« ForrigeFortsett »
in very indifferent Latin, in a declamatory style, and is divided into twenty Chapters.
In chapter 1 the Author praises Wisdom, and the Books in which it is contained.
2. That Books are to be preferred to Riches and Pleasure. 3. That they ought always to be bought.
4. How much good arises from Books, and that they are only misused by ignorant people.
5. That good Monks write Books, whilst bad ones are differently employed.
6. The praise of the antient begging Friars, with a reproof of the modern ones.
7. He bewails the loss of Books by fires and wars.
8. He shews what fine opportunities he had of collecting Books while he was Chancellor and Treasurer, as well as during his Embassies.
9. That the antients surpassed the moderns in hard studying.
10. That learning arrives at perfection by degrees, and that he had procured a Greek and Hebrew Grammar.
11. That the Law and Law Books are not properly learning. 12. The usefulness and necessity of Grammar. 13. An Apology for Poetry, and the usefulness of it. 14. Who ought to love Books, 15. The manifold advantages of Learning. 16. Of writing new Books and mending old ones.
17. Of using Books well, and in what manner they should be placed.
18. An Answer to his Calumniators. 19. On what conditions Books are to be lent to strangers. 20. Conclusion.
Our Author was appointed Bishop of Durham in 1333, and Lord Treasurer of England in 1344. His Book relates the measures he took to gratify his favourite passion, the love of books ; whilst Treasurer and Chancellor of England he took his perquisites and new year's gifts in books; and by Edward the Third's favor rummaged the Libraries of the principal men, and brought to light many books which had been locked
At Avignon, in the year 1331, among the distinguished and learned men with whom Petrarch became acquainted, Richard de Bury is thus characterized by the Author of the life of Petrarch.
“ One of these was Richard of Bury or Aungerville, who came to Avignon this year. He was sent thither by Edward the Third, his Pupil and his King. Edward wrote a letter to the Pope, recommending to him in particular Richard of Bury, and Anthony of Besanges, whom he had sent with an embassy to his Court. Richard of Bury had a piercing wit, a cultivated understanding, and an eager desire after every kind of knowledge. Nothing could satisfy this ardour, no obstacle could stop its progress. He had given himself up to study from his youth. His genius threw light on the darkest, and his penetration fathomed the deepest, subjects. He was passionately fond of books; and laboured all his life to collect the largest library at that time in Europe. A man of such merit, and the Minister and favorite of the King of England, was received with every mark of distinction in the society of Cardinal Colonna."
His stay at Avignon was short : Edward, who could not do without him, recalled him to England soon after. On his
return he possessed all the confidence and favor of his Master, who first made him Bishop of Durham, Chancellor the year following, then High Treasurer, and Plenipotentiary for a treaty of peace with France.
Richard of Bury did in England what Petrarch did in France, Italy, and Germany; he gave much of his attention, and spent great part of his fortune, to discover the manuscripts of ancient Authors, and have them copied under his immediate inspection, and kept binders, illuminators, and writers in his palaces. Richard in his Philobiblion, a Treatise which he wrote on the love and choice of books, relates the incredible expense he was at to form his famous Library, notwithstanding he made use of the authority which his dignity and favor with the King procured him. He mentions the arts he was obliged to use to compass his design, and informs us that the first Hebrew and Greek Grammars that ever appeared were derived from his labours. He had them composed for the English students ; persuaded that without the knowledge of these two languages, and especially the Greek, it was impossible to understand the principles of either the ancient Heathen or Christian Writers. Richard de Bury died in 1345, and is said to have possessed more books than all the Bishops of England together. · Besides the fixed Libraries which he had formed in his several Palaces, the floor of his common apartment was so covered with books that those who entered could not with due reverence approach his presence.
See some further curious particulars in the new edition of Warton's History of English Poetry, vol. i. 8vo. p. cxlvii, &c.
Fazio Dita Mundi. Folio. 1474. Achard, in his Cours de Bibliographie, tom. iii. p. 191, places this amongst the Poemes Scientifiques, and from actual inspection of a fine copy in the Public Library at Marseilles, plumes himself upon being the first Bibliographer who has accurately described it. I shall content myself by giving its title from Achard, and adding a few miscellaneous remarks, omitting some of his details, as of little general interest. Its title is as follows:
Incominza el Libro primo Dita Mundi cumponuto per Fazio Di GI Uberti da Firenza. Et prima de la buona dispositione che egli ebe adretarsi da gli Vitü et saguire le Virtute Capituolo primo.
Each following chapter is headed by its argument, with its number in Roman figures, and the whole work is printed in double columns. It is not paged, neither has it catchwords. It has signatures only to the gatherings, which begin with a, and extend to and comprise the letter 0; these gatherings are all of eight leaves, excepting n, which only has six, and o, which only comprises 4 leaves.
It is remarkable that the signatures of the gatherings are entirely at the bottom of the page, therefore if the bookbinder happen to be at all liberal in the application of his knife-the signatures must be found wanting.
Payne's Catologue for 1801 refers for an account of this Work to the Irish Philosophical Transactions by Lord Charlemont.
In book iv. cap. xxiii. of Dita Mundi there is an account of a nation of tailed men, and it is well known that Lord Monboddo believed in the existence of such a race.* Jean Struys, Voyages in Muscovie, &c. positively asserts that he saw a race of men in Formosa with tails.
In Bulwer's Artificial Changling, scene 22 relates to tailed nations and breech gallantry. А copy
of this rare first edition sold at the Valliere sale for 480 francs. M. Crevenna's for 136 francs. Pinelli's, 1789-90, for £5. 108. : and Floncel's, which, according to Brunet, was a very beautiful copy, for 800 francs ; --and “ thereby hangs a tale--I'll tell it." Floncel's copy, according to the Abbé St. Leger,t no longer exists. An English amateur having commissioned some one to buy it for him without fixing the price, the book was run up to the enormous sum of 800 francs, at which price it was purchased for him, but when he received it he was so irritated at having been made to pay so dearly for his folly, that he threw the book out of spite into the fire. “ Happily," says the quizzical French Bibliographer, “English Bibliomaniacs do not act so spitefully now a days for so trifling a matter, otherwise at the prices which they give for rare Books, it might be expected that entire Libraries would share the fate of the Dita Mundi.”
Sallust. 4to. Valentiæ. 1475. Unnoticed by Dibdin. Beloe
says it is by far the rarest of all the editions of Sallust.
Valentia was the first place in Spain where the art of Printing was introduced. The names of the Printers were
* See Ancient Metaphysics, vol. iii. p. 250. 4to. 1784. + See Brunet Manuel du Libraire, tom. ii. p. 12.