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he might tlierefore afford to give away the catalogue*.
To this charge Osborne answered, that bis catalogue was drawn up with great pains, and at a heavy expense ; but, to obviate all objections, those, says he, · who have paid five shillings a volume, shall be allowed, at any time within three months after the day of sale, either to return them in exchange for books, or to send them back, and receive their money.' This, it must be confessed, was sufficiently liberal.
OSBORNE I was also accused of rating his books at too high a price : to this the
See the 1st page of the Preface to the 3d volume. + Of Tom OSBORNE, I have in vain endeavoured to collect some interesting biographical details. What I know of him shall be briefly stated. He was the most celebrated bookseller of his day; and appears, from a series of his catalogues in my possession, to have carried on a successful trade from the year 1738 to 1768. What fortune he amassed is not, I believe, very well known: his collections were
following was his reply, or rather Dr. Johnson's ; for the style of the Doctor is
truly valuable, for they consisted of the purchased libraries of the most eminent men of those times.
In his stature he was short and thick; and, to his inferiors, generally spoke in an authoritative and insolent manner. ' It has been confidently related,' says Boswell, that Johnson one day knocked Osborne down in his shop, with a folio, and pat his foot upon his neck. The simple truth I had from Johnson himself, Sir, he was impertinent to me, and 1 beat him. But it was not in his shop : it was in my own chamber." 4to edit: i. 81.
Of Osborne's philological attainments the meanest opinion must be formed, if we judge from his advertisements; which were sometimes inserted in the London Gazette, and drawn up in the most ridiculously vasni and ostentatious style. He used to tell the public, that he possessed all the pompous editions of the Classicks and Lexicons.'
I insert the two following advertisements, prefixed, the one to bis catalogue of 1748, the other to that of 1759, for the amusement of my bibliographical readers, and as a model for Messrs. Payne, Egerton, Faulder, White, and Evans.
. This catalogue being very large, and of consequence very expensive to the proprietor, he humbly requests, that, if it falls into the hands of any gentleman gratis, who chooses not himself to be a purchaser of any of the books contained in it, that such gen
plainly discernible. If, therefore, I have set a high value upon books--if I
tleman will be pleased to recommend it to any other wbom he thinks may be so, or to return it.'
To his catalogue of 1753 was the following:
• To the Nobility and Gentry who please to favour me with their commands.
• It is hoped, as I intend to give no offence to any nobleman or gentleman, that do me the bonour of be ing my custoiner, by putting a price on iny catalogue, by which means they may not receive it as usual—it is desired that such nobleman or gentleman as have not received it, would be pleased to send for it; and it's likewise requested of such gentlemen who do receive it, that, if they chuse not to purchase any of the books themselves, they would recommend it to any bookish gentleman of their acquaintance, or to return it, and the favour shall be acknowledged by, their most obedient and obliged,
T. OSBORNE.' I shall conclude with the following curious story told of him, in Nichols's Anecdotes of Bowyer the Printer.
· Mr. David Papillon, a gentleman of fortune and literary taste, as well as a good antiquary (who died in 1762) contracted with Osborne to furnish him with an £.100 worth of books, at threepence a piece. The only conditions were, that they should be perfect, and that there should be no daplicate. Osborne was highly pleased with his bargain, and the first great purchase, he made he sent Mr. P. a large quantity;
have vainly imagined literature to be more fashionable than it really is, or idly hoped to revive a taste well nigh extinguished, I know not why I should be persecuted with clamour and invective, since I shall only suffer by my mistake, and be obliged to keep those books which I was in hopes of selling.'-See Preface to the 3d volume.
The fact was, that Osborne's charges were extremely moderate; and the sale of the books was so very slow, that Johnson assured Boswell, there was not much gained by the bargain.' Whoever inspects Osborne's catalogue of 1748, (four years after the Harleian sale) will find in it many of the most valuable of Lord Oxford's books; and among them a copy of the Aldine Plato of 1513, struck off
" upon vellum, marked at £.21 only: for this identical
but in the next purchase, he found he could send but few, and the next, still fewer. Not willing, however, to give up, he sent books worth fire shillings a piece; and, at last, was forced to go and beg to be let off the contract. Eight thousand books would have been wanted !-See p. 101-2, note #1.
copy Lord Oxford gave 100 guineas, as Dr. Mead informed Dr. Askew ; from the latter of whose collections it was purchased by Dr. Hunter, and is now in the Hunter Museum.
To give even a general idea of the value of this incomparable collection, would be no very easy undertaking: it is only possible, within the limits of such a slight article as the present, (which aspires to nothing higher than the honour of an amusing Ana) to represent the various departments into which the collection was divided, with the probable number of volumes in each ; making a numerical increase of one third to the number of articles specified, according to the nature of each class of books : sometimes one fourth only is added : upon the whole, the calculation will be found to be rather a moderate than an overcharged one. But I trust I am exciting the curiosity of my countrymen, or, at least, of all worthy bibliographers, to inspect the catalogue itself, and be convinced of the treasures