Book Prices - Auction Sales In The Eighteenth Century
( Originally Published 1898 )
THE sales of the last quarter of the seventeenth century are of the greatest interest in the history of the subject, but they are not of any great value as guides to present prices, for circumstances and tastes have greatly changed. The sales were largely those of the working libraries of theologians, and the books which their owners found of use in their studies sold well, while books in other classes which have now taken their place in public esteem fetched prices which seem to us very small. Among the number of sales noticed in the last chapter, two only stand out as the libraries of true collectors in the modern acceptation of the term, that is, of those who collect for love of the books rather than from an appreciation of their utility. Much the same conditions ruled during the first quarter of the eighteenth century, although the library of Charles Bernard, serjeant -surgeon to Queen Anne and brother of Dr. Francis Bernard, previously referred to, was sold in March 1711 at the Black Boy Coffee-House in Ave Maria Lane, and the sale of the vast collection of Thomas Rawlinson commenced in 1721. Then followed the sale of John Bridges library in February 1726, but the middle of the century was passed when the great sale of Dr. Richard Mead occurred. This (1754-55), when compared with Askew's sale in 1775, may he said to mark an era in bibliography. These two great physicians were friends with similar tastes. We are, therefore, able to gauge the considerable growth of the taste for book-collecting during the few years that parted these two sales. Askew bought many books at Mead's sale, and when the same volumes came to be sold at his own sale they realised twice and thrice the prices he had given. We shall see in the register of the sales after Askew's day how the prices gradually advanced, until we arrive at the culmination of the bibliomaniacal spirit in the Roxburghe sale of 1812.
We will now enumerate some of the principal sales which took place during the eighteenth century, which led up to the long list of sales which have formed so marked a feature of the nineteenth century.
Charles Bernard's library, sold in 1711, was said by Oldys to contain "the fairest and best editions of the classics." Swift, in his " Journal to Stella " (19th March) wrote, "I went to-day to see poor Charles Bernard's books, and I itch to lay out nine or ten pounds for some fine editions of fine authors" ; and on the 29th he adds, " I walked to-day into the city and went to see the auction of poor Charles Bernard's books. They were in the middle of the Physic books, so I bought none ; and they are so dear, I believe I shall buy none."
The sale of the library of Thomas Britton, the well-known small-coal man of Clerkenwell, in January 1715, deserves mention on account of the worthiness of its owner. The books were sold by auction at St. Paul's Coffee-House by Thomas Ballard, and the sale catalogue consists of forty closely-printed pages in quarto. There were 664 lots in octavo, 274 in quarto, and 102 in folio, besides 50 pamphlets and 23 manuscripts. This was the second library Britton had collected, for some years before his death he sold the first one by auction.
Thomas Rawlinson 1681-1725) was one of the most insatiable of book collectors, and he left the largest library that had been collected up to his time. His chambers were so filled that his bed had to be moved into a passage, and he took Lon-don House, in Aldersgate Street, to accommodate his ever-increasing library. Oldys says of him---
" If his purse had been much wider he had a passion beyond it, and would have been driven to part with what he was so fond of, such a pitch of curiosity or dotage he was arrived at upon a different edition, a fairer copy, a larger paper than twenty of the same sort he might be already possessed of. In short, his covetousness after those books he had not increased with the multiplication of those he had, and as he lived so he died in his bundles, piles, and bulwarks of paper, in dust and cobwebs, at Lon-don House."
He did, in fact, commence the sale of his library before his death, and the first part was sold in December 1721. The catalogue of the whole library occupied sixteen parts, the last being sold in 1734, A complete set of these catalogues is very rare, and the lists of them in the various bibliographical works are mostly incomplete. There is, however, a set in the Bodleian Library. The books in the first five parts sold for £2409, and the manuscripts alone took sixteen days of March 1734 to sell, and went cheap. Hearne writes in his Diary (9th November 1734)
"The MSS. in Dr. Rawlinson's last auction of his brother Thomas's books went extraordinary cheap, and those that bought had great penny worths. The Doctor purchas'd many himself, at which here and there one were disgusted, tho' all the company supported the Doctor in it, that as a creditor he had a right equal to any other. My friend Mr. Tom Brome, that honest gentleman of Ewithington in Herefordshire in a letter to the Doctor, says that he cannot but wonder at the low rates of most of the MSS., and adds ` had I been in place I should have been tempted to have laid out a pretty deal of money, without thinking myself at all touched with bibliomania.'"
