To The Viscountess Wolseley

MADAME, it is no modish thing,
The bookman’s tribute that I bring ;
A talk of antiquaries grey,
Dust unto dust this many a day,
Gossip of texts and bindings old,
Of faded type, and tarnish’d gold !

Can ladies care for this to-do
With Payne, Derome, and Padeloup ?
Can they resign the rout, the ball,
For lonely joys of shelf and stall?

The critic thus, serenely wise ;
But you can read with other eyes,
Whose books and bindings treasured are
‘Midst mingled spoils of peace and war ;
Shields from the fights the Mahdi lost,
And trinkets from the Golden Coast,
And many things divinely done
By Chippendale and Sheraton,

And trophies of Egyptian deeds,
And fans, and plates, and Aggrey beads,
Pomander boxes, assegais,
And sword-hilts worn in Marlbro’s days.

In this pell-mell of old and new,
Of war and peace, my essays, too,
For long in serials tempest-tost,
Are landed now, and are not lost :
Nay, on your shelf secure they lie,
As in the amber sleeps the fly.
‘Tis true, they are not ” rich nor rare ; ”
Enough, for me, that they are there !

From Books and Bookmen by Andrew Lang, first published in 1886.

Lovely scans of the physical book’s life too, within the UCLA Library. Little marginalia scrawls and stamps and treasures.

Books & Bookmen Books & Bookmen Books & Bookmen