1808 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Isaac Reed

J. H., in Censura Literaria 7 (1808) 102-03.



The great bulk of his library consisted of tracts upon all subjects incidental to English literature. — Of early printed works, the pieces by Churchyard, Decker, Green, Lodge, Nash, and Barnaby Rich, considerably exceeded in number any former collection; yet, upon the whole, the black letter did not amount to more than a sprinkling. The extent of a library is, in general, calculated according to the number of volumes; in the present instance, it is impossible to state with any degree of precision, what that number was, or what it might have been. A single tract bound, classes under that description; and fifty, in one binding, obtain no higher character. By a minute calculation, in which was apportioned ten quarto, or five octavo tracts, as the average to form a volume, it seems reasonable to conclude, the whole amounted to about 14,000 volumes. That which he had never been able to behold personally, formed an interesting, if not a gratifying sight, to his literary friends and the public; for, by a judicious arrangement, the whole of this extensive mass was brought on view at one period, and reference made as easy to the works of highest value, as the most trivial pamphlet. Though Mr. Reed never intentionally refused the inspection of a book, yet the gathering had so materially encroached on the chambers where he resided, that many curious articles became buried and forgotten by successive accumulation; and those who considered themselves best acquainted with all his collection, found hoards unveiled to which they were total strangers. As it overflowed like the Nile, so it may be described to have been purchased from an income never exceeding three hundred pounds per annum; a sum, that, to abstract from, appears to threaten a deprivation, if not of actual necessaries, at least of many of the reasonable comforts of human life. True it is, "man wants but little;" and to him have been applied the words of Prospero, with the happiest possible quotation:

—his library
Was dukedom large enough.