On loth November Hearne further writes,
" Dr. Rawlinson by the sale of his brother's books hath not rais'd near the money expected. For it seems they have ill answer'd, however good books ; the MSS. worse, and what the prints will do is as yet undetermin'd."
It is worthy of mention here that Dr. Rawlinson purchased Hearne's Diaries for a hundred guineas from the widow and executrix of Dr. William Bedford, to whom they had been given by Hearne,' and he bequeathed them with other property to the University of Oxford. The auctioneers who dispersed Thomas Rawlinson's large collections were Charles Davis and Thomas Ballard.
The sale of the valuable library of John Bridges at his chambers in Lincoln's Inn by Mr. Cock, in February 1726, was an event of much literary interest. The number of lots was 4313, occupying twenty-seven days, and the total proceeds of the sale were 4001. This is therefore worthy of note as the first sale at which the prices averaged nearly one pound per lot.
There was much dissatisfaction among the buyers at the high prices, and a conspiracy to " bull" the market was suspected.
Humphry Wanley expressed his opinion strongly on this point;
"Feb, 9, 1725-6. Went to Mr. Bridges's chambers, but could not see the three fine MSS. again, the Doctor his brother having locked them up. He openly bid for his own books, merely to enhance their price, and the auction proves to be, what I thought it would become, very knavish."
"Feb. 11 , 1725-6.-Yesterday at five I met Mr. Noel and tarried long with him; we settled then the whole affair touching his bidding for my Lord [Oxford] at the roguish auction of Mr. Bridges's books. The Reverend Doctor one of the brothers bath already displayed himself so remarkably as to be both hated and despised, and a combination among the booksellers will soon be against him and his brother-in-law, a lawyer. These are men of the keenest avarice, and their very looks (according to what I am told) dart out harping-irons. I have ordered Mr. Noel to drop every article in my Lord's commissions when they shall be hoisted up to too high a price. Vet I desired that my Lord may have the Russian Bible, which I know full well to be a very rare and a very good book."
The frontispiece to the sale catalogue exhibited an oak felled, and persons bearing away the branches, signifying that when the oak is cut down every man gets wood. Nichols, referring to the motto, 4pv6ç 7rEO-011107 Ç 7raç (zv7jp vXEÛe-rat, speaks of it as "an affecting memento to the collectors of great libraries, who cannot or do not leave them to some public accessible repository."
Besicles the sale catalogue, there was a catalogue raisonne of Bridges's library, a large paper of which, bound in old blue morocco, and ruled with red Iines, Dr. Gosset bought for Dibdin for four shillings, and the latter styles it a happy day when he received it.
In 1731 was sold, at St. Paul's Coffee-House, the extensive library of Anthony Collins, the famous freethinker and author, and a friend of Locke.
His books were sold in two divisions. Part 1 of the catalogue contained 3451 lots, and part 2, 3442.
The sale of Dr. Thomas Pellet's library in 1744 is of especial interest as the first undertaken by Samuel Baker, the founder of the house of Sotheby.
In 1746 two sales of note took place, those of Sir Christopher Wren and Michael Maittaire, the scholar and bibliographer. The following advertisement of the former is from the Daily Advertiser of 26th October 1748.
" To be sold by auction, by Messrs. Cock and Langford, in ye Great Piazza, Covent Garden, this and ye following evening, the curious and entire libraries of y8 ingenious architect Sir Christopher Wren, Knt., and Christopher Wren, Esq., his son, late of Hampton Court ; both de-ceased. Consisting of great variety of Books of Architecture, Antiquities, Histories, etc., in Greek, Latin, French, and English ; together with some few lots of Prints. The said books may be viewed at Mr. Cock's in ye Great Piazza aforesaid, till ye time of sale, which will begin each evening at 5 o'clock precisely. Catalogues of which may be had gratis at ye place of sale aforesaid."
Maittaire's library was sold in two parts, in November 1748 and January 1749, by Mr. Cock, and occupied forty-five evenings in the selling.
For some reason or other the books appear to have been sacrificed, and they realised little more than £700. One reason was, that they were not very presentable in appearance. The auctioneer writes in the " advertisement " to the catalogue;
"Tho' the books in their present condition make not the most ostentatious appearance, yet like the late worthy possessor of them, however plain their outside may be, they contain within an invaluable treasure of ingenuity and learning. In fine, this is (after fifty years' diligent search and labour in collecting) the entire library of Mr. Maittaire, whose judgement in the choice of books as it ever was confessed, so are they undoubtedly far beyond whatever I can attempt to say in their praise. In exhibiting them thus to the public, I comply with the will of my deceased friend, and in printing the catalogue from his own copy, just as he left it (tho' by so doing it is more voluminous), I had an opportunity not only of doing the justice I owe to his memory, but also of gratifying the curious."
