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The conceited ghoul writes his notes across our fair white margins,

in pencil, or in more baneful ink.  Or he spills his ink bottle at

large over the pages, as Andre Chenier's friend served his copy of

Malherbe.  It is scarcely necessary to warn the amateur against the

society of book-ghouls, who are generally snuffy and foul in

appearance, and by no means so insinuating as that fair lady-ghoul,

Amina, of the Arabian Nights.

Another enemy of books must be mentioned with the delicacy that

befits the topic.  Almost all women are the inveterate foes, not of

novels, of course, nor peerages and popular volumes of history, but

of books worthy of the name.  It is true that Isabelle d'Este, and

Madame de Pompadour, and Madame de Maintenon, were collectors; and,

doubtless, there are other brilliant exceptions to a general rule.

But, broadly speaking, women detest the books which the collector

desires and admires.  First, they don't understand them; second,

they are jealous of their mysterious charms; third, books cost

money; and it really is a hard thing for a lady to see money

expended on what seems a dingy old binding, or yellow paper scored

with crabbed characters.  Thus ladies wage a skirmishing war against

booksellers' catalogues, and history speaks of husbands who have had

to practise the guile of smugglers when they conveyed a new purchase

across their own frontier.  Thus many married men are reduced to

collecting Elzevirs, which go readily into the pocket, for you

cannot smuggle a folio volume easily.  This inveterate dislike of

books often produces a very deplorable result when an old collector

dies.  His "womankind," as the Antiquary called them, sell all his

treasures for the price of waste-paper, to the nearest country

bookseller.  It is a melancholy duty which forces one to introduce

such topics into a volume on "Art at Home."  But this little work

will not have been written in vain if it persuades ladies who

inherit books not to sell them hastily, without taking good and

disinterested opinion as to their value.  They often dispose of

treasures worth thousands, for a ten pound note, and take pride in

the bargain.  Here, let history mention with due honour the paragon

of her sex and the pattern to all wives of book-collecting men--

Madame Fertiault.  It is thus that she addresses her lord in a

charming triolet ("Les Amoureux du Livre," p. xxxv):-

"Le livre a ton esprit . . . tant mieux!

Moi, j'ai ton coeur, et sans partage.

Puis-je desirer davantage?

Le livre a ton esprit . . . tant mieux!

Heureuse de te voir joyeux,

Je t'en voudrais . . . tout un etage.

Le livre a ton esprit . . . tant mieux!

Moi, j'ai ton coeur, et sans partage."

Books rule thy mind, so let it be!

Thy heart is mine, and mine alone.

What more can I require of thee?

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