Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Southey quote for the day: Daniel's Books

From The Doctor, &c., by Robert Southey
Happily for Daniel, he lived before the age of Magazines, Reviews, Cyclopedias, Elegant Extracts and Literary Newspapers, so that he gathered the fruit of knowledge for himself, instead of receiving it from the dirty fingers of a retail vender [sic]. His books were few in number, but they were all weighty either in matter or in size. They consisted of the Morte d'Arthur in the fine black-letter edition of Copeland ; Plutarch's Morals and Pliny's Natural History, two goodly folios, full as an egg of meat... Ripley Revived by Eirenaeus Philalethes, an Englishman styling himself 'Citizen of the World'... the Pilgrim's Progress; two volumes of Ozell's translation of Rabelais; Latimer's Sermons ; and the last volume of Foxe's Martyrs, which latter book had been brought him by his wife. The Pilgrim's Progress was a godmother's present to his son : the odd volumes of Rabelais he had picked up at Kendal, at a sale, in a lot with Ripley Revived and Plutarch's Morals:  the others he had inherited.

Daniel had looked into all these books, read most of them, and believed all that he read, except Rabelais, which he could not tell what to make of. He was not, however, one of those persons who complacently suppose every thing to be nonsense, which they do not perfectly comprehend, or flatter themselves that they do. His simple heart judged of books by what they ought to be, little knowing what they are....The Morte d' Arthur therefore he received for authentic history, just as he did the painful chronicle of honest John Stowe, and the Barnesian labours of Joshua the self-satisfied : there was nothing in it indeed which stirred his English blood like the battles of Cressy and Poictiers and Najara; yet on the whole he preferred it to Barnes's story, believed in Sir Tor, Sir Tristram, Sir Lancelot and Sir Lamorack as entirely as in Sir John Chandos, the Captal de Buche and the Black Prince, and liked them better. 

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