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The Love Affairs of a Bibliomanic
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The newspaper column, to which he contributed almost daily for
twelve years, comprehended many sly digs and gentle scoffings at
those of his unhappy fellow citizens who became notorious,
through his instrumentality, in their devotion to old book-shelves
and auction sales. And all the time none was more assiduous than
this same good-natured cynic in running down a musty prize, no
matter what its cost or what the attending difficulties. "I save
others, myself I cannot save," was his humorous cry.
In his published writings are many evidences of my brother's
appreciation of what he has somewhere characterized the "soothing
affliction of bibliomania." Nothing of book-hunting love has been
more happily expressed than "The Bibliomaniac's Prayer," in
which the troubled petitioner fervently asserts:
"But if, O Lord, it pleaseth Thee
To keep m e in tem ptation's w ay,
I humbly ask
that I may be
M ost notably beset to
L et m y
temptation be a book,
I shall purchase, hold and keep
W hereon, when other men shall look, T hey 'll
wail to know I got it cheap."
And again, in "The Bibliomaniac's Bride," nothing breathes better
the spirit of the incurable patient than this:
"Prose for me when I wished for prose,
Verse when to verse inclined,
bringing sweet repose
To body, heart and mind. Oh, I should bind this priceless
In bindings full and fine, And keep her where no human eyes Should see
her charms, but mine!"
In "Dear Old London" the poet wailed that "a splendid Horace
cheap for cash" laughed at his poverty, and in "Dibdin's Ghost" he
revelled in the delights that await the bibliomaniac in the future
state, where there is no admission to the women folk who,
"wanting victuals, make a fuss if we buy books instead"; while in
"Flail, Trask and Bisland" is the very essence of bibliomania, the
unquenchable thirst for possession. And yet, despite these self-
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