Page images
PDF
EPUB

ian texts were cited centuries afterwards by the or four true book-lovers stand out amid the crowd writers who described the most ancient voyages in of dilettanti. St. Pamphilus was a student at the the Atlantic. When the unhappy Perseus was de- legal University of Beyrout before he was received prived of the kingdom of Macedonia, the royal li into the Church : he devoted himself afterwards to brary was chosen by Aemilius Paullus as the gener the school of sacred learning which he established al's share of the plunder. Asinius Pollio furnished at Caesarea in Palestine. Here he gathered toa great reading-room with the literary treasures of gether about 30,000 volumes, almost all consisting Dalmatia. A public library was established by of the works of the Fathers. His personal labour Julius Caesar on the Aventine, and two were set was given to the works of Origen, in whose mystiup by Augustus within the precinct of the palace of cal doctrine he had become a proficient at Alexanthe Caesars; and Octavia built another near the dria. The martyrdom of Pamphilus prevented the Tiber in memory of the young Marcellus. The completion of his own elaborate commentaries. gloomy Domitian restored the library at the Cap- He left the library to the Church of Caesarea, under itol, which had been struck and fired by lightning. the superintendence of his friend Eusebius.

St. Trajan ransacked the wealth of the world for his Jerome paid a visit to the collection while he was collection in the 'Ulpiana,' which in accordance still enrolled on the list of bibliophiles. He had with a later fashion, became one of the principal bought the best books to be found at Treves and attractions of the Thermae of Diocletian.

Aquileia; he had seen the wealth of Rome, and was The splendours of the private library began in on his way to the oriental splendour of Constantithe days of Lucullus. Enriched with the treasure nople: it is from him that we first hear of the gold of King Mithridates and all the books of Pontus, and silver inks and the Tyrian purple of the vellum. he housed his collection in such stately galleries, He declared that he had never seen anything to thronged with a multitude of philosophers and poets, compare with the library of Pamphilus; and when that it seemed as if there were a new home for the he was given twenty-five volumes of Origen in the Muses, and a fresh sanctuary for Hellas. Seneca, martyr's delicate writing, he vowed that he felt a philosopher and a millionaire himself, inveighed richer than if he had found the wealth of Croesus. against such useless pomp. He used to rejoice at The Emperor Julian was a pupil of Eusebius, and the blow that fell on the arrogant magnificence of became reader for a time in the Church at Caesarea. Alexandria. 'Our idle book-hunters,' he said, He was passionately fond of books, and possessed ‘know about nothing but titles and bindings: their libraries at Antioch and Constantinople, as well as chests of cedar and ivory, and the book-cases that in his beloved 'Lutetia' on the island in the Seine. fill the bath-room, are nothing but fashionable fur A sentence from one of his letters was carved over niture, and have nothing to do with learning the door of his library at Antioch: Some love Lucian was quite as severe on the book-hunters of horses, or hawks and hounds, but I from my boythe age of the Antonines.

The bibliophile goes hood have pined with a desire for books.' book in hand, like the statue of Bellerophon with It is said that another of his libraries was burned the letter, but he only cares for the choice vellum by his successor Jovian in a parody of Alexander's and bosses of gold. I cannot conceive,' said Lu Feast. It is true, at any rate, that the book-butcher cian, 'what you expect to get out of your books; set fire to the books at Antioch as part of his yet you are always poring over them, and binding revenge against the Apostate. One is tempted to and tying them, and rubbing them with saffron and dwell on the story of these massacres.

In many a oil of cedar, as if they could make you eloquent, war, as an ancient bibliophile complained, have when by nature you are as dumb as a fish. He books been dispersed abroad, dismembered, compares the industrious dunce to an ass at a stabbed, and mutilated :' 'they were buried in the music-book, or to a monkey that remains a monkey earth or drowned in the sea, and slain by all kinds still for all the gold on its jacket. 'If books,' he of slaughter. How much of their blood the waradds, have made you what you are, I am sure that like Scipio shed: how many on the banishment of you ought of all things to avoid them.'

Boethius were scattered like sheep without a shepAfter the building of Constantinople a home for herd! Perhaps the subject should be isolated in literature was found in the eastern cities; and, as a separate volume, where the rude Omar, and Jovthe boundaries of the empire were broken down by ian, and the despoilers of the monasteries, might be the Saracen advance, learning gradually retired to pilloried. Seneca would be indicted for his insult to the colleges and basilicas of the capital, and to the Cleopatra's books: Sir Thomas Browne might be Greek monasteries of stony Athos, and Patmos, and in danger for his saying that ‘he could with patience the 'green Erebinthus. Among the Romans of the behold the urn and ashes of the Vatican, could East we cannot discern many learned men, but we he with a few others recover the perished leaves of know that there was a multitude ready to assist in Solomon.' He might escape by virtue of his savthe preservation of learning. The figures of three ing clause, and some excuse would naturally be

found for Seneca ; but the rest might be treated like collected again by their zeal in the square hall near those Genoese criminals who were commemorated the Public Treasury. on marble tablets as 'the worst of mankind.'

