Skip to main content

Full text of "The book-lover's enchiridion: thoughts on the solace and companionship of books, and topics incidental thereto; gathered from the best writers of every age, and arranged in chronological order"

See other formats





University of California • Berkeley 

Gift of 
Chaklotte and Norman Strouse 





IRcviaeb anb Jgnlargeb, 


{Entered at Stationers' Hall.] 

^fft l$oxiJt=ILobeif'8 












^lexanbet Srelanti, 









Uonlron : 




r n-<< rr:rr^ : -n-f-fj p 


HjSHSgSHSBsgsgsgsgsgsgsgsgsHsgsHsgsgsgsESE ! 


Infinite Riches in a little room. 
Indocti discant et ameni inemi7tisse periti. 


One of the mottoes to this volume gives the key-note 
to its contents. *' Infinite riches in a little room" — 
a line from Christopher Marlowe, the dramatist — 
describes aptly what the reader will find in it. My 
object has been to present, in chronological order, the 
summed-up testimonies of the most notable Book- 
Lovers on the subject of Books, and the Habit and 
Love of Reading. The writers from whom I have 
made selections range from Solomon and Cicero to 
Carlyle, Emerson, and Ruskin. On this bead-roll of 
illustrious names — 

Which down the steady breeze of honour sail, 

will be found those of Horace, Seneca, Plutarch, 
Richard de Bury, Petrarch, Chaucer, Erasmus, 
Machiavelli, Luther, Ascham, Montaigne, Bacon, 
Shakespeare, Daniel, Bishop Hall, Fuller, Milton, 
Baxter, Cowley, Locke, Addison, Johnson, Gibbon, 
Goethe, Wordsworth, Lamb, Southey, Hazlitt, Landor, 
DeQuincey, Leigh Hunt, Bulwer, Macaulay, Herschel, 
Carlyle, Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, James 
Russell Lowell, Ruskin, and more than two hundred 

The reader will find in the following pages the 
deliberate utterances of the wisest and most searching 


spirits upon the subject of Books — their steadfast and 
unpresuming friendship and silent counsels — the con- 
solation they afford in every variety of circumstance 
and fortune, and the ceaseless delights they bring us at 
a trifling cost, without trouble or previous arrangement. 
The writers of the present century have contributed, as 
a matter of course, most largely to the general store of 
thought on the subject to which this volume is specially 
devoted. It will be seen that I have confined myself 
to no peculiar class of authors, but have welcomed 
every variety of thought, from whatever quarter it may 
have come. Wherever I could find a passage suitable 
to my purpose, I have not hesitated to adopt it, no 
matter who was the author. No section of the 
world's literature (English and American literature 
more especially) which was likely to contribute to 
my subject has been left unexplored. Apostles and 
philosophers, archbishops, bishops, and learned doctors 
of both the churches, dissenting divines, heretical 
writers of every shade of unorthodoxy, legislators, 
historians, biographers and men of science, novelists, 
dramatists, writers on art, critics, essayists grave and 
gay, and the sons and daughters of song, have been 
laid under tribute to furnish material for this garner of 
thought bearing upon Books. 

To some readers it may appear that my selections 
from certain writers occupy a disproportionate space 
when compared with that assigned to others, I may 
be permitted to say a word in explanation. It has 


been with regret that I have been unable to find any 
passages on the subject-matter of this volume in the 
works of some authors from whom I would have 
been only too glad to quote. I may mention, 
among others, Fielding, Goldsmith, Scott, Dickens, 
Thackeray, Browning, and Tennyson. When the 
reader finds only a sentence or two — perhaps not 
even a line — from writers whom we know to have 
beqn ardent Book-Lovers, he may conclude that they 
have left no recorded thoughts exactly suitable to the 
object of the present volume. Beautiful passages in 
the domains of reflection, emotion, description, and 
imagination I could have found in abundance in the 
works of many authors who have yielded nothing to 
the present store ; for it must be borne in mind that 
I have had to confine myself strictly and rigidly to 
what was applicable to my special subject— resolutely 
rejecting matter of surpassing excellence which was 
not pertinent to it, either directly or incidentally. 

I may also say that I have, in the case of almost 
every author, gone to the original sources for my 
matter, so that the correctness of the text may be 
relied upon. In a few cases only have I adopted 
passages from existing collections of extracts. 

It is hoped that this volume will meet some of the 
special needs and moods of those earnest minds which 
seek in books something more enduring than passing 
amusement— something that will yield a satisfying and 
tranquil joy, and beautify the hours of common daily 

viii PREFACE. 

life by unfolding deeply-hidden verities only revealed 
to meditative souls. My desire has been to bring 
together, from the reading of a life-time, a body of 
thought, old and new, which will be welcomed by 
those who find their highest and purest enjoyment in 
contemplation — who fervently long to escape when 
they can from "the fretful stir unprofitable, and the 
fever of the world," and to dwell for a time in the 
serene heaven of aspiration and self-communion, and 
breathe its calm, restoring air. Such minds will be 
refreshed and invigorated by a knowledge of the con- 
solations and ennobling companionship which the most 
gifted of our race have ever found in Books. 

If these pages should assist the young by strengthening 
good resolutions in the direction of self-culture and self- 
help, and thus aid in fostering a love of literature 
which may afterwards prove a resource and solace ; or, 
in the case of those who have passed life's meridian, 
help to beguile or brighten hours made heavy by care 
or feeble health, by bringing them into closer contact 
with superior souls, who in similar — perhaps even more 
trying circumstances— have sought and found comfort 
in communion with other men's thoughts, I shall feel 
that my labour of love has been appreciated and 

Alexander Ireland. 

Ingle WOOD, Bowdon, 

September, 1883. 


The Third Edition of this work (enlarged by 
upwards of two hundred pages), consisting of 
3,700 copies, was published in October last, and is 
now nearly exhausted. The preparation of a Fourth 
Edition has given me the opportunity of carefully 
revising and improving it. I have corrected some 
typographical errors, made a few excisions — substitu- 
ting other extracts in place of those which have been 
removed — and have, besides, enriched its contents by 
the addition of sixteen pages of new matter, among 
which the reader will find striking passages from an 
address on Reading by Mr. John Morley, the dis- 
tinguished biographer and critic, as well as some pithy 
remarks from a paper on Books by the lately deceased 
eminent scholar. Dr. Mark Pattison, of Lincoln College. 
By the kindness of Mr. Charles Bray, of Coventry, 
the venerable author of several interesting philoso- 
phical works, I have been permitted to give a few 
extracts, bearing on the special subject of this volume, 
from his unpublished Autobiography. I now submit 
the volume to the public in its improved form, in the 
hope that it may continue to attract a steadily in- 
creasing number of thoughtful readers. 

A. I. 

August, 1884. 



Solomon 1033 — 975 

Socrates 468 — 399 

Plato 427— 347 

Alexandrian Library .. .. .. 300 — 

Cicero . . 106 — 41 

Horace 65— 8 

B.C. A.D. 

Seneca • 58— 32 


St. Paul — 65 

Quintilian .. .. .". • .. .. 42 — 115 

Plutarch 46 — 120 

Pliny, the Younger 61 — 105 

Gospel of St. Matthew 

Aulus Gellius • 117 — 180 

From the Persian 

Hindu Saying 

, From the Persian 

Bishop Richard de Bury 1287 — 1345 

Francesco Petrarca , . . 1304— 1374 

DoMiNico Mancini 

Geoffrey Chaucer 1328 — 1400 

Thomas A Kempis 1380 — 1471 

J. Fortius Ringelbergius — 1536 

Desiderius Erasmus 1467 — 1536 

NiccoLO Machiavelli 1469 — 1527 

Antonio de Guevara — 1544 

Martin Luther.. .. .. .. .. 1483 — 1546 

Roger Ascham 1515 — 1568 

Michel de Montaigne 1537 — 1592 

Joseph Scaliger 1540 — 1609 


John Florio 1545— 1625 

Book of Common Prayer . . . . . . 1549 

John Lylye 1553 — 1601 

Sir Philip Sidney 1554— 1586 

Lord Chandos — 1621 

Lord Bacon 1561 — 1629 

Samuel Daniel 1562—^1619 

Joshua Sylvester 1563 — 1618 

William Shakespeare . . . . . . 1564 — i'6i6 

Alonzo of Arragon 

Old English Song — — 

A Sixteenth Century Writer .. .. 

Bishop Joseph Hall . . . . . . . . 1574 — 1656 

John Fletcher 1576 — 1625 

Henry Peacham — 1640 

Robert Burton 1576 — 1640 

Sir Thomas OvERBURY 1581— 1613 

John Hales . . . . 1584— 1656 

Balthasar Bonifacius Rhodiginus .. 1584 — 1659 

Francis Osborne — 1659 

Leo Allatius 1586 — 1669 

George Wither 1588—1667 

James Shirley 1594 — 1666 

Jean Eusebe Nierembergius .. .. 1595— 1658 

Sir William Waller 1597— 1668 

Rev. Antony Tuckney 1599 — 1670 

Francesco Di RiojA 1600 — 1659 

Peter du Moulin 1600— 1684 

Dr. John Earle 1601 — 1665 

Sir William Davenant 1605 — 1668 

Sir Thomas Browne 1605 — 1682 

Dr. Thomas Fuller .. 1608 — 1661 

John Milton 1608— 1674 

Earl of Clarendon ,. 1608— 1674 

Sir Matthew Hale 1609 — 1676 

Samuel Sorbiere . . . . . . . . 1610 — 1670 

Owen Feltham 1610— 1678 

Dr. Benjamin Whichcote 1610— 1683 


Early English Writer 

m. toinard 

Bishop Jeremy Taylor .. .. .. 1613— 1667 

Due DE LA Rochefoucauld 1613— 1680 

GiLLES Menage 1613 — 1692 

Earl of Bedford . . . . , . . . 1613 — 1700 

Urban Chevreau 1613— 1701 

Rev. Richard Baxter 1615 — 1691 

Dr. John Owen 1616— 1683 

Abraham Cowley 1618 — 1667 

Thomas V. Bartholin 1619 — 1680 

Francis Charpentier 1620 — 1702 

Henry Vaughan 1621— 1695 

John Hall . . . . 1627 — 1656 

Sir William Temple 1628 — 1698 

Dr. Isaac Barrow 1630 — 1677 

Charles Cotton . , 1630 — 1687 

Bishop Huet 1630 — 1721 

John Locke .. 1632 — 1704 

Dr. Robert South .. .. ,. .. 1633 — 1716 

Sir George Mackenzie 1636 — 1691 

John de la Bruyere .. 1644 — 1696 

Pierre Bayle 1647 — 1706 

A Seventeenth Century Divine . . . . 

Rev. Jeremy Collier 1650 — 1726 

Archbishop Fenelon 1651 — 1715 

Charles Blount 1654 — 1697 

Thomas Fuller, M.D 1654— 1734 

Edmund Halley 1656 — 1742 

Rev. John Norris of Bemerton .. .. 1657 — 1711 

Jonathan Swift . . . .' . . . . 1667 — 1745 

William Congreve 1670 — 1729 

Sir Richard Steele 1671 — 1729 

Roger Gale 1672— 1744 

Joseph Addison 1672 — 1719 

Dr. Isaac Watts 1674— 1748 

Rev. Conyers Middleton 1683— 1750 

Alexander Pope .. 1688— 1744 


Baron Montesquieu 1689— 1755 

Ladv Mary Wortley Montagu . . . . 1690 — 1762 

Lord Chesterfield . . . . . . . . 1694 — 1773 

FRAN901S M. A. de Voltaire .. .. 1694— 1778 

Matthew Green 1696 — 1737 

James Thomson 1700 — 1748 

John Wesley 1703 — 1791 

Henry Fielding .. .... .. 1707 — 1754 

Samuel Johnson . . 1709 — 1784 

David Hume 1712 — 1776 

Jean Jacques Rousseau 1712— 1778 

Laurence Sterne 1713 — 1768 

Denys Diderot 1713 — 1789 

William Shenstone 1714 — 1763 

Horace Walpole 1717 — 1797 

Oliver Goldsmith 1728—1774 

Rev. William Dodd 1729—1777 

GOTTHOLD EpHRAIM LeSSING .. ., 1729 — 1781 

Edmund Burke 1729 — 1797 

Dr. John Moore 1730 — 1802 

William Cowper 1731— 1800 

Edward Gibbon 1737 — 1794 

J. G. VON Herder 1744 — 1803 

Sir William Jones 1746 — 1794 

Daniel Wyttenbach .. • 1746 — 1820 

Countess de Genlis 1746— 1830 

Dr. John Aikin 1747 — 1822 

Richard Cecil 1748— 1816 

J. Wolfgang von Goethe 1749 — 1832 

ToMAS de Yriarte 1750 — 1791 

Elizabeth Inchbald 1753— 1821 

William Roscoe 1753 — 1831 

George Crabbe 1754— 1832 

William Godwin 1756 — 1836 

Friedrich Schiller 1759 — 1805 

William Cobbett 1762 — 1835 

Sir S. Egerton Brydges 1762 — 1837 

Jean Paul F. Richter 1763— 1825 


Dk. John Ferriar 1764- 

IsAAC Disraeli 1767- 

JoHN Foster .. 1770 — : 

William Wordsworth 1770 — : 

James Montgomery 1771- 

Samuel Taylor Coleridge 1772- 

Robert Southey 1774 — : 

Charles Lamb 1775 — : 

Walter Savage Lai^dor 1775- 

C. Frognall Dibdin 1776- 

WiLLiAM Hazlitt- 1 778 — : 

Lord Brougham 1778- 

■ Rev. Charles C. Colton 1780- 

Dr. William Ellery Channing . . . . 1780- 

John Kenyon 1783- 

Washington Irving 1783- 

Leigh Hunt 1784 — : 

Thomas Love Peacock 1785 

Thomas de Quincey 1786 — : 

Archbishop Whately . . .. .. .. 1787 — : 

Isaac Taylor . . . . 1787- 

Bryan W. Procter (Barry Cornwall) . . 1787 — : 

Lord Byron 178 

Dr. Arnott 178 

Arthur Schopenhauer 178 

Charles Knight 1791 — : 

Lord Mahon 1791 

Sir John Herschel 1792 — : 

Dr. Arnold 1795- 

Judge Talfourd i795- 

Rev. Julius C. Hare 1795 — : 

Thomas Carlyle 1795 — : 

Hartley Coleridge 1796 — : 

Bishop Thirl wall . . .... . . 1797 — : 

A. Bronson Alcott i799(li' 

Lord Macaulay 1800 — : 

William Chambers .. 1800 — : 

James Crossley 1800 — : 


Earl of Shaftesbury 

Robert Chambers 

Chief Justice CocKBURN 

Victor Hugo 

Hugh Miller . . 

Lord Lytton (E. L. Bulwer) 
Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Richard Cobden 

Rev. Frederick Denison Maurice 

Samuel Palmer 

Lord Beaconsfield 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow .. 
Mrs. Caroline Norton 

George S. Hillard 

Elizabeth Barrett Browning 

Rev. Robert Aris Willmott 

Dr. John Hill Burton 

Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes 

William Ewart Gladstone 

Lord Houghton (R. M. Milnes) . . 

Rev. Theodore Parker 

Dr. John Brown .. .. 

W. M. Thackeray 

John Bright 

Lord Sherbrooke (Robert Lowe) 
Charles Bray . . . . . . 

Francis Bpnnoch 

Rev. George Gilfillan 

Rev. Henry Ward Beecher 

Mark Pattison.. 

Sara P. Parton (Fanny Fern) .. 

Anthony Trollope 

John Cameron . . 

Rev. Frederick William Robertson 

George S. Phillips (January Searle) 

John G. Saxe 

Philip James Bailey 

Sir Arthur Helps 

80 1 (living) 
802 — I 87 I 
8o2(liyiAgl Lt^-O^X (tiS 





805 — 1872 

805— .1881 




808— (?) 


809 — 1862 



811— 1863 
811 „ 

811 „ 

812 „ 

813 (living) 
816 (living) 


Eliza Cook i8i8(living) 

Rev. Charles Kingsley 1819— 1875 

John Ruskin iSigOiving) 

James Russell Lowell .. .. .. 1819 ,, 

Walt Whitman 1819 ,, 

Marian Evans (George Eliot) .. .. 1820— 1881 

George Dawson.. 1821 — 1876 

Robert Leighton 1822 — 1869 

Charles Buxton 1822 — 1871 

J. A. Langford i823(living) 

Rev. Robert Collyer 1823 ,, 

James Hain Friswell 1827 — 1878 

C. Kegan Paul i828(living) 

Alexander Smith 1830 — 1867 

W. H. Rands (Matthew Browne) . . — 1882 

Frederic Harrison 1831 (living) 

Earl Lytton (Owen Meredith) .. .. 1831 ,, 

Philip Gilbert Hamerton 1834 ,, 

Frank Carr (Launcelot Cross) .. .. 1834 ,, 

Frances R. Havergal 1836— 1879 

William Blades (Living) 

William Freeland .. ,, 

John Morley ,, 

Edwin P. Whipple ,, 

William E. A. Axon .. ,, 

Andrew Lang „ 

Rev. James Freeman Clarke .. .. ,, 

Austin Dobson • ,, 

Robert Louis Stevenson ,, 

Charles F. Richardson ,, 

John Cameron ,, ' 

Anonymous Authors. 

A Woman's Tribute to Books. 

Remarks on Book-Borrowers. 



He that walketh with wise men shall be wise. 

St. Paul. 

Give attendance to reading. 


If you devote your time to study, you will avoid all the 
irksomeness of this life ; nor will you long for the approach of 
night, being tired of the day; nor will you be a burden to 
yourself, nor your society insupportable to others. 


Books never pall on us. . . . They discourse with us, 
they take counsel with us, and are united to us by a certain living 
familiarity. It is easy to gain access to these friends, for they 
are always at my service, and I admit them to my company, or 
dismiss them from it, whenever I please. They are never 
troublesome, but immediately answer every question I ask them. 


To divert myself from a troublesome fancy, 'tis but to run to 
my books. They always receive me with the same kindness. 
The sick man is not to be lamented, who has his cure in his sleeve. 
In the experience and practice of this sentence, which is a very 
true one, all the benefit I reap from books consists. For it is not 
to ba imagined to what degree I please myself, and rest content 
in this consideration, that I have them by me, to divert myself 
with them when I am so disposed, and to call to mind what an 
ease and assistance they are to my life. 'Tis the best viaticum 
I have yet foimd out for this human journey, and I very much 
lament those men of understanding who are unprovided of it. 


For Friends, although your lordship be scant, yet I hope yoit. 
are not altogether destitute ; if you be, do but look upon good 
books : they are true friends, that will neither flatter nor dis- 
semble : be you but true to yourself, applying that which they 
teach unto the party grieved, and you shall need no other com- 
fort, nor counsel. To them and to God's holy Spirit, directing 
you in the reading of them, I commend your lordship. — Letter 
to Chief Justice Coke. 


For Books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a 
potencie of life in them to be as active as that soul was whose 
progeny they are ; nay, they do preserve as in a violl the purest 
efficacie and extraction of that living intellect that bred them. 
. . . A good book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit, 
embalm'd and treasur'd up on purpose to a life beyond life. 

Sir Thomas Browne. 

They do most by books, who could do much without them ;. 
and he that chiefly owes himself unto himself, is the substantial 


At this day, as much company as I have kept, and as much as 
I love it, I love reading better. I would rather be employed in 
reading than in the most agreeable conversation. 


A taste for books is the pleasure and glory of my life. It is a 
taste which I would not exchange for the wealth of the Indies. The 
miseries of a vacant life are never known to a man whose hours 
are insufficient for the inexhaustible pleasure of study. 


. . . Books, we know, 
Are a substantial world, both pure and good ; 
Round which, with tendrils strong as flesh and blood. 
Our pastime and our happiness will grow. 

Charles Lamb. 

I must confess that I dedicate no inconsiderable portion of my 
time to other people's thoughts. I dream away my life in others' 
speculations. I love to lose myself in other men's minds. When 
I am not walking, I am reading ; I cannot sit and think. Books 
think for me. I have no repugnances. ... I can read any- 
thing which I call a book. There are things in that shape, 
however, which I cannot allow for such. . . . With these 
exceptions, I can read almost anything. I bless my stars for a 
taste so catholic, so unexcluding. 

William Hazlitt. 

Books wind into the heart. . . . We read them when 
young, we remember them when old. We read there of what has 
happened to others ; we feel that it has happened to ourselves. 
We owe everything to their authors, on this side barbarism. . . . 
Even here, on Salisbury Plain, with a few old authors, I can 
manage to get through the summer or winter months, without 
ever knowing what it is to feel ennui. They sit with me at break- 
fast ; they walk out with me before dinner — and at night, by the 
blazing hearth, discourse the silent hours away. 

Books let us into the souls of men, and lay open to us the 
secrets of our own. They are the first and last, the most home- 
felt, the most heart-felt of all our enjoyments. 

Leigh Hunt. 

How pleasant it is to reflect that the greatest lovers of Books 
have themselves become books. . . . The little body of thought 
that lies before me in the shape of a book has existed thousands 
of years ; nor, since the invention of printing, can anything, short 
of an universal convulsion of nature, abolish it. . . . May I 
hope to become the meanest of these existences ? I should like 
to remain visible in this shape. The little of myself that pleases 
myself, I could wish t® be accounted worth pleasing others.. I 
should like to survive so, were it only for the sake of those who 
love me in private, knowing as I do what a treasure is the posses- 
sion of a friend's mind, when he is no more. • At all events, 
nothing, while I live and think, can deprive me of my value for 
such treasures. I can help the appreciation -of them while I last, 
and love them till I die ; and perhaps, if fortune turns her face 
once more in kindness upon me before I go, I may chance, some 
quiet day, to lay my over-beating temples on a book, and so have 
the death I most envy. 


It is lawful for the solitary wight to express the love he feels 
for those companions so stedfast and unpresuming, that go or come 
without reluctance, and that, when his fellow-animals are proud, or 
stupid, or peevish, are ever ready to cheer the languor of his soul, 
and gild the barrenness of life with the treasures of bygone times. 

If a Book come from the heart, it will contrive to reach 
other hearts; all art and author-craft are of small account to 
that. ... In Books lies the soul of th« whole Past Time ; the 
articulate audible voice of the Past, when the body and material 
substance of it has altogether vanished like a dream. . . 
All that Mankind has done, thought, gained, or been ; it is lying 
as in magic preservation in the pages of Books. 


In the highest civilization the book is still the highest delight. 
He. who has once known its satisfactions is provided with a 
resource against calamity. Angels they are to us of entertain- 
ment, sympathy, and provocation. With them many of as spend 
the most of our life, — these silent guides, these tractable prophets, 
historians, and singers, whose embalmed life is the highest feat of 
art ; who now cast their moonlight illumination over solitude, 
weariness, and fallen fortunes. . . . Consider what you have in 
the smallest chosen library. A company of the wisest and wittiest 
men picked out of all civil countries, in a thousand years, have set 
in best order the results of their learning and wisdom. . . . 

I hold that we have never reached the best use of books until 
cur own thought rises to such a pitch that we cannot afford to 
read much. I own this loftiness is rare, and we must long be 
thankful to our silent friends before the day comes when we can 
honestly dismiss them. 


Will you go and gossip with your housemaid, or your stable boy^ 
when you may talk with kings and queens, while this eternal court is 
open to you, with its society wide as the world, multitudinous as its 
days, the chosen, and the mighty, of every place and time ? Into 
that you may enter always j in that you may take fellowship and rank 
according to your wish ; from that, once entered into it, you can never 
be outcast but by your own fault ; by your aristocracy of companion- 
ship there, your own inherent aristocracy will be assuredly tested, 
and the motives with which you strive to take high place in the society 
of the living, measured, as to all the truth and sincerity that are in 
them, by the place you desire to take in this company of the Dead. 



Book^Xovcr's jEncbiriMon* 

Solomon, b.c. 1033 — 975. 

He that walketh with wise men shall be wise. — 
Proverbs xiii. 20. 

A word spoken in due season, how good is it ! — 
Proverbs xv. 23. 

Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to 
the words of knowledge. — Proverbs xxiii. 12. 

Socrates, b.c. 468 — 399. 

Employ your time in improving yourself by other 
men's writings ; so you shall come easily by what 
others have laboured hard for. Prefer knowledge to 
wealth, for the one is transitory, the other perpetual. 

Plato, b.c. 427 — 347. 

Books are the immortal sons deifying their sires. 


Inscription on the Library at Alex- 
andria. Founded about 300 b.c. 

The Nourishment of the Soul ; or, according 
to Diodorus, The Medicine of the Mind. 

Cicero, b.c. 106 — 41. 

Nam ceterse neque temporum sunt, neque setatum 
omnium, neque locorum ; at hoec studia adolescentiam 
alunt, senectutem oblectant, secundas res ornant, 
adversis perfugium ac solatium praebent ; delectant 
domi, non impediunt foris ; pernoctant nobiscum, 
peregrinantur, rusticantur. — Pro Archid Poetd^ cap. 7. 

Trans. For other occupations are not for all times, 
or all ages, or all places. But these studies are the ali- 
ment of youth, the comfort of old age ; an adornment 
of prosperity, a refuge and a solace in adversity ; a 
delight in our home, and no incumbrance abroad ; 
companions in our long nights, in our travels, in our 
country retirement. \_Translated by R. R. D."] 

Remember not to give up your books to anybody ; 
but keep them, as you say, for me. I entertain the 
strongest affection for them, as I do now disgust for 
everything else. 

Keep your books and do not despair of my being 
able to make them mine ; which, if I accomplish, I 
shall exceed Croesus in riches, and look down with 
contempt upon the houses and lands of all the world. — 
Epistles to Attiais, vii. ix. \_HeherderC s TransIatio7i.'\ 


I have at all times free access to my books ; they 
are never occupied. — De Rep.^ i. 

Horace, b.c. 65 — 8. 

Lectio, quae placuit, decies repetita placebit. — De 
Arte Poet., line 365. 

Trans. The reading which has pleased, will please 
when repeated ten times. 

O rus, quando ego te aspiciam ? quandoque licebit. 
Nunc veterum libris, nunc somno et inertibus horis, 
Ducere solicitae jucunda oblivia vitae? c / tt 

Trans. O country, when shall I behold thee? When 
shall I be permitted to enjoy a sweet oblivion of the 
anxieties of life, sometimes occupied with the writings 
of the men of old, sometimes in slumbrous ease, or 
tranquil abstraction ? \1 r an slated by R. R. D.\ 

Seneca, b.c. 58 — a.d. 32. 

The reading of many authors, and of all kinds of 
works, has in it something vague and unstable. — 
Epist. 2. 

The multitude of books distracts. — Id. 2. 

It does not matter how many, but how good, books 
you have. — Id. 15. 

Definite reading is profitable ; miscellaneous reading 
is pleasant. — Id. 45. 

Leisure without study is death, and the grave of a 
living man. — Id. 82. 

If you devote your time to study, you will avoid all 
the irksomeness of this life ; nor will you long for the 


approach of night, being tired of the day ; nor will 
you be a burden to yourself, nor your society insup- 
portable to others. — Id. 82. 

Reading nourishes the mind, and, when it is wearied 
with study, refreshes it, but not without study. — 
Id. 84. 

We ought to imitate the bees, and to separate all the 
materials which we have gathered from multifarious 
reading, for they keep best separate; and then, by 
applying the study and ability of our own minds, to 
concoct all those various contributions into one flavour. 
—Id. 84. 

He that is well employed in his study, though he 
may seem to do nothing, yet does the greatest things 
of all others. — Id. 84. 

What is the use of countless books and libraries 
whose owner hardly reads through their titles in his 
whole life ? — De Tranq. An. 9. 

The crowd of teachers is burdensome and not in- 
struetive ; and it is much better to trust yourself to a 
few good authors than to wander through several. — 
Id. 9. 

Procure a sufficient number of books, but not for 
show. — Id. 9. 

As long as the aliments of which we have partaken 
retain their own nature and float as solids in our 
stomach, they are burdensome ; but when they have 
changed from their former state, then, and not till 
then, they enter into our strength and blood. Let us 
do the same with the foods which nourish our minds, 
so that we do not suffer the things we have taken in 


to remain whole and foreign. Let us digest them ! 
otherwise they enter our memory, but not our mind. — 
Id. 84. [Translated by /. N.^ 

Plutarch, a.d. 46 — 120. 

We ought to regard books as we do sweetmeats, 
not wholly to aim at the pleasantest, but chiefly to 
respect the wholesomest ; not forbidding either, but 
approving the latter most. 

AuLUS Gellius. cir. 117 — 180 a.d. 

The things which are well said do not improve the 
disposition of the young so much as those which are 
wickedly said corrupt them. — Noct. Att. 12, 2. 

Gospel of St. Matthew. 

A good man out of the good treasure of the heart 
bfingeth forth good things. 

By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy 
words thou shalt be condemned. — St. Matthew xii. 
35 «^^ 37. 


Reading is free, and does not exhaust itself with the 
act, but may be repeated, in case you are in doubt, or 
wish to impress it deeply on the memory. Let us 
repeat it; and — just as we swallow our food masti- 
cated and nearly fluid, in order that it may be more 
easily digested — so our reading should not be delivered 
to the memory in its crude state, but sweetened and 
worked up by frequent repetition. — Inst. Or at. 10, i. 


Every good writer is to be read, and diligently ; and, 
when the volume is finished, is to be gone through 
again from the beginning. — Id. lo. 

The reader should not at once persuade himself that 
all things that the best writers have said are absolutely 
perfect. — Id. lo. {Translated by J. N.'\ 

Pliny, the Younger, a.d. 6i. 

d. AFTER 105. 

The elder Pliny used to say that no Book was so 
bad but that some part of it might be profitable. — 
Epist. 3. 

They say we should read much, not many things.— 
Id. 7. 

St. Paul. a.d. 65. 

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were 
written for our learning. — Romans xv. 4. 

All may learn, and all may be comforted. — I Corin- 
thians xiv. 31. 

From the Persian. 

A wise man knows an ignorant one, because he has 
been ignorant himself ; but the ignorant cannot recog- 
nise the wise, because he has never been wise. 

Hindu Saying. 

The words of the good are like a staff in a slippery 

persian sa ying-richard de bury 7 

From the Persian. 

They asked their wisest man by what means he had 
attained to such a degree of knowledge ? He replied : 
"Whatever I did not know, I was not ashamed 10 
inquire about. Inquire about everything that you do 
not know ; since, for the small trouble of asking, you 
will be guided in the road of knowledge." 

Richard de Bury. 1287 — 1345. 

In Books we find the dead as it were living ; in 
Books we foresee things to come ; in Books warlike 
affairs are methodized ; the rights of peace proceed 
from Books. All things are corrupted and decay with 
time. Saturn never ceases to devour those whom he 
generates ; insomuch that the glory of the world would 
be lost in oblivion if God had not provided mortals 
with a remedy in Books. Alexander t«he ruler of the 
world ; Julius the invader of the world and of the city, 
the first who in unity of person assumed the empire in 
arms and arts ; the faithful Fabricius, the rigid Cato, 
would at this day have been without a memorial if 
the aid of Books had failed them. Towers are razed 
to the earth, cities overthrown, triumphal arches 
mouldered to dust; nor can the King or Pope be 
found, upon whom the privilege of a lasting name can 
be conferred more easily than by Books. A Book 
made, renders succession to the author : for as long as 
the Book exists, the author remaining a^amTo?, im- 
mortal, cannot perish. . . . The holy Boetius 
attributes a threefold existence to Truth, — in the mind. 


in the voice, and in writing ; it appears to abide most 
usefully and fructify most productively of advantage in 
Books. For the Truth of the voice perishes with the 
sound. Truth latent in the mind, is hidden wisdom 
and invisible treasure ; but the Truth which illuminates 
Books desires to manifest itself to every disciplinable 
sense, to the sight when read, to the hearing when 
heard : it, moreover, in a manner commends itself to 
the touch, when submitting to be transcribed, collated, 
corrected and preserved. Truth confined to the mind, 
though it may be the possession of a noble soul, while 
it wants a companion and is not judged of, either by 
the sight, or the hearing, appears to be inconsistent 
with pleasure. But the Truth of the voice is open to 
the hearing only, and latent to the sight (which shows 
us many differences of things fixed upon by a most 
subtle motion, beginning and ending as it were simul- 
taneously). But the Truth written in a Book, being not 
fluctuating, but permanent, shows itself openly to the 
sight, passing through the spiritual ways of the eyes, 
as the porches and halls of common sense and imagi- 
nation ; it enters the chamber of intellect, reposes 
itself upon the couch of memory, and there congene- 
frates the eternal Truth of the mind. 

