Tuesday, November 03, 2009


When the leadership of Great Britain pressed too heavily on him, Gladstone did one of three things: felled large trees with an ax; walked around London talking to prostitutes; or arranged books. It was an odd trio of diversions, especially the second, which, although its ostensible purpose was to reform fallen women, sometimes stimulated so many carnal thoughts in the reformer that he whipped himself afterward with a contrition-inducing scourge.

-Ex Libris
Anne Fadiman

Gladstone was also well known for his obsessive attention to detail, and in addition to his other hobbies, designed home library storage systems, which Fadiman also describes at length in Ex Libris. The two main shelving systems are both very clever and a little overspecified. It speaks well of the man that he had such a diversity of pastimes.

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