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promptly pictured Caxtons among those we had missed); and he was amused to think that any one could be so foolish as to offer him two shillings for such a dirty old box. We carried it home in triumph regardless of the great interest shown by fellow-travellers in the train. A year or two ago the same vender produced a similar trunk, rather larger, which was full of ancient deeds relating to property in Clerkenwell. These he sold for a shilling or two shillings apiece, according to size and seals. The box was larger than we wanted, but apparently it soon found a purchaser.
Surely such instances must be common in this great city, and many a trunk must yet linger in cellars and attics in the old parts of the town. We remember going once, not many years ago, to an ancient house at the end of a small court off Fleet Street. Inside, it seemed to be entirely lined with oak planking, and it was occupied, or at least that part into which we penetrated was, by a printer in a small way of business. The staircase was magnificent, of massive coal-black oak; and when we remarked upon it, the printer informed us he had discovered that the house had once been the town residence of a famous bishop of Tudor times. How the occupant discovered this fact we do not remember ; possibly the house is well known to antiquaries, and he may have read about it or have been told by the previous tenant. But it is also within the bounds of possibility that he unearthed some deed or papers relating to the premises. It is strange, too, that one of the few letters of this bishop which have been preserved refers to books. “Ye promised unto me, long agone,' he writes to Secretary Cromwell, 'the Triumphes of Petrarche in the Ytalion tonge. I hartely pray you at this tyme by this beyrer, ... to sende me the said Boke with some other at your deuotion; and especially, if it please you, the boke called Cortigiano in Ytalion.'1
There must be many such houses still extant in London, and who knows what there may be in their long-disused attics ? Hidden away in the darkness beneath their tiles, between joists and under the eaves, it is possible that books till now unknown to us, by sight at least, may still exist. Or who has explored the lumber accumulated in many a disused cellar within a quarter of a mile of the Mansion House? The very existence of the trunks which we have mentioned proves that such things do still linger in the nooks and crannies of this great city.
1 The Courtier, by Baldassare Castiglione, was first printed at Venice in 1528, folio. This letter was written by the fearless churchman, then of Wolsey's household, on the great Cardinal's ‘last lingering journey north. There is, perhaps, a certain significance in his wish to study a volume which treats of the art of living in courts, and of becoming useful and agreeable to princes, for he was shortly to transfer his services to a royal master.
And we would not confine our surmise in this direction to London alone. We know of two ancient libraries, one in the North Countrie, the other in the West, that to our certain knowledge have never been explored by modern bibliographer. The latter is spurned and neglected, the books are deep in dust and even mildew ; the former is also neglected, but at least the house is inhabited. The owner, an old, old woman, will never permit of any volume being disturbed. It is said that her father collected the books many years ago, and that she still guards them jealously for him.
Perhaps one day a copy of the ‘Nigramansir' will emerge from its long sleep in some such house as these. Indeed, it is not so much a matter of surprise that such books should have disappeared, as that they should have remained hidden for so long. In 1909 an ancient volume was accidentally discovered in an old manorhouse in the North of England, where it had lain undisturbed for generations. It proved to consist of no less than five of Caxton's publications bound up together. Moreover, it was in the original binding, and was bound, probably, by one of Caxton's workmen, whose initials it bore. On being put up for sale at Sotheby's, it changed hands at £2,600.
The account which Gairdner gives in the Introduction to his last edition of the Paston Adventures among Books
letters, of the loss and rediscovery of those historic documents, is also a striking example of the manner in which books may lie hidden for years. For nearly a century the originals of Sir John Fenn's compilation were utterly lost. 'Even Mr. Serjeant Frere who edited the fifth volume . . . declared that he had not been able to find the originals of that volume any more than those of the others. Strange to say, however, the originals of that volume were in his house all the time. ... Gairdner then applied to the owner of Roydon Hall for the remainder of the manuscripts, but received answer that he did not see how such MSS. should have found their way to Roydon. Yet there they were discovered (with many others) eight years later ! Even then the whereabouts of the letters forming Fenn's first and second volumes, which he had presented in 1787 to King George III., was still unknown. The late Prince Consort ... caused a careful search to be made for them, but it proved quite ineffectual. No wonder, for in 1889 they came to light in a Suffolk manorhouse!
It is difficult to portray in words the sensations of the book-collector when engaged in searching some ancient building or library—especially if he be upon a 'hot scent. The thrills that he experiences as he handles some rich volume that has lain hid for years, the delicious excitement that pervades him while exploring some huge charter chest or ancient oaken press, these are feelings not to be described in words. “It was discovered in the library at such and such a place,' we read, and we barely stop to picture the scene of its finding or to imagine the sensations of its finder. The very finding at Syon by “Master Richard Sutton, Esq.,' of the manuscript containing the 'revelacions' of St. Katherin of Siena, from which de Worde printed his edition, conjures up a whole romance in itself; yet in his eulogy of the work Wynkyn dismisses the matter briefly, merely stating that it was found in a corner by itself. “We were shipwrecked,' says the mariner, relating his adventures ; and in those three words what a world of incident and sensations is comprised !
We frankly confess to having had much good luck in book collecting. Some years ago we made up our mind to start collecting Elzeviers, more with the intention of gathering a representative collection of books printed by that great family of printers than with any idea of specialising in them. Probably we were urged thereto by reading that wholly delightful book ‘The Library' by Andrew Lang, wherein the author discourses so pleasantly on these rare pygmies of the book world. “The Pastissier François,' we read, has lately fetched £600 at a sale'; and the 'Cæsar' of 1635 seemed nearly as rare, provided it were a