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their possessors. If there were 110 that is the shape in which he is or 120 people willing to possess and most secure of obtaining it. pay for a certain class of books, the On the other hand, the clubs will secret of keeping up the pressure not avail for ushering into the from without and the value of the world the books of fresh ambitious books was, to limit the number autho’ 8. That paradise of the of members and participators to geniuses, in which their progeny 100. There is nothing noble or are to be launched full sail, where disinterested in this. The arrange they are to encounter no risks, and ment has no pretension to either of draw all the profits without disthese qualities; nor when we come count or percentage, as yet exists to the great forces which influence only in the imagination. It would the supply and demand of human not work very satisfactorily to have -wants, whether in the higher or the a committee decreeing the issues, humbler departments, will we find and the remuneration to be paid to these qualities in force, or indeed each aspirant-ten thousand copies any other motive than common of Poppleton's Epic, and a check selfishness. It is sufficient vindi- of a thousand pounds handed over cation of the arrangement that it out of the common stock, to begin produced its effect. If there were with-half the issue, and half the ten or twenty disappointed candi- remuneration for the Lyrics of Asdates, the hundred were possessed tyagus, as a less robust and manful of the treasures which none could production, but still a pleasant, murhave obtained but for the restrictive muring, meandering, earnest little arrangements. Scott used to say dream-book, fresh with the solemn the Bannatyne Club was the only purpose of solitude and silence. successful joint-stock company he No, it must be confessed our auever invested in and the remark thors and men of letters would is the key-note of the motives make sad work of it, if they had which kept alive the system that the bestowal of the honours and has done so much good to litera- pecuniary rewards of literature in ture.
their hands, whether these were adTo understand the nature and ministered by an intellectual hierservices of these valuable institu- archy, or by a collective democracy. tions, it is necessary to keep in Hence the clubs have wisely conview the limits within which alone fined their operations to books they can be legitimately worked. which are not the works of their They will not serve for the propa- members ; and to keep clear of all gation of standard literature — of risk of literary rivalries, they have the books of established reputation, been almost exclusively devoted to which are always selling. These the promulgation of the works of are merchandise, and must follow authors long since dead, whether the law of trade like other com- by printing from original manumodities, whether they exist in the scripts, or from rare printed vol. form of copyright monopolies, or are open to all speculators. No It has been pleaded that this kind of co-operation will bring the machinery might have been renvolumes into existence so cheaply dered influential for the encourageas the outlay of trade capital, which ment of living authorship. It has is expected to replace itself with a been, for instance, observed, with moderate profit after a quick sale. some plausibility, that he who has The perfection of this process is the divine fervour of the author in seen in the production and sale of him, will sacrifice all he has to that book which is ever the surest sacrifice-time, toil, and health-S0 of a market—the Bible ; and when that he can but secure a hearing by a printer requires the certain and the world; and institutions of the nainstantaneous return of his outlay, ture of the book clubs might afford