Lastly, let us consider how great a commodity of 
doctrine exists in Books, how easily, how secretly, 
how safely they expose the nakedness of human igno- 
rance without putting it to shame. These are the 
masters who instruct us without rods and ferules, 
without hard words and anger, without clothes or 
money. If you approach them, they are not asleep ; 
if investigating you interrogate them, they conceal 


nothing ; if you mistake them, they never grumble ; 
if you are ignorant, they cannot laugh at you. 

You only, O Books, are liberal and independent. 
You give to all who ask, and enfranchise all who 
serve you assiduously. . . . Truly you are the 
ears filled with most palatable grains. . . ' . You 
are golden urns in which manna is laid up, rocks 
flowing with honey, or rather indeed honeycombs ; 
udders most copiously yielding the milk of life, store- 
rooms ever full ; the four-streamed river of Paradise, 
where the human mind is fed, and the arid intellect 
moistened and watered ; . . . fruitful olives, vines 
of Engaddi, fig-trees knowing no sterility; burning 
lamps to be ever held in the hand. 

The library, therefore, of wisdom is more precious 
than all riches, and nothing that can be wished for is 
worthy to be compared with it. Whosoever, therefore, 
acknowledges himself to be a zealous follower of truth, 
of happiness, of wisdom, of science, or even of the 
faith, must of necessity make himself a Lover of Books. 
— Philobiblon, a Treatise on the Love of Books : written 
in Latin in 1344, and translated fro7?i the first edition , 
1473, by J. B. Inglis. (London^ 1832.^ 

Francesco Petrarca. 1304 — 1374. 

Books never pall on me. . . . They discourse 
with us, they take counsel with us, and are united to 
us by a certain living chatty familiarity. And not 
only does each book inspire the sense that it belongs 
to its readers, but it also suggests the name of others, 
and one begets the desire of the other. — Epistolce 
de Rebus Familiarihiis (Jos. FrancasettC s Edition). 


Epistle viii., Book xvii., is devoted to shewing "how 
contemptible is the lust of wealth when compared with 
the noble thirst for learning." 

Joy \loquitu7'\ : I consider Books aids to learning. 

Reason : But take care lest they are rather hin- 
drances ; some have been prevented from conquering 
by the numbers of their soldiers, so many have found 
the multitude of their books a hindrance to learning, 
and abundance has bred want, as sometimes happens. 
But if the many Books are at hand, they are not to be 
cast aside, but to be gleaned, and the best used ; and 
care should be taken that those which might have 
proved seasonable auxiliaries,'do not become hindrances 
out of season. — De Reinediis utritisque Fortunes^ 
Edition of 1613, p. 174. {Translated by /. N.'\ 

The friends of Petrarch apologized to him for the 
length of time between their visits : 

*' It is impossible for us to follow your example : the 
life you lead is contrary to human nature. In winter, 
you sit like an owl, in the chimney corner. In summer, 
you are running incessantly about the fields." 

Petrarch smiled at these observations : 

"These people," said he, "consider the pleasures 
of the world as the supreme good, and cannot bear 
the idea of renouncing them. I have Friends, 
whose society is extremely agreeable to me : they are 
of all ages, and of every country. They have dis- 
tinguished themselves both in the cabinet and in the 
field, and obtained high honours for their knowledge 
of the sciences. It is easy to gain access to them ; 


for they are always at my service, and I admit them 
to my company, and dismiss them from it, whenever I 
please. They are never troublesome, but immediately 
answer every question I ask them. Some relate to me 
the events of past ages, while others reveal to me the 
secrets of nature. Some teach me how to live, and 
others how to die. Some, by their vivacity, drive 
away my cares and exhilarate my spirits, while others 
give fortitude to my mind, and teach me the important 
lesson how to restrain my desires, and to depend 
wholly on myself. They open to me, in short, the 
various avenues of all the arts and sciences, and upon 
their information I safely rely, in all emergencies. In 
return for all these services, they only ask me to ac- 
commodate them with a convenient chamber in some 
corner of my humble habitation, where they may 
repose in peace : for these friends are more delighted 
by the tranquillity of retirement, than with the tumults 
of society." 

DoMiNico Mancini (a contemporary 
OF Petrarch). 

In vain that husbandman his seed doth sow, 

If he his crop not in due season mow. 

A general sets his army in array 

In vain, unless he fight, and win the day. 

'Tis virtuous action that must praise bring forth. 

Without which slow advice is little worth. 

Yet they who give good counsel, praise deserve, 

Though in the active part they cannot serve ; 


In action, learned counsellors their age, 
Profession, or disease, forbids t' engage. 
Nor to philosophers is praise deny'd. 
Whose wise instructions after-ages guide ; 
Yet vainly most their age in study spend ; 
No end of writing books, and to no end : 
Beating their brains for strange and hidden things, 
Whose knowledge, nor delight nor profit brings : 
Themselves with doubt both day and night perplex. 
Nor gentle reader please, or teach, but vex. 
Books should to one of these four ends conduce, 
For wisdom, piety, delight, or use. 

Then seek to know those things which make us blest, 
And having found them, lock them in thy breast. 

In vain on study time away we throw. 
When we forbear to act the things we know. 

God, who to thee reason and knowledge lent, 
Will ask how these two talents have been spent. 

Libellus de quattuor Virtutibus, Paj-iSy 1484. 
Translated by Sir John Denham. Chal- 
mers* English Poets y vol. vii. /. 255. 

Geoffrey Chaucer. 1328 — 1400. 

A Gierke ther was of Oxenford also, 
That unto logik hadde long i-go 

For him was lever have at his beddes head 
Twenty bookes, clothed in blak and reed, 
Of Aristotil, and of his philosophic. 


But al though he were a philosophre, 
Yet hadde he but litul gold in cofre ; 
But al that he might of his frendes hente, 
On bookes and his lernyng he it spente. 

Prologue to the Canterbury. Tales, 

And as for me, though that I konne but lyte, 
On bokes for to rede I me delyte, " 
And to hem yeve I feyth and ful credence, 
And in myn herte have hem in reverence 
So hertely, that ther is game noon, 
That fro my bokes maketh me to goon, 
But yt be seldome on the holy day, 
Save, certeynly, whan that the monethe of May 
Is comen, and that I here the foules synge, 
And that the floures gynnen for to sprynge, 
Farwel my boke; and my devocion ! 

Prologue to the Legende of Goode Women. 

For out of old fieldes, as men saithe, 
Cometh all this new come fro yere to yere, 
And out of old bookes, in good faithe, 
Cometh al this new science that men lere. 

The Assefnbly of Foules. 

Thomas a Kempis. 1380 — 1471. 

If thou wilt receive profit, read with humility, sim- 
plicity, and faith ; and seek not at any time the fame 
of being learned. — Book I. chap. v. 

Verily, when the day of judgment comes, we shall 
not be examined what we have read, but what we have 


done ; nor how learnedly we have spoken, but how 
religiously we have lived. — Book I. chap. vi. 

JoACHiMUS Fortius Ringelbergius. 
d. 1536. 

Let no one be dejected, if he is not conscious of any 
great advantage in study at first. For as we know, 
that the hour-hand of a timepiece moves progressively 
onward, notwithstanding we cannot discern its mo- 
mentary motion; and as we see trees and herbs 
increase and grow to maturity, although we are not 
able to perceive their hourly progress ; so do we know 
that learning and study, although their transitions be 
imperceptible at the moment of observation, are sure in 
their advancement. The merchant thinks himself happy 
if after a ten years voyage, after a thousand dangers, he 
at length improves his fortune ; and shall we, like poor- 
spirited creatures, give up all hopes after the first 
onset ? No ! let us rather adopt this as our maxim, 
that whatever the mind has commanded itself to do, 
it is sure of obtaining its purpose. 

To those who are accustomed to spend more time in 
slumber than the nature of their studies, and these our 
admonitions will admit of; an alarum clock, which 
might be set to any hour they chose, would be found 
highly serviceable. I myself, when I have been upon 
a journey, or sojourning in any place where a machine 
of this kind could not be obtained, have actually slept 
upon two flat pieces of wood, laid transversely upon 


my bed, lest I should slumber too long. Nor have I 
felt any inconvenience from this, for I have uniformly 
found by experience, that when weary, I have slept 
soundly, notwithstanding the hardness of my couch, 
and when sufficiently refreshed, the hardness of my 
couch has compelled me to quit it. But this to most 
men would be a harsh experiment, and one which per- 
haps few, however attached they may be to literary 
pursuits, would care to try. I therefore recommend 
the alarum in preference ; or what is infinitely better 
than either, a firm resolution not to continue to 
slumber after a certain hour of the morning. 

Let us detach ourselves from things trifling and 
insignificant, and give ourselves up to the study 
of things worthy our nature and capacity. We 
all value our possessions, much more ought we to 
estimate our time. Yet such is the irrationality of our 
conduct, that if we should happen by some mischance 
to lose a portion of our property, which by industry 
may be easily recovered, we fill the air with our 
lamentations ; but we not only bear the loss of time, 
which can never be recovered, with equanimity, but 
with manifest indications of joy and satisfaction. 

He who aspires to the character of a man of 
learning, has taken upon himself the performance of 
no common task. The ocean of literature is without 
limit. How then will he be able to perform a voyage, 
even to a moderate distance, if he waste his time in 
dalliance on the shore ? Our only hope is in exertion. 


Let our only reward be that of industry. Unless 
we are vigilant to gather the fruit of time, whilst the 
autumn of life is yet with us ; we shall, at the close of 
its winter, descend into the grave as the beasts which 
perish, without having left a record behind us to in- 
form posterity that we ever existed. — "Z>^ Ratione 
Studii;" translated by G. B, Earp^from the Edition of 
Erpenius [1619], who gave it the title of ^^ Liber vere 
Aureus,'''' or " The truly Golden Treatise.''^ 

Desiderius Erasmus. 1467 — 1536. 

At the first it is no great Matter how much you 
Learn ; but how well you learn it. And now take a 
Direction how you may not only learn well, but easily 
too ; for the right Method of Art qualifies the Artist to 
perform his Work not only well and expeditiously, but 
easily too. Divide the Day into Tasks, as we read 
Pliny the Second, and Pope Pius the Great did, Men 
worthy to be remember'd by all Men. In the first 
Part of it, which is the chief Thing of all, hear the 
Master interpret, not only attentively, but with a Sort 
of Greediness, not being content to follow him in his 
Dissertations with a slow Pace, but striving to out-strip 
him a little. Fix all his Sayings in your Memory, and 
commit the rnost material of them to Writing, the 
faithful Keeper of Words. And be sure to take Care 
not to rely upon them, as that ridiculous rich Man that 
Seneca speaks of did, who had form'd a Notion, that 
whatsoever of Literature any of his Servants had, was 
his own. By no Means have your Study furnish'd 
with learned Books, and be unlearned yourself. Don't 


sufferwhat you hear to slip out of your Memory, butrecite 
it either with yourself, or to other Persons. Nor let this 
suffice you, but set apart some certain Time for Medita- 
tion ; which one Thing as St. Aurelius writes does most 
notably conduce to assist both Wit and Memory. An 
Engagement and combating of Wits does in an extraor- 
dinary Manner both shew the Strength of Genius's, rouzes 
them, and augments them. If you are in Doubt of any 
Thing, don't be asham'd to ask ; or if you have committed 
an Error, to be corrected. Avoid late and unseasonable 
Studies, for they murder Wit, and are very prejudicial to 
Health. The Muses love the Morning, and that is a fit 
Time for Study, After you have din'd, either divert 
yourself at some Exercise, or take a Walk, and discourse 
merrily, and Study between whiles. As for Diet, eat 
only as much as shall be sufficient to preserve Health, 
and not as much or more than the Appetite may crave. 
Before Supper, take a little Walk, and do the same 
after Supper. A little before you go to sleep read some- 
thing that is exquisite, and worth remembring ; and 
contemplate upon it till you fall asleep ; and when you 
awake in the Morning, call yourself to an Account for 
it. Alwa)^ keep this Sentence of Pliny's in your Mind, 
All that time is lost that you donH bestow on Study, 
Think upon this, that there is nothing more fleeting 
than Youth, which, when once it is past, can never 
be recall'd. But now I begin to be an Exhorter, when 
I promis'd to be a Director. My sweet Christian, 
follow this Method, or a better, if you can ; and so 
farewell.— "C^//^^«/>j; Of the Method of Study ; To 
Chrisiianus of Ltibeck.^^ [Fj^om the Latin text of 
P. Scriver's Edition, printed by the Elzevirs, 1643.] 


NiccoLo Machiavelli. 1469 — 1527. 

When evening has arrived, I return home, and go 
into my study. ... I pass into the antique courts 
of ancient men, where, welcomed lovingly by them, I 
feed upon the food which is my own, and for which I was 
hjorn. Here, I can speak with them without show, and 
can ask of them the motives of their actions ; and 
they respond to me by virtue of their humanity. For 
hours together, the miseries of life no longer annoy 
me ; I forget every vexation ; I do not fear poverty ; 
and death itself does not dismay me, for I have 
altogether transferred myself to those with whom I 
hold converse. — Opere di Machiavelli^ Editione Italia, 
1813, z/^/. viii. {Translated by E. H.^ 

Martin Luther. 1483 — 1546. 

Every great book is an action, and every great 
action is a book. 

All who would study with advantage in any art what- 
soever, ought to betake themselves to the reading of 
some sure and certain books oftentimes over ; for to 
read many books produceth confusion, rather than 
learning, like as those who dwell everywhere are not 
anywhere at home. — Table Talk, 

Roger Ascham. 15 15 — 15'68. 

Before I went into Germany, I came to Broadgate 
in Leicestershire, to take my leave of that noble lady 
Jane Grey, to whom I was exceeding much beholding. 


Her parents, the duke and duchess, with all the house- 
hold, gentlemen and gentlewomen, were hunting in 
the park. I found her in her chamber, reading Phado 
Platonis in Greek, and that with as much delight as 
some gentlemen would read a merry tale in Boccace. 
After salutation, and duty done, with some other talk, 
I asked her, why she would leese such pastime in the 
park? Smiling, she answered me; "I wist, all their 
sport in the park is but a shadow to that pleasure that I 
find in Plato. Alas ! good folk, they never felt what true 
pleasure meant. " * * And how came you, madam, " quoth 
I, "to this deep knowledge of pleasure? and what did 
chiefly allure you into it, seeing not many women, but 
very few men, have attained thereunto?" "I will tell 
you," quoth she, "and tell you a truth, which perchance 
ye will marvel at. One of the greatest benefits that 
ever God gave me, is, that he sent me so sharp and 
severe parents, and so gentle a schoolmaster. For 
when I am in presence either of father or mother ; 
whether I speak, keep silence, sit, stand, or go, eat, 
drink, be merry, or sad, be sewing, playing, dancing, 
or doing anything else ; I must do it, as it were, in 
such weight, measure, and number, even so perfectly, 
as God made the world ; or else I am so sharply 
taunted, so cruelly threatened, yea presently sometimes 
•with pinches, nips, and bobs, and other ways (which 
I will not name for the honour I bear them) so 
without measure misordered, that I think myself in 
hell, till time come that I must go to Mr. Elmer ; 
who teacheth me so gently, so pleasantly, with such 
fair allurements to learning, that I think all the time 
nothing whiles I am with him. And when I am called 


from him, I fall on weeping, because whatsoever I do 
else but learning, is full of grief, trouble, fear, and 
whole misliking unto me. And thus my book hath 
been so much my pleasure, and bringeth daily to me 
more pleasure and more, that in respect of it, all other 
pleasures, in very deed, be but trifles and troubles 
unto me." 

I remember this talk gladly, both because it is so 
worthy of memory, and because also it was the last 
talk that ever I had, and the last time that ever I saw 
that noble and worthy lady. 

And I do not mean by all this my talk, that young 
gentlemen should always be poring on a book, and by 
using good studies should leese honest pleasure, and 
haunt no good pastime : I mean nothing less. For it 
is well known that I both like and love, and have 
always, and do yet still use all exercises and pastimes 
that be fit for my nature and ability: and beside 
natural disposition, in judgment also I was never 
either stoic in doctrine or anabaptist in religion, to 
mislike a merry, pleasant, and playful nature, if no 
outrage be committed against law, measure, and good 
order. Therefore I would wish, that beside some good 
time fitly appointed, and constantly kept, to increase by 
reading the knowledge of the tongues and learning; 
young gentlemen should use, and delight in all courtly 
exercises, and gentlemanlike pastimes. And good cause 
why: for the self same noble city of Athens, justly 
commended of me before, did wisely, and upon great 
consideration, appoint the Muses, Apollo and Pallas, to 


be patrons of learning to their youth. For the Muses, 
besides learning, were also ladies of dancing, mirth, 
and minstrelsy : Apollo was god of shooting, and author 
of cunning playing upon instruments ; Pallas also was 
lady mistress in wars. Whereby was nothing else 
meant, but that learning should be always mingled 
with honest mirth and comely exercises ; and that war 
also should be governed by learning and moderated 
by wisdom. 

Indeed books of common places be very necessary to 
induce a man into an orderly general knowledge, how 
to refer orderly all that he readeth, ad certa rerum 
capita, and not wander in study. But to dwell in 
Epitomes, and books of common places, and not to 
bind himself daily by orderly study, to read with all 
diligence principally the holiest Scripture, and withal the 
best doctors, and so td learn to make true difference 
betwixt the authority of the one and the counsel of the 
other, maketh so many seeming and sun-burnt ministers 
as we have ; whose learning is gotten in a summer 
heat, and washed away with a Christmas snow again. 
And this exercise is not more needfully done in a 
great work, than wisely done in your common daily 
writing either of letter or other thing else ; that is to 
say, to peruse diligently, and see and spy wisely, what 
is always more than needeth. For twenty to one 
offend more in writing too much than too little : even 
as twenty to one fall into sickness, rather by overmuch 
fulness, than by any lack or emptiness. And there- 
fore is he always the best English physician, that best 


can give a purgation : that is by way of Epitome to cut 
all over-much away. And surely men's bodies be not 
more full of ill humours, than commonly men's minds 
(if they be young, lusty, proud, like and love them- 
selves well, as most men do) be full of fancies, opinions, 
errors, and faults, not only in inward invention, but 
also in all their utterance, either by pen or talk. 

And of all other men, even those that have the 
inventivest heads for all purposes,' and roundest 
tongues in all matters and places (except they learn 
and use this good lesson of Epitome)^ commit com- 
monly greater faults than dull, staying, silent men 
do. For quick inventors, and fair ready speakers, 
being boldened with their present ability to say more, 
and perchance better too, at the sudden for that 
present, than any other can do, use less help of 
diligence and study, than they ought to do ; and so 
have in them commonly less learning, and weaker 
judgment for all deep considerations, than some duller 
heads and slower tongues "have. 

In every separate kind of learning, and study 
by itself, ye must follow choicely a few, and 
chiefly some one, and that namely in our school of 
eloquence, either for pen or talk. And as in por- 
traiture and painting, wise men choose not that 
workman that can only make a fair hand, or a well- 
fashioned leg; but such a one as can furnish up fully 
all the features of the whole body of a man, woman, 
and child ; and withal is able too, by good skill, to 
give to every one of these three, in their proper kind, 
the right form, the true figure, the natural colour, 
that is fit and due to the dignity of a man, to the 


beauty of a woman, to the sweetness of a young babe : 
even likewise do we seek such one in our school to 
follow ; who is able always in all matters to teach 
plainly, to delight pleasantly, and to carry away by 
force of wise talk, all that shall hear or read him. 

But for ignorance men cannot like, and for idleness 
men will not labour, to come to any perfectness at 
all. For as the worthy poets in Athens and Rome 
were more careful to satisfy the judgment of one 
learned, than rash in pleasing the humour of a rude 
multitude ; even so, if men in England now had the 
like reverend regard to learning, skill, and judgment, 
and durst not presume to write, except they came with 
the like learning, and also did use like diligence in 
searching out, not only just measure in every metre 
(as every ignorant person may easily do), but also true 
quantity in every foot and syllable (as only the learned 
shall be able to do, and as the Greeks and Romans 
were wont to do), surely then rash ignorant heads, 
which now can easily reckon up fourteen syllables, and 
easily stumble on every rhyme, either durst not, for 
lack of such learning, or else would not, in avoiding 
such labour, be so busy, as every where they be ; and 
shops in London should not be so full of lewd and 
rude rhymes, as commonly they are. But now the 
ripest of tongue be readiest to write. And many 
daily in setting out books and ballads, make great 
show of blossoms and buds ; in whom is neither root 
of learning nor fruit of wisdom at all. — The Schole- 
master^ Book i., Aschain^s Works ^ by Dr. Giles. 1864. 
Vol. iii. 

24 michel de montaigne. 

Michel de Montaigne. 1537— -1592. 

The Commerce of Books is much more certain, and 
much more our own. It yields all other Advantages 
to the other two ; but has the Constancy and Facility 
of it's Service for it's own Share : it goes side by side 
with me in my whole Course, and everywhere is 
assisting to me. It comforts me in my Age and Soli- 
tude ; it eases me of a troublesome Weight of Idleness, 
and delivers me at all Hours from Company that I 
dislike ; and it blunts the Point of Griefs, if they are 
not extreme, and have not got an entire Possession of 
my Soul. To divert myself from a troublesome 
Fancy, 'tis but to run to my Books ; they presently fix 
me to them, and drive the other out of my Thoughts ; 
and do not mutiny to see that I have only* recourse to 
them for want of other more real, natural and lively 
Conveniences ; they always receive me with the same 
Kindness. . . . The sick Man is not to be la- 
mented, who has his Cure in his Sleeve. In the 
Experience and Practice of this Sentence, which is a 
very true one, all the Benefit I reap from Books 
consists ; and yet I make as little use of it almost as 
those who know it not ; I enjoy it as a Miser does his 
Money, in knowing that I may enjoy it when I please; 
my Mind is satisfied with this Right of Possession. I 
never travel without Books, either in Peace or War ; 
and yet sometimes I pass over several Days, and 
sometimes Months, without looking into them ; I will 
read by and by, say I to myself, or to Morrow, or 
when I please, and Time steals away without any 
InGonvenience. For it is not to be imagin'd to what 


Degree I please my self, and rest content in this 
Consideration, that I have them by me, to divert my self 
with them when I am so dispos'd, and to call to mind 
what an Ease and Assistance they are to my Life. 
'Tis the best Viaticum I have yet found out for this 
human Journey, and I very much lament those Men 
of Understanding who are unprovided of it. And yet I 
rather accept of any sort of diversion, how light soever, 
because this can never fail me. When at Home, I a 
little more frequent my Library, from whence I at once 
survey all the whole Concerns of my Family : As I enter 
it, I from thence see under my Garden, Court, and Base- 
court, and into all the parts of the Building. There I 
turn over now one Book, and then another, of various 
Subjects without Method or Design : One while I 
meditate, another I record, and dictate as I walk to 
and fro, such Whimsies as these with which I here 
present you. 'Tis in the third Story of a Tower, of 
which the Ground-Room is my Chapel, the second 
Story an Apartment with a withdrawing Room and 
Closet, where I often lie to be more retired. Above 
it is a great Wardrobe, which formerly was the most 
useless part of the House. In that Library I pass away 
most of the Days of my Life, and most of the Hours of 
the Day. In the Night I am never there. There is 
within it a Cabinet handsom and neat enough, with a 
very convenient Fire-place for the Winter, and Windows 
that afford a great deal of light, and very pleasant 
Prospects. And were I not more afraid of the Trouble 
than the Expence, the Trouble that frights me from all 
Business, I could very easily adjoin on either Side, and 
on the same Floor, a Gallery of an hundred Paces long, 


and twelve broad, having found Walls already rais'd 
for some other design, to the requisite height. Every 
Place of Retirement requires a Walk. My Thoughts 
sleep if I sit still ; my Fancy does not go by it self, 
my legs must move it ; and all those who study without 
a Book are in the same Condition. The Figure of my 
Study is round, and has no more flat Wall than what 
is taken up by my Table and Chairs ; so that the 
remaining parts of the Circle present me a View of all 
my Books at once, set upon five Degrees of Shelves 
round about me. It has three noble and free Prospects, 
and is sixteen Paces Diameter. I am not so continually 
there in Winter ; for my House is built upon an Emi- 
nence, as it's Name imports, and no part of it is so 
much expos'd to the Wind and Weather as that, which 
pleases me the better, for being of a painful Access, 
and a little remote, as well upon the account of Exercise, 
as being also there more retir'd from the Crowd. 'Tii 
there that I am in my Kingdom, as we say, and there 
I endeavour to make my self an absolute Monarch, and 
to sequester this one Corner from all Society, whether 
Conjugal, Filial, or Civil. Elsewhere I have but 
verbal Authority only, and of a confus'd Essence. That 
Man, in my Opinion, is very miserable, who has not 
at home, where to be by himself, where to entertain 
himself alone, or to conceal himself from others. . . . 
I think it much more supportable to be always alone 
than never to be so. If any one shall tell me, that it 
is to under-value the Muses, to make use of them only 
for Sport, and to pass away the Time ; I shall tell him, 
that he does not know the value of Sport and Pastime 
so well as I do ; I can hardly forbear to add further, 


that all other end is ridiculous. I live from Hand to 
Mouth, and, with Reverence be it spoken, I only live 
for my self; to that all my Designs do tend, and in . 
that terminate. I studied when young for Ostentation ; 
since to make my self a little wiser ; and now for my 
Diversion, but never for any Profit. A vain and 
prodigal Humour I had after this sort of Furniture, 
not only for supplying my own needs and defects, but 
moreover for Ornament and outward show; I have 
since quite abandon'd it. Books have many charming 
Qualities to such as know how to choose them. But 
every Good has it's 111 ; 'tis a Pleasure that is not pure 
and clean, no more than others : It has it's Inconve* 
niences, and great ones too. The Mind indeed is 
exercised by it, but the Body, the care of which I must 
withal never neglect, remains in the mean time without 
Action, grows heavy and melancholy. I know no 
Excess more prejudicial to me, nor more to be avoided 
in this my declining Age. — Of Three Commerces, 
{Charles Cotton's Translation, 1685.) 

John Florio. 1545 — 1625. 

Concerning the Honour of Books, 

Since honour from the honourer proceeds, 

How well do they deserve, that memorize 

And leave in books for all posterities 

The names of worthies and their virtuous deeds ; 

When all their glory else, like water-weeds 

Without their element, presently dies. 

And all their greatness quite forgotten lies. 

And when and how they flourished no man heeds ! 


How poor remembrances are statues, tombs 
And other monuments that men erect 
To princes, which remain in closed rooms, 
Where but a few behold them, in respect 
Of Books, that to the universal eye 
Show how they lived ; the other where they lie ! 
Prefixed to the second edition of John Florid' $ 
Translation ofMo7itaigne\ Essays, 1 6 1 3 . — ■ 
[ Vide Notes to D. M, Main's Treasury of 
English Sonnets^ p, 248, in reference to 
this Sonnet. ] 

Book of Common Prayer. 1549. 

Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest. — Collect 
for Second Sunday in Advent, 

John Lylye [or Lilly]. 1553 — 1601. 

. . . far more seemely were it for thee to have 
ihy Studie full of Bookes, than thy Purses full of 
Mony. — Euphues ; the Anatomy of Wit, 

Sir Philip Sidney. 1554 — 1586. 

It is manifest that all government of action is to be 
gotten by knowledge, and knowledge, best, by gather- 
ing many knowledges, which is reading. 

Lord Bacon. 1561 — 1629. 

Studies serve for delight, for ornament, and for 
abiUty. Their chief use for delight is in privateness 
and retiring ; for ornament is in discourse ; and for 


ability is in the judgment and disposition of business. 
. . . Read not to contradict and confute, nor to 
believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and dis- 
course, but to weigh and consider. Some books are 
to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to 
be chewed and digested ; that is, some books are to 
be read only in parts ; others to be read, but not 
curiously ; and some few to be read wholly, and with 
diligence and attention. . . . Reading maketh a 
full man ; conference a ready man ; and writing an 
exact man ; and, therefore, if a man write little, he 
had need have a great memory : if he confer little, he 
had need have a present wit : and if he read little, 
he had need have much cunning to seem to know that 
he doth not. 

The images of men's wits and knowledge remain in 
books, exempted from the worry of time and capable 
of perpetual renovation. Neither are they fitly to be 
called images, because they generate still, and cast their 
seeds in the minds of others, provoking and causing 
infinite actions and opinions in succeeding ages. 

We enter into a desire of knowledge sometimes from 
a natural curiosity and inquisitive appetite ; sometimes 
to entertain our minds with variety and delight ; 
sometimes for ornament and reputation ; sometimes to 
enable us to victory of wit and contradiction, and most 
times for lucre and profession ; and seldom sincerely 
to give a true account of our gift of reason, for the 
benefit and use of man : — as if there were sought in 
knowledge a couch whereupon to rest a searching and 
restless spirit ; or a terrace for a wandering and 


variable mind to walk up and down, with a fair pros- 
pect ; or a tower of state for a proud mind to raise 
itself upon ; or a fort or commanding ground for strife 
and contention ; or a shop for profit or sale ; and not 
a rich storehouse for the glory of the Creator and the 
relief of man's estate. 

As the eye rejoices to receive the light, the ear to 
hear sweet music; so the mind, which is the man, 
rejoices to discover the secret works, the varieties and 
beauties of nature. The inquiry of truth, which is the 
love-making or wooing it ; the knowledge of truth, 
which is the presence of it ; and the belief of truth, 
which is the enjoying it, is the sovereign good of our 
nature. The unlearned man knows not what it is to 
descend into himself or to call himself to account, or 
the pleasure of that "suavissima vita indies sentire se 
fieri meliorem." The mind of man doth wonderfully 
endeavour and extremely covet that it may not be 
pensile ; but that it may light upon something fixed 
and immoveable, on which, as on a firmament, it may 
support itself in its swift motions and disquisitions. 
Aristotle endeavours to prove that in all motions of 
bodies there is some point quiescent ; and very 
elegantly expounds the fable of Atlas, who stood fixed 
and bore up the heavens from falling, to be meant of 
the poles of the world whereupon the conversion is 
accomplished. In like manner, men do earnestly 
seek to have some Atlas or axis of their cogitations 
within themselves, which may, in some measure, 
moderate the fluctuations and wheelings of the under- 
standing, fearing it may be the falling of their heaven. 


In studies whatsoever a man commandeth upon 
himself let him set hours for it ; but whatsoever is 
agreeable to his nature, let him take no care for any 
set hours, for his thoughts will fly to it of themselves. 

Such letters as are written from wise men are of all 
the words of men, in my judgment, the best ; for they 
are more natural than orations, public speeches, and 
more advanced than conference or present speeches. 

Samuel Daniel. 1562 — 1619. 

O blessed Letters ! that combine in one 
All Ages past, and make one live with all. 
By you we do confer with who are gone, 
And the Dead-living unto Council call ; 
By you th' unborn shall have Communion 
Of what we feel and what doth us befal. 
Soul of the World, Knowledge without thee ; 
What hath the Earth that truly glorious is ? 
. . . What Good is like to this, 
To do worthy the writing, and to write 
Worthy the Reading, and the World's Delight? 
Mtisophilus ; containing a General Defence 
of Leai'ning. 

And tho' books, madam, cannot make this Mind, 
Which we must bring apt to be set aright ; 
Yet do they rectify it in that Kind, 

And touch it so, as that it turns that Way 
Where Judgment lies. And tho' we cannot find 

The certain Place of Truth ; yet do they stay, 
And entertain us near about the same : 


And give the Soul the best Delight that may 
Enchear it most, and most our Spirits enflame 
To Thoughts of Glory, and to worthy Ends. 

To the Lady Lucy, Countess of Bedfoi'd, 

William Shakespeare. 1564 — 1616. 

Me, poor man, my library 
Was dukedom large enough. 

Tempest, i. 2. 
Knowing I loved my books, hre furnished me, 
From my own library, with volumes that 
I prize above my dukedom. 

Tempest, i. 2. 
Sir, he hath never fed of the dainties that are bred 
in a book. 

Love's Labour Lost, iv. 2. 

The books, the arts, the academes. 
That show, contain, and nourish all the world. 
Lovers Labour Lost, iv, 3. 

Come, and take a choice of all my library ; 
And so beguile thy sorrow. 

Titus Andronicus, iv. I. 

Alonzo of Arragon. 

Alonzo of Arragon was wont to say in commen- 
dation of Age, that Age appeared to be best in four 
things : old wood best to burn ; old wine to drink ; 
old friends to trust ; and old authors to read. — Bacoti^s 
Apophthegms, No. 1 01. 


Antonio de Guevara, d. 1544. 

