Personal Reminiscences in Book Making

Robert Michael Ballantyne

Reminiscences in Book Making, by R.M. Ballantyne

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Title: Personal Reminiscences in Book Making and Some Short Stories
Author: R.M. Ballantyne
Release Date: June 7, 2007 [EBook #21755]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ASCII

Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England

Personal Reminiscences of Book Making
by R.M. Ballantyne
Book making is mixed up, more or less, with difficulties. It is sometimes disappointing; often amusing; occasionally lucrative; frequently expensive, and always interesting--at least to the maker.
Of course I do not refer to that sort of book making which is connected with the too prevalent and disgraceful practice of gambling, but to the making of literary books--especially story-books for the young.
For over eight-and-thirty years I have had the pleasure of making such books and of gathering the material for them in many and distant lands.
During that period a considerable number of the juvenile public have accepted me as one of their guides in the world of Fiction, and through many scenes in the wildest and most out-of-the-way regions of our wonderful world.
Surely, then, it is not presumptuous in me to suppose--at least to hope--that a rambling account of some of the curious incidents which have occurred, now and then, in connection with my book making, will interest the young people of the present day. Indeed I entertain a hope that some even of the old boys and girls who condescended to follow me in the days gone by may perchance derive some amusement, if not profit, from a perusal of these reminiscences.
The shadows of life are lengthening, and, for me, that night, "in which no man can work," may not be far off. Before it is too late, and while yet the flame of the lamp burns with sufficient clearness, I would fain have a personal chat with those for whom, by God's blessing, I have been permitted to cater so long.
But fear not, dear reader, that I shall inflict on you a complete autobiography. It is only the great ones of the earth who are entitled to claim attention to the record of birth and parentage and school-days, etcetera. To trace my ancestry back through "the Conquerors" to Adam, would be presumptuous as well as impossible. Nevertheless, for the sake of aspirants to literary fame, it may be worth while to tell here how one of the rank and file of the moderately successful Brotherhood was led to Authorship as a profession and how he followed it out.
I say "led" advisedly, because I made no effort whatever to adopt this line of life, and never even dreamed of it as a possibility until I was over twenty-eight years of age.
Let me commence, then, by at once taking a header into the middle of that period when God--all unknown to, and unrecognised by, myself--was furnishing me with some of the material and weapons for the future battle of life.
One day my dear father was reading in the newspapers some account of the discoveries of Dease and Simpson in the neighbourhood of the famous North-west Passage. Looking at me over his spectacles with the perplexed air of a man who has an idle son of sixteen to start in the race of life, he said--
"How would you like to go into the service of the Hudson's Bay Company and discover the North-west Passage?"--or words to that effect.
"All right, father," said I--or something of that sort.
I was at that age, and in that frame of mind, which regards difficulties with consummate presumption and profound inexperience. If the discovery of the North-pole had been suggested, or the South-pole, or any other terrestrial pole that happened to exist at the time, I was quite ready to "rush in" where even a Franklin might "fear to tread!"
This incident was but a slight one, yet it was the little hinge on which turned my future career.
We had a relation--I won't say what, because distant relationships, especially if complicated, are utterly beyond my mental grasp--who was high up in the service of the Hudson's Bay Fur Company. Through Iain I became a clerk in the service with a salary of 20 pounds for the first year. Having been born without a silver spoon in my mouth, I regarded this as an adequate, though not a princely, provision.
In due time I found myself in the heart of that vast North American wilderness which is variously known as Rupert's Land, the Territories of the Hudson's Bay Company, and the Great Nor'west, many hundreds of miles
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