William Marion Reedy on the Ending of the Bibelot

Reedy, William Marion. “The Ending of The Bibelot” in The Bibelot: General Index. Portland, ME: Thomas Bird Mosher, [1915], pp. 187-191.

For twenty years no month has passed that I have not had one certain joy. It was in the reading of the dainty, gray-blue covered Bibelot that came from Mr. Mosher, of Portland, Maine. And now the end. The last number of the twentieth volume appeared in December. For all that time, though I have been pretty strenuously engaged in the game of life, the Bibelot has always arrived with its message of beauty to win me for a while away from issues and from crises. The fears and hopes, the angers and despairs of the tide of battle have come and gone. The things of the Bibelot remain–they perish never. They are a recurrent inspiration, consolation, sustenance to the soul. Beautiful verse by the masters of song, rescued from books little known; treasures of delicate or virile prose, the cadences of which set the heart to marching; voices of joyous memory and sweet-lingering regret; clairvoyant and clairaudient perspicacities of interpretation of life and letters and art; jewellery [sic] work in words that carry an oversoul of sense and thought; the exquisitries of the little masters otherwise lost to remembrance; exhumed splendors from books and authors unaccountably committed to neglect bordering on oblivion; a whole world of literature which has concern only for life of the heart and spirit–all this was, nay is, the Bibelot. But this literature is more than merely “precious.” It is vital. It concerns the very essence of the only life we know–the individual life. It deals with the things that give life its pattern: the splendor and the sadness of it; the mystery of it and those hints that sometimes come to all of us of the meaning of the world and its pageantry sumptuous or sordid–all the “intimations of immortality.” Two hundred and forty issues of such inner-life-stuff presented always sympathetically, never in contempt of the world of here and now, and never in insensibility to the something without the world and space and time, are a body of literature which, but for the resurrectionist Mosher, we might never have known. Burns in it all the flame of the spirit in the urn of form. The perfect marriage of thought or feeling with expression was what Mosher sought–and found, and gave to us. And to that union he added another element–beautiful, chastely beautiful printing. His idea, beautifully carried out, has been to make the Bibelot a means to setting and leading people in the way of culture–not the culture that has for object one’s superiority over others, but the culture that is inclusive in its effect, the culture that is essentially sympathy [sic] with all the living. In the wide range of the Bibelot‘s contents one finds a fugue consistent. Each selection conforms to an underlying, informing purpose–to touch the soul to finer issues, to acquaint it with the ecstasies of life lived and contemplated. To think that this labor of years is come to an end is a sadness very great. For we readers of the Bibelot came to know and to love Mosher–his work made such a beautiful exhibition of his own soul. The introductions he wrote for each number were gems of expository lucidity, touched with color, vibrant with music–“the still, sad music of humanity” and its mightier, diapasonic organ tones. He did not preach to us this or that. He taught us to see, to hear, with spirit’s eye, its ear. And in so far as we learned from him and his expositions none of us is dead to the message the world and life convey to us of duty to love one another. The complete Bibelot, in twenty volumes, is an encyclopedia of the literature of rapture with the spirit of beauty. That Mr. Mosher has decided to end his labors is a deep regret to those who followed them. That the effects of those labors will go endlessly on and on in lives made better, saner, more “in tune with the Infinite,” is his exceeding great reward.

Reedy was the editor of the St. Louis Mirror, an author, and friend of T.B. Mosher.