[Holbrook Jackson archive] Aphorisms in Manuscript

Holbrook Jackson, bibliophile and author
Publication details: 
SKU: 18984

351 aphorisms by the journalist, writer, publisher and bibliophile George Holbrook Jackson (1874-1948), unpublished and all written out in autograph, on 13 x 20 cm slips made from the halving of 4to leaves from autograph and typewritten drafts of essays and correspondence.In very good condition, on lightly-aged paper. The 351 slips are arranged in 26 groups, all but one accompanied by an autograph title by Jackson on a separate slip, the subjects being: [Art]; Democracy; Fashion; Freedom; Friendship; Happiness; Homo Sapiens; Intellect, Reason and Instinct; Intoxication; Life; Love, Marriage, &c; Money, Economics, &c; Morality; Music; Originality; Precepts and Advice; Revolution; Sense of Humour; Socialism; Statecraft; Success; Theological, Religion; War and Peace.Born in Liverpool, Jackson moved to Leeds, where he met the journalist A. R. Orage, who introduced him to the works of Nietzsche. As will be apparent from the examples quoted below, Nietzsche’s influence is apparent here, as is that of Oscar Wilde, but Jackson’s own aphorisms have a style and power of their own.In the majority of cases the two halves of the items used to make the slips can be matched up. These include many leaves of manuscripts and typescripts by Jackson himself, including a corrected autograph essay on ‘the contemporary stage’ and part of a piece titled ‘The Utility of Art’, also typescript of ‘The Pleasures of Reading | By Holbrook Jackson’. Also a typed slip by Jackson of ‘Additional Copy to fill the 3 Lines deleted on page 270’ in his ‘Anatomy of Bibliomania’. And a typed 12mo announcement reading: ‘8th April, 1946 | Typophily: an essay, by Holbrook Jackson. Originally printed as the Introduction to "A Catalogue for Typophiles" issued by Messrs. Dulau & Co. Ltd., Booksellers, formerly of Old Bond Street, London, W.1. 1944-5. | (One of the 50 copies printed.) | Holbrook Jackson, Esq.’Also present are a large number of items relating to the publishing industry, including:– Copies of three letters from Jackson to Cedric Chivers of Bath, two from 1914 (‘I am enclosing herewith the "Andersons Fairy Tales" complete, and I have the Charles Lamb ready with the exception of the original matter.’) and one from 1915; and four complete Typed Letters Signed from Chivers to Christie, written in 1913 and 1914.– Three complete Typed Notes Signed from Grant Richards, 1922, 1925 (‘My memories of yesterday evening are very pleasant, and I was glad to see you with so many friends and admirers around you. It is rare that any man gets appreciation these days.’) and 1927. With an Autograph Letter Signed and Two typed Letter Signed to Jackson from George H. Wiggins of Grant Richards Ltd, 1914 and 1933; with copy of letter from Jackson to Wiggins, 1933, regarding his usual charge for republication of his essays– An Autograph Letter Signed from Desmond Flower of Cassell & Company Ltd, 2 March 1948 (‘Dear Holbrook, | Thank you so much for the charming plaquette on Percy Smith. I am very glad to have it. Amongst other things it is a reminder of happier and more spacious times – though in those days we found them constricting enough.’)– A Typed Letter Signed from Cathleen Schurr, Production Department, Penguin Books Limited, 1939Circular from the Sheppard Press, London– Typed Letters Signed from the City Librarians of Liverpool and Manchester, each acknowledging a gift from Jackson of his opening speech at the exhibition of the typography of Percy Smith (First Editions Club, 1935)– Letters from: Jonathan Cape Ltd (sending royalties for his contribution to the book ‘The Eighteen Nineties’, 1931); The National Book League, London; The George Macy Companies, New York (regarding the ‘handsome copy of "Lear" which you so thoughtfully sent me’); W. H. Bean & Co, Leeds booksellers; Faber and Faber, London; The Dolphin, New York; the National Trade Press LtdAmong the other material employed by Jackson is incoming correspondence from: The Automobile Association; J. Bannehr & Son, solicitors, Stansted; Bradford Dyers’ Association Limited; Brighton Art Gallery (regarding an Aubrey Beardsley exhibition); Gaiety Theatre; "Hale" Garage, Mill Hill; Hendon Electric Supply Co Ltd; Highwood Nurseries; Lloyds Bank Ltd; London County Council; London Telephone Service; National Motor Volunteers; Northern Assurance Co Ltd; J. T. Roberts, joiners, Mill Hill; Victoria Leather Works, Leicester; Waring & Gillow Ltd.The following selection will give an impression of Jackson’s handling of the aphoristic genre:[Art]27 slips. ‘A renaissance is an epidemic of theft.’ ‘To impose beauty on art is to throw a spanner into the aesthetic machinery.’ ‘Life is the supreme work of art – music, pictures, poems, & such things are equipment.’ ‘Immortality in a work of art may be a nuisance.’ ‘Great art anticipates life.’ ‘Help an artist & he may forget, but not forgive.’ ‘In degenerate ages the arts are passtimes. [sic]’‘Civilization’8 slips. ‘The discovery & adoption of contraceptives is having an effect upon the relation of the sexes comparable with the effect of the eternal [sic] combustion engine (? mechanics) upon communications. The two together are giving us a new Civilization.’ ‘Our civilization is machine made. The past was hand-made not because it wanted to be but because there was no alternative. When it got the chance of being mechanical it took it.’ ‘When a civilization runs to seed it is scrapped by nature & ploughed back into the earth.’‘Critics & Criticism’12 slips. ‘Only a genius or a businessman can afford to ignore books - & then not always.’ ‘To reject a writer because he is either bad or mad is like going hungry rather than eat of [sic] a cracked plate.’ ‘The sum total of critical opinion is nil. Critics cancel out.’ ‘Fiction is truer than history.’ ‘It is more important that we should be acquainted with Mr. Pickwick & Sir John Falstaff, with Parson Adams & Uncle Toby, than with our next-dorr neighbours.’‘Definitions’29 slips. ‘Psychotherapy: Bluff with a bedside manner.’ ‘Inhibitions: memories that wont get out of your way.’ ‘Nihilism: much ado about nothing.’ ‘Intuition: reason in a hurry.’ ‘Repetition is the mother of creation.’ ‘Variety is mistrust of oneself.’ ‘Obedience is the prerogative of the incompetant. [sic]’ ‘Definitions put a limit to ideas: institutions put a limit to life. So long as we recognise these two precepts, definitions & institutions may be useful.’ ‘Popularity breeds contempt.’ ‘Good taste has no rules & it is often found in those who please themselves, & those who please themselves are not to be despised for they infect others with their pleasure & attract them to its causes. This may be dangerous for tastes differ – but there is no better way.’ ‘Expression rarely equals the experience which prompts it.’ ‘When a man objects "on principle" you may be sure that he is incapable of framing reasons for his objection, or ashamed of giving the real ones.’ ‘Fear of corrupting the mind of the younger generation is a lofty form of cowardice.’ ‘Fear of vulgarity is vulgar.’ ‘When philosophy becomes popular it is time to suspect it.’ ‘The most dangerous of all lies are those you tell yourself.’ ‘There is no such thing as an entirely original thought. A thought which has no pedigree has little chance of posterity.’‘Democracy’7 slips. ‘Democracies become dictatorships in self defense.’ ‘Democracy varies in each democratic country: in Britain it takes the form of government by nagging.’ ‘Whitman was the first & last democrat, as Jesus was the first & last Christian.’‘Fashion’14 slips. ‘All dress that is not protective is histrionic.’ ‘Fashion is powerful because it promises a uniformity which cannot be maintained.’ ‘Fashion is the popularisation of novelty – but as soon as a novelty becomes popular it ceases to be fashionable.’ ‘Exploit a fashion dont let it exploit you.’ ‘A great many women must be ashamed of themselves: which may explain why they insist so often on looking like someone else – generally above – them in class or style.’ ‘Fashion is a friend of women who have little taste – and sometimes their enemy.’ ‘The existence of dandies suggests that clothes are not a masculine pre-occupation.’‘Freedom’20 slips. ‘Freedom is familiarity.’ ‘Civilization is a series of more or less tolerable servilities.’ ‘Freedom makes wars possible & acceptable.’ ‘Politicians find the idea of freedom a useful anaesthetic in the art of persuasion.’ ‘Few people want freedom & when those who do get what they want dont know what to do with it.’ ‘The essence of free verse is that it is not free.’ ‘In the last resort freedom is not doing what you like as liking what you do.’‘Friendship’1 slip‘Happiness’6 slips. ‘Happiness is a kind of courage.’ ‘Those who are careless of happiness are happy.’ ‘Once you are conscious of real joy death for you is dead. None only who have known joy have lived. Joy is the nihilism of consciousness.’‘Homo Sapiens’13 slips. ‘Man is dog’s ideal of God.’ ‘Nine tenths of the worry done by man is done on principle.’ ‘The world does not matter to anyone but man which in the last resort is you.’ ‘Human beings repent of their monstrous acts by calling them inhuman: that is blaming them on someone else.’ ‘Man is the only animal that can be a fool. In this there may be hope. Folly may be the loophole of retreat.’ ‘Man is a pervert: his aim is to sidetrack nature & to transcend life.’‘Intellect Reason & Instinct’21 slips. ‘Instinct & intellect are like two naughty children each insisting upon having its own way.’ ‘No thought is a thing in itself but a hint of something else.’ ‘Thought & imagination together are the masters of destiny: apart they are always its slaves.’ ‘Reason is the dotage of instinct.’ ‘Reason annihilates.’ ‘Pedants are the peddlers of intellect.’ ‘The academic person is an intellectual sycophant.’ ‘Academics sometimes honour genius: they cannot cultivate or protect it.’