The Courtship of Morrice Buckler

Overview

It chanced that as I was shifting the volumes in my library this morning, more from sheer fatigue of idleness than with any set intention--for, alas! this long time since I have lost the savour of books--a little Elzevir copy of Horace fell from the back of a shelf between my hands. It lay in my palm, soiled and faded with the dust of twenty years; and as I swept clean its cover and the edges of the leaves, the look and feel of it unlocked my mind to such an inrush of glistening memories that I seemed to be ...
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The Courtship of Morrice Buckler

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Overview

It chanced that as I was shifting the volumes in my library this morning, more from sheer fatigue of idleness than with any set intention--for, alas! this long time since I have lost the savour of books--a little Elzevir copy of Horace fell from the back of a shelf between my hands. It lay in my palm, soiled and faded with the dust of twenty years; and as I swept clean its cover and the edges of the leaves, the look and feel of it unlocked my mind to such an inrush of glistening memories that I seemed to be sweeping those years and the overlay of their experience from off my consciousness. I lived again in that brief but eventful period which laid upon the unaccustomed shoulders of a bookish student a heavy burden of deeds, but gave him in compensation wherewith to reckon the burden light.
The book fell open of its own accord at the Palinodia at Tyndaridem. On the stained and fingered leaf facing the ode I could still decipher the plan of Lukstein Castle, and as I gazed, that blurred outline filled until it became a picture. I looked into the book as into a magician's crystal. The great angle of the building, the level row of windows, the red roofs of the turrets, the terrace, and the little pinewood pavilion, all were clearly limned before my eyes, and were overswept by changing waves of colour. I saw the Castle as on the first occasion of my coming, hung disconsolately on a hillside in a far-away corner of the Tyrol, a black stain upon a sloping wilderness of snow; I saw it again under a waning moon in the stern silence of a frosty night, as each window grew angry with a tossing glare of links; but chiefly I saw it as when I rode thither on my last memorable visit, sleeping peacefully above the cornfields in the droning sabbath of a summer afternoon. I turned my eyes to the ode. The score of my pencil was visible against the last verse:
Nunc ego mitibus
Mutare quæro tristia dum mihi
Fias recantatis amica
Opprobriis animumque reddas.
On the margin beside the first line was the date, Sept. 14, 1685, and beneath the verse yet another date, Sept. 12, 1687. And as I looked, it came upon me that I would set down with what clearness I might the record of those two years, in the hope that my memories might warm and cheer these later days of loneliness, much as the afterglow lingers purple on yonder summit rocks when the sun has already sunk behind the Cumberland fells. For indeed that short interspace of time shines out in my remembrance like a thick thread of gold in a woof of homespun. I would not, however, be understood to therefore deprecate the quiet years of happiness which followed. The two years of which I speak in their actual passage occasioned me more anxiety and suffering than happiness. But they have a history of their own. They mark out a portion of my life whereof the two dates in my Horace were the beginning and the end, and the verse between the dates, strangely enough, its best epitome.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781499612585
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
  • Publication date: 5/20/2014
  • Pages: 118
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.25 (d)

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