The boundaries of the realm of learning extended For several generations after the establishment far beyond the limits of the Empire, and the Araof the Eastern Empire, Constantinople was the lit bian science was equally famous among the Moors erary capital of the world and the main repository of Spain and the further parts of Asia. We are told of the arts and sciences. Mr. Middleton has lately of a doctor refusing the invitation of the Sultan of shown us in his work upon Illuminated Manu Bokhara, “because the carriage of his books would scripts that Persia and Egypt, as well as the West have required four hundred camels." We know that ern Countries, “contributed elements both of design the Ommiad dynasty formed the gigantic library of and techinical skill which combined to create the Cordova, and that there were at least seventy others new school of Byzantine art." Constantinople, he in the colleges that were scattered through the kingtells us, became for several centuries the main dom of Granada. The prospect was very dark in centre for the production of manuscripts. Outside other parts of Western Europe throughout the the domain of art we find little among the Romans whole period of barbarian settlement. We shall not of the East that can in any sense be called original. endeavor to trace the slight influences that preThey were excellent at epitome or a lexicon, and served some knowledge of religious books at the were very successful as librarians. The treasures of Court of the Merovingian kings, or among the Visiantiquity, as Gibbon has said, were imparted in such goths and Ostrogoths and Burgundians. We preextracts and abridgments "as might amuse the curi fer to pause at a moment preceding the final onosity without oppressing the indolence of the pub- slaught. The letters of Sidonius afford us a few lic.” The Patriarch Photius stands out as a literary glimpses of the literary condition of Southern Gaul hero among the critics and commentators of the soon after the invasion of Attila. The Bishop of ninth century. That famous book-collector, in Clermont gives us a delightful picture of his house: analyzing the contents of his library for an absent a verandah leads from the atrium to the garden by brother, became the preserver of many of the most the lake: we pass through a winter-parlor, a mornvaluable classics. As Commander of the Guard he ing-room, and a north-parlor protected from the led the life of a peaceful student: as Patriarch of heat. Every detail seems to be complete; and yet Byzantium his turbulence rent the fabric of Chris we hear nothing of a library. The explanation tendom, and he was “alternately excommunicated seems to be that the Bishop was a close imitator of and absolved by the synods of the East and West.” Pliny. The villa in Auvergne is a copy of the winter We owe the publication of the work called “The refuge at Laurentum, where Pliny only kept “a few Myriad of Books” to the circumstance that he was cases contrived in the wall for the books that cannot appointed to an embassy at Bagdad. His brother be read too often." But when the Bishop writes wrote to remind him of their pleasant evenings in about his friends' houses we find many allusions to the library when they explored the writings of the their libraries. Consentius sits in a large book-room ancients and made an analysis of their contents. when he is composing his verses or "culling the Photius was about to embark on a dangerous jour- flowers of his music.” When he visited the Prefect ney, and he was implored to leave a record of what of Gaul Sidonius declared that he was whirled along had been done since his brother had last taken part in a stream of delights. There were all kinds of in the readings. The answer of Photius was the out-door amusements and a library filled with book already mentioned: he reviews nearly three books. "You would fancy yourself among a Prohundred volumes of the historians and orators, the fessor's book-cases, or in a book-shop, or amid the philosophers and theologians, the travelers and the benches of a lecture-room.” The Bishop considwriters of romance, and with an even facility ered that this library of the Villi Prusiana was as "abridges their narrative or doctrine and appre- good as anything that could be found in Rome or ciates their style and character."

Alexandria. The books were arranged according The great Imperial library which stood by St. to subjects. The room had a "ladies' side"; and Sophia had been destroyed in the reign of Leo the here were arranged the devotional works. The illuIconoclast in the preceding age, and in an earlier minated volumes, as far as can now be judged, were conflagration more than half a million books are rather gaudy than brilliant, as was natural in an age said to have been lost from the basilica. The losses of decadence; but St. Germanus was a friend of the by fire were continual, but were constantly re Bishop, and as we suppose of the Prefect, and his paired. Leo the Philosopher, who was educated copy of the Gospels was in gold and silver letters on under the care of Photius, and his son and suc purple vellum, as may still be seen. By the gentlecessor Constantine, were renowned as the restorers men's seats were ranged the usual classical volumes, of learning, and the great writers of antiquity were all the works of Varro, which now exist only in

me."

