S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
He is a universal scholar, so far as the title-page of all authors; knows the manuscripts in which they were discovered, the editions through which they have passed, with the praises or censures which they have received from the several members of the learned world. He has a greater esteem for Aldus and Elzevir than for Virgil and Horace. If you talk of Herodotus, he breaks out into a panegyric upon Harry Stephens. He thinks he gives you an account of an author when he tells you the subject he treats of, the name of the editor, and the year in which it was printed. Or, if you draw him into further particulars, he cries up the goodness of the paper, extols the diligence of the corrector, and is transported with the beauty of the letter. This he looks upon to be sound learning and substantial criticism. As for those who talk of the fineness of style, and the justness of thought, or describe the brightness of any particular passages, nay, though they themselves write in the genius and spirit of the author they admire, Tom looks upon them as men of superficial learning and flashy parts.
LYSAND. By no means. I have already told you of my passion for books, and cannot, therefore, dislike bibliography. I think, with Lambinet, that the greater part of bibliographical works are sufficiently dry and soporific; but I am not insensible to the utility, and even entertainment, which may result from a proper cultivation of it; although both De Bure and Peignot appear to me to have gone greatly beyond the mark, in lauding this study as one of the most attractive and vast pursuits in which the human mind can be engaged.
PHIL. But to know what books are valuable and what are worthless; their intrinsic and extrinsic merits; their rarity, beauty, and particularities of various kinds; and the estimation in which they are consequently held by knowing menthese things add a zest to the gratification we feel in even looking at and handling certain volumes.
T. F. Dibdin: Bibliomania, ed. 1842, Pt. II.: The Cabinet, 24.
It was just coming on to the winter of that same year, a very raw, unpromising season I well recollect, when I received one morning, with Messrs. Sothebys respects, a catalogue of the extensive library of a distinguished person, lately deceased, which was about to be submitted to public competition. Glancing down its long files of names, my eye lit upon a work I had long sought and yearned for, and which, in utter despair, I had set down as introuvable. This coveted lot was no other than the famed Nuremberg Chronicle, primed in black-letter, and adorned with curious and primitive cuts. At different times, some stray copies had been offered to me, but these were decayed, maimed, cut-down specimens, very different from the one now before me, which, in the glowing language of the catalogue, was a Choice, clean copy, in admirable condition. Antiquerichly embossed binding and metal clasps. A unique and matchless impression. So it was undoubtedly. For the next few days I had no other thought but that one. I discoursed Nuremberg Chronicle; I ate, drank, and inhaled nothing but Nuremberg Chronicle. I dropped in at stray hours to look after its safety, and glared savagely at other parties who were turning over its leaves.
But the Chroniclethe famous Chronicle! I had utterly forgotten it! I felt a cold thrill all over me as I took out my watch. Just two oclock! I flew into a cab, and set off at a headlong pace for Sothebys. But my fatal presentiment was to be verified. It was over; I was too late. The great Chronicle, the choice, the beautiful, the unique, had passed from me forever, and beyond recall; and, as I afterwards learned, for the ridiculous sum of nineteen pounds odd shillings.