According to a very interesting account of the sale in Beloe's "Anecdotes" (vol. v. pp. 389-452)) it appears that if "the curious" attended the sale, they did not do much to raise the prices. Beloe writes, "The library of Michael Maittaire was of incalculable value, from its great variety, from the number of early printed books which it contained, from the extraordinary collection of Greek and Latin tracts by the famous French printers of the sixteenth century, from the most uncommon books in criticism which it exhibited, and lastly, from the high reputation of its possessor." And, in conclusion, he says, " Such a collection was never before exhibited for public sale, and perhaps never will again."
A striking instance of the absurdly low prices obtained for the books is that of Homeri Batrachomyomachia (Venet. per Leonicum Cretensem, 1486, 410), which sold for sixteen shillings. In this copy a subsequent possessor wrote the following note
"This book is so extremely rare that I never saw any other copy of it except that of Mons. de Boze, who told me he gave 650 livres for it. Mr. Smith, our consul at Venice, wrote me word that he had purchased a copy, but that it was imperfect. Lord Oxford offered Mr. Maittaire fifty guineas for this identical copy."
Askew's copy, supposed to be the same as this, fetched at his sale fourteen guineas.
which is described as "one of the rarest of rare books," only brought four shillings and sixpence. The editio princeps of Plautus (Vend. per Joh. de Colonia et Vindelinum Spircnsem, 1472, folio) was sold for sixteen shillings, while the Pinelli copy fetched S36. These are no exceptions to the rule, for Beloe mentions a large number of rare books which only fetched a shilling or two shillings each.
The great library of Richard Mead, M.D., was dispersed by Samuel Baker in November and December 1754 and in April and May 1755. In the first sale there were 3280 lots 28 days, which realised f2475, 18s. 6d. The second sale consisted of 6741 lots in 29 days, realising L3033, Is. 6d., making the totals for the two sales, 57 days, 10,021 lots, amount of sale L5509. It is usually stated that Mead's library consisted of 10,000 volumes, but there must have been at least 30,000 volumes. The numbering of lots in Mead's sale followed the confusing rule adopted at the first printing of auction catalogues, viz., the leaving three separate numberings of octavos, quartos, and folios. As already said, this was the first really renowned sale that took place in England, and there can be little doubt that the owner spent considerably more money in the collection of his books than they realised after his death. Johnson said of Mead, that he lived more in the broad sunshine of life than almost any man. The dispersion of his library was a loss to the world, for every scholar had been allowed access to it during the owner's life.
The novelist Fielding's library was sold by Baker in 1755. The sale consisted of 653 lots, occupied four nights, and realised L364.
Richard Rawlinson, D.D., younger brother of Thomas Rawlinson, died on the 6th of April 1755, and his large and valuable library was sold by Baker in March of the following year. The sale of the books lasted fifty days, and there was a second sale of pamphlets, books of prints, &c., which occupied ten days. The prices realised for old English literature were very small, and the total of the whole sale was under L1200.
The year 1756 was remarkable for the sale of the library of Martin Folkes by Samuel Baker. It consisted of 5126 lots, and realised L 3091. Martin Folkes occupied a prominent position in the literary and scientific worlds as President of the Royal Society and of the Society of Antiquaries. He was more a generally accomplished man than a man of science, and it has been the fashion to laugh at his pretensions to the chair of the Royal Society, but his con-temporaries thought well of him. Dr. Jurin, secretary of the Royal Society, said that "The greatest man that ever lived (Sir Isaac Newton) singled him out to fill the chair, and to preside in the Society when he himself was so frequently prevented by indisposition ; and that it was sufficient to say of him that he was Sir Isaac's friend."
Edwards, the ornithologist, said of Folkes,
"He seemed to have attained to universal knowledge, for in the many opportunities I have had of being in his company, almost every part of science has happened to be the subject of discourse, all of which he handled as an adept. He was a man of great politeness in his manners, free from all pedantry and pride, and in every respect the real, unaffected, fine gentleman."
The earliest sale recorded of Samuel Paterson was that of the library of "Orator" Henley, which took place in June 1769, and contained some curious books.
