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The Book-Bills of Narcissus An Account Rendered by Richard Le Gallienne   By: (1866-1947)

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THE BOOK BILLS OF NARCISSUS

AN ACCOUNT RENDERED BY RICHARD LE GALLIENNE

WITH A FRONTISPIECE BY ROBERT FOWLER

1895

TABLE OF CHAPTERS

I. INTRODUCTORY II. STILL INTRODUCTORY, BUT THIS TIME OF A GREATER THAN THE WRITER III. IN WHICH NARCISSUS OPENS HIS 'GLADSTONE' IV. ACCOUNTS RENDERED V. AN IDYLL OF ALICE SUNSHINE, WHICH REALLY BELONGS TO THE LAST CHAPTER VI. THE SIBYLLINE BOOKS VII. THE CHILDREN OF APOLLO VIII. GEORGE MUNCASTER IX. THAT THIRTEENTH MAID X. 'IN VISHNU LAND WHAT AVATAR?'

TO MILDRED

Always thy book, too late acknowledged thine, Now when thine eyes no earthly page may read; Blinded with death, or blinded with the shine Of love's own lore celestial. Small need, Forsooth, for thee to read my earthly line, That on immortal flowers of fancy feed; What should my angel do to stoop to mine, Flowers of decay of no immortal seed.

Yet, love, if in thy lofty dwelling place, Higher than notes of any soaring bird, Beyond the beam of any solar light, A song of earth may scale the awful height, And at thy heavenly window find thy face know my voice shall never fall unheard.

December 6th, 1894.

NOTE. This third edition has been revised, and Chapter V. is entirely new .

CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTORY A WORD OF WISDOM, FOUND WRITTEN, LIKE THE MOST ANCIENT, ON LEATHER

'Ah! old men's boots don't go there, sir!' said the bootmaker to me one day, as he pointed to the toes of a pair I had just brought him for mending. It was a significant observation, I thought; and as I went on my way home, writing another such chronicle with every springing step, it filled me with much reflection largely of the nature of platitude, I have little doubt: such reflection, Reader, as is even already, I doubt less, rippling the surface of your mind with ever widening circles. Yes! you sigh with an air, it is in the unconscious autobiographies we are every moment writing not those we publish in two volumes and a supplement where the truth about us is hid. Truly it is a thought that has 'thrilled dead bosoms,' I agree, but why be afraid of it for that, Reader? Truth is not become a platitude only in our day. 'The Preacher' knew it for such some considerable time ago, and yet he did not fear to 'write and set in order many proverbs.'

You have kept a diary for how many years? Thirty? dear me! But have you kept your wine bills? If you ever engage me to write that life, which, of course, must some day be written I wouldn't write it myself don't trouble about your diary. Lend me your private ledger. 'There the action lies in his true nature.'

Yet I should hardly, perhaps, have evoked this particular corollary from that man of leather's observation, if I had not chanced one evening to come across those old book bills of my friend Narcissus, about which I have undertaken to write here, and been struck well nigh awe struck by the wonderful manner in which there lay revealed in them the story of the years over which they ran. To a stranger, I am sure, they would be full of meaning; but to me, who lived so near him through so much of the time, how truly pregnant does each briefest entry seem.

To Messrs. Oldbuck and Sons they, alas! often came to be but so many accounts rendered; to you, being a philosopher, they would, as I have said, mean more; but to me they mean all that great sunrise, the youth of Narcissus.

Many modern poets, still young enough, are fond of telling us where their youth lies buried. That of Narcissus would ye know rests among these old accounts. Lo! I would perform an incantation. I throw these old leaves into the elixir vitae of sweet memory, as Dr. Heidegger that old rose into his wonderful crystal water. Have I power to make Narcissus' rose to bloom again, so that you may know something of the beauty it wore for us? I wonder. I would I had. I must try.

CHAPTER II

STILL INTRODUCTORY, BUT THIS TIME OF A GREATER THAN THE WRITER

On the left hand side of Tithefields, just as one turns out of Prince Street, in a certain well known Lancashire town, is the unobtrusive bookshop of Mr... Continue reading book >>




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