him this at all events, leaving him these papers may have been ambito find his way to wealth and hon- tious of their appearance in a wider ours, if the sources of these are in sphere, or are content with their him. No doubt the history of appearance in "The Transactions,” book-publishing shows how small it suffices for the present purpose are the immediate inducements and to explain how these volumes are a the well-founded hopes that will more suitable receptacle than those set authors in motion, and a very printed by the book clubs for essays large percentage of valueless litera or disquisitions by men following ture proves that the barriers be- up their own specialties in literature tween the author and the world are or science; and if it be the case that not very formidable, or become some of the essays which appear in somehow easily removable. The the Transactions of learned bodies answer to the pleading we have al- would have gladly entered society luded to is easy. Where the book under the auspices of one or other demanding an introduction pro- eminent periodical, yet it is proper fesses to be a work of genius, ad- at the same time to admit that many dressing itself to all mankind—if of the most valuable of these papers, it really be what it professes, the concerning discoveries or inventions market will get it. No production which adepts alone can appreciate, of the kind is ever lost to the world. could only be satisfactorily announcThere may be, on the other hand, ed as they have been. And so we special disquisitions on matters of find our way back to the proposiscience or learning intended for pe- tion, that the book clubs have been culiar and limited audiences. For judiciously restricted to the prothese there is an opening in certain mulgation of the works of dead institutions far older than the book authors. clubs, and possessed of a far higher This has not necessarily excluded social and intellectual position, since the literary contributions of living they have the means of conferring men, in the shape of editing and titles of dignity on those they adopt commenting; and it is really diffiinto their circle-titles which are cult to estimate the quantity of worn not by trinkets dangling at the valuable matter which is thus debutton-hole, but by certain cabalis- posited in obscure but still accessible tic letters strung to the name in the places. A deal of useful work, too, directory of the town where the has been done in the way of transowner lives, or in the numberless lation ; and where the book to be biographical dictionaries which are dealt with is an Icelandic saga, a to immortalise the present genera- chronicle in Saxon, in Irish Celtic, tion. Yes, the author of an essay, or even in old Norman, we confess especially in scholarship or science, to the weakness of letting the oriwill, if it be worth anything, find a ginal remain, in some instances, place for it in the Transactions of unexamined, and drawing our inone or other of the learned societies. formation with confiding gratitude It will probably keep company with, from the translation furnished by if indeed it be not itself one of, a the learned editor. Without such series of papers which appear in the aid we would have had, for instance, quarto volumes of the learned cor little advantage in that illustration poration's Transactions, merely be- of a great crisis in early Irish hiscause they cannot get into the octavo tory called the Battle of Maghpages of the higher class of periodi- Rath, and therefore we thankfully
but there they are, printed in acknowledge our obligations to the face of the world, whose inhabi- O'Donovan's translation, which, tants at large may worship them if having the merit of being more they so please, and their authors literal than Macpherson's translacannot complain that they are sup- tions from the same language, bepressed. Whether the authors of gins in this wise :
" I have seen an evil dream,
It is a thing so well known as to A week and a month this night;
require mention only for the purIn consequence of it I left my home To narrate -- to tell it.
pose of preserving regularity and My whelp, of estimable character, sequence in these rather desultory Ferglonn, better than any hound, remarks, that “ The Roxburghe Methought assembled a pack,
was the father of the book clubs. By which he destroyed Erin in an hour. Pass thou a true judgment upon it,
We have elsewhere mentioned its O Maelcobhba! 0 Clerk!
origin, as a sort of annual solemnity,
literary and convivial, for the purpose That meal thou hast taken to-night
of commemorating that greatcrisis in Is without pride-without honour; the history of book-hunting—the sale A hen-egg from the King, who loves thee of the Duke of Roxburghe's library.
not, And a goose-egg to Maelcobhba.
That affair, as its historian informs I never had known
us, lasted for forty-two days. The The noble position of the King of commemorative anniversary repreOirghiall
sented neither the first nor the last Until I beheld Maelcobhba Being honoured at the banqueting of these, but, after solemn discushouse."