Joseph Smith, British Consul at Venice, was a cultivated book collector. He printed a catalogue of his library in 1755, Bibliotheca Smitheana, seu Catalogus Librorum D. Josephi Smithii, Angli ... Venetiis, typis Jo. Baptistae. Pasquali, MDCCLV. This is of value as containing an appendix to " the prefaces and epistles prefixed to those works in the library which were printed in the fifteenth century." George III. bought the whole library, and added it to his own matchless collection. On the sale of his library Consul Smith set to work to collect another, and in 1773, a year after his death, this second library was sold by auction by Baker & Leigh, occupying thirteen days in the selling. The books were described as being "in the finest preservation, and consisting of the very best and scarcest editions of the Latin, Italian, and French authors, from the Invention of Printing, with manuscripts and missals upon vellum, finely illuminated." The last day's sale contained all the English books in black letter. This fine library realised £2245, not so large an amount as might have been expected. In fact, Dibdin says in his Bibliomania that Mr. Cuthell exclaimed in his hearing that "they were given away."
In this same year, 1773, was sold the splendid library of James West, President of the Royal Society, the catalogue of which was digested by Samuel Paterson. The preface informs the reader that "the following catalogue exhibits a very curious and uncommon collection of printed books and travels, of British history and antiquities, and of rare old English literature, the most copious of any which has appeared for several years past ; formed with great taste and a thorough knowledge of authors and characters." There were 4633 lots, and they occupied twenty-four days in the selling, the auctioneer being Langford. West's large collection of manuscripts was sold to the Earl of Shelburne, and is now in the British Museum.
Although this sale attracted much attention, and was well attended, the prices did not rule high according to our present ideas, but doubtless it was not thought then that the following Caxtons realised less than their value : Chaucer's Works, first edition by Caxton, £47, 15s. 6d.; " Troylus and Cresseyde," £10, 10s. ; " Book of Fame," £4, 5S.; " Gower de Confessione Amantis," 1483, £9, 9S.
Dibdin has given a very full analysis of this fine library in his Bibliomania. In contrast to this sale may be mentioned, on account of the distinction of the owner, the library of Oliver Goldsmith, which was sold on 12th July 1774 by Mr. Good of Fleet Street. There were 162 lots, and Mr. Forster has reprinted the catalogue in his " Life of Goldsmith" (vol p. 453).
A very curious library was sold in this same year (1774) by Paterson. The title of the catalogue describes it as follows
"A Catalogue of rare books and tracts in various languages and faculties, including the Ancient Conventual Library of Missenden Abbey in Buckinghamshire, together with some choice remains of that of the late eminent Sergeant at Law, William Fletewode, Esq., Recorder of London in the reign of Queen Elizabeth ; among which are several specimens of the earliest typography, foreign and English, including Caxton, Wynkyn de Worde, Pynson, and others ; a fine collection of English history, some scarce old law books, a great number of old English plays, several choice MSS. upon vellum, and other subjects of literary curiosity."
It will be seen from this that works of our early printers were beginning to come into vogue, but they did not fetch very high prices, varying from five pounds to eight guineas. Two copies of the first edition of Bacon's "Essays," 1597, went for sixpence.
In 1775 one of the finest sales of the century took place at the auction rooms of Baker & Leigh, that of Anthony Askew, M.D. (1722-1772), whose ambition it was to have every edition of a Greek author. His library largely consisted of classics, and most of the books were in good condition. There were 3570 lots sold in twenty-two clays, which realised L3993, or about 1 per lot. Mead's library consisted of 10,021 lots, which realised L5509 or a little over half the average amount per lot obtained at Askew's sale. As the character of Mead's and Askew's libraries was somewhat similar, the difference may be partly accounted for by the increased price of good books in the interval between the two sales.
Mr. Christie sold in March 1776 the valuable library of a very remarkable book-collector, John Ratcliffe, who kept a chandler's shop in the Borough. It is said that he bought some of his treasures by weight in the way of his business. His skill as a collector was recognised by his brother collectors, and on Thursday mornings he was in the habit of giving breakfasts at his house in East Lane, Rotherhithe, and to them Askew, Croft, Topham Beauclerk, James West, and others, were constant visitors. At these breakfasts he displayed his latest purchases. He was a very corpulent man, and a few years before his death, when a fire happened in his neighbourhood, and his furniture and books were removed for safety, he was unable to help those who were engaged in the task. He stood lamenting the loss of his Caxtons, when a sailor, who heard him, attempted to console him, and cried, " Bless you, sir, I have got them perfectly safe." While Ratcliffe was expressing his thanks, the sailor produced two of his fine curled periwigs which he had saved. He had no idea that a man could make such a fuss over a few books.1
There were nine days' sale of 1675 lots. The Caxtons numbered thirty, and realised an average of 9 each.
