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A Treatise
Bishop of Durham
Treasurer and Chancellor of Edward III
The English translation thereof
Introduction by CHARLES ORR Librarian of Case Library Cleveland


RICHARD DE BURY was born near Bury St. Edmund's in Suffolk, January 24th, 1287. He was the son of Richard Aungervile, who Mied when the younger Richard was yet a boy, and left him to the care of a maternal uncle, John of Willoughby. The family was of Norman descent, his father having come over with the Conqueror and settled in Leicestershire. His uncle sent him to a gram-mar school and then to Oxford, where he entered about 1305. Of his student life little is known, though he is said to have distinguished himself in Philosophy and Theology. It has been stated that he became, on leaving the University, a monk at the convent of Durham, but authority for this is somewhat lacking. However, his standing at the University seems to have been so good as to attract the attention of the Court, for he was selected as tutor to the Prince of Windsor, the future Edward the Third. To this circumstance he owed much, and it was the stepping stone to future greatness.

In 1322 he was made Chamberlain of Chester by Edward the Second, and shortly afterwards became the King's principal treasurer in Gascony, then an English province. This office put into Richard's hands considerable sums of money, and when in 1325 Queen Isabella and the young prince fled to Paris and engaged in, intrigues against the King, he was able to convert part of the money to their use. The King instituted an inquiry and sent a lieutenant and twenty-four lancers in pursuit of Richard, who secreted himself for seven days in the bell-tower of the Brothers Minor at Paris.

Edward the Third ascended the throne on the 14th of January, 1327, and he did not forget to reward his faithful tutor and friend, who in turn was able to render great service to the King, and indeed add much to the lustre of his reign ; and it has been said that to Richard "may be traced the love for literature and the arts displayed by his pupil when on the throne." Richard was appointed in quick succession Cofferer to the King, Treasurer of the Wardrobe, and Clerk of the Privy Seal; and he was in such favor that the King wrote repeatedly to the Pope recommending him for ecclesiastical preferment.

The Papal Court was then at Avignon, and in 1330 Richard was sent as ambassador to Pope John XXII., traveling in great splendor; when he visited the Pope he was accompanied by twenty
clerks and thirty-six esquires, all wearing his livery, and the Pope entertained him with honor and distinction. It was at Avignon and not in Italy, as has been stated by some writers, that he first met
Petrarch, from whom Richard no doubt absorbed much knowledge of books and secured some treasures to enrich his own stores ; for the generosity of Petrarch was so excessive that he could scarcely withhold what he knew was so dearly coveted.

The extent of their friendship, however, has perhaps been exaggerated, and Petrarch left a record which casts a slight shadow of doubt as to the scholarship of Richard, who was probably not so learned that he could afford to confess ignorance.

During their stay at Avignon there had been some discussion about the Thule of the Ancients, and Petrarch writes, " I had no idle discourse on this matter with Richard, formerly the King of Eng-land's Chancellor, a man of ardent character, not ignorant of literature, and who, as he was born and bred in Britain and was from his youth up curious beyond belief on hidden things, seemed most apt for the disentangling of just such little questions. But he, either because he so believed, or because he was ashamed to confess ignorance, or, perhaps, which I do not suspect, because he grudged me the knowledge of this mystery, answered that he certainly would satisfy my doubts, but not until he had returned home to his books, of which nobody had a greater plenty. For when I chanced to get his friendship he was a traveler transacting his lord's business at the Apostolic See—namely at that time when the first seeds of a long war between his lord and the King of France were sprouting, afterwards to yield a bloody harvest. Nor are the sickles laid aside yet, or the garners closed. But when this promiser of mine had departed, either finding nothing, or distracted by weighty discharge of his duty in respect of the Papal injunctions, though often questioned by letters, he has satisfied my expectations not otherwise than by an obstinate silence. And so British friendship has given me none the more knowledge of Thule." However, the King had commended Richard to the Pope in the highest terms, writing that " he was a man whom the King knew to be forecasting in counsel, worthy for his purity of life and conversation, stored with knowledge of literature and circumspect in all affairs of business." One of the results of the embassy was a promise by the Pope, who had already made him his principal chaplain, of the next vacant bishopric in England. His ecclesiastical preferments were at that time numerous and valuable, and he was in receipt of an annual income of five thousand marks. A vacancy soon occurred at Durham, but the chapter, perhaps ignorant of the King's wish, chose for its bishop Robert de Graystanes, which choice received general approbation, for he was in every way worthy of the elevation. The day for his con-firmation was set by the Archbishop of York, but the King on hearing it refused his consent to the election on the ground that he was unwilling to offend the Pope, to whom he had previously written praying for the appointment of Richard; and he now urged upon the prior and Convent of Durham that they should vacate the election of Graystanes in favor of his choice. Though Robert had already been consecrated at York and installed at Durham, he was at last compelled to withdraw from the unequal contest and returned to his cloister. He has left upon record a dignified state-ment of his case, in which there is no personal censure of de Bury ; and indeed there seems to have been little ground for censure, for Richard was still in France and unacquainted with the turn of events ; and upon hearing of the death of Louis de Beaumont, Bishop of Durham, and being urged to write to the Cardinals and others of his friends at the Papal court, had replied that "he would send no letters for that bishopric or any other." He lingered at his beloved Paris, "the Paradise of the World," for some time, returning to England late in 1333.

On December 19th of that year he was consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Abbey of the Black Friars at Chertsey, near London. In February 1334 he was made Lord Treasurer, and on the 5th of June was enthroned as Bishop of Durham with great pomp in the presence of the King and Queen and nearly all the dignitaries of both Church and State.

Besides the bishopric, Richard held at this time two of the most important offices in the gift of the King. He was made Lord Treasurer February 3rd, 1334, and in the month of September was created Lord Chancellor. At about the same time he was appointed with the Bishops of Norwich and Coventry to visit Oxford and inquire into the discontent existing among the students, which had led to the secession of a large number to Stamford. He had held a similar commission in 1332 with reference to the University of Cambridge.

He retained the great seal but a few months, surrendering it on June 6th, 1335. His services were again required by the King in settlement of some of the foreign complications which arose during this period of his reign, and during the next few years he spent much of this time abroad on various diplomatic missions. In July of 1336 he was sent with others to arrange a treaty with King Phillip of France, one part of his mission being the discussion of a proposed joint crusade of the Holy Land. But this embassy returned to England in September without success. The confidence of the King was further attested in 1337, when Richard was placed at the head of commissions appointed to lay before the magnates of York and Newcastle the King's intentions regarding the invasion of Scotland.

His last visit to the Continent was made in 1338. The struggle with the French King was drawing near, but in deference to the Pope, Edward consented to make one more effort to avert it and appointed Richard with John Stratford, (Archbishop of Canterbury), and others to treat for peace. They sailed for the low countries, visiting Antwerp, Mechlin, Brussels and other cities. Edward himself sailed on the i6th of July, arriving at Antwerp on the 22nd and annulled the powers of his commissioners.

The King then formed an alliance with Emperor Lewis at Coblentz, Richard accompanied the royal party on the journey from Antwerp to Coblentz, which was marked with great splendor and a lavish expenditure of money. A throne was erected for each monarch in the market place of the city and they took their seats, surrounded by 1 7,000 gentlemen, knights and nobles of the sovereigns who owed fealty to the Emperor, The Pope appealed again and again by letters to Edward, but war was declared in September, 1339. In October of that year Richard returned to England and his bishop-ric. He disliked and opposed the war, but continued in the confidence of the King, and on the 15th day of April 1341 was again appointed to negotiate for peace. There is no record of service on this commission, and it appears that he did not go to France, for in July he was charged with others to arrange the defense of Northern England against Scotland. His abhorrence of war led him
to withdraw more and more to the care of his diocese and the companionship of his books, and the King now had frequent occasions to stir him to action, as the struggle with France had then begun in earnest. When in August Edward laid special charge on Richard to set all the men in his bishopric in array against Bruce, he equipped an escort at his own expense, but did little more.

The attack on Bruce was fruitless, and in April, 1342, Richard was sent to arrange for peace. He soon withdrew altogether from the strife and turmoil of public life and retired to the seclusion of his library at Auckland Palace. These were no doubt the happiest years of his life and out of the fulness of his experience as a traveller and diplomat and great collector of books he now began to write his Philobiblon, which he completed on his fifty-eighth birthday, January 24th, 1345. On the 14th of April of the same year, while thus actively engaged in the duties of a literary man in arranging the great collection of manuscripts and books which he had brought together, and in many good works, he died at Auckland.

He was buried at Durham Cathedral before the altar of St. Mary Magdalen. His many benefac-tions to the Cathedral and other great expenditures during his lifetime had led many to think that he would leave a large sum to the church. But after his death it was found one of his chests which
was supposed to contain treasure, was full of linen, shirts, and hair breeches, and that his great liber-ality had left him with little. On his marble tomb " his owne ymage was most curiously and artificially ingraven in brass, with pictures of the twelve apostles devided and bordered on either side of him and other fine imagery work about it, much adorning the marble stone." The tomb and the image have long since perished, having been destroyed in the Civil war. Impressions of his silver seals are in existence however to this day, one of them containing a portrait fairly agreeing with the description of the " ymage," being the only portrait extant.



It will be seen that Richard's many trips abroad to centers of book-making, his great command of money with the readiness of men to barter books for his influence, gave him opportunities for collecting which for those times were exceptional. The booksellers throughout Europe found him a generous and profitable customer, and he was in correspondence with the librarians "not only of his native soil, but of those dispersed over the kingdoms of France, Germany and Italy."

The story of how he collected his books is frankly and very quaintly set forth in the eighth chapter of the Philobiblon. "For the flying fame of our love for books had already spread in all directions, and it was reported not only that we had a longing desire for books and especially for old ones, but that anybody could more easily obtain our favor by quartos than by money." His visits to some of the smaller towns where he rummaged convents in search of books were often fully repaid, and he admits his obligations to the mendicants whom he found "not selfish hoarders but meet professors of enlightened knowledge."

It may be truly said that his passion for collecting was never selfish or sordid ; for he delighted to have his friends use his books, and it was his fixed purpose to eventually bestow them upon his old University that they might be available to all its students. Much of his enthusiasm was no doubt
kindled by this desire, and it may be offered in palliation of his accepting books as bribes, since, as he says, "Justice suffered no detriment."

At about the time he wrote the Philobiblon he had by far the best private library in England, and it is written that it contained more books than the libraries of all the other English bishops together.
He had collections of books in each of his resi-dences, and they so filled his rooms that his friends often had some difficulty in finding a place to stand or sit. His love for books was not only ardent and sincere, but stands out the more clearly because he lived in an age and in a country that loved them so little. He knew that his book-collecting propen sities were "obnoxious to the criticisms of many, traduced by whose wonderings we are sometimes remarked upon for superfluous earnestness in that matter alone, sometimes for a display of vanity, and sometimes for immoderate pleasure in literature ; but, in truth, these vituperations no more discompose us than the barking of a lap dog, being contented with the testimony of Him to whom alone it belongs to search the reins of the heart." Surely no modern collector ever reached a higher pitch of enthusiasm, and so it is not strange that for the four centuries since the appearance of his Philobiblon in print he has remained the patron saint of all English book-lovers.

That he did not actually found a library was due no doubt to the fact that he died in debt, because of his generosity while living. The traditional accounts of the fate of his books is that some at least were sent to the hall of the Benedictine Monks at Durham College, Oxford, while he was yet alive, perhaps to secure them from his creditors. They were preserved in this Hall in chests until the reign of Henry IV. (1399- 14 13), when they were taken out and fastened to reading desks or pews, and so remained until Henry VIII dissolved Durham. They were then dispersed, some going into Duke Humphrey's library, others to Balliol College and the remainder to the King's physician, Dr. George Owen of Godstow, near Oxford. Nearly all of them were destroyed during the stormy days of the Reformation, and of this splendid mediaeval library only two books now remain, so far as known. One is a copy of Anselm and other Theological treatises now in the Bodleian.The other is a twelfth century copy of John of Salisbury's works, now in the British Museum.

Richard's busy life as a man of affairs and conscience keeper of Edward III naturally left him little time for study, and as has been hinted by Petrarch he was a patron of scholarship and letters rather than a scholar. But if he was not an original thinker he did what he could to preserve the thoughts of others in books, and to inspire a love for study in those about him. He corresponds perhaps to the early Humanists of Italy, who collected manuscripts and saw the possibilities of learning without being themselves learned. He loved to surround himself with the brilliant men of his day, and the Philobiblon itself may be supposed to represent the fruit of his intellectual converse with these learned men as well as of his own reading and experience.

As to his character it stands out at many points in the pages of the book itself and may be judged in the chronicles of his life as set down by others. Chambre describes him as an excellent bishop, an amiable and warm-hearted man. He was charitable to the poor of the diocese and hospitable to wayfarers. He was quick of temper, but easily appeased, and beloved by all his people. In the words of one of his biographers, " he was a man of his age, but better than his age. Without rising to the level of greatness, he is far above the common-place."



TO all the faithful of Christ to whom the tenor of these presents may come, Richard de Bury, by the divine mercy Bishop of Durham, wisheth everlasting salvation in the Lord and to present continually a pious memorial of himself before God, alike in his lifetime and after his death.

What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits towards me ? asks the most devout Psalmist, an invincible King and first among the prophets ; in which most grateful question he approves himself a willing thank-offerer, a multifarious debtor, and one who wishes for a holier counsellor than himself : agreeing with Aristotle, the chief of philosophers, who shows (in the 3rd and 6th books of his Ethics) that all action depends upon counsel me ?" In which most grateful question he recognizeth in himself the willing retributer, the multifarious debtor, and the most soundly discerning counsellor ; agreeing with Aristotle, the prince of philosophers, who proves the whole question about things practicable, to be deliberate choice (Ethics, B. 3 and 6). Truly, if so admirable a prophet, having a foreknowledge of divine secrets, was willing thus earnestly to premeditate upon the manner in which he might acceptably return gifts by thanks, what more worthily shall we, who are rude thankers and most eager receivers, laden with infinite divine benefactions, be able to resolve upon ? Without doubt, in anxious deliberation and increased circumspection, the septiform Spirit being first invoked, so that an illuminating fire may burn in our meditation, we ought most attentively to look forward to the unbeaten way in which the Dispenser of all things would willingly be reciprocally venerated on account of His gifts conferred upon us. Let our neighbor be relieved of his burthen, and the guilt daily contracted by our sins be redeemed by the remedy of alms.

Forewarned, therefore, by admonition of this devotion, by Him who alone anticipates and per-fects the goodwill of man (without whom no sufficiency of thinking in any way suggests itself ; of whom we doubt not is the reward for whatever good we shall have done), we have diligently dis-cussed within ourselves, and also inquired of others, which amongst the duties of the various kinds of piety might be in the first degree pleasing to the Most High, and best promote the Church militant.

