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ing purchased at a very high rate a treatise on Pythagorean philosophy, from which he obtained some plagiarisms for bis famous dialogue. The following are Timon's lines on the subject :-" And thou also Plato, thou hast been seized with the desire of improving thyself, and purchased with so much money a little book, by the aid of which thou wilt be enabled to write
We have here the most ancient mention of the prices given for books by the writers of antiquity, but few evidences have been afforded us on this subject. Martial, however, furnishes us with a few.
“ Near the Forum of Cæsar," wrote be in the hundred and eighteenth epigram of his second book," may be seen a shop, the entire front of which is covered with titles of works, where with the glance of an eye you can read the names of all the poets.
Entering there and addressing yourself to Atrectus, the name of the shopkeeper, you ask for my book. He takes from the first or second shelf a Martial well bound and ornamented with purple, which he sells to you for five deniers” (about 3s.)
The work alluded to here is the first book of Martial's Epigrams, composed of seven hundred lines. Besides, speaking of his thirteenth book, composed of a hundred and twenty-seven very brief title pages, and of two hundred and seventy-four lines, the same poet wrote (Ep.3): “Everybody sought to procure this little book, which sold so dear, four sestcrces (about nine pence) four! too much. If the bookseller Tryphon had sold it for
. two, he would still have had profit.” If this Epigram night
if be taken literally, it followed that Martial's bookseller in selling thethirteenth book of the poet for four sesterces gained more than cent per cent profit on each copy.
The following are some particulars of the prices given in the middle ages, which will complete those which we have already inserted.
In 690 Benedict Biscop, monk and founder of the monastery of Wearmouth, sold to Egfride, King, of Northumberland, a manuscript on cosmography for eight hundred acres of arable land.
Áttic Nights, book III., ch. 17, Collection Dubochil. Diogenes Laërtius, Life of Plato.
In 1174, Walter, prior of Saint Swithin, at Winchester, purchased the Homilies of Béde and the Psalter of Saint Austin, for twelve measures of barley, and a pallium, on which was represented, in embroidery, the history of Saint Berious converting a Saxon king.*
W. de Howton sold to the Abbot of Croxton, in 1276, a Bible expounded, for 50 marks of silver, about thirty-four pounds, whilst the construction of two arches of the Bridge of London, at this period cost only twenty-five pounds. In the registry of the Priory of Bolton, in the year 1305, may be found this note : Pro quodam libro Sententiarum empt. XXXS. It was the book of Sentences of the famous Peter Lombard. They would have got two fat oxen for the same price.
In a deed of 1332, Geoffroy de Saint Liger, one of the clerks of the library of Paris, acknowledged and confessed having sold and surrendered, under mortgage of all his goods and guarantee of his body, a book entitled, Speculum historiale in consuetudines Parisienses, divided and bound in four volumes, covered in red leather, to a nobleman, Girard de Montagu, Advocate to the King in Parliament, for the moderate sum of forty Paris livres
The book of Pierre Comestor, Scolastica Historia, taken at the battle of Poictiers, was afterwards bought for 100 marks of silver, (about 66 livres sterling), by the Count of Salisbury,
Petrarch (who died in 1974), relates in a letter addressed to bis friend Penna, that Tuscus, his master of grammar and rhetoric, being a great libertine, was obliged, in order to pay his debts to pawn two small voluines of Cicero.
A very old document of the same period, (1393), the truth of which is unimpeachable, relates that Alazacie de Blevis, a lady of Romolles, wife to Boniface the Magnificent of Castel.. lane, Baron of Germany, in making her will, bequeathed to a young lady, her daughter, a certain number of books in which were inserted all the body of laws, formed and designed on parchment in the most elegant hand-writing; she enjoined her that in case she was about to marry, she should select a gentleman of the long robe, a jurisconsult, and that at her death she
• Timperly relates that in 1120, Martin, a monk selected by the Con. vent of St. Edmond's Bury to transcribe a copy of the Bible, could not obtain parchment in England for this object.
would bequeath to bim this rich and most valuable treasure, as being a portion of her dowry. We may here observe that the Art of Printing was not at the time in use, or even discovered, Guttenberg being the originator. Gentlemen of Germany, and such of the noble houses of Provence as possessed such volumes, esteemed them a great treasure and considered themselves endowed with a vast and important inheritance; because libraries containing such works usually cost a very large sum, and they could not be copied or transcribed for even a very high price; and the men of letters were so scarce, so very
difficult to be met with, and held in such high esteem and veneration, that those who could possessed themselves of those treasured volumes, studied them eagerly night and day, and preserved them carefully.*
In 1391, Louis d'Orleans bought of Oliver Lempire, a Breviary, in a single volume, for 40 crowns in gold. Another Breviary used in Paris, in two large volumes, covered in white leather, was purchased by the same prince, the 18th of February 1397, for 200 golden francs.
