Sunday, July 17, 2016

Quote for the day: Charlotte Mason on collections and stuff

“These will be nice on the road,” she said. “We are going just where you are going — to Girgenti. I must tell you all about it. you know that my husband is making a collection of match-boxes. We bought thirteen hundred match-boxes at Marseilles. But we heard there was a factory of them at Girgenti. According to what we were told, it is a very small factory, and its products — which are very ugly — never go outside the city and its suburbs. So we are going to Girgenti just to buy match-boxes. Dimitri has been a collector of all sorts of things; but the only kind of collection which can now interest him is a collection of match-boxes. He has already got five thousand two hundred and fourteen different kinds. Some of them gave us frightful trouble to find. For instance, we knew that at Naples boxes were once made with the portraits of Mazzini and Garibaldi on them; and that the police had seized the plates from which the portraits were printed, and put the manufacturer in gaol. Well, by dint of searching and inquiring for ever so long a while, we found one of those boxes at last for sale at one hundred francs, instead of two sous. It was not really too dear at that price; but we were denounced for buying it. We were taken for conspirators. All our baggage was searched; they could not find the box, because I had hidden it so well; but they found my jewels, and carried them off. They have them still. The incident made quite a sensation, and we were going to get arrested. But the king was displeased about it, and he ordered them to leave us alone. Up to that time, I used to think it was very stupid to collect match-boxes; but when I found that there were risks of losing liberty, and perhaps even life, by doing it, I began to feel a taste for it. Now I am an absolute fanatic on the subject. We are going to Sweden next summer to complete our series. . . . Are we not, Dimitri?” ~~ Anatole France, The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard
"[Anatole France] is laughing at the craze people have for collections of any sort, worthy  or unworthy; and this craze comes of the natural Desire of possessions implanted in Mansoul. But it rests with us that our possessions shall be worthy. Let us begin soon to collect a good library of books that we shall always value, of photographs of the works of the great masters; even of postage stamps, if we take the trouble to interest ourselves in the stamps...No collection which has not an interest for the mind is worth possessing. Take this rule, and when you grow up you will not think that silver plate, for instance, is worth owning for its own sake, but for its antiquity, its associations, or for the beauty of its designs." ~~ Charlotte Mason, Ourselves


Jeanne said...

My parents used to collect matchboxes. I wonder where they all went.

Mama Squirrel said...

But hopefully not five thousand two hundred and fourteen different kinds?

Jennifer Larnder Gagnon said...

"possessions that shall be worthy" A good reminder. It is not always about being a minimalist but worthy, beauty, memorable.

Mama Squirrel said...

You can have worthy or unworthy "mental collections," too. I can (unfortunately) sing the words of a very large number of 1970's TV commercials, and recall an equally large number of horrid playground rhymes that pop up in my head at strange times. Add in some cheesy Canadian radio music from the same period, and you might get an idea of my lifetime Excedrin-headache-sized earworms.

But I have tried to squeeze them out by persistent exposure to better things.