Sunday, May 27, 2012

Mr. Newton Holds Forth

Photo of A. Edward Newton's library at his home, Oak Knoll, in Philadelphia
The man pictured by the fireplace is his son, E. Swift Newton

I have spent this dreadfully hot and humid Sunday in the cool of my reading chair enjoying time with A. Edward Newton and his thoughts on The Amenities of Book-Collecting. He writes about collecting rare books, but his thoughts are apropos of those of us who love books rare or otherwise.

Here are some I noted:

My sport is book hunting. I look upon it as a game, a game requiring skill, some money, and luck.

And his take on Dickens, written in 1918, which holds true today:

Age cannot wither nor custom stale his infinite variety. As a great creative genius he ranks with Shakespeare. He has given pleasure to millions; he has been translated into all the language of Europe.
 ...and the  marvel is that when Dickens is spoken of, it is difficult to arrive at an agreement as to which is his greatest book.

And finally:
There is joy in mere ownership. It may be silly, or it may be selfish; but is is a joy, akin to that of possessing land, which seems to need no defense. We do not walk over our property every day; we frequently do not see it; but when the fancy takes us, we love to forget our cares and responsibilities in a ramble over our fields. In like manner, and for the same reason, we browse with delight in a corner of our library in which we have placed our most precious books. We should buy our books as we buy our clothes, not only to cover our nakedness, but to embellish us; and we should buy more books and fewer clothes.

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