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depend. Blake never doubted himself, or conceived it possible that he was mistaken as to the sources of his inspiration. He would have maintained his opinion in the teeth of the whole world, not, indeed, because it was his own, but believed it to be heaven-born. Intuition was everything to him, logic counted for nothing. The limitation to of such a nature is inability to learn from other minds. "Improvement makes straight roads, but the crooked roads without improvement are the roads of genius." They are Blake's own works, and to no one are they more applicable than to himself.
Blake's visions date from his infancy. At four years old he saw "God put His forehead to the window," and screamed in terror at the sight. As he grew to boyhood, he was able to escape from the leaden hues of the London streets to the fields and lanes beyond the river, and there saw other visions of angels, glistening like stars through the branches of a tree, or moving amid the haymakers at their toil. Later on, when the question of his career became a pressing one, he declined characteristic generosity to be educated as a painter, on the ground that his brothers and sisters would suffer, and was therefore apprenticed to Basire, the engraver. He spent much of his time in Westminster Abbey, making drawings of the monuments for his master's use. Here he had a vision of Christ Himself and the Twelve. By this time he was a poet in fact as well as in spirit, for it was during these years that the "Poetical Sketches" were written, which were published in 1783. It is said that one of the most delightful of these lovely poems was composed before he was fourteen-"How sweet I roamed from field to field." The "Mad Song" gives a foretaste of Blake's peculiar power in its fierce intensity, and contrasts strangely with the plaintive sweetness of "My Silks and Fine Array," and the calm beauty of "The Evening Star."
About four years after his apprenticeship ended, Blake married Catherine Boucher, the girl whose frankly expressed sympathy for his troubles won from him an equally frank declaration of love on the first night of their acquaintance. The marriage might truly be said to have been made in heaven, in spite of the casual nature of the courtship, and the strange temperament of the lover. It has fallen to the lot of few men of genius to have such a helpmate as Blake found. Probably it was well for both of them that she came to him an absolutely uneducated girl, with all her experience to gain-wax on which he might set his stamp. Though we hear of troubles at first, and one historic occasion in particular, when poor Catherine was reduced to tears by her husband's suggestion, based on patriarchal precedent, that it would be as well to add a second wife to the
household, the record of the main part of their wedded life is a singularly happy one. Mrs. Blake merged her whole individuality in that of her erratic husband; she was at hand whenever he needed her, accompanying him during his long country rambles, extending over twenty, forty, or even fifty miles, sharing the labor of preparing his work for publication, in the little volumes since become so famous, sitting through the night with her hand on his, while he yielded to the fierce inspiration which had roused him from sleep, and tried with pen or pencil to express the wonderful conception by which his brain was haunted. Truly she had her reward-in her husband's unswerving devotion, and her knowledge of what she was to him. His last earthly act was to sketch her likeness.
Blake is said to have thought slightingly of his lyrical work in comparison with those prophetic books on which his best energies were spent. There are few, indeed, who can follow his bold spirit into their weird and mysterious recesses. Language seems wholly inadequate to bear the strain which is put upon it—and we must turn to Blake's pictorial work in order to realize something of the vividness and intensity of the conceptions with which his brain teemed. It needs a genius of Blake's own temper to understand, far more to interpret, his prophetic writings. The isolation of such a mind must have been painful, though it was compensated by the happiness which springs from the certainty of a high calling. Blake believed himself to be the mouthpiece by which the world was to learn eternal truth, and looked with pity on those who bartered the heavenly birthright (which he believed, strangely enough, all might share) for worldly prosperity and success. He never swerved from that belief, never dreamed of stooping to a lower ideal.
"The angel who presided at my birth
Said, 'Little creature, formed for joy and mirth, Go, love without the help of anything on earth.'"
Nothing would have induced Blake to be "disobedient to the heavenly vision.” The approach of death did not shake, it rather increased, his lifelong confidence. He made the rafters ring with his songs of triumph. "I have been at the death, not of a man, but of a blessed angel," said an eye-witness.-Literature.
