Hide Articles List

15 articles on this Page





THE LIBRARY OF CARDIFF CASTLE. So far back as the days of the feudal kings and the cloistered monks of England we have instances of a love of books. Their accretion, however, in these early days was confined to the regal palace, the monasteries, or, perchance, the castles of a few wealthy barons, whose means permitted the acqui- sition of so costly a luxury as that of a library. The invention of printing, however, in the Fifteenth Century marked the dawn of a new era in the world of letters, and from this period rapid strides were made in the growth of literature. The taste for reading advanced with the increased facilities for the production of books. New authors sprang into existence and traversed paths hitherto untrodden in the field of human inquiry, and before the close of the Seventeenth Century private libraries were to be found in the mansions of many of the nobility. But although in the present day there are few among the wealthy who are not possessors of large collections of books, yet, in most cases, these are regarded by their owners more in the light of accessories to the furnishing of a room or as a compliance with the usages of polite society than as a source of knowledge. There are, likewise, many, no doubt, to whom the artificial requirements in what may bo termed the externals of literature afford no pleasure to whom a vellum or morocco copy, shining in gold, is no more acceptable than if it had been pasted in mill- board or wrapped in sheepskin. Milton has well said, A book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond." Why, therefore, should not such a treasure be enclosed in a worthy casket? The Marquess of Bute whose library we have been permitted to inspect, evidently believes in this external fitness. Viewed either from an ;esthetic or literary point of view the truly unique collection in Cardiff Castle is a fair reflex of the mind of its noble owner. It differs from the libraries of most ancient families, inas- much as, instead of being the accumulation of many generations, it has been entirely collected by its present possessor. An ancestor of Lord Bute pur- chased from the executorsof the Duke of Argyll the library of that nobleman, and this was deposited at Luton Hoo, the then -residence of the Bute family; but it totally perished by fire in 1771 After the restoration of the mansion a second library was formed, as also the well-known gallery of paintings. Again, Luton Hoo was burnt down (1843), but, fortunately, this time the books and pictures were saved and removed for safety to the Pantechnicon, whence they were afterwards transferred to 83, Eccleston-square. The books still remain in their temporary home, but Lord Bute, with characteris- tic generosity, has recently lent upwards of 260 of the pictures to the Bethnal Green Museum, where they are now on view. The library at Cardiff Castle is situated directly beneath the Banqueting-hall, in the east front of the castle, and is approached from the grand 8taircnse by a short corridor. It is a magnificent room, about 75ft. long and 23ft. broad. The apart- ment is lighted by three octagonal bays and three two-light windows, the upper portions oi which are ¡;J!rvJ ;n uri/,n I1h"" with nntat,ions of the Old and New Testament writers. Its walls are lined with a coarse texture resembling canvas coloured and highly decorated. The ceiling is divided into bays with massive beams sub-divided by smaller beams, the larger ones being supported by corbeis, on which are carved the arms of the Princes of Wales. The doors and doorways are beautifully carved and decorated with animals, shields, and foliage. The chief ornament of this noble room is, however, the chimney piece. This is divided into five recessed niches, each contain- ing r, Moated figuro holding a tablet symbolising the growth of language. The book cases are of walnut, inlaid with box and various coloured and dved woods representing foliage, figures, &c. On the north, south, and west sides of the room the book-cases are ranged against the walls, but on the east end they spring from between the windows to the centre of the room. At each end of the library is a beautiful inlaid reading table, under which is placed an apparatus for heat- ing the apartment. At present the library com- prises about, five thousand handsomely bouud volumes, the majority being works of excessive value and rarity. It might be mentioned that in addition to the collection at Eccleston-square, Lord Bute has also libraries at Mount Stuart and at Dumfries House. Our limited space precludes the possibility of more than a. cursory reference to the books at Cardiff Castle. Therefore weshall only attempt to point out a few leading features in order to give our readers an idea of the exceptional character of this collection. We had anticipated that the library of the translator of The Roman Breviary would be rich in books pertaining to the ecclesiastical history and antiquities of the Christian Church, and in this our expectations were fully realised. The collection of books con- taining the history of all the events leading up to the Reformation and extending from that period down to the reign of the Stuarts is not to be ex- celled in any private library in the kingdom. These volumes are chiefly the productions of presses in England and abroad established or em- ployed by exiles from this country during the period of both Catholic and Protestant supremacy. The history of these books is little known", but they themselves throw an immense light on the occurrences of that period. In this department