Page:A history of booksellers, the old and the new.djvu/19

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THE BOOKSELLERS OF OLDEN TIMES.

In the Middle Ages this state of things was entirely altered. Men were too busy in giving and receiving blows, in oppressing and being oppressed, to have the slightest leisure for book-learning. Slaves, such as then existed, were valued for far different things than reading and writing; and even their masters' kings, princes, lords, and other fighting dignitaries, would have regarded a quill-pen, in their mail-gloved hands, as a very foolish and unmanly weapon. There was absolutely no public to which bookmakers could have appealed, and the art of transcribing was confined entirely to a few monks, whose time hung heavily upon their hands; and, as a natural result, writers became, as Odofredi says, "no longer writers but painters," and books were changed into elaborate works of art. Nor was this luxurious illumination confined to Bibles and Missals; the very law books were resplendent, and a writer in the twelfth century complains that in Paris the Professor of Jurisprudence required two or three desks to support his copy of Ulpian, gorgeous with golden letters. No wonder that Erasmus says of the Secunda Secundea that "no man can carry it about, much less get it into his head."

At first there was no trade whatever in books, but gradually a system of barter sprung up between the monks of various monasteries; and with the foundation of the Universities a regular class of copyists was established to supply the wants of scholars and professors, and this improvement was greatly fostered by the invention of paper.

The booksellers of this period were called Stationarii, either from the practice of stationing themselves at booths or stalls in the streets (in contradis-