He that lives in his own fields and habitation, which 
God hath given him, enjoys true peace. . . . The 
very occasion of ill-doing is by his presence taken away. 
He busieth not himself in a search of pleasures, but in 
regulating and disposing of his family ; in the education 
of his children and domestick discipline. No violent 
tempestuous motions distract his rest, but soft gales and a 
silent aire, refresh and breath upon him. He doth all 
things commodiously, ordereth his life discreetly, not 
after the opinion of the people, but by the rules of his own 
certain experience. He knows he must not live here 
for ever, and therefore thinks frequently of dissolution 
and the day of death. . . . He that lives in the country, 
hath Time for his servant, and whatsoever occasions 
offer themselves — if he be but a discreet observer of 
his hours — he can have no cause to complaine that 
they are unseasonable. Nothing will hinder him from 
the pleasure of books, from devotion, or the fruition 
of his friends. 

More happy then, yea by m.uch more happy than 
any king, if not nearer to a divine felicitie, is that 
person who lives and dwels in the country upon the 
rents and profits of his own grounds. There without 
danger he may act and speake as it becomes simplicity 
and naked truth. He hath liberty and choice in all 
his imployments. ... In the country we can 
have a harmelesse and cheerfull conversation with Qur 
familiar friends, either in our houses or under some 
shade ; whereas in publick company there are many 


things spoken at randome, which bring more of weari- 
nesse than of pleasure to the hearers. But the quiet 
retyr'd liver, in that calme silence, reads over some 
profitable histories or books of devotion, and very often 
— stird up by an inward and holy joy — ^breaks out into 
divine praises and the singing of hymnes and psalms ; 
with these sacred recreations — more delightfull than 
romances, and the lascivious musick of fidlers, which 
only cloy and weary the ears — doth he feed his soule 
and refresh his body. 

The day it self — in my opinion — seems of more 
length and beauty in the country, arwi can be better 
enjoyed than any where else. There the years passe 
away calmly, and one day gently drives on the other, 
insomuch that a man may be sensible of a certaine 
satietie and pleasure from every houre, and may be 
said to feed upon Time it self, which devours all other 
things. O who can never fully expresse the pleasures 
and happinesse of the country-life ! . . , what oblec- 
tation and refreshment it is, to behold the green 
shades, the beauty and majesty of the tall and ancient 
groves, to be skill'd in planting and dressing of 
orchards, flowres, and pot-herbs, to temper and allay 
these harmlesse imployments with an innocent merry 
song, to ascend sometimes to the fresh and healthfull 
hils, to descend into the bosome of the valleys, and 
the fragrant, deawy meadows, to heare the musick of 
birds, the murmurs of bees, the falling of springs, and 
the pleasant discourses of the old plough-men, where 
without any impediment or trouble a man may walk, 


and — as Caio Censorius. us'd to say— discourse with 
the dead, that is, read the pious works of learned men, 
who departing this life, left behind them their noble 
thoughts for the benefit of posterity and the preserva- 
tion of their own worthy names. — The Praise and 
Happinesse of the Cotmtrie-Life ; wjHiten origmally in 
Spanish by Don Antonio de Guevara, Bishop of 
Carthagena, and Counsellour of Estate to Charts the 
Fifth Emperour of Germany. Put into English by 
H, Vaughan, Silurist, 1 65 1. 

Joseph Scaliger. 1540 — 1609. 

I wish I were a skilful grammarian. No one can 
understand any author, without a thorough knowledge 
of grammar. Those who pretend to undervalue learned 
grammarians, are arrant blockheads without any ex- 
ception. From whence proceed so many dissensions 
in religious matters, but from ignorance of grammar ? — 

Old English Song. 

O for a Booke and a shadie nooke, 

eyther in-a-doore or out ; 
With the grene leaves whisp'ring overhede, 

or the Streete cryes all about. 
Where I male Reade all at my ease, 

both of the Newe and Okie ; 
For a jollie goode Booke whereon to looke, 

is better to me than Golde. 



A Sixteenth Century Writer. 

*' Bookes lookt on as to their Readers or Authours, 
do at the very first mention, challenge Preheminence 
above the Worlds admired fine things. Books are the 
Glasse of Counsell to dress ourselves by. They are 
iifes best business : Vocation to these hath more 
Emolument coming in, than all the other busie Termes 
of life. They are Feelesse Counsellours, no delaying 
Patrons, of easie Accesse, and kind Expedition, never 
sending away empty any Client or Petitioner. They 
are for Company, the best Friends; in doubts, Coun- 
sellours ; in Damp, Comforters ; Time's Perspective ; 
the home Traveller's Ship, or Horse, the busie man's 
best Recreation, the Opiate of Idle weariness ; the 
mind's best Ordinary ; Nature's Garden and Seed-plot 
of Immortality. Time spent (needlessly) from them, 
is consumed, but with them, twice gain'd. Time cap- 
tivated and snatched from thee, by Incursions of busi- 
ness. Thefts of Visitants, or by thy own Carelessnesse 
lost, is by these, redeemed in life ; they are the soul's 
Viaticum ; and against death its Cordiall. In a true 
verdict, no such Treasure as a Library." — Fro77i the 
Introduction toAllibone^s Critical Dictionary of English 
Literature, Name of Author not given, 

Joseph Hall. 1574 — 1656. 

I can wonder at nothing more than how a man can 
be idle ; but of all others, a scholar ; in so many im- 
provements of reason, in such sweetness of knowledge, 
in such variety of studies, in such importunity of 


thoughts : other artizans do but practice, we still learn ; 
others run still in the same gyre to weariness, to 
satiety ; our choice is infinite ; other labours require 
recreations ; our very labour recreates our sports ; we 
can never want either somewhat to do, or somewhat 
that we would do. How numberless are the volumes 
which men have written of arts, of tongues ! How 
endless is that volume which God hath written of the 
world ! wherein every creature is a letter ; every day 
a new page. Who can be weary of either of these? To 
find wit in poetry; in philosophy, profoundness; in 
mathematics, acuteness ; in history, wonder of events ; 
in oratory, sweet eloquence; in divinity, supernatural 
light, and holy devotion ; as so many rich metals in their 
proper mines ; whom would it not ravish with delight ? 
After all these, let us but open our eyes, we cannot 
look beside a lesson, in this universal book of our 
Maker, worth our study, worth taking out. What 
creature hath not his miracle ? what event doth not 
challenge his observation ? 

And, if, weary of foreign employment, we list to 
look home into ourselves, there we find a more 
private world of thoughts which set us on work 
anew, more busily and not less profitably: now our 
silence is vocal, our solitariness popular ; and we are 
shut up, to do good unto many ; if once we be 
cloyed with our own company, the door of conference 
is open; here interchange of discourse (besides pleasure) 
benefits us ; and he is a weak companion from whom 
we return not wiser. I could envy, if I could believe 
that anchoret, who, secluded from the world, and pent 
up in his voluntary prison walls, denied that he thought 


the day long, whiles yet he wanted learning to vary his 
thoughts. Not to be cloyed with the same conceit is diffi- 
cult, above human strength ; but to a man so furnished 
with all sorts of knowledge, that according to his disposi- 
tions he can change his studies, I should wonder that 
ever the sun should seem to pass slowly. How many 
busy tongues chase away good hours in pleasant chat, 
and complain of the haste of night ! What ingenious 
mind can be sooner weary of talking with learned 
authors, the most harmless and sweetest companions ? 
What a heaven lives a scholar in, that at once in one 
close room can daily converse with all the glorious 
martyrs and fathers ? that can single out at pleasure, 
either sententious Tertullian, or grave Cyprian, or 
resolute Hierome, or flowing Chrysostome, or divine 
Ambrose, or devout Bernard, or, (who alone is all 
these) heavenly Augustine, and talk with them and 
hear their wise and holy counsels, verdicts, resolutions ; ' 
yea, (to rise higher) with courtly Esay, with learned 
Paul, with all their fellow-prophets, apostles; yet 
more, like another Moses, with God himself, in them 

Let the world contemn us ; while we have these 
delights we cannot envy them ; we cannot wish 
ourselves other than we are. Besides, the way to 
all other contentments is troublesome ; the " only 
recompense is in the end. To delve in the mines, 
to scorch in the fire for the getting, for the fining of 
gold is a slavish toil ; the comfort is in the wedge to 
the owner, not the labourers ; where our very search 
of knowledge is delightsome . Study itself is our life ; 
from which we would not be barred for a world. 


How much sweeter then is the fruit of study, the 
conscience of knowledge? In comparison whereof 
the soul that hath once tasted it, easily contemns all 
human comforts. Go now, ye worldlings, and insult 
over our paleness, our neediness, our neglect. Ye 
could not be so jocund if you were not ignorant ; if you 
did not want knowledge, you could not overlook him 
that hath it ; for me, I am so far from emulating you, 
that I profess I had as lieve be a brute beast, as an 
ignorant rich man. How is it then, that those gallants, 
which have privilege of blood and birth, and better 
education, do so scornfully turn off these most manly, 
reasonable, noble exercises of scholarship? a hawk 
becomes their fist better than a book ; no dog but is a 
belter company : any thing or nothing, rather than 
what we ought. O minds brutishly sensual ! Do they 
think that God made them for disport, -who even in 
his paradise, would not allow pleasure without work ? 
And if for business, either of body or mind : those of 
the body are commonly servile, like itself. The mind 
therefore, the mind only, that honourable and divine part, 
is fittest to be employed of those which would reach to 
the highest perfection of men, and would be more than 
the most. And what work is there of the mind but the 
trade of a scholar, study? Let me therefore fasten 
this problem on our school gates, and challenge 
all comers, in the defence of it ; that no scholar, 
cannot but be truly noble. And if I make it not 
good let me never be admitted further then to the 
subject of our question. Thus we do well to con- 
gratulate to ourselves our own happiness ; if others will 
come to us, it shall be our comfort, but "more theirs ;. 


if not, it is enough that we can joy in ourselves, 
and in him in whom we are that we are. — Epistle 
to Mr, Milward. 

Every day is a little life : and our whole is but a day 
repeated. . . . Those therefore that dare lose a day, 
are dangerously prodigal ; those that dare misspend it, 
desperate. We can best teach others by ourselves ; 
let me tell your lordship, how I would pass my days, 
whether common or sacred. . . . All days are 
his, who gave time a beginning and continuance ; yet 
some he hath made ours, not to command, but to use. 
In none may we forget him ; in some we must forget 
all, besides him. First, therefore, I desire to awake 
at those hours, not when I will, but when I must ; 
pleasure is not a fit rule for rest, but health ; neither 
do I consult so much with the sun, as mine own 
necessity, whether of body or in that of the mind. If 
this vassal could well serve me waking, it should never 
sleep ; but now it must be pleased, that it must be 
serviceable. Now when sleep is rather driven away 
than leaves me, I would ever awake with God ; my 
first thoughts are for him, who hath made the night for 
rest, and the day for travel ; and as he gives, so blesses 
both. If my heart be early seasoned with his presence, 
it will savour of him all day after. While my body is 
dressing, not with an effeminate curiosity, nor yet with 
rude neglect ; my mind addresses itself to her ensuing 
task, bethinking what is to be done, and in what 
order ; and marshalling (as it may) my hours with my 
work ; that done, after some whiles meditation, I walk 
ifp to my masters and companions, my books ; and 


-sitting down amongst them, with the best contentment, 
I dare not reach forth my hand to salute any of them, 
till I have first looked up to heaven, and craved favour 
of him to whom all my studies are duly referred : 
without whom, I can neither profit, nor labour. After 
this, out of no over great variety, I call forth those 
which may best fit my occasions ; wherein I am not 
too scrupulous of age ; sometimes I put myself 
to school, to one of those ancients, whom the 
church hath honoured with the name of Fathers ; 
whose volumes I confess not to open, without a 
sacred reverence of their holiness and gravity ; 
sometimes to those Utgr doctors, which want nothing 
but age to make them classical ; always to God's 

That day is lost, whereof some hours are not improved 
in those divine monuments : others I turn over out of 
choice : these out of duty. Ere I can have sate unto 
weariness, my family, having now overcome all house- 
hold distractions, invites me to our common devotions ; 
not without some short preparation. These heartily per- 
formed, send me up with a more strong and cheerful 
. appetite to my former work, which I find made easy 
to me by intermission, and variety ; now therefore can 
I deceive the hours with change of pleasures, that is, 
of labours. One while mine eyes are busied, another 
while my hand, and sometimes my mind takes the 
burthen from them both ; wherein I would imitate the 
skilfullest cooks, which make the best dishes with 
manifold mixtures ; one hour is spent in textual 
divinity, another in controversy ; histories relieve 
them both. Now, when the mind is weary of other 


labours, it begins to undertake her own ; sometimes it 
meditates and winds up for future use ; sometimes it 
lays forth her conceits into present discourse ; some- 
times for itself, ofter for others. Neither know I 
whether it works or plays in these thoughts ; I am 
sure no sport hath more pleasure, no work more use : 
only the decay of a weak body makes me think these 
dehghts insensibly laborious. 

Thus could I all day (as ringers use) make myself 
music with changes, and complain sooner of the 
day for shortness, than of the business for toil ; 
were it not that this faint monitor interrupts me 
still in the midst of my busy pleasures, and en- 
forces me both to respite and repast ; I must 
yield to both ; while my body and mind are joined 
together in unequal couples, the better must follow the 
weaker. Before my meals, therefore, and after, I let 
myself loose from all thoughts ; and now, would forget 
that I ever studied ; a full mind takes away the body's 
appetite no less than a full body makes a dull and un- 
unwieldy mind ; company, discourse, recreations, are 
now seasonable and welcome : these prepare me for a 
diet, not gluttonous, but medicinal ; the palate may 
not be pleased, but the stomach ; nor that for its own 
sake; neither would I think any of these comforts 
worth respect in themselves but in their use, in their 
end ; so far as they may enable me to better things. 
If I see any dish to tempt my palate, I fear a serpent 
. in that apple, and would please myself in a wilful 
denial ; I rise capable of more, not desirous ; not now 
immediately from my trencher to my book ; but after 
some intermission. Moderate speed is a sure help tO' 


all proceedings; where those things which are 
prosecuted with violence of endeavour or desire, either 
succeed not, or continue not. 

After my later meal, my thoughts are slight ; only 
my memory may be charged with her task, of recalling 
what was committed to her custody in the day ; and 
my heart is busy in examining my hands and mouth, 
and all other senses, of that day's behaviour. And 
now the evening is come, no tradesman doth more 
carefully take in his wares, clear his shopboard, and 
shut his windows, than I would shut up my thoughts, 
and clear my mind. That student shall live miserably, 
which like a camel lies down under his burden. All 
this done, calling together my family, we end the day 
with God. — "How a day shozild be spent,''' In an 
Epistle to My Lord Den7iy. 

What a world of wit is here packed up together ! 
I know not whether this sight doth more dismay or 
comfort me ; it dismays me to think, that here is so 
much that I cannot know ; it coniforts me to think 
that this variety yields so good helps to know what I 
should. There is no truer word than that of Solomon — 
there is no end of making many books ; this sight 
verifies it — there is no end ; indeed, it were pity there 
should. God hath given to man a busy soul, the 
agitation whereof cannot but through time and expe- 
rience work out many hidden truths ; to suppress these 
would be no other than injurious to mankind, whose 
minds, like unto so many candles, should be kindled 
by each other. The thoughts of our deliberation are 
most accurate ; these we vent into our papers ; what 


a happiness is it, that without all offence of necromancy, 
I may here call up any of the ancient worthies of 
learning, whether human or divine, and confer with 
them of all my doubts ! — that I can at pleasure summon 
whole synods of reverend fathers, and acute doctors, 
from all the coasts of the earth, to give their well- 
• studied judgments in all points of question which I 
propose ! Neither can I cast my eye casually upon any 
of these silent masters, but I must learn somewhat : it 
is a wantonness to complain of choice. No law binds 
me to read all ; but the more we can take in and 
digest, the better liking must the mind's needs be. 
Blessed be God that hath set up so many clear lamps 
in his church. Now, none but the wilfully blind can 
plead darkness ; and blessed be the memory of those 
his faithful servants, that have left their blood, their 
spirits, their lives, in these precious papers, and have wil- 
lingly wasted themselves into these during monuments, 
to give light unto others. — Occasional Meditations. 

John Fletcher. 1576 — 1625. 

Give me 

Leave to enjoy myself. That place, that does 

Contain my books, the best companions, is 

To me a glorious court, where hourly I 

Converse with the old sages and philosophers. 

And sometimes for variety, I confer 

With kings and emperors, and weigh their counsels ; 

Calling their victories, if unjustly got, 

-Unto a strict account : and in my fancy. 

Deface their ill-planed statues. Can I then 


Part with such constant pleasures, to embrace 

Uncertain vanities ? No : be it your care 

To augment a heap of wealth ; it shall be mine 

To increase in knowledge. Lights there for my study !- 

If all thy pipes of wine were fill'd with books, 

Made of the barks of trees, or mysteries writ 

In old moth-eaten vellum, he would sip thy cellar 

Quite dry, and still be thirsty. Then, for's diet. 

He eats and digests more volumes at a meal. 

Than there would be larks (though the sky should fall) 

Devour'd in a month in Paris. 

The Elder Brother, Act i. Scene 2. 

Henry Peacham. d. 1640. 

Affect not, as some do, that bookish ambition, to be 
stored with books, and have well-furnished libraries, 
yet keep their heads empty of knowledge. To desire 
to have many books, and never to use them, is. like a 
child tha^ will have a candle burning by him all the 
while he is sleeping. — The Complcat Gentleman, 

Robert Burton. 1576 — 1640. 

But amongst those exercises or recreations of the 
mind within doors, there is none so general, so aptly 
to be applied to all sorts of men, so fit and proper to 
expel idleness and melancholy, as that of study. 
[Here Cicero is quoted, the passage from whom is 
given ante p. 2.] What so full of content, as to read, 
walk, and see maps, pictures, statues, &c. . . . 
Who is he that is now wholly overcome with idleness, 
or otherwise encircled in a labyrinth of worldly care, 


troubles, and discontents, that will not be much 
lightened in his mind by reading of some enticing 
story, true or feigned, where as in a glass he shall 
observe what our forefathers have done, the beginnings, 
ruins, falls, periods of commonwealths, private men's 
actions displayed to the life, &c. Plutarch therefore 
calls them, secundas mensas et bellaria, the second 
course and junkets, because they were generally read 
at noblemen's feasts. Who is not earnestly affected 
with a passionate speech, well penned, an eloquent 
poem, or some pleasant bewitching discourse, like 
that of Heliodorus (Melancthon de Heliodoro), uhi 
ohlectatio qucedam placide Jiuit cum hilaritate con- 
jimcta? ... To most kind of men it is an 
extraordinary delight to study. For what a world of 
books offers itself, in all subjects, arts, and science, to 
the rival contest and capacity of the reader ! . . . 
What is there so sure, what so pleasant? . . . 
What vast tomes are extant in law, physic, and divinity, 
for profit, pleasure, practice, speculation, in verse or 
prose ! Their names alone are the subject of whole 
volumes ; we know thousands of authors of all sorts, 
many great libraries full well furnished, like so many 
dishes of meat, served out for several palates ; and he 
is a very block that is affected with none of them. 
. , . Such is the excellency of these studies that 
all those ornaments, and childish bubbles of wealth, 
are not worthy to be compared to them ; I would even 
live and die with such meditations, and take more 
delight, true content of mind in them, than thou hast 
in all thy wealth and sport, how rich soever thou art. 
And as Cardan well seconds me — **it is more honour- 


able and glorious to understand these truths, than to 
govern provinces, to be beautiful, or to be young." 
The like pleasure there is in all other studies, to such 
as are truly addicted to them ; the like sweetness, which, 
as Circe's cup bewitcheth a student, he cannot leave off. 
Julius Scahger . . . brake out into a 
pathetical protestation, he had rather be the author of 
twelve verses in Lucan, or such an Ode in Horace, than 
Emperor of Germany. , . . King James (1605), 
when he came to see our University of Oxford, and 
amongst other edifices now went to view that famous 
Library renewed by Sir Thomas Bodley, in imitation of 
Alexander, at his departure brake out into that noble 
speech : " If I were not a king, I would be a University 
man ; and if it were so that I must be a prisoner, if I 
might have my wish, I would desire to have no other 
prison than that library, and to be chained together 
with so many good authors." So sweet is the delight ^ 
of study, the more learning they have (as he that hath 
a dropsy, the more he drinks, the thirstier he is) the 
more they covet to learn ; harsh at first learning is, 
radices amarce, but fructus dukes, according to 
Isocrates, pleasant at last; the longer they live, the 
more they are enamoured with the Muses. Heinsius, 
the keeper of the library at Leyden, in Holland, was 
mewed up in it all the year long ; and that which to 
thy thinking should have bred loathing, caused in him 
a greater liking. *'I no sooner (saith he) come into 
the library, but I bolt the doors to me, excluding lust, 
ambition, avarice, and all such vices, whose nurse is 
idleness, the mother of ignorance, and melancholy 
herself; and in the very lap of eternity amongst so 


many divine souls, I take my seat with so lofty a spirit 
and sweet content, that I pity all our great ones and 
rich men that know not this happiness." . . . 
Whosoever he is therefore that is overrun with solitari- 
ness, or carried away with pleasing melancholy and 
vain conceits, and for want of employment knows not 
how to spend his time ; or crucified with worldly care, 
I can prescribe him no better remedy than this of 
study . . . provided always that this malady pro- 
ceed not from overmuch study; for in such case he 
adds fuel to the fire, and nothing can be more per- 
nicious; let him take heed he do not overstretch his 
wits, and make a skeleton of hiiliself. . . . Study 
is only prescribed to those that are otherwise idle, 
troubled in mind, or carried headlong with vain 
thoughts and imaginations to distract their cogitations 
(although variety of study, or some serious subject, 
would do the former no harm), and direct their con- 
tinual meditations another way. ■ Nothing in this case 
better than study. . . . Read the Scriptures, 
which HyiDerius holds available of itself; " the mind 
is erected thereby from all worldly cares, and hath 
much quiet and tranquillity." For as Austin well hath 
it, 'tis scientia scientiarum^ 077ini inelle dulcior, omni 
pane stiavior, omni vino hilar ior: 'tis the best 
nepenthe, surest cordial, sweetest alterative, presentest 
diverter; for neither, as Chrysostom well adds, "those 
boughs and leaves of trees which are plashed for cattle 
to stand under, in the heat of the day, in summer, so 
much refresh them with their acceptable shade, as the 
reading of .the Scripture doth recreate and comfort a 
distressed soul, in sorrow and afflictior." . . . qtiod 


cibus corpori, lectio ani?ncs facit, saith Seneca, ** as 
meat is to the body, such is reading to the soul." 
, . . Cardan calls a library the physic of the soul ; 
*' divine authors fortify the mind, make men bold and 
constant; and (as Hyperius adds) godly conference 
will not permit the mind to be tortured with absurd 
cogitations." Rhasis enjoins continual conference to 
such melancholy men, perpetual discourse of some 
history, tale, poem, news, &c., which feeds the mind 
as meat and drink doth the body, and pleaseth as 
much. . . . Saith Li psius, ** when I read Seneca, 
methinks I am beyond all human fortune, on the top 
of a hill above mortality. "... I would for these 
causes wish him that is melancholy to use both human 
and divine authors, voluntarily to impose some task 
upon himself to divert his melancholy thoughts. , . . 
Or let him demonstrate a proposition in Euclid, in his 
last five books, extract a square root, or study algebra ; 
than which, as Clavius holds, "in all human dis- 
ciplines nothing can be more excellent or pleasant, so 
abstruse, and recondite, so bewitching, so miraculous, 
so ravishing, so easy withal and full of delight." — The 
Anatomy of Melancholy, Part ii., Sec. 2, Memb. 4. 

Sir Thomas Overbury. 1581 — 1613. 

Books are a part of man's prerogative, 

In formal ink they Thoughts and Voices hold. 

That we to them our Solitude may give. 

And make Time Present travel that of Old. . 

Our Life Fame pieceth longer at the End, 

And Books it farther backward do extend. 

The Wife, 

50 john hales. 

John Hales. 1584 — 1656. 

From the order of Reading, and the matters in 
Reading to be observed, we come to the method of 
observation. What order we are for our best use to 
keep in entring our Notes into our Paper- Books. 

The custom which hath most prevailed hitherto, was 
common placing a thing at the first Original very plain 
and simple ; but by after-times much increased, some 
augmenting the number of the Heads, others inventing 
quainter forms of disposing them : till at length 
Common-place-books became like unto the Roman 
Breviarie or Missal. It was a great part of Clerk- 
ship to know how to use them. The Vastness of the 
Volumes, the multitude of Heads, the intricacy of dis- 
position, the pains of committing the Heads to memory, 
and last, of the labour of so often turning the Books 
to enter the observations in their due places, are things 
so expensive of time and industry, that although at 
length the work comes to perfection, yet it is but like 
the Silver Mines in Wales, the profit will hardly quit 
the pains. I have often doubted with my self, whether 
or no there were any necessity of being so exactly 
Methodical. First, because there hath not yet been 
found a Method of that Latitude, but little reading 
would furnish you with some things, which would fall 
without the compass of it. Secondly, because men of 
confused, dark and clowdy understandings, no beam 
or light of order and method can ever rectifie ; whereas 
men of clear understanding, though but in a mediocrity, 
if they read good Books carefully, and note diligently, 
it is impossible but they should find incredible profit, 


though their Notes lie never so confusedly. The 
strength of our natural memory^ especially if we help 
it, by revising our own Notes ; the nature of things 
themselves^ many times ordering themselves, and tantum 
non, telling us how to range them ; a mediocrity of 
care to see that matters lie not too Chaos-like ^ will with 
very small damage save us this great labour of being 
over-superstitiously methodical. And what though perad- 
venture something be lost, Exilis domus est, dfc. It 
is a sign of great poverty of Scholarship, where every 
thing that is lost, is missed ; whereas rich and well 
accomplished learning is able to lose many things with 
. little or no inconvenience. 

In your reading excerpe, and note in your Books such 
things as you like : going on continually without any 
respect unto order ; and for the avoiding of confusion, 
it shall be very profitable to allot some time to the 
reading again of your own Notes ; which do as much 
and as oft as you can. For by this means your Notes 
shall be better fixt in your memory, and your memory 
will easily supply you of things of the like nature, if 
by chance you have dispersedly noted them ; that so 
you may bring them together by marginal references. 
But because your Notes in time must needs arise to 
some bulk, that it may be too great a task, and too 
great loss of time to review them, do thus. Cause a 
large Index to be fram'd according to Alphabetical 
order, and Register in it your Heads, as they shall offer 
themselves in the course of your reading, every Head 
under his proper Letter. For thus, though your Notes 
lie confused in your Papers, yet are they digested in 


your Index, and to draw them together when you are 
to make use of them, will be nothing so great pains as 
it would be, to have ranged them under their several 
Heads at their first gathering. A little experience of 
this course will show you the great profit of it, especially 
if you did compare it with some others that are in use. — 
Golden Remains of The Ever Memorable Mr. John 
Hales, of Eaton Colledge, 1673. ^^Miscellanies: The 
Method of Reading Profane History, "^y 

Balthasar Bonifacius Rhodiginus. 

1584— 1659. 

But how can I live here without my books ? I really 
seem to myself crippled and only half myself ; for if, 
as the great Orator used to say, arms are a soldier's 
members, surely books are the limbs of scholars. 
Corasius says : Of a truth, he who would deprive me 
of books, my old friends, would take away all the 
delight of my life, nay, I will even say all desire of 
living. — Historia Ludicra, Lib. ix. cap. ii. p. 148. 
Edition of Brussels, 1656, d^o. {Translated by J . A^.\ 

Lord Chandos. d. 162 1. 

As in the choise, and reading of good bookes, 
principally consists the enabling and aduancement of a 
mans knowledge, and learning ; yet if it be not mixed 
with the conuersation, of discreet, able, and vnder- 
standing men, they can make little vse of their reading, 
either for themselues, or the Commonwealth where 
they Hue. There is not a more common Prouerb, 


then this, That the greatest Clerkes bee not alwayes the 
wisest men^ and reason for it, being a very vneuen 
rule, to square all actions, and consultations, onely by 
booke precedents. Time hath so many changes, & 
alterations, and such varietie of occasions, and oppor- 
tunities, interuening, and mingled, that it is impossible 
to goe new wayes, in the old paths ; so that though 
reading doe furnish, and direct a mans iudgement, yet 
it doth not wholly gouerne it. Therefore the necessitie 
of knowing the present time, and men, wherein we 
Hue, is so great, that it is the principall guide of our 
actions, and reading but supplementall. — Hoi'cb Sub- 
secivcB : Observations and Discovrses : Of a Country 
Life, 1620. 

[The authorship of this work is assigned to Grey 
Bridges, Lord Chandos, — vide Brydges' Censura 
Literaria, and Park's Edition of Lord Oxford's Royal 
and Noble Author s.'\ 

Leo Allatius. 1586 — 1669. 

For it is wonderful how constantly the mind craves 
novelty, and succumbs to no fatigue, to no want of 
sleep. I know that there is another happiness provided 
for men, for which each of us ought to strive with his 
whole energy ; but, if I did not know that, I should 
think it was only to be found in the perusal of the 
most excellent writers ; and I should consider the 
office of preserving them the highest felicity. It is 
the most delightful, and the most worthy thing that 
all our industry and indulgence should be expended 
on them. To me, indeed, the light of the sun, the 


day, and life itself, would be joyless and bitter, if I 
had not something to read : if I lacked the works of 
the most illustrious men ; for, in comparison with their 
preciousness and delight, wealth and pleasure, and all 
the things that men prize, are mean and trifling. This 
thirst, then, or madness (I may so call the insatiable 
passion of the mind for literature), while it continually 
inspires me with the desire to investigate new authors, 
constantly offers the mind something new ; and, when 
I have acquired it, I am grieved that I have been so 
long deprived of it. Hence I am evermore driven 
on by more urgent stimuli. — fo. Alberti Fab7'icii 
BibliotheccB GraeccB, Liber v., Mich, Pselli, Jtinioris, 
Scripta Inedita^ p. ^O. Hajfiburg, l'j2'j. \_'^'ranslaled 

George Wither. 1588 — 1667. 

She [The Muse] doth tell me where to borrow 

Comfort in the midst of sorrow : 

Makes the desolatest place 

To her presence be a grace : 

And the blackest discontents 

To be pleasing ornaments. 

In my former days of bliss. 

Her divine skill taught me this, 

That from everything I saw, 

I could some invention draw : 

And raise pleasure to her height. 

Through the meanest object's sight, 

By the murmur of a spring, 

Or the least bough's rustleing ; 


By a daisy, whose leaves spread 
Shut when Titan goes to bed ; 
Or a shady bush or tree, 
She could more infuse in me, 
Than all Nature's beauties can 
In some other wiser man. 

She hath taught me by her might 
To draw comfort and delight. 
Therefore, thou best earthly bliss, 
I will cherish thee for this. 
Poesy ! thou sweet'st content 
That e'er heaven to mortals lent : 

Let my life no longer be 
Than I am in love with thee. 


Jean Eusebe Nierembergius. 
1595— 1658. 

The world hath many things in it which humane 
affairs have no need of. Virtue also is perfected in 
few precepts. Though we fill the world with our 
writings, it is not our volumes that can make us good, 
but a will to be so. Book-men write out of no other 
design, but to reform and civilize mankind. . . . 
To be good there is nothing needful but willingnesse. 
. . . We care not to use this present life which is 
our own, but study the secrets of another, which as yet 
is not ours. We would learn mysteries, and some 
things that are either out of our way, or else beyond 


it. Annihilation is more profitable than a fruitlesse 
being. In this family of Nature, every one hath his 
task : none may be idle. The best and the noblest 
are the most laborious. . . . Nothing hath com- 
merce with heaven, but what is pure : he that would 
be pure, must needs be active. Sin never prevailes 
against us, but in the absence of Virtue, and Virtue 
is never absent, but when wee are idle. To preserve 
the peace of conscience, wee must not feare sufferings. — 
Two Excellent Discourses : (i) " Temperance and 
Patiencey^ (2) " Life and Death^^'' written in Latin 
hy Johan : Euseb : Nierembergius. Englished by Henry 
Vaughan, Silurist. 1654. 

James Shirley. 1594 — 1666. 

. . . but I hope 
You have no enmity to the liberal arts : 
Learning is an addition beyond 
Nobility of birth ; honour of blood. 
Without the ornament of knowledge, 
Is but a glorious ignorance. . . . 

I never knew 

More sweet and happy hours than I employ'd 
Upon my books. 

The Lady of Pleasure^ Act ii. Scene i. 

Sir William Waller. 1597—1668. 