fragments, and the poets sacred and profane; be written by St. Jerome; but in its present form, at hind certain cross-benches was the literary food of least, the work contains entries of a much later date. a lighter kind, more suited to the weaker vessels The passage in which Ireland is mentioned may be without regard to sex. Here every one found what even as late as the age of Columbanus, when Irish would suit his own liking and capacity, and here on monks set us their churches at Wurzburg and on the day after their arrival the company worked hard the shores of the Lake of Constance, or illuminated after breakfast "for four hours by the water clock.” their manuscripts at Bobbio under the protection Suddenly the door was thrown open, and in his uni of Theodolind and her successors in Lombardy. A form the head cook appeared and solemnly warned wandering philosopher is represented as visiting the them all that their meal was served, and that it was northern regions: he remained for a while in the as necessary to nourish the body as to stuff the Isle of Saints and turned over the painted volumes; mind with learning.

but he despised the native churchmen and called When the barbarians were established through them "Doctors of Ignorance.” “Here am I in IreGaul and Italy the libraries in the old country land, at the world's end, with much toil and little houses must have been completely destroyed. ease; with such unskilled labourers in the field the Some faint light of learning remained while place is too doleful, and is absolutely of no good to Boethius "trimmed the lamp with his skillful hand"; some knowledge of the classics survived Palladius came with twelve men to preach to the during the lives of Cassiodorus and Isidore of Se Gael, and we are told that he “left his books" at ville. Some of the original splendor may have lin Cellfine. The legendary St. Patrick is made to pass gered at Rome, and perhaps in Ravenna. When into Ulster, and he finds a King who burns himself Boethius was awaiting his doom in the tower at and his home “that he may not believe in Patrick.” Pavia, his mind reverted to the lettered ease of his The Saint proceeds to Tara with eight men and a life before he had offended the fierce Theodoric. little page carrying the book-wallet; "it was like His philosophy found comfort in thinking that all eight deer with one fawn following, and a white the valuable part of his books was firmly imprinted bird on its shoulder." on his soul; but he never ceased regretting the walls The King and his chief Druid proposed a trial inlaid with ivory and the shining painted windows by ordeal. The King said, “Put your books into in his old library at Rome.

the water.” “I am ready for that,” said Patrick.

But the Druid said, “A god of water this man
II.
IRELAND-NORTHUMBRIA.

adores, and I will not take part in the ordeal.” The The knowledge of books might almost have dis King said, "Put your books into the fire." "I am appeared in the seventh century, when the cloud of ready for that,” said Patrick. "A god of fire once ignorance was darkest, but for a new and remark in two years this man adores, and I will not do able development of learning in the Irish monas that,” said the Druid. teries.

In the church by the oak tree at Kildare St. This development is of special interest to our Brigit had a marvelous book, or so her nuns supselves from the fact that the church of Northumbria posed. The Kildare Gospels may have been illuwas long dependent on the Irish settlement at Iona. minated as early as Columba's time. Gerard de The Anglians taught by Paulinus very soon re Barri saw the book in the year 1185, and said that lapsed into paganism, and the second conversion of it was so brilliant in coloring, so delicate and finely the North was due to the missionaries of the school drawn, and with such enlacements of intertwining of St. Columba. The power of Rome was estab lines that it seemed to be a work beyond the powers lished at the Council of Whitby; but in the days of mortal man, and to be worthy of an angel's skill; when Aidan preached at Lindisfarne the North- and, indeed, there was a strong belief that miracuumbrians were still in obedience to an Irish rule, lous help had been given to the artist in his dreams. and were instructed and edified by the acts and The “Book of Durrow” called “The Gospels of lives of St. Patrick, of St. Brigit, and the mighty St. Columba,” almost rivals the famous “Book of Columba.

Kells” with which Mr. Madan will doubtless deal We shall quote some of the incidents recorded in his forthcoming volume on Manuscripts. A about the Irish books, a few legends of Patrick and native poet declared that when the Saint died in dim traditions from the days of Columba, before 597 he had illuminated “three hundred bright noble noticing the rise of the English school.

books”; and he added that "however long under The first mention of the Irish books seems to be water any book of the Saint's writing should be, contained in a passage of Æthicus. The cosmo not one single letter would be drowned.” Our augraphy ascribed to that name has been traced to thorities tell us that the Book of Durrow might very early times. It was long believed to have been possibly be one of the three hundred, "as it bears

some signs of being earlier in date than the Book Sir Neal O'Donnell, to whose family it still belongs. of Kells.”

