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A catalogue, 4 vols. folio (7639 MSS), by Wanley, Casley, and others, was published London 1808-12.
Sloane. The library of Sir Hans Sloane became the property of the nation in 1753; and an Act of Parliament was then passed providing “one General Repository” for this and the Cotton and Harley collections. Money for the building was raised by a lottery, and Montagu House, now the site of the British Museum, was purchased. No grant of public money was however made for more than fifty years. Then, in 1807, money was appropriated for buying the MSS of Lord Lansdowne; in 1829 the Egerton MSS were bequeathed; the collection of the Earl of Arundel was given by the Royal Society in 1831; in 1846 the Hon. Thomas Grenville bequeathed his magnificent collection of early printed books; and in 1857 the present reading-room was opened to the public.
The British Museum Library contained in 1902 perhaps two million printed books, and about 55,000 MSS.
Access to the national library, with freedom to copy, may be arranged by filling out a form obtainable from the Director of the British Museum. The student must be vouched for by a householder of London, not a boarding-house, lodging-house, or hotel keeper. Explanation of the student's purpose is necessary, as the Museum has not unlimited space at its disposal. The form, when filled out, is deposited in the Museum, and a non-transferable ticket, for three or six months, is issued; this ticket must be shown on demand at the entrance of the Reading-room or of the Manuscript Room. When the student leaves London, this ticket is formally surrendered and put on file; and written application, when further work is desired, is all that is necessary for renewal.
The Bodleian Library at Oxford. The first founder of the Uni
versity Library at Oxford was Humphrey Duke of Gloucester, the younger brother of King Henry V and the uncle of Henry VI; died 1447. Gloucester, a man of literary enthusiasms, a patron of writers both English and Italian, and a collector, gave to the University, then almost without books, about 600 manuscripts, which were delivered between 1439 and 1446. The catalogue of his gifts may be found in Anstey's Munimenta Academica, Rolls Series, II : 758 ft. But owing partly to the lack of proper housing and care, mainly to the iconoclasm of the Commission of Edward VI, all these MSS but three are now gone. See Macray, pp. 8-13. For particulars regarding Gloucester, his “Italian character”, his share in the Early Renaissance, etc., see the article in the Dict. Nat. Biog.; Einstein's Italian Renaissance in England, N. Y. 1902; Anglia 27 : 381 and references there cited, e. g.
Warton-Hazlitt, III : 47-52. About the middle of the fifteenth century a portion of the present library building was erected by the University, Glou– cester being a contributor; but by 1560 not only had all the books of the collection disappeared, but the fittings of the library itself were ruthlessly torn out and sold. Near the end of the century, in 1597-8, Sir Thomas Bodley, an Oxford graduate, a successful statesman, and an enthusiast for learning, refitted the rooms built a hundred years earlier, and began a series of gifts of MSS and books continued until his death in 1613. The restored and enlarged reading-room was named from the first founder Duke Humphrey's Library; but the Library as a whole bears the name of its restorer and second founder. Bodley's example as a donor was followed by many others, and, as in the case of the British Museum Library already described, these volumes receive their catalogue mark from their original owners. The principal MS collections of interest to a student of Chaucer, now incorporated in the Bodleian, are the Ashmole, the Bodley, the Digby, the Fairfax, the Laud, the Rawlinson and the Selden. See Macray as cited for notes, and Madan as cited for catalogues of MSS. This library is poorer in funds than that of the British Museum ; its staff is small, its helpers lads, and there is no such supervision of readers as in the Museum. Few reference books are accessible to the reader's hand, as compared with
the 20,000 on the lower shelves of the Museum Reading-room;
and the insufficient heat and total absence of any lighting arrangements make the wonderful old-world library in some respects an unpractical one. Since the opening of the Radcliffe Camera, or “annex” reading-room, in a closely adjoining building, to which all but the more valuable books may be carried after Bodleian hours, evening work of some kinds may be pursued by the student. Periodicals and most reference books are kept in the Radcliffe. The Library contained in 1902 about 600,000 books and 31,000 MSS. Librarian, E. W. B. Nicholson, M. A.; sub-librarian, Falconer Madan, M. A. Admission is given upon the written introduction of a resident Master of Arts. An American student without acquaintance in Oxford should apply, if a man, to the Non-Collegiate Delegacy; if a woman, to the Secretary of the Association for the Education of Women at Oxford. - . . Volumes in the possession of Oxford colleges may in almost any case be used at the Bodleian. The student should first inquire of the Bodleian authorities if the Library will undertake the charge; written application should then be made to the Librarian of the college in question, explaining the purpose for which use of the volume is desired, and requesting the loan for a specific period. The various colleges differ in their mode of dealing with such a request; in some cases the librarian himself will appear at the Bodleian within twenty-four hours and leave the volume, usually asking to see the student personally. In other cases, the matter must be formally laid before the governing board of the college, and a delay ensues; but the request is almost never refused. When examination of the codex is finished, the student should notify the College librarian. It is advisable that the American student who has but a summer's vacation for work in England should make any requests for loans of MSS before the Colleges close for the summer; for in cases where formal action is necessary, that cannot take place in the absence of members of the College's governing board.
