THE Reformed Librarie-Keeper: OR Two copies of Letters concerning the Place and Office of a Librarie-Keeper.
The first Letter.
THe Librarie-Keeper's place and Office, in most Countries (as most other Places and Offices both in Churches and Uni∣versities) are lookt upon, as Places of profit and gain, and so accordingly sought after and valued in that regard; and not in regard of the ser∣vice, which is to bee don by them unto the Common-wealth of Israël, for the advance∣ment of Pietie and Learning; for the most part, men look after the maintenance, and livelihood setled upon their Places, more then upon the end and usefulness of their emploiments; they seek themselvs and not the Publick therein, and so they subordi∣nate all the advantages of their places, to Page 16 purchase mainly two things thereby viz. an easie subsistence; and som credit incom∣parison of others; nor is the last much re∣garded, if the first may bee had; except i• bee in cases of strife and debate, wherein men are over-heated: for then indeed som will stand upon the point of Honor, to the hazard of their temporal profits: but to speak in particular of Librarie-Keepers, in most Universities that I know; nay in∣deed in all, their places are but Mercenarie, and their emploiment of little or no use further, then to look to the Books com∣mitted to their custodie, that they may not bee lost; or embezeled by those that use them: and this is all.
I have been informed, that in Oxford (where the most famous Librarie now exstant amongst the Protestant-Christians is kept,) the setled maintenance of the Li∣brarie-keeper is not above fiftie or sixtie pound per annum; but that it is accidentally, viis & modis somtimes worth an hundred pound: what the accidents are, and the waies by which they com, I have not been curious to search after; but I have thought, that if the proper emploiments of Libra∣rie-keepers were taken into consideration as they are, or may bee made useful to the advancement of Learning; and were or∣dered Page 17 and mainteined proportionally to the ends, which ought to bee intended thereby; they would bee of exceeding great use to all sorts of Scholars, and have an universal influence upon all the parts of Learning, to produce and propagate the same unto perfection. For if Librarie-keepers did understand themselvs in the nature of their work, and would make themselvs, as they ought to bee, useful in their places in a publick waie; they ought to becom Agents for the advancement of universal Learning: and to this effect I could wish, that their places might not bee made, as everie where they are, Mercenarie, but rather Honorarie; and that with the com∣petent allowance of two hundred pounds a year; som emploiments should bee put up∣on them further then a bare keeping of the Books. It is true that a fair Librarie, is not onely an ornament and credit to the place vvhere it is; but an useful commoditie by it self to the publick; yet in effect it is no more then a dead Bodie as novv it is consti∣tuted, in comparison of vvhat it might bee, if it vvere animated vvith a publick Spirit to keep and use it, and ordered as it might bee for publick service. For if such an al∣lovvance vvere setled upon the emploiment Page 18 as might maintain a man of parts and gene∣rous thoughts, then a condition might bee annexed to the bestowing of the Place▪ that none should bee called thereunto but such as had approved themselvs zealous and profitable in som publick waies of Learning to advance the same, or that should bee bound to certain tasks to bee prosecuted to∣wards that end, whereof a List might bee made, and the waie to trie their Abilities in prosecuting the same should bee described, least in after times, unprofitable men creep into the place, to frustrate the publick of the benefit intended by the Doners towards posteritie. The proper charge then of the Honorarie Librarie-Keeper in an Universi∣tie should bee thought upon, and the end of that Imploiment, in my conception, is to keep the publick stock of Learning, which is in Books and Manuscripts to increas it, and to propose it to others in the waie which may bee most useful unto all; his work then is to bee a Factor and Trader for helps to Learning, and a Treasurer to keep them, and a dispenser to applie them to use, or to see them well used, or at least not abused; And to do all this, First a Ca∣talogue, of the Treasurie committed unto his charge is to bee made, that is all the Books and Manuscripts, according to the Page 19 Titles whereunto they belong, are to bee ranked in an order most easie and obvious to bee found, which I think is that of Sci∣ences and Languages; when first all the Books are divided into their subjectam mate∣riam whereof they Treat, and then everie kinde of matter subdivided into their seve∣ral Languages: And as the Catalogue should bee so made, that it may alwaies bee augmented as the stock doth increas; so the place in the Librarie must bee left open for the increas of the number of Books in their proper Seats, and in the Printed Ca∣talogue, a Reference is to bee made to the place where the Books are to bee found in their Shelvs or repositories. When the stock is thus known and fitted to bee ex∣posed to the view of the Learned World, Then the waie of Trading with it, both at home and abroad, is to bee laid to heart both for the increas of the stock, and for the improvement of it to use. For the in∣creas of the stock both at home and a∣broad, correspondencie should bee held with those that are eminent in everie Sci∣ence, to Trade with them for their profit, that what they want and wee have, they may receiv upon condition, that what they have and wee want, they should impart in that facultie wherein their eminencie doth Page 20 lie; As for such as are at home eminent in anie kinde, becaus they may com by Native right to have use of the Librarie-Treasure, they are to bee Traded vvithal in another vvaie, viz. that the things vvhich are gain∣ed from abroad, vvhich as yet are not made common, and put to publick use should bee promised and imparted to them for the in∣creas of their private stock of knowledg, to the end that what they have peculiar, may also bee given in for a requital, so that the particularities of gifts at home and a∣broad, are to meet as in a Center in the hand of the Librarie-keeper, and hee is to Trade with the one by the other, to caus them to multiplie the publick stock, where∣of hee is a Treasurer and Factor.
