Posted in charles spurgeon, Uncategorized

Do you make notes in books? Here are a few thoughts

spurgeon collage

From Charles Spurgeon’s Autobiography

DIARY, LETTERS AND RECORDS – COLLECTIONS AUTOBIOGRAPHY DIARY, LETTERS AND RECORDS, by His Wife and His Private Secretary To the Students of the Words, Works and Ways of God

In addition to the letters manuscripts, photographs, and autographs of the authors, which Mr. Spurgeon preserved in his copies of their works, whenever he could obtain them, he also wrote his own name in many of the volumes, with an expression of his opinion of their contents. There are, perhaps, among his books, some hundreds of these inscriptions; many of them are autobiographical, and for that reason deserve a place in the present work. It is worthy of note that, while this chapter has been in course of preparation, the compilers have met with an interesting article by Mr. Andrew Lang, entitled “Scrawls on Books,” which shows that he approved of the custom which the Pastor so extensively observed.

Among other things, he wrote — ”The practice of scribbling on fly-leaves and margins has many enemies. I confess that I am not among these purists. I like to see these footprints on the sands of literature, left by dead generations, and to learn from them something about previous owners of books, if it be but their names …. We should all write our names, at least; no more of us may ever reach posterity…. As a rule, tidy and self-respecting people do not even write their names on their fly-leaves;, still less do they scribble marginalia. Collectors love a clean book, but a book scrawled on may have other merits.

Thackeray’s countless caricatures add a delight to his old school-books; the comments of Scott are always to the purpose; but how few books once owned by great authors come into the general market! Where is Dr. Johnson’s library, which must bear traces of his buttered toast? Sir Mark Sykes used to record the date and place of purchase, with the price, — an excellent habit. These things are more personal than book-plates, which may be and are detached by collectors, and pasted into volumes. The selling value of a book may be lowered even by a written owner’s name; but many a book, otherwise worthless, is redeemed by an interesting note. Even the uninteresting notes gradually acquire an antiquarian value, if contemporary with the author. They represent the mind of a dead age. and perhaps the common scribbler is not unaware of this; otherwise, he is indeed without excuse. For the great owners of the past, certainly, we regret that they were so sparing in marginalia.”

The first volume of the Autobiography, (page 254) proves that Mr. Spurgeon commenced, quite early in his, ministry, the practice which Mr. Lang commends, for the inscriptions in Dr. Gill’s Commentary, there quoted, date back to 1852. In Martin Luther’s Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, is written — ”This volume is one of my earliest friends; — needs no letter of commendation. — C. H. SPURGEON, 1852.”

The following remarkable commendation is inserted on the fly-leaf of the first volume of A Compleat History and Mystery of the Old and New Testament, logically discussed and theologically improved, by Christopher Ness — “Reader, — Here is something worth all thy time, though thou read it all day long. Give eyes and heart a feast here. Here is goodly word painting and rich heart-breathing. — C. H. SPURGEON.”

I pray you find a similarly beloved book (in addition to the Bible), where you read it all day long, accept it as a feast, with good word painting and rich heart breathing. 🙂


Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.