#88

Encuadernacion Barcelona [Santiago, Chile]

Imprenta, Litografía y Encuadernación Barcelona
Santiago, Chile (1903)

New booksellers' labels, collected in December and January, have been posted -- represented are Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Japan, Spain, France, Germany, and England. Plus a nice group from New England.

January 30, 2006 | Comments (0)

Chaucer is excellt

Henry Parkes Thomas Carlyle

HP and TC

We didn't know who Sir Henry Parkes was until today when across our desk came his 1892 memoirs Fifty Years in the Making of Australian History. We dipped into these memoirs after some cursory online research and learned that before he became the Father of Federation, before he had the magnificent beard that graces the AU$5 note, Parkes made an extended visit to England where he became an intimate of Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Carlyle.

In 1862 Parkes was 46. He had several failed business ventures behind him, but was beginning to get on in Australian politics. Carlyle, twenty years his senior, cranky with the proofs of Frederick the Great, had warmed up to him socially but was nevertheless a fierce conversationalist. Parkes had recently published a small collection of poems which he thought of giving to Carlyle, but in the end he hadn't the nerve. He presented them instead to Jane Carlyle.

Parkes reports in his memoirs -- and now we are getting to the point of this post -- that on one occasion, ever the auto-didact and self-improver, he asked the Sage of Chelsea for some bookish advice:

'I have sometimes thought that it would be a good thing for a man like me-- imperfectly educated and with many things always pressing upon his time, to put aside all books, save ten or twelve authors, and thoroughly master them. In such case, what authors would you suggest?' He made some curt observations which I interpreted as unfavourable, and I felt half ashamed of what I had said. When I called again he said, 'I have jotted down some books for you, if you carry out your plan of studying a few authors,' and he fetched me the list written in pencil on a torn sheet of paper.

Here is the list which Parkes received:

Reading List

[obverse large] [reverse large]

My faithful transcription:

List of books given to me
by Thomas Carlyle which he recommended
me to buy HP.

--------------------------------------

Pope's Works
Swift's Works (Gulliver, Battle of Books)
Ld Hailes's Annals of Scotland [i.e. David Dalrymple, Lord Hailes]
Camden's Britannia (Philemon
     Holland's translation, 1 vol 4to
     costs abt 12/.., date abt 1620-1630)
Heimskringla (or History of the Norse Kings;Sea Kings
     Laing's translatn, 3 vols. 8vo)-
Anson's Voyage (excellt); Byrons Narrative (good).
Goldsmith, Vicar of Wakefield
Smollett's Humphrey Clinker
     }Richardson, Fielding
     &c. if you like such
     things
Arabn Tales; Don Quixote
Franklin's Essays & Autobiography.
Sheraton's Works
Boswell's Life of Johnson
----Journey to Western Isles.
Plutarch's Lives (editn revised
by Clough, Boston America 7 or 8 yrs [?]
ago, is far the best)

--------------------------------------
[reverse]

Fuller's Worthies of Engld (i.e.
     Notabilia of Engld: tolerably good)
Chaucer (& make the young ones
     learn to read him) is excellt.

Parkes comments: "I doubt if many persons would adopt this selection of books, famous as was the selector, and excellent as many of the works undoubtedly are..." But he treasured the list enough to keep it for thirty years and to have a facsimile tipped into Fifty Years.

January 23, 2006 | Comments (2)

strepitus vinculorum

...a clanking of chains. A ghost story from Pliny the Younger, perfect if yours is an evening as dark and stormy as ours.

There was at Athens a large and roomy house, but haunted ...

Or if you prefer the Latin:

Erat Athenis spatiosa et capax domus sed infamis et pestilens ...

January 11, 2006 | Comments (0)

Sonnets on Insects

To the Grasshopper and the Cricket
      James Henry Leigh Hunt

Green little vaulter in the sunny grass,
   Catching your heart up at the feel of June,
   Sole voice that's heard amidst the lazy noon,
When ev'n the bees lag at the summoning brass;--
And you, warm little housekeeper, who class
   With those who think the candles come too soon,
   Loving the fire, and with your tricksome tune
Nick the glad silent moments as they pass;--

Oh sweet and tiny cousins, that belong,
   One to the fields, the other to the hearth,
Both have your sunshine; both, though small, are strong
   At your clear hearts; and both were sent on earth
To sing in thoughtful ears this natural song--
   In doors and out,--summer and winter,--mirth.

The Ants
      John Clare

What wonder strikes the curious while he views
The black ants' city by a rotten tree
Or woodland bank. In ignorance we muse,
Pausing amazed. We know not what we see,
Such government and order there to be:
Some looking on and urging some to toil,
Dragging their loads of bent stalks slavishly.
And what's more wonderful, big loads that foil
One ant or two to carry quickly; then
A swarm flocks round to help their fellow men.
Surely they speak a language whisperingly,
Too fine for us to hear, and sure their ways
Prove they have kings and laws, and them to be
Deformèd remnants of the fairy days.

Julius Cæsar and the Honey-bee
      Charles Tennyson Turner

Poring on Cæsar's death with earnest eye,
I heard a fretful buzzing in the pane:
'Poor bee!' I cried, 'I'll help thee by-and-by;'
Then dropped mine eyes upon the page again.
Alas! I did not rise; I helped him not:
In the great voice of Roman history
I lost the pleading of the window-bee,
And all his woes and troubles were forgot.
In pity for the mighty chief, who bled
Beside his rival's statue, I delayed
To serve the little insect's present need;
And so he died for lack of human aid.
I could not change the Roman's destiny;
I might have set the honey-maker free.

January 9, 2006 in Natural History | Comments (0)