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from Cobham's Library to the more spacious foundation of Duke Humfrey, the
earlier library passes away. The seats and desks were removed to the School of
Canon Law, and the room was left bare. After many vicissitudes, Cobham's
Library is to-day the parish-room of St. Mary's, and the room below, once the
Convocation House, which should be one of the most sacred places in the Univer-
sity, is now a storeroom for crumbling statuary. The subsequent history of
Duke Humfrey's Library is scanty enough. Leland visited it about 1540, and
compiled a list of some thirty volumes he saw there. In 1550 the Commissioners
of Edward VI. utterly despoiled it. Wood records that " some of those books so
taken out by the Reformers were burnt, some sold away for Robin Hood's penny-
worths, either to Booksellers or to Glovers to press their gloves, or Taylors to
make measures, or to Bookbinders to cover books bound by them, and some also
kept by the Reformers for their own use." Thus in an outburst of religious fury
the munificent benefactions of Good Duke Humfrey and his compeers were swept
away. In 1556 the University appointed a committee to effect the sale of the
empty shelving. Thenceforward all that remained was a "great desolate room."

One of those who visited this empty room, touched deeply by the loss which
had befallen the world of letters, was, we may well suppose, Thomas Bodley, an
undergraduate of Magdalen who had matriculated in 1559. On leaving the
University Bodley entered the diplomatic service, and in 1596 retired with a
considerable reputation. On his retirement, which was largely due to the jealousy
existing between Burleigh and the Earl of Essex, his thoughts returned to the
despoiled library. "I concluded at the last," he writes, "to set up my staff at the
Library-Door in Oxon; being thoroughly perswaded, that in my Solitude, and Sur-
cease from the Common-Wealth Affairs, I could not busy myself to better purpose,
than by reducing that Place (which then in every Part lay ruined and wast) to the
publick use of Students." In 1598 Sir Thomas Bodley wrote to the Vice-Chancel-
lor offering to refurnish and endow what had once been the University Library.
The re-fitting occupied two years, the gathering together of books commenced in
1600, the first Librarian, Thomas James, was appointed in the next year, and the
Library was formally opened in 1602. Gifts, both of books and money flowed in
from all quarters, among the first benefactors being the Lords Buckhurst, Huns-
don, Montacute, Lisle, and Lumley. A kind of epidemic of book-giving set in,
and those who had few or no books of their own to give, gave those of others.
Thomas James laid toll on College libraries, principally New College, and became
an honoured benefactor. Thomas Allen gave 20 MSS. of doubtful provenance,
one having been stolen from New College only two years previously. The Dean
and Chapter of Exeter gave, with questionable legality, forty-seven of their MSS.,
many of them very precious, one being a Missal given to the Cathedral by Bishop
Leofric in the reign of Edward the Confessor, the alienation of which still rankles
in the minds of the successors of the original donors. James I. also expressed a
wish to share in Bodley's good work, and promised him a choice of books from
the Royal collections: he took great care, however, to allow it to remain a good
intention, and found means to prevent its realization. The King gave,
however, at a later date, two copies of his own works. The record of all these and
subsequent donations will be found entered in two large massively bound registers,
which repose on the Librarian's table, and which are familiar to most Bodleian
visitors. Sir Thomas Bodley gave much thought to the compilation of his
Register, and drafted a title for it himself, although as he informed Thomas James
his "Latin was rusty for the want of using." Great care was taken to ensure its
safe arrival from London, whence it was dispatched" packed up in a coffin
of boards, with paper thick about it, and hay between it and the boards."

