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PROM HY LIBRARY CHAIR.
(By "J.M.J.*). -
BLESSINGS OF DISTURBANCE.
When the ueeessitv wa® forced on me the other day of (packing up my modest library and iñ due course unpacking it again-I ignore for the moment the things Mr. Arnold Bennet (or is it Mr, Birrell?) says or implies about people .who dare talk of their "libraries" withóút the warrant of a thousand volumes or so as a minimum-I deenaed the upset an ?unmitigated nuisance. But I have come to Bee that this sort of thing has its uses. Time and opportunity do sometimes unite in a conspiracy' of absence, involving thereby some part of one's bookish pos- sessions in a neglect that one does not design. Not, of course, that one does not find the time or the opportunity to read. He who claims this (plight is ('tine victims of certain circumstances' excepted) no tnt person to have the possession of boolys. In the situation I have in mind one reacft?, perhaps, as anuch as ever one did; but, quite naturally, one drifts away fron Bon>8 of the many fields where once on. plucked fair (posies, adventured exhiliarat ingly, or jested) in tranquility. tA.nd con- spiring Time and Opportunity «ee to it that those fields are not revisited. Which is rather a pity.
This is where the «all to transport one's library to the shelter of some other roof-tree becomes, I venture to sugges , a blessing in its dusty and laborious dis- guise. There arises the need to handle all these books twice over at least. It is a salutory thing. One picks up, say, "The Scarlet Letter." "By «Tove (so nm one's
ruminations) how long ago is it, I -wonder,
since I read anything of Hawthorne. Sup pose I'd find him rather faded these days.
Don't know though-" And before you. iknoiw where you are you are re-reading Hawthorne. Of course I have put down Iiis name quite at random". Perhaps it is the part of your collection where the foreign poets foregather that arrests you. "Goethe!" you exclaim, blowing the dust from the top. "To think that I loved 'The Sorrows of Werther' once! But the real, the mature Goethe! What a-superb drama is 'Egmont'! Must look up Motley and <see how he handles that story. Afraid I've rather neglected!.Goethe."
THE IMMACULATE UNREAD.
That sort of experience ls good for one, besides being distinctly .stimulating. You may even be moved to read the books (if you have any such) whose right to a- place of dignity on your shelves is earned by an impressive binding. The other day 1 discovered one or two of these mas- queraders-school prizes. I wonder whether other. schools ordered the
selection of ^prizes in the -extraordinary way mine did? You will find it difficult. I know, to credit the statement that I was presented when half way through my teens (amid all the august pomp of a prize-distribution ceremony) with a ?charmingly bound copy of "Mildred Ar ikel," by Mrs. Henry Wood. The volume is
still extant to bear witness with the col- lege arms inside, nicely printed in scarlet and green; And1 this was done under the (banner of "high class education." Is it not de- lightfully quaint? But-the humour pales a trifle when one speculates on the pos- sible extent, throughout the British Em- pire, of this sort of fatuousness and fu
'tility, not to say fraud. Prom the same . source I have a most elegnt copy (lea- ther back in blue, with panels tooled m gold, and a scarlet strijpfor the title and tbe author's name) of "Nigel's Vocation," by W. E. Norris. That, I remark with pride, was a prize for piano. I add, with ipridie somewhat'abated, that I have never read it.
There ia another side to the disorgan- isation and reorganisation of one's lib- rary. 'Nice little problems in re-arrange anent crop up. Do you arrange with an eye to colour effect? Probably you spurn the idea. Still, within reason it is not to be despised. One may even venture to he critical about those cheap and, in gene- ral, most admirable editions of the clas- sics' which turn out everything in dind ings of the one.hue. Person-ally. I prefer
the plan of Messrs. ¡Dent, with their ¡ Everyman series-a rich crimson for fie- ' tion and history, a light green for the
¡poets, brown for the essayists, and so on. ! Pleasant indeedi to the aesthetic eye is a goodly row of Everyman's. There are bibliophiles, I am aware, who consider a point like that unworthy your true book lover's notice. I cannot agree. Is your appreciation of what lies' between the cover of your books likely to be greater ?when their exterior is a -sedate, not to say, austere, uniformity?
THE ARRANGER'S JOYS.