Here is the best solitary company in the world, and 
in this particular chiefly excelling any other, that in 
my study I am sure to converse with none but wise 


men ; but abroad it is impossible for me to avoid the 
society of fools. What an advantage have I, by this 
good fellowship, that, besides the help which I receive 
from' hence, in reference to my life after this life, I can 
enjoy the life of so many ages before I lived ! — that I 
can be acquainted with the passages of three or four 
thousand years ago, as if they were the weekly occur- 
rences ! Here, without travelling so far as Endor, 
I can call up the ablest spirits of those times, the 
learnedest philosophers, the wisest counsellers, the 
greatest generals, and make them serviceable to me. 
I can make bold with the best jewels they have in their 
treasury, with the same freedom that the Israelites 
borrowed of the Egyptians, and, without suspicion of 
. felony, make use of them as mine own. I can here, 
without trespassing, go into their vineyards and not 
only eat my fill of their grapes for my pleasure, but 
put up as much as I will in my vessel, and store it up for 
my profit and advantage. ... I would therefore 
do in reading as merchants used to do in their trading ; 
who, in a coasting way, put in at several ports and 
take in what commodities they afford, but settle their 
factories in those places only which are of special note ; 
I would, by-the-bye, allow myself a traffic with sundry 
authors, as I happen to light upon them, for my 
recreation ; and I would make the best advantage that 
I could of them : but I would fix my study upon those 
only that are of most importance to fit me for action, 
which is the true end of all learning. Lord, teach me 
so to study other men's works as not to neglect mine 
own ; and so to study Thy word, which is Thy work, 
that it may be ** a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto 


my path " — my candle to work by. Take me off from 
the curiosity of knowing only to know ; from the 
vanity of knowing only to be known ; and from the 
folly of pretending to know more than I do know : 
and let it be my wisdom to study to know Thee, who 
art life eternal. Write Thy law in my heart, and I 
shall be the best book here. — Divine Meditations: 
Meditation upon the Contentment I have in my 
Books and Study. 

Antony Tuckney. 1599 — 1670. 

What you say of your little reading and more medi- 
tating ; I impute to your great modestie, in lessening 
your own due : or if, as I have cause, I must beleeve 
you; as I cannot but much approve your course of 
Meditation ; so give mee leave to intreat you, to give 
diligence to Reading. I have thought, that Bernard 
was in the right ; when hee said, lectio^ sine meditatione^ 
arida est ; meditatio, sine lectione, erronea. In our 
meditations, wee may unawares slip into an errour; 
which, because our own, of our own selves, we are 
hardlie restrained from; from which another's hand 
may easilie helpe mee up. And if, for that and other 
ends, I would gladlie conferre with the living ; the 
same motive may persuade mee to converse with 
others, that are dead ; in their writings : and the 
rather, because they use to bee more digested ; than 
others' extemporarie discourses ; especiallie, if, as you 
do, we make choice of those, that are most pious and 
learned. I look-at it, as a kind of Communion of 
Saints ; in which I may expect a greater blessing : but 


SO, as not resting on their authoritie. And shoulde not 
their writings bee better than my thoughts, yett with 
niee I find itt thus ; that by reading I have more hints, 
and better rise, for more and better notions ; than 
otherwise of myself I shou'd have reached unto : 
hereby I shall bee better acquainted with the true 
historic, stating, and phrasing, of any point of contro- 
versie ; which otherwise I shall too often stumble- 
att. — Third Letter from Dr, Antony Tuckney to 
Dr. Benjamin Whichcote. — *' The Reconciliation of 
Sinners unto God." 1 65 1. 

Francesco di Rioja. 1600— 1659. 

A little peaceful home 
Bounds all my wants and wishes ; add to this 
My book and friend, and this is happiness. 

Peter du Moulin. 1600 — 1684. 

Let our dwelling be lightsome, if possible ; in a 
free air, and near a garden. Gardening is an innocent 
delight. With these, if one may have a sufficient 
revenue, an honest employment, little business, sortable 
companys, and especially the conversation of good 
books with whom a man may converse as little and as 
much as he pleaseth ; he needs little more, as for the 
exteriour to enjoy all the content that this world can 
afford. . . . He that both learned to know the 
world and himself, will soon be capable of this counsel — 
" To retire within one's self." . . . Persons that 
have some goodness in their soul, have a closet where 
they may retire at any time, and yet keep in society. 


That closet is their own in-side. . , . That in-side 
to which the wise man must retire, is his judgment and 
conscience. Thence to impose silence to business 
and hush all the noise below, — that with a calm and 
undisturbed mind, he may consider the nature of the 
persons and things which he converseth with, what 
interests he hath in them, and how far they are appli- 
cable to God's service, and to the benefit of himself 
and others. . . . There is no possession sooner 
lost, than that of one's self. The smallest things rob 
us of it. . . . Tecum habitat. Dwell at home. 
Keep possession of your soul. Suffer not anything to 
steal you away from yourself. There is neither profit 
nor pleasure worth so much, that the soul should go 
from home to get it. . . . One is always a loser 
at that game which robs his soul of serenity. . . . 
Nothing is so great, that for it we should set our mind 
out of frame. A wise man should not suffer his soul to stir 
out of her place, and run into disorder. . . . Keep 
company with a few well-chosen persons, lending our- 
selves freely to them, but giving ourselves to none but 
God, nor suffering friendship to grow to slavery. With 
all sorts of men we must deal ingenuously, yet re- 
servedly, saying what we think, but thinking more 
than we say, lest we give power to others to take hold 
of the rudder of our mind. . . . Let them not be 
admitted by too much familiarity to know the secret 
avenues of our souls. For in all souls there are some 
places weaker than the rest. ^A Treatise of Peace and 
Contentment of Mind : Book VI. To Retire within 
one's self: To avoid Idleness : Of the care of the Body, 
and other little Contentments of Life. 1678. 

john earle—sir thomas browne. 6i 
John Earle. i6oi — 1665. 

The hermitage by his study has made him somewhat 
uncouth in the world . . . but practice him a 
little in men, and brush him over with good company, 
and he shall out-balance those glisterers, as far as a 
solid substance does a feather, or gold, gold-lace. — 
Microcosmography : A Down-right Scholar, 

Sir William Davenant. 1605 — 1668. 

Books shew the utmost conquests of our minds. 


Sir Thomas Browne. 1605 — 1682. 

'Tis an unjust way of compute, to magnify a weak 
head for some Latin abilities ; and to undervalue a 
solid judgment, because he knows not the genealogy 
of Hector. When that notable king of France would 
have his son to know but one sentence in Latin, had 
it been a good one, perhaps it had been enough. 
Natural parts and good judgments rule the world. 
States are not governed by ergotisms.* Many have 
ruled well, who could not, perhaps, define a common- 
wealth ; and they who understand not the globe of the 
earth, command a great part of it. Where natural 
logick prevails not, artificial too often faileth. Where 
nature fills the sails,, the vessel goes smoothly on ; and 
when judgment is the pilot, the ensurance need not be 
high. When industry builds upon nature, we may 
expect pyramids : where that foundation is wanting, 

* Conclusions deduced according to the forms of logick. 


the structure must be low. They do most by books, 
who could do much without them ; and he that chiefly 
owes himself unto himself, is the substantial man. — 
Christian Morals, 

I have heard some with deep sighs lament the lost 
lines of Cicero ; others with as many groans deplore 
the combustion of the library of Alexandria : for my 
own part, I think there be too many in the world ; and 
could with patience behold the urn and ashes of the 
Vatican, could I, with a few others, recover the perished 
leaves of Solomon. . . . 'Tis not a melancholy 
utinam of my own, but the desires of better heads, 
that there were a general synod — not to unite the in- 
compatible difference of religion, but, — for the benefit 
of learning, to reduce it, as it lay at first, in a few and 
solid authors ; and to condemn to the fire those swarms 
and millions of rhapsodies, begotten only to distract 
and abuse the weaker judgments of scholars, and to 
maintain the trade and mystery of typographers. 

I intend no monopoly, but a community in learning. 
I study not for my own sake only, but for theirs 
that study not for themselves. I envy no man that 
knows more than myself, but pity them that know 
less. I instruct no man as an exercise of my know- 
ledge, or with an intent rather to nourish and keep it 
alive in mine own head than beget and propagate it in 
his. And, in the midst of all my endeavours, there is 
but one thought that dejects me, that my acquired parts 
must perish with myself, nor can be legacied among 
my honoured friends. I cannot fall out or contemn a 


man for an error, or conceive why a difference in 
opinion should divide an affection ; for controversies, 
disputes, and argumentations, both in philosophy and 
in divinity, if they meet with discreet and peaceable 
natures, do not infringe the laws of charity. In all 
disputes, so much as there is of passion, so much there 
is of nothing to the purpose ; for then reason, like a 
bad hound, spends upon a false scent, and forsakes the 
question first started. And this is one reason why 
controversies are never determined ; for, though they 
be amply proposed, they are scarce at all handled ; 
they do so swell with unnecessary digressions ; and the 
parenthesis on the party is often as large as the main 
discourse upon the subject. . . . Scholars are men 
of peace, they bear no arms, but their tongues are 
sharper than Actius's razor ; their pens carry farther, 
and give a louder report than thunder. I had rather 
stand the shock of a basilisko than in the fury of a 
merciless pen. — Religio Medici. 

Thomas Fuller. 1608 — 1661. 

When there is no recreation or business for thee 
abroad, thou may'st have a company of honest old 
fellows in their leathern jackets in thy study which will 
find thee excellent divertisement at home. ... To 
divert at any time a troublesome fancy, run to thy 
books ; they presently fix thee to them, and drive the 
other out of thy thoughts. They always receive thee 
with the same kindness. 

Some hooks are only cursorily to be tasted of. Namely 
first, voluminous books, the task of a man's life to 


read them over ; secondly, auxiliary books, only to be 
repaired to on occasions ; thirdly, such as are mere 
pieces of formality, so that if you look on them, you 
look through them ; and he that peeps through the 
casement of the index, sees as much as if he were in 
the house. But the laziness of those cannot be excused 
who perfunctorily pass over authors of consequence, 
and only trade in their tables and contents. These, 
like city-cheaters, having gotten the names of all 
country gentlemen, make silly people believe they have 
long lived in those places where they never were, and 
flourish with skill in those authors they never seriously 
sX.Vi^\^^. — The Holy State: Of Books. 

John Milton. 1608 — 1674. 

For Books are not absolutely dead things, but doe 
contain a potencie of Life in them to be as active 
as that Soule was whose progeny they are ; nay, they do 
preserve, as in a violl, the purest efficacie and ex- 
traction of that living intellect that bred them. I 
know they are as lively, and as vigorously productive, 
as those fabulous Dragons teeth ; and being sown up 
and down, may chance to spring up armed men. And 
yet on the other hand unlesse warinesse be us'd, as 
good almost kill a Man as kill a good Book ; who kills 
a Man kills a reasonable creature, Gods Image; but 
hee who destroyes a good Booke, kills Reason it selfe, 
kills the Image of God, as it were in the eye. Many 
a Man lives a burden to the Earth ; but a good Booke 
is the pretious life-blood of a master spirit, imbalm'd 
and treasur'd up on purpose to a Life beyond Life. 


'Tis true, no age can restore a Life, whereof perhaps 
there is no great losse ; and revolutions of ages doe not 
oft recover the losse of a rejected Truth, for the want 
of which whole Nations fare the worse. We should 
be wary therefore what persecution we raise against 
the living labours of publick men, how we spill that 
season'd Life of Man preserv'd and stor'd up in Books; 
since we see a kinde of homicide may be thus com- 
mitted, sometimes a martyrdome; and if it extend to 
the whole impression, a kinde of massacre, whereof 
the execution ends not in the slaying of an elementall 
Life, but strikes at that ethereall and fift essence, the 
breath of Reason it selfe, slaies an Immortality rather 
than a Life. — Areopagitica, \Edition with Notes ^ 
^c, by T, Holt White, 1819.] 

Who reads 
Incessantly, and to his reading brings not 
A spirit and judgment equal or superior. 
Uncertain and unsettled still remains ; 
Deep-versed in books, but shallow in himself. 

Paradise Regained'. 

Earl of Clarendon. 1608- 1674. 

The wisdom of a learned man comes by opportunity 
of leisure. That is true ; when there is wisdom and 
learning, they will both grow, and be improved by the 
opportunity of leisure ; but neither wisdom nor learning 
will be ever got by doing nothing. He that hath little 
business shall become wise, but he that hath none, 
shall remain a fool ; he that doth not think at all 
upon what he is to do, will never do any thing well ; 


and he who doth nothing but think, had as good do 
nothing at all. The mind that is unexercised, that 
takes not the air, that it may know the minds of 
other men, contracts the same aches and cramps in the 
faculties of the understanding that the body labours 
with by the want of exercising its limbs ; and he that 
resolves to sit still, can never come to the other end of 
his journey by other men's running never so fast. 
There is evidence, by the observation and experience 
of every man, enough to convince him of the great 
advantages which attend upon an active life, above 
what waits upon pure contemplation ; that there is a 
great difference between the abilities of that man who 
hath contracted himself to any one study, though he 
excels in it, and him who hath with much less labour 
attained to a general experimental knowledge of things 
and persons ; and so the greatest divine who hath read all 
the school men, and all the fathers, and is as wise as most 
of them were, will be sooner deceived in the market, 
and pay more for his clothes and for his meat, than his 
groom will do, who understands that and his horse 
too. — An Essay on an Active and Contemplative Life ; 
and why the one shotild he preferred before the other. 

Sir Matthew Hale. 1609 — 1676. 

Read the Bible reverently and attentively, set your 
heart upon it, and lay it up in your memory, and make 
it the direction of your life : it will make you a wise 
and good man. I have been acquainted somewhat 
with. men and books, and have had long experience in 
learning, and in the world : there is no book like the 


Bible for excellent learning, wisdom, and use ; and it 
is want of understanding in them that think or speak 
otherwise. ... Be diligent in study and in your 
calling. ... It will be your wisdom and benefit. 
It will be a good expense of time, and a prevention 
from a thousand inconveniences and temptations . that 
otherwise will befall on main. — Cotinsels of a Father to 
one of His Sons, recovering from the Small Pox, 

Francis Osborne, d, 1659. 

A few books well studied, and thoroughly digested, 
nourish the understanding more than hundreds but- 
gargled in the mouth. . . . Company, if good, 
is a better refiner of the spirits, than ordinary books. 
. . . The more you seem to have borrowed from 
books, the poorer you proclaim your natural parts, 
which only can properly be called yours. . . . • 
Much reading, like a too great repletion, stops up, 
through a concourse of diverse, sometimes, contrary 
opinions, the access of a nearer, newer and quicker 
invention of your own. — Advice to a Son, 2 Parts, 

Benjamin Whichcote. 1610 — 1683. 

The Improvement of a little Time may be a gain 
to all Eternity. 

A good Booke may be a Benefactor representing 
God Himself. 

A man is twice his own in those Things that come 
to him by Studie, if he has the Power to use and enjoy 
them. — Sermons, 

68 sorbiere—0 wen fel tha m. 

Samuel Sorbiere. i6io — 1670. 

To appreciate literary toil justly, we should con- 
sider what is the value of the subjects on which it is 
employed ; it is not the quantity but the quality of 
knowledge which is valuable. A glass of water may 
be as full as the same glass of the most precious fluid. 
A person may walk as much in a small space, in a 
course of time, as if in the same period he had 
marched over the world. In a fleet of ships we value 
those higher which carry the most precious wares, not 
the most numerous. — So7'be7'iana. 

Owen Feltham. 16 10 — 1678. 

All endeavours aspire to eminency: all eminencies 
do beget an admiration. And this makes me believe 
that contemplative admiration is a large part of the 
worship of the Deity. Nothing can carry us so near 
to God and heaven as this. The mind can walk 
beyond the sight of the eye ; and (though in a cloud) 
can lift us into heaven while we live. Meditation is 
the soul's perspective glass : whereby, in her long 
remove, she discerneth God, as if He were nearer 
hand. I persuade no man to make it his whole life's 
business. We have bodies, as well as souls. And 
even this world, while we are in it, ought somewhat 
to be cared for: contemplation generates; action 
propagates. St. Bernard compares contemplation to* 
Rachel, which was the more fair; but action to Leah, 
which was the more fruitful. I will neither always be 
busy and doing, nor ever shut up in nothing but 


thoughts. Yet, that which some would call idleness, 
I will call the sweetest part of my life : and that is — 
my thinking. — Resolves, 

Early English Writer (unknown). 

The philosopher Zeno, being demanded on a time 
by what means a man might attain to happiness, made 
answer : By resorting to the dead, and having familiar 
conversation with them. Intimating thereby the reading 
of Ancient and Modern Histories, and endeavouring 
to have such good instructors, as have been observed in 
our predecessors. A question also was moved by great 
King Ptolemy, to one of the wise learned Interpreters : 
In what occasions a King should exercise himself? 
Whereto this he replyed. To know those things which 
formerly have been done ; and to read Books of those 
matters which offer themselves daily, or are fittest for 
our instant office. . . . Such as are ignorant of 
things done and past, before themselves had any being ; 
continue still in the estate of children, able to speak 
or behave themselves no otherwise, and even within 
the bounds of their Native Countries (in respect 
of knowledge or manly capacity) they are no more 
than well seeming dumb Images. — Preface to First 
English Ti'anslation of Boccacio. 1620 — 1625. 


GiLLES Menage. 16 13 — 1692. 

The following sentence from Menage ( " Menagiana, " 
vol. IV.) is copied from David Garrick's book-plate, in 
the possession of the compiler : — 


La premiere chose qu'on doit faire quand on a 
emprunte un Livre, c'est de le lire, afin de pouvoir le 
rendre pliitot. 

Trans. The first thing one ought to do, after having 
borrowed a book, is to read it, so as to be able to 
return it as soon as possible. 

In the *'M6nagiana" is a good pendant to the 
above : — 

M. Toinard dit que la raison pour laquelle on rend 
si peu les livres pretez : c'est qu'il est plus aise de les 
retenir que ce qui est dedans. 

Trans, M. Toinard says that the reason why borrowed 
books are seldom returned, is that it is easier to retain 
the books themselves than what is inside of them. 

Jeremy Taylor. 1613^ — 1667. 

It conduces much to our content, if we pass by those 
things which happen to our trouble, and consider that 
which is pleasing and prosperous ; that by the repre- 
sentation of the better, the worse maybe blotted out. 

It may be thou art entered into the cloud which will 
bring a gentle shower to refresh thy sorrows. 

I am fallen into the hands of publicans and seques- 
trators, and they have taken all from me : what now ? 
let me look about me. They have left me the sun and 
moon, fire and water, a loving wife, and many friends 
to pity me, and some to relieve me, and I can still 
discourse; and, unless I list, they have not taken 
away my merry countenance, and my cheerfal spirit, 
and a good conscience ; they still have left me the 
providence of God, and all the promises of the gospel, 


and my religion, and my hopes of heaven, and my 
charity to them too : and still I sleep and digest, I eat 
and drink, I read and meditate, I can walk in my 
neighbour's pleasant fields, and see the varieties of 
natural beauties, and delight in all that in which God 
delights, that is, in virtue and wisdom, in the whole 
creation, and in God himself. — Holy Living. 

Due DE LA Rochefoucauld. 1.6 13 — 1680. 

II est plus necessaire d' etudier les hommes que les 

Trans, To study men is more necessary than to 
study books. 

La sagesse est a I'ame ce que la sant^ est pour le 

Irans. Wisdom is to the mind what health is to the 
body. — Reflexions oic Sentences et Maxims Morales. 

Earl of Bedford. 161 3 — 1700. 

As a great advantage, not only to your book, but 
health and business also, I cannot but advise and 
enjoin you to accustom yourself to rise early ; for,, 
take it from me, Frank, no lover of his bed did ever 
yet form great and noble things. . . . Borrow, 
therefore, of those golden morning hours, and bestow 
them on your book. — Advice to His Sons, 

Urban Chevreau. 1613 — 1701. 

A gentleman told me, who had studied under Box- 
•horne, at Leyden (successor to Heinsius, as professor 


of politics and history in 1653), that this learned pro. 
fessor was equallyindefatigable in reading and smoking. 
To render these two favourite amusements compatible 
with each other, he pierced a hole through the broad 
brim of his hat, through which his pipe was conveyed, 
when he had lighted it. In this manner he read and 
smoked at the same time. When the bowl of the pipe 
was empty, he filled it, and repassed it through the 
same hole ; and so kept both his hands at leisure for 
other employments. At other times he was never 
without a pipe in his mouth. — Chevrceana, 

Richard Baxter. 1615 — 1691. 

But books have the advantage in many other respects : 
you may read an able preacher, when you have but a 
mean one to hear. Every congregation cannot hear 
the most judicious or powerful preachers ; but every 
single person may read the books of the most powerful 
and judicious. Preachers may be silenced or banished, 
when books may be at hand : books may be kept at a 
smaller charge than preachers : we may choose books 
which treat of that very subject which we desire to 
hear of ; but we cannot choose what subject the 
preacher shall treat of. Books we may have at hand 
every day and hour ; when we can have sermons but 
seldom, and at set times. If sermons be forgotten, 
they are gone. But a book we may read over and 
over until we remember it ; and, if we forget it, may 
again peruse it at our pleasure, or at our leisure. So 
that good books are a very great mercy to the 
world. — Christian Directory^ Parti.y Chapter i\. 


As for play-books, and romances, and idle tales, 
T have already shewed in my "Book of Self-Denial," 
how pernicious they are, especially to youth, and to 
frothy, empty, idle wits, that know not what a man is, 
«or what he hath to do in the world. They are 
powerful baits of the devil, to keep more necessary 
things out of their minds, and better books out of 
their hands, and to poison the mind so much the more 
dangerously, as they are read with more delight and 
pleasure : and to fill the minds of sensual people with 
such idle fumes and intoxicating fancies, as may divert 
them from the serious thoughts of their salvation : and 
(which is no small loss) to rob them of abundance of 
that precious time, which was given them for more 
important business ; and which they will wish and 
wish again at last that they had spent more wisely. — 
Christian Directory, Parti., Direction xvi. 

Because God hath made the excellent holy writings 
of his servants the singular blessing of this land and 
age, and many an one may. have a good book even 
any day or hour of the week, that cannot at all 
become a good preacher ; I advise all God's servants 
to be thankful for so great a mercy, and to make use 
of it, and be much in reading ; for reading with most 
doth more conduce to knowledge than hearing doth, 
because you may choose what subjects and the most 
excellent treatises you please, and may be often at it, 
and may peruse again and again what you forget, and 
may take time as you go to fix it on your mind : and 
with very many it doth more than hearing also to 
move the heart, though hearing of itself, in this hath 


the advantage; because lively books may be more 
easily had, than lively preachers. . . . The truth 
is, it is not the reading of many books which is 
necessary to make a man wise or good ; but the well- 
reading of a few, could he be sure to have the best. 
And it is not possible to read over many on the same 
subject in great deal of loss of precious time. — 
Christian Directory, Part ii.. Chapter xwi. 

. . . And yet the reading of as many as is 
possible tendeth much to the increase of knowledge, 
and were the best way, if greater matters were not 
that way unavoidably to be omitted ; life therefore 
being short, and work great, and knowledge being for 
love and practice, and no man having leisure to learn 
all things, a wise man must be sure to lay hold on that 
which is most useful . . . and the very subjects 
that are to be understood are numerous, and few men 
write of all. And on the same subject men have several 
modes of writing ; as one excelleth in accurate method, 
and another in clear, convincing argumentation, and 
another in an affectionate, taking style : and the same 
book that doth one, cannot well do the other, because 
the same style will not do it. — Christian Directory, 
Part iii., Question clxxiv. 

Great store of all sorts of good books (through the 
great- mercy of God) are common among us : he that 
cannot buy, may borrow. But take heed that you lose 
not your time in reading romances, play-books, vain 
jests, seducing or reviling disputes, or needless con- 
troversies. This course of reading Scripture and good 
books will be many ways to your great advantage. 


(i.) It will, above all other ways, increase your know- 
ledge. (2.) It will help your resolutions and holy 
affections, and direct your lives. (3.) It will make" 
your lives pleasant. The knowledge, the usefulness, 
and the variety to be found in these works, will be a 
continual recreation to you, unless you are utterly 
besotted or debauched. (4.} The pleasure of this will 
turn you from your fleshly pleasures. You will have 
no need to go for delight to a play-house, a drinking- 
house . . . (5.) It will keep you from the sinful 
loss of time, by idleness or unprofitable employment 
or pastimes. You will cast away cards and dice, when- 
you find the sweetness of youthful learning. — Com- 
passionate Counsel to Young Men. 

John Owen, i 616— 1683. 

Nor was he {i.e.^ Sir Thomas Bodley] content with 
defending the University, for so many years, by the 
shadow of his invincible name ; but promoted and 
enriched, by his munificence and most acceptable 
. liberality, that universally renowned Treasury of Books, 
the great ornament not only of the University, but of 
our whole nation, the Bodleian Library. Fortunate 
Soul of Bodley ! that found so many and such great 
rivals of its excellence, and then augmenters of its 
fame ! While oblivion covers, and will cover, in long 
obscurity, innumerable descendants who believed their 
only duty was to fare sumptuously. Thou hast so widely 
spread thyglorious memory, that no succession of years, 
no lapse of time, can obliterate it. Fortunate Bodley ! 
thou shalt not wholly perish ; so long as kings, princes,. 


conquerors shall emulously strive to deposit in thy 
Treasury whatever monuments can anywhere be found 
of ancient virtue or true learning ; and shall not disdain 
to decorate thy halls with their own statues and images. 
Here the Prince, then the Count, then the Bishop, in 
long array, distinguished by various representations of 
their honours, — the most eminent men — have caused 
the name of Bodley to be now celebrated by the 
unanimous voice of the whole world. If only the 
Divine favour attend us, there is no room to doubt that 
the University will rise to the most enviable summits 
of virtue and science, and the loftiest heights of dignity 
in the literary world. — From the Third Latin Oration^ 
held before the University of Oxford, by Johjz Owen, 
D.D., Vice- Chancellor. Works, vol. xvi., p. 496. 
\Translated by /. N,'\ 

Abraham Cowley. 1618 — 1667. 

. . . In the second place he [the man who is to 
make himself capable of the good of solitude,] must 
learn the art and get the habit of thinking ; for this 
to6, no less than well speaking, depends upon much 
practice ; and cogitation is the thing which distinguishes 
the solitude of a god from a wild beast. Now, because 
the soul of man is not by its own nature or observation 
furnished with sufficient materials to work upon, it is 
necessary for it to have continual recourse to learning 
and books for fresh supplies, so that the solitary life 
will grow indigent, and be ready to starve, without 
them ; but if once we be thoroughly engaged in the 


love of letters, instead of being wearied with the length 
of any day, we shall only complain of the shortness of 
our whole life. 

**0 vita, stulto longa, sapienti brevis !" 
[O life, long to the fool, short to the wise !] 

The first minister of state has not so much business 
in public, as a wise man has in private : if the one have 
little leisure to be alone, the other has less leisure to 
be in company ; the one has but part of the affairs of 
one nation, the other all the works of God and nature 
under his consideration. There is no saying shocks 
me so much as that which I hear very often, **thata 
man does not know how to pass his time." It would 
have been but ill spoken by Methusalem in the nine 
hundred sixty-ninth year of his life ; so far it is from 
us, who have not time enough to attain to the utmost 
perfection of any part of any science, to have cause to 
complain that we are forced to be idle for want of 
work. But this, you will say, is work only for the 
learned ; others are not capable either of the employ- 
ments or divertisements that arrive from letters. I 
know they are not ; and therefore cannot much 
recommend solitude to a man totally illiterate. But, 
if any man be so unlearned, as to want entertainment 
of the little intervals of accidental solitude, which 
frequently occur in almost all conditions (except the 
very meanest of the people, who have business enough 
in the necessary provisions for life,) it is truly a great 
shame both to his parents and himself; for a very 
small portion of any ingenious art will stop up all 
those gaps of our time ; either music, or painting, or 


designing, or chemistry, or history, or gardening, or 
twenty other things, will do it usefully and pleasantly ; 
and, if he happen to set his affections upon poetry 
(which I do not advise him too immoderately), that 
will over-do it ; no wood will be thick enough to hide 
him from the importunities of company or business, 
which would abstract him from his beloved, — Essays: 
Of Solitude. 

As far as my memoiy can return back into my past 
life, before I knew or was capable of guessing, what 
the world, or the glories or business of it were, the 
natural affections of my soul gave me a secret bent of 
aversion from them, as some plants are said to turn 
away from others, by an antipathy imperceptible to 
themselves, and inscrutable to man's understanding. 
Even when I was a very young boy at school, instead 
of running about on holy-days, and playing with my 
fellows, I was wont to steal from them, and walk into 
the fields, either alone with a book, or with some one 
companion, if I could find any of the same temper. I 
was then, too, so much an enemy to all constraint, 
that my masters could never prevail on me, by any 
persuasions or encouragements, to learn without book 
the common rules of grammar ; in which they dis- 
pensed with me alone, because they found I made a 
shift to do the usual exercise out of my own reading 
and observation. That I was then of the same mind 
as I am now, (which, I confess, I wonder at myself) 
may appear by the latter end of an ode, which I made 
when I was but thirteen years old, and which was 
then printed with many other verses. The beginning 


of it is boyish ; but of this part, which I here set 
down (if a very little were corrected), I should hardly 
now be much ashamed. 

This only grant me ; that my means rnay lie 
Too low for envy, for contempt too high. 

Some honour I would have. 
Not from great deeds, but good alone ; 
The unknown are better than ill known : 

Rumour can ope the grave. 
Acquaintance I would have, but when 't depends 
Not on the number, but the choice, of friends. 

Books should, not business, entertain the light ; 
And sleep, as undisturb'd as death, the night. 

My house a cottage more 
Than palace ; and should fitting be 
For all my use, not luxury. 

My garden painted o'er 
With Nature's hand, not Art's ; and pleasures yield, 
Horace might envy in his Sabine field. 

Thus would I double my life's fading space ; 
For he that runs it well, twice runs his race. 

And in this true delight, 
These unbought sports, this happy state, 
I would not fear, nor wish, my fate ; 

But boldly say each night ; 
To-morrow let my sun his beams display, 
Or in clouds hide them ; I have lived to-day. 

With these affections of mind, and my heart wholly 
set upon letters, I went to the university; but was 


soon torn from thence by that violent public storm^ 
which would suffer nothing to stand where it did, but 
rooted up every plant, even from the princely cedars 
to me the hyssop. Yet, I had as good fortune as 
could have befallen me in such a tempest; for I was 
cast by it into "the family of one of the best persons, 
and into the court of one of the best princesses, of the 
world. Now, though I was here engaged in ways 
most contrary to the original design of my life, that is, 
into much company, and no small business, and into a 
daily sight of greatness, both militant and triumphant 
(for that was the state then of the English and French 
courts); yet all this was so far from altering my opinion, 
that it only added the confirmation of reason to that 
which was before but natural inclination. I saw 
plainly all the paint of that kind of life, the nearer I 
came to it; and that beauty, which I did not fall in 
love with, when, for aught I knew, it was real, was 
not like to bewitch or entice me, when I saw that it 
was adulterate. I met with several great persons, 
whom I liked very well ; but could not perceive that 
any part of their greatness was to be liked or desired, 
no more than I would be glad or content to be in 
a storm, though I saw many ships which rid safely and 
bravely in it: a storm would not agree with my 
stomach, if it did with my courage. Though I was in 
a crowd of as good company as could be found any- 
where; though I was in business of great and 
honourable trust ; though I eat at the best table, and 
enjoyed the best conveniences for present subsistence 
that ought to be desired by a man of my condition in 
banishment and public distresses; yet I could not 


abstain from renewing my old school-boy's wish, in a 
copy of verses to the same effect : 

" Well then;^ I now do plainly see 

This busy world and I shall ne'er agree," &c. 

And I never then proposed to myself any other ad- 
vantage from his majesty's happy restoration, but the 
getting into some moderately convenient retreat in the 
country; which I thought, in that case, I might easily 
have compassed, as well as some others, who, with no 
greater probabilities or pretences, have arrived to ex- 
traordinary fortunes. . . . However, by the failing 
of the forces which I had expected, I did not quit the 
design which I had resolved on ; I cast myself into it a 
corps perdu, without making capitulations, or taking 
counsel of fortune. But God laughs at a man who 
says to his soul, **Take thy ease:" I met presently not 
only with many little encumbrances and impediments, 
but with so much sickness (a new misfortune to me) 
as would have spoiled the happiness of an emperor 
as well as mine: yet I do neither repent, or alter 
my course. "Non ego perfidum dixi sacramen- 
tum;" nothing shall separate me from a mistress 
which I have loved so long, and have now at 
last married; though she neither has brought me a 
rich portion, nor lived yet so quietly with me as I 
hoped from her: 

Nee vos, dulcissima mundi 

Nomina, vos, Musse, Libertas, Otia, Libri, 
Hortique Silvseque^ anima remanente, relinquam. 