And behold a herd of outcast rather than of elect scholars meets the views of our contemplation, in whom God the artificer, and Nature his handmaid, have planted the roots of the best morals and most celebrated sciences. But the penury of their private affairs so oppresses them, being opposed by adverse fortune, that the fruitful seeds of virtue, so productive in the unexhausted field of youth, unmoistened by their wonted dews, are compelled to wither. Whence it happens, as Boethius says, that bright virtue lies hid in obscurity, and the burning lamp is not put under a bushel, but is utterly extinguished for want of oil. Thus the flowery field in spring is ploughed up before harvest ; thus wheat gives way to tares, the vine degenerates to woodbine, and the olive grows wild and unproductive. The slender beams which might have grown into strong pillars of the Church entirely decay. Men, endowed with the capacity of a subtle wit, relinquish the schools of learning, violently repelled by the sole envy of a stepmother from the nectareous cup of philosophy, having first tasted of it, and by the very taste become more fervently thirsty. Fitted for the liberal arts, and equally disposed to the contemplation of Scripture, but destitute of the needful aid, they revert, as it were, by a sort of apostasy to mechanical arts solely for the sake of food, to the impoverishment of the Church, and the degradation of the whole clerical profession. Thus the mother Church conceiving sons, is compelled to miscarry, if indeed some monstrous misshapen abortion is not torn from her womb ; and instead of the few and the smallest with which she by nature is contented, she sends forth egregious bantlings, and finally promotes them as the athletae and champions of the faith. Alas, how quickly the web is cut up, while the hand of the weaver is yet at work ! How soon the sun is eclipsed in the clearest sky, and the progressing planet becomes retrograde ! How suddenly the meteor, exhibiting the nature and appearance of a real star, falls down ; for it is formed from below. What can the pious man more pitifully behold ? What can more keenly penetrate the bowels of compassion ? What more readily dissolve a heart, though hard as an anvil, into the warmest tears ?

Arguing further on the contrary side, let us call to mind from the events of former times, how greatly it profited the whole Christian republic, not indeed to enervate students by the luxuries of Sardanapalus, nor yet by the riches of Croesus, but rather to support the poor in scholastic medio-crity. How many have we seen, how many have we collected from writings, who, not being dis-tinguished by brilliancy of birth, nor boasting of hereditary succession, but supported alone by the piety of just men, have deserved the Apostolical Chair, and most honorably presided over its faithful subjects, have subjected the necks of the proud and exalted to the ecclesiastical yoke, and easily procured the liberty of the Church ! Wherefore, taking a thorough survey of human wants, with a view of charitable consideration for this obscure class of men, in whom, however, such great hopes of advantage to the Church are felt, the bent of our compassion has peculiarly predisposed us to offer our pious aid ; and not only to provide them with necessary food, but, what is more, with the most useful books for study. For this purpose, most acceptable to the Lord, our unwearied attention hath already been long upon the watch. This ecstatic love hath indeed so powerfully seized upon us, that, discharging all other earthly pursuits from our mind, we have alone ardently desired the acquisition of books. That the motive of our object, therefore, may be manifest, as well to posterity as to our contemporaries, and that we may, in so far as it concerns ourselves, for ever close the perverse mouths of talkers, we have drawn up a little treatise, in the lightest style indeed of the moderns (for it is ridiculous in rhetoricians to write pompously when the subject is trifling), which treatise will purge the love we have had for books from excess, will advance the pur-pose of our intense devotion, and will narrate in the clearest manner all the circumstances of our under-taking, dividing them into twenty chapters. Butbecause it principally treats of the Love of Books, it hath pleased us, after the fashion of the ancient Latins, fondly to name it by a Greek word, Philobiblon.  


·                   I. On the Commendation of Wisdom, and of Books in which Wisdom dwelleth

·                   II.  Showeth that Books are to be preferred to Riches and Corporal Pleasures

·                   III.  Books ought always to be bought, except in two cases

·                   IV.  How much Good arises from Books; and that the corrupt Clergy are for the most part ungrateful to Books

·                   V.  Good Professors of Religion write Books; bad ones are occupied with other things

·                   VI.  In Praise of the Ancient, and Reprehension of the Modern, Religious Mendicants

·                   VII. Deploring the Destruction of Books by Wars and Fire.

·                   VIII. Of the numerous Opportunities of the Author of collecting Books from all quarters

·                   IX. The Ancient Students surpassed the modern in Fervency of Learning

·                   X. Science grew to perfection by degrees. The Author provided a Greek and a Hebrew Grammar 

·                   XI. Laws are, properly speaking, neither Sciences nor Books

·                   XII. Of the Utility and Necessity of Grammar

·                   XIII. A Vindication of Poetry, and its Utility

·                   XIV. Of those who ought most particularly to love Books

·                   XV. Of the manifold Effects of the Sciences which are contained in Books  

·                   XVI. Of writing new Books and repairing old ones

·                   XVII. Of handling Books in a cleanly manner, and keeping them in order

·                   XVIII. The Author against Detractors

·                   XIX. A provident arrangement by which Books may be lent to Strangers

·                   XX. The Author desires to be prayed for, and notably teaches Students to pray



On the Commendation of Wisdom, and of Books in which Wisdom dwelleth.


THE desirable treasure of wisdom and knowledge, which all men covet from the impulse of nature, infinitely surpasses all the riches of the world ; in comparison with which, precious stones are vile, silver is clay, and purified gold grains of sand; in the splendor of which, the sun and moon grow dim to the sight; in the admirable sweetness of which, honey and manna are bitter to the taste. The value of wisdom decreases not with time ; it has an everflourishing virtue that cleans its possessor from every venom. O celestial gift of divine liberality, descending from the Father of Light to raise up the rational soul even to heaven ! Thou art the celestial alimony of intellect, of which whosoever eats shall yet hunger, and whoso drinks shall yet thirst; a harmony rejoicing the soul of the sorrowful, and never in any way discomposing the hearer. Thou art the moderator and the rule of morals, operating according to which none will err. By thee kings reign, and lawgivers decree justly. Through thee, the rusticity of nature being cast off, wits and tongues being polished, and the thorns of vice utterly eradicated, the summit of honor is reached ; and they become fathers of their country and companions of princes, who, without thee, might have forged their lances into spades and plough-shares, or perhaps have fed swine with the prodigal son. Where then, most potent, most longed-for treasure, art thou conceded ? and where shall the thirsty soul find thee? Undoubtedly, indeed, thou hast placed thy desirable tabernacle in books, where the Most High, the Light of light, the Book of Life hath established thee. There then all who ask receive, all who seek find thee, to those who knock thou open quickly. In books cherubim expand their wings, that the soul of the student may ascend and look around from pole to pole, from the rising to the setting sun, from the north and from the sea. In them the Most High incomprehensible God himself is contained and worshipped. In them the nature of celestial, terrestrial and infernal beings is laid open. In them the laws by which every polity is governed are decreed, the offices of the celestial hierarchy are distinguished, and tyrannies of such demons are described as the ideas of Plato never surpassed, and the chair of Crato never contained.

In books we find the dead as it were living; in books we foresee things to come; in books warlike affairs are methodized; the rights of peace proceed from books. All things are corrupted and decay with time. Saturn never ceases to devour those whom he generates; insomuch that the glory of the world would be lost in oblivion if God had not provided mortals with a remedy in books. Alexander the ruler of the world; Julius the invader of the world and of the city, the first who in unity of person assumed the empire in arms and arts; the faithful Fabricius, the rigid Cato, would at this day have been without a memorial if the aid of books had failed them. Towers are razed to the earth, cities overthrown, triumphal arches mouldered to dust; nor can the King or Pope be found upon whom the privilege of a lasting name can be conferred more easily than by books. A book made, renders succession to the author : for as long as the book exists, the author remaining immortal, cannot perish; as Ptolemy witnesseth in the Prologue of his Almagest, he (he says) is not dead who gave life to science.

What learned scribe, therefore, who draws out things new and old from an infinite treasury of books, will limit their price by any other thing whatever of another kind? Truth overcoming all things, which ranks above kings, wine and women, to honor which above friends obtains the benefit of sanctity, which is the way that deviates not, and the life without end; to which the holy Boethius attributes a threefold existence, in the mind, in the voice, and in writing, appears to abide most usefully and fructify most productively of advantage in books. For the truth of the voice perishes I with the sound. Truth latent in the mind is hidden ; wisdom and invisible treasure ; but the truth which illuminates books desires to manifest itself to every disciplinable sense, to the sight when read, to the hearing when heard ; it, moreover, in a manner commends itself to the touch, when submitting to be transcribed, collated, corrected and preserved. Truth confined to the mind, though it may be the possession of a noble soul, while it wants a companion and is not judged of, either by the sight or the hearing, appears to be inconsistent with pleasure. But the truth of the voice is open to the hearing only, and latent to the sight (which shows us many differences of things fixed upon by a most subtle motion, beginning and ending as it were simultaneously). But the truth written in a book, being not fluctuating, but permanent, shows itself openly to the sight, passing through the spiritual ways of the eyes, as the porches and halls of common sense and imagination ; it enters the chamber of intellect, reposes itself upon the couch of memory, and there congenerates the eternal truth of the mind.

Lastly, let us consider how great a commodity of doctrine exists in books, how easily, how secretly, how safely they expose the nakedness of human ignorance without putting it to shame. These are the masters who instruct us without rods and ferules, without hard words and anger, without clothes or money. If you approach them, they are not asleep ; if investigating you interrogate them, they conceal nothing ; if you mistake them, they never grumble; if you are ignorant, they cannot laugh at you.

You only, O Books, are liberal and independent. You give to all who ask, and enfranchise all who serve you assiduously. How many thousands of things do you typically recommend to learned men, in writing after a divinely inspired manner; for you are the deepest mines of wisdom, to which the wise man sent his son that he might thence dig up treasure (Prov. ii.). You are the wells of living water, which the patriarch Abraham first dug, and Isaac again cleared out after the Philistines had endeavored to fill them up (Gen.i5 xxvi.). Truly you are the ears filled with most palatable grains, to be rubbed out by apostolical hands alone, that the most grateful food for hungry souls may come out of them (Matt. xii.). You are golden urns in which manna is laid up, rocks flowing with honey, or rather indeed honeycombs ; udders most copiously yielding the milk of life; store-rooms ever full; the tree of life, the four-streamed river of Paradise, where the human mind is fed, and the arid intellect moistened and watered ; the ark of Noah, the ladder of Jacob, the troughs by which the foetus in those who look upon them is colored, the stones of the covenant, and the pitchers preserving the lamps of Gideon ; the bag of David from which polished stones are taken that Goliath may be prostrated. You, O Books, are the golden vessels of the temple, the arms of the clerical militia, with which the missiles of the most wicked are destroyed, fruitful olives, vines of Engedi, fig-trees knowing no sterility; burning lamps to be ever held in the hand. And, if it please us to speak figuratively, we shall be able to adapt the best sayings of every writing whatever to books.



Showeth that Books are to be preferred to Riches and Corporal Pleasures.


IF anything whatever, according to a degree of value deserves a degree of love, the present chapter truly proves the ineffable value of books, though its conclusions may probably not appear clear to the reader; for we do not make use of demonstration in moral subjects, seeing that it is the business of a moral man to seek for certainty accordingly as he may have perceived the nature of the subject to bear it, as the arch-philosopher witnesseth (i. Ethic, 2. Metaph.); for Tully neither requires Euclid, nor does Euclid put faith in Tully. But this indeed we endeavor either logically or rhetorically to inculcate, that riches and pleasures of every kind ought to give way to books in  spiritual mind, where the spirit, which is charity, ordaineth charity.

In the first place indeed, because more wisdom is contained in books than all mortals comprehend ; and wisdom holds riches in no esteem, as alleged in the preceding chapter. Moreover, Aristotle (Problems, Sect. 30, Dis. 11) determines this question—viz., upon what account did the ancients chiefly appoint prizes for gymnastic and corporal exertions, and never decree any reward for wisdom ? Which question he thus solves. In gymnastic exercises, the reward is better and more eligible than that for which it is given ; but it is evident nothing is better than wisdom, wherefore no reward could have been assigned to wisdom; therefore neither riches nor pleasures are more excellent than wisdom. Again, that friendship is to be preferred to riches none but a fool will deny ; to this the wisest of men bears witness. But the arch-philosopher honors truth above friendship, and the ancient Zorobabel gives it precedence over all things ; therefore pleasures are inferior to truth. But the Sacred Books most powerfully preserve and contain the truth ; they are assuredly the written truth itself ; for upon 

this occasion we do not assert the main beams of the books to be parts of books, wherefore riches are inferior to books, more especially as the most precious of all kinds of riches are friends (witness Boethius, De Consolatione, B. 2), to which, however, the truth of books is preferred by Aristotle. But, further, as riches are primarily and principally acknowledged to pertain to the aid of the body only, and as the truth of books is the perfection of reason, which is properly named the good of mankind, so it appears that books to a man using them with reason are dearer than riches. Again, that by which the faith is most conveniently defended, most widely diffused, and most clearly preached, ought to be most beloved by a faithful man ; and that is the truth of books, inscribed in books ; which our Saviour most evidently figured when, manfully fighting against temptation, He covered himself with the shield of truth, not indeed of writing of any sort; but promising, that what He was about to declare by the sound of His living voice, was also written (Matt. iv.).

Again, therefore, nobody doubts that happiness is to be preferred to riches, for happiness is consistent with the operation of the most noble and divine power we possess—namely, when the intellect is entirely at leisure for the contemplation of the truth of knowledge, which is the most delectable of all operations according to virtue, as the prince of philosophers determines in the Nicomachian Ethics, B. io; on which account philosophy also appears to possess admirable delights from its purity and stability, as the same author states in the sequel. But the contemplation of truth is never more perfect than in books, as the active imagination, kept up by a book, does not permit the operation of the intellect upon visible truth to be interrupted. For which reason books appear to be the most immediate instruments of speculative happiness; whence Aristotle, the sun of physical truth, where he unfolds the doctrine of objects of choice, teaches that to philosophize is in itself more eligible than to grow rich, although from necessary circumstances in the case, it may be thought more eligible for an indigent man to grow rich than to philosophize (Topics 3). Inasmuch, then, as books are our most convenient masters, as the preceding chapter assumes, it becomes us not undeservedly to bestow upon them, not only love, but magisterial honor.

Finally, as all men by nature are desirous of knowledge, and as we are able by books to obtain the knowledge of truth, to be chosen before all riches, what man, living according to nature, can be without an appetite for books ? But although we may see hogs despise pearls, the opinion of a prudent man is in no way injured by that; he will not the less purchase proffered pearls. The library, therefore, of wisdom is more precious than all riches, and nothing that can be wished for is worthy to be compared with it (Prov. iii.). Whosoever, therefore, acknowledges himself to be a zealous follower of truth, of happiness, of wisdom, of science, or even of the faith, must of necessity make himself a lover of books.



Books ought always to be Bought, except in two Cases.


