Penniless but Blissful and Literate.

I’d been after a very elusive tome for the better part of a decade, a work that fits nicely within my collection of Jacobite scholarship and primary source material.
Culloden Papers is the collected correspondence of Duncan George Forbes, Lord President of the Court of Session. The collation was published in 1815, but most of the letters within are from the mid-18th century. Forbes was, among other things, a British patriot who poured his emotion and money into attempting to keep the Union together through the turbulent years of the Jacobite Risings. Ironically, the final battle of the final rebellion was fought on his land in Inverness-shire. It is, of course, a goldmine of information for the aspiring scholar, full of Forbes’ enthusiasm, influence, and abject horror as the nation around him became embroiled in open conflict. He is effectively the Scottish version of Lincoln and Franklin combined, perhaps with less historical celebration due to his central part in putting down the stirrings of revolution. Forbes should be regarded as the ultimate nationalist, but his actions then are derided now as preventing nationalism from taking hold. But we know that in the modern sense, that word is loaded.

It just so happens that some strange, unholy blending of luck and providence conspired to provide such a treasure, and by way of eBay, no less. Up until this point, I’d seen two copies in my life: one battered and broken and terribly overpriced in Florida; and a rebound copy that I’d once worked with at the National Library of Scotland. I wasted no time in taking every measure to secure the book, and it arrived very recently to much jumping up and down and whooping like a fool. But I have that bedamn’d thing, now, and it’s a lovely work, indeed. Its boards are perfect, bound in thick leather. It smells like dusty shelf. The previous owner kept it in good condition, and now I’m looking at archival safes to properly store the lovely collection.

A day after receiving Culloden Papers, I found that the New York Public Library had digitized the entire thing and put it up on Google Books. It is now in searchable form and anyone may have access to it. WorldCat shows 66 copies worldwide, one of which is resting a floor beneath cygnoir at SFPL. I know of one or two others that aren’t yet cataloged there. LibraryThing shows one other holding, the personal collection of Walter Scott. Yet whomever entered the metadata did a crap job and garbled the information. Nothing I do seems to be able to fix it. And this is one more reason we shouldn’t look to Scott to provide us any inkling of relevant historical information.

But I’m obsessing here, as well as digressing. I’m in love with my new book, the hunting of which could be seen as an allegory for my search for inner completeness. Other copies I’d seen were ratty, this one shines. The pages are weathered but still strong. It fills a hole in an otherwise hearty collection. Okay, perhaps not. It’s just a book, and my lack of wholeness is contingent on my faith and reliance on material things. I’m okay with that after such a long search. And when I’m gone, off it will go…hopefully into the hands of a passionate, emergent scholar who will regard it as I do.

 

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18 Responses to “Penniless but Blissful and Literate.”

  1. elessa Says:
    April 8th, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    congrats!
    i know the feeling when obtaining such tomes. when i acquired my copy of edmund spenser, the faerie queen, 1679 recently, i was simply in another place of happiness to finally have such a book.
    i think it is hard for some people to understand the emotions of book collectors when we find a treasure like you have.

  2. FunkyPlaid Says:
    April 15th, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    Sounds like your find is a doozy, too. You going to show us some sexy, candid shots of it?

  3. aitkendrum Says:
    April 8th, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    An excellent find and glad it's brought such a smile!

  4. fairyarmadillo Says:
    April 8th, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    I'm so glad you got your book. This entry was so cute and passionate, it made me smile.

  5. podle Says:
    April 8th, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    O my goodness its beautiful. I'm happy for you!

  6. scotis_man Says:
    April 8th, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Wow! and Yay!

  7. catness Says:
    April 8th, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    Amazing! Congratulations.

  8. vegasjohnny Says:
    April 8th, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    That is some excellent book-porn. Congratulations.

  9. FunkyPlaid Says:
    April 15th, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    Wanna touch it?

  10. hermiston Says:
    April 9th, 2008 at 1:14 am

    Congratulations go to the lucky (and handsome) book, for finding the perfect home!
    Seems to me that your patience and tenacity has, once more, secured you the nicest possible volume. That, perhaps, is why you feel fulfilled.

  11. seide Says:
    April 9th, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    Oh, lovely!
    While I don't allow myself to become a book collector, mainly because a) I'm terrified it would become a bankrupting obsession, and b) there is no way to properly store such treasures appropriately in my humid, dusty New Orleans shotgun, I absolutely feel a vicarious thrill at your successful acquisition! Thank you for sharing it, and congratulations!

  12. FunkyPlaid Says:
    April 15th, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    I can see that, by your last post, you are a serious bookwhore. I am sincerely impressed at your inventiveness and industry when considering a new configuration for your shelves. Now it's time to log 'em all at <a href="http://www.librarything.com!” target=”_blank”>www.librarything.com!

  13. seide Says:
    April 15th, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    Oh yes, bookwhore is definitely the name for it!
    This is me: http://www.librarything.com/catalog/seide
    Are you on?

  14. FunkyPlaid Says:
    April 15th, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Totally. Just added you. 🙂

  15. angledge Says:
    April 9th, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    Everyone *else* can be excited about the book.
    And that's your study! With the blue walls! It needs me to be sitting on the floor, trying to get Torgi to play with some of his toys.

  16. FunkyPlaid Says:
    April 15th, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Re: Everyone *else* can be excited about the book.
    There's an Ang-shaped buttock print on the carpet, right next to a messy clotting of carpet fibers from Torgi's unkempt talons. I think of you often while there. 🙂

  17. Anonymous Says:
    April 9th, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    Oooh, very nifty! Congratulations!! (Let's hear it for marbled covers — do you know how long it is since I've seen those?!)
    I can relate, because I just (finally) found a childhood favorite at an affordable price at Abebooks, and the vendor takes checks!
    In my family, we used to say jokingly of any treat or windfall, "Now don't spend it all in one place/eat it all at once." So I feel an impulse to say "Don't stay up all night reading it." But why not?? 🙂
    I'm very happy for you!
    –Kirsty

  18. theyak Says:
    April 10th, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    Congrats
    Congrats on your book acquisition!
    I know the feeling. I've been trying to hunt down a book now for almost 15 years… One day it shall be mine. I'm happy for you that you were able to get a good copy.

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