and robbers. The lending of books, and of other property, has been
defended by some great authorities; thus Panurge himself says, "it
would prove much more easy in nature to have fish entertained in the
air, and bullocks fed in the bottom of the ocean, than to support or
tolerate a rascally rabble of people that will not lend."
Pirckheimer, too, for whom Albert Durer designed a book-plate, was a
lender, and took for his device Sibi et Amicis; and Jo. Grolierii et
amicorum, was the motto of the renowned Grolier, whom mistaken
writers vainly but frequently report to have been a bookbinder. But
as Mr. Leicester Warren says, in his "Study of Book-plates"
(Pearson, 1880), "Christian Charles de Savigny leaves all the rest
behind, exclaiming non mihi sed aliis." But the majority of
amateurs have chosen wiser, though more churlish devices, as "the
ungodly borroweth and payeth not again," or "go to them that sell,
and buy for yourselves." David Garrick engraved on his book-plate,
beside a bust of Shakspeare, these words of Menage, "La premiere
chose qu'on doit faire, quand on a emprunte' un livre, c'est de le
lire, afin de pouvoir le rendre plutot." But the borrower is so
minded that the last thing he thinks of is to read a borrowed book,
and the penultimate subject of his reflections is its restoration.
Menage (Menagiana, Paris, 1729, vol. i. p. 265), mentions, as if it
were a notable misdeed, this of Angelo Politian's, "he borrowed a
'Lucretius' from Pomponius Laetus, and kept it for four years."
Four years! in the sight of the borrower it is but a moment. Menage
reports that a friend kept his "Pausanias" for three years, whereas
four months was long enough.
"At quarto saltem mense redire decet."
There is no satisfaction in lending a book; for it is rarely that
borrowers, while they deface your volumes, gather honey for new
stores, as De Quincey did, and Coleridge, and even Dr. Johnson, who
"greased and dogs-eared such volumes as were confided to his tender
mercies, with the same indifference wherewith he singed his own
wigs." But there is a race of mortals more annoying to a
conscientious man than borrowers. These are the spontaneous
lenders, who insist that you shall borrow their tomes. For my own
part, when I am oppressed with the charity of such, I lock their
books up in a drawer, and behold them not again till the day of
their return. There is no security against borrowers, unless a man
like Guibert de Pixerecourt steadfastly refuses to lend. The device
of Pixerecourt was un livre est un ami qui ne change jamais. But he
knew that our books change when they have been borrowed, like our
friends when they have been married; when "a lady borrows them," as
the fairy queen says in the ballad of "Tamlane."
"But had I kenn'd, Tamlane," she says,
"A lady wad borrowed thee,
I wad ta'en out thy twa gray een,
Put in twa een o' tree!