Nor by me e'er shall you, 
You, of all names the sweetest and the best. 
You, Muses, books, and liberty, and rest ; 
You, gardens, fields, and woods, forsaken be 
As long as life itself forsakes not me. 

But this is a very pretty ejaculation ! Because I 
liave concluded all the other chapters with a copy of 
verses, I will maintain the humour to the last. — 
Essays: Of Myself, 

Thomas V. Bartholin. 1619 — 1680. 

Without books, God is silent, justice dormant, 
natural science at a stand, philosophy lame, letters 
dumb, and all things involved in Cimmerian dark- 
ness. — Dissertationes de libi'is legendis. Copenhagiie^ 

Francis Charpentier. 1620 — 1702. 

I could not help laughing at the expression, though 
1 agree in the sentiment of Heinsius, who with a 
simple frankness, very natural to a Dutchman, declares, 
that on reading Plato, he felt so much delight and 
enthusiasm, that one page of that philosopher's work 
operated upon him like the intoxication produced by 
swallowing ten bumpers of wine. I have read some 
bacchanalian passage very similar to this in Scaliger 
the Elder: *' Herodotus is so charming an author," 
says he, " that I have as much pain to quit him as I 
feel in leaving my bottle." — Carpeitteriana. 

HENRY V A UGH an: 83 

Henry Vaughan. 162 i — 1695. 

To His Books. 
Bright books ! the perspectives to our weak sights, 
The clear projections of discerning lights, 
Burning and shining thoughts, man's posthume day, 
The track of fee'd souls, and their milkie way ; 
The dead alive and busie, the still voice 
Of enlarged spirits, kind Heaven's white decoys 1 
Who lives with you lives like those knowing flowers, 
Which in commerce with light spend all their hours ; 
Which shut to clouds, and shadows nicely shun, 
But with glad haste unveil to kiss the Sun. 
Beneath you all is dark and a dead night. 
Which whoso lives in wants both health and right. 

By sucking you the wise, like bees, do grow 
Healing and rich, though this they do most slow, 
Because most choicely ; for as great a store 
Have we of Books as bees of herbs, or more ; 
And the great task to try, then know, the good, 
To discern weeds, and judge of wholesome food, 
Is a rare scant performance. For man dyes 
Oft ere 'tis done, while the bee feeds and flyes. 
But you were all choice flowers ; all set and dressed 
By old sage florists, who well knew the best ; 
And I amidst you all am turned to weed, 
Not wanting knowledge, but for want of heed. 
Then thank thyself, wild fool, that would'st not be 
Content to know, — what was too much for thee. 

Silex Scintillans : Sacred Poems (Sr* Private 
Ejaculations. Part iii. Thalia Redi- 
viva. 1650-5. Ne7v Edition, with 
Memoir , by H. F. Lyie. 1S47, 

84 john hall— sir william temple. 

John Hall. 1627 — 1656. 

We see seldome Learning and Wisdoin concurre, 
because the former is got sub umbra, but business doth 
winnow observations, and the better acquaintance with 
breathing volumes of men ; it teacheth us both better 
to read them, and to apply what we have read. 

Health ought to be nicely respected by a Student. 
. . . How can a Spirit actuate when she is caged 
in a lump of fainting flesh? Unseasonable times of 
study are very obnoxious, as after meales, when Nature 
is wholy retired to concoction ; or at night times, when 
she begins to droope for want of rest. ... I have 
heard it spoken of one of the greatest Ambulatory 
Pieces of learning at this day, that he would redeeme 
(if possible) his health with the losse of halfe his 

Some Studies would be hug'd as imployments, 
others only dandled as sports ; the one ought not to 
trespasse on the other ; for to be employed in needlesse 
things is halfe to be idle. — Horce Vacivce, 1646. 

Sir William Temple. 1628— 1698. 

This admirable writer, in discoursing on Ancient 
and Modern Learning — its encouragements and hind- 
rances — points out two great obstacles to its advance- 
ment in proportion to what might have been expected 
from the revival of letters, viz., the absorption of the 
highest intellects of the time in disputes and contests 
about religion, and the perpetual succession of foreign 
and civil wars resulting therefrom j — 


Since those accidents which contributed to the 
restoration of learning, almost extinguished in the 
western parts of Europe, have been observed, it will 
be just to mention some that may have hindered the 
advancement of it, in proportion to what might have 
been expected from the mighty growth and progress 
made in the first age after its recovery. One great 
reason may have been, that, very soon after the entry 
of learning upon the scene of Christendom, another 
was made, by many of the new-learned men, into the 
inquiries and contests about matters of religion — the 
manners, and maxims, and institutions introduced by 
the clergy for seven or eight centuries past ; the autho- 
rity of Scripture and tradition ; of popes and of 
councils ; of the ancient fathers, and of the latter 
schoolmen and casuists ; of ecclesiastical and civil 
power. The humour of travelling into all these 
mystical or entangled matters, mingling with the 
interests and passions of princes and of parties, and 
thereby heightened or inflamed, produced infinite dis- 
putes, raised violent heats throughout all parts of 
Christendom, and soon ended in many defections or 
reformations from the Roman church, and in several 
new institutions, both ecclesiastical and civil, in divers 
countries, which have been since rooted and estab- 
lished in almost all the north-west parts. The endless 
disputes and litigious quarrels upon all these subjects, 
favoured and encouraged by the interests of the several 
princes engaged in them, either took up wholly, or 
generally employed, the thoughts, the studies, the 
applications, the endeavours of all or most of the finest 
wits, the deepest scholars, and the most learned 


writers that the age produced. Many excellent spirits, 
and the most penetrating genii, that might have made 
admirable progresses and advances in many other 
sciences, were sunk and overwhelmed in the abyss of 
disputes about matters of religion, without ever turning 
their looks or thoughts any other way. To these dis- 
putes of the pen, succeeded those of the sword; and the 
ambition of great princes and ministers, mingled with 
the zeal, or covered with the pretences of religion, has for 
a hundred years past infested Christendom with almost a 
perpetual course or succession either of civil or of foreign 
wars ; the noise and disorders whereof have been ever 
the most capital enemies of the Muses, who are seated, 
by the ancient fables, upon the top of Parnassus, that 
is, in a place of safety and of quiet from the reach of 
all noises and disturbances of the regions below. 

Books, like proverbs, receive their chief value from 
the stamp and esteem of ages through which they have 
passed. — Essays : On Ancient and Modej-n Leai-ning. 

Isaac Barrow. 1630 — 1677. 

Wisdom of itself is delectable and satisfactory, as 
it implies a revelation of truth and a detection of error 
to us. 'Tis like light, pleasant to behold, casting a 
sprightly lustre, and diffusing a benign influence all 
about ; presenting a goodly prospect of things to the 
eyes of our mind ; displaying objects in their due 
shapes, postures, magnitudes, and colours ; quickening 
our spirits with a comfortable warmth, and disposing 
our minds to a cheerful activity ; dispelling the dark- 
ness of ignorance, scattering the mists of doubt, driving 


away the spectres of delusive fancy ; mitigating the 
cold of sullen melancholy ; discovering obstacles, se- 
curing progress, and making the passages of life clear, 
open, and pleasant.. We are all naturally endowed 
with a strong appetite to know, to see, to pursue truth ; 
and with a bashful abhorrency from being deceived 
and entangled in mistake. And as success in enquiry 
after truth affords matter of joy and triumph ; so being 
conscious of error and miscarriage therein, is attended 
with shame and sorrow. These desires wisdom in the 
most perfect manner satisfies, not by entertaining us 
with dry, empty, fruitless theories upon mean and 
vulgar subjects ; but by enriching our minds with ex- 
cellent and useful knowledge, directed to the noblest 
objects, and serviceable to the highest ends. 

The calling of a scholar is one the design whereot 
conspireth with the general end of our being ; the per- 
fection of our nature in its endowments, and the fruition 
of it in its best operations. It is a calling, which doth 
not employ us in bodily toil, in worldly care, in pursuit 
of trivial affairs, in sordid drudgeries ; but in those an- 
gelical operations of soul, the contemplation of truth, 
and attainment of wisdom ; which are the worthiest 
exercises of our reason, and sweetest entertainments of 
our mind ; the most precious wealth, and most beautiful 
ornaments of our soul ; whereby our faculties are im- 
proved, are polished and refined, are enlarged in their 
power and use by habitual accessions : the which are 
conducible to our own greatest profit and benefit, as 
serving to rectify our wills, to compose our affections, 
to guide our lives in the ways of virtue, to bring us 


unto felicity. It is a calling, which, being duly fol- 
lowed, will most sever us from the vulgar sort of men, 
and advance us above the common pitch ; enduing us 
with light to see further than other men, disposing us 
to affect better things, and to slight those meaner 
objects of human desire, on which men commonly 
dote ; freeing us from the erroneous conceits and from 
the perverse affections of common people. It is said 
that men of learning are double- sighted : but it is true, 
that in many cases they see infinitely further than a 
vulgar sight doth reach. And if a man by serious 
study doth acquire a clear and solid judgment of 
things, so as to assign to each its due weight and price ; 
if he accordingly be inclined in his heart to affect and 
pursue them ; if from clear and right notions of things, 
a meek and ingenuous temper of mind, a command and 
moderation of passions, a firm integrity, and a cordial 
love of goodness do spring, he thereby becometh 
another kind of thing, much different from those 
brutish men (beasts of the people) who blindly follow 
the motions of their sensual appetite, or the suggestions 
of their fancy, or their mistaken prejudices. 

It is a calling which hath these considerable advan- 
tages, that, by virtue of improvement therein, we can 
see with our own eyes, and guide ourselves by our own 
reasons, not being led blindfold about, or depending 
precariously on the conduct of others, in matters of 
highest concern to us; that we are exempted from 
giddy credulity, from wavering levity, from fond ad- 
miration of persons and things, being able to distinguish 
of things, and to settle our judgments about them, and 
to get an intimate acquaintance with them, assuring to 

ISAAC BAR 1^0 IV. 89 

us their true nature and worth ; that we are also 
thereby rescued from admiring ourselves, and that 
overweening self-conceitedness, of which the Wise Man 
saith, Tke sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than 
seven men that can render a reason . 

It is a calling most exempt from the cares, the 
crosses, the turmoils, the factious jars, the anxious 
intrigues, the vexatious molestations of the world ; its 
business lying out of the road of those mischiefs, wholly 
lying in solitary retirement, or being transacted in the 
most innocent and ingenuous company. It is a calling 
least subject to any danger or disappointment; wherein 
we may well be assured not to miscarry or lose our 
labour ; for the merchant indeed by manifold accidents 
may lose his voyage, or find a bad market; the hus- 
bandman may plough and sow in vain : but the student 
hardly can fail of improving his stock, and reaping a 
good crop of knowledge ; especially if he study with a 
conscientious mind, and pious reverence to God, im- 
ploring his gracious help and blessing. It is a calling, 
the business whereof doth so exercise as not to weary, 
so entertain as not to cloy us ; being not (as other 
occupations are) a drawing in a mill, or a nauseous 
tedious repetition of the same work ; but a continued 
progress towards fresh objects ; our mind not being 
staked to one or a few poor matters, but having immense 
fields of contemplation, wherein it may everlastingly 
expatiate, with great proficiency and pleasure. 

It is that which recommendeth a man in all company, 
and procureth regard, every one yielding attention and 
acceptance to instructive, neat, apposite discourse 


(that which the scripture calleth acceptable ^ pleasant^ 
gracious tvords ;) men think themselves obHged thereby, 
by receiving information and satisfaction from it ; and 
accordingly, Every man (saith the Wise Man) shall kiss 
his lips that giveth a right answer ; Sind— /or the grace 
of his lips the king shall be his friend ; and the words 
of a wise man's mouth are gracious. It is that, an 
eminency wherein purchaseth lasting fame, and a life 
after death, in the good memory and opinion of pos- 
terity : Many shall commend his understanding; and 
so long as the world endureth, it shall not be blotted out: 
his 77iemo7'ial shall not depart away^ and his name shall 
live fj'om generation to generation. A fame no less 
great, and far more innocent, than acts of chivalry and 
martial prowess ; for is not Aristotle as renowned for 
teaching the world with his pen, as Alexander for con- 
quering it with his sAvord? Is not one far oftener 
mentioned than the other ? Do not men hold them- 
selves much more obliged to the learning of the 
philosopher, than to the valour of the warrior ? Indeed 
the fame of all others is indebted to the pains of the 
scholar, and could not subsist but with and by his 
fame : Dignum laude virum Musa vetatmori ; learning 
consecrateth itself and its subject together to immortal 
remembrance. It is a calling that fitteth a man for all 
conditions and fortunes; so that he can enjoy prosperity 
with moderation, and sustain adversity with comfort : 
he that loveth a book will never want a faithful friend, 
a wholesome counsellor, a cheerful companion, an 
efifectual comforter. By study, by reading, by thinking, 
one may innocently divert and pleasantly entertain 
himself, as in all weathers, so in all fortunes. 


The exercise of our mind in rational discursiveness 
about things in quest of truth ; canvassing questions, 
examining arguments for and against ; how greatly 
doth it better us, fortifying our natural parts, enabling 
us to fix our thoughts on objects without roving, inuring 
us to weigh and resolve, and judge well about matters 
proposed ; preserving us from being easily abused by 
captious fallacies, gulled by specious pretences, tossed 
about with every doubt or objection started before us ! 

The reading of books, what is it but conversing with 
the wisest men of all ages and all countries, who thereby 
communicate to us their most deliberate thoughts, 
choicest notions, and best inventions, couched in good 
expression, and digested in exact method ? 

How doth it supply the room of experience, and 
furnish us with prudence at the expense of others, 
informing us about the ways of action, and the conse- 
quences thereof by examples, without our own danger 
or trouble ! — Sermons : " Of Industry in our Partiadar 
Calling as Scholars, " 

Charles Cotton. 1630 — 1687. 

[The friend of Isaac Walton, and Translator of 
Montaigne's Essays.] 
How calm and quiet a delight 

Is it, alone. 
To read, and meditate, and write, 

By none offended, and offending none. 
To walk, ride, sit, or sleep at one's own ease, 
And, pleasing a man's self, none other to displease. 
Poems, \(y%(). The jReiirement. To Mr. Isaac 


Who from the busy World retires, 

To be more useful to it still, 
And to no greater good aspires 

But only the eschewing ill. 
Who, with his Angle, and his Books, 

Can think the longest day well spent, 
And praises God when back he looks. 

And finds that all was innocent. 
This man is happier far than he 

Whom public Business oft betrays 
Through labyrinths of Policy, 

To crooked and forbidden ways. 

Poems ^ 1689. Contentation. Directed to 
my Dear Father^ and most Worthy 
Friend, Mr. Isaac Walton. 

Peter Daniel Huet. 1630 — 1721. 

They who endure the toil of study, w^th a view to 
riches and honours, will be very much disappointed. 
All the world has heard of a French treatise on the 
Miseries of Scholars, but none has appeared descriptive 
of their felicities. In fact, the retired life, the inac- 
tivity with respect to all business in common life, or 
public employments, which an attention to study re- 
quires, and that internal recluseness and abstraction of 
mind, so peculiar to the student, are all circumstances 
averse from the acquisition of wealth. He on whom 
the Muses have smiled in his infancy will scorn the 
praises of the multitude, the fascination of wealth, and 
the enticements of honours ; and will find that his toil 
is the only adequate reward which can satisfy the mind 


of a scholar. He will not be repelled by the length, 
nor disgusted by the drudgery of his labours. His 
passion for learning will increase with his acquire- 
ments ; and, whilst his diligence procures him fresh 
information, he will discover his numerous deficiencies, 
and be induced to redouble his attention. These 
sentiments are not declamatory. I write from expe- 
rience of the truths which I advance, the experience of 
my whole life, which I wish protracted for no other 
reason than that I may employ it in future investiga- 
tions. Nor let the hoary student be discouraged, 
should he find himself sometimes going backward 
instead of forward ; but impute his misfortune to the 
incapacities of age, and to the languor that faculties 
long harassed by continual application must necessarily 
endure. ...... 

To constitute a learned man, the gifts of nature 
are in the first line of desiderata ; a solid understanding, 
a quick apprehension, a retentive memory, a healthful 
and vigorous body, a disposition steady, constant, and 
uniform ; diligence which years cannot impair, an 
insatiable thirst of knowledge, and an invincible attach- 
ment to reading, &c. Without the gifts of fortune, 
nature will have been generous in vain. 

Cujus conatibus obstat 

Res angusta domi, 

must confine his exertions to defend himself from the 
exigencies of the moment. We must think of merely 
living, before we can endeavour to live pleasantly and 
with distinction ; and the conveniences of life must be 
a consideration superior to the love of study. . . , 


An exclusive application to books, as the sole employ- 
ment and the pleasure of life, is the choice of the 
student himself, inspired with a love of letters ; v^^hich 
neither the fascination of riches or ambition can sup- 
plant, nor the fears of poverty, nor the dread of labour 
and obscurity, can extinguish. Horace, in the Ode 
which Julius Scaliger so highly prized, that he would 
rather have been the writer of it than a King of Spain, 
has clothed the above sentiments with all the charms 
that brilliant composition, united with truth, are 
capable of bestowing. 

"When we consider," says the Abbe Olivet ( V Eloge 
Histor, de M. Huet), ** that he lived to the age of 
ninety years and upwards, that he had been a hard 
student from his infancy, that he had had almost all 
his time to himself, that he enjoyed an uninterrupted 
state of health, that he had always some one to read 
to him, even at his meals ; that, in one word, to borrow 
his own language, neither the heat of youth, nor a 
multiplicity of business, nor the love of company, nor 
the hurry of the world, had ever been able to moderate 
his love of study, we may fairly conclude him to have 
been the most learned man that any age ever pro- 
duced. " — Huetiana, 

John Locke. 1632 — 1704. 

Education begins the gentleman, but reading, good 
company, and reflection must finish him. 

Those who have read of everything are thought to 
understand everything too ; but it is not always so- 
Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of 


knowledge ; it is thinking that makes what are read 
over. We are of the ruminating kind, and it is not 
enough to cram ourselves with a great load of collec- 
tions ; unless we chew them over again, they will not 
give us strength and nourishment. 

The End and Use of a little Insight in those Parts 
of Knowledge, which are not a Man's proper Business, 
is to accustom our Minds to all Sorts of Ideas, and the 
proper Ways of examining their Habitudes, and Rela- 
tions. This gives the Mind a Freedom ; and the exer- 
cising the Understanding in the several Ways of 
Enquiry and Reasoning which the most skilful have 
made use of, teaches the Mind Sagacity and Wariness, 
and a Suppleness to apply itself more closely and dex- 
terously to the Bents and Turns of the matter in all its 
researches. Besides this universal Taste in all the 
Sciences, with an Indifferency, before the Mind is 
possessed of any one in particular, and grown into a 
Love and Admiration of what is made its Darling, will 
prevent another Evil very commonly to be observed in 
those who have been reasoned only by one Part of 
Knowledge. Let a Man be given to the Contemplation 
of one Sort of Knowledge and that will become every- 
thing. The Mind will take such a Tincture from a 
Familiarity with that Object, that everything else, how 
remote soever, will be brought under the same View. 
A Metaphysician will bring Plowing and Gardening 
immediately to abstract notions. The History of 
Nature will signify nothing to him. An Alchymist, on 
the contrary, shall reduce Divinity to the Maxims of 
the Laboratory, explain Morality by Sal Sulphur and 


Mercury, and allegorise the Scripture itself, and the 
sacred Mysteries thereof, into the Philosopher's Stone. 
And I heard once a Man who had a more than ordinary 
Excellency in Musick seriously accommodate Moses 
seven Days of the first Week, to the Notes of Musick, 
as if from thence had been taken the Measure and 
Method of Creation. 

'Tis of no small Consequence to keep the Mind 
from such a Possession, which I think is best done by 
giving it a fair and equal View of the whole intellectual 
World, wherein it may see the Order, Rank, and 
Beauty of the whole, and give a just allowance to the 
distinct Provinces of the several Sciences, in the due 
Order, and usefulness of each of them. — Conduct of 
the Understanding, 

Robert South. 1633 — 17 16. 

The pleasure and delight of knowledge and learning 
far surpasseth all other in nature : for, shall the plea- 
sures of the affections so exceed the senses, as much as 
the obtaining of desire or victory exceedeth a song or a 
dinner; and must not, of consequence, the pleasures 
of the intellect or understanding exceed the pleasures 
of the affections ? We see in all other pleasures there 
is satiety, and after they be used, their verdure de- 
parteth ; which sheweth well they be but deceits of 
pleasure, and not pleasure ; and that it was the novelty 
which pleased, and not the quality : and therefore we 
see that voluptuous men turn friars, and ambitious 
princes turn melancholy. But of knowledge there is 
no satiety, but satisfaction and appetite are perpetually 


Seldom is there much spoke, but something or other 
had better not been spoke. 

He who has published an injurious book, sins, as 
it were, in his very grave ; corrupts others while he is 
rotting himself. 

Much reading is like much eating, wholly useless 
without digestion, — Sermons, 

Sir George Mackenzie. 1636 — 1691. 

If variety be that which is admired in Society, 
certainly our own thoughts, or other men's Books,^ 
can in these far exceed Conversation ; possessing above 
it this Advantage, that one can never be either impor- 
tuned or betray'd by these, as is much to be feared 
from the other. . . . O what a divine State then 
must Solitude be, wherein a Virtuous and Thoughtful 
Inactivity begets in us a Tranquility, not conceivable 
by such as do not possess it ! Solitude requires no 
avarice to maintain its Table. It is satisfied without 
Coaches, Lacqueys, Treasurers and Embroideries. 
The Solitary Man is not disquieted at the Infrequency 
of Guests. . . . Tranquility of Spirit is peculiar 
to Philosophy, and is the Guest of Solitude. . . . 
How can that Soul rust which is in continual Exercise? 
. . . Really I know no securer Box, from which to 
behold the world's Comedie, than in safe Solitude ; 
and it is easier to feel than to express the Pleasure 
which may be taken aloof, and in contemplating the 
Rulings of the Multitude, the Excentrick Motions of 
great Men, and how Fate recreates itself in their 
Ruin. — A Moral Essay preferring Solitude to Publick 

98 la bruyere— jeremy collier. 
John de la Bruyere. 1644— 1696. 

Where a book raises yoUr spirit, and inspires you 
with noble and courageous feelings, seek for no other 
rule to judge the event by ; it is good and made by a 
good workman. 

x\ Seventeenth Century Divine. 

(Unverified. ) 

There be those that ungratefully complain of the 
heaviness of time, as if we could have too much of 
God's most precious gift of life and its containings. 
Let such persons consider that there be daily duties to 
be well performed which do not exclude innocent 
recreations and the privileged opportunities of silent 
conversation with the greatest minds and spirits, in 
their most chosen words, in their books, that lie ready 
and offer themselves to us if we would. 

Jeremy Collier. 1650 — 1726. 

The Diversions of Reading, though they are not 
always of the strongest Kind, yet they generally Leave 
a better Effect than the grosser Satisfactions of Sense : 
For if they are well chosen, they neither dull the 
Appetite, nor strain the Capacity. On the contrary, 
they refresh the Inclinations, and strengthen the 
Power, and improve under Experiment : And which 
is best of all, they Entertain and Perfect at the same 
time ; and convey Wisdom and Knowledge through 
Pleasure. By Reading a Man does ^s it were Antedate 
his Life, and makes himself contemporary with the 


Ages past. And this way of running up beyond one's 
Nativity, is much better than Plato's Pre-existence ; 
because here a Man knows something of the State, 
and is the wiser for it ; which he is not in the other. 

In conversing with Books we may chuse our Com- 
pany, and disengage without Ceremony or Exception. 
Here we are free from the Formalities of Custom, and 
Respect : We need not undergo the Penance of a dull 
Story, from a Fop of Figure ; but may shake off the 
Haughty, the Impertinent, and the Vain, at Pleasure. 
Besides, Authors, like Women, commonly Dress when 
they make a Visit. Respect to themselves makes 
them polish their Thoughts, and exert the Force of 
their Understanding more than they would, or can do, 
in ordinary Conversation : So that the Reader has as 
it were the Spirit and Essence in a narrow Compass; 
which was drawn off from a much larger Proportion of 
Time, Labour, and Expence. Like an Heir, he is 
born rather than made Rich, and comes into a Stock 
of Sense, with little or no Trouble of his own. 'Tis 
true, a Fortune in Knowledge which Descends in this 
manner, as well as an inherited Estate, is too often 
neglected, and squandered away; because we do not 
consider the Difficulty in Raising it. 

Books are a Guide in Youth, and an Entertainment 
for Age. They support us under SoHtude, and keep 
us from being a Burthen to our selves. They help us to 
forget the Crossness of Men and Things ; compose our 
Cares, and our Passions ; and lay our Disappointments 
asleep. When we are weary of the Living, we may 
repair to the Dead, who have nothing of Peevishness, 
Pride, or Design, in their Conversation. . However, to 


be constantly in the Wheel has neither Pleasure nor 
Improvement in it. A Man may as well expect to 
grow stronger by always Eating, as wiser by always 
Reading. Too much over-charges Nature, and turns 
more into Disease than Nourishment. 'Tis Jhought 
and Digestion which makes Books serviceable, and 
gives Health and Vigour to the Mind. Neither ought 
we to be too Implicit or Resigning to Authorities, 
but to examine before we Assent, and preserve our 
Reason in its just Liberties. To walk always upon 
Crutches, is the way to lose the Use of our Limbs. 
Such an absolute Submission keeps us in a perpetual 
Minority, breaks the Spirits of the Understanding, and 
lays us open to Imposture. 

But Books well managed afford Direction and Dis- 
covery. They strengthen the Organ, and enlarge the 
Prospect, and give a more universal Insight into Things, 
than can be learned from unlettered Observation. Pie 
who depends only upon his own Experience, has but 
a few Materials to work upon. He is confined to 
narrow Limits both of Place and Time ; And is not 
fit to draw a large Model, and to pronounce upon 
Business which is complicated and unusual. There 
seems to be much the same difference between a Man 
of meer Practice, and another of Learning, as there is 
between an Empirick and a Physician. The first may 
have a good Receipt, or two ; and if Diseases and 
Patients were very scarce, and all alike, he might do 
tolerably well. But if you enquire concerning the 
Causes of Distempers, the Constitution of human 
Bodies, the Danger of Symptoms, and the Methods of 
Cure, upon which the Success of Medicine depends. 


he knows little of the Matter. On the other side : 
To take Measures wholly from Books, without looking 
into Men and Business, is like travelling in a Map, 
where though Countries and Cities are well enough 
distinguished, yet Villages and private Seats are either 
Over-looked, or too generally Marked for a Stronger 
to find. And therefore he that would be a Master, 
must Draw by the Life, as well as Copy from Originals, 
and joyn Theory and Experience together. — Essays 
upon Several Moral Subjects : Of the Entertainment 
of Books, 

Archbishop Fenelon. 1651 — 17 15. 

If the crowns of all the kingdoms of the Empire 
were laid down at my feet in exchange for my books 
and my love of reading, I would spurn them all. 

Charles Blount. 1654 — 1697. 

Books are the only Records of Time, which excite 
us to imitate the past Glories of our Ancestors. 
Secondly, We owe our manner or form of Divine 
Worship to Books alone. Thirdly, We owe our 
Philosophy or Contemplation of God in his Works, 
to the same Cause. For Mens Natural Abilities, like 
Natural Plants, need pruning by Study : Thus we see 
that Histories make Men wise ; Poets, witty ; Mathe- 
jnaticks, subtle ; Natural Philosophy, deep ; Moral 
Philosophy, grave ; Logick and Rhetorick, able to 
dispute ; all which Excellencies are to be acquired only 
from Books ; since no Vocal Learning is so effectual 


for Instruction, as Reading; for that written Discourses 
are better digested, and support themselves better on 
their own weight, than Words disguised by the manner 
of Expression, cadence or gesture, which corrupt the 
simplicity of things ; when also the suddenness of 
Pronunciation allows not the Audience time sufficient 
to reflect upon what was said. Moreover, Books 
flatter much less, and have more universal Precepts, 
than Discourse ; which generally affects Complaisance, 
and gaining the Hearers good will : Particularly in 
Morality, where great Persons are better instructed, 
and more plainly reprehended for their Faults by 
Books, than by Discourses. Books being therefore in 
the main so useful to Human Society, I cannot but 
herein agree with Mr. Milton, and say, that (unless it 
be effected with great Caution) you had almost as good 
kill a Man, as a good Book ; for he that kills a Man, 
kills but a Reasonable Creature, God's Image : 
whereas he that destroys a good Book, kills Reason 
it self, which is as it were the "very Eye of God. 

Having thus demonstrated how much the World 
owes to Learning and Books, let me not be altogether 
unmindful of Faust and Guttenburg, the promoters of 
both ; who by their Ingenuity discovered and made 
known to the World, that Profound Art of Printing, 
which hath made Learning not only Easie, but Cheap ; 
since now, any Person may accommodate himself with 
a good moderate Library, at the same Price, as hereto- 
fore Plato payed for Three Books of Philolaus the 
Pythagorean, viz. Three Hundred Pounds. — A Just 
Vindication of Learning and the Liberty of the Pt'ess, 

t. fuller, m.d.—yohn norris. 103 
Thomas Fuller, M.D. 1654 — 1734. 

Tell me not what thou hast heard and read, and 
only so ; but what (after thy hearing and reading) thou 
hast taken into thy Meditation, found to be Truth, 
settled with Judgment, fixed in thy Memory, embraced 
in thy affections ; and then a long time practised, 
and so made up to be truly thine own. This, and 
only this, is rightly called Learning. — Introductio ad 
Sapientiam. 1731. 

John Norris. 1657 — 1711. 

Concerning my Essays and Discourses I have only 
this to say, that I design'd in them as much Brevity 
and Clearness as are consistent with each other, and 
to abound in se^ise rather than words. I wish all men 
would observe this in their writings more than they do. 
I'm sure the multitude of Books and the shortness' of 
Life require it, and sense will lye in a little compass if 
men would be perswaded to vent no Notions but what 
they are Masters of, and were Angels to write, I fancy 
we should have but few Folio'' s. This is what I designed 
and endeavour' din the whole. Whether I have attain' d 
it or no, I submit to Judgment. — Introduction to Mis- 

This over-fond and superstitious deference to Autho- 
rity, makes men, otherwise senseful and Ingenious, 
quote such things many times out of an old dull Author, 
and with a peculiar emphasis of commendation too, 
as would never pass even in ordinary conversation ; 
and which they themselves would never have took 


notice of, had not such an Author said it. But now, 
no sooner does a man give himself leave to think, but 
he perceives how absurd and unreasonable 'tis, that 
one man should prescribe to all Posterity : that men, 
like beasts, should follow the foremost of the Herd ; 
and that venerable non-sense should be prefer'd before 
new-sense: He considers, that that which we call 
Antiquity, is properly the nonage of the world ; that 
the sagest of his Authoritys were once new ; and that 
there is no other difference between an antient Author 
and himself, but only that of time ; which, if of any 
advantage, 'tis rather on his side, as living in a more 
refined and mature age of the world. And thus having 
cast off this Intellectual slavery, he addicts himself to 
no Author, Sect or Party ; but freely picks up Truth 
where-ever he can find it ; puts to Sea upon his own 
bottom ; holds the Stern himself ; and now, if ever, 
we may expect new discoverys. 

The Solitary and Contemplative man sits as safe in 
his Retirement as one of Homer's Heroes in a Cloud, 
and has this only trouble from the follies and extrava- 
gancies of men, that he pitties them. He does not, it 
may be, laugh so loud, but he is hoXi&c pleas' d : He is 
not perhaps so often inei'ry, but neither is he so often 
disgusted ; he lives to himself and God, full of Serenity 
and Content. . . . Neither are our intellectual 
advantages less indebted to Solitude. . . . All 
kinds of Speculative knowledg as well as practical^ are 
best improved by Solitude. Indeed there is much talk 
about the great benefit of keeping Great men company, 
and thereupon 'tis usually reckon'd among the disad- 


vantages of a Country life, that those of that condition 
want the opportunities of a Learned Conversation. 
But to confess the truth, I think there is not so much 
in it as people generally imagine. ... A man 
may be a constant attendant at the Conclaves of 
Learned men all his life long, and yet be no more 
the wiser for't than a Book-worm is for dwelling in 
Libraries. And therefore, to speak ingenuously, I 
don't see for my part wherein the great advantage of 
great Conversation lies, as the humours of men are 
pleas'd to order it. Were I to inform my self in 
business, and the management of affairs, I would 
sooner talk with a plain illiterate Farmer or Trades- 
man than the greatest Vertuoso, ... So that I 
find I must take refuge at my Study at last, and there 
redeem the Time that I have lost among the Learned. — 
A Collection of Miscellanies : *^ Of the Advantages of 
Thinking ; " "Of Solitude. " 

Here in this shady lonely Grove 
I sweetly think my hours away. 
Neither with Business vex'd, nor Love^ 
Which in the World bear such Tyrannic sway : 
No Tumults can my close Apartment find^ 
Calm as those Seats above, which know no Storm 
nor Wind. 

