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age that has left any literary remains, has bequeathed to us relics

which are cherished by collectors.  We may leave the clay books of

the Chaldeans out of the account.  These tomes resemble nothing so

much as sticks of chocolate, and, however useful they may be to the

student, the clay MSS. of Assurbanipal are not coveted by the

collector.  He finds his earliest objects of desire in illuminated

manuscripts.  The art of decorating manuscripts is as old as Egypt;

but we need not linger over the beautiful papyri, which are silent

books to all but a few Egyptologists.  Greece, out of all her tomes,

has left us but a few ill-written papyri.  Roman and early Byzantine

art are represented by a "Virgil," and fragments of an "Iliad"; the

drawings in the latter have been reproduced in a splendid volume

(Milan 1819), and shew Greek art passing into barbarism.  The

illumination of MSS. was a favourite art in the later empire, and is

said to have been practised by Boethius.  The iconoclasts of the

Eastern empire destroyed the books which contained representations

of saints and of the persons of the Trinity, and the monk Lazarus, a

famous artist, was cruelly tortured for his skill in illuminating

sacred works.  The art was decaying in Western Europe when

Charlemagne sought for painters of MSS. in England and Ireland,

where the monks, in their monasteries, had developed a style with

original qualities.  The library of Corpus Christi at Cambridge,

contains some of the earliest and most beautiful of extant English

MSS.  These parchments, stained purple or violet, and inscribed with

characters of gold; are too often beyond the reach of the amateur

for whom we write.  The MSS. which he can hope to acquire are

neither very early nor very sumptuous, and, as a rule, MSS. of

secular books are apt to be out of his reach.

Yet a collection of MSS. has this great advantage over a collection

of printed books, that every item in it is absolutely unique, no two

MSS. being ever really the same.  This circumstance alone would

entitle a good collection of MSS. to very high consideration on the

part of book-collectors.  But, in addition to the great expense of

such a collection, there is another and even more serious drawback.

It is sometimes impossible, and is often extremely difficult, to

tell whether a MS. is perfect or not.

This difficulty can only be got over by an amount of learning on the

part of the collector to which, unfortunately, he is too often a

stranger.  On the other hand, the advantages of collecting MSS. are

sometimes very great.

In addition to the pleasure--a pleasure at once literary and

artistic--which the study of illuminated MSS. affords, there is the

certainty that, as years go on, the value of such a collection

increases in a proportion altogether marvellous.

I will take two examples to prove this point.  Some years ago an

eminent collector gave the price of 30 pounds for a small French

book of Hours, painted in grisaille.  It was in a country town that

he met with this treasure, for a treasure he considered the book, in

spite of its being of the very latest school of illumination.  When

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