Page:Books Condemned to be Burnt - James Anson Farrer.djvu/42

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Books Condemned to be Burnt.

sentenced has a claim on our curiosity, and as often on our respect as our disdain. Fire, indeed, has been spoken of as the blue ribbon of literature, and many a modern author may fairly regret that such a distinction is no longer attainable in these days of enlightened advertisement.

To collect books that have been dishonoured—or honoured—in this way, books that at the risk of heavy punishment have been saved from the public fire or the common hangman, is no mean amusement for a bibliophile. Some collect books for their bindings, some for their rarity, a minority for their contents; but he who collects. a fire-library makes all these considerations secondary to the associations of his books with the lives of their authors and their place in the history of ideas. Perhaps he is thereby the more rational collector, if reason at all need be considered in the matter; for if my whim pleases myself, let him go hang who disdains or disapproves of it.

All the books of such a library are not, of course, suitable for general reading, there being not a few disgraceful ones among them that fully deserved the stigma intended for them. But most are innocent enough, and many of them as dull