Several years ago, while grubbing in an antiquarian bookseller's basement, I came across a slim little volume in half morocco, lettered up the back Les Mutines Royales1863. The title conveyed nothing to me then, but the shabby elegance of the binding prompted me to pull it from the shelf, and for once my zeal was rewarded. First of all there was, within the front board, the bookplate of James Maidment, a notable Scottish bookman, the friend of Scott, and the father of a long series of curious little reprints and literary oddities. On the flyleaf was a note in his handwriting regarding the book while before the titlepage there was exposed to my delighted gaze a collection of autograph letters from the publisher, Frederic Norgate, dating from the years 1865 and 1866. The titlepage itself read, Les Matines Royales, ou L'Art de Regner. Opuscule Indit de Frederic II. Dit Le Grand, Roi de Prusse. The publishers were Williams and Norgate, of Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, and the volume saw the light, as I'd already gathered, in 1863. On all counts, I decided, this was a volume worth having, I carried it upstairs to the comparatively pure air of the outer shop, feigned indifference as to my interest in it, and nailed it for, as far as I can recall, just half a crown. I hurried home, to gloat, perchance to read. The letters I transcribed without delay the book itself I glanced through hastily, reserving it for future leisure. Before that came, sad to say, I was in the Army, and it is only within the past few weeks that my thoughts have kept turning to the dicta of the Prussian, a train of thought set in motion, no doubt, by a reading of Froude's Carlyle.
Library Review – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 1, 1943
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