Clay and Webster, of Hamilton and Jefferson, the Federalist and
Elliot's Debates. Furthermore, they bought the standard works of
fiction, poetry, drama, essays and letters, and travels, but they did not
buy many volumes on linguistic or technical or scientific subjects,
containing themselves with what they might find on these subjects in
their encyclopaedias. It was a great and useful collection of books that
the Societies gathered, many of which are in circulation till this day.
With all their care certain books got on their shelves that the
Societies as a whole did not approve. Among these were Tom Paine's
Theological Works. These had been reposing on the shelves of the
Philomathesians' library for an unknown period when their heinous
nature was discovered, and on motion of J. M. White, the librarian
was ordered to destroy them. It was on August 13, 1858, that this
sentence of execution was passed. A month later on motion of E. A.
Poe, "the Librarian was authorized to destroy immediately a book
called Boccaccio's Decameron." It is not known whether that officer
faithfully executed his duty or got faint-hearted, carried the culprit
volumes to the shelter of his own room and trunk, and there learned to
regard them with affection, for the Philomathesians did not require a
report of duty performed. But there is no doubt about the fate of a
sister copy of the Decameron which the Euzelians found spreading its
contamination in their library. On February 25, 1860, George R.
French, Jr., a Wilmington youth of good family, revealed to the
unsuspecting Euzelians that Boccaccio's Decameron was lurking on
their shelves, possibly having convinced himself of its baleful
character by reading every word of it, and moved that a committee be
appointed to burn it, thus relieving the librarian of the cruel necessity
of cremating one of his own darlings. French himself and F. H. Ivey, a
zealous ministerial student, getting the appointment, reported at the
next meeting that the sentence had been duly executed.
Both Societies very early made regulations for the Libraries, which
though modified from time to time were much the same