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RICHARD AUNGERVYLE (RICHARD DE BURY). [Born at Bury St. Edmund's, 1281. Wrote the Philobiblon, 1344. Died 1345. Bequeathed his books to Durham College, Oxford.]
THE IMMORTALITY OF BOOKS.-In books we find the dead as it were living ; in books we foresee things to come; in books warlike affairs are methodised; the rights of peace proceed from books. All things are corrupted and decay with time. Saturn never ceases to devour those whom he generates ; insomuch that the glory of the world would be lost in oblivion if God had not provided mortals with a remedy in books. Alexander, the ruler of the world ; Julius, the invader of the world and of the city, the first who in unity of person assumed the empire in arms and arts; the faithful Fabricius, the rigid Cato, would at this day have been without a memorial if the aid of books had failed them. Towers are razed to the earth, cities overthrown, triumphal arches mouldered to dust ; nor can the King or Pope be founl, upon whom the privilege of a lasting name can be conferred more easily than by books. A book made, renders succession to the author: for as long as the book exists, the author remaining aðavatos, immortal, cannot perish ; as Ptolemy witnesseth in the Prologue of his Almagest he (he says) is not dead who gave life to science.
(Philobiblon, pp. 8, 9.)
TRUTH PRESERVED BOOKS.—Truth coming all things, which ranks above kings, wine and women, to honour which above friends obtain the benefit of sanctity, which is the way that deviates not, and the life without end; to which the holy Boetius attributes a threefold existence, in the mind, in the voice, and in writing, appears to abide most usefully, and fructify most productively of advantage in books. For the truth of the voice perishes with the word. Truth latent in the mind, is hidden wisdom and invisible treasure; but the truth which illuminates books desires to manifest itself to every disciplinable sense, to the sight when read, to the hearing when heard.
The truth written
in a book, being not fluctuating, but permanent, shows itself openly to the sight, passing through the spiritual ways of the eyes, as the porches and halls of common sense and imagination; it enters the chamber of intellect, reposes itself upon the couch of memory, and there congenerates the eternal truth of the mind. (Ibid., pp. 9, 10.)
Books AS TEACHERS. --Let us consider how great a commodity of doctrine exists in books, how easily, how secretly, how safely they expose the nakedness of human ignorance without putting it to shame. These are the masters who instruct us without rods and ferrules, without hard words and anger, without clothes or money.
If you approach them, they are not asleep; if investigating you interrogate them, they conceal nothing; if you mistake them, they never grumble; if you are ignorant, they cannot laugh at you. You only, O Books, are liberal and independent.
You give to all who ask, and enfranchise all who serve you assiduously.
You, O Books, are the golden vessels of the temple, the arms of the clerical militia with which the missiles of the
most wicked are destroyed; fruitful olives, vines of Engaddi, fig trees knowing no sterility; burning lamps to be ever held in the hand. And, if it pleases us to speak figuratively, we shall be able to adapt the best sayings of every writing whatever to books.
(Ibid., pp. 11, 12.)
THE POWER OF Books.—Books are delightful when prosperity happily smiles; when adversity threatens, they are inseparable comforters. They give strength to human compacts, nor are grave opinions brought forward without books. Arts and sciences, the benefits of which no mind can calculate, depend upon books. How great is the wonderful power arising from books ! for by them we see not only the ends of the world, but of time; and we contemplate alike things that are and things that are not, as in a sort of mirror of eternity. In books, we ascend mountains and fathom the depths of the abyss; we behold varieties of fishes which the common atmosphere can by no means contain in soundness; we distinguish the peculiarities of rivers and springs, and different countries, in volumes. We dig up the various kinds of metals, gems, and minerals, and substances of all sorts out of books; and we learn the virtues of herbs, trees, and plants, and behold at leisure the whole offspring of Neptune, Ceres, and Pluto ;—for if we are pleased to visit the inhabitants of heaven, by walking up Taurus, Caucasus, and Olympus, we transcend the kingdoms of Jove, and with lines and compasses measure the territories of the seven planets, and at last survey the great firmament itself, decorated with signs, degrees, and configurations in endless variety.
(Ibid., pp. 87, 88.)
[Born, 1328. Taken prisoner by the French, 1359. Sent on a Mission to Florence and Genoa, 1372. Sent on a Mission to France, 1377. Wrote the Canterbury Tales, 1387. Died, 1400.]
A Clerk ther was of Oxenford also,