In 1396, Jacques Johan, grocer and burgher of Paris, sold to Louis, duke of Orleans, for the sum of 60 crowns, two books, “in which were contained, the Livre du Tresor, the Livre des Rois, the Secret des Secrez, and the Livre de Estrille Fauveau, all in one voluine, illuminated and emblazoned with the arms of the old Duke of Lancaster; and in the other the Romant de la Rose, the Testament de maistre Jean de Meun, and the Livre des Eschez moralisé, illuminated with azure and gold, and containing likenesses.t
In 1400 a copy of the Romance of the Rose, I was sold at Paris, before the Palace gates, for about thirty-three pounds.
* L'Historie et Chronique de Provence, de Cæsar de Nostradamus, Lyon, 1614, in folio p. 516.
+ See the Bibliothèque de Charles d'Orleans, á son Château de Blois, by Le Roux de Lincy, Bibliothèque de l'Ecole des chartes, vol 5. We would be able to extract from this Catalogue the price of a very great number of books, but these volumes were almost all ornamented with such gorgeou-ness, that it would be impossible to give a just idea of the relative value of such work.
† For an account of this book see Irish QUARTERLY Review, No. 24, p. 673.
Les lleures which Charles the VI. gave, in 1412, to the Duchess of Burgundy, cost 600 crowns.
An ancient scroll at the abbey of St Stephen at Caen, recorded that in 1431 they purchased for seven francs the works of Peter Loinbard. This year they miglit have had, for the same sum, seventy bushels of corn.
Thu 2nd of November, 1447, Lantimer de Gisors made a bargain with Guillaume Tuleu, proctor to the Hotel Dieu at Paris by which he obtained entrance into the hospital and permission to dwell there on condition of his bestowing a manuscript entitled Le Pelegrinage de la vie humaine, written about the year 1358, by Guilleville, a Bernardine religious of Chaales; in order said Lantimer “ to obtain pardon of his sins, and that our Holy Father the Pope would grant in his Bulls to the llotel Dieu the power of maintaining him for that sum, and an intention also through God's mercy for himself, his wife, children, father, mother, friends, and benefactors, both living and dead, and especially his master Nicole Ducar, surgeon to King Charles, whom may God absolve for having given him this book, and may he participate with him in obtaining pardon of his sins."
About the iniddle of the Gfteenth century, Cardinal James Piccolomini having requested the Florentine, Acciaioli to purchase for him a Josephus, Acciaioli uct daring to buy this work in consequences of its very high price offered to the Cardinal, three volumes of Plutarch for 8 crowns of Gold, and the Epislles of Seneca for 16 crowns.
We find in the fifth book of the Epistles of Antonio Panormita, a letter addressed by this savant to the King of Naples, Alphonso V. the enlightened supporter of literature, (who died in 1458). The following is a translation :
"Having been apprised that the works of Livy, in good type are selling in Florence for 120 golden crowns, I request your Majesty to purchase in my name, and send to me the works of this historian, that we have been in the habit of designating the King of Books. In a short time I hope to be enabled to procure money to reimburse you for this purchase. I desire, however, very much to know who has acted a wiser part, Poggio
He, in order to purchase a villa at Florence, sold a Livy that had been magnificently transcribed in his own hand whilst I bave sold an estate to buy a Livy."
We read in the twentieth epistle of Gaguin á Fichet, that,
having been commissioned by one of his Italian friends to purchase at Paris, a concordance of the Bible, he could only find one very well written copy, which the bookseller Paschassius would sell for 100 golden crowns.
Louis XI having learned that the Faculty of Medicine were in possession of a manuscript of Rasès, a celebrated Arabic Physician of the tenth century, demanded a loan of it from the Faculty for the purpose of transcribing it. We have here the reply addressed to him by the body.
“Our Sovereign Lord, whilst in our humility we recommend ourselves to your favour, and desire to inform you, our Sovereign Lord, that the president, Messire Jean de la Driesche, has commissioned us to say that you can have the rescript for which
you have sent, Totum continens Rasis, in order to transcribe it; but as we possess but one copy, we require a guerdon for its security, Sire, being the most valuable and rare treasure in our faculty, and not to be procured elsewhere. Nevertheless, desiring with all our hearts to comply with your request, we will forward the book for transcription, provided you deposit certain vessels of silver and other securities to bail us as to its safety: this, according to the statutes of our faculty, must be complied with, baving sworn on the Holy Gospel to guard and preserve it, which, without such observance could never have been accomplished. Praying to God, Sire, &c. This 29 November, 1471." Farther on it has been recorded that the security required by the faculty had been fixed to 12 marcs of silver and 20 sterlings, and that beside Malingre should go security for a hundred golden crowns. *
As might be supposed the discorery of printing pulled down rapidly the price of manuscripts. “What acts of thanks!” wrote Jean André Bishop of Aleria to Pope Paul II., “should not the Christian and literary world render to you for having introduced printing into Rome. Is it not a great glory and honor for your Holiness to have procured for so many of your poor people the facility of forming a library at comparatively trifling expense, and of purchasing for 20 crowns correct volumes which some time since could scarcely be obtained for 100 crowns, though filled with the errors of the copyists? At
• “Historia Universitatis Parisiensis,” by Du Boulay, vol. v. p. 885.