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Thackeray's miscellaneous writings, in yellow paper wrappers (when

they are first editions), have become objects of desire, and their

old modest price is increased twenty fold.  It is not always easy to

account for these freaks of fashion; but even in book-collecting

there are certain definite laws.  "Why do you pay a large price for

a dingy, old book," outsiders ask, "when a clean modern reprint can

be procured for two or three shillings?"  To this question the

collector has several replies, which he, at least, finds

satisfactory.  In the first place, early editions, published during

a great author's lifetime, and under his supervision, have authentic

texts.  The changes in them are the changes that Prior or La Bruyere

themselves made and approved.  You can study, in these old editions,

the alterations in their taste, the history of their minds.  The

case is the same even with contemporary authors.  One likes to have

Mr. Tennyson's "Poems, chiefly Lyrical" (London:  Effingham Wilson,

Royal Exchange, Cornhill, 1830).  It is fifty years old, this little

book of one hundred and fifty-four pages, this first fruit of a

stately tree.  In half a century the poet has altered much, and

withdrawn much, but already, in 1830, he had found his distinctive

note, and his "Mariana" is a masterpiece.  "Mariana" is in all the

collections, but pieces of which the execution is less certain must

be sought only in the old volume of 1830.  In the same way "The

Strayed Reveller, and other poems, by A."  (London:  B. Fellowes,

Ludgate Street, 1849) contains much that Mr. Matthew Arnold has

altered, and this volume, like the suppressed "Empedocles on Etna,

and other Poems, by A." (1852), appeals more to the collector than

do the new editions which all the world may possess.  There are

verses, curious in their way, in Mr. Clough's "Ambarvalia" (1849),

which you will not find in his posthumous edition, but which "repay

perusal."  These minutiae of literary history become infinitely more

important in the early editions of the great classical writers, and

the book-collector may regard his taste as a kind of handmaid of

critical science.  The preservation of rare books, and the

collection of materials for criticism, are the useful functions,

then, of book-collecting.  But it is not to be denied that the

sentimental side of the pursuit gives it most of its charm.  Old

books are often literary relics, and as dear and sacred to the lover

of literature as are relics of another sort to the religious

devotee.  The amateur likes to see the book in its form as the

author knew it.  He takes a pious pleasure in the first edition of

"Les Precieuses Ridicules," (M.DC.LX.) just as Moliere saw it, when

he was fresh in the business of authorship, and wrote "Mon Dieu,

qu'un Autheur est neuf, la premiere fois qu'on l'imprime."  All

editions published during a great man's life have this attraction,

and seem to bring us closer to his spirit.  Other volumes are

relics, as we shall see later, of some famed collector, and there is

a certain piety in the care we give to books once dear to

Longepierre, or Harley, or d'Hoym, or Buckle, to Madame de

Maintenon, or Walpole, to Grolier, or Askew, or De Thou, or Heber.

Such copies should be handed down from worthy owners to owners not

unworthy; such servants of literature should never have careless

masters.  A man may prefer to read for pleasure in a good clear

reprint.  M. Charpentier's "Montaigne" serves the turn, but it is

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