Cambridge: the University Library. Henry Bradshaw, librarian of the University of Cambridge from 1867 until his death in 1886, has summed up in one of his Collected Papers, pp. 181 ff., the state of the Library as he saw it in 1869. He emphasizes the gaps in its history, the losses it has suffered, the miscellaneous nature of its contents, its lack of cataloguing and of classification. Although great gifts have occasionally been made to the Library, it can show no such list of donors as Oxford. For notes upon the peculiar history and organization of the Library see Bradshaw’s paper; his own efforts and immense reputation as a bibliographer have done more for the Library than has any single benefactor. The present librarian is Francis J. H. Jenkinson, Esq. Rye, in his Records and Record Searching, p. 155, has emphasized what he calls the “cramped and illiberal rules” of Cambridge, which require all non-members of the University to be endorsed by two members of the Senate. An American student without acquaintance in Cambridge should address himself, with explanation of the work desired, to Mr. Jenkinson. The mark of a University Library MS is a double letter, followed by a shelf-numeral and by a volume-numeral; thus, Dd iv, 24 or Ii iii, 21.
The college libraries of Cambridge vary as do those of Oxford in their mode of dealing with requests for loans, or for access to their books. The prompt and generous hospitality of Trinity, which has within its own walls every facility for workers, is known to all students; other Cambridge libraries will, in most cases, place their volumes in the University Library for examination, although Corpus Christi and Magdalen, for example, are bound by the strict rules of their benefactors, Archbishop Parker and Samuel Pepys.
B. Some Students of Chaucer
John Shirley, born 1366?, died 1456. Shirley has been discussed by Otto Gaertner in his dissertation on John Shirley, sein Leben und Wirken, Halle 1904; this was unfavorably reviewed by me in Anglia Beibl. 16:360-62; Shirley's work as a compiler of commonplace-books has recently been treated by me in Anglia 30 : 320-348, under the title Ashmole 59 and Other Shirley Manuscripts. We know little more of Shirley than the data given by Stow in his Survey, see ed. by Thoms. 1842, p. 139-40, that he lived to the age of ninety, was “a great traveller in divers countries”, dwelt in London in his latter years, and was a devoted admirer and indefatigable copyist of Chaucer and Lydgate. To the meagre notice in the Dict. Nat. Biog. something might be added on the MS commonplace-books which Shirley left behind him, and which are an important source of information as to the authenticity and occasion of many poems by Chaucer and by Lydgate. These commonplace-books, and the Shirley MSS generally, are not listed accurately in the Dict. Nat. Biog., the Oxford Chaucer, or any of the articles based upon Skeat; the true list is, as given by me in Anglia loc. cit., MSS Adds. I6165, Ashmole 59, Sion College, Trinity College Cambridge R 3, 20, Harvard University, and four leaves of Harley 78. The MSS Adds. 5467 and Harley 7333, though showing Shirley's influence (especially the Harley), are not in Shirley's hand; and the same is true of Harley 2251 and Adds. 34360, which are in part derived from a lost Shirley, see Anglia 28 : 1 ff. Of the volumes in Shirley's own hand, the Harvard MS contains nothing by Chaucer, and the Sion College MS, a copy of the prose translation of De Guileville, contains of Chaucer only an inserted copy of the ABC. The Ashmole volume is, as I have tried to show in Anglia 30 above cited, a