Thus hee should Trade with those that are at home and abroad out of the Univer∣sitie, and with those that are within the Universitie, hee should have acquaintance to know all that are of anie parts, and how their vein of Learning doth lie, to supplie helps unto them in their faculties from without and from within the Nation, to put them upon the keeping of correspon∣dencie vvith men of their ovvn strain, for the beating out of matters not yet elabora∣ted in Sciences; so that they may bee as his Assistants and subordinate Factors in his Page 21 Trade and in their own for gaining of knowledg: Now becaus in all publick A∣gencies, it is fit that som inspection should bee had over those that are intrusted there∣with, therefore in this Factorie and Trade for the increas of Learning, som tie should bee upon those Librarie-keepers to oblige them to carefulness.
I would then upon this account, have an Order made that once in the year, the Li∣brarie-keeper should bee bound to give an account of his Trading, and of his Profit in his Trade (as in all humane Trades Factors ought, and use to do to their principals at least once a year) and to this effect I would have it ordered, that the chief Doctors of each facultie of the Universitie, should meet at a Convenient time in a week of the year, to receiv the Accounts of his Trading, that hee may shew them wherein the stock of Learning hath been increased, for that year's space; and then hee is to produce the parti∣culars which hee hath gained from abroad, and laie them before them all, that everie one in his own facultie m•• declare in the presence of others, that which hee thinketh fit to bee added to the publick stock, and made common by the Catalogue of Addi∣tionals, which everie year within the Uni∣versities is to bee published in writing Page 22 within the Librarie it self, and everie three years (or sooner as the number of Additio∣nals may bee great, or later, if it bee smal) to bee put in Print and made common to those that are abroad. And at this giving up of the accounts, as the Doctors are to declare what they think worthie to bee ad∣ded to the common stock of Learning, each in their Facultie; so I would have them see what the Charges and Pains are whereat the Librarie-Keeper hath been, that for his en∣couragement, the extraordinarie expences in correspondencies and transcriptions for the publick good, may bee allowed him out of som Revenues, which should bee set a part to that effect, and disposed of accord∣ing to their joint-consent and judgment in that matter. Here then hee should bee bound to shew them the Lists of his cor∣respondents, the Letters from them in An∣swer to his, and the reckoning of his extra∣ordinarie expence should bee allowed him in that which hee is indebted, or hath free∣ly laid out to procure Rarities into the stock of Learning. And becaus I understand that all the Book-Printers or Stationars of the Common-wealth are bound of everie Book which is Printed, to send a Copie into the Universitie Librarie; and it is impossi∣ble for one man to read all the Books in all Page 23 Faculties, to judg of them what worth there is in them; nor hath everie one Abi∣litie to judge of all kinde of Sciences what everie Autor doth handle, and how suffi∣ciently; therefore I would have at this time of giving accounts, the Librarie-kee∣per also bound to produce the Catalogue of all the Books sent unto the Universitie's Librarie by the Stationars that Printed them; to the end that everie one of the Doctors in their own Faculties should de∣clare, whether or no they should bee ad∣ded, and where they should bee placed in the Catalogue of Additionals; For I do not think that all Books and Treaties which in this age are Printed in all kindes, should bee inserted into the Catalogue, and added to the stock of the Librarie, discretion must bee used and confusion avoided, and a cours taken to distinguish that which is profitable, from that which is useless; and according to the verdict of that Societie, the usefulness of Books for the publick is to bee determined; yet becaus there is seldom anie Books wherein there is not somthing useful, and Books freely given are not to bee cast away, but may bee kept, therefore I would have a peculiar place appointed for such Books as shall bee laid aside to keep them in, and a Catalogue of their Titles Page 24 made Alphabetically in reference to the Autor's name, with a note of distinction to shew the Science to which they are to bee referred. These thoughts com thus sud∣denly into my head, which in due time may bee more fully described, if need bee, chief∣ly if, upon the ground of this account, som competencie should bee found out and al∣lowed to maintein such charges as will bee requisite, towards the advancement of the Publick good of Learning after this man∣ner.