But Sir Thomas Bodley did not rely wholly on donations.
His agent,
John Bill, visited Paris, Venice, Ferrara, Verona, Brescia, Mantua, Pavia,
Milan, Florence, Pisa, Rome and also Seville, whence he "brought good store of
books. His purpose was at first, to have visited all other like places, and uni-
versities, where any books were to be gotten: But the people's usage towards
all of our nation, is so cruel and malicious, as he was utterly discouraged for the
time." The Founder had very decided views as to what books should be pre-
served in his library. In a letter to James he thus expresses them. "I can see
no good Reason, to alter my Opinion, for excluding such Books, as Almanacks,

Plays, and an infinite Number, that are daily Printed, of very unworthy matters;
and handling, such, as methinks, both the Keeper and Underkeeper should Disdain
to seek out, to deliver to any Man. Haply some Plays may be worthy the Keeping:
But hardly one in Forty. For it is not alike in English Plavs, and others of other
Nations: Because they are most esteemed, for Learning the Languages, and many
of them compiled, by Men of great Fame, for Wisdom and Learning: Which is sel-
dom or never here among us. Were it so again, that some little profit might be
reaped (which God knows is very little) out of some of our Play-Books, the benefit
thereof, will nothing near Countervail, the harm that the Scandal will bring upon
the Library, when it shall be given out, that we stuff'd it full of Baggage Books.
And though they should be but a few, as they would be very many, if your Course
should take Place, yet the having of those few (such is the Nature of malicious
Reports) Would be mightily multiplyed, by such as purpose to speak in Disgrace
of the Library. This is my Opinion, wherein if I erre, I think I erre with infinite
others, and the more I think upon it, the more it doth distaste me, that such kind
of Books, should be vouchsafed a room, in so Noble a Library." The most re-
markable thing about this declaration is that it was written at the precise moment
when Shakespeare had reached the maturity of his genius, and strangely enough
Bodley's Library has become world-famous for precisely the kind of literature
Bodley himself banned. If the presentation of "riff-raff books" was to be dis-
couraged, what would have been the founder's horror if he could have seen the
donations of succeeding generations, which included a sea-elephant, a crocodile,
a whale, a skull, a mummy, a skeleton, a tanned human skin, a dried body of a
negro boy, and a negro baby in spirit! Fortunately all these have disappeared,
but the Library still possesses among its odds and ends a calculus of respectable

Eight years after the formal opening of the Library that portion known as
the Arts End and the Proscholium was built, and at the same time, on being
approached by Sir Thomas Bodley, the Stationers' Company promised to present
to the Library one perfect copy of every book printed by its members, an ar-
rangement which obtained until the Copyright Act of 1709 entitled the Bodleian
to claim a copy of every published book. This agreement with the Stationers'
Company, which brought to the Library such books as the First Folio of Shakes-
peare, may well serve as an example of Bodley's admirable foresight, while it must
be obvious to everyone who reads Sir Thomas Bodley's letters that during the
first eleven years of the Library's existence, he took a far larger share in its organ-
ization than did Thomas James, his Librarian. Although James, who had published
an edition of the Polybiblon of Richard de Bury and a Catalogue of manuscripts
in Oxford and Cambridge, had shown promise of being an ideal Librarian, yet he
proved otherwise. Bodley was an exigent master, and James was a careless cata-
loguer. James had little taste for routine work, and deplored the lack
of time for study. Almost at the beginning he demanded an increase
of salary; shortly afterwards he asked Bodley's permission to marry,
and that after his master had made celibacy a condition of his office. Brian
Twyne, the famous Oxford antiquary, passed these strictures upon him.
"Item that Mr. James would frequent his place more diligently, keepe
his houres, remoue away his superfluous papers lienge scattered about ye desks,
and shewe himselfe more pliable and facill in directinge of ye students to their
bookes and purposes." To the founding of his Library Sir Thomas Bodley
brought the mind of a scholar, the training of a diplomatist, and the common sense
of a man of business. His care for the minutiae of administration was remarkable.
The ambiguous shape of a written letter of the alphabet did not escape him, and
his knowledge of the ways of "carpenters, joyners, carvers, glaziers, and all that
idle rabble" was considerable. He would give precise instructions how the books
should be dusted, and how the Library should be cleaned, recommending that the
floor be rubbed with "a little Rosemary; for a stronger sent I should not
like." As a diplomatist Bodley knew how best to approach great personages,
and realized how much depends on first impressions. He deprecated the sending
of letters to persons of importance by the common carrier. He suggested the
desirability of dedicating the Library catalogue to Prince James, rather than to
the King who would doubtless think it no new thing, and on the occasion of a
royal visit he advised his Librarian to conform to the King's pronunciation of

