Friday, November 20, 2009

A Wonderful Letter About Our "American Blackstone"

We just acquired a letter from William Price to his law partner, James Clapp, written in 1812. Price wrote about all sorts of things in this four-page letter, including dry goods, law practice, and women, but most interesting of all, he wrote about James Kent, "The American Blackstone." Bibliophiles love James Kent because he loved books. He had a stellar private library, mainly consisting of law books, many of which he carefully annotated. He kept a detailed shelflist of his books, showing exactly where each book resided in his home. His library occupied several rooms of his house.

Price had this to say about Kent, who was 49 years old at the time: "I this evening again visited the Chief Justice pursuant to invitation and was never more delightfully entertained - Old madeira and choice cigars ... He was perfectly free & easy & appeared desirous only to please us - He took the candle & travelled round his library . . . He is indeed Clapp a great man - The notes he has made in the Books in his library would of themselves you would suppose occupy a whole life ..."

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