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The Bibliotaph and Other People   By: (1859-1941)

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First Page:

THE BIBLIOTAPH

And Other People

BY

LEON H. VINCENT

BOSTON AND NEW YORK HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY The Riverside Press, Cambridge 1899

COPYRIGHT, 1898, BY LEON H. VINCENT ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

TO MY FATHER THE REV. B. T. VINCENT, D.D. THIS LITTLE VOLUME IS Dedicated WITH LOVE AND ADMIRATION

Four of these papers the first Bibliotaph, and the notes on Keats, Gautier, and Stevenson's St. Ives are reprinted from the Atlantic Monthly by the kind permission of the editor.

I am also indebted to the literary editor of the Springfield Republican and to the editors of Poet Lore , respectively, for allowing me to reprint the paper on Thomas Hardy and the lecture on An Elizabethan Novelist .

CONTENTS

THE BIBLIOTAPH: A PORTRAIT NOT WHOLLY IMAGINARY THE BIBLIOTAPH: HIS FRIENDS, SCRAP BOOKS, AND 'BINS' LAST WORDS ON THE BIBLIOTAPH THOMAS HARDY A READING IN THE LETTERS OF JOHN KEATS AN ELIZABETHAN NOVELIST THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FAIR MINDED MAN CONCERNING A RED WAISTCOAT STEVENSON: THE VAGABOND AND THE PHILOSOPHER STEVENSON'S ST. IVES

THE BIBLIOTAPH AND OTHER PEOPLE

THE BIBLIOTAPH: A PORTRAIT NOT WHOLLY IMAGINARY

A popular and fairly orthodox opinion concerning book collectors is that their vices are many, their virtues of a negative sort, and their ways altogether past finding out. Yet the most hostile critic is bound to admit that the fraternity of bibliophiles is eminently picturesque. If their doings are inscrutable, they are also romantic; if their vices are numerous, the heinousness of those vices is mitigated by the fact that it is possible to sin humorously. Regard him how you will, the sayings and doings of the collector give life and color to the pages of those books which treat of books. He is amusing when he is purely an imaginary creature. For example, there was one Thomas Blinton. Every one who has ever read the volume called Books and Bookmen knows about Thomas Blinton. He was a man who wickedly adorned his volumes with morocco bindings, while his wife 'sighed in vain for some old point d'Alençon lace .' He was a man who was capable of bidding fifteen pounds for a Foppens edition of the essays of Montaigne, though fifteen pounds happened to be 'exactly the amount which he owed his plumber and gas fitter, a worthy man with a large family.' From this fictitious Thomas Blinton all the way back to Richard Heber, who was very real, and who piled up books as other men heap together vulgar riches, book collectors have been a picturesque folk.

The name of Heber suggests the thought that all men who buy books are not bibliophiles. He alone is worthy the title who acquires his volumes with something like passion. One may buy books like a gentleman, and that is very well. One may buy books like a gentleman and a scholar, which counts for something more. But to be truly of the elect one must resemble Richard Heber, and buy books like a gentleman, a scholar, and a madman.

You may find an account of Heber in an old file of The Gentleman's Magazine . He began in his youth by making a library of the classics. Then he became interested in rare English books, and collected them con amore for thirty years. He was very rich, and he had never given hostages to fortune; it was therefore possible for him to indulge his fine passion without stint. He bought only the best books, and he bought them by thousands and by tens of thousands. He would have held as foolishness that saying from the Greek which exhorts one to do nothing too much. According to Heber's theory, it is impossible to have too many good books. Usually one library is supposed to be enough for one man. Heber was satisfied only with eight libraries, and then he was hardly satisfied. He had a library in his house at Hodnet. 'His residence in Pimlico, where he died, was filled, like Magliabecchi's at Florence, with books from the top to the bottom; every chair, every table, every passage containing piles of erudition... Continue reading book >>




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