THE ONLY METHOD.--Publisher: Why, what's this? There isn't a description in it. It's nothing but a lot of disconnected dialogues. Author: Yes. I'll write the descriptions after it's illustrated. You told me it was to be illustrated, you remember. Publisher: But why do you wait till then? Author: Because I'm determined that the descriptions and pictures shall agree for once.
Reading lately an article on the "Binding of Books," the following paragraph attracted our attention: "Let me confess at once to being one of those who like to see books well bound. Paper covers, even on a rare Dickens, do not attract me. If I am going to read a book I would far rather have a volume bound in leather to handle than one in boards as issued." The writer of the article expatiates in a very charming way on certain books in his own possession-notably sixteenth and seventeenth century volumes in contemporary binding.
While acknowledging the charm of such old bindings, and perhaps envying those fortunate enough to own books bound for Grolier, Maioli, or De Thou--or rare volumes on which Le Gascon, Derome, one of the Eves, or any other of the great binders of past days have lavished their skill, we feel inclined to put in a strong plea for books "in boards as issued."
book lovers, one hard to describe, but which needs no explanation for the collector of such books. The first edition is surely the author's edition, and brings us nearer to him in every way, so that in a great measure, we enter into his hopes and fears for the success of his volume; for which end he carefully selects the type, the paper, the binding and all the other details of its make-up; carefully correcting; and possibly making many changes while it is passing through the press; watching its progress with mingled hopes and fears for its ultimate success. Future editions may have valuable corrections in the text, and all sorts of alterations and additions, but, in a measure, at least, they are publishers' editions and lack a certain indefinable charm. Then, too, a favorite book always reads differently in the first edition-by which we do not mean an actual difference in the text, but only in the feeling with which the volume is approached. Collectors are said never to read their books, but while this may be true of a few, and especially of the man who is interested in early printing, black letter and kindred volumes, we think it is quite certain that many collectors only thoroughly enjoy a book in the state in which it first left its author's hands.
In the first place, if for no other reason, a good binding is very expensive. It is quite true that one can get good, strong commercial bindings, ast they are called, for very moderate prices, but when it comes to having fine bindings executed, the best work of Cobden Sanderson, Miss Prideaux, William Matthews, Tranz-Bauzonnet, Riviere, Zahnesdorf, or other great binders of recent times, the prices will be found very prohibitive.
For a wealthy collector it might seem that nothing could be more charming than to own a beautifully carved "Sheraton Shrine," containing at least one perfect specimen executed by each of the celebrated binders of the world. What a lot of treasures such a case would contain. The very names of the binders form a dazzling list! The Eves, Le Gascon, Padeloup, the Italian binders who worked for Grolier, the Frenchmen who bound Diane de Poictiers's books; Trautz-Bauzonnet. Cape, Mearnes, Roger Payne, Geoffrey Tony, Marius Michel, and a host of others. Then, too, many of these rare volumes may well have an added interest from once having been the property of some well-known collector, as for instance, Grolier, Maioli, De Thou, Henry and Diane, Catherine de Medici, Marguerite de Valois; in fact, the list might be extended indefinitely.
While it is far from our purpose to undervalue the possession of such a charming collection, or even of individual specimens of such rare interest, it is quite certain that such can only belong to the few; and there is so much to be said for the other side, for the books "in boards as issued," for modern productions, and especially for books of the last half of the present century, that we hasten to state, our opinion clearly.
First editions have a peculiar charm for many
Eugene Field says, in his usual apt manner, that not all collectors are interested in first editions, which fact he claims clearly illustrates the "nicety of that great natural law which ordains. that there shall be neither more birds than there are worms, nor more collectors than there are first editions," or, as he puts it in verse:
"These love I best; my homage these command When coming virgin from the author's head and hand, The First Edition, wholly unrevised.""
