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The Anecdotage of Glasgow
The millionaire ironmaster on literature and binding

A STORY is told of a West of Scotland M.P. and millionaire, whose literary education had been neglected, and whose stock of scientific knowledge was altogether of a practical character, whom it would be invidious to name, but whose name, nevertheless, will be pretty well known in connection with the following incident to most readers belonging to Glasgow or the West of Scotland. It had dawned upon him, or had been suggested to him, that a library would be a right and proper thing for him to have to complete the outfit of his mansion, and, as it may be supposed, rather for show than use.

Be that as it may, a substantial and somewhat wholesale order is said to have been given to the Glasgow bookseller favoured with his patronage, in a way which showed that however great and profitable his knowledge of pig-iron might be, his knowledge of poetry and polite literature generally was all but nil. He is stated to have entered and said:

"I want a lot o’ potry: there’s a chap ca’ed Tennyson, and anither ca’ed Longfelly—gi’e me plenty o’ them! I’ll tak’ sax dizzen o’ them, and ony ithers like them. Ye’ll ken best yoursel’ what to pit in!" History, fiction, etc., having been similarly dealt with, the bookseller inquired, with reference to the binding, whether he would like the volumes bound in russia or morocco?"

"To blazes wi’ Rooshie and Morokay baith! I want them bund in Gleskae, and as weel as ye are able to dae them !"

It is needless to add that the order was gladly and promptly attended to, and that the volumes would in due time be displayed like articles of furniture, similar to those in the library of a titled dunce, whom the inspired excise-man, Robert Burns, called for, and in a volume of whose handsome and elegantly bound Shakespeare he left the following lines :—

"Through and through the inspired leaves
Ye maggots, mak’ your windings;
But, oh! respect his lordship’s taste,
And spare the golden bindings!"


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