Bibliophile’s Tragic Prophecy Fulfilled

I’ve been looking over some of the books I picked up this summer at the tag sales and rediscovered this lovely volume calle Fancy This, by Jack Frost. It’s a collection of Frost’s sketches for the Boston Herald, and besides the lovely artwork, it’s full of useful information.

Did you know that the House of Seven Gables actually has eight gables, if you count the gabled doorway to the garden? and that the statue of John Harvard at Harvard is actually a statue of Samuel Hoar, a student who modeled for Daniel French and later served in Congress and as US attorney under Grover Cleveland?

Under a sketch of the gate at Harvard’s Widener Library, we hear the sad tale of Harry Elkins Widener, Harvard ’07, who had accumulated 3,000 books and, according to Frost, the respect of book collectors throughout America and Europe.

“It was in 1912, after he had attended the Huth sale in London, that he uttered his fateful words,” Frost writes. “Tucking a rare second edition of Bacon’s essays in his pocket, he turned to a friend and remarked, ‘I think I’ll take this little Bacon with me and if I am shipwrecked it will go down with me.'”

Now I think if he had knocked on wood, he might have survived making a remark like that, but he didn’t, and he didn’t.

I don’t think I have to tell you the name of the ship he boarded a few days later.

For the record, he was seen helping his mother and her maid into a lifeboat.