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TO THE CHRISTIAN READER.

F you are troubled with a pride of ac

curacy, and would have it completely taken out of you, print a catalogue.

There is at present in the United States a great rage for splendid private libraries. To appease this I have had, of late, many calls upon my time, from my book-loving countrymen to assist them in making their purchases. Hence it occurred to me that I might save myself much labour, and at the same time, render an important service to American book collectors generally, by preparing a Catalogue to be put into their hands, comprising a few thousand volumes of the best editions of the principal standard English Authors. Accordingly I have endeavoured to make such a selection from the multitude of poets, dramatists, historians, philosophers, metaphysicians, essayists, etc. from the earliest to the present time, as may form the basis of a good miscellaneous library. How well I have succeeded you will see by casting your quick eye over the following pages. First let me tell you that it was intended not to exceed four thousand volumes, and the list was designed merely to assist in the selection of an American Gentle.

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man's private library. I find however that I have considerably exceeded my limits, and have so far enlarged my plan, during the progress of the work, that the Catalogue may now possibly be serviceable to the numerous College, Athenæum, Lyceum, Mercantile, State, Town, Village, and other libraries, more or less public, that are now so rapidly springing up in every part of the United States. To render it something more than a dry Catalogue I have added the contents of the several volumes of the chief polygraphic works, and the dates of birth and death of most of the deceased authors. Hence it may perhaps be of some use as a convenient book of reference to librarians, editors, professors, students, critics and other literary persons who do not possess the books themselves. At least it would be so were it better done, but notwithstanding considerable painstaking, I am aware, Christian Reader, that my Catalogue is as full of errors, both of omission and commission, as you acknowledge your own heart to be ; I therefore have the courage to print but few copies of this first impression, and those only for private distribution among friends and correspondents in America, who are desirous of adorning themselves and their houses with choice English Books. By interleaving and ticking off, it will answer not only as a Catalogue of one's books, but in part as a list of one's desi. derata.

Libraries are an index of a nation's, as well as an individual's wealth, taste, and character. A very large number of my countrymen have now not only the money but the ambition to possess the best that can be had. As a general rule, therefore, I have given the best editions of each author, without regard to cost, or whether or not the edition be still procurable. It is economy in the long run, as well as a luxury in the short, for those who can afford it, to procure in the outset not only the best editions, but the books well and thoroughly bound : for he who buys a choice library, like him who buys plate, spends not, but invests his money. Good books pay a liberal interest to their owner, and are an inheritance to his children.

I confess that I am an advocate of fine bindings. But bookbinding is so much a matter of taste and individual fancy, that little need be said here, for every one can gratify his own taste according to his means. There are few things, however, upon which the rich can display their wealth and taste to better advantage than upon their libraries. Binding admits of an infinite variety of design in ornaments, and whether cheap or dear may, in skilful hands, always be kept within the bounds of good taste. For public libraries, where chiefly the contents of the books are regarded, cheap, or what is technically called half binding in calf or morocco, is usually sufficient : but in private hands of the wealthy, where books are not only a library but articles of luxury and furniture, great pains should be taken to secure not only the best editions, but those adorned with a variety of choice and artistic bindings.

It was my intention in the outset, as I have said, not to exceed four thousand volumes, but little by little the list has increased to 5751 volumes. I have been considerably puzzled to know what titles to strike out in my next impression, being well

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aware that what is trash to one person is by no means such to another: also that many books of more merit than those admitted have been omitted. You may not think it difficult to strike out twenty authors, and to add twenty better ones in their places, but let me relate to you a parable. I requested twenty men whose opinions on the Literary Exchange are as good as those of the Barings or the Rothchilds on the Royal, each to expunge twenty authors and to insert twenty others of better standing in their places, promising to exclude in my next impression any author who should receive more than five blackballs, and to add any one who should receive more than five votes.

The result was, as may be supposed, not a single expulsion or addition. Now what is trash ?

I have purposely avoided giving prices, as at present, particularly with regard to exportation of new books from England to America, the prices are by no means fixed; the discount varying, according to circumstances, from twenty-five to seventy-five per cent. from the published prices, as indicated in the London Catalogue, and Lowe's British Catalogue, to which the reader is referred for prices of most of the books published in England within the last forty years. First class books, not new, owing chiefly to the greatly increased demand from the United States, have risen of late much in value, while second rate works were never cheaper. If, however, the American book collector import his library directly from London by his own order, as he may now do in any part of the United States, owing to the admirable facilities offered by the several international express agencies; and if he pay only

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a single commission of ten per cent. on the net cost of book and binding, he will find that English books are not much, if any, dearer than the same class of copy-righted American works.

It is peculiarly gratifying to an American to see the activity displayed recently by his cou en in the book marts of the Old World. A few years ago the veriest trash was deemed good enough for exportation to Jonathan, who was then proverbially not over particular either as to the edition or condition of his books, provided he had enough of them. Now, however, he buys more largely, more tastefully, and much more intelligently. You find him often the boldest bidder for bibliographical rarities, and see him mousing about and ransacking the shops and stalls of Europe. He is always ready and anxious to secure for his library those literary gems which are so wont to delight the heart and empty the pockets of the bibliophile. But liberal and extravagant as you find him abroad, if you follow him home and refer to his laws

you that they are anything but liberal and encouraging to private libraries, and hence chiefly the reputed high prices of English Books in America.

The import duty into the United States upon all classes, old or new, of “printed books, magazines, pamphlets, periodicals, and illustrated newspapers, bound or unbound, not otherwise provided for," is ten per cent. on the cost or “market value” in the country whence exported, a duty much higher than that of any other civilized country. This “ not otherwise provided for” means that books imported for public libraries pay no duty, and that “ periodicals and other works in the course of

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