124 Glimpses of Our Ancestors.
as any man in England. I don't say that he knew their contents—that he had ever read one word of them. That was not bookselling knowledge. But he was perfectly conversant with all the mysteries of the trade—knew which was the first, or second, or third edition of such an author—which edition, by the mistake of a word, or the transposition of a letter, was worthless, and which, by the presence of a certain passage or print, was invaluable. It was a treat to see him handle such books as these—to see him seize on a ponderous old tome—fling it open at the title-page—give it a glance, and then fling it from him with contempt or close it with a certain air which, without disclosing too much to the ignorant outer world (that was, if it was a public sale), said as plainly as action could speak, " That book is mine. I know all about it, and you—the profanum vulgus—don't." I should have liked to see the auctioneer in that day who dared to gainsay my Uncle Mason in the matter of a book!
But it was only one class of books my Uncle cared about, as it was only one set of opinions that he had any regard for. And that was old, and chiefly theological, books. For new works, and even for new editions of old works, he had unbounded contempt. In a later day Bohn was his horror. In an earlier day he turned up his nose at the different " Libraries "—" Classical," "Scientific," "Standard," &c, &c.—that were sent forth by Murray, Longman, and Bentley. He would not give a novel house-room. For years did he stand out against the rage for " The Great Unknown," until all the world hailed the writer as Sir Walter Scott, and I never exactly understood how he gave in to this violation of his principles and passed under the yoke of the Magician. It was too tender a subject to question him about, for my Uncle, as a genuine old Tory, never admitted that he had been wrong—never changed his course if he could possibly help it; was always ready to stick to his ship and go down with it if it was necessary. He was certainly a very obstinate man. He cherished prejudices where other men conceal them. He