X hits on this document





22 / 70

robberies escaped notice at the time.  It is not long since Lord

Ashburnham, according to a French journal, "Le Livre," found in his

collection some fragments of a Pentateuch.  These relics had been in

the possession of the Lyons Library, whence Libri stole them in

1847.  The late Lord Ashburnham bought them, without the faintest

idea of Libri's dishonesty; and when, after eleven years, the

present peer discovered the proper owners of his treasure, he

immediately restored the Pentateuch to the Lyons Library.

Many eminent characters have been biblioklepts.  When Innocent X.

was still Monsignor Pamphilio, he stole a book--so says Tallemant

des Reaux--from Du Monstier, the painter.  The amusing thing is that

Du Monstier himself was a book-thief.  He used to tell how he had

lifted a book, of which he had long been in search, from a stall on

the Pont-Neuf; "but," says Tallemant (whom Janin does not seem to

have consulted), "there are many people who don't think it thieving

to steal a book unless you sell it afterwards."  But Du Monstier

took a less liberal view where his own books were concerned.  The

Cardinal Barberini came to Paris as legate, and brought in his suite

Monsignor Pamphilio, who afterwards became Innocent X.  The Cardinal

paid a visit to Du Monstier in his studio, where Monsignor Pamphilio

spied, on a table, "L'Histoire du Concile de Trent"--the good

edition, the London one.  "What a pity," thought the young

ecclesiastic, "that such a man should be, by some accident, the

possessor of so valuable a book."  With these sentiments Monsignor

Pamphilio slipped the work under his soutane.  But little Du

Monstier observed him, and said furiously to the Cardinal, that a

holy man should not bring thieves and robbers in his company.  With

these words, and with others of a violent and libellous character,

he recovered the "History of the Council of Trent," and kicked out

the future Pope.  Amelot de la Houssaie traces to this incident the

hatred borne by Innocent X. to the Crown and the people of France.

Another Pope, while only a cardinal, stole a book from Menage--so M.

Janin reports--but we have not been able to discover Menage's own

account of the larceny.  The anecdotist is not so truthful that

cardinals need flush a deeper scarlet, like the roses in Bion's

"Lament for Adonis," on account of a scandal resting on the

authority of Menage.  Among Royal persons, Catherine de Medici,

according to Brantome, was a biblioklept.  "The Marshal Strozzi had

a very fine library, and after his death the Queen-Mother seized it,

promising some day to pay the value to his son, who never got a

farthing of the money."  The Ptolemies, too, were thieves on a large

scale.  A department of the Alexandrian Library was called "The

Books from the Ships," and was filled with rare volumes stolen from

passengers in vessels that touched at the port.  True, the owners

were given copies of their ancient MSS., but the exchange, as

Aristotle says, was an "involuntary" one, and not distinct from


The great pattern of biblioklepts, a man who carried his passion to

the most regrettable excesses, was a Spanish priest, Don Vincente,

of the convent of Pobla, in Aragon.  When the Spanish revolution

despoiled the convent libraries, Don Vincente established himself at

Document info
Document views119
Page views119
Page last viewedThu Oct 27 17:03:50 UTC 2016