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Unformatted text preview: h amateur, whose volumes, you may remember, were always bound in blue morocco, and tooled, on the centre and at the corners, with his badge, the Golden Fleece. Now the tome which so fascinated Allen was a Theocritus, published at Rome by Caliergus--a Theocritus on blue paper, if you please, bound in Longepierre's morocco livery, double with red morocco, and, oh ecstasy! with a copy of Longepierre's version of one Idyll on the flyleaf, signed with the translator's initials, and headed "a Mon Roy." It is known to the curious that Louis XIV. particularly admired and praised this little poem, calling it "a model of honourable gallantry." Clearly the grateful author had presented his own copy to the king; and here it was, when king and crown had gone down into dust. Allen showed me the book; he could hardly let it leave his hands. "Here is a pearl," he had said, "a gem beyond price!" "I'm afraid you'll find it so," I said; "that is for a Paillet or Rothschild, not for you, my boy." "I fear so," he had answered; "if I were to sell my whole library tomorrow, I could hardly raise the money;" for he was poor, and it was rumoured that his mania had already made him acquainted with the Jews. We parted. I went home to chambers; Allen stayed adoring the unexampled Longepierre. That night I dined out, and happened to sit next a young lady who possessed a great deal of taste, though that was the least of her charms. The fashion for book-collecting was among her innocent pleasures; she had seen Allen's books at Oxford, and I told her of his longings for the Theocritus. Miss Breton at once was eager to see the
74 ANGLING SKETCHES book, and the other books, and I obtained leave to go with her and Mrs. Breton to the auction- rooms next day. The little side-room where the treasures were displayed was empty, except for an attendant, when we went in; we looked at the things and made learned remarks, but I admit that I was more concerned to look at Miss Breton...
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