« AnteriorContinuar »
These high prices tell their own tale, and force upon us the conviction that there never were so many private libraries in course of growth as there are to-day.
Libraries are not made; they grow. Your first two thousand volumes present no difficulty, and cost astonishingly little money. Given £400 and five years, and an ordinary man can in the ordinary course, without any undue haste or putting any pressure upon his taste, surround himself with this number of books, all in his own language, and thenceforward have at least one place in the world in which it is possible to be happy. But pride is still out of the question. To be proud of having two thousand books would be absurd. You might as well be proud of having two topcoats. After your first two thousand difficulty begins, but until you have ten thousand volumes the less you say about your library the better. Then you may begin to speak.
It is no doubt a pleasant thing to have a library left you. The present writer will disclaim no such legacy, but hereby undertakes to accept it, however dusty. But, good as it is to inherit a library, it is better to collect one. Each volume then, however lightly a stranger's eye may roam from shelf to shelf, has its own individuality, a history of its own. You remember where you got it, and how much you gave for it; and your word may safely be taken for the first of these facts, but not for the second.
The man who has a library of his own collection is able to contemplate himself objectively, and is justified in believing in his own existence. No other man but he would have made precisely such a combination as his. Had he been in any single respect different from what he is, his library, as it exists, never would have existed. Therefore, surely he may exclaim, as in the gloaming he contemplates the backs of his loved ones, “They are mine, and I am theirs.”
But the eternal note of sadness will find its way even through the keyhole of a library. You turn some familiar page, of Shakespeare it may be, and his infinite variety,” his “multitudinous mind,” suggests some new thought, and as you are wondering over it, you think of Lycidas, your friend, and promise yourself the pleasure of having his opinion of your discovery the very next time when by the fire you two “help waste a sullen day.” Or it is, perhaps, some quainter, tenderer fancy that engages your solitary attention, something in Sir Philip Sidney or Henry Vaughan, and then you turn to look for Phyllis, ever the best interpreter of love, human or divine. Alas! the printed page grows hazy beneath a filmy eye as you suddenly remember that Lycidas is dead, — “dead ere his prime,” — and that the pale cheek of Phyllis will never again be relumined by the white light of her pure enthusiasm. And then you fall to thinking of the inevitable, and perhaps, in your present mood, not unwelcome hour, when the "ancient peace” of your old friends will be disturbed, when rude hands will dislodge them from their accustomed nooks and break up their goodly company.
“Death bursts amongst them like a shell,
And strews them over half the town.”
They will form new combinations, lighten other men's toil, and soothe another's sorrow. Fool that I was to call anything mine!
Complete. From «Obiter Dicta.”
JOHN STUART BLACKIE
Los A professional scholar of the highest attainments whom no S45 amount of learning could make a pedant, John Stuart Blackie Bu is one of the choicest products of nineteenth-century education. For him the Republic of Letters was a democracy. He got at the simplicities of things. The great scholars of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries who studied Homer wrote treatises for the aristocracy of learning – treatises of which they themselves were intolerably proud. As a result of their ignorance of the simple harmonies heaven uses to wake the soul of such a singer as Homer, they and their works are condemned to the limbo of the second-hand dealer's backrooms,- a limbo from which those who do not fear learned dust may rescue them at a shilling a pound. «Take the other edition, won't you ?” begged a bookseller of a possible customer; “I can sell that one in parchment boards for $1.50, because it will look well on a library table.”
It was to this that a masterpiece of the great Vossius had come at last! But the back shelves will never hold Blackie. He learned from Homer that the Scotch fiddle which instructed Burns in melody had in it the soul of Greek poetic art. From the studies of the great masterpieces of Greece, he learned to know and to reverence as sublime the simplicity of native art which shaped the expression of «When the Kye Comes Hame » or of «Annie Laurie.» «The man who strives must dare to err” is almost what Goethe says to decide the dispute which professional scholars have each with the theories of all the rest. Nothing need be said of Blackie's theories as professor of Greek in the University of Edinburgh, except, indeed, as they led him to write essays on the love songs of Scotland. Intrenched as he is in the affections of those who love him for his love of music, the entire Sanhedrin of great critics will not prevail against him.
Born in Glasgow in July, 1809, he was educated at the universities of Edinburgh, Göttingen, Berlin, and Rome. From 1852 until 1882 he was professor of Greek in Edinburgh University. Among his publications of this period were metrical translations of Æschylus and of the “Iliad,” «Horæ Hellenicæ,” and “Lays and Legends of Ancient Greece.” He was by nature a poet and musician, and his best work as an essayist was inspired by his study of Scotch melody. His own lyrical poems were collected and published during his lifetime. He died in Edinburgh, March 2d, 1895.
THE LOVE SONGS OF SCOTLAND
The love songs of Scotland are as rich and various as the flow
ers of the field, and poured out from all quarters as spon
taneously and as sweetly as the song of the mavis in May. Of course, in the midst of such abundance I could only form a bouquet of the choicest gems of song that had either laid strong hold of my fancy, or had struck deep roots in the popular affection; and when I had chalked out my scheme of classification, I was not a little surprised, and at the same time delighted, to find that only a small proportion of the whole belonged to the Corypheus of the Choir. This, of course, proves the extraordinary wealth of our lyrical vegetation. Burns, in fact, never would have been the man he was had he not derived an inspiration from the people, and breathed an atmosphere of popular song from the cradle; and to stand before his countrymen in the solitary sublimity of a Shelley or a Byron, would have been as hateful to his nature as it was foreign from his genius. I will therefore, in this bouquet of love lilts, give no preference to Burns, except where he comes in unsought for as the first among equals, the most prominent and the most popular specimen of the class which he is called on to illustrate; and the classes under which all love songs naturally arrange themselves are four: love songs of joy; love songs of sadness; love songs of wooing and courtship; and, lastly, love songs of marriage and connubial life.
I begin then, now, with love songs of joy, -as indeed joy is the end of all existence; and love, as the rapturous recognition of an ideal, is, and must ever be, the potentiation of the higher human joy; and if there be any that would give a preference to woeful ballads and sentimental sighs in their singing of love songs, let them know that they are out of tune with the great harmonies of nature, and that, though it be the divine virtue of love songs, in certain cases, to sweeten sorrow, their primary purpose is to give wings to joy. As an example of the sweetness of soul and sereneness of delight that belong to the Scottish love song, we cannot do better than commence here with
las-sie when the kye comes hame, When the kye comes hame, when the
kye comes hame, 'Tween the gloam-in' and the mirk, when the kye comes hame.
'Tis not beneath the burgonet, nor yet beneath the crown, 'Tis not on couch of velvet, nor yet on bed of down: 'Tis beneath the spreading birch, in the dell without a name, Wi' a bonnie, bonnie lassie, when the kye comes hame. Then the eye shines sae bright, the haill soul to beguile, There's love in every whisper, and joy in every smile; O who would choose a crown, wi' its perils and its fame, And miss a bonnie lassie when the kye comes hame.
See yonder pawky shepherd that lingers on the hill —