Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Charles Robson

If you examine the letters on line of 19th Century Scots author (who was 1/64th mystic) Thomas Carlyle you can look up several mentions of a man called Charles Robson (his printer), who during the course of my Smythian researches, has held a kind of magnetic pull over my attention and despite knowing only his name and that Smythe was employed by him, I knew I had to find out more as I was sure there was more to find. He died in 1876, did my Mr. Robson and the strange intermittent and slightly psychotic returns of Google Book search threw up a publication from 1876 called "The Bookseller: a newspaper of British and Foreign literature" (Why do Victorian books and periodicals have titles so long they should be equipped with a hospice half way betwixt the first word and the last for those of us whose lung capacities are not industrially sufficient enough to read them in one breath?) which contains an obituary only scraps of which I can see. Harvard University seems to be in the business of floating bits of burned treasure map onto the information sea and hoping I can stick it together. Whom am I, Jack Sparrow?

Anyway, before I start kvetching about Harvard University and their other bad habits, I learned that Mr. Charles Robson came from a family of numerous brothers and sisters and became a compositor at age 15 (born in Kelso, 1805) and was sent from from London by whom I know not. He then became a reader at a place in Hatton-Garden. He taught himself Latin, Greek, Arabic and other impressive intellectual feats later going into business with Mr George Levey in St. Martin's Lane, then Great New Street next to the Three Tuns. Now, Robert Smith (Mr. R.S.Smythe much later) had I believe, a drunken absent father which drove my then brother Frederic into music and the Temperance movement and Smythe into books. I do remember fondly Mr. Robson for his quietude, learning and powers of concentration and Mr. George Levey I remember for his business acumen and perfume of ruthlessness. I am sure that Smythe had these men as proxy father figures, one demonstrating self education, which I in this lifetime believe to be the cornerstone of a strong identity and, Mr Levey who illustrated a certain degree of toughness with the world. Emotional reactions to people I was associated with in my last time around are sometimes the only recognition I have to go on. The colour and makeup of that emotional response can usually be described a little more thoroughly and to date has not been wrong. I have to get hold of that obit from Harvard or whomever has a copy of the 1876 Bookseller.

"Between the tynes
are born the lines
that carry the current sage
from a tiny black and pregnant sea
out of the ink bottle
on to the page"

-The Gingerbread Cat, 2009

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