Topham Beauclerk, the fashionable friend of Dr. Johnson, collected a very large library, which was distributed by Paterson in 1781. There were thirty thousand volumes, which took fifty days to sell. The library was rich in English plays, English history, travels, and antiquities, but there were not many high-priced books.
The sale of the library of the Rev. Thomas Crofts in 1783, also by Paterson, was a much more important event. It consisted of 8360 lots, distributed over forty-three days, and realised L3453. We are told in the preface to the sale catalogue that
"The great reputation which the late Rev. and learned Mr. Crofts had acquired, with respect to bibliographical knowledge, cannot be better established than by the following digest of his excellent library, in which no pains have been spared to render it worthy the character of the col-lector, and such as he himself, it is presumed, would not have disapproved. The collection on the 'Origin of Letters,' and of Grammars and Dictionaries, is admirable, and much fuller of curious books than is to be found in many libraries of the first description. The theological divisions comprehend many curious and valuable articles. . . . The classical part of the library is indeed a treasure of Greek and Roman learning, comprising many of the early editions, almost all the Aldine editions, and those of the best modern commentators."
Other classes well represented in the library were Italian poetry, novels and plays, Spanish and Portuguese poetry, &c., history, topography, antiquities, and voyages and travels. There is a portrait of Mr. Crofts in Clarke's Repertorium Bibliographicum.
In this same year, 1783, was sold by Mr. Compton the elegant and curious library of an eminent collector (Joseph Gulston), which contained a considerable number of books printed on large paper, and well bound. The library is described in the catalogue as "undoubtedly the most select ever offered to the public for beauty, scarcity, and condition." There were eleven clays' sale of 2007 lots, which realised L1750. In 1784 the remaining portion of Mr. Gulston's library was sold by the same auctioneer. This consisted chiefly of a fine collection of English typography, and the 784 lots occupied four clays in the selling.
Dr. Samuel Johnson's library, which was sold in 1785, was not a very valuable one. It consisted of 650 lots, which sold for £100. Among them was the second Shakespeare folio, now in the possession of Sir Henry Irving.
In 1785 Dr. Askew's collection of manuscripts were sold, ten years after the printed books, when they realised D1827. When Askew died in 1774 they were offered to a collector for two thousand guineas, but the price was considered too large.
The library of Major Thomas Pearson (1740--1781) was sold by T. & J. Egerton in 1788. The sale extended over twenty-three days, and consisted of 5525 lots. This library was very rich in old English literature, and contained two volumes of original ballads, which were bought by the Duke of Roxburghe for £36, 4s. 6d., and with the Duke's additions are now safely preserved in the British Museum.
The famous Pinelli library, founded by John Vincent Pinelli in the sixteenth century, and augmented by his descendants (the last possessor was Maffeo Pinelli, a learned printer at Venice, who died in 1785), was bought in 1788 by Messrs. Robson & Edwards, booksellers, for about £7000 ; and on being brought to London was sold by auction in Conduit Street in two divisions the first, in March and April 1789, consisted of sixty days' sale, and the second, in February and March 1790, of thirty-one days. The total number of lots was 14,778, and they realised £9356, which did not allow much profit to the purchasers after payment of duties, carriage, and costs of the sale. The library was very rich in Greek and Latin classics, and Italian literature generally. The chief lot was the Compltensian Polyglot (6 vols. folio, 1514-17), printed on vellum, which fetched £483.
The sale of the choice library of M. Paris de Meyzieux (Bibliotheca Parisina), which took place in March 1791, is worthy of special record in that the prices realised averaged considerably more than in any previous sale, and has seldom been equalled even in our own day. The title of the English catalogue is as follows;
" A Catalogue of a Collection of Books formed by a Gentleman in France, not less conspicuous for his taste in distinguishing than his zeal in acquiring whatever of this kind was most perfect, curious, or scarce : it includes many first editions of the classics : books magnificently printed on vellum with illuminated paintings ; manuscripts on vellum, embellished with rich miniatures ; books of natural history, with the subjects coloured in the best manner or with the original drawings and books of the greatest splendour and rareness in the different classes of literature. To these are added from another grand collection, selected articles of high value. The whole are in the finest condition, and in bindings superlatively rich."
