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of history had a fatal attraction for him. As to whether Hugo de Beauchamp of Com. Wigorn. (which was their pleasant way of saying that he lived in Worcestershire) held his manor by serjeanty of the condimentum was of small moment to him compared with the price which King Edward paid him for a couple of goshawks or a greyhound; and he wondered of what sort was the tun of wine which he had from that sovereign as a Christmas present. And so his book-buying became more and more confined, for it was restricted now to those curious and uncommon works which treat of the byways of history; such as the Accounts of the Wardrobe and Hanaper, the reports of the lords marchers of the realm, books on feudal customs and offices, and the like.
During the great war our friend busied himself with His Majesty's ordnance. Hitherto he had always associated the term with cast-iron cannon, and had vague recollections of the number of 'ordnance' carried by the Great Harry or fired from the Tower of London during Sir Thomas Wyatt's insurrection. But even when these dreams were dispelled, his thoughts still harped on mediæval equipment and harness while checking cases of boots or mess-tins; and he wondered how such things were managed before the days of railways. Released at length from this employ, his interest increased with leisure to pursue his investigations. His passion now is the method in
which the ancient campaigns of this country were conducted. He is quite an authority upon mediæval transport, by sea as well as by land, and he can tell you at once the quantities of bowstrings and quarrels “indented for' during the Poictiers campaign. Not long ago, poring over an ancient roll of parchment in the Record Office, he came across a list of the ships requisitioned for the Agincourt expedition, with their names, ports, and tonnage, inscribed on the back of one of the membranes. Great was his delight, and it will be some time before his friends will be allowed to forget this important discovery.
How valuable are these researches of our bookcollecting friends! Do they not add a zest to those delightful evenings when, with curtains drawn and blazing fire, our favourite pipe aglow, a tall glass at our elbow, we hunt our treasures o'er again in comfort, roaming the bookstalls of our fancy? It is well, however, that our humours in book-lore are not all alike, else how tedious would some of these conferences become. Elation and jealousy would be hard to banish at times when we held some coveted volume in our hands. But with divergence of tastes such feelings cannot exist, and we eagerly share our friends' enthusiasm in their treasures and their delight in some newly-found gem...
It is a very serious business, this book-collecting. Whether we are contented now to let our library
be slow of growth, or whether we are still imbued with the ardour of our early youth, we are none the less under the spell of books. Our paths may lie outside the pale of book-land for years, but the chance handling of a valuable or scarce volume will instantly awaken all our bibliophilar desires. Book-collecting is not like other pursuits. In after years we may realise that many of our hobbies are but vanities, but the love of good books is something far beyond all these ephemeral pursuits.
Doubtless few of us realised at the outset of our careers as book collectors, how completely we should be mastered by this love of books. Who did not think that it comprised but occasional visits to the book-shops and bookstalls, perhaps even to an auction-room, and the reading of nondescript catalogues ? But it is like all other hobbies ; ridden at first with too little restraint, it soon gets the upper hand, and off it goes, bit between teeth, carrying its rider ever farther and farther afield. And no man of spirit would think of seeking to curb his hobby's gallop. We have mounted of our own free will, determined to pursue the chase, and never shall it be said that we were too timid to face the difficulties of the country ahead. The greater the difficulties the greater the sport, and in our enthusiasm we are determined to overcome all obstacles. So that, though our hobby may at length become our
master, so enthralled are we in the pursuit that there is little danger of it assuming the semblance of a nightmare.
The farther we go, the wider the fields which open to our view, and there is interest for us in all of them. We roam at our pleasure over vast fields of literature, digressing here and there just as our fancy takes us. There is no danger, moreover, in being side-tracked, for such divagations in the realms of bibliography as we may make will serve but to increase our knowledge of books in the right direction. The only risk that we shall incur is that of becoming specialists, which is precisely what we should most desire.
And how delightful are these digressions in the world of books! There is no other occupation in which one may wander so innocuously. In, most of the learned professions digressions are fatal to success. Anthony Despeisses was a lawyer who used frequently to digress. Beginning one day in Court to talk of Ethiopia, an attorney who sat behind him remarked · Heavens ! He is got into Ethiopia, he will never come back.' Despeisses, we are told, was so abashed with the ridicule that he chose rather to leave off pleading than to correct himself of this unfortunate habit, and quitted the Bar for ever. Doubtless he found solace among his books, for here at least he could digress to his heart's content.
Although, from a worldly point of view, side
tracks are fatal to success, yet they are as necessary a part of our literary education as is the application to study itself. Without digressing as we applied ourselves to books, narrow indeed would be the views that we acquired. Of what value is a vast acquaintance with the material details of a war, if we are ignorant as to the causes which brought it about, or the reasons why the nations were warring? “Ah yes, perhaps you may exclaim, but politics and history are all one, for the former creates the latter. Precisely : so that in order to obtain a knowledge of the one, we must deviate to the other. Sharon Turner in his · History of England during the Middle Ages' passes abruptly from the death of King Henry the Second to the military spirit of Mohammedanism, from the Troubadours to the early dissipations of King John, and devotes two of his five volumes to the Literature of England with copious examples of early poetry. It is all history, yet how indispensable are the side-tracks.
It is a subtle art, however, this knowledge of how and when to digress, and not easy to be learnt. Gerard de St Amand died of grief in his middle age because Louis XIV. could not bear his reading of a poem on the Moon, in which he praised the King for his skill in swimming. On the other hand Madame de Staël obtained almost all the material for her literary work by a consummate skill in directing the digressions of