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0105_001E The Haunted Bookshop Christopher Morley

Again the Narrative is Retarded

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These thoughts turned his mind toward his brother-in-law Andrew McGill, the author of several engaging books on the joys of country living, who dwells at the Sabine Farm in the green elbow of a Connecticut valley. The original Parnassus, a quaint old blue wagon in which Roger had lived and journeyed and sold books over several thousand miles of country roads in the days before his marriage, was now housed in Andrew's barn. Peg, his fat white horse, had lodging there also. It occurred to Roger that he owed Andrew a letter, and putting aside his notes for the bookseller's collegiate oration, he began to write:

163 Gissing Street, Brooklyn,
November 30, 1918.


It is scandalous not to have thanked you sooner for the annual cask of cider, which has given us even more than the customary pleasure. This has been an autumn when I have been hard put to it to keep up with my own thoughts, and I've written no letters at all. Like everyone else I am thinking constantly of this new peace that has marvellously come upon us. I trust we may have statesmen who will be able to turn it to the benefit of humanity. I wish there could be an international peace conference of booksellers, for (you will smile at this) my own conviction is that the future happiness of the world depends in no small measure on them and on the librarians. I wonder what a German bookseller is like?

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I've been reading The Education of Henry Adams and wish he might have lived long enough to give us his thoughts on the War. I fear it would have bowled him over. He thought that this is not a world "that sensitive and timid natures can regard without a shudder." What would he have said of the four-year shambles we have watched with sickened hearts?

You remember my favourite poem--old George Herbert's Church Porch-- where he says--

By all means use sometimes to be alone;
Salute thyself; see what thy soul doth wear;
Dare to look in thy chest, for 'tis thine own,
And tumble up and down what thou find'st there--

Well, I've been tumbling my thoughts up and down a good deal. Melancholy, I suppose, is the curse of the thinking classes; but I confess my soul wears a great uneasiness these days! The sudden and amazing turnover in human affairs, dramatic beyond anything in history, already seems to be taken as a matter of course. My great fear is that humanity will forget the atrocious sufferings of the war, which have never been told. I am hoping and praying that men like Philip Gibbs may tell us what they really saw.

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The Haunted Bookshop
Christopher Morley

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