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Books rule thy mind, so let it be!

Contented when thy bliss I see,

I wish a world of books thine own.

Books rule thy mind, so let it be!

Thy heart is mine, and mine alone.

There is one method of preserving books, which, alas, only tempts

the borrower, the stealer, the rat, and the book-worm; but which is

absolutely necessary as a defence against dust and neglect.  This is

binding.  The bookbinder's art too often destroys books when the

artist is careless, but it is the only mode of preventing our

volumes from falling to pieces, and from being some day disregarded

as waste-paper.  A well-bound book, especially a book from a famous

collection, has its price, even if its literary contents be of

trifling value.  A leather coat fashioned by Derome, or Le Gascon,

or Duseuil, will win respect and careful handling for one specimen

of an edition whereof all the others have perished.  Nothing is so

slatternly as the aspect of a book merely stitched, in the French

fashion, when the threads begin to stretch, and the paper covers to

curl and be torn.  Worse consequences follow, whole sheets are lost,

the volume becomes worthless, and the owner must often be at the

expense of purchasing another copy, if he can, for the edition may

now be out of print.  Thus binding of some sort not only adds a

grace to the library, presenting to the eye the cheerful gilded rows

of our volumes, but is a positive economy.  In the case of our

cloth-covered English works, the need of binding is not so

immediately obvious.  But our publishers have a taste for clothing

their editions in tender tones of colour, stamped, often, with

landscapes printed in gold, in white, or what not.  Covers like

this, may or may not please the eye while they are new and clean,

but they soon become dirty and hideous.  When a book is covered in

cloth of a good dark tint it may be allowed to remain unbound, but

the primrose and lilac hues soon call out for the aid of the binder.

Much has been written of late about book-binding.  In a later part

of this manual we shall have something to say about historical

examples of the art, and the performances of the great masters.  At

present one must begin by giving the practical rule, that a book

should be bound in harmony with its character and its value.  The

bibliophile, if he could give the rein to his passions, would bind

every book he cares to possess in a full coat of morocco, or (if it

did not age so fast) of Russia leather.  But to do this is beyond

the power of most of us.  Only works of great rarity or value should

be full bound in morocco.  If we have the luck to light on a

Shakespeare quarto, on some masterpiece of Aldus Manutius, by all

means let us entrust it to the most competent binder, and instruct

him to do justice to the volume.  Let old English books, as More's

"Utopia," have a cover of stamped and blazoned calf.  Let the binder

clothe an early Rabelais or Marot in the style favoured by Grolier,

in leather tooled with geometrical patterns.  Let a Moliere or

Corneille be bound in the graceful contemporary style of Le Gascon,

where the lace-like pattern of the gilding resembles the Venetian

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