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men, in velvet jackets, white tunics, and red mocassins, are from the classic islands of the Ægean Sea. That squat, yellow-visaged, blear-eyed man, in a rusty threadbare robe of sombre silk, and with a shambling, slipshod gait, is a Levantine Jew; and that tall, cadaverous looking fellow, flitting about in a sugar-loaf hat, and a black cassock, is a dancing dervish; and the bent, weazened old Turk, in flowing dolman and patriarchal beard, who causes the crowd to stand aside, and the true believers to salaam devoutly as he rides slowly along on a donkey, not much bigger than a Newfoundland dog, you know to be a lineal descendant of the Holy Prophet, by the bright green turban surmounting the summit of his bald pate.
THE PUBLIC LIBRARY.
THERE is no public institution in Victoria which reflects greater credit on the administration of its affairs than the Public Library. It is a noble collection of books in every branch of literature, and the building in which they stand is one of the finest structures in the colonies—in every way worthy of the purpose for which it was designed. The total number of the books and pamphlets now catalogued is 108,208, the money value being £74,186. The large number of persons who are found seated at the Library tables day after day is sufficient proof of the appreciation of the public. From the hour of its opening to that of its close, the Library is always tolerably full; and the appearance of the persons seated at the tables would lead one to suppose that, for the most part, they have come to study, and not merely to pass away time; in fact, the "mute, inglorious Milton” presents himself to the mind's eye in all directions. The Library has been open to the public since 1856, but notwithstanding the many thousands of hands through which most of the volumes have passed, they still appear to be in good condition; and the records of "stolen” volumes, according to the entries in the catalogue, do not appear as frequently as might be expected. The institution is in every sense a public blessing; and it is much to be wished that Parliament may see fit to extend its means of usefulness, by throwing it open on Sundays.
While there is much occasion for thankfulness in the existence of such an institution, and in the general excellence of its arrangements, it is not to be wondered at if the condition of the Library shelves should afford room for criticism from a bibliographical point of view. The collection of books in the various branches of literature is undoubtedly good—a glance at the catalogue will satisfy anyone on that point. At the same time, it will be found on examination that, in two important points—the selection of editions and the classification of the books—there is a good deal of
room for improvement; and that while the Library possesses a fine collection of valuable works, it is comparatively deficient in many branches of literature, and notably in con temporary literature—we might say, in the literature of the last twenty-five years. The fact that the Library is a public one does not suggest the idea that, in these respects, it should be managed on different principles from those which apply in the case of a library intended for the use of scholars. The object of the institution is, in fact, to make scholars, by affording everyone the means of acquiring knowledge in every branch of literary or scientific investigation.
Taking the section devoted to French literature by way of sample, the reader will observe that while there are several excellen editions of Victor Hugo's complete works, the Library does not yet possess one of them. It has only a copy of Les Miserables, three volumes of his poems, L'Histoire d'un Crime and L'Année Terrible. As a representative of modern French lite rature, there is no author who can be compared with Hugo; all his writings are of more than usual interest; his novels include some of the most successful publications of the kind; his dram as created a revolution in the theatres; while his political works have exercised immense influence throughout Europe. But how can his genius be measured by this isolation of his works? There are other authors whose claims are ignored in an equally eccentric manner. Prosper Merimée is one of the many dramatists and novelists of the present day whose works are entitled to a place in all libraries. Among his earliest productions were two or three dramas, which he brought out under the fictitious name of “Clara Gazul,” a Spanish comédienne. An English translation of these dramas, labelled Plays of Clara Gazul, appears on the Library shelves, side by side with a copy of Colomba and several other short tales by the same author, bound up in one volume. These two volumes are all that we can find of Prosper Merimée.* There are few well-read children who have not read the stories of scientific adventure which Jules Verne was the first to introduce into modern fiction; but the Library has nothing to show under this head beyond an English translation of one of his works, entitled The Fur Country. Odd volumes, by the way,
, appear in startling numbers, and the reader can hardly help asking himself how these waifs and strays of literature could have found their way into such a Library, especially as they are
* Since this was written, the Lettres à une Inconnue, by Merimée, have been added to the shelves ; but they are by no means the best of his compositions.
