Adventures Among Books eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 217 pages of information about Adventures Among Books.
Following Horace Walpole in some degree, Mrs. Radcliffe paved the way for Scott, Byron, Maturin, Lewis, and Charlotte Bronte, just as Miss Burney filled the gap between Smollett and Miss Austen.  Mrs. Radcliffe, in short, kept the Lamp of Romance burning much more steadily than the lamps which, in her novels, are always blown out, in the moment of excited apprehension, by the night wind walking in the dank corridors of haunted abbeys.  But mark the cruelty of an intellectual parent!  Horace Walpole was Mrs. Radcliffe’s father in the spirit.  Yet, on September 4, 1794, he wrote to Lady Ossory:  “I have read some of the descriptive verbose tales, of which your Ladyship says I was the patriarch by several mothers” (Miss Reeve and Mrs. Radcliffe?).  “All I can say for myself is that I do not think my concubines have produced issue more natural for excluding the aid of anything marvellous.”

CHAPTER VII:  A SCOTTISH ROMANTICIST OF 1830

The finding of a rare book that you have wanted long is one of the happier moments in life.  Whatever we may think of life when we contemplate it as a whole, it is a delight to discover what one has sought for years, especially if the book be a book which you really want to read, and not a thing whose value is given by the fashion of collecting.  Perhaps nobody ever collected before

   THE
   DEATH-WAKE, OR LUNACY
   A NECROMAUNT

   In Three Chimeras

   BY THOMAS T. STODDART.

“Is’t like that lead contains her?—­ It were too gross To rib her cerecloth in the obscure grave.”—­ Shakespeare.

   EDINBURGH: 
   Printed for HENRY CONSTABLE, Edinburgh,
   And HURST, CHANCE, & CO., London.

   MDCCCXXXI.

This is my rare book, and it is rare for an excellent good reason, as will be shown.  But first of the author.  Mr. Thomas Tod Stoddart was born in 1810.  He died in 1880.  Through all his pilgrimage of three-score years and ten, his “rod and staff did comfort him,” as the Scottish version of the Psalms has it; nay, his staff was his rod.  He “was an angler,” as he remarked when a friend asked:  “Well, Tom, what are you doing now.”  He was the patriarch, the Father Izaak, of Scottish fishers, and he sleeps, according to his desire, like Scott, within hearing of the Tweed.  His memoir, published by his daughter, in “Stoddart’s Angling Songs” (Blackwood), is an admirable biography, quo fit ut omnis Votiva pateat veluti descripta tabella Vita senis.

But it is with the “young Tom Stoddart,” the poet of twenty, not with the old angling sage, that we have to do.  Miss Stoddart has discreetly republished only the Angling Songs of her father, the pick of them being classical in their way.  Now, as Mr. Arnold writes:—­

   “Two desires toss about
      The poet’s feverish blood,
   One drives him to the world without,
      And one to solitude.”

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Adventures Among Books from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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