The second Letter.
IN my last I gave you som incident thoughts, concerning the improvement of an Honorarie Librarie-keeper's-place, to shew the true end and use thereof, and how the keepers thereof should bee regulated in the Trade, which hee is to drive for the Advancement of Learning, and encouraged by a cōmpetent maintenance, and support∣ed in extraordinarie expences for the same. Now I wish that som men of publick Spirits and lovers of Learning, might bee made acquainted with the Action, upon such grounds as were then briefly suggest∣ed; who know's but that in time somthing might bee offered to the Trustees of the Na∣tion, with better conceptions then these I have suggested.
For, if it bee considered that amongst manie Eminencies of this Nation, the Li∣brarie of Oxford is one of the most consi∣derable for the advancement of Learning, if rightly improved and Traded withal for the good of Scholars at home and abroad; If this (I saie) bee rightly considered and Page 26 represented to the publick Reformers of this age, that by this means this Nation as in other things, so especially for Pietie and Learning, and by the advancement of both, may now bee made more glorious then anie other in the world; No doubt such as in the Parlament know the worth of Learning will not bee avers from further overtures, which may bee made towards this purpose. What a great stir hath been heretofore, about the Eminencie of the Li∣brarie of Heidelberg, but what use was made of it? It was ingrossed into the hands of a few, till it became a Prey unto the E∣nemies of the Truth. If the Librarie-kee∣per had been a man, that would have traded with it for the increas of true Learning, it might have been preserved unto this daie in all the rarities thereof, not so much by the shuttings up of the multitude of Books, and the rareness thereof for antiquitie, as by the understandings of men and their proficiencie to improv and dilate know∣ledg upon the grounds which hee might have suggested unto others of parts, and so the Librarie-rarities would not onely have been preserved in the spirits of men, but have fructified abundantly therein un∣to this daie, whereas they are now lost, be∣caus they were but a Talent digged in the Page 27 ground; And as they that had the keeping of that Librarie made it an Idol, to bee re∣spected and worshipped for a raritie by an implicite faith, without anie benefit to those who did esteem of it a far off: so it was just with God that it should fall into the hands of those that in all things follow an Idolatrous waie, to blinde men with shewes without all realitie of substantial virtue, which is onely eminent in this, that it becometh profitable unto all, by dilating the light of knowledg, and the love of grace and goodness in the hearts of all men, that are fit to receiv the one and the other; And where this Aim is not in those that are intrusted with publick places; there they in the end will bee found unprofitable servants; for the trust which God hath put into their hands to profit withal, they dis∣charge not for the account which everie one is to give unto him of his Stewardship, is not how careful hee hath kept things of use unto himself, to pride himself in the possession of that which others have not, (as the custom of men is, that know not what true glorie is) but how faithfully and diligently hee hath distributed the same to such as were worthie thereof for their good, that they might bee stirred up both to glorifie God for his goodness; and to Page 28 imitate him in the Communication of all good things unto others for his sake freely. This was Christ's Work on Earth to re∣ceiv us, unto the Glorie of God; this was that vvhich hee taught by this practice, that it is more blessed to give, then to receiv. This is that which this envious World can∣not rellish, and vvhat stop's the current of true love in the hearts of men? Nothing so much as the self-seeking of men in the vvaies of Learning, by vvhich they cove∣tously obstruct the fountains of life and comfort, vvhich might overflow and vvater abundantly the barren and thirstie Souls of those that perish for