tenant. But it is also within the bounds of possibility that he unearthed some deed or papers relating to the premises. It is strange, too, that one of the few letters of this bishop which have been preserved refers to books. 'Ye promised unto me, long agone,' he writes to Secretary Cromwell, 'the Triumphes of Petrarche in the Ytalion tonge. I hartely pray you at this tyme by this beyrer, . . . to sende me the said Boke with some other at your deuotion; and especially, if it please you, the boke called Cortigiano in Ytalion.'
There must be many such houses still extant in London, and who knows what there may be in their long-disused attics? Hidden away in the darkness beneath their tiles, between joists and under the eaves, it is possible that books till now unknown to us, by sight at least, may still exist. Or who has explored the lumber accumulated in many a disused cellar within a quarter of a mile of the Mansion House? The very existence of the trunks which we have mentioned proves that such things do still linger in the nooks and crannies of this great city.
And I would not confine my surmise in this direction to London alone. Two ancient libraries there are, one in the North Countrie, the other in the West, that to my certain knowledge have never been explored by modern bibliographer. The latter is spurned and neglected, the books are deep in dust and even mildew; the former is also neglected, but at least the house is inhabited. The owner, an old, old woman, will never permit of any volume being disturbed. It is said that her father collected the books many years ago, and that she still guards them jealously for him.
Perhaps one day a copy of the 'Nigramansir' will emerge from its long sleep in some such house as these. Indeed, it is not so much a matter of surprise that such books should have disappeared, as that they should have remained hidden for so long. In 1909 an ancient volume was accidentally discovered in an old manor-house in the North of England, where it had lain undisturbed for generations. It proved to consist of no less than five of Caxton's publications bound up together. Moreover, it was in the original binding, and was bound, probably, by one of Caxton's workmen, whose initials it bore. On being put up for sale at Sotheby's, it changed hands at £2,600.
The account which Gairdner gives in the Introduction to his last edition of the Paston letters, of the loss and rediscovery of those historic documents, is also a striking example of the manner in which books may lie hidden for years. For nearly a century the originals of Sir John Fenn's compilation were utterly lost. 'Even Mr. Serjeant Frere who edited the fifth volume . . . declared that he had not been able to find the originals of that volume any more than those of the others. Strange to say, however, the originals of that volume were in his house all the time. . . .' Gairdner then applied to the owner of Roydon Hall for the remainder of the manuscripts, but received answer 'that he did not see how such MSS. should have found their way to Roydon.' Yet there they were discovered (with many others) eight years later! Even then the whereabouts of the letters forming Fenn's first and second volumes, which he had presented in 1787 to King George iii., was still unknown. 'The late Prince Consort . . . caused a careful search to be made for them, but it proved quite ineffectual.' No wonder, for in 1889 they came to light in a Suffolk manor-house!
It is difficult to portray in words the sensations of the book-collector when engaged in searching some ancient building or library—especially if he be upon a 'hot scent.' The thrills that he experiences as he handles some rich volume that has lain hid for years, the delicious excitement that pervades him while exploring some huge charter chest or ancient oaken press, these are feelings not to be described in words. 'It was discovered in the library at such and such a place,' we read, and we barely stop to picture the scene of its finding or to imagine the sensations of its finder. The very finding at Syon by 'Master Richard Sutton, Esq.,' of the manuscript containing the 'revelacions' of St. Katherin of Siena, from which de Worde printed his edition, conjures up a whole romance in itself; yet in his eulogy of the work Wynkyn dismisses the matter briefly, merely stating that it was found 'in a corner by itself.' 'We were shipwrecked,' says the mariner, relating his adventures; and in those three words what a world of incident and sensations is comprised!
Our book-hunter confesses frankly to having had much good luck in book collecting. Some years ago he made up his mind to start collecting Elzeviers, more with the intention of gathering a representative collection of books printed by that great family of printers than with any idea of specialising in them. Probably he was urged thereto by reading that wholly delightful book 'The Library' by Andrew Lang, wherein the author discourses so pleasantly on these rare pygmies of the book world. 'The Pastissier François,' we read, 'has lately fetched £600 at a sale'; and the 'Cæsar' of 1635 seemed nearly as rare, provided it were a copy of that impression wherein the 149th page is misprinted '153.' A little later our bookman was dipping, for the n-th time, into that bibliophile's bible 'The Book Hunter,' by John Hill Burton, whose opinion of the Cæsar seemed even higher, for he devotes nearly half a page to the little volume which Brunet describes as 'une des plus jolies et plus rares de la collection des Elsevier.'
That decided our friend. He would collect Elzeviers. Moreover, he would continue to collect them until he had acquired both the 'Pastissier François' and the 1635 'Cæsar.' Such was the confidence of youth! So he sallied forth straight away, determined to ransack the nooks and corners of certain shops of his acquaintance.
He didn't find the 'Pastissier François' that afternoon, but he found the 1635 'Cæsar' in Charing Cross Road for two shillings. Moreover, it had the requisite misprint and certain other distinctions which proclaim it to be of the rare impression, and it is no less than 126 millimetres in height! He has not yet come across the Pastissier, but doubtless he will find a copy one day, provided his luck holds good.
The little 'Pastissier' is a far more interesting volume than the 'Cæsar.' The latter is a dainty book, beautifully printed upon fine paper, with folding maps and plans of castramentation. The 'Pastissier,' on the other hand, is a disappointing little book in appearance, for it is but indifferently printed upon poor paper. It cannot even claim the merit of originality, being merely a pirated reprint of a volume that appeared in Paris some two years previously. But it is very, very rare, and it has been celebrated by many distinguished pens.
'"Monsieur," said I, "pray forgive me if my question seems impertinent, but are you extremely fond of eggs?"'
Such were the words with which Alexandre Dumas first addressed Charles Nodier, the famous dramatist and bibliophile, whom he found sitting next to him at the Théâtre Porte-Saint-Martin. Dumas' curiosity as to the little volume that was engrossing his neighbour's attention more than the play was at length allayed, and it was a view of the title-page that prompted his unusual question. Looking over his neighbour's shoulder, he read, opposite the engraved frontispiece, as