Then, too, the first edition often contains not only passages omitted from later editions, but the very cover may have on its cloth or paper sides either an appropriate design made for that purpose or perhaps an adaptation of one of the book's illustrations which in many instances occurs in the first issues only. For instance, Kipling's "Rupee Books" lose a great part of their interest if their paper covers are lacking. "Under the Deodars" and "Wee Willie Winkle" are the most striking of these covers, the former showing at a glance on its front cover the Simla Hills and all sorts of things symbolical of India, the vignette on its back cover being typical of the book's more narrow application. Then, too, the English editions of the "Jungle Books" have on their covers designs in gold from illustrations by Lockwood Kipling, which, appearing in the books themselves, are in some way a part of the volume and bring up all sorts of delightful recollections at a passing glance which the most beautiful tooling could never do. We well remember the disappointment, almost the rage, shown by a young col
lector who had gathered together, with some little trouble, but with slight expense, all the Indian railway editions of Kipling at a time when he was first coming into prominence. Being new to collecting, the man determined to have the volumes put into binding, and yet knew the covers should at least be "bound in." So the books were left at a well-known New York shop with strict orders to be so treated. Imagine, then, the man's disgust at having them come home carefully shorn of their charming covers, which were all destroyed. Now, alas! he realizes the full extent of his loss, and sighs for the delightful little paper editions. he might so well have had in their virgin condition.
It is often said that in these days a well-designed and attractive cover will half sell a book, and the fact that cover-designing is recognized as being a very important feature of a book's make up is evidenced by many of our best American book covers being designed by good people and signed as naturally as would be the illustrations.
PRIVATELY PRINTED Books.
Another plea for the original cover is the variety and interest it lends to shelves, as well as the fact that one who is familiar with and loves certain
ONE of the most interesting by-ways in the history of literature, that of privately printed books, still remains largely unexplored. The compilation of such a history naturally presents considerable difficulties. Every year increases rather than books in the first or in some particular edition, seriously, our national bibliography, in this relessens them, and until the task is taken in hand
recognizes them at a glance, either on his own or on a friend's shelves. A certain edition of Dante Rossetti, edited by his brother, has on its front cover a design in gold by Rossetti himself, while the Mackail life of William Morris bears on its back a beautiful design cut on wood by Morris, both of which lend a charm to the books which gold tooling could never give.
spect, can only be regarded as glaringly incomplete. No consistent attempt has been made to grapple with the matter since Martin published his work on the subject, the second edition of which is even now more than forty years old. And yet much that is of interest and importance, especially in regard to modern books, is being lost by not taking account of personal preferences. Privately printed books fall generally into three classes, those privately printed in very limited numbers for sale or otherwise; those compiled from letters and circulated only in a limited circle; and those issued for the purpose of testing opinion on the merits of some proposed work.
To show we are not alone in our preference for the original covers it is only necessary to study sales catalogues and those issued by good booksellers to see how even the finest binding may really take from a book's commercial value. The most striking example of this depreciation is the copy of Poe's "Tamerlane," which its owner, Mr. Maxwell, had put into a beautiful binding by Lortic fils, the original covers being bound in and the book left entirely uncut. The description of the binding taken from the Maxwell sale catalogue shows the beauty of its execution:
Beautifully bound in brown crushed levant, with sides ornamented with mosaic of blue levant in a beautiful interlaced floriated design; the flowers, leaves, and petals are all inlaid in colors, red, blue, green, and yellow, with monograms in each corner, double of pure white parchment, wide dentelle borders, vellum fly-leaves, &c.
Lortic considered this one of his best bindings, signing it in three places; yet fine as the binding undoubtedly is-and one can fancy its cost-when the book came to be sold it fetched several hundred dollars less than it had brought when in its original binding of paper.
That is, of course, hardly a fair example, but it is a well-known fact that first editions of Brown
ing, Tennyson, Kipling, Stevenson, or any first editions of modern writers usually bring much. larger prices in their original covers than when put into binding, and only a poor copy should be so treated. It is equally true that we owe the preservation of many of our older books to the beauty or strength of their bindings.
So it will be seen there is much to be said on either side, but for all modern books we prefer our favorite volumes as they left the author's hands to those of which Austin Dobson sings:
"Blind-tooled and morocco-jointed,
They have Bedfords's daintiest dress."