E draw this corollary satisfactory to ourselves from what has been said, although, as we believe, but few will receive it—namely, that no expense ought to prevent men from buying books when what is demanded for them is at their command, unless the knavery of the seller is to be withstood or a better opportunity of purchasing is expected. Because if wisdom alone, which is an infinite treasure to man, determines the price of books, and if the value of books is ineffable, as the premisses suppose, how can a bargain be proved to be dear which purchases an infinite benefit. For this reason Solomon, the sun of mankind (Prov. xxiii.), exhorts us to buy books freely and sell sparingly. He says: 

“ Buy truth, and sell not wisdom.” But what we now rhetorically and logically inculcate, we can support by histories of past events. The arch-philosopher Aristotle, of whom Averroes thinks that he was given as it were for a rule in nature, bought a few of Speusippus’s books immediately after his death for 72,000 sesterces. Plato, prior to him as to time, but his inferior as to doctrine, bought the library of Philolaus the Pythagorean for 10,000 denarii; from which he is said to have extracted the dialogue of Timaeus, as Aulus Gellius relates (Noct. Attic., lib. 3, c. 16). But Aulus Gellius relates these things, that the ignorant may consider how greatly the wise undervalue money in comparison with books ; and, on the contrary, that we may all know the folly attached to pride, let us here review the folly of Tarquin the Proud in undervaluing books, as the same Aulus Gellius relates it (Noct. Attic., lib. 1, c. 19). “A certain old woman, quite unknown, is said to have come into the presence of Tarquin the Proud, the seventh king of the Romans, and offered him nine books for sale, in which, as she asserted, the Divine oracles were contained; but she demanded such an immense sum of money for them, that the king said she was mad. Taking offence at this, she threw three of the books into the fire, and demanded the sum first asked for the rest. The king refusing, she threw three more of the books into the fire, and still demanded the same sum for the remaining three. At length Tarquin, being astonished beyond measure, was glad to pay the sum for three books for which he could have bought the whole nine. The old woman, who was never seen before nor afterwards, immediately disappeared.” These are the Sibylline books which the Romans consult as Divine oracles, through one of the quindecemvirs, and from them the quindecemvirate office is supposed to have had its origin. What else did this Sibylline prophetess teach the proud king by so subtle a device, but that the vases of wisdom, the sacred books, surpass all human estimation ; and as Gregory says of the kingdom of heaven, “Whatsoever you may possess, that is its value ! ”



How much Good arises from Books ; and that the corrupt Clergy are for the most part ungrateful to Books.


A PROGENY of vipers destroying its own parents, and the cruel offspring of the most ungrateful cuckoo, which, when it hath acquired strength, slays its little nurse, the liberal donor of its power—such are the degenerate clergy with respect to books. Turn to your hearts, ye prevaricators, and faithfully compute how much you have received from books, and you will find books to have been in a manner the creators of your entire noble estate; without them it would certainly have been deficient of promoters. Hear them speak for themselves. Well then,—“ When you were altogether ignorant and helpless, you spoke like children, you knew like children; and crying like children you crept towards us, and begged to be participators of our milk. We indeed, moved by your tears, instantly tendered you the paps of grammar to suck, which you firmly adhered to with tooth and tongue, till your babbling accents were overcome, and you began to utter the mighty acts of God in our own language. After that we clothed you with the right comely garments of philosophy, dialectics, and rhetoric, which we had and keep by us; as you were naked, and like tablets for painting upon : for all the inmates of philosophy are doubly clothed, that the nakedness as well as the rudeness of their understandings may be concealed. Lastly, affixing to you the four wings of the four converging ways, that being winged in a seraphic manner you might soar above the cherubim, we transmitted you to a friend, at whose door, while you yet knocked earnestly, the three loaves of the intelligence of the Trinity, upon which the final happiness of every wayfaring man whatever depends, would be prepared for you. What if you should say, ‘You have no such gifts; ’ we confidently assert that you either lost them, when conferred upon you, through carelessness, or rejected them from the beginning, when offered to you, through indolence. If trifles of this kind are found disagreeable, we will add something more important. You are the elect race, the royal priesthood, the holy tribe and people of the acquisition ; you are held to be in the peculiar lot of the Lord, the priests and ministers of God ; indeed, you may be called by antonomasia the Church itself, inasmuch as laymen cannot be called Churchmen. You chant psalms and hymns in the chancel, and serve at the altar of God, participating with the altar, while the laity are placed behind you. You concoct the true body of Christ, in which God himself hath honored you, not only above laymen, but even somewhat above His angels; for to which of the angels hath He ever said, ‘ Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedech ? ’ You dispense the testimony of Christ crucified, to the poor. Where is it now sought for amongst the dispensers, so that any faithful man can find it? You are the pastors of the flock of the Lord, as well by the example of your lives as by the words of your doctrine, which is kept by you to distribute the milk and the wool. Who, O clergy, are the liberal bestowers of these gifts ? Are they not books ? We beg it may please you to remember how many excellent privileges of exemption and freedom have been conceded to the clergy through us. Qualified indeed by us alone, the vessels of wisdom and intellect, you ascend the magisterial chair, and men call you Rabbi. Through us you are admirable in the sight of the laity, as the great luminaries of the world ; and you possess the dignities of the Church according to your various destinies. Constituted by us at a tender age, while you yet wanted the down upon your chins, you bore the tonsure upon your crowns, bespeaking the formidable state of the Church, in the decree, ‘ Touch not my anointed, and do my prophets no harm; and whoever rashly toucheth them, his own blow shall instantly recoil upon him with the wound of an anathema.’

“ At length, falling into the age of wickedness, arriving at the double way of the Pythagoric symbol Y, you choose the left-hand branch, and turning aside cast off the preassumed destination of the Lord, and become companions of thieves ; and thus ever progressing to worse, you are defiled by robberies, homicide, and various shameful crimes, your character and conscience being equally corrupted by wickedness. Being called to justice, you are kept bound in manacles and fetters, to be punished by a most ignominious death. Then your friend and neighbor is absent, nor is there any one to pity your fate. Peter swears he never knew the man : the mob cry out to the judge, * Crucify him ! crucify him! for if you discharge this man you will not be the friend of Caesar.’ It is now too late to fly; you must stand before the tribunal; no place of appeal offers itself; nothing but hanging is to be expected. When sorrow and the broken song of lamentation alone shall have thus filled the heart of a wretched man ; when his cheeks are watered with tears, and he becomes surrounded with anguish on every side, let him remember us; and that he may avoid the peril of approaching death, let him display the little token of the antiquated tonsure which we gave him, begging that we may be called in on his behalf, and bear witness to the benefit conferred.

“ Then moved by pity we instantly run to meet the prodigal son, and snatch the fugitive servant from the gates of death ; the well-known book is tendered to be read, and after a slight reading by the criminal, stammering from fear, the power of the judge is dissolved, the accuser is withdrawn, death is put to flight. O wonderful virtue of an empiric verse ! O salutary antidote to dire calamity ! O precious reading of the psalter, which deserves henceforth, from this itself to be called the Book of Life! Laymen must undergo secular punishment: either being sewn up in sacks they may be consigned to Neptune; or planted in the ground may fructify for Pluto ; or may offer themselves up by fire, as fattened holocausts to Vulcan ; or at all events, being hanged they may be victims to Juno, while our pupil, by a single reading of the Book of Life, is commended to the custody of the pontiff, and rigour is converted into favor. And while the bench is transferred from the layman, death is averted from the clerical nursling of books.

“ Let us now speak of those clergy who are the vessels of virtue. Which of you ascends the pulpit or desk to preach without first consulting us ? Which enters the schools either to lecture, dispute or preach, who is not enlightened by our rays ?

“You must first eat the volume with Ezekiel, that the stomach of your memory may be internally sweetened ; and thus after the manner of the perfumed panther (to the breath of which men, beasts, and cattle draw near that they may inhale it), the sweet odor of your aromatic conceptions will be externally redolent. Thus our nature, secretly and most intimately working within you, benevolent auditors flock about you, as the magnet attracts iron, by no means unwillingly. What though an infinite multitude of books be deposited in Paris or Athens, do they not likewise speak aloud in Britain and in Rome,—for even being at rest they are moved; while confining themselves to their proper places, they are everywhere carried about to the understandings of hearers.

“Finally, we establish priests, pontiffs, cardinals, and the pope, that all things in the ecclesiastical hierarchy may be set in order by the knowledge of letters; for every benefit that arises out of the clerical state has its origin in books. But even now it grieves us to reflect upon what we have given to the degenerate race of clergy, because gifts bestowed upon the ungrateful appear to be rather lost than conferred.

“In the next place, let us stop a little to recite the injuries, indignities and reproaches they repay us with, of which we are not competent to recount all of every kind,—scarcely indeed the first kinds of them all.

“In the first place, we are expelled with heart and hand from the domiciles of the clergy, apportioned to us by hereditary right, in some interior chamber of which we had our peaceful cells; but, to their shame, in these nefarious times we are altogether banished to suffer opprobrium out of doors; our places, moreover, are occupied by hounds and hawks, and sometimes by a biped beast: woman, to wit, whose cohabitation was formerly shunned by the clergy, from whom we have ever taught our pupils to fly, more than from the asp and the basilisk; wherefore this beast, ever jealous of our studies, and at all times implacable, spying us at last in a corner, protected only by the web of some long deceased spider, drawing her forehead into wrinkles, laughs us to scorn, abuses us in virulent speeches, points us out as the only superfluous furniture lodged in the whole house, complains that we are useless for any purpose of domestic economy whatever, and recommends our being bartered away forthwith for costly headdresses, cambric, silk, twice-dipped purple garments, woollen, linen, and furs; and indeed with reason, if she could see the interior of our hearts, or be present at our secret councils, or could read the volumes of Theophrastus and Valerius, or at least hear the twenty-fifth chapter of Ecclesiasticus with the ears of understanding.

“ We complain, therefore, because our domiciles are unjustly taken from us, not that garments are not given to us, but that those which were formerly given are torn off by violent hands, insomuch that our souls adhere to the pavement, our belly is agglutinated to the earth, and our glory is reduced to dust (Ps. xliv. and cxix.). We labour under various diseases ; our back and sides ache, we lie down disabled and paralyzed in every limb, nobody thinks of us, nor is there any one who will benignly apply an emollient to our sores. Our native whiteness, perspicuous with light, is now turned tawny and yellow; so that no medical man who may find us out, can doubt that we are infected with jaundice. Some of us are gouty, as our distorted extremities evidently indicate. The damp, smoke, and dust with which we are constantly infested, dim the field of our visual rays, and superinduce ophthalmia upon our already bleared eyes.

“ Our stomachs are destroyed by the severe griping of our bowels, which greedy worms never cease to gnaw. We suffer corruption inside and out, and nobody is found to anoint us with turpentine ; or who, calling to us on the fourth day of putrefaction, will say, ‘ Lazarus, come forth ! ’ The cruel wounds atrociously inflicted upon us who are harmless, are not bound up with any bandage, nor does any one apply a plaster to our ulcers. But we are thrown into dark corners, ragged, shivering, and weeping, or with holy Job seated on a dunghill, or (what appears too indecent to be told) we are buried in the abysses of the common sewer. The supporting cushion is drawn from under our evangelical sides, from whose oracles the subsidies of the clergy ought first of all to come, they being deputed to us for their service, and thus the common provision for their maintenance ought for ever to be derived from us.

“ Again : we complain of another kind of calamity that is very often unjustly imposed upon our persons; for we are sold like slaves and female captives, or left as pledges in taverns without redemption. We are given to cruel butchers to be cut up like sheep and cattle ; we do not behold this without pious tears, and where there is death in a thousand forms, we die of fear itself, which is able to overthrow irresolute man. We are turned over to Jews, Saracens, heretics and pagans, whose poison we dread above all things, and by whose pestiferous venom it is evident some of our forefathers have been corrupted.

“ Truly, we who ought to be considered as the master builders in science, who give orders to our subject mechanics, are, on the contrary, subjected to the government of subalterns : as if a most noble monarch should be trampled upon by rustic heels. Every botcher, cobbler, and tailor whatever, or any artificer of whatever trade, keeps us shut up in prison, for the superfluous and lascivious pleasures of the clergy.

“We will now proceed to a new sort of insult by which we are injured both in our persons and in our fame, than which we possess nothing dearer to us. Our genuineness is every day detracted from, for new names of authors are imposed upon us by worthless compilers, translators, and transformers, being reproduced in multiplied regeneration ; our ancient nobility is changed, and we become altogether degenerate ; and thus the names of vile authors are fixed upon us against our will, and the words of the true fathers are filched from them by the sons. A certain pseudo-versifier usurped the verses of Virgil while he was yet living ; and one Fidentinus falsely arrogated to himself the books of Martial the poet, upon whom the said Martial justly retorted in these words—

Quern recitas meus est, o Fidentine, libellus, Sed male dum recitas incipit esse tuns.

The book thou recitest, Fidentinus, is mine, Though from vile recitation it passeth for thine.

“ What wonder is it then if clerical apes magnify their margins from the works of authors who are dead, as while they are yet living they endeavor to seize upon their recent editions ? Ah, how often do you pretend that we who are old are but just born, and attempt to call us sons, who are fathers ? and to call that which brought you into clerical existence the fabric of your own studies ? In truth, we who now pretend to be Romans, are evidently sprung from the Athenians; for Carmentis was ever a pillager of Cadmus: and we who are just born in England shall be born again to-morrow in Paris, and being thence carried on to Bologna, shall be allotted an Italian origin, unsupported by any consanguinity.

“ Alas ! to how many false transcribers have you committed us to be copied ; how corruptly do you read us, and by amending, destroy what in pious zeal you intend to correct. In how many ways do we suffer from barbarous interpreters, who presume to translate us from one language to another, though ignorant of the idioms of either! The propriety of speech being thus taken away, its sense is basely mutilated, ind contrary to the meaning of the author. The condition of books would have been right genuine, if the presumption of the Tower of Babel had not come in its way, and the only preserved form of speech of the whole human race had descended to us.

“ We will now subjoin the last of our prolix complaints, but most briefly, in proportion to the matter we have to complain of; for indeed natural use in us is converted into that which is contrary to Nature : as, for instance, we are given up to painters ignorant of letters; and we who are the light of faithful souls are shamefully consigned to goldsmiths, that we may become repositories for gold-leaf, as if we were not the sacred vessels of science. We fall unduly into the power of laymen, which to us is more bitter than any death ; for they sell our people without a price, and our enemies become our judges. It is clear from all these premisses, what infinite invectives we could have thrown out against the clergy if we had not spared them for our own credit. For the pensioned soldier venerates his shield and arms. Carts, harrows, flails, and spades are grateful to the worn-out ploughman Coridon; and every manual artificer exhibits extraordinary care for his own tools. The ungrateful clerk alone undervalues and neglects those things from which he must ever take the prognostics of his future honor.”



Good Professors of Religion write Books; bad ones are occupied with other things.