The delights and anxieties of arrange- ment are great. Shall we put all the poets together, and the movéis together? It often happens that we-can't, for ¡pro- saic reasons, connected with shelves so and-so much apart and books-that re- fuse to fit into the schemc devised. This question of size is not unimportant. Can you (to take an extreme case) put be- side a big quarto presentation copy of Tennyson a «Up of a pocket edition of Keats? It, would be to make your library a thing for laughter. 'System and classification art; certainly necessary with anything above a mere handful of books, but one caHnot observe the rules inflexibly. Perhaps you favour keeping books of one edition together, irrespec- tive of their kind. That strikes me as
doing a hurt to the individuality of each book. You regard it not as, say, n Thackeray novel, or simply a novel, but as a unit in tSo-and-iSo's1 edition. Thc key to your search for it is not its own chnrácter, but the manner of its dress. That is lamentable.
OUR CHANGING TONGUE.
The recently issued .'Dictionary of Modern English 'Usage," by H. W. Fow- ler, is a reminder^ that the great public whom the literary person is apt to despise- when it comes to books and the proper use of the ¡English language is, by an ironic dispensation, the force that is continually moulding and remoulding that language, in despite of the literary person. The latter, conscious of tbe derivation of a certain word and its true shade of meaning, ifinds the public using it in a distorted and wrong way. He is outraged, and really one feels rather sorry for him. But if the public goes on using that word in the wrong way it is only a>matter of time-and not a
very long time-before the way that was at ¡first wrong has become, in de- fiance of all ethics, right. It is not an infrequent experience, nowadays, for the literary purist to be harrowed' by the rough and ready Anglicisation of foreign words. He stands out for the pure, original form, but, like Canute, be can- not stay the tide, and his writing, ir be perseveres, begins to wear a somewhat "precious" air. I came across one of these die-hards in the music columns of au important (London newspaper the other day. He wrote <ot Beethoven'» "con- certi" meaning, of course, the plural of "concerto.'1' Alas., all the best people, so to speak, write ^'concertos' nowadays. J. doubt whether the critic In question would have the courage to be entirely consistent in this matter. Would be
write "tenori" for tenors' and) "soprani" for sopranos? But Mr. Fowler, m his most laudable crusade against "pedan- tries and against words' that may be stigmatised as consciously elegant, and affected, rather overreaches himself once or twice. ¡He would actually' have Use write "(fiddle" instead of "violin!" lin point of fact, of course, "violin."., is now the general term, used by the maa in-the-street, the artist, or the teacher equally; and it is to ""fiddle" that a slight flavour of the archaic has come : to attach, also a rather disrespectful implication. Would Mr. Kreisler be pleased if one of our newspapermen were to refer to him as "this talented fid- dler?"
Un 1912 the late Sir H. Kider Haggard finished an autobiographical book called "The Days of My Life," which he left in the keeping of Messrs. iLongmsn with instructions that it be not published until after his dea'th. This* book has now seen the light. One learns from it that "King 'Solomon's Mines," written by Hag- gard in six weeks, was hawked round th« London publishers without success, until W. E. Henley recommended it to Cassey's, who offered the author £100 for the -sale of the copyright. Haggard, however, decided to .retain the copyright and risk the royalties being small, lt is pleasant to hear that in two months' time th© book had soldi 6,000 collies. AUTOGRAPH PRICES.
When the Liepmannsohn collection of autographs was sold in Berlin last month a letter of Burns brought the top price of 8,800 marks (about £190). One from Goldsmith fetched 1,350 marks and one from Shelley, 1,150 marks. "-«A note by Keats brought 600, and autographs of Sterne and Swift, 620 and 600 respective- ly. There was no offer for an unpresent ed cheque of Dickens from the year 1864. The highest prices paid at this sale for Goethe and Schiller letters were 980 and 900 marks respectively.
Speaking of Burns reminds me of Mr. John Buchan's appreciation, in his "Homilies and ¡Recreations," lately pub- lished. It may come as a surprise to many Burns admirers who are not Scotch- men that, in the words of Mr. (Buchan, bis tSteots was not tho living speech of his countrymen, like the ¡English, of ©hedley, and-in the main-the Scots of Dunbar: it was a literary language subtly blended from the old niakars and the refrains; of folk poetry, much tinctured1 witb the special dialect of Ayrshire, and with a solid foundation of ' 'English, 'more Boreali.' No Scot in the later eighteenth century. . . spoke exactly a» Burns wrote." ^