sion, was fixed for the day which
witnessed the disposal of the ValLet us offer one instance of the darfer Boccaccio. This was the 17th important service that may be done of June. The day may occur to the by affording a vehicle for transla- reader as one very close to the comtions. The late Dr Francis Adams, memoration of another great cona village surgeon by profession, was flict. The Roxburghers, however, at the same time, from taste and are not to be blamed for the conpursuit, a professed Greek scholar. junction, for they established their He was accustomed to read the old club in 1813, and are not responauthors on medicine and surgery- sible for the battle of Waterloo haya custom too little respected by his ing been fought on the 18th of profession, of whom is the cha- June, two years later. It was a racteristic defect to respect too ab- fundamental arrangement of the solutely the standard of the day. club that, at each commemoration, As a physician, who is an ornament one of the members should distrito his profession and a great scholar, bute among his fellows a volume once observed to us, the writings of printed at his own expense for the the old physicians, even if we reject occasion, either from some rare them from science, may be perused book, or from manuscript; further, with profit to the practitioner as a the number of members was limitrecord of the diagnosis of cases ed to thirty, and one black ball stated by men of acuteness, experi- sufficed. ence, and accuracy of observation. Nothing has done so much to seAdams had translated from the cure the potent influence of clubs as Greek the works of Paul of Ægina, the profound secrecy in which their the father of obstetric surgery, and transactions have generally been printed the first volume. It was buried, downwards from the Vehm totally unnoticed, for in fact there Gericht, the earliest institution of were no means by which the village the kind, unless we are to count the surgeon could get it brought under Mystagoges of the Eleusinian mysthe notice of the scattered members teries as a club. In civilised times of his profession who desired to this secrecy has been preserved possess such a book. The remainder through that social rule which proof his labours would have been lost hibits gentlemen from making pubto the world had it not been taken lic the affairs of the private circle ; off his hands by the Sydenham Club, and it has been clenched by the established for the purpose of re- powerful protection of the one, two, printing the works of the ancient three black balls. It is singular physicians.
that so small and exclusive a club
as the Roxburghe should have proveded by Gridiron Gabble, Gent., Godan exception to the rule of secrecy, son to Mother Goose.” and that the world has been favoured The name of Joseph Haslewood with revelations of its doings which sounds well; it is gentleman-like, have made it the object of more and its owner might have passed it amusement than reverence. In fact, into such friendly commemoration through failure of proper use of the as that of Bliss, Cracherode, Heber, black ball, it got possession of a Sykes, Utterson, Townley, Markblack sheep,in the person of a certain land, Hawtrey, and others generally Joseph Haslewood. He had achieved understood to be gentlemen, and, a sort of reputation in the book-hunt in virtue of their book-hunting proing community by discovering the pensities, scholars. He might even, hidden authorof Drunken Barnaby's for the sake of his reprints, have been Journal. In reality, however, he thought an "able editor," had it not was a sort of literary Jack Brag. As been for his unfortunate efforts to that amusing creation of Theodore chronicle the days of the club he Hook's practical imagination mus- had got into. The history, in matered himself with sporting gentle nuscript, was sold with his other men through his command over the treasures after his death, and was technicalities or slang of the kennel purchased by the proprietor of The and the turf, so did Haslewood sit Atheneum, where fragments of it at the board with scholars and aris- were printed some fifteen years ago, tocratic book-collectors through a along with editorial comments, free use of their technical phrase- greatly to the amusement, if not to ology. In either case, if the use of the edification, of the public. these terms descended into a motley In these revelations we find how grotesqueness, it was excused as ex- long a probation the system of bookcessive fervour carrying the enthu- clubs had to pass through, before it siast off his feet. When Haslewood's shook off the convivial propensities treasures-for he was a collector in which continued to cluster round his way—were brought to the ham- the normal notion of a club, and mer, the scraps and odds and ends reached the dry asceticism and atit contained were found classified tention to the duties of printing and in groups under such headings as editing, by which the greater numthese “ Garlands of Gravity," ber of book-clubs are distinguished. “ Poverty's Pot Pourri,” “Wallat It was at first a very large allowance of Wit," "Beggar's Baldardash," of sack to the proportion of literary "Octagonal Olio," "Zany's Zodiac," food, and