Let Plots and News embroil the State, 
Pray what's that to my Books and Me ? 
Whatever be the Kingdom^ s Fate, 
Here I am sure t' enjoy a Monarchy. 
Lord of my iself, accountable to none, 
Like the first Man in Paradise, alone. 


While the Ambitious vainly sue, 

And of the partial Staxs complain, 

I stand upon the S/wre and view 

The mighty Labours of the distant Main. 

I'm flush'd with silent ]<yjy and smile to see 

The Shafts of Fortune still drop short of 7ne, 

Th' uneasie Pageantry of State, 
And all the plagues to Thought and Sense 
Are far remov'd ; I'm plac'd by Fate 
Out of the Road of all Impertinence. 
Thus, tho myjleeting Life runs swiftly on^ 
'Twill not be short, because 'tis all my own. 

Poems: ^■^ The Retirement. "* 

Jonathan Swift. 1667 — 1745. 

When I am reading a book, whether wise or silly, 
it seems to me to be alive and talking to me. 

Sometimes I read a book with pleasure, and detest 
the author; 

When a true genius appears in the world, you may 
know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in con- 
federacy against him. — Thoughts on Various Subjects. 

William Congreve. 1670 — 1729. 

Read, read, sirrah, and refuse your appetite ; learn 
to live upon instruction ; feast your mind, and mortify 
your flesh : read, and take your nourishment in at 
your eyes, shut up your mouth, and chew the cud of 
understanding. — Plays : * * Love for Love. " 


Sir RiCHAjiD Steele. 1671 — 1729. 

Reading is to the mind, what exercise is to the body. 
As by the one, health is preserved, strengthened, and 
invigorated ; by the other, virtue (which is the health 
of the mind) is kept alive, cherished and confirmed. 
But as exercise becomes tedious and painful, when we 
make use of it only as the means of health, so reading 
is apt to grow uneasy and burthensome when we apply 
ourselves to it for our improvement in virtue. For 
this reason, the virtue which we gather from a fable or 
an allegory, is like the health we get .by hunting ; as 
we are engaged in an agreeable pursuit that draws us 
on with pleasure, and makes us insensible of the 
fatigues that accompany it. — The Tatlert ^o. 147. 

Joseph Addison. 1672 — 17 19. 

Aristotle tells us, that the world is a copy or trans- 
cript of those ideas which are in the mind of the first 
Being, and that those ideas which are in the mind of man, 
are a transcript of the world. To this we may add, that 
words are the transcript of those ideas which are in the 
mind of man and that writing or printing are the trans- 
cript of words. As the Supreme Being has expressed, and 
as it were printed his ideas in the creation, men express 
their ideas in books, which by this great invention of 
these latter ages may last as long as the sun and moon, 
and perish only in the general wreck of nature. . . . 
There is no other method of fixing those thoughts 
which arise and disappear in the mind of man, and 
transmitting them to the last periods of time ; no other 


method of giving a permanency to pur ideas, and pre« 
serving the knowledge of any particular period, when 
his body is mixed with the common mass of matter, 
and his soul retired into the world of spirits. Books 
are the legacies that a great genius leaves to mankind, 
which are delivered down from generation to genera- 
tion, as presents to the posterity of those who are yet 
unborn. . . . All other arts of perpetuating our 
ideas continue but a short time. . . . The cir- 
cumstance which gives authors an advantage above 
all these great masters, is this, that they can multiply 
their originals ; or rather can make copies of their 
works, to what number they please, which shall be 
as valuable as the originals themselves. This gives 
a great author something like a prospect of eternity, 
but at the same time deprives him of those other 
advantages which artists meet with. The artist finds 
greater returns in profit, as the author in fame. What 
an inestimable price would a Virgil or a Homer, a 
Cicero or an Aristotle bear, were their works, like a 
statue, a building, or a picture, to be confined only in 
one place and made the property of a single person ! 

If writings are thus durable, and may pass from age 
to age throughout the whole course of time, how care- 
ful should an author be of committing anything to print 
that may corrupt posterity, and poison the minds of 
men with vice and error ! Writers of great talents, 
who employ their parts in propagating immorality, and 
seasoning vicious sentiments with wit and humour, are 
to be looked upon as. the pests of society, and the 
enemies of mankind. They leave books behind them 
(as it is said of those who die in distem.pers which 


breed an ill will towards their own species) to scatter 
infection and destroy their posterity. They act the 
counterparts of a Confucius or a Socrates ; and seem 
to have been sent into the world to deprave human 
nature, and sink it into the condition of brutality. 

Knowledge of books in a man of business is a torch 
in the hands of one who is willing and able to show 
those who are bewildered, the way which leads to 
prosperity and welfare. — Spectator, 

Isaac Watts. 1674 — 1748. 

By reading, we acquaint ourselves, in a very ex- 
tensive manner, with the affairs, actions, and thoughts 
of the living and the dead, in the most remote actions, 
and in the most distant ages ; and that with as much 
ease as though they lived in our own age and nation. 
By reading of books, we may learn something, from all 
parts, of mankind ; whereas, by observation we learn 
all from ourselves, and only what comes within our 
own direct cognisance. By conversation we can only 
enjoy the unction of a very few persons, those who are 
moving, and live at the same time that we do — that is, 
our neighbours and contemporaries. 

By study and meditation we improve the hints that 
we have acquired by observation, conversation, and 
reading ; we take more time in thinking, and by the 
labour of the mind we penetrate deeper into the themes 
of knowledge, and carry our thoughts sometimes much 
farther on many subjects, than we ever met with, either 


in the books of the dead or discourses of the living. 
It is our own reasoning that draws out one truth from 
another, and forms a whole scheme of science from a 
few hints which we borrowed elsewhere. — On the 
Improvement of the Mind. 

CONYERS MiDDLETON. 1 683 — 1750. 

I persuade myself that the life and faculties of man, 
at the best but short and limited, cannot be employed 
more rationally or laudably than in the search of 
knowledge ; and especially of that sort which relates 
to our duty, and conduces to our happiness. In these 
enquiries, therefore, wherever I perceive any glimmer- 
ing of truth before me, I readily pursue and endeavour 
to trace it to its source, without any reserve or caution 
of pushing the discovery too far, or opening too great 
a glare of it to the public. I look upon the discovery 
of anything which is true as a valuable acquisition of 
society, which cannot possibly hurt or obstruct the 
good effect of any other truth whatsoever ; for they all 
partake of one common essence, and necessarily coin- 
cide with each other ; and like the drops of rain which 
fall separately into the river, mix themselves at once 
with the stream, and strengthen the general current. — 
Miscellaneous Works. 

Alexander Pope. 1688 — 1744. 

At this day, as much company as I have kept, and 
as much as I love it, I love reading better — I would 
rather be employed in reading than in the most agree- 
able conversation. — Spence's Anecdotes, 

montesquieu-lady m. w. montagu, m 
Baron Montesquieu. 1689 — 1755. 

Aimer \ lire, c'est faire en ^change des heures 
d'ennui que Ton doit avoir en sa vie centre des heures 

[Love of reading enables a man to exchange the weary 
hours which come to everyone, for hours of delight.] 

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. 
1690 — 1762. 

I yet retain, and carefully cherish my love of reading. 
If relays of eyes were to be hired like post-horses, I 
would never admit any but silent companions : they 
afford a constant variety of entertainment, which is 
almost the only one pleasing in the enjoyinent, and 
inoffensive in the consequence. . . , Every woman 
endeavours to breed her daughter a fine lady, qualifying 
her for a station in which she never will appear: and 
at the same time incapacitating her for that retirement, 
to which she is destined. Learning, if she has a real 
taste for it, will not only make her contented, but 
happy in it. No entertainment is so cheap as reading, 
nor any pleasure so lasting. She will not want new 
fashions, nor regret the loss of expensive diversions, or 
variety of company, if she can be amused with an 
author in her closet. ... Daughter! daughter! 
don't call names ; you are always abusing my pleasures, 
which is what no mortal will bear. Trash, lumber, 
and stuff, are the titles you give to my favourite amuse- 
ment. If I called a white staff a stick of wood, a gold 
key gilded brass, and the ensigns of illustrious orders 
coloured strings, this may be philosophically true, but 


would be very ill received. We have all our play- 
things; happy are they that can be contented with 
those they can obtain : those hours are spent in the 
wisest manner that can easiest shade the ills of life, and 
are the least productive of ill consequences. I think my 
time better employed in reading the adventures of 
imaginary people, than the Duchess of Marlborough, 
who passed the latter years of her life in paddling 
with her will, and contriving schemes of plaguing 
some, and extracting praise from others to no purpose ; 
eternally disappointing and eternally fretting. The 
active scenes are over at my age. I indulge, with all 
the art I can, my taste for reading. If I could confine 
it to valuable books, they are almost as rare as valuable 
men. I must be content with what I can find. As I 
approach a second childhood, I endeavour to enter 
into the pleasures of it. Your youngest son is, perhaps, 
at this very moment riding on a poker with great 
delight, not at all regretting that it is not a gold one, 
and much less wishing it an Arabian horse, which he 
could not know how to manage ; I am reading an idle 
tale, not expecting wit or truth in it, and am very glad 
it is not metaphysics to puzzle my judgment, or history 
to mislead my opinion : he fortifies his health by 
exercise ; I calm my cares by oblivion. The methods 
may appear low to busy people ; but if he improves 
his strength, and I forget my infirmities, we both attain 
veiy desirable ends. — Letters ^ 1752-7. 

Lord Chesterfield. 1694 — 1773. 

Lay aside the best book whenever you can go into 
the best company ; and, depend upon it, you change 



for the better. . . . Throw away none of your 
time upon those trivial futile books, published by idle 
or necessitous authors, for the amusement of idle and 
ignorant readers : such sort of books swarm and buzz 
about one every day ; flop them away ; they have no 
sting. Certum pete finem ; have some one object for 
those leisure moments, and pursue that object in- 
variably till you have attained it ; and then take some 
other. ... The ignorant and the weak only are 
idle. ... Knowledge is like power, in this respect, 
that those who have the most, are most desirous of 
having more. It does not cloy by possession, but 
increases desire ; which is the case with very few 
pleasures. Nobody ever lent themselves more than I 
did, when I was young, to the pleasure and dissipation 
of good company. I even did it too much. But then 
I can assure you that I always found time for serious 
studies ; and when I could find it in no other way, I 
took it out of my sleep ; for I resolved always to rise 
early in the morning, however late I went to bed at 
night. . . . Rise early, and at the same hour, 
every morning, how late soever you may have sat up 
the night before. This secures you an hour or two, at 
least, of reading or reflection, before the common 
interruptions of the morning begin. — Letters to His 

Pierre Bayle. 1647 — 1706. 

He (Ancillon, a French Protestant Divine of great 

eminence in the seventeenth century, who collected a 

very large and valuable library) said, that the less the 

eye is fatigued in reading a book, the more at liberty 



the mind is to judge of it. That, as the beauties and 
faults of it are more easily perceived, when it is printed, 
than in manuscript; so the same beauties and faults 
are more clearly seen, when it is printed in a fair 
character, and upon good paper, than when it is 
printed on bad paper, or with a bad letter. — 
Diciionnaire Hist, and Crit,: Art. ^^ Ancillon.'^ 

Edmund Halley. 1656 — 1742. 

Dr. Halley used to say, ** close study prolonged a 
man's life, by keeping him out of harm's way." — 
Southey's Common- Place Book. Third Series. Quoted 
f?'om Ivimefs ** History of the Baptists.''^ 

Francois M. Arouet de Voltaire. 

1694 1778. 

You despise books; you, whose whole lives are 
absorbed in the vanities of ambition, the pursuit of 
pleasure, or in indolence ; but remember that all 
the known world, excepting only savage nations, 
is governed by Books. — Dictionnaire Phil.: Art. 

Matthew Green. 1696 — 1737. 

And shorten tedious hours with books. 

The Spleen. 

Henry Fielding. 1707 — 1754. 

We are as liable to be corrupted by books as by 
companions. — Comment on Lord Bolingbroke's Essays. 


Samuel Johnson. 1709 — 1784. 

"Idleness is a disease which must be combated; but 
I would not advise a rigid adherence to a particular plan 
of study. I myself have never persisted in any plan 
for two days together. A man ought to read just as 
inclination leads him ; for what he reads as a task will 
do him little good. A young man should read five 
hours in the day, and so may acquire a great deal of 

He then took occasion to enlarge on the advantages 
of reading, and combated the idle, superficial notion, 
that knowledge enough may be acquired in conversa- 
tion. "The foundation," said he, "must be laid by 
reading. General principles must be had from books, 
which, however, must be brought to the test of real 
life. In conversation you never get a system. What 
is said upon a subject is to be gathered from a hundred 
people. The parts of a truth, which a man gets thus, 
are at such a distance from each other that he never 
attains a full view." 

He said, that for general improvement a man should 
read whatever his immediate inclination prompts him 
to ; though, to be wise, if a man have a science to 
learn, he must regularly and resolutely advance. He 
added, "what we read with inclination works 
a much stronger impression. If we read without 
inclination, half the mind is employed in fixing the 
attention ; so there is but one half to be employed on 
what we read. " He told us he read Fielding's "Amelia" 
through without stopping. He said, "If a man begins 
to read in the middle of a book, and feels an inclina- 


tion to go on, let him not quit it, to go to the beginning 
He may perhaps not feel again the inclination." 

"Books that can be held in the hand, and carried to 
the fireside, are the best after all." 

"No sooner had we made a bow to Mr. Cam- 
bridge, in his library, than Johnson ran eagerly 
to one side of the room, intent on poring over the 
backs of the books. Mr. Cambridge politely said, 
* It seems odd that one should have such a desire to 
look at the backs of books. * Johnson, ever ready for 
contest, instantly answered, *Sir, the reason is very 
plain. Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a 
subject ourselves, or we know where we can find 
information upon it. When we enquire into any 
subject, the first thing we have to do, is to know what 
books have treated of it. This leads us to look at 
catalogues, and the backs of books in libraries.'" — 
BoswelVs '■'Johnsony 

Mr. Johnson has never, by his own account, been a 
close student, and used to advise young people never 
to be without a book in their pocket to read at bye- 
times, when they had nothing else to do. "It has 
been by that means," said he to a boy at our house one 
day, "that all my knowledge has been gained, except 
what I have picked up by running about the world 
with my wits ready to observe and my tongue ready to 
talk." . . . — Mrs. Piozzi: ^^Recollections.''' 

A little plausibility of discourse, and acquaintance 
with unnecessary speculations, are dearly purchased, 


when it excludes those instructions which fortify the 
heart with resolution, and exalt the spirit to indepen- 
dence. — The RambUr, No. 180. 

David Hume. 1712 — 1776. 

My family, however, was not rich, and being myself 
a younger brother, my patrimony, according to the 
mode of my country, was of course very slender. My 
father, who passed for a man of parts, died when I was 
an infant, leaving me, with an elder brother and a 
sister, under the care of our mother, a woman of 
singular merit, who, though young and handsome, de- 
voted herself entirely to the rearing and educating of 
her children. I passed through the ordinary course of 
education with success, and was seized very early with 
a passion for literature, which has been the ruling 
passion of my life, and the great source of my enjoy- 
ments. My studious disposition, my sobriety, and my 
industry, gave my family a notion that the law was a 
proper profession for me ; but I found an unsur- 
mountable aversion to every thing but the pursuits of 
philosophy and general learning ; and while they 
fancied I was poring upon Voet and Vinnius, Cicero 
and Virgil were the authors which I was secretly 
devouring. — The Life of David Hume, written by 

Jean Jacques Rousseau. 1712 — 1778. 

When the understanding is once enlarged by the 
custom of reflecting, it is always much best to find 
one's self the things which are to be met with in books, 


This is the true secret to fix them well in the head, 
and make them our own. The great error of those 
who study, is trusting too much to their books, and 
not extracting enough from their own fund; not 
thinking that, of all sophists, our own reason is almost 
always that which deceives us the least ; as soon as 
they reflect, every one feels what is good ; every one 
discovers what is beautiful. We have no occasion to 
learn to distinguish either one or the other. . . . 
The soul is elevated, the heart is inflamed, by contem- 
plating the highest models ; by reflecting on them, we 
seek to become like them, and no longer suffer any- 
thing meddling without a mortal disgust. The mind, 
no more than the body, carries more than it can bear. 
When the understanding makes things its own, before 
it lays them up in the memory, what we afterwards 
draw from it, is our own ; while, by overloading the 
memory, without its knowledge, we run the risk of 
extracting nothing from it, which is our own. . . . 
Reason is not a piece of furniture which we can lay 
aside, and take again at our pleasure ; whoever has 
been able to live ten years without thinking, will nevef 
think during his whole life. 

Denys Diderot. 17 13 — 1789. 

Spoken sentences are like sharp nails, which force 
truth upon us. — Diderotiana. 

Laurence Sterne. 17 13 — 1768. 

The mind should be accustomed to make wise 
reflections, and draw curious conclusions as it goes 


along ; the habitude of which made Pliny the younger 
affirm that he never read a book so bad but he drew 
some profit from it..> 

Digressions incontestably are the sunshine, they are 
the life, the soul of reading. 

William Shenstone. 17 14 — 1763. 

I hate a style, as I do a garden that is wholly flat 
and regular ; that slides along like an eel, and never 
rises to what one can call an inequality. — Essays : ^^ On 
Writing and Books, " 

Horace Walpole. 17 17 — 1797. 

Without grace no book can live, and with it the 
poorest may have its life prolonged. ... I some- 
times wish for a catalogue of lounging books— books 
that one takes up in the gout, low spirits, ennui, or 
when in waiting for company. Some novels, gay 
poetry, odd whimsical authors, as Rabelais, &c. A 
catalogue raisonne of such might be itself a good 
lounging book. 

Oliver Goldsmith. 1728 — 1774. 

' An author may be considered as a merciful substitute 
to the legislature. He acts not by punishing crimes, 
but by preventing them. 

There is improbable pleasure attending the life of a 
voluntary student. The first time I read an excellent 


book, it is to me just as if I had gained a new friend ; 
when I read over a book I have perused before, it 
resembles the meeting with an old,one. — Citizen of the 

William Dodd. 1729— 1777. 

Books, dear books, 
Have been, and are my comforts, morn and night, 
Adversity, prosperity, at home. 
Abroad, health, sickness, — good or ill report, 
The same firm friends ; the same refreshments rich, 
And source of consolation. 

Thoughts in Prison. 

1729 — 1781. 

"Yes," said Goethe ; "Lessing himself said, that if 
God would give him truth, he would decline the gift, 
and prefer the labour of seeking it for himself. " — Ecker- 
mann's Conversations with Goethe in the Last Years of 
His Life, [ Translated by Margaret Fuller. ] 

Edmund Burke. 1729 — 1797. 

He who calls in the aid of an equal understanding, 
doubles his own; and he who profits by a superior 
understanding, raises his power to a level with the 
height of the superior understanding he unites with. 

Whatever turns the soul inward on itself, tends to 
concentre its forces, and to fit it for greater and 
stronger flights 

moore—cow per. 121 

John Moore. 1730 — 1802. 

It can hardly be conceived how life, short as it is, can 
be passed without many intervals of tedium, by those 
who have not their bread to earn, if they could not call in 
the assistance of our worthy mute friends, the Books. 
Horses, hounds, the theatres, cards, and the bottle, 
are all of use occasionally, no doubt ; but the weather 
may forbid the two first ; a kind of nonsense may drive 
us from the third ; the association of others is necessary 
for the fourth, and also for the fifth, unless to those 
who are already sunk into the lowest state of wretched- 
ness and degradation: but the entertainment which 
BOOKS afford, can be enjoyed in the worst weather, 
can be varied as we please, obtained in solitude, and 
instead of blunting, it sharpens the understanding ; but 
the most valuable effect of a taste for reading is, that 
it often preserves us from bad company. For those 
are not apt to go or remain with disagreeable people 
abroad, who are always certain of a pleasant party at 
home. — Zeluco ; Various Views of Human Nature^ 

William Cowper. 1731 — 1800. 

Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast, 
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round, 
And, while the bubbling and loud -hissing urn 
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups 
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each, 
So let us welcome peaceful evening in. 

22 COW PER. 

'Tis pleasant through the loop-holes of retreat 
To peep at such a world. To see the stir 
Of the great Babel, and not feel the crowd. 
To hear the roar she sends through all her gates 
At a safe distance, where the dying sound 
Falls in soft murmur on the uninjured ear. 
Thus sitting and surveying them at ease 
The globe and its concerns, I seem advanced 
To some secure and more than mortal height, 
That liberates and exempts me from them all. 

Oh Winter ! ruler of the inverted year. 

Thy scatter'd hair with sleet-like ashes fiU'd, 

Thy breath congeal'd upon thy lips, thy cheeks 

Fringed with a beard made white with other snows 

Than those of age ; thy forehead wrapt in clouds, 

A leafless branch thy sceptre, and thy throne 

A sliding car indebted to no wheels, 

But urged by storms along its slippery way ; 

I love thee, all unlovely as thou seem'st 

And dreaded as thou art. , . . 

I crown thee King of intimate delight. 

Fire-side enjoyments, home-born happiness, 

And all the comforts that the lowly roof 

Of undisturb'd retirement, and the hours 

Of long uninterrupted evening know. 

Come, evening, once again, season of peace, 
Return, sweet evening, and continue long ! 

Come then, and thou shalt find thy votary calm 
Or make me so. Composure is thy gift. 


And whether I devote thy gentle hours 
To books, to music, or the poet's toil. 

I slight thee not, but make thee welcome still. 

How calm is my recess ! and how the frost 
Raging abroad, and the rough wind endear 
The silence and the warmth enjoy 'd within. 

The Task, Book iv. , The Winter Evening. 

Books are not seldom talismans and spells. 

The Task, Book vi. , The Winter Walk at Noon, 

Edward Gibbon. 1737 — 1794. 

A taste for books is the pleasure and glory of my 
life. ... I would not exchange it for the wealth 
of the Indies. . . . The miseries of a vacant life 
are never known to a man whose hours are insufficient 
for the inexhaustible pleasures of study. . . . The 
love of study, a passion which derives great vigour 
from enjoyment, supplies each day, each hour, with a 
perpetual round of independent and rational pleasure. 
— A utobiography. 

Let us read with method, and propose to ourselves 
an end to what our studies may point. The use of 
reading is to aid us in thinking. 

Sir William Jones. 1746 — 1794. 

I have carefully and regularly perused the Holy 
Scriptures, and am of opinion that they contain more 


sublimity, purer morality, more important history, and 
liner strains of eloquence, than can be collected from 
all other books, in whatever language they may have 
been written. 

Daniel Wyttenbach. 1746 — 1820. 

There is no business, no avo9ation whatever, which 
will not permit a man, who has the inclination, to give 
a little time, every day, to study. 

Countess de Genlis. 1746 — 1830. 

Books are a guide in youth, and an entertainment 
for age. They support us under solitude, and keep us 
from becoming a burden to ourselves. They help us 
to forget the crossness of men and things, compose 
our cares and our passions, and lay our disappointments 
asleep. When we are weary of the living, we may 
repair to the dead, who have nothing of peevishness, 
pride, or design in their conversation. It is chiefly 
through books that we enjoy intercourse with superior 
minds ; and these invaluable communications are 
within the reach of all. — Memoires^ ^c, 

John Aikin. 1747 — 1822. 

At the head of all the pleasures which offer them- 
selves to the man of liberal education, may confidently 
be placed that derived from books. In variety, 
durability, and facility of attainment, no other can 
stand in competition with it ; and even in intensity it 
is inferior to few. Imagine that we had it in our 

AIKIN. 125 

power to call up the shades of the greatest and wisest 
men that ever existed, and oblige them to converse 
with us on the most interesting topics — what an 
inestimable privilege should we think it ! — how 
superior to all common enjoyments ! But in a well- 
furnished library we, in fact, possess this power. We 
can question Xenophon and Csesar on their campaigns, 
make Demosthenes and Cicero plead before us, join 
in the audiences of Socrates and Plato, and receive 
demonstrations from Euclid and Newton. In books we 
have the choicest thoughts of the ablest men in their 
best dress. We can at pleasure exclude dulness and 
impertinence, and open our doors to wit and good 
sense alone. It is needless to repeat the high com- 
mendations that have been bestowed on the study of 
letters by persons, who had free access to every other 
source of gratification. Instead of quoting Cicero to 
you, I shall in plain terms give you the result of my 
own experience on this subject. If domestic enjoy- 
raents have contributed in the first degree to the 
happiness of my life (and I should be ungrateful not to 
acknowledge that they have), the pleasures of reading 
have beyond all question held the second place. 
Without books I have never been able to pass a single 
day to my entire satisfaction : with, them, no day has 
been so dark as not to have its pleasure. Even pain 
and sickness have for a time been charmed away by 
them. By the easy provision of a book in my pocket, 
I have frequently worn through long nights and days 
in the most disagreeable parts of my profession, with 
all the difference in my feelings between calm content 
and fretful impatience. Such occurrences have afforded 


me full proof both of the possihility of being cheaply 
pleased, and of the consequence it is of to the sum of 
human felicity, not to neglect minute attentions to 
make the most of life as it passes. 

Reading may in every sense be called a cheap amuse- 
ment. A taste for books, indeed, may be made 
expensive enough ; but that is a taste for editions, 
bindings, paper, and type. If you are satisfied with 
getting at the sense as an author, in some commodious 
way, a crown at a stall will supply your wants as well 
as a guinea at a shop. Learn, too, to distinguish 
between books to be perused, and books to be 
possessed. Of the former you may find an ample store 
in every subscription library, the proper use of which 
to a scholar is to furnish his mind without loading his 
shelves. No apparatus, no appointment of time and 
place, is necessary for the enjoyment of reading. From 
the midst of bustle and business you may, in an instant, 
.by the magic of a book, plunge into scenes of remote 
ages and countries, and disengage yourself from present 
care and fatigue. "Sweet pliability of man's spirit, 
(cries Sterne, on relating an occurrence of this kind in 
his Sentimental Journey) that can at once surrender 
itself to illusions which cheat expectation and sorrow 
of their weary moments!" — Letters from a Father to 
his Son, 

John Wolfgang von Goethe. 
1749— 1832. 

No productiveness of the highest kind, no re- 
markable discovery, no great thought which bears 

GOETHE. 127 

fruit and has results, is in the power of any one ; but 
su-ch things are elevated above all earthly control. 
Man must consider them as an unexpected gift from 
above, as pure children of God, which he must receive 
and venerate with joyful thanks. They are akin to 
the daemon, which does with him what it pleases, and 
to which he unconsciously resigns himself, whilst he 
believes he is acting from his own impulse. In such 
cases, man may often be considered as an instrument 
in a higher government of the world, — as a vessel 
found worthy for the reception of a divine influence. 
I say this, whilst I consider how often a single thought 
has given a different form to whole centuries, and how 
individual men have, by their expressions, imprinted 
a stamp upon their age, which has remained uneffaced, 
and has operated beneficially upon succeeding genera- 
tions. — Conversatio7ts of Goethe with Eckermann and 
Soret. {Translated by John Oxenford.'\ 

There are three classes of readers ; some enjoy 
without judgment ; others judge without enjoyment ; 
and some there are who judge while they enjoy, and 
enjoy while they judge. 

Whoever would do good in the world, ought not to 
deal in censure. We ought not to destroy, but rather 

It is a peculiarity of the literary world, that nothing 
in it is ever destroyed without a new production, and 
one of the same kind too. There is in it an eternal 
life, for it is always in its old age, in its manhood, 
youth, and childhood, and all this at one and the 
same time» 

128 GOETHE. 

Certain books are written, not to instruct you, but 
to let you know that the author knew something. 

Our most valuable acquisition from history is the 
enthusiasm it excites. 

To understand an author we must first understand 
his age. 

Whatever you cannot understand, you cannot 

Generally speaking, an author's style is a faithful 
copy of his mind. If you would write a lucid style, let 
there first be light in your own mind. 

I have never made a secret of my enmity to parodies 
and travesties. My only reason for hating them is 
because they lower the beautiful, noble, and great.* 

Every week he (Schiller) was different and more 
perfect ; whenever I saw him he appeared to me to 
have advanced in reading, learning, and judgment. 

* One of the papers (that entitled " Debasing the Moral 
Currency") in "The Impressions of Theophrastus Such" ex- 
presses a strongly marked characteristic of George Eliot's mind. 
It is a pithy protest against the tendency of the present generation 
to turn the grandest deeds and noblest works of art into food 
for laughter. For she hated nothing so much as mockery and 
ridicule of what other people reverenced, often remarking that 
those who considered themselves freest from superstitious fancies 
were the most intolerant. She carried this feeling to such a pitch 
that she even disliked a book like ' ' Alice in Wonderland, " because 
it laughed at the things which children had had a kind of belief 
in. In censuring this vicious habit of burlesquing the things that 
ought to be regarded with awe and admiration, she remarks, 
" Let a greedy buffoonery debase all historic beauty, majesty and 
pathos, and the more you heap up the desecrated symbols, the 
greater will be the lack of the ennobling emotions which subdue 
the tyranny of suffering, and make ambition one with virtue. " — 
George Eliot: by Mathilde Blind. (Eminent Women Series.) 

GOETHE. 12^ 

Look at Burns ! What makes him great, but the 
circumstance that the old songs of his ancestors still 
lived in the mouth of the people, that they were sung 
at his cradle, that he heard them and grew up with 
them in his boyhood, until their high perfection became 
part and parcel of himself, and until they became for 
him a living basis on which he could stand and take his 
start. And again, what makes him great, but the echo 
which his songs found in the hearts of his countrymen I 
They came back to him from the field where the 
labourers sang them, and from the inn, where merry 
fellows greeted his ear with his own songs. — Goethe's 
Opinions; from his Correspondence and Conversations; 
by Otto Wenckste7'n. 

In the whirlpool of the literature of the day, I have 
befen dragged into the bottomless abyss of horrors of 
the recent French romance-literature. I will say in 
one word — it is a literature of despair. In order to 
produce a momentary effect, the very contrary of all 
that should be held up to man for his safety or his 
comfort is brought before the reader, who at last knows 
not whether to fly or how to save himself. To push 
the hideous, the revolting, the cruel, the base, in short 
the whole brood of the vile and abandoned, to impos- 
sibility, in their Satanic task. One may, and must, say 
task; for there is at the bottom a profound study of old 
times, by-gone events and circumstances, remarkable 
and intricate plots, and incredible facts ; so that it is 
impossible to call such a work either empty or bad. 
And this task even men of remarkable talents have 
undertaken ; clever, eminent men, men of middle age, 


who feel themselves damned henceforward to occupy 
themselves with these abominations. . . . Every- 
thing true — everything sesthetical is gradually and 
necessarily excluded from this literature. — Goethe's 
Correspondence with Zelter, 

J. G. VON Herder. 1744 — 1803. 

With the greatest possible solicitude avoid author- 
ship. Too early or immoderately employed, it makes 
the head waste and the heart empty ; even were there 
no other worse consequences. A person, who reads 
■only to print, in all probability reads amiss ; and he, 
who sends away through the pen and the press every 
thought, the moment it occurs to him, will in a short 
time have sent all away, and will become a mere 
journeyman of the printing-office, a compositor. 

To the above passage, quoted in the " Biographia 
Literaria," Coleridge appends the following note: — 

To which I may add from myself, that what medical 
physiologists affirm of certain secretions applies equally 
to our thoughts ; they too must be taken up again into 
the circulation, and be again and again re-secreted in 
order to ensure a healthful vigour, both to the mind 
and to its intellectual offspring. 

Richard Cecil. 1748 — 1816. 

God has given us four books : the book of grace, 
the book of nature, the book of the world, and the 
book of providence. Every occurrence is a leaf in one 
of these books : it does not become us to be negligent 
in the use of any of them. 


Tom AS DE Yriarte. 1750 — 1791. 

