London: MacMillan & Co., Limited, 1925. Item #04464
"Any book is a good book if you get good out of it"
'The Choice of Books' Handsomely Bound by W. Root & Son
ROOT & SON, binders. HARRISON, Frederick. The Choice of Books and other Literary Pieces. London: MacMillan & Co., Limited, 1925.
Octavo (7 1/4 x 4 5/8 inches; 184 x 118 mm.). xii, 447, [1, blank], [4, advertisements] pp. Early neat ink inscription on front blank dated 1932, some neat marginal pencil annotations throughout, otherwise fine.
Bound by Root & Son ca. 1932 in elaborate paneled full brown speckled calf. Covers with double gilt rules surrounding a wide panel of decoratively tooled orange calf, decoratively bordered in gilt, spine with five raised bands elaborately tooled in compartments, two green morocco gilt lettered labels, gilt board edges, decorative gilt turn-ins, marbled end-papers, all edges gilt. A fine example housed in the original red cloth slip-case.
The London bindery of W. Root & Son consistently turned-out excellent work, both on fine bindings as here, and on trade bindings and sets. Packer lists the firm in business in Red Lion Square in 1899-1901, and the December 1942 issue of The Rotarian notes with regret that W. Root had been bombed out (uprooted?) of their premises on Paternaster Row during the 1941 Blitz.
The Choice of Books, and other Literary Pieces, by Frederic Harrison (1831-1923) was first published in 1886. The title essay of this volume is a discourse on Reading, its benefits and its perils. In the first section, ‘How to Read,’ an eloquent plea is made for the right of rejection; for the avoidance of books that one “comes across,” and even of the habit of one-sided reading. The essayist pleads that the choice of books “is really a choice of education, of a moral and intellectual ideal, of the whole duty of man.” He warns readers that pleasure in the reading of great books is a faculty to be acquired, not a natural gift,—at least not to those who are spoiled by our current education and habits of life. And he offers as a touchstone of taste and energy of mind, the names of certain immortal books, which if one have no stomach for, he should fall on his knees and pray for a cleaner and quieter spirit. The second division is given to the ‘Poets of the Old World,’ the third to the ‘Poets of the Modern World,’ and the last to the ‘Misuse of Books.’ The essay is full of instruction and of warning, most agreeably offered; and the penitent reader concludes with the writer, that the art of printing has not been a gift wholly unmixed with evil, and may easily be made a clog on the progress of the human mind. An extract is given in the LIBRARY, under Mr. Harrison’s name; and the other side of the shield is shown in Mr. Arthur J. Balfour’s answer, also given under his name. Fourteen other essays, partly critical, partly historical, partly æsthetic, fill the volume; the ablest and one of the most delightful among them being perhaps the famous paper, ‘A Few Words about the Eighteenth Century.’.