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bindings, too, have been judiciously and udiciall y held unnecessary. The books
“ Are but volumes for the working day,
with “ painful” and frequent handling, and a long endurance of the smoky atmosphere of the heart of the metropolis. '
But if the binding be generally plain in one sense, it is, or till lately was, not always so in another. Some of the backs of the thousands of old books rebound, displayed eccentricities of lettering singular for their intrepid defiance of meaning. We some years ago found a volume, lettered “Idem, Liber!" What could this denote? VVe at length discovered that it was the duplicate 01 another work in the library, and marked in the “Worsley Catalogue ” as above ; and the person intrusted with preparing books for binding, during the dark period already referred to, had taken this for the veritable title of the publication in question. Other instances, scarcely less ridiculous, we could give. Grammatical inaccuracies, such as “iS'ennerti de Ch_2/micorum,” abound, and seem to have been held of no importance. i
We will now request our readers’ attention to separate classes of works composing the collection, with reference to their comparative strength and weakness.
The manuscripts in the Middle Temple library are very few; and of those few, the subjects of several are to be found in print, and some appear to be merely copies of books already published.
The reports of cases before Lord Nottingham are supposed to be the most valuable possession, in this way, of which the library can boast. These it was once in contemplation to publish, and, indeed, they were actually placed for t is p rpose in the hands of a gentleman, who would doubtless have ably ischarged the task ; but, for what reason we know not, the dosi.-" n was ultimately abandoned.
Another volume of Reports—l\Lay.:a1u's—-in the time of the two Charles’s, appears to be less authentic. Then there are the voluminous pleadings of the late Godfrey Sykes, an old member,
of the Society, and a most worthy man, whom we well knew. Several of his pupils attained high professional honours.
There is also a. very large collection of manuscripts by the late Mr. F earne, numbering no less than fifty volumes, of various dimensions. It is probable that, amongst such copious relics of so distinguished a lawyer, a skilful eye and hand might detect and select valuable professional gems; but, at present, they are altogether without arrangement, and therefore, it is to be presumed, of little practical use.
Of printed books upon English law, t_he reports are probably as complete as in any other collection ; but, until lately, the library was somewhat weak in modern text-books and treatises, although it has been gradually much augmented in this department. Till within the last. twenty years, there was what we must consider an illiberal standing-order against the purchase by the Society of any legal periodicals. They are now, however, duly supplied. It may, however, be observed, that much difference of opinion will always exist amongst readers as to what a library ought to contain, upon this as well as other subjects ; but as this article is designed to be descriptive, and not suggestivelor didactic, we refrain from expressing the thoughts which we, in common with others, may entertain upon the question.
The collection of Scotch and Irish Reports is, we believe, complete ; and there is a fair collection of text-books relating to professional matters in these sister kingdoms. Of American reports, and other legal works, there is also a tolerably strong force, principally due to the care and liberality of a barrister of the Society, to whom we have already alluded.
In civil, canon, and international law, the library is very strong. Nevertheless, there are many works of continental celebrity upon these subjects which, as yet, it does not include.
The class of books of divinity and ecclesiastical history is very large, occupying no less than 190 pages in a catalogue containing 656. It should, however, be remembered, that the title of a. very brief tract (and of such this portion of the library in it great measure consists) may occupy as much space as that of all 919390rate work comprising an indefinite number of folios.
By far the greater part of this valuable collection (much of which might be coveted by Sion College) dates from the foundation of the library, few additions having been made to it of late years; the exceptions being works of some of our old standard divines, few of which appeared previously, amidst a crowd of theological writings comparatively unknown, yet many of which might have been useful weapons in the recent ecclesiastico-legal disputes, when Tractari-ans and anti-Tractarians contended as fiercely as did the Jesuits and anti-Jesuits in earlier days, of which the monuments exist plentifully here in many a closelyprinted tome, and still more abundantly in briefer tracts and pamphlets, with “conceited” titles. For in this, as in other sections of the library, works there are not a few, anonymous, or by illustrious authors little known, but often interesting to those who, like ourselves, are sometimes inclined for “such reading as was never read.” “The Doleful Knell of Thomas Bell” (a Protestant) ; “ A Currycomb for a Coxcomb,” and Hercynianus’ “ Rhabarbarum Domandae bili Camerarii”——are specimens of the delight of some of our ancestors in this description of wit.
