BOOKS AND THINGS
The Boston book world, several weeks ago, received a surprise, the like of which it has scarcely experienced since last year when the publications of Roberts’ Brothers were sold to Little, Brown &. Co. Although it had been for some time whispered about in the inner circle that Copeland & Day intended to go out of business it was hardly believed that the announcement would so soon be made public. When, however, it found its way into publishers’ periodicals and with this last week or so into the newspaper the reading public has been forced to believe, though much against its will, that no more new books will in future bear the imprint of “the lily among the thorns.” This is not good news for the people that love good books.
For a period of five years or thereabouts the publishing of a book by Copeland & Day has been an event, which, to the genuine lover of books, is in the nature of a feast of good things. For this young firm has been composed of men who have never allowed any greed of gain or any ambition to compete with other publishing concerns to have any part in the publication of their books. They have allowed time to serve them instead of themselves serving time and the result has been a collection of rare and beautiful volumes which would be a credit to any publishing house of any time. The most comprehensive sympathy, the most loving care and the most exquisite taste have gone to the composition of all the books that have come out of Cornhill to the number of almost a hundred.
One has only to mention a few of these unique books in order to recall their exact look and touch. Don’t you remember for instance, “The Arabella and Araminta Stories,” “The Black Riders”, “Songs from Vagabondia,” “Lyrics of Earth” by Archibald Lampman; “Harvard Episodes,” “The House of Life,” of Rossetti in limited edition and many others it is a joy merely to recall and certainly a greater joy to possess?
One is glad to be able to say, however, that, in the business sense of the term, there has been no such word as fail. Of course, for a firm that has made such books, there could be no such word in the real sense of the term. Copeland & Day withdraw from the field not from necessity but from choice. They retire with the thanks of all contemporary writers warmly about them, for they have done the art of the day great service by publishing books by the men and women of the hour. They have been willing, in other words, to see the real value there is in contemporary art and to enshrine it in fitting form.
Perhaps one reason for this is the fact that both the individual members of the firm, Herbert Copeland and F. Holland Day are young men with a natural belief in youth and all that it may achieve. It is
to be doubted, indeed, if publishers have ever come into any pleasanter relations with their authors than have the two presiding geniuses of the quaint little place down in Cornhill so dear to the hearts of the younger men of letters about town.
Some of the so-called breakfasts, for instance, with which the firm celebrated the publishing of a new book with its author and other authors will be a bright spot in the memory of all who participated in the event. The occasion of the publication of “Vivette” is a notable illustration of the way in which Copeland & Day delighted to honor its authors.
Therefore, as will have been seen, there are many reasons why the retirement of Copeland & Day from Cornhill and from the publishing field is an occasion for honest regret. Books such as this firm has known how to give us are not easily elsewhere to be had; the atmosphere that the firm created is one hard to imitate and hard to be left without and its influence upon the publishing circles and the reading public is one too salutary to be lost or to be forgotten. We are glad, greatly so, for the books they have given us; we are sincerely sorry that they will give us the like no more.
(The Boston Globe- May 20, 1899)
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