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For SEPTEMBER 1810..
ART.I. Anecdotes of Literature, and Scarce Books, by the Reverend William Beloe, Translator of Herodotus. Vol. III. and Vol. IV. Svo. 19s. 6d. Boards. Rivingtons.
A BIBLIOGRAPHER holds the same rank among Scholars which a reader of the Racing Calendar holds amongSportsmen. The former can tell the names of authors and their several editors; the latter can call over the names of horses and their different proprietors :-but neither does the one attain to any knowlege of the real value of those authors, without a new and entirely superior application of his intellectual powers; nor does the other become knowing on the turf, without a practical experience and observation of the speed and bottom of the racing favourites,or, at all events, without a thorough insight into the Cabalistic mysteries of the betting post and the rooms at Newmarket. The Bibliographer, then, may be considered as classing among the inferior retainers of literature; and it assuredly does not augur well for the cultivation of the Belles Lettres, when the petty and insignificant. knowlege of title-pages (which is dignified enough for booksellers, and other pioneers of learning,) is exalted to the highest honours in the scale of classical distinction. Let us not be misunderstood as attempting to deny the necessity of a competent knowlege of the best editions of the classics :-but when we see and hear so extravagant a value attached to the humble art of bibliography; when the discussion of dates and places at which editions were published forms so large a part of the study and conversation of scholars; when anecdotes of printers and publishers and purchasers supersede any illustration of the beauties of the historians, orators, philosophers, and poets of antiquity; when the fullest notice of the former is considered as interesting and as a fit subject for the table-talk of the learned, and the slightest mention of the latter is discountenanced as pedantic, collegiate, and scholastic, or is loaded with some other term of ridicule; when such is our daily remark, and such our daily suffering, shall we not be B
excused for endeavouring to apportion his just reward to the bibliographer; to shew how naked he is when stripped of his dictionary and his catalogue; and, allowing him the full renown of an intimate acquaintance with his Aldus and his Elzevir, to contend that on some occasions, " il ne possède pas trop son Homère et son Virgile ?"-This fancy is grown to a ridiculous excess, and requires to be checked. It is painful also to witness the absurd value which is attached to a book for its elegant printing, its fine condition, its superb binding, or its scarcity, rather than for its intrinsic merit; and we must either laugh or be indignant when we see, as in an instance in one of the volumes before us, (vol. iii. p. 186.) that a copy of a parti'cular rare book was of unrivalled value because the edges of its leaves had never been cut by the binder! If the leaves themselves had never been opened, how much greater would be its value;-if they never could be opened, how far above all price!
What are the merits and the defects of Mr. Beloe, as a Bibliographer, or as a writer in other departments, we are not now for the first time to proclaim to our readers. His former publications have been duly introduced to them; and of the first and second portions of the present Anecdotes, we furnished them with an account in our 54th Vol. N.S. p. 171. We shall begin our survey of his third volume by citing his opinions of preceding labourers in the same field of literature.
Of Audiffredi he remarks, with great justice, that in point of accuracy, perspicuity, and he may say of elegance, he thinks this author intitled to pre-eminent distinction, with respect to the subjects which his two volumes comprehend.' Of Maittaire he affirms, and with equal truth, that no writer on bibliography can proceed with security or confidence without his aid. Indeed it may be asserted of Maittaire, that he laid the foundation of this branch of knowlege. For a farther account. of this able writer, we must refer our readers to the first volume of Ames. Mr. Beloe's notices are very scanty: but we do not blame him for this brevity, since he intends nothing but a cursory survey of his principal authorities, in his preface. In my acquaintance with Panzer,' he adds, I found, as I became more familiar with him, frequent inaccuracies: but his book is a most useful and valuable work; and when the labour and extent of it are taken into consideration, perhaps it may rather excite wonder that his errors and imperfections are so few.'
Laire's Index forms two curious and interesting volumes; but the references are not always easily to be traced. Clement, as far as his work is published, is very satisfactory. Renouard, in his description of the productions of the Aldine press, is without a rival. It should have been added, in a general al
lusion to Renouard's character, that he combined in a very singular degree the scholar and the printer. Of Panzer, too, it should have been said that, allowing his excellencies, still a reference to his work is rendered perplexing and difficult by the multiplicity of his indices. Too much value is attached by Mr. Beloe to Boni's improved edition of Harwood; that is, to Boni as the improver; and we are sorry to add that, in our opinion, greatly too much honour is rendered to Mr. Dibdin. That his third edition has a certain value, we are perfectly` willing to allow; it has indeed improved the art of biblio graphy but the patrons of the work were too much inte rested in the manner of its éxecution.
Meerman's Origines Typographicæ, though his hypothesis may not be acceded to, contains much curious information. De Bure is in every one's hands; but since his time, more satisfactory knowledge on the subject of rare books has been obtained. His work, nevertheless, comprehends much important matter, and should necessarily form a part of every bibliographical collection.'
So far, so good, respecting the names and characters of those writers, who should be studied by the amateur in this daily improving science, if it must be so called. Mr. Beloe has given, and promises to give, fuller information on the subject: but this will suffice for the present. He has furnished us also with a select list of catalogues; of which we shall only observe that, since his book may be considered as introductory to the studies which he recommends, rather than as recondite, he should omit nothing which can assist the beginner. Now, although every bibliographer is well aware that, under the title of Periergus Deltophilus, is hidden the real name of the Count Reviczky, still the uninitiated reader should be informed (which he is not told by Mr. Beloe) that the catalogue so ntitled describes what was formerly the Polish Ambassador's library, and what now forms the basis of the superb collection of Lord Spencer. This latter fact Mr. B. indeed mentions. On that collection, and on some others, we shall also add a few remarks. Mr. Beloe certainly ought to have given some general account of a similar nature; for we must maintain our opinion that his book is merely elementary, and should be dedicated In usum Bibliographica Juventutis.