The oldest English Bible in the collection, is the Cambridge edition of 1660 ; but the Holy Scriptures are to be found entirely, or in part, in about fifty different languages, some of them rarely studied in this country.
There is no complete collection of the Fathers of the church, but ecclesiastical writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries abound. The missionary letters of the Jesuits are to be found in considerable numbers.
Amongst the few English writers on Divinity of a more recent date, added to the library before 1826, may be mentioned Professor John Hey, of whose work a. mutilated copy (one volume out of four being missing), whether by purchase or presentation is unknown, is to be found on the shelves. This writer, much less celebrated than he deserves to be, is invaluable to students of the articles of the Church of England. His work, which has received, amongst those of other able persons, the warm praise of Dr. Arnold and the late Bishop of Lincoln (Kaye)——very dififerent
n1en—is clear, forcible, and attractive ; and is not to be met with in many important libraries.
The hiiddle Temple Library contains several choice and curious works on Witchcraft and Demonology, tending to show that our ancestors were nearly as foolish and credulous as (not more so than) ourselves. The chief of these in the vernacular are Scott's “ Discovery of Witchcraft,” Cotta’s “ Trial of Witchcraft,” and Deacon and Walker’s “Discourse of Spirits and Devils.” Several others have been abstracted.
The library is altogether tolerably strong in English history, with its adjuncts and concomitants in the shape of pamphlets and treatises. But this branch of knowledge—after law proper, probably the most important in an English legal library——formed no exception to the general rule of neglect, affecting the Middle Temple collection, during so long a period. Amongst the many quaint old tracts with quainter titles which this class includes, such as “Worthies and Unworthies of the Age described,” “ Grievous Groans for the Poor,” &c., one entitled, “Some Wiser than Some,” a most undeniable proposition, recurs to us as applicable to the judgment and public spirit which especially influenced the late Lord Colchester and Mr. Robert C-asberd (who were chiefly instrumental in the resuscitation of the library), as contrasted with the strange apathy upon this subject, which appears to have characterized many of their predecessors of the bench.
Amongst memoirs connected with English History, we have here some which are scarce as well as curious. “ Robert Monro’s Expedition with the Scotch regiment called Mackay’s" (fol. 1637), is known to have furnished large dranghts of inspiration to Sir lvalter Scott, before introducing to the world his “ Dugald Dalgetty.” Thomas Carve’s “ Itinerarium in Legione Colonelli Devereux” (8vo, Mog. 1639), a somewhat similar work, is also not every where to be met with.
The Society possesses, though not a complete, yet a very voluminous, collection of chronicles of English (and other) history, from that of Geoffrey of Monmouth, to a very unique and interesting “ Chapter from Froissart,” recording events of a Somewhat later period. The important series now in course of publication, under the direction of the Master of the Rolls, promises ere long to form a library of moderate dimensions in itself.
Intimately connected with this subject are the debates, journals, and other publications relating to the two Houses of Parliament. The two first sections of these are complete, and memoirs and treatises are also to be found in considerable number. Many hundred volumes of Reports of Commissions (the formidable blue books, always called for, little read), were about twenty-two years since presented to the Society. It is fortunate at present that the gift was not repeated; for, assuredly, the present receptacle for its books would not contain such another cargo of these folios. A judicious selection, when space shall have been provided for them, might not be found unserviceable.
It was not to be expected that the collection of historical works relating to other lands should have rivalled in number those which treat of this our England; nevertheless, in the earlier stages of the library, they (taking the word collectively) did, in fact, outnumber them. It is true that a disposition to narrate events appears to have always existed on the continent of Europe in a greater degree than in our island. At the present day the histo
rical and memoir writers of France are more numerous than our
own. This department of the library has not been greatly increased of late.
It includes, amongst other curiosities, a brief, and we believe scarce work, by Robert Ashley, evidently the founder of the library—-“Almansor, the learned and victorious king that conquered Spain : his Life and Death”-—bearing the date 1627, and dedicated to Charles I. Although not the only publication of Mr. Ashley, this is the sole one which the library which he origi
_nated now contains, for an account by him of Cochin-China has
long been missing. He was a gentleman of Wiltsliire, born in 1565, and therefore above seventy-six years old at his death. Mr. Ashley appears, by his dedication, to have had a far higher opinion of King James I. than We have ; but had his son and successor
Jvell weighed the contents of the third chapter of this little work,