Serendipity is one of my favorite words. This week, I had someone ask me a question, which led to my looking for the copyright date on an old book on my shelves-- and for the first time reading the dedication in the front.
This book, Janice Meredith, a Story of the Revolution by Paul Leicester Ford, was published in 1899. Its binding is sadly deteriorating with age. I've had it since I was a girl where I twice wrote, in a childish hand, my address (box and route number) and phone number (four digits). As a collector of old books, I have more than a few, but this one has been kept in a special spot as one not only of its age but also mine.
Styles of writing have long changed, but what the writer beautifully wrote in the beginning as a dedication, seemed just as apropos for writers today.
"To George W. Vanderbilt
"Into the warp and woof of every book an author weaves much that even the subtlest readers cannot suspect, far less discern. To them it is but a cross and pile of threads interlaced to form a pattern which may please or displease their taste. But to the writer every filament has its own association: How each bit of silk or wool, flax or tow, was laboriously gathered or was blown to him; when each was spun by the wheel of his fancy into yarns; the colour and tint his imagination gave to each skein; and where each was finally woven into the fabric by the shuttle of his pen. No thread ever quite detaches itself from its growth and spinning, dyeing and weaving, and each draws him back to hours and places seemingly unrelated to his work.
"And so as I have read the proofs of this book I have found more than once that the pages have faded out of sight and in their stead I have seen Mount Pisgah and the French Broad River, or the ramp and terrace of Biltmore House, just as I saw them when writing the words which served to recall them to me. With the visions, too, has come a recurrence to our long talks, our work among the books, our games of chess, our cups of tea, our walks, our rides, and our drives. It is therefore a pleasure to me that the book so naturally gravitates to you, and that I may make it a remembrance of those past weeks of companionship, and an earnest of the present affection of PAUL LEICESTER FORD."
For those interested in more about these two men: George W. Vanderbilt and Paul Leicester Ford. (At 37, author Ford was murdered by his brother and for those interested in the feel of that period, do a Google search for a pdf scan of a newspaper article regarding the murder, told in a way we don't see today). The stories of these two men, one an author, one an encourager of authors, were from a very different time-- much like this book.