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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Eugene Field (1850–1895)

Dibdin’s Ghost

From “The Little Book of Western Verse”

DEAR wife, last midnight, whilst I read

The tomes you so despise,

A specter rose beside the bed,

And spake in this true wise:

“From Canaan’s beatific coast

I’ve come to visit thee,

For I am Frognall Dibdin’s ghost,”

Says Dibdin’s ghost to me.

I bade him welcome, and we twain

Discussed with buoyant hearts

The various things that appertain

To bibliomaniac arts.

“Since you are fresh from t’other side,

Pray tell me of that host

That treasured books before they died,”

Says I to Dibdin’s ghost.

“They’ve entered into perfect rest;

For in the life they’ve won

There are no auctions to molest,

No creditors to dun.

Their heavenly rapture has no bounds,

Beside that jasper sea;

It is a joy unknown to Lowndes,”

Says Dibdin’s ghost to me.

Much I rejoiced to hear him speak

Of biblio-bliss above,

For I am one of those who seek

What bibliomaniacs love.

“But tell me, for I long to hear

What doth concern me most:

Are wives admitted to that sphere?”

Says I to Dibdin’s ghost.

“The women-folk are few up there;

For ’twere not fair, you know,

That they our heavenly joy should share

Who vex us here below.

The few are those who have been kind

To husbands such as we;

They knew our fads, and didn’t mind,”

Says Dibdin’s ghost to me.

“But what of those who scold at us

When we would read in bed?

Or, wanting victuals, make a fuss

If we buy books instead?

And what of those who’ve dusted not

Our motley pride and boast—

Shall they profane that sacred spot?”

Says I to Dibdin’s ghost.

“Oh, nol They tread that other path,

Which leads where torments roll,

And worms, yes, bookworms, vent their wrath

Upon the guilty soul.

Untouched of bibliomaniac grace,

That saveth such as we,

They wallow in that dreadful place,”

Says Dibdin’s ghost to me.

“To my dear wife will I recite

What things I’ve heard you say;

She’ll let me read the books by night

She’s let me buy by day.

For we together by and by

Would join that heavenly host;

She’s earned a rest as well as I,”

Says I to Dibdin’s ghost.