Waiting patiently for Hazlitt and Stevenson.
I don’t have to wait long. The Hazlitt arrives first, coming all the way from the U.K. to regional NSW via Abe books in a brown cardboard book pack. It has a lovely lime green cloth cover.
‘The day Hazlitt came he opened to “I hate to read new books,’ and I hollered ‘Comrade’ to whoever owned it before me.’
December 8, 1949
My copy of Hazlitt didn’t open to anything in particular that I could see.Except a spine that is starting to separate from the book. But I’m pretty sure it’s the same edition that Helene owned.
“the Nonesuch Press edition” Marks & Co., 25th October, 1949
The Stevenson comes soon after in a bubble padded white paper envelope.
This is the Stevenson. I have to rely on a brief description from Helene.
…the Stevenson is so fine it embarrasses my orange-crate bookshelves, I”m almost afraid to handle such fine vellum and heavy cream coloured pages. November 3, 1949
I”m happy with it, but I don’t think it’s particularly fine and it’s definitely not printed on vellum.
On Helene’s first list there was also Leigh Hunt and a Latin Bible.
It’s very tempting to download these books but I’m hoping that they are out there. I enjoy waiting for them as Helene did and also the surprise of what turns up.
I’ve never even read the Bible although as a curious teenager I did make a halfhearted attempt. The paper was lovely. I think it was onion skin.
Not sure if I will pursue the Latin Vulgate as a hardcopy, perhaps this time a digital version is acceptable? Helene loved old books, but maybe she would have loved the instant gratification of being able to call something up out of the ether? And then there is this quote…
‘Why should I run all the way down to 17th St. to buy dirty, badly made books when I can buy clean, beautiful ones from you without leaving the typewriter?’ September 25, 1950
That could almost read …without leaving the computer…
I know nothing about William Hazlitt – luckily this edition has an introduction just for people like me.
He was born on April 10th 1778 – wow! 1778, ten years before the invasion of Australia by convicts and the British.
William Hazlitt is easily Googled and there is a lot of reading out there about him, many biographies, a Hazlitt society and a new essay competition in his honour.
A.C Grayling wrote a book about him, The Quarrel Of The Age: The Life and Times of William Hazlitt, and Michael Foote ensured that his gravestone was restored.
The former Labour leader Michael Foot unveiled a restored, 216-word inscription, one of the longest in church history, on the restored grave in St Anne’s churchyard in Soho, central London. It honoured a dissenter who is acknowledged as one the greatest masters of English prose. The grave, with its jubilant tribute to “a despiser of the merely rich and great, a lover of the people, poor or oppressed, a hater of the pride and power of the few” had been allowed to fall into near-illegible neglect. The Guardian, 11th April 2003
The contents page is exciting;
On the love of the country – Nov. 1814
On the love of life – Jan 1815
On reading old books – Feb. 1821 Etc, etc
On reading old books
“Women judge of books as they do of fashions or complexions, which are admired only “in their newest gloss”. That is not my way. …I have more confidence in the dead than the living. William Hazlitt
This book has that wonderful old book smell – I can’t pin it down – old books,, not the musty, fusty smell of newer books, paperbacks etc. but older by a hundred years books….mmmm delicious.
“One of the pleasantest things in the world is going on a journey; but I like to go by myself.” William Hazlitt
That’s something I could holler out loud about!