The library was bought from the executors of Mons. Paris by M. Laurent of Paris and Mr. James Edwards, and brought to London to be sold. There were six days' sale, and the 636 lots realised £7095, 17s. 9d., or a little over eleven pounds per lot. One of the most beautiful books in the sale was the Opere of Petrarch, 1514, printed on vellum, with charming miniatures attributed to Giulio Clovio. Six of these were the Triumphs of Love, Chastity, Death, Fame, Time, and the Deity. The borders of the pages were ornamented with 174 exquisite miniatures of birds, beasts, fishes, monsters, fabulous histories, and various compositions of the greatest ingenuity. This splendid folio volume fetched £116, Hs. A similar book, but apparently much less elaborate, a vellum Aristotle, recently fetched £800 at the Ashburnham sale.
The library of Michael Lort, D.D., F.R.S., was sold by Leigh & Sotheby in this same year, 1791; it contained a large number of interesting books, particularly those on English history and antiquities, many of which were enriched with MS. notes by the Rev. George North. There were 6665 lots, which occupied twenty-five days in the selling, but the amount realised (£I269) was not large for so considerable a collection.
In 1792 a great sale occurred at Dublin ; it was of the library of the Right Hon. Denis Daly, and was dispersed under the hammer of James Valiance. There is a good description of the library in the Gentleman's Magazine (1792, Part I., pp. 326-28), but although Dibdin gives in his Bibliomania a notice of some of the books, lie does not record the prices of several of the most interesting items mentioned in the Gentleman's Magazine. The number of lots was 1441, which realised £3700. The library was purchased entire from the executors of Mr. Daly by John Archer and William Jones, two Dublin booksellers, and the former told Dibdin that Lord Clare offered £4000 for it before the auction sale, but this offer was refused.
The Earl of Bute's botanical library was sold by Leigh & Sotheby in 1794 for £3470, It was a ten days' sale.
The first part of Thomas Allen's library was dispersed in June 1795, and the second part in 1799, both parts coming under the hammer of Leigh and Sotheby. There were in all 3460 lots sold during nineteen days, which realised £5737.
The sale of the library of George Mason commenced in January 1798, and continued till 1807, when the fifth part was sold. The first part contained 497 lots (three days), which realised £620 ; the second part 48o lots (three days), f 784 ; the third part 547 lots (three days), £670 ; the fourth part, sold in 1799, 338 lots (two days), £586. All were sold by Leigh & Sotheby. The four parts contained 1862 lots, and the total amount of the sale was £2663. The fifth part, sold in 1807, contained few lots of any importance.
The library of Richard Farmer, D.D., sold by Mr. King in May 1798, was a peculiarly interesting one, as containing a rich collection of early English poetry, of which he was one of the earliest purchasers. Although he employed agents to purchase for him, he was not very liberal, and is said to have made a rule not to exceed three shillings for any hook. The number of lots in the sale was 8199, and thirty-six days were occupied in selling them. The total amount of the sale was £2210, and the library is supposed to have cost Dr. Farmer in collecting about £500.
Dr. Farmer (1735-1797), author of the famous "Essay on the Learning of Shakspeare," and for two-and-twenty years Master of Emanuel College, Cambridge, was a curious character, who was said to have loved three things old port, old clothes, and old books. It was further said that there were three things which nobody could persuade him to do, viz., to rise in the morning, to go to bed at night, and to settle an account. He is said to have imbibed his passion for collecting books from Dr. Askew. Dr. Parr, who composed his Latin epitaph, wrote of him--
" How shall I talk of thee, and of thy wonderful collection, O rare Richard Farmer? of thy scholarship, acuteness, pleasantry, singularities, varied learning, and colloquial powers ! Thy name will live long among scholars in general, and in the bosoms of virtuous and learned bibliomaniacs thy memory shall ever be enshrined ! The walls of Emanuel College now cease to convey the sounds of thy festive wit; thy volumes are no longer seen, like Richard Smith's `bundles of stitcht books,' strewn upon the floor; and thou has ceased in the cause of thy beloved Shakespeare to delve into the fruitful ore of black letter literature. Peace to thy honest spirit; for thou wert wise without vanity, learned without pedantry, and joyous without vulgarity."
Dr. Farmer at one time proposed to have had a catalogue taken of his library, to which he intended to have prefixed the following advertisement- -
This Collection of Books is by no means to be considered as an essay towards a perfect Library ; the circumstances and the situation of the Collector made such an attempt both unnecessary and impracticable. Here are few publications of great price which were already to be found in the excellent Library of Emanuel College; but it is believed that not many private collections contain a greater number of really curious and scarce books; and perhaps no one is so rich in the antient philological English literature.—R. FARMER."