i and au. Wealthy as he was he rebelled vehemently against overcharges, however trivial. He would, for instance, by no means assent to pay the small sum incurred for " cleaning of the court beneath, and for bringing in the sand-an impertinent charge," which in his opinion should have been paid by the University. This great and princely man died in 1613, and was buried with much pomp in Merton College Chapel. The funeral dinner cost £240, mourning clothes £564, and the total charges amounted to no less than £972 13s. By his will he left sufficient money to build the west end, now the Selden End, and the third story, now the Portrait Gallery. Among University benefactors his name will always be the most revered, and the monument which he reared to himself will perpetuate his name for ever.

Thomas James continued in office for seven years after Bodley's death. On his resignation the Curators appointed in his stead John Rouse, one of the most attractive figures in Bodleian history. He was a graceful scholar and a personal friend of Milton, whose estimate of him is inscribed in a volume which Milton presented to the Library-" Doctissimo viro proboque librorum æstimatori Joanni Rousio." Another eminent scholar, Lambecius, puts into his mouth the words, 'Mentiri nescio, librum si malus est nequeo laudare." Rouse held office during the whole of the troublous period of the Civil War, and was equally esteemed by both Royalist and Parliamentarian. Although he firmly, but courteously, refused to lend King Charles a book from the library, he nevertheless subscribed the comparatively large sum of £50 towards the funds of the King, and was specially confirmed in his office of Librarian by the Parliamentary visitors of Cromwell. During his period of office the west end of the Library was built, and many The Earl of Pembroke preimportant collections of MSS. were received. sented a precious collection of Greek manuscripts formed by Giacomo Barocci, of Genoa, the loss of which to Italy was deeply deplored by Cardinal Barberini. In 1634 Sir Kenelm Digby gave 238 MSS., which are noteworthy for the number of early scientific works they contain. In 1635 the first large donation of MSS. was received from Archbishop Laud, who in five years gave about 1,300 MSS., one of the most munificent gifts ever received by the University. To record the chief treasures of this collection would occupy too much space here. Some of the most notable are exhibited in the show-cases; among them are the famous 7th century MS.of the Acts of the Apostles once possessed by the Venerable Bede, and the equally famous Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.


During the Civil War the Library escaped harm save for the "borrowing" by Charles I. of £500 from Bodley's Chest. Oxford was beseiged by the Parliamentary forces in 1646, and on its capitulating General Fairfax immediately set a strong guard over the Library to protect it from fire and plunder. This was not the only good service Fairfax did the Library, for some years later he presented a valuable collection of MSS., which included the manuscripts of Dodsworth, a name held in high esteem by genealogists. Cromwell himself gave some Greek MSS., and like Charles I., on being refused the loan of a book, acquiesced in the refusal when the Founder's statutes had been communicated to him. Bodley's Library, therefore, suffered less from the Protector than the King, a fact which The most important donation reshould be remembered by Royalist Oxford. ceived during the Commonwealth was the library of John Selden, the great jurist. It was withheld from the University during Selden's lifetime because, it is said, of his displeasure at hearing that the fellows of Magdalen College had divided among themselves a sum of money which had been set apart as the Founder's Fund. On Selden's death the books to the number of 8000 were handed over to The last quarter of the 17th century is marked the University by his executors. by the gift of the Hatton and Junius MSS., both collections being particularly Among the former is a copy of King Alfred's version rich in Anglo-Saxon MSS. of Gregory's Pastoral Care, and among the latter Caedmon's metrical paraphrase of Genesis, a book unique in the true sense of the word. Two great donations of Oriental MSS., to the number of 1,000 volumes, were also received from Pococke and Huntingdon