‘Intoxication’3 slips. ‘It is lésé [sic] Dionysos to drink wine for the purpose of quenching thirst.’ ‘To drink to forget is to abuse drink.’‘Life’11 slips. ‘Thought was: life is.’ ‘The past belongs to us, but we belong to the present.’ ‘Life is great when it is tragic; but Tragedy is born of joy, not sorrow.’ ‘Life is what we are.’‘Love – marriage etc’14 slips. ‘Woman is not undeveloped man – but man is.’ ‘The most hopeful sign of the present age is the decline of the birthrate.’ ‘Women cannot be impersonal: that is why they are irresistible – and detestable.’ ‘When we love we are most like animals: when we love we are at our best.’ ‘The Tragedy of Sex: that fact that desire in a man may live longer than desirability in a woman.’‘Money, Economics etc.’26 slips. ‘The Middle Class: Mob + Money.’ ‘Few of us are to be trusted with guns or money.’ ‘Charity corrupts both giver & receiver.’ ‘Enough is too much: but too little is not enough.’ ‘The poor are the only consistant [sic] philanthropists: they sell all that they have & give to the rich.’ ‘Scarcity in the midst of plenty is a financial necessity.’ ‘In a properly organised society the thrifty person would be an outcast.’ ‘Modern commerce: the confidence trick glorified.’ ‘The poor can abolish poverty when they have had enough of it.’ ‘The poor are compelled to tighten their belts so that the rich can let theirs out.’ ‘Machines are gods which destroy their worshippers.’ ‘It may yet be necessary to abolish poverty in the interest of machines.’‘Morality’4 slips. ‘Morality is the child of the self-conscious.’ ‘Expedients are substitutes for morals.’‘Music’4 slips. ‘Music is fluid sentiment – to live for it is slow death. Most musicians are desperate, must music-lovers, absurd.’‘Originality’1 slip. ‘Originality is anticipation of yourself by yourself.’‘Precepts & Advice’56 slips. ‘All ideas aspire to the condition of platitude.’ ‘No one is old enough to know better.’ ‘Suffer fools gladly: they may be right.’ ‘Be sure your kindness is not cowardice.’ ‘If no one opposes you you are cutting no ice.’ ‘Only the insane are quite sure of their sanity.’ ‘Health demands effort. Overcoming is the game of health.’ ‘Beware of the man who becomes too important to be contradicted.’ ‘Better the good for nothing than just good.’ ‘A forward movement is a throwback to the primitive.’ ‘Contempt for inferiors is a sign of inferiority.’ ‘As soon as an idea is accepted it is time to reject it.’ ‘All things are possible: but not necessarily probable.’ ‘Things done on principle are things done wrong.’ ‘Among crooks the honest man is suspect.’ ‘Every custom was once an eccentricity: every idea was once absurd.’ ‘Excess is wrong when it negatives itself.’ ‘There is no tomorrow for those who are alive: for the dead, no today.’‘Revolution’8 slips. ‘Revolution is evolution foreshortened.’ ‘Insurrections are revolutions at exploding point: they are caused by incompetent statesmanship.’ ‘We are all revolutionists when we are young: when we are young we are wise.’ ‘The great revolution of the future will be Nature’s revolt against man – perhaps it has already begun.’‘The Sense of Humour’6 slips. ‘The easiest way to earn a reputation as a humourist in England is to tell the truth.’ ‘The loss of the sense of humour is one of the punishments of success.’ ‘Humour is forgiving: it helps you to forgive everyone even yourself.’ ‘Those who insist on a sense of humour lack it.’‘Socialism’11 slips. ‘Socialism is the only thing that will save us from collectivism: except commercialism.’ ‘Collectivism is inherent in capitalism.’ ‘The trend of competition is towards monopoly.’ ‘Communism is the Nirvana of the masses.’ ‘One of the most convincing arguments against Capitalism is that it can make wars but cannot win them without the help of Socialism’ ‘Totalitarianism is solidarity enchained.’‘Statecraft’20 slips. ‘He who can lead will lead.’ ‘The first of rights is the right to enjoy.’ ‘Liberalism: compromised Anarchism.’ ‘Only the rich preach content to the poor.’‘Success’3 slips. ‘Success is generally fortuitous’ ‘Success it the word demanded by the inferior.’‘Theological | Religion’21 slips. ‘Martyrdom should begin at home.’ ‘Sacrifice is a form of bargaining.’ ‘The theologian is the apologist of death.’ ‘God is love. God is also life, or anything we desire passionately. God is the great illusion.’ ‘If Jehovah existed it would be necessary to abolish him.’ ‘The Jews gave the world Christianity & the world has never forgiven them.’ ‘The desire for immortality is the human tragedy. The desire to be loved for oneself the human comedy.’ ‘God is propitiated, intimidated, cajoled, bluffed, threatened – rarely humoured, coaxed, wheedled, teazed. [sic] You might believe he was hated, feared, & suspected, but not loved.’ ‘Desire to please God is never disinterested.’‘War & Peace’5 slips. ‘War is organized fear.’ ‘On the declaration of peace war is transferred from the international to the national field.’ ‘In modern wars you invariably get what you fight against.’