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Collections and Recollections   By: (1853-1919)

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George William Erskine Russell




DIED MARCH 25, 1898

Is he gone to a land of no laughter This man that made mirth for us all? Proves Death but a silence hereafter, Where the echoes of earth cannot fall? Once closed, have the lips no more duty? No more pleasure the exquisite ears? Has the heart done o'erflowing with beauty, As the eyes have with tears?

Nay, if aught be sure, what can be surer Than that earth's good decays not with earth? And of all the heart's springs none are purer Than the springs of the fountains of mirth? He that sounds them has pierced the heart's hollows, The places where tears are and sleep; For the foam flakes that dance in life's shallows Are wrung from life's deep.



It has been suggested by Mr. Reginald Smith, to whose friendliness and skill the fortunes of this book have been so greatly indebted, that a rather fuller preface might be suitably prefixed to this Edition.

When the book first appeared, it was stated on the title page to be written "by One who has kept a Diary." My claim to that modest title will scarcely be challenged by even the most carping critic who is conversant with the facts. On August 13, 1865, being then twelve years old, I began my Diary. Several attempts at diary keeping I had already made and abandoned. This more serious endeavour was due to the fact that a young lady gave me a manuscript book attractively bound in scarlet leather; and such a gift inspired a resolution to live up to it. Shall I be deemed to lift the veil of private life too roughly if I transcribe some early entries? "23rd: Dear Kate came; very nice." "25th: Kate is very delightful." "26th: Kate is a darling girl. She kissed me ."

Before long, Love's young dream was dispersed by the realities of Harrow; but the scarlet book continued to receive my daily confidences. Soon alas for puerile fickleness! the name of "Kate" disappears, and is replaced by rougher appellations, such as "Bob" and "Charlie;" "Carrots" this, and "Chaw" that. To Harrow succeeds Oxford, and now more recognizable names begin to appear "Liddon" and "Holland," "Gore" and "Milner", and "Lymington."

But through all these personal permutations the continuous Life of the Diary remained unbroken, and so remains even to the present date. Not a day is missing. When I have been laid low by any of the rather numerous ills to which, if to little else, my flesh has been heir, I have always been able to jot down such pregnant entries as "Temperature 102°;" "Salicine;" "Boiled Chicken;" "Bath Chair." It is many a year since the scarlet book was laid aside; but it has had a long line of successors; and together they contain the record of what I have been, done, seen, and heard during thirty eight years of chequered existence. Entertaining a strong and well founded suspicion that Posterity would burn these precious volumes unread, I was moved, some few years ago, to compress into small compass the little that seemed worth remembering. At that time my friend Mr. James Payn was already confined to the house by the beginnings of what proved to be his last illness. His host of friends did what they could to relieve the tedium of his suffering days; and the only contribution which I could make was to tell him at my weekly visits anything interesting or amusing which I collected from the reperusal of my diary. Greatly to my surprise, he urged me to make these "Collections" into a book, and to add to them whatever "Recollections" they might suggest. Acting on this advice, I published during the year 1897 a series of weekly papers in the Manchester Guardian . They were received more kindly than I had any right to expect; and early in 1898 I reproduced them in the present volume just too late to offer it, except in memory, to dear James Payn... Continue reading book >>

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