Page images
PDF
EPUB

Library and the nature of its contents until the second half of the fifteenth century. A catalogue, or inventory, made by the two proctors of the year 1473, has fortunately been preserved among the archives in the custody of the Registrary'; and from it we gather the important fact, that the number of volumes then belonging to the · Libraria Communis' exceeded three hundred. The same record exhibits an imperfect distribution of these volumes into the following classes, at the same time adding the names of the donors in each case, so far as they were ascertainable :

1. Biblical.
2. Libri Theologie Disputate.'
3. Libri Moralis Philosophie.'
4. Libri Philosophie Naturalis.'
5. Libri Medicinalis Philosophie.'
6. · Libri Logice.
7. Libri Poetrie.'
8. Libri Sophisticales.'
9. Libri Grammaticales.'
10. Libri Cronicales.'

11. Libri Juris Canonici.'

Only two years after the compilation of this catalogue a building was erected for the reception of the Library on the east side of the quadrangle of the schools :' the necessary funds accruing chiefly from the munificence of Thomas Scott, a native of Rotherain

1 The volume is entitled Registrum Librorum et Scriptorum (1473), and the inventory itself, Registrum magistri Radulphi Songer et Ricardi Cokerum procuratorum Cantabrigie compilatum, anno Domini 1473.

· The title is, Registrum Librorum per varios Benefactores Communi Librarie Universitatis Cantabrigie collati (sic). The number of volumes, of which the titles and names of the donors are both preserved, is 119.

in Yorkshire, who is known among the benefactors of the University as bishop Rotheram. That prelate, on his translation to the archbishopric of York in 1480, continued to evince an interest in the Cambridge Library, and at his death in 1500 his executors consigned to it a large number of additional volumes, some of which were manuscript.

But notwithstanding Rotheram's benefaction, and a second of considerable value which was afterwards made by bishop Tonstalls, the condition of the Libraria Communis' was very far from flourishing. Many of the volumes,' writes the first historiant of the University in 1574, ‘are still preserved, while many others have been fraudulently abstracted (suffurantium vitio). Fuller 5 also makes allusion to the same malpractices. This library," he says, 'formerly was furnished with plenty of choice books, partly

1 See, respecting him, the Statuta Antiqua, § 186, where his munificence is described at length (May 13, 1475): '...scholas novamque superius librariam polito lapide, sumptuosa pompa, ac dignis ædificiis perfecerit, eamque omnibus ut decuit rebus exornatam, non paucis vel vilibus libris opulentam reddidit, &c.

? In the Commemoration of Benefactors, the number of volumes is said to be two hundred. A list of such as were believed to be extant in the seventeenth century will be found in a Catalogus Librorum quos habet Bibliotheca Publica Academia Cantabrigiensis (EB, 1x. 12). A mayor of the town of Cambridge, John Harris, is commemorated next to Rotheram as a contemporary benefactor of the library: cf. Caius, llist. Canteb. Academ. p. 82. Lond. 1574.

See Caius, Ibid., and the list in E B, ix. 12.

* Caius, Ibid. After stating that the same pilferers had existed at Oxford, he moralizes in the following strain (p. 8+): “Tam paucis annis gratitudinem extinguit negligentia et benemeritorum oblivionem parit. Proinde admonendi sunt vtriusque vniuersitatis studentes, vt diligenter conseruandis his quibus affecti sunt beneficiis, colendaque frequenter Patronorum memoria a supina illa negligentia se prorsus vindicent atque sejungant.'

5 History of the University of Cambridge, p. 119, ed. Nichols. When Leland visited the University at the opening of the sixteenth century, his attention appears to have been arrested by only six of the volumes he saw in Bibliotheca Publica majori (see the list in his Collectanea, . 15, ed. Hearne). Caius, in like manner, distinguishes between the two bibliothecæ,' when he says (p. 89) : 'Altera privata seu nova, altera publica seu vetus dicebatur.'

at the costs of the aforesaid archbishop Rotheram, partly at the charges of Cuthbert Tonstall, bishop of Durham, bred in our University... But these books, by the covetousness of some great ones, and carelessness of the library-losers (for library-keepers I cannot call them), are for the most part imbezzled, to the great loss of the University, and learning in general.'

Accordingly in the last year of Henry VIII. the University Library appeared so fallen and so useless,' that a grace actually passed the Senate for converting the fabric into a divinity-school. The serious diminution in the number of the volumes at this period may be estimated on comparing the catalogue of 1473 with another that professes to have been compiled exactly one century later!. At the last-mentioned date the number of books surviving was reduced as low as 177: while it is added, · Most parte of all theis books be of velam and parchment, but veray sore cut and mangled for the lymned letters and pictures.'