THERE used to be an anxious and reverential devotion in the culture of books of religious offices, and the clergy delighted in communing with them as their whole wealth ; for many wrote them out with their own hands in the intervals of the canonical hours, and gave up the time appointed for bodily rest to the fabrication of volumes : those sacred treasuries of whose labors, filled with cherubic letters, are at this day resplendent in most monasteries, to give the knowledge of salvation to students, and a delectable light to the paths of the laity. O happy manual labor above all agricultural cares! O devout solicitude, from which neither Martha nor Mary would have earned the wages of corruption ! 

O joyful house, in which the fair Rachel envieth not the prolific Lya, but where contemplation mingles with its own active pleasures! Happy provision for the future, available to infinite posterity ; to which no planting of trees, no sowing of seeds, no pastoral curiosity about any sort of cattle, no building of fortified castles is to be compared ! Wherefore the memory of those Fathers ought to be immortal, whom the treasure of wisdom alone delighted, who most artificially provided luminous lanterns against future darkness, and prepared, against a dearth of hearing the Word of God, bread not baked in ashes, nor musty, nor of barley, but unleavened loaves most carefully composed of the purest flour of holy wisdom, with which they fed the souls of the hungry. But these were the most virtuous combatants of the Christian militia, who fortified our infirmity with most powerful arms. They were the most cunning foxhunters of their times, who have yet left us their snares, that we may catch the little foxes which never cease to demolish the flourishing vines. Truly these mighty Fathers are to be remembered with perpetual benedictions. Deservedly happy would you be, if a similar progeny were begotten by you, if it were permitted to you to leave an heir neither degenerate nor doubtful, to be a help in times to come. But now (we say it with sorrow) base Thersites handles the arms of Achilles; the choicest trappings are thrown away upon lazy asses; blinking night-birds lord it in the nests of eagles, and the silly kite sits on the perch of the hawk. Liber Bacchus is respected, and passes daily and nightly into the belly; Liber Codex is rejected far and wide out of reach; so that the simple modern people are deceived by a multiplicity of equivocations of every kind ; Liber Patera takes precedence of Liber Patrum (libations of the Lives of the Fathers). The study of the monks nowadays dispenses with emptying bowls, not emending books, to which they neither scruple to add the lascivious music of Timotheus, nor to emulate his shameless manners; and thus the song of merriment, not the plaint of mournfulness, is become the monasterial duty, Flocks and fleeces, crops and barns, gardens and olive-yards, drink and cups, are now the lessons and studies of monks; excepting, of some chosen few, in whom not the image but a slight vestige of their forefathers remains.

Again : none whatever of that matter is administered to us touching our culture and study, for which the Regular Canons can at this day be commended ; who, though they bear the great name of Augustine from the double rule, yet neglect the notable little verse by which we are recommended to his clergy in these words : “ Books are to be asked for at certain hours every day; he who demands them out of hours, shall not receive them.” This devout canon of study scarcely any one observes after repeating the Church service or Horae : but to be knowing in secular affairs, and to look after the neglected plough, is held to be the height of prudence. They carry bows and arrows ; assume arms and bucklers ; distribute the tribute of alms amongst their dogs, not amongst the necessitous ; use dice and draughts, and such things as we are accustomed to forbid to secular men; so that indeed we wonder not that they never deign to look upon us, whom they thus perceive to oppose their immoral practices.

Condescend therefore, reverend Fathers, to remember your predecessors, and to indulge more freely in the study of the Sacred Books; without which all religion whatever will vacillate; without which, as a watering-pot, the virtue of devotion will dry up ; and without which no light will be held up to the world.



In Praise of the Ancient, and Reprehension of the Modern, Religious Mendicants.


POOR in spirit, but most rich in faith, the offscourings of the world, the salt of the earth, despisers of worldly affairs, and fishers of men, how happy are you if, suffering penury for Christ, you know you possess your souls in suffering! For thus neither the revenger, from lack of injury, nor the adverse fortune of relations, nor any violent necessity, nor hunger oppresses you ; if the will is devout and the election Christi-form, by which you have chosen that best life which God Almighty made man set forth both by word and example. Truly you are the new birth of the ever procreating Church, recently and divinely substituted for the Fathers and Prophets, that the sound of your voice may go forth over all the earth ; for being instructed in our salutary doctrines, you can promulgate the unassailable doctrine of the faith of Christ to all kings and people. Moreover, our second chapter superabundantly proves the faith of the Fathers to be most amply contained in books; wherefore it most clearly appears that you ought to be zealous lovers of books, who, above all other Christians, are commanded to sow upon all waters. For the Most High is no respecter of persons; nor doth the most pious, who was willing to be slain for sinners, wish for the death of sinners, but He desires the broken-hearted to be healed, the fallen to be raised up, and the perverse to be corrected in the spirit of lenity. For which most salutary purpose, our fostering mother Church gratuitously planted you; being planted, she watered you with favors ; and being watered, propped you with privileges that you might be coadjutors to pastors and curates in procuring the salvation of faithful souls. Whence also, as their constitutions declare, the order of preachers was principally instituted for the study of Holy Writ and for the salvation of their neighbors ; as not only from the rule of their founder, Augustine, who ordered books to be sought for every day, but immediately upon reading the preface of the said constitutions, at the beginning of his own volume, they know the love of books to be an obligation imposed upon them. But, to their shame, both these and others following their example are withdrawn from the study and paternal care of books by a threefold superfluous care; namely, of their bellies, clothing, and houses. For, neglecting the providence of our Saviour, whom the Psalmist premises to be solicitous about the poor and mendicant, they are occupied about the wants of their perishable bodies, such as splendid banquets, delicate garments contrary to their rule, and even piles of buildings like the bulwarks of fortifications, raised to a height little consistent with the profession of poverty. For the sake of these three things, We, their books, who have ever advanced them to preferment and conceded the seat of honor to them amongst the powerful and noble, are estranged from the affections of their hearts and looked upon as useless lumber, excepting that they make some account of certain tracts of little value, from which they produce mongrel trifles and apocryphal ravings, not for the refreshment of hungry souls, but rather to tickle the ears of their auditors.

The Holy Scriptures are not expounded, but exploded as trite sayings supposed to be already divulged in the streets and to all men, whose margins, however, very few have touched, whose profundity is even so great that it cannot be comprehended by human intellect, however vigilant it may be, at its utmost leisure and with the greatest study. He who constantly studies these, will be able to pick out the thousand maxims of moral discipline which they enforce with the most perfect novelty, refreshing the understandings of their hearers with the most soothing suavity, if He who founded the spirit of piety will only deign to open the door. For which reason the first professors of evangelical poverty, taking leave of every secular science whatever, gathering together the whole force of their minds, devoted themselves to the labors of these holy writings, meditating daily and nightly on the law of the Lord. Whatsoever they could steal from their famishing stomachs, or tear from their half-covered bodies, they applied to emending or editing books, esteeming them their greatest gain ; their secular contemporaries, holding both their office and studies in respect, having conferred such books upon them as they had collected at great cost, here and there in divers parts of the world, to the edification of the whole Church.

Truly in these days, when with all diligence you are intent upon lucre, it might be believed with probable presumption, according to anthropospathos (if the word may be allowed) or human feeling, that God entertains little anxiety about those whom He considers to distrust His promises, placing their hopes upon human foresight, neither considering the crow nor the lily which the Most High feeds and clothes. You ponder not upon Daniel, nor Abacuc the bearer of the dish of boiled pottage, nor remember Elijah fed by angels in the desert, again by crows at the brook, and, lastly, by the widow at Sarepta, relieved from the cravings of hunger by the divine bounty, which gives food to all flesh in due season. You are descending, we fear, by a wretched ladder, while a reliance upon self-sufficiency produces distrust of divine piety, but reliance upon self-sufficiency begets solicitude about worldly affairs, and too much solicitude about worldly affairs takes away the love of books and study, and thus poverty now gives way through abuse, at the expense of the Word of God, though you chose it only for its support. You draw boys into your religion with hooks of apples, as the people commonly report, whom having professed, you do not instruct in doctrines by compulsion and fear as their age requires, but maintain them to go upon beggarly excursions, and suffer them to consume the time in which they might learn, in catching at the favors of their friends, to the offence of their parents, the danger of the boys, and the detriment of the Order. And thus without doubt it happens that unwilling boys, in no way compelled to learn, when grown up presume to teach, being altogether worthless and ignorant. A small error in the beginning becomes a very great one in the end; for thus also a certain and generally burthensome multitude of laymen grows up in your promiscuous flock, who, however, thrust themselves into the office of preaching the more impudently the less they understand what they talk about, in contempt of the Word of the Lord, andto the ruin of souls. Verily you plough with the ox and the ass contrary to the law, when you commit the culture of the Lord’s field to the learned and unlearned without distinction. It is written, oxen plough, and asses feed by them; because it is the business of the discreet to preach, but of the simple to feed themselves in silence by hearing sacred eloquence. How many stones do you throw upon the heap of Mercury in these days ? How many marriages do you procure for the eunuchs of wisdom ? How many blind speculators do you teach to go about upon the walls of the church ?

O slothful fishermen, who only use other men’s nets, which you have hardly skill to mend if broken, and none whatever to weave anew! You intrude upon the labors of others, recite their compositions, repeat their wisdom by rote, and mouth it with theatrical rant. As the stupid parrot imitates the words it hears, so such as you become reciters of everything, authors of nothing, imitating Balaam’s ass, which, though naturally insense of language, yet by her eloquent tongue was made the schoolmistress both of a master and a prophet.

Repent, ye paupers of Christ, and studiously revert to us your books, without whom you will never be able to put on your shoes in advancement of the Gospel of peace. Paul the apostle, preacher of the truth and first teacher of the Gentiles, ordered these three things to be brought to him by Timothy instead of all his furniture—his cloak, books, and parchment (2 Tim.); exhibiting a formulary to evangelical men that they may wear the habit ordained, have books to aid them in studying, and parchment for writing, which the apostle lays most stress upon, saying, “ but especially the parchments.” Truly that clergyman is maimed, and indeed basely mutilated, to the wreck of many things, who is totally ignorant of the art of writing; he beats the air with his voice; he edifies only the present, and provides nothing for the absent or for posterity. “ A man carried the inkhorn of a writer at his loins, who set the mark T upon the foreheads of those who sighed,” figuratively insinuating that if any man is deficient in the skill of writing he must not take upon himself the office of preaching penitence.

Finally, in closing the present chapter, your books, administering the needful, supplicate you to turn the attention of ignorant youths of apt wit to their studies, that you may not only truly teach them truth, discipline and knowledge, but terrify them with the rod, attract them with blandishments, soothe them with presents, and urge them with penal severities, that they may at once be made Socratics in morals and Peripatetics in doctrine.

Yesterday, as it were at the eleventh hour, the discreet landlord introduced you into the vineyard , repent, therefore, of being idle before it is altogether too late. Would that with the prudent steward you would be ashamed of begging so dishonorably ; for then without doubt you would have leisure for us your books, and for study.



Deploring the Destruction of Books by Wars and Fire.


MOST high author and lover of peace! scatter the nations that are desirous of war, more injurious to books than all other plagues; for war, wanting the discretion of reason, furiously attacks whatever falls in its way, and, not being under the guidance of reason, it destroys the vessels of reason, having no scale of discretion. Then the wise Apollo is subjected to Pluto, the prolific mother Phronesis becomes Phrenisis, and is submitted to the power of Frenzy. Then the winged Pegasus is shut up in the stable of Corydon, and the eloquent Mercury is choked. The prudent Pallas is pierced by the dart of error, and the jocund Pierides are suppressed by the truculent tyranny of Fury. O cruel sight! where Aristotle, the Phoebus of philosophers, to whom the lord of the domain himself committed the dominion over all things, is seen bound by impious hands, fettered with infamous chains, and carried off from the house of Socrates upon the shoulders of gladiators ; and him who deserved to obtain the magistracy in the government of the world, and the empire over its emperor, you may see subjected to a vile scoffer, by the most unjust rights of war.

O most iniquitous power of darkness ! that feared not to trample upon the approved divinity of Plato, who alone in the sight of the Creator was worthy to interpose ideal forms, before he could appease the strife of jarring chaos, and before he could invest matter with permanent form ; that he might demonstrate the archetype world from its author, and that the sensible world might be deduced from its supernal prototype.

O sorrowful sight! where the moral Socrates, whose acts are virtue, and whose words are doctrine, who produced justness of policy from the principles of Nature, is seen devoted to the service of a depraved undertaker ! We lament Pythagoras, the parent of harmony, atrociously scourged by furious female singers, uttering plaintive groans instead of songs. We pity Zeno, the chief of the Stoics, who, rather than divulge a secret, bit off his tongue, and boldly spat it in the face of a tyrant. Alas, now again, for the bruised Anaxarchus pounded in a mortar by Nicrocreon ! Certainly, we are not competent to lament with befitting sorrow each of the books which has perished in various parts of the world by the hazards of war. We may, however, record with a tearful pen the horrible havoc that happened through the auxiliary soldiers in the second Alexandrine war in Egypt, where 700,000 volumes, collected by the Ptolemies, kings of Egypt, during a long course of time, were consumed by fire, as Aulus Gellius relates (Attic Nights, B. 6, c. 17). What an Atlantic progeny is supposed to have then perished! comprehending the motions of the spheres, all the conjunctions of the planets, the nature and generation of the galaxy, the prognostications of comets, and whatsoever things are done in heaven or in the air. Who is not horrified by such an evil-omened holocaust, in which ink is offered up instead of blood, where glowing sparks spring from the blood of crackling parchment; where voracious flames consume so many thousands of innocents in whose mouths no falsehood is found ; where fire that knows not when to spare, converts so many shrines of eternal truth into fetid ashes! The pious virgin daughters of Jephthah and Agamemnon, murdered for the glory of their fathers, may be thought victims of a minor crime. How many labors of the celebrated Hercules, who, for his skill in astronomy, is described as having supported the heavens upon his shoulders, may we imagine to have perished, when he was now for the second time thrown into the flames! The secrets of heaven, that Inachus neither learned from man nor by human means, but received by divine inspiration, whatsoever his half-brother Zoroaster, the servant of unclean spirits disseminated amongst the Brahmins ; whatsoever holy Enoch, the governor of Paradise, prophesied before he was transferred from the world ; yea, whatsoever the first Adam taught his sons, as he had previously seen it in the book of eternity, when rapt in an ecstasy—may with probability be thought to have been destroyed by those impious flames. The religion of the Egyptians, which the book called Logistoricus so highly commends; the polity of the ancient Athenians, who preceded the Athenians of Greece 9,000 years; the verses of the Chaldeans; the astronomy of the Arabs and Indians; the ceremonies of the Jews; the architecture of the Babylonians; the Georgies of Noah; the divinations of Moses; the trigonometry of Joshua; the enigmas of Samson; the problems of Solomon, most clearly argued from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop; the antidotes of Aisculapius; the grammatics of Cadmus; the poems of Parnassus; the Oracles of Apollo; the Argonautics of Jason ; the stratagems of Palamedes; and an infinity of other secrets of science—are believed to have been lost in like manner by fires.

