Who folds a leafe downe
ye divel toaste browne
who makes marke or blotte
ye divel roaste hotte
who stealeth thisse booke
ye divel shall cooke.
For him that stealeth a book from this library, let it change into a
serpent in his hand & rend him. Let him be struck with palsy, & all
his members blasted. Let him languish in pain crying aloud for
mercy, & let there be no surcease to his agony till he sink to
dissolution. Let bookworms gnaw his entrails in token of the Worm that
dieth not, & when at last he goeth to his final punishment, let the flames of
hell consume him forever & aye.
Here's a more modern (and rather gentler) one:
By him who bought me for his own,
I'm lent for reading leaf by leaf;
If honest, you'll return the loan,
If you retain me, you're a thief.
Neither blemish this book, nor the leaves double down,
Nor lend it to each idle friend in town;
Return it when read, or, if lost, please supply
Another as good to the mind and the eye.
The post links to a nice collection at the Virginia Commonwealth University Library site (where all the above examples came from), which in turn links to an e-mail to the Exlibris list containing even more.
I'm very wary of lending books to even my most trusted bibliophile friends (how are those Paris guidebooks doing, Ladysusan?), but perhaps if I copy down a few of these poems in them first, I'll feel much better about the whole thing.
UPDATE: Ladysusan just shared this gem, a sign posted in the Salamanca library. Rough translation: His Holiness reserves the right to excommunicate any persons who steal, take, or in any other way remove any book, parchment, or paper from this library, without the possibility of absolution until the above should be completely reinstated. Nice.