vvant of address nnto vvisdom; vvhich in all the vvaies of hu∣mane and divine Learning might bee main∣ly advanced, by the industrie of one man in such a place, vvhose Trade should bee such as I formerly described, to deal vvith the spirits of all men of parts, to set them a vvorking one by and towards another, upon the subjects vvhich hee should bee intrust∣ed vvithal to keep in the stock of Learning. It is the Glorie and Riches of Nations and of great Cities, to make themselvs the Cen∣ter of Trade for all their Neighbors; and if they can finde vvaies of politie, to oblige their Neighbors to receiv from their Maga∣zines the Commodities whereof they stand Page 29 in need, it is everie vvaie a great benefit unto the State, so it may bee in matters of Learning, and by the Trade of Sciences this Church may oblige all the Neighbor Churches, and that Universitie all For∣reiners that Trade in knowledge to receiv pretious Commodities, whereof they stand in need, from our Magazines and Store∣houses; if a painful Steward and dispenser thereof, bee imploied and mainteined to use industrie for so blessed a work, from whence much Glorie to God in the Gospel, and honor will redound to the Nation. For although the waies of humane Learning are almost infinite and wonderfully various, and have their peculiar uses in the outward life of man, for which most men affect them, yet in one that is to minde the universal good of all, the whole varietie and diversi∣tie of matters useful unto this present life, as they com within the sphere of Learning must bee reduced, and may bee subordi∣nate unto the advancement of the Gospel of Christ, wherein the Glorie of the Nati∣on, at this and all times should bee thought to stand: And truly that is the thing which take's most with mee, for which I would have that Librarie thus improved by a faith∣ful keeper, that when his Trade is set on foot, with all those that are of eminent Page 30 parts in their several faculties, wee know∣ing who they are and wherein their emi∣nencies do lie, may have opportunities to provoke them to the right use thereof, by giving them Objects from our store; and furnishing them with tasks and matters to bee elaborated, which cannot bee diverted from the scope of God's glorie to bee made known unto all men in Jesus Christ, for there is nothing of knowledg in the minde of man, which may not bee conveniently referred to the virtues of God in Christ, whereby the humane nature is to bee exalt∣ed to that dignitie whereunto hee hath re∣ceived it, that it should by him rule over the whole Creätion. And the want of this Aim to look upon things in order to him, and to set them a working without relation to him, is that which blast's all our ende∣vors, and make's them determin in confusi∣on and disorder; For whatsoëver is not di∣rected in it's own place with som reference unto him must bee overthrown; nor is there anie waie left for anie to prosper in that which hee undertaketh, but to learn to know him and respect him in it, for the ad∣vancement of the Kingdom over the Souls of men, which by the Sanctified use of all knowledg is chiefly effected. If then the Trade of Learning is to bee set a foot in a Page 31 publick waie, and regulated to deserv the countenance of a Religious State, this Aim, and the waie of prosecuting of it must bee intended and beaten out; For except Sci∣ences bee reformed in order to this Scope, the increas of knowledg will increas no∣thing but strife, pride and confusion, from whence our sorrows will bee multiplied and propagated unto posteritie; but if hee, who is to bee intrusted with the managing of this Trade, bee addressed in the waie which leadeth unto this Aim without par∣tialitie, his negotiation will bee a blessing unto this age and to posteritie.
I have no time to inlarge upon this Sub∣ject, or to conceiv a formal and regular dis∣cours, but the thoughts which thus fall in∣to my minde I impart unto you, that you may give them as hints unto others, who of themselvs will bee able to inlarge them ei∣ther to the Hous, or to such as can in due time swaie the Counsels of leading men in this Common-wealth.