most untrustworthy piece of work executed in the last days of Shirley's life; there remain for students the Adds. and Trinity MSS, volumes independent of one another and containing much of Chaucer’s work, though always under suspicion of tinkering by Shirley. There is no copy of the Canterbury Tales in Shirley's writing, but that in Harley 7333 was transcribed from his work, retaining his spelling and notes; it is of interest typically, see Section III F here. The Boece is copied by Shirley in the Adds. MS; there is no copy by him or derived from him of the Astrolabe, the Troilus, the Legend of Good Women, the House of Fame, the Book of the Duchesse, the Former Age, or the envoys to Bukton and to Scogan, though the House of Fame must have existed in one of his MSS, see under that heading, Section IV here. The Trinity MS contains Fortune, Mars, Venus, Stedfastnesse, Gentilesse, Words to Adam (unique), two copies of Truth, and part of Anelida. The Adds. MS has the whole of Anelida, beside the Boece as mentioned, and a Balade marked as Chaucer's but never printed with his works, see Mod. Lang. Notes 19 : 35–38 and refs, there to Furnivall. Ashmole 59, as well as Trinity, has copies of F ortune, Gentilesse, and Venus. Harley 78, followed by the secondary Adds. 34360, has copies
of Pity and the questionable continuation the Ballad of Pity.
The ABC is in the Sion MS. The secondary Harley 7333 has the Anelida, the Mars, the Parlement of Foules, Purse, Gentilesse, and Stedfastnesse; and the still further removed Harley 2251 has Purse and Fortune; in the former it is accompanied by its partial sister Adds. 34360 in a continuation bewailing imprisonment, see Anglia 28 : 3. This continuation is present as a separate poem, without any ascription to Chaucer, in Harley 7333. -
Beside this mass of copies of Chaucer, Shirley has preserved to us an unusual body of evidence regarding their authenticity or occasion. The Words to Adam exists only in his Trinity MS, where it is marked as by Chaucer; our ascription of the ABC to Chaucer rests on Shirley's writing of Chaucer's name beside his Sion College text; for the authenticity of Mars, Venus, Pity, and Stedrastnesse, we have no direct testimony other than Shirley's; and for the authenticity of the Anelida we have only one other marking. .
The errors chargeable to him are: the assertion that the
Truth was written on Chaucer's deathbed, which Skeat calls
“probably a mere bad guess”, but which is defended by ten Brink, Hist. Eng. Lit. II : 205; the statement that the Chronicle (see Section V here) was “made” by Chaucer; this is censured by ten Brink ibid. III : 272 and by Furnivall, but an interpretation which frees Shirley from suspicion is offered by Skeat I : 53. Furnivall, Trial Forew. p. 120, also blames Shirley for ascribing the Ballad of Pity to Chaucer; but the authenticity of that poem is defended by Skeat, see Section V here. The marking of the Venus envoy as Thomas Chaucer's, and the tacking on of that envoy to the Fortune, both distortions introduced by the Ashmole MS, are to be viewed as errors due to Shirley's great age when the Ashmole was written. . The question of the text preserved by Shirley in these copies is another and very different matter. Two copies by him of the same poem present no such agreements as do for instance the independently transcribed MSS Fairfax 16 and Bodley 638. Koch, in Engl. Stud. 27 : 10-12, has made some comparisons of Shirley's divergences from himself, while discussing the likelihood of Chaucer's revising his own work; he remarks p. 16 that Shirley seems to write usually from memory. On the