THOSE who spend the greater part of their time in reading or writing books are, of course, apt to take rather particular notice of accumulations of books when they come across them. They will not pass a stall, a shop, or even a bedroomshelf without reading some title, and if they find themselves in an unfamiliar library, no host need trouble himself further about their entertainment. The putting of dispersed sets of volumes together, or the turning right way up of those which the dusting housemaid has left in an apoplectic condition, appeals to them as one of the lesser Works of Mercy. Happy in these employments, and in occasionally opening an eighteenth-century octavo, to see 'what it is all about', and to conclude after five minutes that it deserves the seclusion it now enjoys, I had reached the middle of a wet August afternoon at Betton Court——
'You begin in a deeply Victorian manner,' I said; 'is this to continue?'
'Remember, if you please,' said my friend, looking at me over his spectacles, 'that I am a Victorian by birth and education, and that the Victorian tree may not unreasonably be expected to bear Victorian fruit. Further, remember that an immense quantity of clever and thoughtful Rubbish is now being written about the Victorian age. Now,' he went on, laying his papers on his knee, 'that article, “The Stricken Years”, in The- Times Literary Supplement* the other day, — able? of course it is able; but, oh! my soul and body, do just hand it over here, will you? it's on the table by you.'
'I thought you were to read me something you had written, ” I said, without moving, 'but, of course——'
'Yes, I know,' he said. 'Very well, then, I'll do that first. But I should like to show you afterwards what I mean. However——” And he lifted the sheets of paper and adjusted his spectacles.
——at Betton Court, where, generations back, two country-house libraries had been fused together, and no