictionary and find out all that you can about the author. So it is that your knowledge of books and their writers will grow. It is a pleasant pastime, this fireside book-hunting, and of the greatest value to the collector. Let us add, as a note, that you will find the Cambridge History of English Literature 'valuable for acquiring a contemporary knowledge of books.
With regard to book-auctions (which seem to have been introduced into Europe by the Elzeviers) and sale-catalogues, you will find all the information that you may require upon this subject in so far as Great Britain is concerned, in Mr. John Lawler's excellent little volume ‘Book Auctions in England in the Seventeenth Century,' of which a new edition was published in 1906. The fashion of selling books to the highest bidder is, in this country, of comparatively recent date; for the first auction of books held in London was presided over in 1676 by one William Cooper, an enterprising bookseller, who disposed in this manner of the library belonging to the Rev. Dr. Lazarus Seaman. With regard to the bookauctions held by the Elzeviers, you must consult that great authority, M. Alphonse Willems.
Before leaving this subject of catalogues we cannot forbear quoting from one to whom we are already indebted. 'In perusing these old catalogues one cannot help being astonished at the sudden
and great increase of books; and when one reflects that a great, perhaps the greater, part of them no longer exists, this perishableness of human labours will excite the same sensations as those which arise in the mind when one reads in a church-yard the names and titles of persons long since mouldered into dust. In the sixteenth century there were few libraries, and these, which did not contain many books, were in monasteries, and consisted principally of theological, philosophical, and historical works, with a few, however, on jurisprudence and medicine : while those which treated of agriculture, manufactures, and trade, were thought unworthy of the notice of the learned and of being preserved in large collections. The number of these works was, nevertheless, far from being inconsiderable ; and at any rate many of them would have been of great use, as they would have served to illustrate the instructive history of the arts. Catalogues, which might have given occasion to inquiries after books that may be still somewhere preserved, have suffered the fate of tomb-stones, which, being wasted and crumbled to pieces by the destroying hand of time, become no longer legible. A complete series of them, perhaps, is now nowhere to be found.'1
There is yet another side of book-collecting with which it is essential that the bibliophile become
1 Beckmann, op. cit.
acquainted, and that is a knowledge of the scarce and valuable editions of the more modern classic writers. By 'modern' we intend those authors who flourished during the nineteenth and latter part of the eighteenth centuries, and include such writers as Arnold, the Brontës, the Brownings, Burns, Byron, Carlyle, Coleridge, Dickens, Keats, Lamb, Shelley, Stevenson, Swinburne, Tennyson, Thackeray, and other famous contemporaries. You may meet with their works continually, and many a prize may slip through your hands unless you are acquainted with the collector's desiderata regarding each of these authors. Many of them, perhaps the majority, published their earliest works anonymously or under a nom de plume, and when you have become aware of the titles of such books or their writers' pseudonyms, you are not likely to forget them.
A few years ago (1911) Messrs. Hodgson the auctioneers discovered a thin folio consisting of an illustrated title-page and eight lithographed plates depicting scenes in the life of a ballet-girl, among a portfolio of engravings which had been sent to them for disposal. There was no letterpress, but the title ran ‘Flore et Zephyr, Ballet Mythologique, par Theophile Wagstaffe,' and it was published in London and Paris, 1836. The owner thought it unworthy of notice in a lengthy catalogue of his books, but in spite of its Gallic title its author was none other than Thackeray, and it was one of his