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IT is a good thing to read books, and it need not be a bad thing to write them; but it is a pious thing to preserve those that have been sometime written: the collecting, and mending, and binding, and cataloguing of books are all means to such an end. This is my apology for the present volume.

I had intended to annotate some of these curious and rare volumes, for I have a decided opinion about a good many of them By doing so I should have given my Catalogue the distinct quality that comes of ownership and affection, but failing health, and a desire not to delay that which those who come after me might find irksome, or even impossible, has prevented this.

Let me say, however, that the little Book-Collecting World has no need for regret, as the editorial duties have been ably performed by Mr. Alfred W. Pollard, of St. John's Coll., Oxford, and the Library of the British Museum, and by Mr. R. H. Lister, of the Board of Trade, to both of whom I here tender my cordial acknowledgments, and grateful thanks.



A distinguished American, a scholar, and a man of original mind, but who did not specially collect rare books, once came to see my collection; I remember I made an apology to him for having so many, and I make the same apology now.



December, 1885


To F. L.

I mind that Forest Shepherd's saw,

For, when men preached of Heaven, quoth he,

"It's a' that's bricht, and a' that's braw,

But Bourhope's guid eneuch for me!"

Beneath the green deep-bosomed hills

That guard Saint Mary's Loch it lies, The silence of the pastures fills

That shepherd's homely paradise.

Enough for him his mountain lake,

His glen the burn went singing through, And Rowfant, when the thrushes wake, May well seem good enough for YOU.

For all is old, and tried, and dear,

And all is fair, and round about The brook that murmurs from the mere Is dimpled with the rising trout.

But when the skies of shorter days


Are dark and all the ways are mire,' How bright upon your books the blaze, Gleams from the cheerful study fire,

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The Rowfant books, how fair they shew,
The Quarto quaint, the Aldine tall
Print, autograph, portfolio !

Back from the outer air they call,
The athletes from the Tennis ball,
This Rhymer from his rod and hooks,
Would I could sing them, one and all,
The Rowfant books!

The Rowfant books! In sun and snow
They're dear, but most when tempests fall;
The folio towers above the row

As once, o'er minor prophets,—Saul!
What jolly jest books, and what small
"Dear dumpy Twelves" to fill the nooks.
You do not find on every stall
The Rowfant books!

The Rowfant books! These long ago
Were chained within some College hall;
These manuscripts retain the glow

Of many a coloured capital;

While yet the Satires keep their gall,
While the Pastissier puzzles cooks,
Theirs is a joy that does not pall,
The Rowfant books!


The Rowfant books,-ah magical
As famed Armida's golden looks,
They hold the Rhymer for their thrall-
The Rowfant books!


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