Would the demonstrative syllogism of the quadrature of the circle have been concealed from Aristotle, if wicked wars had permitted the books of the ancients, containing the methods of the whole of Nature, to be forthcoming? Or would he have left the problem of the eternity of the world undecided, or have at all doubted about the plurality of human intellects, and of their perpetuity, as he is with some reason believed to have done, if the perfect sciences of the ancients had not been exposed to the pressure of odious wars? For by wars we are dispersed in foreign countries, dismembered, wounded, and enormously mutilated, buried in the earth, drowned in the sea, burned in the fire, and slain by every species of violent slaughter. How much of our blood did the warlike Scipio shed, when earnestly bent upon the overthrow of Carthage, the emulous assailant of the Roman empire ? How many thousands of thousands did the ten years’ Trojan war send out of the world I How many, upon the murder of Tully by Anthony, went into the recesses of remote provinces! How many of us, when Boethius was banished by Theodoric, were dispersed into the various regions of the world like sheep whose shepherd is slain! How many, when Seneca fell by the malice of Nero, and willingly or unwillingly went towards the gates of death, withdrew weeping, and not knowing where we ought to take up our abode when separated from him. Fortunate was that transfer of books which Xerxes is described to have made from the Athenians to the Persians, and which Zeleucus brought back from the Persians to Athens.

O, what becoming pride, what admirable exultation might you behold, when the mother, leaping for joy, met her children, and the bride-chamber of the now aged parent was once more pointed out to her offspring as the lodging assigned to its former tenants ! Now cedar shelves with light beams and supporters are most neatly planed, labels are designed in gold and ivory for each partition, in which the volumes themselves are reverently deposited and most nicely arranged, so that no one can impede the entrance of another, or injure its brother by over-pressure.

In all other respects, indeed, the damages which are brought on by the tumults of war, especially upon the race of books, are infinite ; and forasmuch also as it is a property of the infinite that it can neither be stepped over nor passed through, we will here finally set up the pillars of our complaints, and, drawing in our reins, return to the prayers with which we set out, suppliantly beseeching the ruler of Olympus and the most high Dispenser of all the world, that he may abolish war, establish peace, and bring about tranquil times under his own special protection.



Of the numerous Opportunities of the Author of Collecting Books from all Quarters.


AS there is a time and opportunity for every purpose, as Ecclesiastes witnesseth (ch. iii.), we will now proceed to particularize the numerous opportunities we have enjoyed, under divine propitiation, in our proposed acquisition of books. For, although from our youth we have ever been delighted to hold special and social communion with literary men and lovers of books, yet prosperity attending us, having obtained the notice of his Majesty the King, and being received into his own family, we acquired a most ample facility of visiting at pleasure and of hunting as it were some of the most delightful coverts, the public and private libraries both of the regulars and seculars. Indeed, while we performed the duties of Chancellor and Treasurer of the most invincible and ever magnificently triumphant King of England, Edward III. (of that name) after the Conquest— whose days may the Most High long and tranquilly deign to preserve!—after first inquiring into the things that concerned his Court, and then the public affairs of his kingdom, an easy opening was afforded us, under the countenance of royal favor, for freely searching the hiding-places of books. For the flying fame of our love had already spread in all directions, and it was reported not only that we had a longing desire for books and especially for old ones, but that anybody could more easily obtain our favor by quartos than by money. Wherefore when supported by the bounty of the aforesaid prince of worthy memory, we were enabled to oppose or advance, to appoint or discharge, crazy quartos and tottering folios, precious however in our sight as well as in our affections, flowed in most rapidly from the great and the small, instead of new year’s gifts and remunerations, and instead of presents and jewels. Then the cabinets of the most noble monasteries were opened, cases were unlocked, caskets were unclasped, and astonished volumes which had slumbered for long ages in their sepulchres were roused up, and those that lay hid in dark places were overwhelmed with the rays of a new light. Books heretofore most delicate, now become corrupted and abominable, lay lifeless, covered indeed with the excrements of mice and pierced through with the gnawing of worms ; and those that were formerly clothed with purple and fine linen, were now seen reposing in dust and ashes, given over to oblivion, the abodes of moths. Amongst these nevertheless, as time served, we sat down more voluptuously than the delicate physician could do amidst his stores of aromatics; and where we found an object of love, we found also an assuagement. Thus the sacred vessels of science came into the power of our disposal—some being given, some sold, and not a few lent for a time.

Without doubt, many who perceived us to be contented with gifts of this kind, studied to contribute those things freely to our use which they could most willingly do without themselves. We took care, however, to conduct the business of such so favorably that the profit might accrue to them; justice therefore suffered no detriment.

Moreover, if we would have amassed cups of gold and silver, excellent horses, or no mean sums of money, we could in those days have laid up abundance of wealth for ourselves ; but indeed we wished for books, not bags; we delighted more in folios than florins, and preferred paltry pamphlets to pampered palfreys. In addition to this, we were charged with the frequent embassies of the said prince of everlasting memory, and, owing to the multiplicity of State affairs, were sent first to the Roman Chair, then to the Court of France, then to various other kingdoms of the world, on tedious embassies and in perilous times, carrying about with us, however, that fondness for books which many waters could not extinguish; for this, like a certain drug, sweetened the wormwood of peregrination ; this, after the perplexing intricacies, scrupulous circumlocutions of debate, and almost inextricable labyrinths of public business, left an opening for a little while to breathe the temperature of a milder atmosphere. O blessed God of gods in Sion! what a rush of the flood of pleasure rejoiced our heart as often as we visited Paris, the Paradise of the world ! There we longed to remain, where, on account of the greatness of our love, the days ever appeared to us to be few. There are delightful libraries in cells redolent of aromatics; there flourishing greenhouses of all sorts of volumes; there academic meads trembling with the earthquake of Athenian Peripatetics pacing up and down; there the promontories of Parnassus, and the porticos of the Stoics. There is to be seen Aristotle, the surveyor of arts and sciences, to whom alone belongs all that is most excellent in doctrine in this transitory world. There Ptolemy extends cycles and eccentrics ; and Gensachar plans out the figures and numbers of the planets. There Paul reveals his Arcana; and Dionysius arranges and distinguishes the hierarchies. There whatsoever Cadmus the Phoenician collected of grammatics, the virgin Carmentis represents entire in the Latin character. There in very deed, with an open treasury and untied purse-strings, we scattered money with a light heart, and redeemed inestimable books with dirt and dust. Every buyer is apt to boast of his great bargains; but consider, how good, how agreeable it is to collect the arms of the clerical militia into one pile, that it may afford us the means of resisting the attacks of heretics if they rise against us. Furthermore, we are conscious of having seized the greatest opportunity in this— namely, that from an early age, bound by no matter what partial favor, we attached ourselves with most exquisite solicitude to the society of masters, scholars, and professors of various arts, whom perspicacity of wit and celebrity in learning had rendered most conspicuous; encouraged by whose consolatory conversation, we were most deliciously nourished, sometimes with explanatory investigation of arguments, at others with recitations of treatises on the progress of physics, and of the Catholic doctors, as it were, with multiplied and successive dishes of learning. Such were the comrades we chose in our boyhood ; such we entertained as the inmates of our chambers ; such the companions of our journeys; such the messmates of our board ; and such entirely our associates in all our fortunes. But as no happiness is permitted to be of long duration, we were sometimes deprived of the personal presence of some of these luminaries, when, Justice looking down upon them from heaven, well-earned ecclesiastical promotions and dignities fell in their way ; whence it came to pass, as it should do, that, being incumbents of their own cures, they were compelled to absent themselves from our courtesies.

Again. We will add a most compendious way by which a great multitude of books, as well old as new, came into our hands. Never indeed having disdained the poverty of religious devotees, assumed for Christ, we never held them in abhorrence, but admitted them from all parts of the world into the kind embraces of our compassion ; we allured them with most familiar affability into a devotion to our person, and, having allured, cherished them for the love of God with munificent liberality, as if we were the common benefactor of them all, but nevertheless with a certain propriety of patronage, that we might not appear to have given preference to any —to these under all circumstances we became a refuge; to these we never closed the bosom of our favor. Wherefore we deserved to have those as the most peculiar and zealous promoters of our wishes, as well by their personal as their mental labors, who, going about by sea and land, surveying the whole compass of the earth, and also inquiring into the general studies of the universities of the various provinces, were anxious to administer to our wants, under a most certain hope of reward.

Amongst so many of the keenest hunters, what leveret could lie hid ? What fry could evade the hook, the net, or the trawl of these men ? From the body of divine law, down to the latest controversial tract of the day, nothing could escape the notice of these scrutinizers. If a devout sermon resounded at the fount of Christian Faith, the most holy Roman Court, or if an extraneous question were to be sifted on account of some new pretext; if the dulness of Paris, which now attends more to studying antiquities than to subtly producing truth; if English perspicacity overspread with ancient lights always emitted new rays of truth, whatsoever it promulgated, either for the increase of knowledge or in declaration of the faith—this, while recent, was poured into our ears, not mystified by imperfect narration nor corrupted by absurdity, but from the press of the purest presser it passed, dregless, into the vat of our memory. When indeed we happened to turn aside to the towns and places where the aforesaid paupers had convents,we were not slack in visiting their chests and other repositories of books ; for there, amidst the deepest poverty, we found the most exalted riches treasured up; there, in their satchels and baskets, we discovered not only the crumbs that fell from the master’s table for the little dogs, but indeed the shewbread without leaven, the bread of angels, containing in itself all that is delectable—yea, the granaries of Joseph full of corn and all the furniture of Egypt, and the richest gifts that the Queen of Sheba brought to Solomon. These are the ants that lay up in harvest, the laborious bees that are continually fabricating cells of honey; the successors of Belzaleel, in devising whatsoever can be made by the workman in gold, silver and precious stones, with which the Temple of the church may be decorated; these, the ingenious embroiderers who make the ephod and breastplate of the Pontiff, as also the various garments of the priests. These keep in repair the curtains, cloths, and red ram skins with which the tabernacle of the church militant is covered over. These are the husbandmen that sow, the oxen that tread out the corn, the blowers of the trumpets, the twinkling Pleiades, and the stars remaining in their order, which cease not to fight against Sisera. And that truth may be honored (saving the opinion of any man), although these may have lately entered the Lord’s vineyard at the eleventh hour, as our most beloved books anxiously alleged in the sixth chapter, they have nevertheless in that shortest hour trained more layers of the sacred books than all the rest of the vine-dressers, following the footsteps of Paul, who, being the last in vocation but the first in preaching, most widely spread the Gospel of Christ. Amongst these we had some of two of the orders—namely, Preachers and Minors, who were raised to the pontifical state, who had stood at our elbows, and been the guests of our family; men in every way distinguished as well by their morals as by their learning, and who had applied themselves with unwearied industry to the correction, explanation, indexing, and compilation of various volumes.

Indeed, although we had obtained abundance both of old and new works through an extensive communication with all the religious orders, yet we must in justice extol the Preachers with a special commendation in this respect; for we found them above all other religious devotees ungrudging of their most acceptable communications, and overflowing with a certain divine liberality ; we experienced them, not to be selfish hoarders, but meet professors of enlightened knowledge. Besides all the opportunities already touched upon, we easily acquired the notice of the stationers and librarians, not only within the provinces of our native soil, but of those dispersed over the kingdoms of France, Germany, and Italy, by the prevailing power of money; no distance whatever impeded, no fury of the sea deterred them; nor was cash wanting for their expenses when they sent or brought us the wished-for books; for they knew to a certainty that their hopes reposed in our bosom could not be disappointed, but ample redemption with interest was secure with us. Lastly, our common captivatrix of the love of all men (money) did not neglect the rectors of country schools nor the pedagogues of clownish boys; but rather, when we had leisure to enter their little gardens and paddocks, we culled redolent flowers upon the surface, and dug up neglected roots (not, however, useless to the studious), and such coarse digests of barbarism as with the gift of eloquence might be made sanative to the pectoral arteries. Amongst productions of this kind we found many most worthy of renovation, which when the foul rust was skilfully polished off and the mask of old age removed, deserved to be once more remodelled into comely countenances, and which, we having applied a sufficiency of the needful means, resuscitated for an exemplar of future resurrection, having in some measure restored them to renewed soundness. Moreover, there was always about us in our halls no small assemblage of antiquaries, scribes, bookbinders, correctors, illuminators, and generally of all such persons as were qualified to labor advantageously in the service of books.

To conclude. All of either sex of every degree, estate or dignity, whose pursuits were in any way connected with books, could with a knock most easily open the door of our heart, and find a convenient reposing place in our bosom. We so admitted all who brought books, that neither the multitude of first-comers could produce a fastidiousness of the last, nor the benefit conferred yesterday be prejudicial to that of today. Wherefore, as we were continually resorted to by all the aforesaid persons as to a sort of adamant attractive of books, the desired accession of the vessels of science, and a multifarious flight of the best volumes were made to us. And this is what we undertook to relate at large in the present chapter.



The Ancient Students surpassed the Modern in Fervency of Learning.


ALTHOUGH the novelties of the moderns were never the burthen of our desires, we have always with grateful affection honored those who found leisure for the studies and opinions of the primitive Fathers, and ingeniously or usefully added anything to them. We have nevertheless coveted with a more undisturbed desire the well-digested labors of the ancients. Whether they were naturally invigorated with the capacity of a more perspicacious mind, whether they addicted themselves perhaps to more intense study, or whether they succeeded by the support of both these aids, we have clearly discovered this one thing—that their successors are scarcely competent to discuss the discoveries of those who preceded them, or to comprehend those things by the shorter way of instruction which the ancients quarried up by their own roundabout contrivances.

For as we read that they possessed a more excellent proportion of body than what modern times are known to exhibit, so there is no absurdity in believing that most of the ancients were more refulgent in the clearness of their understandings, as the works they performed, by both appear alike unattainable by their successors. Whence Phocas in the prologue of his Grammar writes:

Omnia cum veterum sint explorata libellis Multa loqui breviter sit novitatis opus.

As in the books of the ancients all things have been explored, Be it the work of novelty to say much in few words.

For certainly if the question is about ardor in learning and diligence in study, these devoted their whole life entirely to philosophy; but the contemporaries of our age negligently apply a few years of ardent youth, burning by turns with the fire of vice; and when they have attained the acumen of discerning a doubtful truth, they immediately become involved in extraneous business, retire, and say farewell to the schools of philosophy; they sip the frothy must of juvenile wit over the difficulties of philosophy, and pour out the purified old wine with economical care.

Further, as Ovid justly laments, De Vetula:

All men incline to things affording gain;

Few study wisdom, more for riches strain;

Thee they prostitute, O virgin Science;

Thee venal make, whose chaste compliance

None for thy own sake ask. Man rather tries

Through thee to thrive than to philosophize.