THOSE of the first class do not present difficulties from a bibliographical point of view, for they mostly bear the date and place of imprint, and are sufficiently numerous to be traced without much trouble. Into this category fall all those works illustrating private collections of objects d'art, the beauty and value of which their owners, either from vanity or a genuine love of the subject, desire to be more generally known and appreciated. Such works are often issued regardless of expense, as, for instance, the "Museum Worsleyanum," two volumes, folio, which is said to have cost as much as £27,000. Into this class fall also the books published at private presses, such as the Strawberry Hill and Lee Priory Presses, and it includes besides the numerous series of bibelots dealing with some peculiar class of "ana," like the diminutive volumes published by Mr. William Loring
Andrews on "Grolier," "Aldus," and other kindred subjects.
THE second class incudes all those volumes which are mainly restricted to reprints of the correspondence of well-known authors, not previously published. Sometimes these compilations, like the "Charlotte Bronte and Her Circle," edited by Mr. Shorter, are printed for the use of the general public, but it more frequently happens that the books owe their existence to a desire to give a small circle of friends some of that intimate knowledge of an author which can be obtained from a study of his spontaneous correspondence. As may be readily understood, such volumes are extremely difficult of acquisition, and as they do not come within the terms of copyright law, there is no certain means of tracing them.
THE last class is the despair of the bibliographer and the collector. But they present a romantic side to the history of literature, and a volume dealing with them adequately would be highly entertaining. For instance, the real reasons why Byron, Matthew Arnold, and many other authors were induced to destroy or cancel the issue of certain volumes of their works as soon as printed would make an interesting chapter. Of Byron's first work, the "Fugitive Pieces," privately printed at Newark in 1806, only three copies are now known to exist, for he ordered the entire issue of about one hundred copies, to be burned almost as soon as they were printed. Another waif around which centres a long and important chapter of literary history is the excessively scarce trial print of the "Laus Veneris," of which Moxon issued a few copies in order to fortify himself with the opinions of competent judges before venturing to issue the "Poems and Ballads" of 1866. But even then the storm raised scared Moxon so much that he hastily handed over his remaining sheets of that remarkable volume to Hotten to publish, and thus gave rise to the two different title-pages prefixed to this now famous first edition. The most complicated example is that offered by Tennyson in his different versions of "The Idylls of the King." Not only did many of the various sections differ at first in name from those which they now possess, but as regards the earliest ones, they frequently differed in both form and connection. How many separate prints were taken of these poems it appears even now almost impossible to tell, and the collection of a complete set of only those known would be a very difficult matter. The whole subject has a real fascination, but if its mazes are to be successfully threaded, it is necessary for each generation to gather up its own. clues.-Literature.
By ANTHONY C. DEANE.
Theodore Hook died in August, 1841, and few writers who in their day enjoyed so great a fame have been more quickly and completely forgotten. His name, indeed, is still familiar, but chiefly as that of a man with a taste for violent puns and practical jokes, as the embodiment of a type of humor now almost extinct. His interest for us, in other words, is antiquarian rather than literary. Our taste in humor seems less robust than it was sixty years ago. Hook doubtless would have found as little cause for mirth in our own subacid epigrams as we in his boistrous buffoonery. The moderu jester does not perpetrate such an outrage as Hook's famous "Berner's Street Hoax." To land on a riverside lawn under the pretence of being a surveyor for a canal company, and in that character to dine with the owner and make love to his daughter, somehow does not strike us as a rare stroke of delicate humor. We should not greet with applause a middle-aged member of the "Athenæum" who played schoolboy tricks on his fellow-guests at every dinner party he attended. Yet Hook, his membership of the "Athenæum" notwithstanding, did all these things with unfailing gusto, and the tale of each escapade went the rounds of the delighted and admiring town. He played practical jokes, made a pun in every other sentence, sang impromptu songs, scribbled off innumerable lines for albums, and was paid for all this by invitations to the best houses. He filled, in fact, the not very dignified post of a professional buffoon, and the fashionable hostess of that time would invite Mr. Hook and his celebrated jokes to her table just as in these days she would summon an eminent violinist on the tacit understanding that he brought his instrument with him. He fully understood that he was expected to pay for his meal by amusing his fellow-guests, an obligation which he never failed to discharge.
