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preciousness.  These books are esteemed for curiosity, for beauty of

type, paper, binding, and illustrations, for some connection they

may have with famous people of the past, or for their rarity.  It is

about these books, the method of preserving them, their enemies, the

places in which to hunt for them, that the following pages are to

treat.  It is a subject more closely connected with the taste for

curiosities than with art, strictly so called.  We are to be

occupied, not so much with literature as with books, not so much

with criticism as with bibliography, the quaint duenna of

literature, a study apparently dry, but not without its humours.

And here an apology must be made for the frequent allusions and

anecdotes derived from French writers.  These are as unavoidable,

almost, as the use of French terms of the sport in tennis and in

fencing.  In bibliography, in the care for books AS books, the

French are still the teachers of Europe, as they were in tennis and

are in fencing.  Thus, Richard de Bury, Chancellor of Edward III.,

writes in his "Philobiblon:" "Oh God of Gods in Zion! what a rushing

river of joy gladdens my heart as often as I have a chance of going

to Paris!  There the days seem always short; there are the goodly

collections on the delicate fragrant book-shelves."  Since Dante

wrote of -

"L'onor di quell' arte

Ch' allumare e chiamata in Parisi,"

"the art that is called illuminating in Paris," and all the other

arts of writing, printing, binding books, have been most skilfully

practised by France.  She improved on the lessons given by Germany

and Italy in these crafts.  Twenty books about books are written in

Paris for one that is published in England.  In our country Dibdin

is out of date (the second edition of his "Bibliomania" was

published in 1811), and Mr. Hill Burton's humorous "Book-hunter" is

out of print.  Meanwhile, in France, writers grave and gay, from the

gigantic industry of Brunet to Nodier's quaint fancy, and Janin's

wit, and the always entertaining bibliophile Jacob (Paul Lacroix),

have written, or are writing, on books, manuscripts, engravings,

editions, and bindings.  In England, therefore, rare French books

are eagerly sought, and may be found in all the booksellers'

catalogues.  On the continent there is no such care for our curious

or beautiful editions, old or new.  Here a hint may be given to the

collector.  If he "picks up" a rare French book, at a low price, he

would act prudently in having it bound in France by a good

craftsman.  Its value, when "the wicked day of destiny" comes, and

the collection is broken up, will thus be made secure.  For the

French do not suffer our English bindings gladly; while we have no

narrow prejudice against the works of Lortic and Cape, but the

reverse.  For these reasons then, and also because every writer is

obliged to make the closest acquaintance with books in the direction

where his own studies lie, the writings of French authorities are

frequently cited in the following pages.

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