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taste. But easily I slipped off into another key. At Laxton, it happened that the library was excellent. Founded by whom, I never heard; but certainly, when used by a systematic reader, it showed itself to have been systematically collected; it stretched pretty equably through two centuries,—namely, from about 1600 to 1800,- and might, perhaps, amount to seventeen thousand volumes. Lord Massey was far from illiterate; and his interest in books was unaffected, if limited, and too often interrupted, by defective knowledge. The library was dispersed through six or seven small rooms, lying between the drawingroom in one wing, and the dining-room in the opposite wing. This dispersion, however, already furnished the ground of a rude classification. In some one of these rooms was Lord Massey always to be found, from the forenoon to the evening. And was it any fault of his that his daughter, little Grace, about two years old, pursued him down from her nursery every morning, and insisted upon seeing innumerable pictures, lurking (as she had discovered) in many different recesses of the library? More and more from this quarter it was that we drew the materials of our daily after-dinner conversation. One great discouragement arises commonly to the student, where the particular library in which he reads has been so disordinately collected that he cannot pursue a subject once started. Now, at Laxton, the books had been so judiciously brought together, so many hooks and eyes connected them, that the whole library formed what one might call a series of strata, naturally allied, through which you might quarry your way consecutively for many
months. On rainy days, and often enough one had occasion to say through rainy weeks, what a delightful resource did this library prove to both of us! And one day it occurred to us, that, whereas the stables and the library were both jewels of attraction, the latter had been by much the least costly. Pretty often I have found, when any opening has existed for making the computation, that, in a library containing a fair proportion of books illustrated with plates, about ten shillings a volume might be taken as expressing, upon a sufficiently large number of volumes, small and great, the fair average cost of the whole. On this basis, the library at Laxton would have cost less than nine thousand pounds. On the other hand, thirty-five horses (hunters, racers, roadsters, carriage-horses, etc.) might have cost about eight thousand pounds, or a little more. But the library entailed no permanent cost beyond the annual loss of interest; the books did not eat, and required no aid from veterinary * surgeons; whereas, for the horses, not only such ministrations were intermittingly required, but a costly permanent establishment of grooms and helpers. Lord Carbery, who had received an elaborate Etonian education, was even more earnestly a student than his friend Lord Massey, who had probably been educated at home under a private tutor. He read everything
*"Veterinary."-By the way, whence comes this odd-looking word? The word veterana I have met with in monkish writers, to express domesticated quadrupeds; and evidently from that word must have originated the word veterinary. But the question is still but one step removed; for, how came veterana by that acceptation in rural economy?
connected with general politics (meaning by general not personal politics) and with social philosophy. At Laxton, indeed, it was that I first saw Godwin's "Political Justice;" not the second and emasculated edition in octavo, but the original quarto edition, with all its virus as yet undiluted of raw anti-social Jacobinism.
At Laxton it was that I first saw the entire aggregate labors, brigaded, as it were, and paraded as if for martial review, of that most industrious benefactor to the early stages of our English historical literature, Thomas Hearne. Three hundred guineas, I believe, had been the price paid cheerfully at one time for a complete set of Hearne. At Laxton, also, it was that first I saw the total array of works edited by Dr. Birch. It was a complete armilustrium, a recognitio, or mustering, as it were, not of pompous Prætorian cohorts, or unique guardsmen, but of the yeomanry, the militia, or what, under the old form of expression, you might regard as the trained bands of our literature - the fund from which ultimately, or in the last resort, students look for the materials of our vast and myriad-faced literature. A French author of eminence, fifty years back, having occasion to speak of our English literature collectively, in reference to the one point of its variety, being also a man of honor, and disdaining that sort of patriotism which sacrifices the truth to nationality, speaks of our pretensions in these words: Les Anglois qui ont une littérature infiniment plus variée que la notre. This fact is a feature in our national pretensions that could ever have been regarded doubtfully merely through insufficient knowledge
Dr. Johnson, indeed, made it the distinguishing merit of the French, that they "have a book upon every subject.” But Dr. Johnson was not only capricious as regards temper and variable humors, but as regards the inequality of his knowledge. Incoherent and unsystematic was Dr. Johnson's information in most cases. Hence his extravagant misappraisement of Knolles, the Turkish historian, which is exposed so severely by Spittler, the Ger man, who, again, is himself miserably superficial in his analysis of English history. Hence the feeble credulity which Dr. Johnson showed with respect to the forgery of De Foe (under the masque of Captain Carleton) upon the Catalonian campaign of Lord Peterborough. But it is singular that a literature, so unrivalled as ours in its compass and variety, should not have produced any, even the shallowest, manual of itself. And thus it happens, for example, that writers so laborious and serviceable as Birch are in any popular sense scarcely known. I showed to Lord Massey, among others of his works, that which relates to Lord Worcester's (that is, Lord Glamorgan's) negotiations with the Papal nuncio in Ireland, about the year 1644, &c. Connected with these negotiations were many names amongst Lord Massey's own ancestors; so that here he suddenly alighted upon a fund of archæologic memorabilia, connecting what interested him as an Irishman in general with what most interested him as the head of a particular family. It is remarkable, also, as an indication of the general nobility and elevation which had accompanied the revolution in his life, that concurrently with the constitutional torpor previously
besetting him, had melted away the intellectual torpor under which he had found books until recently of little practical value. Lady Carbery had herself told me that the two revolutions went on simultaneously. He began to take an interest in literature when life itself unfolded a new interest, under the companionship of his youthful wife. And here, by the way, as subsequently in scores of other instances, I saw broad evidences of the credulity with which we have adopted into our grave political faith the rash and malicious sketches of our novelists. With Fielding commenced the practice of systematically traducing our order of country gentlemen. picture of Squire Western is not only a malicious, but also an incongruous libel. The squire's ordinary language is impossible, being alternately bookish and absurdly rustic. In reality, the conventional dialect ascribed to the rustic order in general — to peasants even more than to gentlemen-in our English plays and novels, is a childish and fantastic babble, belonging to no form of real breathing life; nowhere intelligible; not in any province; whilst, at the same time, all provinces - Somersetshire, Devonshire, Hampshire - are confounded with our midland counties; and positively the diction of Parricombe and Charricombe from Exmoor Forest is mixed up with the pure Icelandic forms of the English lakes, of North Yorkshire, and of Northumberland. In Scotland, it needs but a slight intercourse with the peasantry to distinguish various dialectsthe Aberdonian and Fifeshire, for instance, how easily distinguished, even by an English alien, from the western dialects of Ayrshire, &c. ! And I have