A second eye-witness? who published the result of his observations in the following year (1574) has thrown additional light upon the character of this remnant. He distributes the extant volumes under the following heads :

1. Grammatica, Poetica.'
2. Dialectica, Philosophica.'
3. Rhetorica, Historica.'
4. Arithmetica, Geometria, Astronomia.'
5. Cosmographia, Musica.'
6. Biblica, Doctores.
7. * Theologica.
8. •Legalia.'

1 See this in the Liber Gratiarum (A), fol. 330 b, fol. 331 a (in the custody of the Registrary). The title is Nomina Librorum existentium in Bibliotheca Universitatis Cantabrigie, anno Domini, 1573.

Caius, Ibid.

2

From the same quarter we obtain the interesting fact that of the scanty aggregate, 113 volumes were written on parchment."

The Library, however, had now reached the lowest point of its depression. In the very year when Caius deplored the losses it formerly sustained, a movement had commenced which issued in its rapid restoration. Andrew Perne, master of St Peter's College, writesi from Lambeth ‘Feb. 8, 1573,' to · Mr Stokes (Stokys) one of the bedles of the Universite,' requesting him to send the dimensions of the stalls in the Library, and a catalogue of the books in each stall; and at the same time expresses a hope that 'my lord of Canterbury' (Parker) will grant 'a store of notable bokes' which may at least enable them to fill one stall.

In the same, or following, year, Archbishop Parker gave? 40 volumes (afterwards increased to 100); Sir Nicholas Bacon gave 73 volumes ; Bishop Pilkington 20 volumes ; Bishop Horne 50 volumes. Other benefactors, including Bishop Barnes, Theodore Beza and Professor Lorkin, added to the number both of printed and manuscript works : so that when Fuller wrote he boasted how the Library of Cambridge will now move the beam, though it cannot weigh it down, to even the scale with Oxford?"

Limiting our future survey to the manuscript department of the Library, we gather from the Ecloga Oxonio-Cantabrigiensis of Thomas James (Lond. 1600) that the number of such volumes was then 259.4 In the course of the seventeenth century further benefactions continued to arrive from opposite quarters, adding to i Original in the custody of the Registrary.

See the Liber Gratiarum (A), fol. 331 b sq., and the list in EB, ix. 12, where minor contributions are also noted.

3 Ubi sup. This writer attributes much of the prosperity of the Library to ‘painful Parker,' pious Grindal,' and 'politic Bancroft' (p. 119): but neither Grindal nor Bancroft is commemorated in the list of Benefactors.

* James has printed Archbishop Parker's bequests separately: but the list there given is not quite accurate, as is pointed out in E B, ix. 12.

the varied treasures of the University, and more particularly to the stock of Oriental literature. Among the leading donors may be mentioned George duke of Buckingham, John Selden, Nicholas Hobart, Dr Bretton, Thomas Baker, and Bishop Hacket. The last-mentioned prelate bequeathed to the University the whole of his extensive library!; directing that the duplicates should be sold for the greater benefit of the institution. The sale, which took place in 1673, by realizing the sum of £180, enabled the authorities to purchase 220 volumes, of which 26 were manuscript

A large accession was also made to both departments of this Library during the Great Rebellion, when the printed books and manuscripts in Bancroft's Library at Lambeth were transferred to Cambridge. They were, however, soon reclaimed in 1662, and after some negotiation were surrendered by the Syndics? (Oct. 19, 1663)

But all previous benefactions were exceeded by the munificence of King George I. who having, on the death of Moore, bishop of Norwich and afterwards of Ely, purchased the valuable library of that prelate, amounting to 30,000 printed books and MSS., for the sum of 6000 guineas, presented all the volumes to the University of Cambridge. The extent of Moore's manuscript collection in particular is determinable from the Catalogi Librorum Manuscriptorum Angliæ et Hiberniæ in unum collecti, published at Oxford in 1697. That part, indeed, which relates to the University of Cambridge (the third part of the first volume) is simply a reprint of James's Ecloga, with a slight Auctarium e Bibliotheca viri clarissimi Thomæ Erpenii (pp. 173, 174): but there is a copy of the work in the University Library (AB, xi. 52) which contains not only a catalogue of Moore's collection as it existed in 1697,

See the Catalogue in E B, ix. 12, pp. 68–81.

: Original correspondence in the custody of the Registrary: cf. Cooper's Annals, 111. 399, 405, 401, 503, and Cambridge Transactions, ed. Heywood and Wright, 11. 457. Lond 1854.

« PreviousContinue »