It is now shown at the Museum of the Royal Irish St. Columba, men said, was passionately devoted Academy. “The fragment of the original 'Book of to books. Yet he gave his Gospels to the Church the Battle,' says O'Curry, "is of small quarto at Swords, and presented the congregation at form, consisting of fifty-eight leaves of fine vellum, Derry with the volume that he had fetched from written in a small uniform but rather hurried hand, Tours, "where it had lain on St. Martin's breast a with some slight attempts at illumination." hundred years in the ground.” In one of the biog We have now to describe the great increase of raphies there is a story about “Langarad of the books in Northumbria. In the year 635 Aidan set White Legs," who dwelt in the region of Ossory. up his quarters with a few Irish monks on the Isle To him Columba came as a guest, and found that of Lindisfarne, and his abbey soon became one of the sage was hiding all his books away. Then the main repositories of learning. Columba left his curse upon them; "May that,” The book called “The Gospels of St. Cuthbert" quoth he, “about which thou art so niggardly be was written in 688, and was regarded for nearly two never of any profit after thee”; and this was ful centuries as the chief ornament of Lindisfarne. filled, "for the books remain to this day, and no man The monastery was burned by the Danes, and the reads them.” When Langarad died “all the book servants of St. Cuthbert, who had concealed the satchels in Ireland that night fell down”; some say, “Gospel” in his grave, wandered forth, with the "all the satchels and wallets in the saint's house fell Saint's body in an ark and the book in its chest, in then: and Columba and all who were in his house search of a new place of refuge. They attempted a marveled at the noisy shaking of the books." So voyage to Ireland, but their ship was driven back then speaks Columba: “Langarad in Ossory,"quoth by a storm. The book-chest had been washed he, “is just now dead.” “Long may it be ere that overboard, but in passing up the Solway Firth they happens," said Baithen. "May the burden of that saw the book shining in its golden cover upon the disbelief fall on him and not on thee,” said sand. For more than a century afterward the book Columba.

shared the fortunes of a wandering company of Another tradition relates to St. Finnen's book monks: in the vear 995 it was laid on St. Cuththat caused a famous battle; and that was because bert's coffin in the new church at Durham; early in of a false judgment which King Diarmid gave the twelfth century it returned to Lindisfarne. against Columba, when he copied St. Finnen's Here it remained until the dissolution of the monasPsalter without leave. St. Finnen claimed the copy teries, when its golden covers were torn off, and as being the produce of his original, and on the ap the book came bare and unadorned into the hands peal to the court at Tara his claim was confirmed. of Sir Robert Cotton, and passed with the rest of King Diarmid decided that to every mother-book his treasures into the library of the British Museum. belongs the child-book, as to the cow belongs her Theodore of Tarsus had been consecrated Archcalf; "and so," said the King, "the book that you bishop of Canterbury in the year 669. He brought wrote, Columba, belongs to Finnen by right.” with him a large quantity of books for use in his "That is an unjust judgment,” said Columba, “and new Greek school. These books were left by his I will avenge it upon you."

will to the cathedral library, where they remained Not long afterward the Saint was insulted by the for ages without disturbance. William Lambarde, seizure and execution of an offender who had taken the Kentish antiquary, has left an account of their sanctuary and was clasped in his arms. Columba appearance. He was speaking of Archbishop went over the wild mountains and raised the tribes Parker, "whose care for the conservation of ancient of Tyrconnell and Tyrone, and defeated King monuments can never be sufficiently commended.” Diarmid in battle. When the Saint went to Iona “The reverend Father," he added, "showed me the he left the copy of Finnen's Psalter to the head of ‘Psalter of David,' and sundry homilies in Greek, the chief tribe in Tyrconnell. It was called the and Hebrew also, and some other Greek authors, "Book of the Battle," and if they carried it three beautifully written on thick paper with the name of times round the enemy, in the sun's course, they this Theodore prefixed,” to whose library the Archwere sure to return victorious. The book was the bishop thought that they had belonged, “being property of the O'Donnells till the dispersion of thereto led by a show of great antiquity." their clan. The gilt and jewelled case in which it The monks of Canterbury claimed to possess the rests was made in the eleventh century: a frame books on pink vellum, with rubricated capitals, round the inner shrine was added by Daniel O'Don which Pope Gregory had sent to Augustine. One nell, who fought in the Battle of the Boyne. A of these afterwards belonged to Parker, who gave it large fragment of the book remained in a Belgian to Corpus Christi at Cambridge: the experts now monastery in trust for the true representative of the believe that it was written in the eighth century "in clan; and soon after Waterloo it was given up to spite of the ancient appearance of the figure-paint

ing.” Another is the "Psalter of St. Augustine,” his outward journey. Benedict was able to set up now preserved among the Cottonian MSS. This is a good library in his new abbey at Wearmouth; but also considered to be a writing of the eighth cen his zeal appears to have been insatiable. We find tury.

