Quotes We Like About Books
Notice posted at the Library of the University of Slamanca, Spain, circa 1440.
Translation of the notice:
"There will be Ex-Communication reserved by the Pope against whatever person or persons who steal, destroy, mutilate, or by other means damage a book, paper, or scroll in this library. These persons shall be not capable of being absolved unless that (object) has been perfectly reintegrated (to the library.)"
The travel writer Rick Steeves reports Salamanca University as being one of the first Universities in Europe and the first one in Spain. Christopher Columbus went there for travel tips before his voyages.
Ill-Treatment of Books
You will see perchance some headstrong youth, sitting slothfully at his studies… His fingernails are filthy black as jet, and with them he marks the place where the matter takes his fancy. He distributes innumerable straws, laying them conspicuously in divers places of the book, that the wheatstalk may recall whatsoever his memory' may let slip. These straws, which are never withdrawn remain undigested in the book's belly, first distending it to bursting of its wonded clasps, and then rotting in the neglect and oblivion to which they have been left. He shrinketh not from eating fruit or cheese over his open book, nor from moving his cup carelessly over it, and, having no bag at hand, he leaves in his book the fragments that remain…. Then he leans his elbows on tlhe book and takes a long sleep in exchange for his brief study, and bends back the margins of the leaves to smooth out the wrinkles, to the no small detriment of the volume. Now the rain is over and gone, and the flowers appear on our earth, and this scholar whom we describe, this neglector rather than inspector of books, will stuff his volume with violets, primroses, roses and four-leaved clover. Then he will paw it over with hands wet with water or sweat, then with dusty gloves he will fumble over the white parchment, and hunt for his page, line by line, with a forefinger clad in this ancient leather. Then, at the prick of some biting flea, the sacred volume is cast aside, scarce to be closed again for another month, when it is so clogged and swollen with dust that it resists all efforts to close it.
But we must specially keep from all touch of our books those shameless youths who, when they have learned to shape the letters of the alphabet, straightway be come incongruous annotators ot all the fairest volumes that come in their way, and either deck with their monstrous alphabets all broader margins that they can find around the text, or rashly presume to write with unchastened pen whatsoever frivolous stuff may happen to run at that moment in their heads.
Philobiblon by Richard de Bury, tutor to Edward III, later bishop of Durham.
For Him That Stealeth A Book from this Library, let it change into a serpent in his hand and rend him. Let him be struck with Palsy, and all his members blasted. Let him languish in Pain crying aloud for Mercy and let there be no surcease to his Agony till he sink in Dissolution. Let Bookworms gnaw his Entrails in token of the Worm that dieth not, and when at last he goeth to his final Punishment, let the flames of Hell consume him for ever and aye.
16th Century Spanish Curse