Isaac Disraeli: Against Second Editions?
Holbrook Jackson notes in his curious book on Bibliomania that the bibliophile Isaac Disraeli warns against second editions of books, for
. . . the author omits, as well as adds, or makes alterations from prudential reasons, and these displeasing truths which he 'corrects' as he might call them, are so many losses to truth itself. (Bibliomania, 1930, 495)Mr. Jackson likes to quote using italics, but he has made slight, if probably insignificant, alterations to Mr. Disraeli's text, as we see by carefully inspecting the original:
. . . the author omits, as well as adds, or makes alterations from prudential reasons; the displeasing truths which he corrects, as he might call them, are so many losses incurred by Truth itself. (Isaac Disraeli, Curiosities of Literature, 1835, 5b)Is Mr. Jackson merely careless in quoting this? One might find the differences insignificant, but note that "Truth" is deflated to "truth." Is that mere orthography, a shift in capitalization style between 1791, when Mr. Disraeli first published, and 1930, when Mr. Jackson 'quoted' the passage? Or had the concept of truth by Mr. Jackson's time lost status as a concept, no longer a proper noun indicating The Truth?
Or did Mr. Disraeli himself, in a later edition, de-capitalize the word? Probably not, and not only because we've already inspected the 1835 edition above, which retains the capitalization, but also for another reason, as we shall see by following the lead of an 'initially' anonymous fellow in Sweden ("SHK" aka "mr.h") -- call him 'The Swede' (though he's actually Welsh) -- who quotes the Disraeli passage in context within his "Bibliographical Notes" to Mr. Disraeli's Curiosities of Literature:
It has frequently happened, […], that in second editions, the author omits, as well as adds, or makes alterations from prudential reasons; the displeasing truths which he corrects, as he might call them, are so many losses incurred by Truth itself. There is an advantage in comparing the first with subsequent editions; for among other things, we feel great satisfaction in tracing the variations of a work, when a man of genius has revised it. There are also other secrets, well known to the intelligent curious, who are versed in affairs relating to books.About this passage, 'The Swede' remarks:
It is apt, perhaps, that this text only appears in 19th-century versions of the article. Whether D'Israeli dwelt on these points in relation to his own work-in-progress is open to question. Certainly the 18th century editions of the Curiosities have a callowness about them which might have displeased their ageing author enough to offset the 'losses to Truth' he sustained by 'correcting' or suppressing some of its text.Now, that is interesting. And perhaps intentionally ironic of Mr. Isaac Disraeli. He added this passage to 19th-century editions, for 'The Swede' tells us that it was not in the 18th-century editions. 'The Swede' does not know if "D'Israeli dwelt on these points in relation to his own work-in-progress," but the contrary is rather harder to affirm since Mr. Disraeli would have been consciously adding this passage to a later edition and could hardly but have appreciated the irony. Perhaps the irony is one of those "secrets, well known to the intelligent curious," to which Mr. Disraeli alludes.
But this still leaves us in darkness as to the truth of Truth from Mr. Isaac Disraeli to Mr. Holbrook Jackson.