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long distance, and are much disturbed by it. His
speed is incredible; his strength surprising;
his jumps, when pursued, quite wonderful, and
his skin of little worth when taken, so that he
has all the condition necessary for a successful
defensive warfare.

In spite of the winter and the wolves, with
whatever may be wanting and whatever
inconvenient, South Russia is one of the most
agreeable places in the world to live in. The cold never
seems to touch the heart of anybody. The
traveller is sure to meet so much hospitality,
good-nature, and friendship, that whenever he goes
away he is certain to leave a large corner of his
own heart behind him.


I own to a weakness for odd out-of-the-way
books. Do not understand by this that I am
one of those bibliomaniacs who would give an
enormous sum for a Breeches Bible, or the
editio princeps of a Greek classic. My transations
with the great vendors of typographical
rarities are very limited. I love to potter among
old book-stalls, and instead of indulging in a
propensity to give a great deal for what is worth
but little, I sacrifice small sums for articles that
are worth nothing at all. A queer frontispiece,
a strange title-page, an obsolete subject, are
each of them quite sufficient to cause such a
parting between myself and my loose cash as
fully illustrates the force of a well-known
Scottish proverb.

One consequence of my propensity has been an
acquaintance with a certain class of booksellers
who, though never numerous, were more so thirty
years ago than they are at present. These were
the dealers in astrological, magical, and alchemical
books, old-fashioned mysterious-looking
volumes, not to be confounded with the
sixpenny Fortune-tellers and Dream-books that
appeal to the plebeian desire to penetrate the
secrets of the future. They were mostly in
shabby condition, and when they were adorned
with pictures, these were far more attractive
than the letter-press, which, whatever was the
language of the author, was usually unintelligible.
The astrological treatises taught you
how to cast your horoscope in terms so vague,
that a practical application of the rules was
simply impossible. The alchemist spoke in an
allegorical jargon, which was not to be
translated into the language of instruction. Clearest
of all were the magical books which contained
rules for the exorcism of evil spirits, but the
invocations to be used were so horribly impious
that none but the demons themselves would
care to read them aloud, and the necessary
preparations could only be made at a cost of time
and labour that would prove far too heavy for a
dilettante conjuror. Certainly, a more useless
set of books could not have been collected
together than these mystic works, which at
one time of my life occupied much of my attention,
though I had no more faith in their contents
than the most prosy gentleman whose
literary studies are confined to the perusal of
the daily newspaper. The books were odd and
out of the way; that was enough for me.

The booksellers who sold the rubbish were
mostly queer personages, and there were scarcely
two of them whose department of business was
precisely the same. I do not think there was
one who dealt exclusively in the works to which
I refer; but while in this place magic was to
be found in company with old-fashioned mathematics,
it was elsewhere associated with miscellaneous
divinity, while a third vendor would
combine it with the utterances of modern
socialism. But the dealers were alike in these
particulars: that they took enormous quantities
of snuff, which left permanent marks on their
linen; that their coats were in the condition
popularly called seedy; that their breath gave
evidence of a consumption of spirits in the forenoon;
and that they were inclined to be very
communicative with their customers. By the
outlay of a few shillings it was easy to procure
an hour or two of by no means ordinary talk.

As the persons who bought oddity merely for
oddity's sake could not form a large class, I felt
curious to know who were the principal
purchasers of works on those occult sciences, which
have been exploded in the actual scientific
world. They were not bound in a peculiarly
costly way to attract the notice of the wealthy
bibliomaniac, nor could he respect them as
curiosities of literature. At the same time they
were too dry and too grim to tempt the giddy
girls, who consult gipsies and buy ordinary
dream-books; and too expensive to suit the
pockets of that portion of the community that
might possibly be superstitious enough to
reverence their contents. You will bear in mind
that I am talking of thirty years ago, when the
spiritualistic theories that are entertained by
many highly cultivated persons of the present
day could scarcely be said to exist, and when
the belief in anything like a ghost was regarded
as the infallible sign of a defective education.

From the information I received in answer to
numerous inquiries, I arrived at the conclusion
that the students of occult science were for the
most part persons who gained a scanty livelihood
by those occupations, of a sedentary kind,
which are mostly pursued in solitude. Cobblers
especially are familiar specimens of the class to
which I refer. Imperfectly educated, shut out
from intercourse with their fellow-men, and
engaged in a trade which employed the fingers
and left the mind unoccupied, these men could
wander in thought into the most extraordinary
regions, and the more imaginative among them
found a congenial aliment in works which spoke
of a familiarity with spirits, and a power to
anticipate the revelations of the future. Those
who are excluded from the actual world are very
apt to fashion a world of their own.

Well, so anxious were these poor cobblers for
the possession of unintelligible trash, that many
of them would pay for a volume priced (say) at
thirty shillings, in instalments of sixpence or a
shilling per week, fearful that the treasure might

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