it was sarcastically re“Noddy's Nuncheon," "Mumper's marked that the club had spent a Medley," “Quaffing Quavers to full thousand pounds in guzzling Quip Queristers," " Trampers Twat- before it had produced a single vatle ; or, Treasure and Tinsel from luable volume. We have some of the Tewksbury Tank," and the like. the bills of fare at the “Roxburghe He edited reprints of some rare Revels," as they were called. In books—that is to say, he saw them one, for instance, we count, in the accurately reprinted letter by letter. first course, turtle cooked five differOf these one has a name which— ent ways, along with turbot, john risking due castigation if we betray dory, tendrons of lamb, soutee of gross ignorance by the supposition haddock, ham, chartreuse, and boiled —we think he must certainly have chickens. The bill was £5, 14s. himself bestowed on it, as it excels a-head; or, as Haslewood expresses the most outrageous pranks of the it,“ according to the long-established alliterative age. It is called, “Green- principles of ‘Maysterre Cockerre,' Room Gossip; or, Gravity Gallinipt. each person had £5, 14s. to pay.” A Gallimaufry got up to guile. We might be tempted to offer the Gymnastical and Gyneocratic Go- reader a fuller specimen of the hisvernments. Gathered and garnish- torian's style; but unfortunately its
characteristics, grotesque as they of the members, ashamed of the are, cannot be exemplified in their paltry nature of the volumes circufull breadth' without being also lated in the name of the club, begiven at full length, so as entirely thought themselves of uniting to proto exhaust the patience of even the duce a book of national value. They gentlest reader The accounts of took Sir Frederick Madden into the several dinners read like photo- their counsels, and authorised him to graphs of a mind wandering in the print eighty copies of the old metrimazes of indigestion-begotten night- cal romance of Havelok the Dane. This
When Dibdin protested gave great dissatisfaction to the hisagainst its publication, he described torian, who muttered how “a MS. it a great deal too attractively when not discovered by a member of the he called it “ the concoction of one club was selected, and an excerpt in his gayer and unsuspecting mo- obtained, not furnished by the inments—the repository of private dustry or under the inspection of confidential communications any one member, nor edited by a mere memorandum-book of what member; but, in fact, after much had passed at convivial meetings, pro and con, it was made a complete and in which winged words and hireling concern, truly at the exflying notes of merry gentlemen pense of the club, from the copying and friends, were obviously incor- to the publishing." porated.” No! wings and flying The value of this book, as a conare not the ideas that naturally tribution to English literature, has associate with the historian of the been attested by the extensive criRoxburghe, although, in one in- tical examination it has received, stance, the dinner is sketched off in and by its being reprinted for sale. the following epigramatic sentence, And this, by the way, suggests a which startles the reader like a plo- practical answer to those who comver starting up in a dreary moor : plain of the arrangement, essential “Twenty-one members met joyfully, to the club system, of limiting the dined comfortably, challenged eager- number of the impression of each ly, tippled prettily, divided regret- volume. There is, in the general fully, and paid the bill most cheer- case, no copyright in the book, and fully.” On another occasion the it is free to any one who thinks the historian's enthusiasm was too ex- public at large will buy it, to reprint pansive to be confined to plain prose, it, and supply the market. and he inflated it in lyric verse : The printing of Havelok the Dane, “Brave was the banquet, the red red juice, followed, as it was, by another valHilarity's gift sublime,
uable old romance, William and the Invoking the heart to kindred use, Wer Wolf, made the reputation of And bright'nivg halo of time.
the Roxburghe, and proved an exThis, and a quantity of additional ample and encouragement to the matter of like kind, was good fun clubs which began to arise more or to the scorners, and, whether any of less on its model. It was a healthy the unskilful laughed at it, scarcely protest against the Foggy Dibdinmade even the judicious grieve, for ism which had ruled the destinies they thought that those who had of the club, for Dibdin had been its embarked in such pompous follies master, and was the Gamaliel at deserved the lash administered to whose feet Haslewood and others them in his blunders by an unhappy patiently sat. Of the term we have member of their own order.
now used, the best explanation we In fact, however, this was the can give is this, that in the selection youthful giant sowing his wild oats. of books—other questions, such as It was not until the year 1827 that rarity or condition, being set aside, a step was taken by the Roxburghe or equally balanced—a general preClub which might be called its first ference is to be given to those which exhibition of sober manhood. Some are the most witless, preposterous,