Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/634

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volumes, which Duke Humphrey of Gloucester gave at different times to the University of Oxford. Gone, too, for the most part is that imported by William Tilley of Selling, Prior of Christ Church, Canterbury, the friend of Politian and the patron of Linacre. During the two long visits that he paid to Italy, Selling had brought together a number of books. We have no list of them; but his contemporaries evidently accounted them very choice and precious. The tradition was even current (though we must gravely question its correctness) that among them was a copy of the De Republica of Cicero. They were deposited in the Prior's lodging on his return and, unfortunately, were never transferred to the main library of the monastery. On the eve of the Dissolution, a royal commissioner-Leighton-and his train were lodged in the building which contained the books: an accidental fire, the responsibility for which is laid by the monks upon Leighton's drunken servants, burst out> and the treasured library of Selling was consumed. A few survivors are enumerated by Leland-notably a copy of Basil's Commentary on Isaiah in Greek: a few which he does not name can be traced in our libraries now. Among them must in all probability be reckoned the first copy of Homer whose presence can be definitely traced in England since the days of Theodore of Tarsus.

That copies of the newly-recovered writings of the Latin Fathers and of the new translations from the Greek made their way to England among these various collections is not surprising. Both among Selling's books, and among those which Bishop Gray gave to Balliol College, we find translations by Aretinus and by Traversari. In Gray's list Lactantius and Tertullian are also represented. His copy of the Apology of the latter suggests a curious question. It is enriched with marginal notes, which in the opinion of the antiquaries of an older day were due to the pen of a twelfth century critic,—no less a person indeed than William of Malmesbury. But the manuscript which contains them is of the fifteenth century and is the work of a foreign scribe; and the notes themselves afford no clue to their author.

The library of St Augustine's Abbey at Canterbury, again, possessed the Apology of Tertullian; but we can only guess at the date of the manuscript; and a wide range is open to us, since the catalogue in which it is entered was drawn up in the last years of the fifteenth century. It is to be feared that this country did not contribute in any important degree to the stock of new material which was being made available for the world's use. Poggio's visit to England was a failure in this as in other respects. Had he been able to explore the libraries of the great monasteries of the West or of the North-Glastonbury, Worcester, and the scenes of Baeda's activity-he would not have returned empty-handed. Many books lay in hiding there which he would have been glad to secure. In after years we find the English scholars actively playing their part in the matter of accumulating books. At present we must leave them,