him for the fifth time at the mart of learning, and In the Bodleian library there is a third example, bringing home, as Bede has told us, "a multitude of written in quarto with large uncial letters in double books of all kinds.” He divided his new wealth becolumns, in much the same style as the book given tween the church at Wearmouth and the abbey at by Parker to Corpus Christi. The Bodleian speci- Jarrow, across the river. Ceolfrid of Jarrow himself men is especially interesting as containing on the made a journey to Rome with the object of augfly-leaf a list in Anglo-Saxon of the contents of the menting Benedict's “most noble and copious library of Solomon the Priest, with notes as to store”; but he gave to the King of Northumbria, in other small collections.

exchange for a large landed estate, the magnificent We have reached the period in which North- "Cosmography" which his predecessor had brought umbria became for a time the centre of Western to Wearmouth. culture. The supremacy of Rome, set up at the St. Wilfrid presented to his church at Ripon a Council of Whitby, was fostered and sustained by "Book of the Gospels" on purple vellum, and a the introduction of the Italian arts. Vast quantities Bible with covers of pure gold inlaid with precious of books were imported. Stately abbeys were rising stones. John the Precentor, who introduced the along the coast, and students were flocking to seek Roman liturgy into this country, bequeathed a the fruits of the new learning in well-filled libraries number of valuable books to Wearmouth. Bede and bustling schools. We may judge how bright had no great library of his own; it was his task “to the prospect seemed by the tone of Alcuin's letters disseminate the treasures of Benedict.” But he to Charles the Great. He tells the Emperor of cer

must have possessed a large number of manuscripts tain "exquisite books" which he had studied under while he was writing the Ecclesiastical History, Egbert at York. The schools of the North are since he has informed us that Bishop Daniel of compared to "a garden enclosed" and to the beds Winchester and other learned churchmen in the of spices : he asks that some of the young men may

South were accustomed to supply him constantly be sent over to procure books, so that in Tours as

with records and chronicles. well as at York they may gather the flowers of the St. Boniface may be counted among the colgarden and share in the "outgoings of Paradise.” lectors, though he could carry but a modest supply A few years afterwards came the news of the harry- of books through the German forests and the ing of Northumbria by the Vikings. The libraries marshes of Friesland. As a missionary he found it were burned, and Northumbria was overwhelmed in useful to display a finely-painted volume. Writing darkness and slavery; and Alcuin wrote again, "He to the Abbess Eadburga for a Missal, he asked that who can hear of this calamity and not cry to God the parchment might be gay with colors—"even on behalf of his country, must have a heart not of as a glittering lamp and an illumination for the flesh but of stone."

hearts of the Gentiles." "I entreat you," he writes Benedict Biscop was our first English book-col- again, “to send me 'St. Peter's Epistle' in letters of lector. The son of a rich Thane might have looked gold.” He begged all his friends to send him books to a political career; he preferred to devote himself as a refreshment in the wilderness. Bishop Daniel to learning, and would have spent his life in a

is asked for the "Prophecies" "written very large." Roman monastery if the Pope had not ordered him Bishop Lulla is to send a cosmography and a to return to England in company with Theodore of volume of poems. He applies to one Archbishop Tarsus. His first expedition was made with his for the works of Bede, “who is the lamp of the friend St. Wilfrid. They crossed in a ship provided Church,” and to the other for the Pope's "Answers by the King of Kent. Traveling together as far as to Augustine,” which cannot be found in the Lyons, Wilfrid remained there for a time and Bene Roman bookshops. Boniface was Primate of Gerdict pushed on to Mont Cenis, and so to Rome, many; but he resigned his high office to work after a long and perilous journey. On a second among the rude tribes of Friesland. We learn that visit he received the tonsure, and went back to work

he carried some of his choicest books with him on at Lindisfarne; but about two years afterwards he his last ill-fated expedition, when the meadow and obtained a passage to Italy in a trading vessel, and

the river banks were strewn with the glittering it was on this occasion that he received the Pope's service-books after the murder of the Saint and his commands. Four years elapsed before he was in companions. Rome again: throughout the year 671 he was Egbert of York set up a large library in the Minamassing books by purchase and by the gifts of his ster. Alcuin took charge of it after his friend's friends; and returning by Vienna he found another death, and composed a versified catalogue, of such large store awaiting him which he had ordered on merit as the nature of the task allowed. "Here you

« PreviousContinue »