December 1st, 2006

Party Guy

Happy Birthday, gusto_gummi!

For your present, here's today's Forgotten English!

Keeper of a library.
--Elisha Coles's English Dictionary, 1713

Words, Words, Words
On this date in 1834, a public auction that took up more than 200 working days over the course of two years began at Sotheby's in London to sell about a half million books from the estate of English bibliomaniac Richard Heber. His family fortune had enabled him, after stockpiling enormous numbers of English books, to buy up many volumes in French, Greek, Italian, Latin, and even Portguese -- languages he could not read. He devoted most of his waking hours not to reading but to the passionate acquisition of private libraries in London, Oxford, Paris, Antwerp, Brussels, and Ghent. But surprisingly, Heber's will did not mention his collection. As Henry Peacham observed in The Compleat Gentleman (1622), "To desire to have many books, and never use them, is like the child that will have a candle burning by him all the while he is sleeping."

Hey, there are worse fetishes!

-The Gneech
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