Among the principal libraries in this country, the most generally perfect is that of Lord Spencer. It is rich in Edi tiones Principes, and unique books of various descriptions: it has many Aldusses on vellum; and nothing is admitted which has passed through the hands of the French artists; or, in other words, which has been washed. That so magnificent a collec tion should not lose in the grandeur of its effect, by being divided B 2 between
between Althorpe and St. James's, will be the opinion of the admirer of backs and bindings: but the scholar will be pleased to find a nobleman consulting utility rather than ostentation.Mr. Dent's library should be mentioned as rich in large-papercopies of the Greek and Latin classics. He was the purchaser of Mr. R. Heathcote's collection. It betrays, however, a strange exclusion of Italian and other modern literature. The Bishop of Ely's collection is very select, and famous for early printed classics. --Dr. C. Burney has perhaps one of the best private classical libraries in England.-As a public library, singularly excellent for a peculiar class of books, viz. on the subject of divinity, we must not omit to mention that of St. John's College, Cambridge.-Colonel Stanley has a most valuable store of topography. Mr. Bindley abounds in black-letter Mr. T. Grenville has great classical treasures; and among other modern rarities, a large-paper copy of Tyrwhitt's Aristotle's Poetics, of which only thirty copies were printed. One of them has lately been presented by the University of Oxford to their new Chancellor. Lord Selsea is the proprietor of one of the best dilettanti libraries in the country. - Mr. Heber, we understand, possesses a very universal collection of valuable books; and we are confident, since we hear it in all quarters, that he deserves the praise bestowed on him by his poetical friend, of the most liberal communication of his possessions.
These are a few of the chief private libraries in the kingdom; and we should have been pleased to have transcribed the account from Mr. Beloe, rather than to have been compelled thus briefly to supply it ourselves.
Mr. B. commences his third volume with a biblical catalogue; which, although sufficiently prolix, we cannot consider as perfect. In the list of the Complutensian Polyglotts, he has omitted that which exists in Eton College library; and in his notice of the Alexandrian MS., he gives no account whatever of the book, says nothing of the supplement, and indeed in this as in too many other instances supplies the reader with no more information than a bookseller's catalogue would amply furnish. The copy of this MS., which he names as that of Mr. Cracherode, should be mentioned as now belonging to the British Museum. Of anecdotes or remarks, curious or useful, we have so plentiful a scarcity throughout these volumes, in all departments of bibliography, that in the biblical portion perhaps we had no reason to expect to be told (as we are not told by Mr. B.) that Mr. Edwards, in his extensive and valuable collection, among many other curiosities, is in possession of Luther's Bible, with Luther's autograph in it, that of Me
lancthon, and those of several other Reformers. We understand that it does not contain the disputed and now generally rejected verse, 1 John, v. 7.
Mr. B. says nothing of the great demand for curious editions of the Bible and the Testament, which is so remarkable at present among the collectors; and we ought to have heard more about the Vulgate, and the strange wood-cuts which distinguish some editions of that translation, of which the Complutensian editors speak so extravagantly, not to say ridiculously:"Mediam Latinam beati Hieronymi Translationem, velut inter Synagogam et orientalem Ecclesiam posuimus, tanquam duos hinc inde latrones, medium autem Iesum, h. e. Romanam sive Latinam Ecclesiam collocantes." Of the famous Polish Bible, (which Mr. B. supposes to have been translated from the Vulgate, because the 7th verse of 1 John v. occurs in it, as he is informed,) we have an interesting account, from which we shall select a part:
Biblia Polonica a Pinczonianis edita et a Socinianis publicata, ex Hebraicis et Græcis Fontibus, cura et sumpt. Nicolai Radzivilii Palatini Vilnensis cum ejus epistola nuncupata Sigismundo Augusto Polonica Regi. "Impressa Brestiæ Urbis in Lithuania, anno domini, 1563. ·
De Bure represents this as one of the scarcest books in the world, and adds, that the expence of printing it, which was defrayed by Prince Radzivil, Palatine of Volna, amounted to ten thousand golden crowns. It was entirely superintended by the leaders of the Socinians, among whom was the celebrated Michael Servetus. De Bure observes that only two copies were known, one in the Imperial Library at Vienna, and the other in the Royal Library of Paris. Earl Spencer has however a beautiful copy, for which I have heard he gave one hundred pounds. The Bishop of Rochester's wants, I believe, a leaf. The title is in the Polish language, which De Bure was not able to translate, as the copy at Paris had no title, and several leaves at the beginning were torn out.
Between the Old and New Testament, there are several preliminary dissertations in the Polish language.
For further particulars concerning this great literary curiosity, see Clement Bibliotheque Curieuse de Livres rares. Vol. IV. p.190. Sixteen pages in the theological department, which follows the biblical, are wasted on W. Tindal; with, we regret to say, quotations, too obviously book-making, from his works. Indeed the whole of this division is too full for a catalogue, though too scanty for a satisfactory account of the authors mentioned. It is something in appearance between bibliography and literary biography, but in fact neither: —in a word, it is a sort of non-descript bibliographical melodram.
At page 78. Mr. B. gives an account of a version of the New Testament into Latin Hexameters by John Bridges,