Oxford: Alden & Co. Ltd. / Bocardo Press, 1910. First Edition. 12 mo. (7 5/8 inches tall), original navy cloth with gilt titles. Small ink presentation inscription, gilt bright, gutter cracked but still firm, very faint wear to spine ends and corners. A near-fine copy. Item #1127
"THE AZURE BINDING OF ETON DAYS IS EXCHANGED FOR THE DARK BLUE HORIZON OF OXFORD"
First edition of Ronald Knox's scarce second book, Juxta Salices, collecting the verse and prose of his schoolboy and university days. Knox's first two books were born of his time as a student at Eton and Balliol. His literary career began in the summer of 1906 when "he issued his first book, Signa Severa, bound in Eton blue and published by Spottiswoode, a collection of verses in English, Latin, and Greek, dating from July 1903 to May 1906. The little volume ran into six editions, but copies are jealously guarded by their owners and seldom come into the market. He continued to write verses during his last half and published a selection of the four years later in his Oxford book, Juxta Salices. His facility and ingenuity were dazzling" (Evelyn Waugh). Knox arrived in Oxford "somewhat reluctantly, feeling that in leaving Eton, where for six years he been a favourite with both the boys and the masters, he had been exiled from an earthly paradise" (Penelope Fitzgerald).
Knox's brief Preface (dated, "R.A.K. / Manchester / S. Peter in Chains, 1910") acknowledges an uncertain transition: "but when the azure binding of Eton days is exchanged for the dark blue horizon of Oxford, when the tongue cleaves to the roof of the mouth and the right hand forgets her cunning, what wonder if the Muse, her strength brought down in her journey, is fain to lag behind?" Printed and bound in Oxford by Alden & Company with a General Dedication ("To All / Old Etonians / Good Churchmen / and Smokers of Briar Pipes") and a Special Dedication: "To P.H.S.S." ("Balliol, June, 1910"). Patrick H. Shaw-Stewart, Knox's friend at both Eton and Balliol, was killed in action in France in December 1917. He is one of the War Poets, perhaps best known as the author of Achilles in the Trench: "Was it so hard, Achilles / So very hard to die? / Thou knewest and I know not— / So much the happier I."
The book is divided into three sections: Ninthlies and Lastlies (with six pieces) and Bowings to Rimmon (with another 13) and concluding with A Decalogue Symposium, a Sherlockian parody of Conan-Doyle, and an early demonstration of Knox's interest in Detective Fiction. A Decalogue Symposium is the only piece undated by Knox, but it has its own Preface, explaining that it was written for a reading by the 19 members of Balliol's Decalogue Society. "Unfortunately, true to the spirit of modern Drama, the parts were all 'written round' the several actors, and many purely personal allusions will be lost on a larger audience: it can only be said, in the words of Hippoclides, that 'it was screamingly funny when you saw it done.'" Knox's second book was apparently less successful than his first: "Juxta Salices, in which he collected his undergraduate 'jeux d'espirit' was never a success; it sold a few hundred copies and left Ronald with a small debt to Alden's, the printers." (Waugh). A bright and sharp-cornered copy. Waugh. The Life of the Right Reverend Ronald Knox, Fitzgerald. The Knox Brothers.