For every man of real learning 

Is anxious to increase his lore, 
And feels, in fact, a greater yearning, 

The more he knows, to know the more. 

Elizabeth Inchbald. 1753 — 182 1. 

Here, in the country, my books are my sole occupa- 
tion ; books my sure solace, and refuge from frivolous 
cares. Books are the calmers as well as the instructors 
of the mind. — Letters. 

William Roscoe. 1753 — 1831. 

To 77iy Books on Parting with Them, 
As one who, destined from his friends to part. 
Regrets his loss, yet hopes again erewhile 
To share their converse and enjoy their smile. 
And tempers as he may affliction's dart, — 
Thus, loved associates ! chiefs of elder Art ! 
Teachers of wisdom ! who could once beguile 
My tedious hours, and lighten every toil, 
I now resign you : nor with fainting heart ; 
For pass a few short years, or days, or hours, 
And happier seasons may their dawn unfold. 
And all your sacred fellowship restore ; 
When, freed from earth, unlimited its powers. 
Mind shall with mind direct communion hold, 
And kindred spirits meet to part no more. 

132 CRABBE. 

George Crabbe. 1754 — 1832. 

But what strange art, what magic can dispose 
The troubled mind to change its native woes ? 
Or lead us willing from ourselves, to see 
Others more wretched, more undone than we ? 
This, Books can do ;— nor this alone ; they give 
New views to life, and teach us how to live ; 
They soothe the grieved, the stubborn they chastise. 
Fools they admonish, and confirm the wise : 
Their aid they yield to all : they never shun 
The man of sorrow, nor the wretch undone : 
Unlike the hard, the selfish, and the proud, 
They fly not sullen from the suppliant crowd ; 
Nor tell to various people various things, 
But show to subjects, what they show to kings. 

Come, Child of Care ! to make thy soul serene. 
Approach the treasures of this tranquil scene ; 
Survey the dome, and, as the doors unfold. 
The soul's best cure, in all her cares, behold ! 
"Where mental wealth the poor in thought may find 
And mental physic the diseased in mind ; 
See here the balms that passion's wounds assuage ; 
See coolers here, that damp the fire of rage ; 
Here alt'ratives, by slow degrees control 
The chronic habits of the sickly soul ; 
And round the heart and o'er the aching head. 
Mild opiates here their sober influence shed. 
Now bid thy soul man's busy scenes exclude. 
And view composed this silent multitude : — 
Silent they are— but, though deprived of sound. 
Here all the living languages abound ; 


Here all that live no more ; preserved they lie, 
In tombs that open to the curious eye. 

Blest be the gracious Power, who taught mankind 
To stamp a lasting image of the mind ! 
Beasts may convey, and tuneful birds may sing, 
Their mutual feelings, in the opening spring ; 
But Man alone has skill and power to send 
The heart's warm dictates to the distant friend ; 
'Tis his alone to please, instruct, advise 
Ages remote, and nations yet to rise. 

Here come the grieved, a change of thought to find ; 
The curious here to feed a craving mind ; 
Here the devout their peaceful temple choose ; 
And here the poet meets his favouring muse. 

With awe, around these silent walks I tread ; 
These are the lasting mansions of the dead : — 
** The dead !" methinks a thousand tongues reply ; 
* ' These are the tombs of such as cannot die ! 
*'Crown'd with eternal fame, they sit sublime, 
*' And laugh at all the little strife of time." 

The Library, 1 78 1. 

William Godwin. 1756 — 1836. 

Books are the depositary of everything that is most 
honourable to man. Literature, taken in all its bearings, 
forms the grand line of demarcation between the human 
and the animal kingdoms. He that loves reading, has 
everything within his reach. He has but to desire ; 
and he may possess himself of every species of wisdom 
to judge, and power to perform. . ' . . Books 


gratify and excite our curiosity in innumerable ways. 
They force us to reflect. They hurry us from point to 
point. They present direct ideas of various kinds, and 
they suggest indirect ones. In a well-written book we 
are presented with the maturest reflections, or the 
happiest flights, of a mind of uncommon excellence. 
It is impossible that we can be much accustomed to 
such companions, without attaining some resemblance 
of them. When I read Thomson, I become Thomson ; 
when I read Milton, I become Milton. I find myself 
a sort of intellectual cameleon, assuming the colour of 
the substances on which I rest. He that revels in a 
well-chosen library, has innumerable dishes, and all of 
admirable flavour. His taste is rendered so acute, as 
easily to distinguish the nicest shades of difference. 
His mind becomes ductile, susceptible to every im- 
pression, and gaining new refinement from them all. 
His varieties of thinking baffle calculation, and his 
powers, whether of reason or fancy, become eminently 
vigorous. — The Enquirer: Of an Early Taste for 

Friedrich Schiller. 1759 — 1805. 

There is no more implacable enemy, no more envious 
colleague, no more zealous inquisitor, than the man 
who has set his talents and knowledge to sale. . . . 
Not in the deep and hidden treasures of his own 
thoughts does such an one seek his reward ; he seeks 
it in external applause, in titles and posts of honour 
or authority. ... In vain has he searched for 
truth, if he cannot barter her in exchange for gold, 
for newspaper applause, for court favour. 



How far different is the philosophical spirit ! Just 
as sedulously as the trader in knowledge severs his 
own peculiar science from all others, does the lover 
of wisdom strive to extend its dominion and restore 
its connexion with them, I say, to restore ; for the 
boundaries which divide the sciences are but the 
work of abstraction. What the empiric separates, 
the philosopher unites. He has early come to the 
conviction that in the territory of intellect, as in the 
world of matter, every thing is enlinked and com- 
mingled, and his eager longing for universal harmony 
and agreement cannot be satisfied by fragments. All 
his efforts are directed to the perfecting of his know- 
ledge ; his noble impatience cannot be tranquillized 
till all his conceptions have arranged themselves into 
one harmonious whole ; till he stands at the central 
point of arts and sciences, and thence overlooks the 
whole extent of their dominion with satisfied glance. 
New discoveries in the field of his activity, which 
depress the trader in science, enrapture the philo- 
sopher. . . . The philosophical mind passes on 
through new forms of thought, constantly heightening 
in beauty, to perfect, consummate excellence; while the 
empiric hoards the barren sameness of his school 
attainments in a mind eternally stationary. . . . 
Whatever one conquers in the empire of truth, the 
philosopher shares with all ; while the man whose only 
estimate of wisdom is profit, hates his contemporaries 
and grudges them the light and sun which illumine 
them ; he guards with jealous care the tottering 
barriers which feebly defend him from the incursions 
of victorious truth ; for whatever he undertakes, he is 


compelled to borrow stimulus and encouragement from 
without, while the philosophical spirit finds in its 
objects, nay, even in its toils, excitement and reward. 

With how much more ardour can the true lover of 
knowledge set about his work, how much more lively 
is his zeal, how much more persevering his courage 
and activity, since each labour starts in all the fresh- 
ness of youth from the bosom of its predecessor ! The 
small acquires magnitude under his creative hand, for 
he keeps the great steadily in his eye, and all his 
conceptions are tinctured by it ; while the empiric sees 
only minute details, — the small, even in the greatest. 
Not what is his pursuit, but how he handles whatever 
he pursues, distinguishes the philosophical mind. 
Wherever he takes his station, whatever is the field of 
his activity, he always stands in the centre of the 
Whole ; and, however widely the object of his pursuit 
separates him from his brethren, he is near and allied 
to them by a mind working in harmony with theirs. 
He meets them on that point where all clear spirits 
find each other. — Introductory Lecture to a Course on 
Universal History, delivered at Je?ia, 1789. 

William Cobbett. 1762 — 1835. 

Books never annoy ; they cost little, and they are 
always at hand, and ready at your call. . . . 

I hope that your taste will keep you aloof from the 
writings of those detestable villains, who employ the 
powers of their mind in debauching the minds of 
others, or in endeavours to do it. They present their 
poison in such captivating forms, that it requires great 


virtue and resolution to withstand their temptations ; 
and they have, perhaps, done a thousand times as much 
mischief in the world as all the infidels and atheists put 
together. These men ought to be held in universal 
abhorrence, and never spoken of but with execration. 

If you wish to remember a thing well, put it into 
writing, even if you burn the paper immediately after 
you have done ; for the eye greatly assists the mind. 
Memory consists of a concatenation of ideas, the place, 
the time, and other circumstances, lead to the recollec- 
tion of facts ; and no circumstance more effectually 
than stating the facts upon paper. A Journal should 
be kept by every young man. Put down something 
against every day in the year, if it be merely a descrip- 
tion of the weather. You will not have done this for 
one year without finding the benefit of it. It demands 
not more than a minute in the twenty-four hours ; and 
that minute is most agreeably and advantageously 
employed. It tends greatly to produce regularity in 
the conducting of affairs ; it is a thing demanding a 
small portion of attention once only in every day, — 
Advice to Yomig Men, and (incidentally) to Young 
Women, in the Middle and Higher Ranks of Life, 
in a Series of Letters addressed to a Youth, a Bachelor, 
a Lover, a Husband, a Father, a Citizen or a Subject, 

Sir S. Egerton Brydges. 1762 — 1837. 

Are books, in truth, a dead letter ? To those who 
have no bright mirror in' their own bosoms to reflect 
their images, they are ! but the lively and active scenes, 
which they call forth in well-framed minds, exceed the 


liveliness of reality. Heads and hearts of a coarser 
grain require the substance of material objects to put 
them in motion. Books instruct us calmly, and with- 
out intermingling with their instruction any of those 
painful impressions of superiority, which we must 
necessarily feel from a living instructor. They wait 
the pace of each man's capacity ; stay for his want of 
perception, without reproach ; go backward and for- 
ward with him at his wish ; and furnish inexhaustible 
repetitions. How is it possible to express what we 
owe, as intellectual beings, to the art of printing? 
When a man sits in a well -furnished library, sur- 
rounded by the collected wisdom of thousands of the 
best endowed minds,, of various ages and countries, 
what an amazing extent of mental range does he com- 
mand. Every age, and every language, has some 
advantages, some excellencies peculiar to itself ! I am 
not sure, that skill in a variety of tongues is always 
wisdom ; but an acquaintance with various forms of 
expression, and the operations and results of minds at 
various times, and under various circumstances of 
climate, manners and government, must necessarily 
enrich and strengthen our opinions. A person, who is 
only conversant with the literature of his own country, 
and that during only the last ten or twenty years, con- 
tracts so narrow a taste, that every other form of 
phrase, or mode of composition, every other fashion 
of sentiment, or intellectual process, appears to him 
repulsive, dull and worthless. He reads Spenser, 
and Milton, if he reads them at all, only as a task ; 
and he turns with disgust from the eloquence of 
Sydney, Hooker, and Jeremy Taylor. 


Above all, there is this value in books, that they 
enable us to converse with the dead. There is 
something in this beyond the mere intrinsic worth 
of what they have left us. When a person's body 
is mouldering, cold and insensible, in the grave, we 
feel a sacred sentiment of veneration for the living 
memorials of his mind. — The Ruminato?, No. 22, 

The contempt of many of the innocent trifles of life, 
which the generality of the world betray, arises from 
the weakness and narrowness, and not from the 
superiority, of their understandings. Most of the 
empty baubles, which mankind pursue as objects of 
high consideration, are suffered to eclipse those simple 
amusements which are in no respect less important, 
and which are so far more valuable as they are more 
compatible with purity of heart and conduct ! It is 
from an undue estimate of the points of ordinary ambi- 
tion, that health, liberty, carelessness of mind, and 
ease of conscience are sacrificed to the attainment of 
distinctions, which in the opinion of the truly wise are 
mere vanity. A just appreciation on the contrary will 
deem every pursuit, that affords amusement without 
derogating from virtue, praiseworthy. Of all the 
human relaxations which are free from guilt, perhaps 
there is none so dignified as reading. It is no little 
good to while away the tediousness of existence in a 
gentle and harmless exercise of the intellectual facul- 
ties. If we build castles in the air that vanish as 
quickly as the passing clouds,, still some beneficial 
result has been obtained ; some hours of weariness 


have been stolen from us; and probably some cares 
have been robbed of their sting. I do not here mean 
to discuss the scale of excellence among the various 
studies that books afford. It is my purpose to shew 
that even the most trifling books, which give harmless 
pleasure, produce a good far exceeding what the world 
ascribes to more high-sounding occupations. When 
we recollect of how many it is the lot, even against 
choice, to pass their days in solitude, how admirable 
is the substitute for conversation, which the powers of 
genius and art of printing bestow ! — The Ruminator, 
No. 24, On the Pleasures of Reading, 

Jean Paul F. Richter. 1763 — 1825. 

A scholar has no ennui. ... In this bridal- 
chamber of the mind (such are our study-chambers), 
in this concert-hall of the finest voices gathered from 
all times and places — the aesthetic and philosophic 
enjoyments almost overpower the faculty of choice. — 

And now the most beautiful dawn that mortal can 
behold, arose upon his spirit — the dawn of a new 
composition. For the book that a person is beginning 
to create or design, contains within itself half a life, 
and God only knows what an expanse of futurity also. 
Hopes of improvement — ideas which are to ensure 
the development and enlightenment of the human 
race — swarm with a joyful vitality in his brain, as he 
Softly paces up and down in the twilight when it has 
become too dark to write. 

ferriar— isaac disraeli. 141 

Dr. John Ferriar. 1764 — 1815. 

Like Poets, born, in vain Collectors strive 
To cross their Fate, and learn the art to thrive. 
Like Cacus, bent to tame their struggling will, 
The tyrant-passion drags them backward still : 
Ev'n I, debarr'd of ease, and studious hours. 
Confess, mid' anxious toil, its lurking pow'rs. 
How pure the joy, when first my hands unfold 
The small, rare volume, black with tarnish'd gold. 
The Bibliofnania. [Annotated edition, by 
Mr. J. E. Bailey, in the Palatine Note- 
book ^ March, 1882.] 

Isaac Disraell 1767— 1848. 

No character is more frequently amiable than that 
of a man of letters. The occupations he has chosen, 
are justly called the studies of humanity; and they 
communicate to his manners, his understanding, 
and his heart, that refined amenity, that lively sensi- 
bility, and that luminous acuteness which flow from 
a cultivated taste. He is an enthusiast; but an 
enthusiast for elegance. He loves literature, like 
virtue, for the harmony it diffuses over the passions ; 
and perceives, that like religion, it has the singular art 
of communicating with an unknown and future state. 

Men of letters find in books an occupation congenial 
to their sentiments ; labour without fatigue ; repose 
with activity ; an employment, interrupted without 
inconvenience, and exhaustless without satiety. They 
remain ever attached to their studies. Their library 
and their chamber are contiguous ; and often in this 



contracted space, does the opulent owner consume his 
delicious hours. — His pursuits are ever changing, and he 
enlivens the austere by the lighter studies. It was said 
of a great hunter, that he did npt live, but hunted ; and 
it may be said of the man of letters, that he does not 
live, but meditates. He is that happy man who creates 
hourly wants, and enjoys the voluptuousness of imme- 
diate gratification. . . . 

Those who feel with enthusiasm the eloquence of a 
fine writer, insensibly receive some particles from it ; 
a virtuous writer communicates virtue ; a refined writer, 
a subtile delicacy; a sublime writer, an elevation of 
sentiment. All these characters of the mind, in a few 
years, are diffused throughout the nation. Among us, 
what acute reasoners has the refined penetration of 
Hume formed ; what amenity of manners has not 
Addison introduced ; to how many virtuous youths 
have not the moral essays of Johnson imparted forti- 
tude, and illumined with reflection ? . . . 

It is curious to observe the solitary man of letters 
in the concealment of his obscure study, separated 
from the crowd, unknown to his contemporaries, col- 
lecting the materials of instruction from every age and 
every country ; combining with the present the example 
of the past, and the prediction of the future ; pouring 
forth the valuable secrets of his meditations to posterity ; 
striking with the concussion of new light the public 
mind ; and forming the manners, the opinions, the 
refinement, and the morals of his fellow-citizens. . . . 

The interruptions of visitors have been feelingly 
lamented by men of letters. — The mind, occupied in 
maturing its speculations, feels the approach of the 


visitor by profession, as the sudden gales of an eastern 
blast, passing over the blossoms of spring. "We are 
afraid," said some of the visitors to Baxter, "that we 
break in upon your time." "To be sure you do," 
replied the disturbed and blunt scholar. . . . The 
amiable Melancthon, incapable of a harsh expression, 
when he received these idle visits, only noted down the 
time he had expended, that he might reanimate his 
industry, and not lose a day. 

Yet let us not confound true philosophers with 
dreaming theorists. They are not more engaged in 
cultivating the mind, than the earth ; the annals of 
agriculture are as valuable as the annals of history; 
and while they instruct some to think, they teach others 
to labour. Philosophy extends it's thoughts on what- 
ever the eye has seen, or the hand has touched ; it 
herbalises in fields ; it founds mines ; it is on the waters, 
and in the forests ; it is in the library, and the labora- 
tory ; it arranges the calculations of finance ; it invents 
the police of a city ; it erects it's fortifications ; it gives 
velocity to our fleets ; in a word, it is alike in the 
solitude of deserts, as in the populousness of manufac- 
tories. The Genius of Philosophy pierces every 
where, and on whatever it rests, like the sun, it dis- 
covers what lay concealed, or matures what it found 
imperfect. — An Essay on the Manners and Genius of 
the Literary Character, 1 795. 

Those authors who appear sometimes to forget they 
are writers, and remember they are men, will be our 
favourites. He who writes from the heart, will write to 
the heart ; every one is enabled to decide on his merits. 


and they will not be referred to learned heads, or a 
distant day. We are I think little interested if an 
author displays sublimity; but we should be much 
concerned to know whether he has sincerity. . . . 
** Why," says Boileau, " are my verses read by all? it 
is only because they speak truths, and that I am con- 
vinced of the truths I write." 

Why is Addison still the first of our essayists? he 
has sometimes been excelled in criticisms more philo- 
sophical, in topics more interesting, and in diction 
more coloured. But there is a personal charm in the 
character he has assumed, in his periodical Miscellanies, 
which is felt with such a gentle force, that we scarce 
advert to it. He has painted forth his little humours, 
his individual feelings, and eternised himself to his 
readers. . . . Sterne perhaps derives a portion of 
his celebrity from the same influence ; he interests us 
in his minutest motions, for he tells us all he feels. — 
Richardson was sensible of the power with which his 
minute strokes of description enter the heart, and which 
are so many fastenings to which the imagination clings. 
He says "If I give speeches and conversations I ought 
to give them justly ; for the humours and characters 
of persons cannot be known, unless I repeat what 
they say, and their ?nanner of saying." I confess 
I am infinitely pleased when Sir William Temple 
acquaints us with the size of his orange trees, and with 
the flavour of his peaches and grapes, confessed by 
Frenchmen to equal those of France ; with his having 
had the honour to naturalize in this country four kinds 
of grapes, with his liberal distribution of them because 
" he ever thought all things of this kind the commoner 


they are the better." In a word with his passionate 
attachment to his garden, of his desire to escape from 
great employments, and having passed five years with- 
out going to town, where, by the way, **he had a 
large house always ready to receive him." Dryden has 
interspersed many of these little particulars in his 
prosaic compositions, and I think, that his character 
and dispositions, may be more correctly acquired by 
uniting these scattered notices, than by any biographical 
account which can now be given of this man of genius. 
. . . Dryden confesses that he never read any- 
thing but for his pleasure. . . . Montaigne's 
works have been called by a Cardinal "the Breviary 
of Idlers." It is therefore the book of man ; for all 
men are idlers; we have hours which we pass with 
lamentation, and which we know are always returning. 
At those moments miscellanists are comformable to all 
our humours. We dart along their airy and concise page, 
and their lively anecdote, or their profound observation 
are so many interstitial pleasures in our listless hours. 
We find, in these literary miniatures, qualities incom- 
patible with more voluminous performances. Some- 
times a bolder, and sometimes a firmer touch ; for they 
are allowed but a few strokes. They are permitted 
every kind of ornament, for how can the diminutive 
please, unless it charms by it's finished decorations, 
it's elaborate niceties, and it's exquisite polish ? A 
concise work preserves a common subject from insi- 
pidity, and an uncommon one from error. An essayist 
expresses himself with a more real enthusiasm, than 
the writer of a volume ; for I have observed that the 
most fervid genius is apt to cool in a quarto. . . . 


The ancients were great admirers of Miscellanies ; 
and this with some profound students, who affect to 
contemn these light and beautiful compositions, might 
be a solid argument to evince their bad taste. Aulus 
Gellius has preserved a copious list of titles of such 
works. These titles are so numerous, and include such 
gay and pleasing descriptions, that we may infer by 
their number that they were greatly admired by the 
public, and by their titles that they prove the great 
delight their authors experienced in their composition. 
Among the titles are "a basket of flowers ; " " an em- 
broidered mantle ; " and " a variegated meadow. " Such 
amiscellanist as was the admirable Erasmus, deserves the 
happy description which Plutarch with an elegant 
enthusiasm bestows on Menander: he calls him the 
delight of philosophers fatigued with study ; that they 
have recourse to his works as to a meadow enamelled 
with flowers, where the sense is delighted by a purer 

Nature herself is most delightful in her miscellaneous 
scenes. When I hold a volume of Miscellanies, and 
run over with avidity the titles of its contents, my mind 
is enchanted, as if it were placed among the landscapes 
of Valais, which Rousseau has described with such 
picturesque beauty. I fancy myself seated in a cottage 
amid those mountains, those valleys, those rocks, en- 
circled by the enchantments of optical illusion. I look, 
and behold at once the united seasons. ** All climates 
in one place, all seasons in one instant." I gaze at 
once on a hundred rainbows, and trace the romantic 
figures of the shifting clouds. I seem to be in a temple 
dedicated to the service of the Goddess Variety. 


On the other side, readers must not imagine that all 
the pleasures of composition depend on the author ; 
for there is something which a reader himself must 
bring to the book, that the book may please. There 
is a literary appetite which the author can no more im- 
part, than the most skilful cook can give an appetency 
to the guests. When Cardinal Richelieu said to Godeau, 
that he did not understand his verses, the honest poet 
replied, that it was not his fault. It would indeed be 
very unreasonable, when a painter exhibits his pictures 
in public, to expect that he should provide spectacles 
for the use of the short-sighted. Every man must come 
prepared as well as he can. Simonides confessed 
himself incapable of deceiving stupid persons ; and 
Balzac remarked of the girls of his village, that they 
were too silly to be duped by a man of wit. Dullness 
is impenetrable; and there are hours when the 
liveliest taste loses its sensibility. The temporary 
tone of the mind may be unfavourable to taste a work 
properly, and we have had many erroneous criticisms 
from great men, which may often be attributed to 
this circumstance. The mind communicates it's infirm 
dispositions to the book, and an author has not only 
his own defects to account for, but also those of his 
reader. There is something in composition, like the 
game of shuttlecock, where, if the reader does not 
quickly rebound the feathered • cork to the author, the 
game is destroyed, and the whole spirit of the work 
falls extinct. — Literary Miscellanies: including a 
Dissertation on Anecdotes, A New Edition ^ enlarged, 

148 john foster, 

John Foster. 1770 — 1843. 

The man who is supposed to be thoughtfully passing 
his eye over a large array of books . . . may be 
arrested by the works of some authors of highest dis- 
tinction, splendid in literary achievement and lasting 
fame. While pronouncing their names and looking at 
these volumes, in which they have left a representative 
existence on earth, left the form and action of their 
minds embodied in a more durable vehicle than their 
once animated clay, how striking to think, that some- 
where, and in some certain condition, they themselves 
are existing still — existing as really and personally as 
when they were revolving the thoughts and writing the 
sentences which fill these books ! . . . The musing 
of our contemplatist may at times be led to solemn con- 
jectures at the award, which these great intellectual 
performers have found in another state ; and he follows 
some of them with a very dark surmise. . . . And he 
may be reminded of that sovereignty of the Governor 
of the world in his selection and appointment, by which 
minds greatly below the highest order of natural 
ability may be rendered pre-eminent in usefulness. It 
may also occur to him, diverting for an instant from 
all the ranks and varieties of those who have aspired 
to be teachers of mankind, to reflect how many humble 
spirits, that never attempted any of the thousand 
speculations, nor revelled in the literary luxuries con- 
tained in these books, have nevertheless passed worthily 
and happily through the world into a region where it 
viay be the appointed result and reward of fervent 
piety, in inferior faculties, to overtake, by one mighty 


bound, the intellectual magnitude of those who had 
previously been much more powerful minds. . , . 
The mind of a thoughtful looker over a range of 
volumes, of many dates, and a considerable portion 
of them old, will sometimes be led into a train of con- 
jectural questions : — ^Who were they, that, in various 
times and places, have had these in their possession ? 
Perhaps many hands have turned over the leaves, 
many eyes have passed along the lines. With what 
measure of intelligence, and of approval or dissent, 
did those persons respectively follow the train of 
thoughts? How many of them were honestly intent 
on becoming wise by what they read ! How many 
sincere prayers were addressed by them to the Eternal 
Wisdom during the perusal ? How many have been 
determined, in their judgment or their actions, by 
these books? . . . May not some one of these 
books be the last that some one person lived to read ? 
Many that have perused them are dead ; each made 
an exit in a manner and with circumstances of its own ; 
what were the manner and circumstances in each 
instance ? It was a most solemn event to that person ; 
but how ignorant concerning it am I, who now perhaps 
have my eye on the book which he read the last! 
What a power of association, what an element of 
intense significance, would invest some of these 
volmnes, if I could have a momentary vision of the 
last scene of a number of the most remarkable of 
their former readers ! * Of that the books can tell me 
nothing ; but let me endeavour to bring the fiact, that 
persons have read them and died, to bear with a 
salutary influence on my own mind while I am reading 


any of them. List me cherish that temper of spirit 
which is sensible of intimations of what is departed, 
remaining and mingling with what is present, and can 
thus perceive some monitory glimpses of even the 
unknown dead. What multiplied traces of them on 
some of these books are perceptible to the imagina- 
tion, which beholds successive countenances long since 
'* changed and sent away," bent in attention over the 
pages! And the minds which looked from within 
through those countenances, conversing with the 
thoughts of other minds perhaps long withdrawn, 
even at that time, from among men — what and where 
are they now ? 

Sometimes the conjectural reference to the former 
possessors and readers of books seems to be rendered 
a little less vague, by our finding at the beginning of 
an old volume one or more names written, in such 
characters, and perhaps accompanied with such dates, 
that we are assured those persons must long since have 
done with all books. The name is generally all we 
can know of him who inserted it ; but we can thus fix 
on an individual as actually having possessed this 
volume ; and perhaps there are here and there certain 
marks which should indicate an attentive perusal. 
What manner of person was he ? What did he think 
of the sentiments, the passages which I see that he 
particularly noticed ? If there be opinions here which 
I cannot admit, did he believe them? If there be 
counsels here which I deem moSt just and important, 
did they effectually persuade him ? . . . The book 
is perhaps such a one as he could not read without 
being cogently admonished that he was going to his 


great account. He went to that account — how did he 
meet and pass through it? This is no vain revery. 
He, the man who bore and wrote this name, did go, 
at a particular time, though unrecorded, to surrender 
himself to his Judge. But I, who handle the book 
that was his, and observe his name, and am thus 
directing my thoughts into the dark after the man, I 
also am in progress toward the same tribunal, when it 
will be proved to my joy or sorrow, whether I have 
learned true wisdom from my books, and from my 
reflections on those who have possessed and read them 

But it may be that the observer's eye fixes on a 
volume which instantly recalls to his mind a person 
whom he well knew — a revered parent perhaps, or a 
valued friend, who is recollected to have approved 
and inculcated the principles of the book, or perhaps 
to have given it to the person who is now looking at 
it as a token of regard, or an inoffensive expedient for 
drawing attention to an important subject. He may 
have the image of that relative or friend, as in the 
emplojnnent of reading that volume, or in the act of 
presenting it to him. This may awaken a train of 
remembrances leading away from any relation to the 
book, and possibly of salutary tendency ; but also, 
such an association with the book may have an effect, 
whenever he shall consult it, as if it were the departed 
friend, still more than the author, that uttered the senti- 
ments. The author spoke to any one indifferently — 
to no one in particular; but the sentiments seem to 
be especially applied to me, when they come in this 
connection with the memory of one who was my friend. 


Thus he would have spoken to me ; thus in effect he 
does speak to me, while I think of him as having read 
the book, and regarded it as particularly adapted to 
me; or seem to behold him, as when reading it 
in my hearing, and sometimes looking off from the 
page to make a gentle enforcement of the instruction. 
He would have been happy to anticipate, that, when- 
ever I might look into it, my remembrance of him 
would infuse a more touching significance, a more 
applying principle, into its important sentiments; 
thus retaining him, though invisibly, and without his 
actual presence, in the exercise of a beneficent in- 
fluence. But indeed I can, at some moments, indulge 
my mind to imagine something more than this mere 
ideal intervention to reinforce the impression of truth 
upon me, insomuch that, supposing it were permitted 
to receive intimations from those who have left the 
world, it will seem to me possible that I might, 
when looking into some parts of that book, in a solitary 
hour of night, perceive myself to be once more the 
object of his attention, signified by a mysterious whisper 
from no visible form ; or by a momentary preternatural 
luminousness pervading the lines, to intimate that a 
friendly intelligence that does not forget me, would 
still and again enforce on my conscience the dictates 
of piety and wisdom which I am reading. , . . Is all 
influential relation dissolved by the withdrawment from 
mortal intercourse ; so that let my friends die, and I 
am as loose from their hold upon me as if they had 
ceased to exist, or even never had existed? — Intro- 
ductory Essay to Doddridge's Rise and Progress of 
Religion in the Soul. 



William Wordsworth. 1770 — 1850. 

Wings have we, and as far as we can go 
We may find pleasure : wilderness and wood, 
Blank ocean and mere sky, support that mood 
Which with the lofty sanctifies the low, 
Dreams, books, are each a world ; and books, we 

Are a substantial world, both pure and good : 
Round these, with tendrils strong as flesh and blood 
Our pastime and our happiness will grow. 
There find I personal themes, a plenteous store ; 
Matter wherein right voluble I am : 
To which I listen with a ready ear ; 
Two shall be named, pre-eminently dear — 
The gentle lady married to the Moor ; 
And heavenly Una with her milk-white lamb. 

Nor can I not believe but that hereby 
Great gains are mine ; for thus I live remote 
From evil speaking ; rancour, never sought, 
Comes to me not : malignant truth, or lie. 
Hence have I genial seasons, hence have I 
Smooth passions, smooth discourse, and joyous 

thought : 
And thus from day to day my little boat 
Rocks in its harbour, lodging peaceably. 
Blessings be with them — and eternal praise. 
Who gave us nobler loves and nobler cares — 
The poets, who on earth have made us heirs 
Of truth and pure delight by heavenly lays ! 
Oh ! might my name be numbered among theirs. 
Then gladly would I end my mortal days. 


... Books are yours, 
Within whose silent chambers treasure lies 
Preserved from age to age; more precious far 
Than that accumulated store of gold 
And orient gems, which for a day of need, 
The Sultan hides deep in ancestral tombs, 
These hoards of truth you can unlock at will. 

Samuel Taylor Coleridge. 1772 — 1834. 

With no other privilege than that of sympathy and 
sincere good wishes, I would address an affectionate 
exhortation to the youthful literati^ grounded on my 
own experience. It will be but short; for the begin- 
ning, middle, and end converge to one charge : never 
pursue literature as a trade. With the exception 
of one extraordinary man, I have never known an 
individual, least of all an individual of genius, healthy 
or happy without a profession, that is, some regular 
employment, which does not depend on the will 
of the moment, and which can be carried on so far 
mechanically that an average quantum only of health, 
spirits, and intellectual exertion are requisite to its 
faithful discharge. Three hours of leisure, unannoyed 
by any alien anxiety, and looked forward to with 
delight as a change and recreation, will sufitice to realise 
in literature a larger product of what is truly genial, 
than weeks of compulsion. Money, and immediate 
reputation form only an arbitrary and accidental end 
of literary labour. The hope of increasing them by 
any given exertion will often prove a stimulant to 
industry ; but the necessity of acquiring them will in 


all works of genius convert the stimulant into a narcotic. . 
Motives by excess reverse their very nature, and instead 
of exciting, stun and stupify the mind. For it is one 
contradistinction of genius from talent, that its pre- 
dominant end is always comprised in the means ; and 
this is one of the many points, which establish an 
analogy between genius and virtue. Now though 
talents may exist without genius, yet as genius cannot 
exist, certainly not manifest itself, without talents, I 
would advise every scholar, who feels the genial power 
working within him, so far to make a division between 
the two, as that he should devote his talents to the 
acquirement of competence in some known trade or 
profession, and his genius to objects of his tranquil 
and unbiassed choice ; while the consciousness of being 
actuated in both alike by the sincere desire to perform 
his duty, will alike ennoble both. "My dear young 
friend," (I would say) "suppose yourself established 
in any honourable occupation. From the manufactory 
or counting house, from the law-court, or from having 
visited your last patient, you return at evening. 