Yet we must not forget that in his lifetime Hook had another reputation of a very different kind. He was successful as a dramacist, as a novel writer, and as a journalist. Underneath the airy life of this society butterfly was concealed a power of industry not less than heroic. in the last sixteen years of his life, when his popularity had reached its highest point, he would attend every afternoon party, he would dine out each night (duly equipped with new jokes), his evening would end in a little gambling and more than a little drinking, and yet during this period he was editor and almost sole writer of a newspaper and, in addition to a good number of plays, produced. no fewer than thirty-eight novels.
Hook was a precocious youth; his first dramatic production, a comic opera in two acts, was per
formed at Drury Lane when he was seventeen, and within the next three years he had followed it up with a dozen plays and farces, in which Mathews, Liston, and other leading actors appeared. Before he was twenty his earliest novel was published. At twenty-four he was appointed Accountant-General and Treasurer at Maritius with a salary of £2000! The five years spent in this office terminated in his disgrace; there were large defalcations in the public funds, and Hook returned to England a prisoner. After a sojourn of some length in the debtors' prison, he was released on the understanding that he would pay off by degrees the sum of £12,000, the amount of his liability to the Government. As a matter of fact, although he was soon making a large income by his pen (we learn from his diary that for one of his novels alone he received £2000), not only did he fail to pay a halfpenny of this debt, but he accumulated innumerable others. One of his most profitable ventures was the John Bull newspaper. This Hook owned, edited, and wrote wellnigh the whole of, and many of the political verses and parodies which he contributed to it are not unworthy to rank with those of the Anti-Jacobin in savage wit and effectiveness.
To attempt anything like a critical estimate of Hook's literary powers is not easy. The vogue of his novels is long since past. "Gilbert Gurney," perhaps the best of them, is largely autobiography and reads rather like one of the earlier works of Lever. Its hero, another Harry Lorrequer or Charles O'Malley, falls continually into the most terrible scrapes, from each of which he issues impudently triumphant. But of the descriptive power and poetry which Lever held in reserve, and of which we have glimpses even in the midst of his most rollicking scenes, we find no counterpart in the work of Hook. His stories are a mere string of humorous adventures, with very little human interest to make them live. They served their purpose, they amused the generation for which they were written, and now they are almost totally forgotten. His verse, however, is of a far higher order of merit. Most of it is not very interesting to modern readers, for it deals with forgot ten political questions, but, technically considered, it is admirably fashioned. It vastly transcends, for instance, the cockney rhymes and jingles of his friend and contemporary, Barham, whose "Ingoldsby Legends" are still so surprisingly popular. One could wish that Hook had paid less attention to politics, for the little "society verse" which he wrote is delightful, scarcely inferior to Praed's in dexterity and neatness. To that author, indeed, one might have credited these lines, had they been unsigned:
"Some women at parting scarce give you So much as a single good-bye,
And from others as long as you live, you Will never be blessed with a sigh, Some will press you so warmly you'd linger Beside them forever, and some
Will give you an icy forefinger,
But Fanny presents you a thumb!
To relish, like Christians, their rum; Some give you a view from their windowsBut Fanny gives only her thumb!" Delightful, too, is Hook's lament over the fashion of daylight dinners," from which come these two stanzas,
When summer's smiles rejoice the plains,
Oh, then conceive the ills that mock
To join a 'daylight dinner.'
Yet, after all, the chief impression to be gained from the works of Theodore Hook is a sense of how great a change in taste-nay, in our whole outlook on life-has come about within the limits of a lifetime. Those mid-century days seem so remote, with their comfortable, if shallow, optimism, their easy-going ways, their appreciation of boisterous humor! And if we seek to realize a period in some respects more alien from our own than was the beginning of the eighteen century, nowhere can we find a better epitome of it than in the life and writings of Theodore Hook. A pathetic and yet an enviable figure; in constant difficulty, not seldom in disgrace, and yet unfailingly cheerful; never caring to look below the surface of life, and meeting all trouble with a laugh and a joke. Perhaps the laugh was sometimes hollow and the joke labored, yet do you think that he would have bartered them for our modern pessimism?
"Her Pen Silenced by Death." Headline in Boston Herald, over story of Mrs. Southworth's death. Would not Sir Boyle Roche, of glorious memory, be proud of such a bull?