Nonfiction > Lionel Strachey, et al., eds. > The World’s Wit and Humor > American
The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes.  1906.
Vols. I–V: American
Dibdin’s Ghost
By Eugene Field (1850–1895)
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        5
  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        10
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,”        15
  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.        20
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        25
  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:        30
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        35
  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.        40
“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        45
  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,        50
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,”        55
  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.        60
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.

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