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by [?]

Then possibly you say I had better not waste good paper and ink by recording the information, since collectors know already, and those who are without the pale have neither eyes to see nor hearts to incline. But the simple fact is, the proposition that you comprehend on first hearing was yours already; for how can you recognize a thing as soon as it comes into view if you have never before seen it? You have thought my thought yourself, or else your heart would not beat fast and your lips say, “Yes, yes!” when I voice it. Truth is in the air, and when your head gets up into the right stratum of atmosphere you breathe it in. You may not know that you have breathed it in until I come along and write it out on this blank sheet, and then you read it and say, “Yes–your hand! that is surely so; I knew it all along!”

And so then if I tell you a thing you already know, I confer on you the great blessing of introducing you to yourself and of giving you the consciousness that you know.

And to know you know is power. And to feel the sense of power is to feel a sense of oneness with the Source of Power.

Let’s see–what was it, then, that we were talking about? Oh, yes! collectors and collecting.

Men collect things because these things stir imagination and link them with the people who once possessed and used these things. Thus, through imagination, is the dead past made again to live and throb and pulse with life. Man is not the lonely creature that those folks with bad digestions sometimes try to have us believe.

We are brothers not only to all who live, but to all who have gone before.

And so we collect the trifles that once were valuables for other men, and by the possession of these trifles are we bounden to them. These things stimulate imagination, stir the sympathies, and help us forget the cramping bounds of time and space that so often hedge us close around.

The people near us may be sordid, stupid, mean; or more likely they are weary and worn with the battle for mere food, shelter and raiment; or they are depressed by that undefined brooding fear which civilization exacts as payment for benefits forgot–so their better selves are subdued.

But through fancy’s flight we can pick our companions out of the company of saints and sinners who have long turned to dust. I have the bookplates of Holbein and Hogarth, and I have a book once owned by Rembrandt, and so I do not say Holbein and Hogarth and Rembrandt were–I say they are.

And thus the collector confuses the glorious dead and the living in one fairy company; and although he may detect varying degrees of excellence, for none does he hold contempt, of none is he jealous, none does he envy. From them he asks nothing, upon him they make no demands. In the collector’s cast of mind there is something very childlike and ingenuous.

My little girl has a small box of bright bits of silk thread that she hoards very closely; then she possesses certain pieces of calico, nails, curtain-rings, buttons, spools and fragments of china–all of which are very dear to her heart. And why should they not be? For with them she creates a fairy world, wherein are only joy, and peace, and harmony, and light–quite an improvement on this! Yes, dearie, quite.

* * * * *

Ernest Meissonier, the artist, began collecting very early. He has told us that he remembers, when five years of age, of going with his mother to market and collecting rabbits’ ears and feet, which he would take home, and carefully nail up on the wall of the garret. And it may not be amiss to explain here that the rabbit’s foot as an object of superstitious veneration has no real place outside of the United States of America, and this only south of Mason and Dixon’s line.