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(O): ACTON’S LIBRARY - John Emerich Edward Dalberg, Lord Acton, Selections from the Correspondence of the First Lord Acton, Vol. I (Cardinal Newman, Lady Blennerhassett, W.E. Gladstone) 
Selections from the Correspondence of the First Lord Acton, edited with and Introduction by John Neville Figgis and Renald Vere Laurence. Vol. I Correspondence with Cardinal Newman, Lady Blennerhassett, W.E. Gladstone and Others (London: Longmans, Gree and Co., 1917).
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Dear Mr. Gladstone,—
I am very sorry that I cannot get the right figures in answer to your questions. My numbers exceed those of Puttick because I include other departments, which they are not now dealing with. But my estimate falls below theirs for the part of the library on which they reported to you.
Probably English books are not ten per cent. in these divisions, chiefly devoted to France, Italy, Papacy, etc. Taking the entire library into account, and not only Puttick’s first load, I suppose that English History and Literature amount to six or seven thousand volumes.
One of my principles of selection was to avoid books that I was sure to find in every collection in the country.
Light literature would not be a tenth of the English books.
I fear to claim the credit of having a complete or exhaustive collection on any branch of knowledge, though I came near it sometimes, if you take the term exhaustive to mean not what a bibliographer would understand but a wise and sufficient choice.
Greek Classics are, I think, above 1000 volumes—very rich, if not complete, in philosophy and history. But there are no Epigraphics, no Mathematicians, and many medical works are wanting. In Bullaria, I have not the Bullarium Franciscanum; in Jesuitica, I have not their Bohemian history; in the Reformation, I have hardly any books by Bucer.
The whole collection was made with a single view to understanding the public life of the time, and the world I lived in. There are no mere curiosities or fine copies, unless by chance.
The interest that governed one great part was the Church. This is the explanation, not only of the large number of works relative to the Papacy, but especially of the Provincial Histories, which amount to more than seven thousand volumes. The policy of Rome shows itself largely in the Italian towns—and in this department I got the cream of the Libri collection. The Reformation, in the same way, led one to another class of local histories; the wars of Religion and the Revolution to another.
Then there is a vast literature of early Politics, chiefly Latin and Italian, such as Mariana, etc. Besides the Papacy, Local Histories, Reformation, Council of Trent, Thirty Years’ War, Jesuitica, my favourite line was miscellaneous reviews, and Epistolæ Familiares.
Reviews, or Transactions, because they contain no end of matter not transferred to permanent books, and often lost to sight.
Letters, because they give the means of knowing character, as a man is not better than his word, and generally betrays low-water mark in his undraped private correspondence. About two thousand moderns, since Petrarca, may be known and judged in this way. I have, I think, 1600 or 1700 volumes in that division. It does not include such letters as Bolingbroke’s or Chatham’s, because they are English history; nor such as Bacon’s, which are in his Life, nor those which are in the Collected Works, like Burke’s, Descartes’, Bossuet’s, Arnauld’s, Fénelon’s, Lessing’s. So that, in fact, I reckon on 3000 volumes of Letters, instead of 1600, which are in situ. Properly catalogued, this would be more valuable than the Papalia, the Jesuitica, or the Theory of Politics.—I remain, yours most truly,
Cannes,May 23, 1890.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,—
You will not think me ungrateful if I don’t know how to thank you. I did not believe that anything hidden in the future could add to the value and the pride of our long friendship.
I write before I have been able altogether to digest the surprise which your letter gave me, but nothing can add to the gratitude I feel, or take away from it. One day more, here and at Munich, will enable me to leave my present occupation in a condition to wait. Excuse me if I did not start at once. A better head than mine, and a stronger imagination would have failed to see the coming reality. On Wednesday at latest I hope to see you. I will not be so indiscreet as to invade your hospitality. My son, coming up from Oxford, will be with me for a few days in town.
Let me at once beg you to convey to the generous friend whom you do not name, and to convey in terms of your own choosing, this first acknowledgment, that his offer is practically inestimable, and that I am even more grateful for what it implies.—I remain, ever truly yours,
Tegernsee,June 13, 1890.