And thus as the love of wisdom is doomed to exile, the love of money rules, which is evidently the most violent poison of discipline. In what manner indeed the ancients set no other limit to their studies than that of their life, Valerius Maximus shows to Tiberius by the examples of many (lib. 8, cap. 7). Carneades (he says) was a laborious and constant soldier of science; for having completed his ninetieth year, that same was the end of his living and philosophizing. Socrates during his ninety-fourth year wrote a most noble book. Sophocles being nearly one hundred years old wrote his Oedipodseon, that is, the Book of the Acts of CEdipus. Simonides wrote verses in his eightieth year. Aulus Gellius wished to live no longer than while he was competent to write, as he testifies in the prologue of his Attic Nights. But the philosopher Taurus, in order to excite young people to study, used to adduce the fervor of study that possessed Euclid the Socratic, as Aulus Gellius relates in his aforesaid volume (lib. 6, cap. io.). For as the Athenians hated the Megarenses, they decreed that if any one of them should enter Athens he should be beheaded; but Euclid, who was a Megarensian, and had heard Socrates before that decree, went afterwards to hear him in the night disguised as a woman and returned, the distance from Megara to Athens being twenty miles. Imprudent and excessive was the fervor of Archimedes, a lover of the geometric art, who would neither tell his name, nor raise his head from a figure he had drawn, by doing which he might have prolonged the fate of his mortal life ; but thinking more of his study than his life, he imbrued his favorite figure with his vital blood. There are many more examples of the same sort to our purpose, which the brevity we affect does not permit us to detail. But with sorrow we say that the celebrated clerks of these days fall into a very different course. Laboring, indeed, under ambition at an early age, fitting Icarian wings upon their feeble and untried arms, they immaturely seize upon the magisterial cap, and become worthless puerile professors of many faculties, which they by no means pass through step by step, but ascend to by leaps, after the manner of goats ; and when they have tasted a little of the great stream, they think they have drunk it to the bottom, their mouths being scarcely wetted. They raise up a ruinous edifice upon an unstable foundation, because they were not founded in the first rudiments at the proper time : being now promoted, they are ashamed to learn what it would have become them to have learnt when younger, and thus in effect they are perpetually compelled to pay the penalty of having too hastily leaped into undue authority. For these and other similar causes scholastic tyros do not obtain, by their scanty lucubrations, that soundness of learning that the ancients possessed, inasmuch as they can now be endowed with honors, distinguished by names, authorized by the garb of office, and solemnly placed in the chairs of their seniors, as soon as they have crept out of their cradles, been hastily weaned, and can repeat the rules of Priscian and Donatus by rote. In their teens and beardless, they re-echo with infantine prattle the Categories and Parmenias, in the writing of which the great Aristotle is feigned to have dipped his pen in his heart’s blood. Passing the routine of which faculties, with dangerous brevity and a baneful diploma, they lay violent hands upon holy Moses ; and sprinkling their faces with the dark waters of the clouds of the air, they prepare their heads, unadorned by any of the greyness of old age, for the mitre of the Pontificate. By such pernicious steps are these pests put forward, and aided in attaining to that fantastical clerkship. The Papal provision is importuned by the seductive entreaties, or rather prayers, of cardinals and powerful friendswhich cannot be rejected, and the cupidity of relations, who, building up Sion upon their own blood, watch for ecclesiastical dignities for their nephews and wards before they are matured by the course of nature or sufficient instruction. Hence not without shame we observe the Parisian Palladium in our woful times, suffering under the paroxysm we are deploring. There, where zeal was lately hot, it now almost freezes; where the rays of so noble a school formerly gave light* to every corner of the earth, there the pen of every scribe is now at rest, the generation of books is no longer propagated, nor is there any one who can attempt to be considered as a new author. They involve their opinions in unskilful language, and are destitute of all logical propriety, excepting that with furtive vigilance they find out English subtleties which they manifestly carry off.

The admirable Minerva seems to have made the tour of the nations of mankind, and casually come in contact with them all, from one end of the world to the other, that she might communicate herself to each. We perceive her to have passed through the Indians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, Arabians, and Latins. She next deserted Athenas, and then retired from Rome; and having already given the slip to the Parisians, she has at last happily reached Britain, the most renowned of islands, or rather the Microcosm, that she may show herself indebted to Greeks and barbarians. From the accomplishment of which miracle it is conjectured by many that, as the Sophia of Gaul is now become lukewarm, so her emasculated militia is become altogether languid.



Science grew to Perfection by Degrees.— The Author provided a Greek and a Hebrew Grammar.


ASSIDUOUSLY searching out the wisdom of the ancients according to the advice of the wise man (Eccl. xxxix.), who says, “ A wise man searches out all the wisdom of the ancients;” we have not led ourselves into that opinion for the purpose of saying that the first founders cleared away all the rudeness of the arts, knowing that the invention of every one has been weighed, in the faithful endeavor to make a small portion of science efficient. But through the careful investigations of many, the symbols being given as it were one by one, the vigorous bodies of the sciences grew up by successive augmentations into the immense copiousness we now behold : for scholars ever melted down the opinions of their  masters in renewed furnaces, running off the previously neglected dross till they became choice gold, proved, seven times purged of earth, and unalloyed by any admixture of error or doubt. Even Aristotle, although of gigantic mind, in whom it pleased Nature to try how great a portion of reason she could admit into mortality, and whom the Most High made but little inferior to the angels, who sucked those wonderful volumes out of his own fingers which the whole world scarcely comprehends, would not have flourished if he had not, with the penetrating eyes of a lynx, looked through the sacred books of the Babylonians, Egyptians, Chaldeans, Persians, and Medes, all which he transferred into his own treasuries in eloquent Greek. Receiving their correct assertions, he polished their asperities, cut off their superfluities, supplied their deficiencies, expunged their errors, and thought it right to return thanks, not only to those who taught truly, but also to those who erred, as their errors point out a way of more easily investigating truth, as he himself clearly shows (Metaph. 2). Thus many lawyers compiled the Pandect, many physicians the Tegni, and Avicenna the canon. Thus Pliny edited that mass of Natural History, and Ptolemy the Almagest; for after this manner it is not difficult to perceive in writers of annals that the last always presupposes a prior, without whom he would in no way have been competent to detail past events. The same thing holds good amongst the authors of science, as no man produced any science whatever alone; for between the more ancient and the more recent we find intermediates, old, indeed, if compared with our times, but new, if referred to the groundwork of science ; and these are held to be the most learned. What would Virgil, the greatest poet of the Latins, have done if he had not at all plundered Theocritus, Lucretius, and Homer, or ploughed with their heifer? What could Horace anyhow have pored over but Parthenius and Pindar, whose eloquence he could in no way imitate ? What Sallust, Tully, Boethius, Macrobius, LactantiusMartianus, nay, the whole cohort of the Latins in general, if they had not seen the labors of the Athenians or volumes of the Greeks? Jerome, skilled in the treasures of the three languages of Scripture; Ambrose ; Augustine, who, however, confessed that he hated Greek literature ; and still more, Gregory, who is described as altogether ignorant of it, would certainly have contributed little to the doctrines of the Church, if they had borrowed nothing from the more learned Greeks ; watered by whose rivulets, Rome, as she first generated philosophers after the image of the Greeks, so afterwards in like form she brought forth treatisers of the orthodox faith. The creeds we chant are the sweat of the Greeks, declared in their councils and confirmed by the martyrdom of many. Native dulness, however, as it falls out, gives way to the glory of the Latins; inasmuch as, if they were less learned in their studies, so they were less wicked in their errors. For instance, the Arian malice nearly eclipsed the whole Church. The Nestorian profligacy presumed to rave against the Virgin with blasphemous madness; for it would have taken from her the name of Queen as well as the definition Theotocos, Swtonos (divine genetrix), had not the invincible soldier, Cyril, been prepared to attack and extinguish it in single combat. We can neither enumerate the various kinds nor the authors of the heresies of the Greeks; for as they were the primitive cultivators of the most holy faith, so they were also the first sowers of darnel, as already said, and as they are declared to have been in histories worthy of credit. From this they afterwards proceeded to worse ; for while they endeavored to rend the seamless garment of the Lord, they entirely lost the light of philosophical doctrine; and being blind, they will fall into the abyss of new darknesses, unless He, by His hidden power, shall take care of them, whose wisdom numbers cannot measure. But enough of this, for here the power of judging is taken from us. We draw this one conclusion, however, from what has been said : namely, that ignorance of the Greek language is at this day highly injurious to the study of the Latins, without which the dogmas either of the ancient Christians or Gentiles cannot be comprehended. The same may credibly be supposed of the Arabic in many astronomical treatises, and of the Hebrew in reading the Holy Bible. Clement the Fifth providently meets these defects, if prelates would only faithfully observe what is easily ordained. Wherefore we have taken care to provide for our scholars a Hebrew as well as a Greek Grammar, with certain adjuncts, by the help of which studious readers may be instructed in writing, reading, and understanding the said languages, although the hearing alone with the ears can represent propriety of idiom of the mind.



Laws are, properly speaking, neither Sciences nor Books.


THE LUCRATIVE skill adapted to worldly dispensations in the books of positive law, is the more usefully serviceable to the sons of the world, the less it contributes to the sons of light, towards comprehending the mysteries of Holy Scripture and the arcane sacraments of the faith, inasmuch as it peculiarly disposes to the friendship of this world, by which man is made the enemy of God, as James witnesseth (iv. 4). Hence, without doubt, human cupidity produces infinite contentions, which it extends oftener than it extinguishes, by intricate laws that can be turned to either side. Positive law, however, is distinguished as having emanated from lawyers and pious princes to appease such contentions.

Truly when the discipline of contraries is one and the same, and the reasoning power is available to opposites, and at the same time human feelings are most prone to mischief, it happens that the practitioners of this faculty indulge more in protracting litigation than in peace; and quote the law, not according to the intention of the legislator, but violently twist his words to the purpose of their own machinations.

Wherefore, although the master love of books possessed our mind from childhood, a longing for which we took to instead of a desire for pleasure, yet an appetite for the books of civilians took little hold of our affections, and we bestowed but little labor and expense on acquiring volumes of that sort. They are nevertheless useful things, like the scorpion in treacle, as Aristotle, the sun of doctrine, said of logic in the book, De Poeno et Morte. We have even perceived a certain manifest difference of nature between laws and sciences ; as every science is delightful, and desires that, its bowels being inspected, the vitals of its principles may be laid open, the roots of its germination appear, and the emanation of its spring come to light; for thus, from the connate and consistent light of the truth of conclusion from principles, the body itself of science will become entirely lucid without any particle of obscurity. But laws, indeed, as they are certain covenants and human enactments for regulating civil life, or yokes of princes thrown over the horns of their subjects, they refuse to be reduced to the very synderesis of truth and origin of equity, and on that account may be feared to have more of the empire of will in them than of the judgment of reason ; for the same reason it is the opinion of wise men that the causes of laws are for the most part not to be discussed. For many laws acquire strength by custom alone, not from syllogistic necessity, like the arts, as Aristotle, the Phoebus of the school, affirms in the second book of his Politics, where he argues against the policy of Hippodamus, which promised to bestow rewards upon the inventors of new laws, because to abolish old laws and decree new, is to weaken the validity of those that exist; for things which receive stability from custom alone must necessarily go to ruin by disuse.

From all which it appears sufficiently clear that as laws are neither arts nor sciences, so neither can law books be properly called books of science or art; nor is this faculty to be numbered amongst the sciences, though by an appropriate word it may be called geology; but books of liberal literature are so useful to Divine Scripture, that the understanding may in vain aspire to a knowledge of it, without their help.



Of the Utility and Necessity of Grammar.


AS we were carefully nurtured in the reading of books, which it was our custom to read or hear daily, we duly considered how much an imperfect knowledge even of a single not be comprehended. Wherefore, with wonderful perseverance, we ordered the interpretation of exotic words to be noted down. We considered the orthography, prosody, etymology, and diasynthesis of the ancient grammarians with unyielding curiosity, and we took care to elucidate terms becoming obscure from too great age with suitable descriptions, so that we might prepare a level way for our students. And this is really the whole reason why we have labored  to renovate so many ancient volumes of the grammarians in emended editions; that we might so pave the king’s highway with them, that our future scholars might walk towards any of the arts whatever without stumbling.



A Vindication of Poetry, and its Utility.


THE missiles of all sorts which lovers of naked truth only cast at poets may be warded off by a twofold shield; because either a graceful turn of language is to be learned, where the subject is impure, or natural or historical truth may be traced where feigned but honest sentiments are treated of under the eloquence of typical fiction. Although all men certainly desire to know, yet all do not equally like to learn. Wherefore, feeling the labor of study, and finding it to fatigue the senses, most of them inconsiderately throw away the nut before they have broken the shell and got at the kernel; for there is a twofold innate love in mankind—namely, of self-liberty in conduct, and of a certain portion of pleasure in labor; whence no man submits himself to the rule of another without cause, or undertakes any labor whatever, that is tiresome, of his own free will; for cheerfulness perfects labor as beauty does youth, as Aristotle most truly affirms (Nic. Eth. io). Wherefore the prudence of the ancients discovered a remedy by which the wanton part of mankind might, in a manner, be taken in by a pious fraud, and the delicate Minerva lie hid under the dissembling mask of pleasure.

We are accustomed to allure children with gifts, to make them willing to learn those things freely which we mean them to apply to, even if unwilling; for does not corrupt nature impel itself by the same instinct by which, being prone to vice, it transmigrates to virtue ? This Horace declares to us in a short verse, where he treats of the art of poetry, saying :

                              Poets would improve or delight mankind.

And the same thing in another of his verses, writing,

                             He carries every point who mixes the useful with the delightful.

How many scholars has the Helleflight of Euclid repelled, as if it were a high and steep cliff that could not be scaled by the help of any ladder! This is crabbed language, say they, and who can listen to it ? That son of inconstancy, who at last wished to be transformed into an ass, would perhaps never have rejected the study of philosophy if it had familiarly fallen in his way, covered with this same veil of pleasure; but being suddenly stupefied at the chair of Crato, and thunderstruck as it were by his infinite questions, he saw no safety whatever but in flight. We have adduced this much in exculpation of poets, and will now show that those who study them with a proper intention are blameless. Ignorance indeed of a single word impedes the understanding of the most important sentences, as assumed in the preceding chapter. As the sayings therefore of the sacred poets frequently allude to fictions, it necessarily follows that the poem introduced being unknown, the whole meaning of the author is entirely obstructed; and certainly, as Cassiodorus says in his book upon the Institution of Divine Literature, those things are not to be thought small without which great ones cannot subsist. It holds good therefore that, being ignorant of poetry, we cannot understand Jerome, Augustine, Boethius, Lactantius, Sidonius, and many others, whose joyful songs a long chapter would not contain. But Venerable Bede has in a lucid discussion settled the point of this sort of doubtfulness, as the great compiler Gratian, the repeater of many authors, recites, who, as he was niggardly in the matter, so he is found to be confused in the manner of his compilation. He writes, in Distinction 37, beginning, Turbat acumen : “ Some read secular literature for pleasure, being delighted with the fictions of poets, and the ornament of their words; but others study them for erudition, that, by reading the errors of the Gentiles, they may detest them, and that they may devoutly carry off what they find in them useful for the service of sacred erudition : such as these, study secular literature laudably.” Thus far Bede.