are the works of the Reformers as well as the adherents to the old faith, among them being remarkable specimens of the later period by Robert Parsons, in addition to others of Tyndale, Frith, Coverdale, and other Reformers. The condi- tion of the books of this period is unsurpassed, and the collection is, we imagine, as complete as that of any private library in Europe. As an instance of the value of many of these early printed books, we might mention a magnificent copy of a treatise On the Contemplacyon of Synners," printed by Wynkyn de Worde, in 1510. It is a small 4to. of about 200 pages, printed on thick paper, and in ex- ceptionally good condition. A very inferior copy of this work was recently sold for jE210 by Messrs. Sotheby, Wilkinson, and Hodge, at the dispersal of the valuable library of John Bruce, F.S.A. It is thus described on the title- page :—" The contemplacyon of synners for everie daye of the weke, a singuler medytacyon, em- prentyd at Westmynster by Wynkyn de Worde." The prologue informs us that this book was com- piled and finished at the request of Richard Fox, Bishop of Durham and Lord Privy Seal of England. It is composed in an uncommon manner. There are seven different topics or meditations, divided according to the seven days of the week, con- sisting of brief sentences (because the life of man is short) drawn from the Scriptures, moral philosophers, Fathers and Doctors of the Church, all in Latin. Then follows a paraphrastical translation, or a kind of Concordance in English verse. The collection also comprises all the leading reli- gious controversial works of this and of later periods. Of homilies there is a great variety, conspicuous among them being a first edition of the Book of Homilies," as used in the Church of England, con- taining the leaves which were afterwards sup- pressed. We may add that one of these homilies, at present in use in the Church of England, was written by the so-called Bloody Bishop Bonner, and it is a singular fact that the subject on which it treats is Christian love and charity. In this department there is also an unique series ot the works of Father Parsons, so well known in England during the reign of Elizabeth. The breviaries, a wonderful col- lection,- include the services of the Church of Sarum and those of modern times. In this series is a quaintly-bound pocket volume used by the Roman Catholic emissaries in this country in the time of Elizabeth, when it was necessary to ad- minister the sacraments covertly. There are also the magnificent copies of the "Sarum Manual," 1554, "Breviarium Romanum," 1561.and the "Quignonian Breviary," all in their original bindings, and in the finest possible condition. The Liturgy of the Con- tinental Churches, more especially that of Coire, with its Breviary and Missal, will be found here. A very curious collection of the first editions of the works of John Bunyan, author of the "Pilgrim's Progress," is also worthy of attention. The General Historical Section contains, among other rarities, a glorious copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle," dated 1493, which is reputed to be the finest in the world. Its magnificent woodcuts and typography show what a remarkable degree of perfection had been achieved in the art of illustra- tion and printing at this early period. The size of its pages and the width of its margins would excite the admiration and envy of a bibliomaniac. A large copy of "Froissart's Chronicles of England," 11525-6, • is also in perfect condition, and in the original wooden boards. Modern History and Topography is represented I by the best editions of the leading writers, includ ing a complete set of the works of Tom llearn.- the antiquary, very many of the county histories, the Somers' tracts, &e. It also contains the whole of the literature relating to the Franco-Prussian war, written at the time and subsequently, both e in the French and German languages, and an ex- traordinary collection of caricatures put together during the siege of Paris. The latter forms one of four copies, the others being respectively in the possession of the British Museum and Prince Bismarck. The late Emperor of the French possessed the fourth. Jt includes every cartoon issued during that memorable siege. The books relating to art embrace a profuse variety of valuable works on architecture, paint- ing, and sculpture, and include a large collection of original views by the eminent English engraver Storer. The English classics are represented by first editions of Byron, Fielding, Keats, Lamb. Shelley, Dickens, and an edition de luxe of Thackeray, a complete set of Dr. Dollinger's works, Pope's works, with MS. notes by Cowper, and many others. Several contributions to cabalistic and astrological literature will also ba found in the library, a singular fact how- ever, is that although Lord Bute is a Celtic scholar, and has read papers in this department to the Scottish Society of Antiquaries, his library contains very little of value bearing upon the his- tory, topography, and philology of Wales. This is the more to be wondered at, as his lord- ship is conversant with and an admirer of the Welsh language. There are no MSS. at Cardiff Castle. The Luton MSS. and those subsequently purchased by the First Marquess of Bute are to be found in the library at Eccleston- square. An account of these is given in the third report of the Historical Manuscripts Commission. In concluding this notice we feel it our bounden duty to thank Mr. Godwin, Lord Bute's librarian, to whose courtesy we are indebted for the privilege of a personal inspection.


[No title]