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This apology must be followed by a brief defence of the taste and

passion of book-collecting, and of the class of men known

invidiously as book-worms and book-hunters.  They and their simple

pleasures are the butts of a cheap and shrewish set of critics, who

cannot endure in others a taste which is absent in themselves.

Important new books have actually been condemned of late years

because they were printed on good paper, and a valuable historical

treatise was attacked by reviewers quite angrily because its outward

array was not mean and forbidding.  Of course, critics who take this

view of new books have no patience with persons who care for

"margins," and "condition," and early copies of old books.  We

cannot hope to convert the adversary, but it is not necessary to be

disturbed by his clamour.  People are happier for the possession of

a taste as long as they possess it, and it does not, like the demons

of Scripture, possess them.  The wise collector gets instruction and

pleasure from his pursuit, and it may well be that, in the long run,

he and his family do not lose money.  The amusement may chance to

prove a very fair investment.

As to this question of making money by collecting, Mr. Hill Burton

speaks very distinctly in "The Book-hunter:" "Where money is the

object let a man speculate or become a miser. . . Let not the

collector ever, unless in some urgent and necessary circumstances,

part with any of his treasures.  Let him not even have recourse to

that practice called barter, which political philosophers tell us is

the universal resource of mankind preparatory to the invention of

money.  Let him confine all his transactions in the market to

purchasing only.  No good comes of gentlemen-amateurs buying and

selling."  There is room for difference of opinion here, but there

seems to be most reason on the side of Mr. Hill Burton.  It is one

thing for the collector to be able to reflect that the money he

expends on books is not lost, and that his family may find

themselves richer, not poorer, because he indulged his taste.  It is

quite another thing to buy books as a speculator buys shares,

meaning to sell again at a profit as soon as occasion offers.  It is

necessary also to warn the beginner against indulging extravagant

hopes.  He must buy experience with his books, and many of his first

purchases are likely to disappoint him.  He will pay dearly for the

wrong "Caesar" of 1635, the one WITHOUT errors in pagination; and

this is only a common example of the beginner's blunders.

Collecting is like other forms of sport; the aim is not certain at

first, the amateur is nervous, and, as in angling, is apt to

"strike" (a bargain) too hurriedly.

I often think that the pleasure of collecting is like that of sport.

People talk of "book-hunting," and the old Latin motto says that

"one never wearies of the chase in this forest."  But the analogy to

angling seems even stronger.  A collector walks in the London or

Paris streets, as he does by Tweed or Spey.  Many a lordly mart of

books he passes, like Mr. Quaritch's, Mr. Toovey's, or M.

Fontaine's, or the shining store of M.M. Morgand et Fatout, in the

Passage des Panoramas.  Here I always feel like Brassicanus in the

king of Hungary's collection, "non in Bibliotheca, sed in gremio

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