Admonished by this salutary instruction, let the detractors of poetical students be silent for the present; nor should ignorant people of this sort wish for fellow-ignoramuses, for this is like the solace of the miserable. Let every man therefore confine himself to the feelings of a pious intention ; he may thus make his study grateful to God from any materials whatever, the circumstances of virtue being observed. And if he should become a poet, as the great Maro confesses himself to have done by the help of Ennius, he has not lost his labor.



Of those who ought most particularly to Love Books.


TO him who recollects what has been said, it is evident and perspicuous who ought to be the greatest lovers of books. For who stand most in need of wisdom in fulfilling the duties of their calling usefully ? Those, without doubt, who are most firmly bound to exhibit the most ready and anxious affection of a grateful heart for the sacred vessels of wisdom. But as Aristotle, the Phoebus of philosophers, who is neither mistaken nor to be mistaken in human affairs, says in the proem of his Metaphysics: “ It is the business of a wise man to regulate both himself and others properly.” Wherefore princes and prelates, judges and teachers, and all other directors of public affairs whatever, as they have need of wisdom beyond other men, so they ought to be zealous beyond other men about the vessels of wisdom. Boethius indeed emblematically represented Philosophy holding a sceptre in her left hand, and a book in her right; by which it is evidently shown to all men that no one can duly govern a State without books. You, says Boethius, addressing himself to Philosophy, sanctioned this axiom by the mouth of Plato—“ That States would be happy if those who studied wisdom ruled them, or if it could happen that wisdom had the appointment of their rulers.” Again, the bearing of the emblem itself insinuates this to us—that inasmuch as the right hand excels the left, insomuch a contemplative life is more worthy than an active; and at the same time it is shown to be the business of a wise man, first to employ himself in the study of truth, and then in the dispensation of temporal affairs, each in its turn. We read that Philip devoutly returned thanks to the gods, because they had granted to Alexander to be born in the days of Aristotle, educated under whose tuition he might be worthy to govern his paternal kingdom. As Phaeton, become the driver of his father’s chariot, was ignorant of its management, and unfortunately administered the heat of Phoebus, sometimes at too near and sometimes at too remote a distance, he justly deserved to be struck with thunder for his unsteady driving, and that all below might not be put in peril. The histories both of the Greeks and Latins relate that there were no noble princes amongst them who were unskilled in literature. The sacred Mosaic law, prescribing a rule for a king by which he must reign, commands him to have the book of Divine law written out for himself, according to the copy set forth by the priest, in which he is to read all the days of his life. Truly God himself, who made, and daily and individually fashions the hearts of men, had sufficiently known the slipperiness of human memory, and the instability of virtuous intentions in mankind. For which reason it was His will that there should be a book, an antidote as it were to all evil, of which He ordered the continued reading and use, as the most wholesome daily food of the spirit; by which the understanding, being refreshed and neither enervated nor doubtful, might be altogether fearless in action. This, John of Salisbury elegantly touches upon in his Policraticon (lib. 4). To conclude: All sorts of men who are distinguished by the tonsure or clerical name, against whom the fourth, fifth, and sixth chapters of this book complained, are bound to render service to books with perpetual veneration.



Of the manifold Effects of the Sciences which are contained in Books.


IT is beyond the wit of man, however deeply he may have drunk of the Pegasean fountain, perfectly to unfold the title of this present chapter. If any one can speak with the tongues of men and angels; if he can be transformed into Mercury or Tully; if he can charm with the creamy eloquence of Livy; if he can plead with the suavity of Demosthenes—even he will allege the hesitation of Moses, or confess with Jeremiah that he is a child, not yet knowing how to speak, or will imitate the echo resounding in the lofty mountains; for the love of books is evidently the love of wisdom, which has been proved to be ineffable. This love is also called by a Greek word, Philosophy, whose virtue no created intelligence comprehends, wherefore it is believed to be the mother of everything that is good (Wisd. vii.); for like a heavenly dew it extinguishes the heat of carnal vices, when the intense commotion of the animal powers abates the force of natural virtue; by entirely expelling idleness, which being removed, every particle of concupiscence will perish. Hence Plato says, in Pheedo, “ The philosopher is manifest in this—that he separates the soul more widely from communion with the body than other men.” Love (says Jerome) the knowledge of the Scriptures, and you will not love the vices of the flesh. The godlike Zenocrates demonstrated this in the firmness of his purpose, whom the noble strumpet Phryne defined to be a statue, and not a man, as no enticement was able to shake his chastity; as Valerius relates at large (lib. 4, cap. 3). Our Origen is another example; who, that he might not chance to be effeminated by omnipotent woman, chose the medium between the two sexes by the abnegation i j,, of his extremities. A spiteful remedy truly—neither consonant to nature nor to virtue, whose business is not to make man insensible of the passions, but to check the first efforts of insubordination by the power of reason. Again : All who are affected by the love of books, hold worldly affairs and money very cheap, as Jerome writes to Vigilantius (Epist. 54), “ It is not for the same man to ascertain the value of gold coin and of writings; ” which somebody thus repeated in verse :

No tinker’s hand shall dare a book to stain;

No miser’s heart can wish a book to gain ;

The gold assayer cannot value books; On them the epicure disdainful looks.

One house at once, believe me, cannot hold. Lovers of books and hoarders up of gold.

No man therefore can serve Mammon and books. The deformities of vice are highly reprobated in books; so that they are thence said to detest vice in all its forms, who delight in perusing books. The demon who is named after Science, is most easily triumphed over by the knowledge of books ; his numerous versatile frauds, and thousand pernicious meanderings, are laid open to the readers of books, that he may not fraudulently circumvent the innocent, by transforming himself into an angel of light. The divine reverence is revealed to us by books; the virtues by which it is cultivated are most expressly divulged, and the reward is described which the truth, that neither deceives nor is deceived, promises. The contemplation of divine literature in which the Creator and the creature are alternately beheld, and which is drawn from the eternal stream of pleasure, is a perfect representation of future beatitude. Faith is founded on the power of letters; Hope is confirmed by the solace of books, as we retain it by patience and the consolation of Scripture; Charity is not inflated, but edified by the knowledge of true literature; nay, the Church appears, in the clearest light, to be established upon the Sacred Books. Books are delightful when prosperity happily smiles; when adversity threatens, they are inseparable comforters. They give strength to human compacts, nor are grave opinions brought forward without books. Arts and sciences, the benefits of which no mind can calculate, depend upon books. How great is the wonderful power arising from books! for by them we see not only the ends of the world, but of time ; and we contemplate alike things that are, and things that are not, as in a sort of mirror of eternity. In books, we ascend mountains and fathom the depths of the abyss ; we behold varieties of fishes which the common atmosphere can by no means contain in soundness; we distinguish the peculiarities of rivers and springs, and different countries, in volumes. We dig up the various kinds of metals, gems, and minerals, and substances of all sorts, out of books; and we learn the virtues of herbs, trees and plants, and behold at leisure the whole offspring of Neptune, Ceres, and Pluto; for if we are pleased to visit the inhabitants of heaven, by walking up Taurus, Caucasus, and Olympus, we transcend the kingdoms of Jove, and with lines and compasses measure the territories of the seven planets, and at last survey the great firmament itself, decorated with signs, degrees, and configurations in endless variety.

There we survey the Antarctic Pole, which eye hath not seen nor ear heard, and with delectable pleasure we admire the luminous way of the Galaxy, and the Zodiac painted with celestial animals. From this we pass on, through books, to separate substances; and as the intellect greets kindred intelligences with the eye of the mind, it discerns and cleaves to the First Cause of all the immovable Mover of infinite power, in love without end. Behold how, being led on by books, we obtain the reward of our beatitude while we are yet wayfarers : what more can we wish for? Without doubt, as Seneca teaches us in his eighty-fourth Letter, beginning Desij—“ Leisure without letters is death, and the sepulture of the living man so we justly conclude, from a converse meaning, that to be employed with literature and books is life.

Again, through books we intimate both to friends and enemies things that we can by no means safely entrust to messengers, inasmuch as access to the chambers of princes is generally conceded to a book, from which the voice of the author would be altogether excluded, as Tertullian says in the beginning of his Apologetics. When we are kept in prison, in chains, and entirely deprived of bodily liberty, we make use of the embassies of books to our friends, and to them we commit the expediting of our causes, and we transmit them there where access could not be .made by ourselves in case of death. By books we remember the past, and in a certain manner prophesy the future, and we fix things present that are vacillating and transient in the memory of writing.

It was a felicitous studiousness and a studious felicity of the powerful eunuch, of whom it is related, in the eighth chapter of Acts, that the love of prophetic reading so vehemently excited him, that he never ceased to read on account of traveling : he had given up the form of Queen Candace to oblivion, had removed the treasures he had the charge of from the care of his heart, and was alike regardless of the road, and of the chariot in which he was carried—the love of his book alone had claimed this domicile of chastity, disposed by which he was already worthy to enter the gate of the Faith. O gratifying love of books, that by the grace of baptism made this son of Hell and nursling of Tartarus a son of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Let the impotent pen now cease to consummate the tenor of an infinite undertaking, lest it may seem rashly to encounter what in the beginning was acknowledged to be impossible for any one to accomplish.



Of writing New Books and repairing old Ones.


AS it is necessary for a State to provide military arms, and prepare plentiful stores of provisions for soldiers who are about to fight, so it is evidently worth the labor of the Church militant to fortify itself against the attacks of pagans and heretics with a multitude of sound books. But because everything that is serviceable to mortals suffers the waste of mortality through lapse of time, it is necessary for volumes corroded by age to be restored by renovated successors, that perpetuity, repugnant to the nature of the individual, may be conceded to the species. Hence it is that Ecclesiastes significantly says, in the 12th chapter, “There is no end of making many books.” For as the bodies of books suffer continual detriment from a combined mixture of contraries in their composition, so a remedy is found out by the prudence of clerks, by which a holy book paying the debt of nature may obtain an hereditary substitute, and a seed may be raised up like to the most holy deceased, and that saying of Ecclesiasticus, chapter xxx., be verified, “ The father is dead, and as it were not dead, for he hath left behind him a son like unto himself.” The transcribers therefore of old books are, as it were, a sort of propagators of new sons, to whom that paternal duty has devolved, that the common stock may not be diminished. Transcribers of this sort are justly called antiquaries, whose studies Cas-siodorus confessed pleased him most of all the things that are accomplished by bodily labor, thus noticing it in his Institution of Divine Letters, cap. 3 :—“ Happy science (he says), praiseworthy diligence, to unfold language with the fingers, to give salvation to mortals in silence, and to fight against the illicit temptations of the devil with pen and ink !” So far Cassiodorus.

Moreover, our Saviour exercised the office of a writer, when, stooping down, He wrote with His finger on the ground (John viii.), that no man, however noble, may disdain to do that which the wisdom of God the Father is seen to have done. O singular serenity of writing, in the delineation of which the artificer of the world, at whose tremendous name every knee is bent, bowed down ! O venerable invention, singularly above all contrivances made by the hand of man, in which the breast of the Lord was humbly inclined, in which the finger of God was applied to perform the office of a pen ! We do not read that the Son of God sowed or ploughed, or wove or dug, or that any other of the mechanical arts were becoming to the divine wisdom humanized, excepting to trace letters by writing, that every noble man and sciolist may learn that fingers were given to man for the business of writing rather than for fighting. Wherefore we approve of the opinion of many books, which deem a clergyman unskilled in writing to be in a certain manner maimed, as aforesaid in Chapter VI. God himself inscribes the just in the book of the living. Moses indeed received stone tables written upon by the finger of God. Job exclaims, “ Let him who gives judgment write a book.” The trembling Belshazzar saw fingers writing on the wall, “ Mene, Tekel, Upharsin” (Dan. v.). “I,” says Jeremiah, “wrote in a volume with ink” (Jer. xxx.). Christ thus commanded His beloved John: “What you see, write in a book ” (Apoc. i.). The office of a writer was also enjoined by Isaiah and by Joshua, that the practice as well as the skill might be commended to posterity. The King of kings, and Lord of lords, Christ himself, had writing upon His garment and upon His thigh; as without writing, the perfect regal ornament of the Omnipotent cannot be apparent.

Those who write books of holy science do not cease to teach when dead. Paul did greater service in forming the Church by writing holy Epistles, than by evangelizing verbally to the Gentiles and Jews: for the compiler continues by books from day to day what the traveler laid in the earth formerly began ; and thus the prophetic words about teachers writing books are verified—“ They who teach many according to righteousness shall exist like the stars to all eternity ” (Dan. xii.). Moreover, Catholic doctors have determined that the deep researches of the ancients, before God deluged the original world by a general flood, are  to be ascribed to miracle and not to Nature; as God granted them as much of life as was requisite for discovering and inscribing the sciences in books, amongst which, according to Josephus, the wonderful diversities of astronomy required a period of 600 years, that they might be experimentally submitted to observation. But indeed they do not insinuate that the productions of the earth did not afford a more useful aliment to mortals in those primitive times than they do now; by which not only a more exhilarating energy of body was given, but also a more durable and flourishing age ; added to which, it conferred not a little to their strength, that the superfluities of voluptuousness were in every way discarded.

Therefore whosoever thou art, being endowed with the gift of God according to the counsel of the Holy Spirit (Eccles, xxxviii.), write wisdom while you have leisure, that your reward with the blessed and the length of your days may be increased. Now if we turn our discourse to the princes of the world, we find great emperors not only to have flourished by skill in the art of writing, but for the most part to have indulged in the practice of it. Julius Caesar, the first of them all as well in time as in virtue, left Commentaries upon the Gallic and Civil wars, written out by himself; he also made two books of Analogy, and as many against Cato (Anticatos), and a poem titled The Journey, and many other tracts. And Julius, as well as Augustus, invented secret modes of writing letters, that they might conceal what they wrote; for Julius put the fourth letter for the first, and so went through the alphabet; but Augustus put the second for the first, and the third for the second; and such was the custom afterwards. This last is said to have read and written daily, and even to have declaimed, in the greatest pressure of affairs, during the Mutinensian war. Tiberius wrote lyric verse and some Greek poems. Claudius in like manner, skilled both in the Greek and Latin languages, made various books. But in the art of writing, Titus went beyond these and others, who imitated the handwriting of whomsoever he pleased with the utmost facility, and therefore confessed that, if he had chosen, he could have become a great forger. All these things Suetonius notices in his Lives of the Twelve Caesars.



Of handling Books in a cleanly Manner, and keeping them in Order.


WE not only set before ourselves a service to God, in preparing volumes of new books, but we exercise the duties of a holy piety, if we first handle so as not to injure them, then return them to their proper places, and commend them to undefiling custody, that they may rejoice in their purity while held in the hand, and repose in security when laid up in their repositories. Truly, next to the vestments and vessels dedicated to the body of the Lord, holy books deserve to be most decorously handled by the clergy, upon which injury is inflicted as often as they presume to touch them with a dirty hand. Wherefore we hold it expedient to exhort students upon various negligences, which can always be avoided, but which are wonderfully injurious to books.