The dominant personality in Bodleian history during the early years of the 18th century is Thomas Hearne, janitor, antiquary, and staunch non-juror. He is the author of a famous diary wherein all the literary news and gossip of his day


are recorded. His career at the Bodleian was not a smooth one. He detested Hudson, the Librarian, and the "pert-jackanapes" Bowles, the Sub-librarian ; both malicious Whigs. But Hearne, good antiquary that he was, sometimes committed indiscretions as when he exhibited a portrait of the Young Pretender to a visitor whom he took to be a Royalist, but who, alas! was a rebell." Moreover, he made injudicious political remarks in the preface of one of his antiquarian works. The consequence was that the Curators of the Library dispensed with his services, and in order to keep out more effectually the irrepressible Hearne, Hudson put new locks on the doors. Hearne proved an uncommonly good hater, and the characters of Hudson and Bowles are blackened for all time. On the death of the latter Hearne managed, doubtless on the principle de mortuis nil nisi bonum, to refer to him in his diary as a "gentleman," but guarded himself by adding in brackets, a most vile wicked wretch." However, a cruel revenge was taken on poor Hearne by his old enemy and successor, Bilston. In 1729 the MSS. of Francis Cherry came into the Library, and among them was found a paper in Hearne's writing giving reasons for taking the Oath of Allegiance! How Hearne, the unbending non-juror, could have written such a thing is inexplicable. Bilston immediately printed and circulated it: his triumph was complete.


The century from 1736 to 1836 is remarkable in the annals of the Library for the number of valuable bequests received. The first of these was from Thomas Tanner, Bishop of St. Asaph, the MSS. including the Sancroft and Nalson papers, which are especially rich in material bearing on the Great Civil War. The printed books are noteworthy for the large number of black-letter tracts contained among them, the most precious being the unique Ars moriendi printed by Caxton. When Tanner was removing his books to Oxford several of the packing-cases accidentally fell into the river, and many of his books in consequence have suffered considerably thereby. The year 1753 is marked by two most important donations of State-papers. The first was received by bequest of Henry Hyde, Lord Cornbury, and consisted of the papers of his great-grandfather, the famous Earl of Clarendon. They form, perhaps, the most valuable collection of State-papers possessed by the Bodleian, and include documents of the highest importance and interest. The most entertaining of them are the notes which passed between Charles II. and Clarendon at meetings of the Privy Council. The following is a specimen of the written dialogues between the King and his Chancellor :

[Clarendon]. If you do not a little thinke with yourselfe, for the conductinge your Scotsh affayre in the Parliament, it will not do itselfe.

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[King]. I think the great difficulty will be in the house of Commons by whome the money must be prouided, therfore do you speake with those members who come to you and lett them know my mynde, I will do the like to all I see.

[Clarendon]. It will be fitt to speake with you a little, for sure you did not enough make your minde knowne heare yesterday, and I doubte the house of Peeres more than I do the house of Comons.

This collection of notes was recently reproduced in facsimile for the Earl of Rosebery, and presented by him to the members of the Roxburghe Club. The second great donation of 1753 came from Thomas Carte, the historian, who commenced in that year to forward to the Library his voluminous collection of Statepapers, which were largely drawn from the Ormonde archives at Kilkenny Castle. They comprise 250 very thick volumes, mostly in folio. Two years later the largest single donation ever received by the Bodleian came by bequest of Richard Rawlinson, the non-juring bishop. There were 8,000 MSS. and 2,000 printed books. Richard Rawlinson was the brother of Thomas Rawlinson, an equally famous book-collector who accumulated such a vast library that eighteen auction sales were necessary to effect its dispersal. Both formed their collections without the slightest method. Richard Rawlinson gathered books from all quarters, and did not forget to sort over the waste paper of chandlers' and grocers' shops: he lived in that glorious age when Departments of State cleared out their periodically, and sold it by the ton to shopkeepers. The Rawlinson



collection comprises precious State-papers, volumes of sermons, log-books, Irish MSS. of world-wide renown, broadside ballads, early service-books, needlework samplers, Oriental MSS., almanacks, copper-plates, charters, seals, and medals. The task of cataloguing the collection was such that it was not completed till a few years ago.

