Xxxiv

THE LIBRARY.

S soon as we have collected books enough to be in the way else where, and have any closet to hold them, we line that little place with shelves and call it the " library," and are then rather ashamed of ourselves, as if we were making a pretension and the whole thing were an affectation, and feel inclined to call it the study instead—the school-room, the office. Yet a library is as essential to every house where there is culture or refinement or reading as a parlor is; and if there is neither room nor means sufficient for a large one, there is no reason for going without because a small one is all there is to be had.

In many instances where the family is very fond of books and their belongings, the drawing-room is given up altogether, and the saloon devoted to the library, or the two are combined, with large concessions on the part of the drawing-room. But the little library as a mere writing-closet, apart from the drawing-room, a place to retreat to for a moment's quiet—a place in which to answer notes, to audit accounts—if it is smaller than Mr. Dick's room in Hungerford Market, is invaluable. And it gives a sort of dignity to the smallest style of house-keeping to have this altar, in whatever secluded corner or humble manner, 6et up within its walls.

Yet where it is possible it is best to treat the library with reverence. Here the masters of thought make rendezvous; here the fiery spirits of Milton and Byron entreat you; here Shakspeare makes you free of this world, and Dante of the other; here History brings you the past, and Science pours out her secrets, and here the great travellers of the earth sit down with you ; here the gossipers of courts come and whisper to you behind their hands; and here the lesser monarchs, the crowned kings and emperors of nations, 6tep down from their thrones now and then and become your familiars. One remembers the dignity of one's guests here, and one makes it a fit place for their reception. It is in this view, as well as in the proprieties of the surroundings of abstracted thought and studious occupation, that the library should be " in sober livery clad."

The color for a library, according to this idea, which seems to be the prevailing* one, is, then, rather a sombre than a bright one—the soft wood colors, the deep purples or violets, or, better yet, the strong emerald greens and their darker shadows. As the part of the house chosen for it, whenever its location can be commanded, is on the northern or the north-west-era side, there is but little lightening of the main color with the daily action of sunshine; but the windows need to be large and long, giving that steady light where the student is not teased by sunshine on his books and papers, yet draped with shades and heavily hanging curtains in order that the light may be tempered on occasion to the eyes that frequent use obliges to be careful. The walls should harmonize, of course, with the dominant color wherever they are seen; and nothing has a pleasanter effect on them than a high dado of the thick and almost indestructible leather-paper which seems like the stuffed leather wainscots of generations since.

For the fitting of the book shelves and cases it will be found, wherever practicable, rather the best plan to have them built into the walls, especially if one owns the house; this saves trouble with the carpet, which then extends to the foot of the cases as to the wall of the room, where a carpet

Library, Louis XIII.

is used, and not the bare polished margin of floor with rugs; and there is then no giving-out of the shelves, or tilting of this or that support, or collecting of dust beneath them, as often happens with movable bookcases, and they can be made quite as handsome as the others. These cases may be either with or without doors; those with doors being, of course, the more expensive, and giving better protection to the books from dust and

But the books seem more cold and remote thus shut away behind glass, and lose much of the friendly warmth and companionship which they wear when standing on their shelves invitingly open and handy. The glass doors of a bookcase, too, have a way of slurring off the light that is sometimes trying, and that hides a good deal of the charm presented by regular rows of books with the lettering and gilding of their backs—a charm not easily explained, but which may bear some relation to that love of banded ornament —that is, ornament running in parallel lines—which seems inherent among those races that have the most natural decorative ability. A little curtain of leather tacked on the face of the edge of the 6helf above, and falling just over the top of the line of books beneath, affords nearly as much security as glass doors, and will be found a tolerably sufficient protection from dust. The leather can be easily procured in strips, and can be cut into scallops and pinked round the edges at any saddler's, and a bookbinder will stamp it with a line of gilding if desired. Some people have this little curtain in red leather, some in green and other colors; but we think the former too brightening for the character of the room, and it seems more suitable to have it either the plain color of calf-skin as usually dressed, or else stained the color of the shelves, with the tiny thread of gilding along the margin. Yet we have read of book-shelves valanced with green velvet fringed with gold.

Fashion varies somewhat as to the shape of the bookcases: now it will have them from floor to ceiling; now they shall leave space enough between the top and the ceiling for at least a bust; now they shall be but shoulder-high, giving the remainder of the wall space to prints, paintings, and other ornaments. But this is a matter upon which fashion has no right to intrude. The library is the place for books, and books and their requirements make their own fashions. Ornaments, too, should be reserved for the rest of the house; the library needs little other than that

presented by the backs of the books and by the necessities of the apparatus for writing and reading. There are great and stately libraries where the curiosities collected by the various generations of the family, and still preserved, are stored—the old chests, bits of armor, weapons of any noted use, certain heirlooms, and interesting objects of one sort and another; but in 6ome of these instances the room is large enough for a gallery, and in others the license of ownership takes advantage of the place.

In general, the use of pictures in the library is to be very sparing, ancL restricted in subject, so that whatever is represented there shall be in harmony with the purposes of the room. The space over the mantel is al-

Modern Gothic Library.

ways ready for a picture, for a mirror hung there would be something foreign to the library and to all its uses; and the mantel-shelf itself affords a place for any bronzes or vases one may like, and for a clock, which is a very essential thing in a library of practical use. Busts, however, in niches, on brackets, and on pedestals, are welcome additions, for they seem to people the room with the illustrious shapes proper to it, as if poets and gods visibly haunted the place of thought; and here and there bronzes may remind you of a time when some artist first dreamed of a god's figure dark between him and the sky.

Library, with low Shelves.

Bass-reliefs, too, are more appropriate in their light and shade than the diversity of color in much painting; a map is often indispensable in some odd corner, and we suppose a foot or so of space must be conceded to a pipe-rack. For the rest, the pieces of furniture in themselves are rather ornamental than otherwise: the desk and its lamps; the steps; the little temporary three-sided bookcase moving about on casters; the lectern that holds the books in use beneath its reading and writing shelf; the heavy table with its requisite paraphernalia of pen-trays, paper-knives, mucilage-receiver, and barrel of string; the portfolio-stands; the great globes; possibly a cabinet for minerals and things of that nature; the comfortable chairs and foot-rests. With a good fire and a bright hearth, whose steels are never rusty, this library, in all its grave and quiet dress, may be found the pleasantest room in the house.

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