In the first place, then, let there be a mature decorum in opening and closing of volumes, that they may neither be unclasped with precipitous haste, nor thrown aside after inspection without being duly closed; for it is necessary that a book should be much more carefully preserved than a shoe. But school folks are in general perversely educated, and, if not restrained by the rule of their superiors, are puffed up with infinite absurdities; they act with petulance, swell with presumption, judge of everything with certainty, and are inexperienced in anything.

You will perhaps see a stiff-necked youth lounging sluggishly in his study: while the frost pinches him in winter time, oppressed with cold, his watery nose drops, nor does he take the trouble to wipe it with his handkerchief till it has moistened the book beneath it with its vile dew. For such a one I would substitute a cobbler’s apron in the place of his book. He has a nail like a giant’s, perfumed with stinking ordure, with which he points out the place of any pleasant subject. He distributes innumerable straws in various places, with the ends in sight, that he may recall by the mark what his memory cannot retain. These straws, which the stomach of the book never digests, and which nobody takes out, at first distend the book from its accustomed closure, and being carelessly left to oblivion, at last become putrid. He is not ashamed to eat fruit and cheese over an open book, and to transfer his empty cup from side to side upon it; and because he has not his almsbag at hand, he leaves the rest of the fragments in his books. He never ceases to chatter with eternal garrulity to his companions; and while he adduces a multitude of reasons void of physical meaning, he waters the book, spread out upon his lap, with the sputtering of his saliva. What is worse, he next reclines with his elbows on the book, and by a short study invites a long nap; and by way of repairing the wrinkles, he twists back the margins of the leaves, to the no small detriment of the volume. He goes out in the rain, and returns, and now flowers make their appearance upon our soil. Then the scholar we are describing, the neglector rather than the inspector of books, stuffs his volume with firstling violets, roses, and quadrifoils. He will next apply his wet hands, oozing with sweat, to turning over the volumes, then beat the white parchment all over with his dusty gloves, or hunt over the page, line by line, with his forefinger covered with dirty leather. Then, as the flea bites, the holy book is thrown aside, which, however, is scarcely closed once in a month, and is so swelled with the dust that has fallen into it, that it will not yield to the efforts of the closer.

But impudent boys are to be specially restrained from meddling with books, who, when they are learning to draw the forms of letters, if copies of the most beautiful books are allowed them, begin to become incongruous annotators, and wherever they perceive the broadest margin about the text, they furnish it with a monstrous alphabet, or their unchastened pen immediately presumes to draw any other frivolous thing whatever that occurs to their imagination. There the Latinist, there the Sophist, there every sort of unlearned scribe tries the goodness of his pen, which we have frequently seen to have been most injurious to the fairest volumes, both as to utility and price. There are also certain thieves who enormously dismember books by cutting off the side margins for letter paper, leaving only the letters or text, or the flyleaves put in for the preservation of the book, which they take away for various uses and abuses, which sort of sacrilege ought to be prohibited under a threat of anathema.

But it is altogether befitting the decency of a scholar, that washing should without fail precede reading, as often as he returns from his meals to study, before his fingers besmeared with grease loosen a clasp or turn over the leaf of a book. Let not a crying child admire the drawings in the capital letters, lest he pollute the parchment with his wet fingers, for he instantly touches whatever he sees.

Furthermore, laymen, to whom it matters not whether they look at a book turned wrong side upwards or spread before them in its natural order, are altogether unworthy of any communion with books. Let the clerk also take order that the dirty scullion, stinking from the pots, do not touch the leaves of books unwashed; but he who enters without spot shall give his services to the precious volumes. The cleanliness of delicate hands, as if scabs and pustules could not be clerical characteristics, might also be most important, as well to books as to scholars, who as often as they perceive defects in books should attend to them instantly, for nothing enlarges more quickly than a rent, as a fracture neglected at the time will afterwards be repaired with increased trouble.

The most meek Moses instructs us about making cases for books in the neatest manner, wherein they may be safely preserved from all damage. “Take this book,” says he, “and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God” (Deut. xxxi.). O, befitting place, appropriate library, which was made of imperishable Shittim wood, and covered all over inside and out with gold! But our Saviour also, by His own example, precludes all unseemly negligence in the treatment of books, as may be read in Luke iv. For when He had read over the Scriptural prophecy written about himself in a book delivered to Him, He did not return it to the minister till He had first closed it with His most holy hands; by which act students are most clearly taught that they ought not in the smallest degree whatever to be negligent about the custody of books.



Author against Detractors.


NOTHING is held to be more unjust in human affairs than that those things which are most justly done should be perverted by the obloquies of the malignant, as if he who reports the news of a fault should thereby deserve the highest degree of respect. Many things are done with an honest intention ; the right hand does not interfere with the left; the mass is not corrupted by any ferment, nor is the garment woven of flax and wool. A pious work, however, is mendaciously transformed into a monster by the legerdemain of perverters. This state of a sinful mind is without doubt to be reprobated, because it not only judges for the worst of acts morally doubtful, but even with iniquitous perversity very often depraves those that bear the stamp of goodness.

Now, although the love of books, in a clerical man, from the nature of the object, bears honor in the face of it, yet it made us in a wonderful manner obnoxious to the criticisms of many; traduced by whose wonderings we were sometimes remarked upon for superfluous curiosity, sometimes for earnestness in that matter alone, sometimes for a display of vanity, and sometimes for immoderate pleasure in literature; but, in truth, these vituperations no more discompose us than the barking of a lapdog, being contented with the testimony of Him to whom alone it belongs to search the reins and heart. For as the final intention of the secret will is concealed from man and exposed to God alone, the inspector of hearts, they deserve to be rebuked for pernicious rashness who, not perceiving the mainspring of human actions, so readily set the sinister mark of their baneful temerity upon them. For the end, in things practicable, sustains itself like principles in speculative, and assumptions in mathematical propositions as Aristotle, the prince of philosophers, witnesses (Ethics, 7). Wherefore, as the truth of a conclusion is made clear from the evidence of principles, so, for the most part, moral goodness in things practicable is stamped upon the performance by the intention of an honest purpose, where on the contrary the work itself ought to be deemed indifferent as to morals. But we have for a long time held a rooted purpose in the inmost recesses of our mind, looking forward to a favorable time and divine aid, to found, in perpetual alms, and enrich with the necessary gifts, a certain Hall in the revered University of Oxford, the first nurse of all the liberal arts; and further to enrich the same, when occupied by numerous scholars, with deposits of our books, so that the books themselves and every one of them may be made common as to use and study, not only to the scholars of the said Hall, but through them to all the students of the aforesaid University for ever, according to the manner and form which the following chapter will declare. Wherefore a sincere love of study and a zeal for confirming the orthodox faith, to the edification of the Church, brought forth in us this to moneylovers stupendous solicitude in purchasing such books, collected from all parts, as were to be sold, regardless of the expense, and of causing those that ought not to be sold to be handsomely transcribed.

For as the pleasures of men are diversified in many manners, according to the disposition of the heavenly bodies, to which a complexion of mixtures frequently accommodates itself, so that some choose to be conversant with architecture, some with agriculture, some with field sports, some with navigation, some with war, and some with games, so our Mercurial sort of honest pleasure about books fell under the will of right reason (in the control of which no stars are dominant), which we have so regulated in honor of the Supreme Majesty, that our mind might find the tranquillity of rest, and that the worship of God might most devoutly increase thereby. Wherefore let detractors like the blind desist from judging of colors. Let not bats dare to argue about lights, nor those who have beams in their own eyes presume to pluck the motes out of other people’s. Let those cease to defame what they know nothing of with satirical remarks, and to discuss secrets which are not open to human research, who perhaps would have commended us with a benevolent affection if we had found leisure for hunting wild beasts, playing at hazard, or for the favors of mistresses.



A Provident Arrangement by which Books may be Lent to Strangers.


IT was always a difficult matter so to limit men to the rules of honesty, that the knavery of the last generation might not overstep the boundaries of its predecessor, and infringe established rules by the licentiousness of liberty. Wherefore by the advice of prudent men we have devised beforehand a certain method by which we wish the communication and use of our books to descend to the service of students. In the first place, therefore, we have conceded and given with a charitable view, to a company of scholars residing in a Hall at Oxford, as a perpetual alms-deed for our own soul and for the souls of our parents, as well as for the souls of the most illustrious King of England, Edward the Third, after the Conquest, and of the most devout Lady Philippa his consort, all and singular the books of which we have made a special catalogue, that all and singular the said books may be lent out for a time to the scholars and masters, as well regulars as seculars, of the University of the said city, for the advantage and use of students, according to the manner immediately subjoined, which is to this effect.

Five of the scholars dwelling in the aforesaid Hall are to be appointed by the master of the same Hall, to whom the custody of the books is to be deputed. Of which five, three, and in no case fewer, shall be competent to lend any books for inspection and use only; but for copying and transcribing we will not allow any book to pass without the walls of the house. Therefore when any scholar, whether secular or religious, whom we have deemed qualified for the present favor, shall demand the loan of a book, the keeper must carefully consider whether they have a duplicate of that book; and if so, they may lend it to him, taking a security which in their opinion shall exceed in value the book delivered; and they shall immediately make a written memorandum both of the security and the book lent, containing the names of the persons who delivered the book, and of him who received it, with the day and year of our Lord on which the loan took place. But if the keepers shall find that there is no duplicate of the book demanded, they shall not lend such book to any one whomsoever, unless he be of the company of scholars of the said Hall, except as it may happen for inspection within the walls of the aforesaid Hall, but not to be carried beyond them. But to every scholar whatever of the aforesaid Hall, any book whatever may be available by loan ; his name, and the day on which he received the book, being first noted down. He, however, is not to have the power of lending the book delivered to him to another, without the assent of three of the aforesaid keepers, and then the name of the first borrower being erased, the name of the second, with the time of delivery, is to be inscribed. For observing all these conditions each of the keepers shall pledge his faith, when a custody of this kind is deputed to him. But the receivers of a book or books shall swear in like manner that he or they shall in no way apply a book to any other use but to inspection or study, and that they will neither carry nor permit it to be carried without the city of Oxford and the suburbs. And the aforesaid keepers must render an account every year to the master of the house, and two of his scholars to be selected by him ; or if he has not leisure, he shall depute three inspectors, not being keepers, who reading over the catalogue must see that they have the whole, either in the books themselves or at least in the securities representing them. We also think the most convenient time for settling this account will be from the kalends of June to the subsequent feast of the most glorious martyr St. Thomas. But we have to add this, that every person, in every instance, to whom any book has been lent, shall exhibit the book once in the year to the keepers, and if he wishes it he shall see his security. Moreover, if any book should happen to be lost, through death, theft, fraud or carelessness, he who lost it or his administrator or executor shall in like manner pay the price of the book and receive the security ; but if profit should in any way arise to the keepers themselves, it is not to be converted to any other purpose than to the aid and repairing of the books.

Here we pass over many particulars relating to the care of books, because it appears unnecessary to detail them at present.



The Author desires to be prayed for, and notably teaches Students to Pray.


TIME now urges us to finish the tract we are tagging together about the love of books, in which we have endeavored to account for the amazement of our contemporaries at our taking such great delight in books. But because scarcely anything can be said to be performed by mortals that has not some sprinkling of the powder of vanity in it, we will not attempt entirely to justify the zealous love we have so constantly had for books, as it may perhaps at times have been the cause of some venial neglect on our part, although the object of our love were honorable and the intention regulated. For may we not still be bound to call ourselves unprofitable servants, when we shall have done all these things ?

Indeed, if the most holy Job was fearful in all his works ; if, according to Isaiah, all our righteousness is as a menstruous cloth, who shall presume to boast of the perfection of any virtue whatever ? or shall not deserve to be reprehended for some circumstances which perhaps he was not able to perceive of himself? For good arises out of pure causes; but evil is omnifarious (as Dionysius instructs us, on Divine Names).

Wherefore, being about to demand the aid of prayers as a remedy for the sins by which we acknowledge ourselves very often to have offended the Creator of all things, we have thought proper to exhort our future students, that they may in so far become grateful as well to ourselves as to their other future benefactors, as to recompense our providential benefactions by spiritual retributions, that we may live entombed in their memories, who being yet unborn lived in our benevolence, and now live, supported by our benefactions.

Let them, with unwearied importunity, implore the clemency of our Redeemer, to the end that He may spare our neglects; that the pious Judge may be indulgent to the guilt of our sins ; that He may throw the cloak of charity over the omissions of our frailty, and through His divine benignity remit the offenses which with shame and repentance we acknowledge ourselves to have committed; that He may preserve in us sufficient time for repentance, for returning thanks for His gifts, for the confirmation of our faith, for the exaltation of our hope, and for the most unbounded charity towards all mankind ; that He may incline our proud will to lament its errors, to deplore its former most vain elations, retract its most bitter indignations, and detest its most insane pleasures; that His strength may grow in us as our own decays, who alike gratuitously consecrated our entrance into holy baptism, and undeservedly exalted our progress to the apostolical state. That the love of the flesh may be weakened in our spirit, and the fear of death entirely vanish from it; that it may desire to be set at liberty and to be with Christ; and that when in body alone we are placed in the earth, we may dwell in thought and earnest desire in the eternal country!

May the Father of mercy and the God of all consolation run to meet the prodigal son returning from the husks! May He receive the drachm found again, and transmit it by holy angels into the eternal treasury ! May He, with terrific countenance, castigate the spirit of darkness in the hour of our departure, that the old serpent Leviathan, lurking at the threshold of the gate of death, may not prepare unlooked-for snares for our feet! But when we shall be called up to the tremendous tribunal, that we may relate everything that we did in the body (our conscience bearing witness), may humanity joined to God consider the price of His holy blood poured out for us! and may Divinity made man advert to the composition of carnal nature, that its fragility may pass on with impunity to that place where clement piety is declared to be infinite, where the spirit of mercy breathes, and where the peculiar office of the Judge is to be exceedingly merciful! Furthermore, the refuge of our hope, next to God and the Blessed Virgin and Queen-Mother, is that our students may always be careful to reiterate devout salutations, that we, who deserve to meet an angry Judge, may be made worthy to find Him appeased by their ever grateful suffrages ! May a pious hand depress to an equipoise the scale in which our merits, as small as few, shall be weighed, lest (which God forbid !) the weight of crime may preponderate, and cast us to be damned in the abyss! Moreover, let them be devoutly anxious to venerate the merits of St. Cuthbert the confessor, whose flock we, though unworthy, took upon ourselves to feed, earnestly praying that he may favorably condescend to exculpate his vicar, though indeed undeserving, and that he may bring it about that the successor he admitted on earth, may be made a confessor in heaven !

Finally : Let them beseech God with holy prayers, as well bodily as mental, that He may bring back the spirit created in the image of the Trinity, after its sojourn in this life of misery, to its primordial prototype, and grant it a perpetual view of His rejoicing countenance, through our Lord Jesus Christ! Amen.


Here endeth the Philobiblon, or Book upon the Love of Books