In the early years of the nineteenth century was received the library of Richard Gough. The books are mainly topographical, but there is an extensive and very valuable collection of early English service-books among them. In 1821 came the famous Malone collection, which contains all the Shakespeare Folios most of the quartos, and early editions of all the English dramatists. About the same time two important libraries were purchased. The MSS. of the Jesuit, Matteo Luigi Canonici, were bought for £5,444, the largest sum ever given by the Bodleian for a single collection; and the printed books and MSS. of David Oppenheimer, to the number of 5,000, were obtained for £2,080. But more valuable than any of the collections previously mentioned was the library of Francis Douce, which was received by bequest in 1835. Douce was a born book-collector, and lived in the golden age of English bibliophily. Moreover, he was a librarian by profession. His library is famous for its exquisitely illuminated MSS., which will always be the admiration of lovers of beautiful things. All the finest specimens of illumination exhibited in the show-cases are from his library. The Sutherland collection of prints, which are inserted as extra-illustrations to Clarendon's and Burnet's Histories, and which cost £20,000 to gather together, rounds off the notable donations received in the century ending 1836. Among more recent donations may be mentioned the note-books, letters, and relics of Shelley, given by Mary, Lady Shelley, in 1893; and the 6330 Sanskrit MSS. given by His Excellency the Prime Minister of Nepal in 1909, a donation which has made the Bodleian the largest depository of Oriental MSS. outside Asia.

With the years the older portions of Bodley's Library have not greatly chang ed. When the visitor enters from the front staircase he will find himself in the Arts End, which was built in 1610. Many of the folio books still retain their original positions, and the benches and counters are as Sir Thomas Bodley left them. As the visitor walks down the room he will see, extending westward, Duke Humfrey's Library in which students have read for over four hundred years. The timbered roof is one of the most beautiful things in Oxford. At the far end of Humfrey's Library he will obtain a glimpse of the room, built in 1634, where the library of John Selden is preserved. In the show-cases are exhibited a selection of the chief treasures of the Bodleian, such as the Laudian Acts of the Apostles, a Græco-Latin MS. of the 7th century, perhaps brought to England by Theodore of Tarsus, the Greek Archbishop of Canterbury, in 669; the" Augustine" Gospels; the Leofric Missal; the Winchester troper; examples of Merovingian, Lombardic, and Caroline script; the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle; the poems of the first English poet, Caedmon; the earliest MS. of the Chanson de Roland; the Ormesby Psalter, one of the finest of English illuminated MSS; the Romance of Alexander, with its wonderful pictures; exquisitely illuminated service-books; MSS. which belonged to royal personages, as the Queens of Richard II. and Henry V., the Emperor Maximilian, Mary I., and Marie de Medici; specimens of the writing of Edward VI. Queen Elizabeth, and Milton; the Shelley MSS. and relics; some of the most valuable examples of early printing, and several choice bindings. One precious MS., which on account of its small size and unpretentious appearance may be overlooked, is the Gospel-book of St. Margaret, queen of Scotland. This is the book mentioned by her biographer as being the one for which she "always felt a particular attachment, more so than for any of the others which she usually read." Her husband, Malcolm, could not read, but "whenever he heard her express especial liking for a particular book, he would look at it with special interest, kissing it, and often taking it into his hands."† We may well suppose that this little volume, so treasured by the Queen, must often have received that token of reverence and love from the lips of the King. One other MS. of great human interest is the small leaf of papyrus containing an Egyptian boy's letter to his father, written in the 2nd or 3rd century A.D. The translation runs, "Theon to his father Theon, greeting. It was a fine thing of you not to take me with you to the city! If you won't take me with you to Alexandria I won't write you a letter

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