mostly new copies, bound in calf or morocco, with the Library's coat of arms on the back. Some of the most brilliant of modern French writers are represented in this fashion; Octave Feuillet, for instance, whose novels and dramas are equally well known, is represented by only one of his novels, Le Journal d'une Femme; and close by, the reader comes upon several other odd volumes, by various authorsJules Sandeau, Léon Richer, and Eugène Véron. In the three last cases, perhaps, one volume may be enough to satisfy an ordinary appetite, although it might be said that odd volumes are not entitled to a place at all on the shelves of any public library. But in the case of such a writer as Jules Janin, the prince of critics and feuilletonists, it is surprising that the Library contains nothing from his pen beyond one of his little historical sketches Histoire du Théâtre à Quatre Sous—especially as his collected works comprise some fifty volumes of novels, histories, and miscellaneous compositions, all of more or less interest. Jules Michelet, another distinguished author, is a little better off; the reader will find, in addition to Le Banquet and La Sorcière, the Histoire de France, three volumes of the Histoire du XIXième Siècle, with a copy of Les Soldats de la Revolution, and a translation of Un Prétre. Théophile Gautier, another brilliant writer, is not represented at all, although his namesake, Léon Gautier, an obscure paleographer, contributes three octavos, entitled Les Epopées Françaises, which have not yet been honoured by a single thumb-mark.
Not much regard appears to have been paid, in many noticeable cases, either to the editions of standard authors, or to the body of critical literature which has gathered itself round the central figures of modern literature. The great work of Rabelais, for instance-of which there are two copies in the Library-appears in the shape of small editions, published in 1856 and 1878; but there is no Rabelaisian literature to be found with them. There is a good edition of Pascal, in octavo, but none of the many critical works on the celebrated Pensées stand in his neighbourhood. An old English translation of Boileau's works may be found on one shelf, and on another there is a cheap quarto edition of his works, bound up with Malesherbe and Rousseau's poems. The Library possess a number of similar cheap editions, containing nothing beyond the bare text of the authors, printed in double columns, and excusable only on the ground of economy.
Of Saint Pierre's works (12 volumes 8vo), there are only three small volumes, containing English translations of Paul and Virginia-of which, by the way, there are two copies.
Of Diderot's works (21 volumes 8vo), there are only three small volumes, containing two editions of the same work-Le Neveu de Rameau. Le Sage (12 volumes 8vo) appears in Smollett's translation of Gil Blas, and Brady's translation of Don Guzman; no French edition of either work is visible. Alphonse Karr, a prolific novelist, contributes only one volume; so does Arsène Houssaye. On the other hand, there are complete editions of Balzac, Georges Sand, Edmond About, Erckmann-Chatrian, and Alfred de Musset. With these exceptions, there is no sign of the later or contemporary novelists.
The classification adopted is another source of inconvenience to the reader. On shelves apparently devoted to French literature, no one cares to meet with English or any other translations. In any case, translations should stand by themselves, properly labelled and arranged, so that the reader who wishes to get one of them may know where to look for it. But English translations of French authors are as much out of place on the French shelves as French translations would be if placed among the English classics. Not only are translations allowed to stand, with unblushing impudence, side by side with the masterpieces of French literature, but all kinds of English publications, relating to France and the French, have been placed among them. The reader finds, for instance, two old volumes, edited by John Gifford, and published in 1797, under the title of A Residence in France, described in letters written by an English lady; and another work of the same kind, entitled Prison Scenes, a narrative of escape from various French prisons during the great war, published in 1838. Then we have such works as Hake's Paris Originals, a series of comic sketches, which certainly don't pretend to be either historical or biographical; Kirwan's Modern France; anonymous Pictures of the French, and a crowd of similar publications, possessing no peculiar merit, and passing over ground already trodden by a thousand previous writers. The result of this mixture is not pleasant. It is carried to a fu rther extreme in the collection of works relating to French history and biography. There, at the first glance, the reader fancies himself in possession of a complete collection of historical works, sufficient to satisfy the needs of historical investigation at any period of French history. But he is considerably disappointed when he finds that more than half the space is occupied by a miscellaneous collection of all sorts of works relating, however vaguely, to French history or French society, from Carlyle's French Revolution to the Guide dans Paris. The result is