Dear tranquil time, when the sweet sense of Home 
Is sweetest . . . 

to your family, prepared for its social enjoyments, 
with the very countenances of your wife and children 
brightened, and their voice of welcome made doubly 
welcome, by the knowledge that, as far as they are 
concerned, you have satisfied the demands of the day 
by the labour of the day. Then, when you retire into 
your study, in the books on your shelves you revisit 
so many venerable friends with whom you can con- 


verse. Your own spirit scarcely less free from personal 
anxieties than the great minds, that in those'books are 
still living for you ! Even your writing desk with its 
blank paper and all its other implements will appear 
as a chain of flowers, capable of linking your feelings 
as well as thoughts to events and characters past or to 
come; not a chain of iron, which binds you down 
to think of the future and the remote by recalling the 
claims and feelings of the peremptory present. But 
why should I say retire ? The habits of active life and 
daily intercourse with the stir of the world will tend 
to give you such self-command, that the presence of 
your family will be no interruption. Nay, the social 
silence, or undisturbing voices of a wife or sister will 
be like a restorative atmosphere, or soft music which 
moulds a dream without becoming its object. If facts 
are required to prove the possibility of combining 
weighty performances in literature with full and in- 
dependent employment, the works of Cicero and 
Xenophon among the ancients ; of Sir Thomas More, 
Bacon, Baxter, or to refer at once to later and con- 
temporary instances, Darwin and Roscoe, are at 
once decisive of the question. — Biographia Literariay 
<hap. xi. 

In classifying the various kinds of readers, he (Cole- 
ridge) said some were like jelly-bags — they let pass away 
all that is pure and good, and retained only what is im- 
pure and refuse. Another class he typified by a sponge ; 
these were they whose minds sucked all up, and gave 
it back again, only a little dirtier. Others, again, he 
likened to an hour-glass, and their reading co the sand 

SOUTH EY, 157. 

which runs in and runs out, and leaves no trace behind. 
I forget the fourth class, but the fifth and last he com- 
pared to the slave in the Golconda mines, who retained 
the gold and the gem, and cast aside the dust and 
the dross. — ^^ Notes and Reminiscences,^'' by the late 
W, H. Harrison, Ufiiversity Magazine, vol. i. /. 537' 

Robert Southey. 1774 — 1843. 

My days among the Dead are pass'd ; 

Around me I behold, 
Where'er these casual eyes are cast, 

The mighty minds of old ; 
My never-failing friends are they, 
With whom I converse day by day. 
With them I take delight in weal, 

And seek relief in woe ; 
And while I understand and feel 

How much to them I owe. 
My cheeks have often been bedew'd 
With tears of thoughtful gratitude. 
My thoughts are with the Dead : with them 

I live in long-past years ; 
Their virtues love, their faults condemn. 

Partake their hopes and fears. 
And from their lessons seek and find 
Instruction with an humble mind. 
My hopes are with the Dead, anon 

My place with them will be, 
And I with them shall travel on 

Through all Futurity ; 
.Yet leaving here a name, I trust, 
That will not perish in the dust. 

158 SOUTH EY. 

Young readers — you, whose hearts are open, whose 
understandings are not yet hardened, and whose feelings 
are not yet exhausted nor encrusted with the world, 
take from me a better rule than any professors of 
criticism will teach you ! Would you know whether 
the tendency of a book is good or evil, examine in 
what state of mind you lay it down. Has it induced 
you to suspect that what you have been accustomed 
to think unlawful, may after all be innocent, and that 
may be harmless which you have hitherto been taught 
to think dangerous ? Has it tended to make you dis- 
satisfied and impatient under the control of others, and 
disposed you to relax in that self-government without 
which both the laws of God and man tell us there can 
be no virtue, and consequently no happiness ? Has it 
attempted to abate your admiration and reverence for 
what is great and good, and to diminish in you the love 
of your country, and your fellow-creatures? Has it 
addressed itself to your pride, your vanity, your selfish- 
ness, or any other of your evil propensities? Has it 
defiled the imagination with what is loathsome, and 
shocked the heart with what is monstrous? Has it 
disturbed the sense of right and wrong which the 
Creator has implanted in the human soul ? If so, if 
you are conscious of all or any of these effects, or if 
having escaped from all, you have felt that such were 
the effects it was. intended to produce, throw the book 
in the fire, whatever name it may bear in the title- 
page ! Throw it in the fire, young man, though it 
should have been the gift of a friend ; young lady, 
away with the whole set, though it should be the 
prominent furniture of a rosewood bookcase. — The 
Doctor f ii. 86 (Interchapter v,). 


"Libraries," says my good old friend George Dyer, 
a man as learned as he is benevolent, . . . "libraries 
are the wardrobes of literature, whence men, properly 
informed, might bring forth something for ornament, 
much for curiosity, and more for use." These books 
of mine, as you well know, are not drawn up here 
for display, however much the pride of the eye may 
be gratified in beholding them ; they are on actual 
service. Whenever they may be dispersed, there is 
not one among them that will ever be more com- 
fortably lodged, or more highly prized by its possessor ; 
and generations may pass away before some of them 
will again find a reader. . . . It is well that we 
do not moralize too much upon such subjects, . . . 

For foresight is a melancholy gift, 

Which bares the bald, and speeds the all-too-swift. 

But the dispersion of a library, whether in retrospect 
or in anticipation, is always to me a melancholy thing. 
How many such dispersions must have taken place to 
have made it possible that these books should thus be 
brought together here among the Cumberland moun- 
tains ! Many, indeed ; and in many instances most 
disastrous ones. Not a few of these volumes have been 
cast up from the wreck of the family or convent libraries 
during the late Revolution. . . . Yonder Acta 
Sanctorum belonged to the Capuchines, at Ghent. 
This book of St. Bridget's Revelations, in which not 
only all the initial letters are illuminated, but every 
capital throughout the volume was coloured, came 
from the Carmelite Nunnery at Bruges. That copy 

i6o SOUTH EY. 

of Alain Chartier, from the Jesuits' College at Louvain ; 
that Imago Primi ScbcuU Societatis^ from their college 
at Ruremond. Here are books from Colbert's library; 
here others from the Lamoignon one. ... A 
book is the more valuable to me when I know to whom 
it has belonged, and through what "scenes and changes '^ 
it has past. I would have its history recorded in 
the fly leaf, as carefully as the pedigree of a race-horse 
is preserved. ... I confess that I have much of 
that feeling in which the superstition concerning relics 
has originated ; and I am sorry when I see the name 
of a former owner obliterated in a book, or the plate 
of his arms defaced. Poor memorials though they be, 
yet they are something saved for a while from oblivion ; 
and I should be almost as unwilling to destroy them, 
as to efface the Hie jacct of a tombstone. There may 
be sometimes a pleasure in recognizing them, some- 
times a salutary sadness. 

How peaceably they stand together, . . . Papists 
and Protestants side by side ! Their very dust reposes 
not more quietly in the cemetery. Ancient and Modern, 
Jew and Gentile, Mahommedan and Crusader, French 
and English, Spaniards and Portuguese, Dutch and 
Brazilians, fighting their old battles, silently now, 
upon the same shelf: Fernam Lopez and Pedro de 
Ayala ; John de Laet and Barlseus, with the historians 
of Joam Fernandes Vieira ; Fox's Martyrs and the 
Three Conversions of Father Persons ; Cranmer and 
Stephen Gardiner ; Dominican and Franciscan ; Jesuit 
and Philosophe (equally misnamed) ; Churchmen and 
Sectarians ; Roundheads and Cavaliers ! 


Here are God's conduits, grave divines ; and here 

Is nature's secretary, the philosopher : 

And wily statesmen, vi^hich teach how to tie 

The sinews of a city's mystic body ; 

Here gathering chroniclers : and by them stand 

Giddy fantastic poets of each land. Domie 

Here I possess these gathered treasures of time, the 
harvest of so many generations, laid up in my garners : 
and when I go to the window, there is the lake, and 
the circle of the mountains, and the illimitable sky. 
The simile of the bees, 

Sic vos non vohis 7nellijicatis apes, 
has often been applied to men who have made litera- 
ture their profession ; and they among them to whom 
worldly wealth and worldly honours are objects of 
ambition, may have reason enough to acknowledge 
its applicability. But it will bear a happier applica- 
tion, and with equal fitness ; for, for whom is the purest 
honey hoarded that the bees of this world elaborate, 
if it be not for the man of letters ? The exploits of 
the kings and heroes of old, serve now to fill story 
books for his amusement and instruction. It was to 
delight his leisure and call forth his admiration that 
Homer sung, and Alexander conquered. It is to gratify 
his curiosity that adventurers have traversed deserts 
and savage countries, and navigators have explored the 
seas from pole to pole. The revolutions of the planet 
which he inhabits are but matters for his speculation ; and 
the deluges and conflagrations which it has undergone, 
problems to exercise his philosophy, ... or fancy. 
He is the inheritor of whatever has been discovered 

i62 SOUTH EY, 

by persevering labour, or created by inventive genius. 
The wise of all ages have heaped up a treasure for him, 
which rust doth not corrupt, and which thieves cannot 
break through and steal. ... I must leave out 
the moth, ... for even in this climate care is 
required against its ravages. 

Never can any man's life have been passed more in 
accord with his own inclinations, nor more answerably 
to his own desires. Excepting that peace which, 
through God's infinite mercy, is derived from a higher 
source, it is to literature, humanly speaking, that I am 
beholden, not only for the means of subsistence, but 
for every blessing which I enjoy; . . , health of 
mind and activity of mind, contentment, cheerfulness, 
continual employments, and therewith continual plea- 
sure. Suavissima vita indies sentire se fieri meliorem ; 
and this, as Bacon has said, and Clarendon repeated, 
is the benefit that a studious man enjoys in retirement. 
To the studies which I have faithfully pursued, I am 
indebted for friends with whom, hereafter, it will be 
deemed an honour to have lived in friendship ; and as 
for the enemies which they have procured to me in 
sufficient numbers, . . . happily I am not of the thin- 
skinned race, ... they might as well fire small shot 
at a rhinoceros, as direct their attacks upon me. In 
omnibus requiem qucesivi, said Thomas k Kempis, sed 
non inveni nisi in angulis et libellis, I too have found 
repose where he did, in books and retirement, but it was 
there alone I sought it : to these my nature, under the 
direction of a merciful Providence, led me betimes, and 
the world can offer nothing which should tempt me from 
them. — Sir Thomas More : or. Colloquies on the Progress 
and Prospects of Society, Colloquy xiv. : * ' The Library. " 

charles lamb. 163 

Charles Lamb. 1775 — 1834. 

Above all thy rarities, old Oxenford, what do most 
arride and solace me, are thy repositories of mouldering 
learning, thy shelves- 

What a place to be in is an old library ! It seems 
as though all the souls of all the writers, that have 
bequeathed their labours to these Bodleians, were 
reposing here, as in some dormitory, or middle state. 
I do not want to handle, to profane the leaves, their 
winding-sheets. I could as soon dislodge a shade. I 
seem to inhale learning, walking amid their foliage ; 
and the odour of their old moth -scented coverings is 
fragrant as the first bloom of those sciential apples 
which grew amid the happy orchard. — Elides Essays: 
'* Oxford in the Vacation^ 

To one like Elia, whose treasures are rather cased 
in leather covers than closed in iron coffers, there is a 
class of alienators more formidable than that which I 
have touched upon ; I mean your borrowers of books — 
those mutilators of collections, spoilers of the symmetry 
of shelves, and creators of odd volumes. There is Com- 
berbatch [Coleridge], matchless in his depredations ! 

That foul gap in the bottom shelf facing you, like a 
great eye-tooth knocked out — (you are now with me 

in my little back study in Bloomsbury, reader !) with 

the huge Switzer-like tomes on each side (like the 
Guildhall giants, in their reformed posture, guardant 
of nothing) once held the tallest of my folios, 
Opera Bonaventurce, choice and massy divinity, to 
which its two supporters (school divinity also, but of 
a lesser calibre, — Bellarmine, and Holy Thomas), 


showed but as dwarfs, — itself an Ascapart ! — that 
Comberbatch abstracted upon the faith of a theory he 
holds, which is more easy, I confess, for me to suffer 
by than to refute, namely, that "the title to property 
in a book (my Bonaventure, for instance), is in exact 
ratio to the claimant's powers of understanding and 
appreciating the same." Should he go on acting upon 
this theory, which of our shelves is safe ? 

The slight vacuum in the left-hand case — two shelves 
from the ceiling — scarcely distinguishable but by the 

quick eye of a loser was whilom the commodious 

resting-place of Brown on Urn Burial. C. will hardly 
allege that he knows more about that treatise than I 
do. who introduced it to him, and was indeed the first 
(of the moderns) to discover its beauties — but so have 
I known a foolish lover to praise his mistress in the 
presence of a rival more qualified to carry her off than 
himself. — ^Just below, Dodsley's dramas want their 
fourth volume, where Vittoria Corombona is ! The 
remainder nine are as distasteful as Priam's refuse 
sons, when the Fates borrowed Hector. Here stood 
the Anatomy of Melancholy, in sober state. — There 
loitered the Complete Angler ; quiet as in life, by some 
stream side. — In yonder nook, John Buncle, a widower- 
volume, with "eyes closed," mourns his ravished mate. 
— Elia^s Essays : " The 7 wo Races of Men.'" 

I own that I am disposed to say grace upon twenty 
other occasions in the course of the day besides my 
dinner. I want a form for setting out upon a pleasant 
walk, for a moonlight ramble, for a friendly meeting, 
or a solved problem. Why have we none for books, 


those spiritual repasts — a grace before Milton — a grace 
before Shakspeare — a devotional exercise proper to be 
said before reading the Fairy Queen ? — Ella's Essays: 
" Grace Before Meat.'''' 

In the depth of college shades, or in his lonely 
chamber, the poor student shrunk from observation. 
He found shelter among books, which insult not ; and 
studies, that ask no questions of a youth's finances. — 
Ella's Essays : ^^Poor Relations y 

I must confess that I dedicate no inconsiderable 
portion of my time to other people's thoughts. I 
dream away my life in others' speculations. I love to 
lose myself in other men's minds. When I am not 
walking, I am reading ; I cannot sit and think. Books 
think for me. 

I have no repugnances. Shaftesbury is not too 
genteel for me, nor Jonathan Wild too low. I can 
read anything which I call a book. There are things 
in that shape which I cannot allow for such. 

In this catalogue of books which are no books — biblia 
a-biblia — I reckon Court Calendars, Directories, Pocket 
Books, Draught Boards, bound and lettered at the back, 
Scientific Treatises, Almanacks, Statutes at large ; the 
works of Hume, Gibbon, Robertson, Beattie, Soame 
Jenyns, and, generally, all those volumes which **no 
gentleman's library should be without : " the Histories 
of Flavius Josephus (that learned Jew), and Paley's 
Moral Philosophy. With these exceptions, I can read 
almost any thing. I bless my stars for a taste so catholic, 
so unexcluding. 


I confess that it moves my spleen to see these things 
in books' clothing perched upon shelves, like false saints, 
usurpers of true shrines, intruders into the sanctuary, 
thrusting out the legitimate occupants. To reach down 
a well-bound semblance of a volume, and hope it some 
kind-hearted play-book, then, opening what "seem its 
leaves," to come bolt upon a withering Population 
Essay. To expect a Steele, or a Farquhar, and find — 
Adam Smith. To view a well-arranged assortment of 
blockheaded Encyclopaedias (AngHcanas or Metropoli- 
tanas) set out in an array of Russia or Morocco, when 
a tithe of that good leather would comfortably re-clothe 
my shivering folios ; would renovate Paracelsus himself, 
and enable old Raymund Lully to look like himself 
again in the world. I never see these impostors, but 
I long to strip them, to warm my ragged veterans in 
their spoils. 

To be strong-backed and neat-bound is the deside- 
ratum of a volume. Magnificence comes after. This, 
when it can be afforded, is not to be lavished upon all 
kinds of books indiscriminately. I would not dress 
a set of Magazines, for instance, in full suit. The 
dishabille, or half-binding (with Russia backs ever) is 
our costume. A Shakspeare, or a Milton (unless the 
first editions), it were mere foppery to trick out in gay 
apparel. The possession of them confers no distinction. 
The exterior of them (the things themselves being so 
common), strange to say, raises no sweet emotions, no 
tickling sense of property in the owner. Thomson's 
Seasons, again, looks best (I maintain it) a little torn, 
and dog's-eared. How beautiful to a genuine lover of 
reading are the sullied leaves, and worn out appearance, 


nay, the very odour (beyond Russia,) if we would not 
forget kind feelings in fastidiousness, of an old " Circu- 
lating Library" Tom Jones, or Vicar of Wakefield! 
How they -speak of the thousand thumbs, that have 
turned over their pages with delight ! — of the lone 
sempstress, whom they may have cheered (milliner, 
or harder-working mantua-maker) after her long day's 
needle-toil, running far into midnight, when she has 
snatched an hour, ill spared from sleep, to steep her 
cares, as in some Lethean cup, in spelling out their 
enchanting content ! Who would have them a whit 
less soiled ? What better condition could we desire to 
see them in? 

In some respects the better a book is, the less it 
demands from binding. Fielding, Smollet, wSterne, and 
. all that class of perpetually self-reproductive volumes — 
Great Nature's Stereotypes — we see them individually 
perish with less regret, because we know the copies 
of them to be " eterne." But where a book is at once 
both good and rare — where the individual is almost 
the species, and when ^/laf perishes. 

We know not where is that Promethean torch 
That can its light relumine — 

such a book, for instance, as the Life of the Duke of 
Newcastle, by his Duchess — no casket is rich enough, 
no casing sufficiently durable, to hoaour and keep safe 
such a jewel. 

I do not know a more heartless sight than the reprint 
of the Anatomy of Melancholy. What need was there 
of unearthing the bones of that fantastic old great man, 
to expose them in a winding-sheet of the newest fashion 


to modern censure ? what hapless stationer could dream 
of Burton ever becoming popular? — The wretched 
Malone could not do worse, when he bribed the sexton 
of Stratford church to let him white-wash the painted 
effigy of old Shakspeare, which stood there, in rude 
but lively fashion depicted, to the very colour of the 
cheek, the eye, the eyebrow, hair, the very dress he 
used to wear — the only authentic testimony we had, 
however imperfect, of these curious parts and parcels 
of him. They covered him over with a coat of white 

paint. By , if I had been a justice of peace for 

Warwickshire, I would have clapped both commen- 
tator and sexton fast in the stocks, for a pair of 
meddling sacrilegious varlets. 

I think I see them at their work — these sapient 
trouble-tombs. . . . 

Much depends upon when and where you read a 
book. In the five or six impatient minutes, before the 
dinner is quite ready, who would think of taking up 
the Fairy Queen for a stop-gap, or a volume of Bishop 
Andrewes' sermons ? 

Milton almost requires a solemn service of music to 
be played before you enter upon him. But he brings 
his music, to which, who listens, had need bring docile 
thoughts, and purged ears. 

Winter evenings— the world shut out — with less of 
ceremony the gentle Shakspeare enters. At such a 
season, the Tempest, or his own Winter's Tale — . . . 

Coming in to an inn at night — having ordered your 
•supper — what can be more delightful than to find lying 
in the window-seat, left there time out of mind by the 
carelessness of some former guest — two or three num- 


bers of the old Town and Country Magazine, with its 
amusing teie-h-tete pictures — "The Royal Lover and 

Lady G ;" "The Melting Platonic and the old 

Beau," — and such like antiquated scandal? Would 
you exchange it — at that time, and in that place— for a 
better book ? . . . 

I am not much a friend to out-of-doors reading. I 
cannot settle my spirits to it. I knew a Unitarian 
minister, who was generally to be seen upon Snow-hill 
(as yet Skinner's-street was not\ between the hours of 
ten and eleven in the morning, studying a volume of 
Lardner. I own this to have been a strain of abstrac- 
tion beyond my reach. I used to admire how he 
sidled along, keeping clear of secular contacts. An 
illiterate encounter with a porter's knot, or a bread 
basket, would have quickly put to flight all the 
theology I am master of, and have left me worse than 
indifferent to the five points. 

There is a class of street-readers, whom I can never 
contemplate without affection — the poor gentry, who, 
not having wherewithal to buy or hire a book, filch a 
little learning at the open stalls — the owner, with his 
hard eye, casting envious looks at them all the while, 
and thinking when they will have done. Venturing 
tenderly, page after page, expecting every moment 
when he shall interpose his interdict, and yet unable to 
deny themselves the gratification, they "snatch a fear- 
ful joy." Martin B , in this way, by daily frag- 
ments, got through two volumes of Clarissa, when the 
stall-keeper damped his laudable ambition, by asking 
him (it was in his younger days) whether he meant to 
purchase the work. M. declares, that under no cir- 


cumstances of his life did he ever peruse a book with 
half the satisfaction which he took in those uneasy 
snatches. — Ella's Essays: ''^Detached Thoughts on 
Books and Reading,'''^ 

[Bridget Elia loquitur] **I wish the good old times 
would come again, when we were not quite so rich. I 
do not mean, that I want to be poor ; but there was a 
middle state;" so she was pleased to ramble on, — "in 
which I am sure we were a great deal happier. A pur- 
chase is but a purchase, now that you have money 
enough and to spare. Formerly it used to be a 
triumph. When we coveted a cheap luxury (and, O ! 
how much ado I had to get you to consent in those 
times !) we were used to have a debate two or three 
days before, and to weigh i\iQ for and against, and 
think what we might spare it out of, and what saving 
we could hit upon, that should be an equivalent. A 
thing was worth buying then, when we felt the money 
that we paid for it. 

" Do you remember the brown suit, which you made 
to hang upon you, till all your friends cried shame 
upon you, it grew so thread-bare — and all because of 
that folio Beaumont and Fletcher, which you dragged 
home late at night from Barker's in Covent -garden ? 
Do you remember how we eyed it for weeks before we 
could make up our minds to the purchase, and had 
not come to a determination till it was near ten 
o'clock of the Saturday night, when you set off from 
Islington, fearing you should be too late — and when 
the old bookseller with some grumbling opened his 
shop, and by the twinkling taper (for he was setting 


bedwards) lighted out the relic from his dusty treasures 
— and when you lugged it home, wishing it were twice 
as cumbersome — and when you presented it to me — 
and when we were exploring the perfectness of it 
[collating you called it) — and while I was repairing 
some of the loose leaves with paste, which your im- 
patience would not suffer to be left till day-break — 
was there no pleasure in being a poor man ? or can 
those neat black clothes which you wear now, and are 
so careful to keep brushed, since we have become rich 
and finical, give you half the honest vanity, with which 
you flaunted it about in that over-worn suit — your old 
corbeau — for four or five weeks longer than you should 
have done, to pacify your conscience for the mighty 
sum of fifteen — or sixteen shillings was it? — a great 
affair we thought it then — which you had lavished on 
the old folio. Now you can afford to buy any book 
that pleases you, but I do not see that you ever bring 
me home any nice old purchases now." — Ella's 
Essays : * ' Old Ch ina . ' ' 

Walter Savage Landor. 1775 — 1864. 

O Andrew ! Although our learning raiseth up against 
us many enemies, among the low, and more among the 
powerful, yet doth it invest us with grand and glorious 
privileges, and grant to us a largess of beatitude. We 
enter our studies, and enjoy a society which we 
alone can bring together. We raise no jealousy by 
conversing with one in preference to another ; we give 
no offence to the most illustrious by questioning him as 
long as we will, and leaving him as abruptly. Diver- 


sity of opinion raises no tumult in our presence ; each 
interlocutor stands before us, speaks, or is silent, and 
we adjourn or decide the business at our leisure. 
Nothing is past which we desire to be present ; and 
we enjoy by anticipation somewhat like the power 
which I imagine we shall possess hereafter of sailing 
on a wish from world to world. — Imaginary Cotiversa- 
tions: ''^Milton in conversation with Attdrew Marvell.'" 

Logic, however unperverted, is not for boys ; argu- 
ment is among the most dangerous of early practices, and 
sends away both fancy and modesty. The young mind 
should be nourished with simple and grateful food, and 
not too copious. It should be little exercised until its 
nerves and muscles show themselves, and even then 
rather for air than anything else. Study is the bane of 
boyhood, the aliment of youth, the indulgence of 
manhood, and the restorative of age. — Pericles and 
Aspasia, Ivii. : " Cleone to Aspasia.^^ 

The writings of the wise are the only riches our 
posterity cannot squander. 

William Hazlitt. 1778 — 1830. 

They [Books] are the nearest to our thoughts : they 
wind into the heart ; the poet's verse slides into the 
current of our blood. We read them when young, we 
remember them when old. We i^ad there of what 
has happened to others ; we feel that it has happened 
to ourselves. They are to be had everywhere cheap 
and good. We breathe but the air of books : we owe 


every thing to their authors, on this side barbarism ; 
and we pay them easily with contempt, while living, 
and with an epitaph, when dead ! . . . there are 
neither picture-galleries nor theatres-royal on Salisbury- 
plain, where I write this ; but here, even here, with a 
few old authors, I can manage to get through the 
summer or the winter months, without ever knowing 
what it is to feel ennui. They sit with me at break- 
fast ; they walk out with me before dinner. After a 
long walk through unfrequented tracks, after starting 
the hare from the fern, or hearing the wing of the raven 
rustling above my head, or being greeted by the wood- 
man's ** stern good -night," as he strikes into his narrow 
homeward path, I can "take mine ease at mine inn," 
beside the blazing hearth, and shake hands with Signor 
Orlando Friscobaldo [a character in one of Dekkar's 
Plays], as the oldest acquaintance I have, Ben Jonson, 
learned Chapman, Master Webster, and Master Hey- 
wood, are there ; and seated round, discourse the silent 
hours away. Shakespear is there himself, not in 
Gibber's manager's coat. Spenser is hardly yet 
returned from a ramble through the woods, or is con- 
cealed behind a group of nymphs, fawns, and satyrs. 
Milton lies on the table, as on an altar, never taken 
up or laid down without reverence. Lyly's Endymion 
sleeps with the moon, that shines in at the window ; 
and a breath of wind stirring at a distance seems a 
sigh from the tree under which he grew old. Faustus 
disputes in one corner of the room with fiendish faces, 
and reasons of divine astrology, Bellafront soothes 
Matheo, Vittoria triumphs over her judges, and old 
Chapman repeats one of the hymns of Homer, in his 


own fine translation ! I should have no objection to 
pass my life in this manner out of the world, not 
thinking of it, nor it of me ; neither abused by my 
enemies, nor defended by my friends ; careless of the 
future, but sometimes dreaming of the past which might 
as well be forgotten ! — Lectui^es on the Dramatic 
Literature of the Age of Elizabeth. 

I do not think altogether the worse of a book for 
having survived the author a generation or two. I 
have more confidence in the dead than the living. 
Contemporary writers may generally be divided into 
two classes — one's friends or one's foes. Of the first 
we are compelled to think too well, and of the last we 
are disposed to think too ill, to receive much genuine 
pleasure from the perusal, or to judge fairly of the 
merits of either. One candidate for literary fame, who 
happens to be of our acquaintance, writes finely, and 
like a man of genius ; but unfortunately has a foolish 
face, which spoils a delicate passage : — another inspires 
us with the highest respect for his personal talents and 
character, but does not quite come up to our expecta- 
tions in print. All these contradictions and petty 
details interrupt the calm current of our reflections. If 
you want to know what any of the authors were who 
lived before our time, and are still objects of anxious 
inquiry, you have only to look into their works. But 
the dust and smoke and noise of modern literature 
have nothing in common with the pure, silent air of 

When I take up a work that I have read before (the 
oftener the better) I know what I have to expect. 


The satisfaction is not lessened by being anticipated. 
When the entertainment is altogether new, I sit down 
to it as I should to a strange dish, — turn and pick out 
a bit here and there, and am in doubt what to think 
of the composition. There is a want of confidence and 
security to second appetite. New-fangled books are 
also like made-dishes in this respect, that they are 
generally little else than hashes and rifaccimenti of 
what has been served up entire and in a more natural 
state at other times. Besides, in thus turning to a 
well-known author, there is not only an assurance that 
my time will not be thrown away, or my palate nauseated 
with the most insipid or vilest trash, — but I shake 
hands with, and look an old, tried, and valued friend 
in the face, — compare notes, and chat the hours away. 
It is true, we form dear friendships, with such ideal guests 
— dearer, alas ! and more lasting, than those with our 
most intimate acquaintance. In reading a book which 
is an old favourite with me (say the first novel I ever 
read) I not only have the pleasure of imagination and 
of a critical relish of the work, but the pleasures of 
memory added to it. It recalls the same feelings and 
associations which I had in first reading it, and which 
I can never have again in any other way. Standard 
productions of this kind are links in the chain of our 
conscious being. They bind together the different 
scattered divisions of our personal identity. They are 
landmarks and guides in our journey through life. 
They are pegs and loops on which we can hang up, 
or from which we can take down, at pleasure, the 
wardrobe of a moral imagination, the relics of our best 
affections, the tokens and records of our happiest hours. 


They are "for thoughts and for remembrance ! " They 
are like Fortunatus's Wishing-Cap — they give us the 
best riches — those of Fancy ; and transport us, not 
over half the globe, but (which is better) over half our 
lives, at a word's notice ! 

My father Shandy solaced himself with Bruscambille. 
Give me for this purpose a volume of *' Peregrine 
Pickle" or "Tom Jones." Open either of them any- 
where — at the "Memoirs of Lady Vane," or the 
adventures at the masquerade with Lady Bellaston, or 
the disputes between Thwackum and Square, or the 
escape of Molly Seagrim, or the incident of Sophia and 
her muff, or the edifying prolixity of her aunt's lecture 
— and there I find the same delightful, busy, bustling 
scene as ever, and feel myself the same as when I was 
first introduced into the midst of it. Nay, sometimes 
the sight of an old volume of these good old English 
authors on a stall, or the name lettered on the back 
among others on the shelves of a library, answers the 
purpose, revives the whole train of ideas, and sets "the 
puppets dallying." Twenty years are struck off the 
list, and I am a child again. A sage philosopher, who 
was not a very wise man, said, that he should like very 
well to be young again, if he could take his experience 
along with him. This ingenious person did not seem 
to be aware, by the gravity of his remark, that the great 
advantage of being young is to be without this weight 
of experience, which he would fain place upon the 
shoulders of youth, and which never comes too late 
with years. Oh ! what a privilege to be able to let 
this hump, like Christian's burthen, drop from off one's 
back, and transport oneself, by the help of a little 


musty duodecimo, to the time when ** ignorance was 
bliss," and when we first got a peep at the raree-show 
of the world, through the glass of fiction — gazing at 
mankind, as we do at wild beasts in a menagerie, 
through, the bars of their cages, — or at curiosities in a 
museum, that we must not touch ! for jnyself, not only 
are the old ideas of the contents of the work brought 
back to my mind in all their vividness, but the old 
associations of the faces and persons, of those I then 
knew, as they were in their lifetime — the place where 
I sat to read the volume, the day when I got it, the 
feeling of the air, the fields, the sky — ^^return, and all 
my early impressions with them. This is better to me 
— those places, those times, those persons, and those 
feelings that come across me as I retrace the story 
and devour the page, are to me better far than the wet 
sheets of the last new novel from the Ballantyne press, 
to say nothing of the Minerva press in Leadenhall 
Street. It is like visiting the scenes of early youth. 
I think of the time "when I was in my father's house, 
and my path ran down with butter and honey," — 
when I was a little, thoughtless child, and had no other 
wish or care but to con my daily task, and be h^ppy ! 
— "Tom Jones," I remember, was the first work that 
broke the spell. It came down in numbers once a 
fortnight, in Cooke's pocket-edition, embellished with 
cuts. I had hitherto read only in school-books, and a 
tiresome ecclesiastical history (with the exception of 
Mrs. Radcliffe's "Romance of the Forest"): but this 
had a different relish with it, — ** sweet in the mouth," 
though not *' bitter in the belly." It smacked of the 
world I lived, in, and in which I was to live — and 


showed me groups, "gay creatures" not "of the ele- 
ment," but of the earth ; not "living in the clouds," 
but travelling the same road that I did ; — some that 
had passed on before me, and others that might soon 
overtake me. My heart had palpitated at the thoughts 
of a boarding-school ball, or gala-day, at Midsummer 
or Christmas ; but the world I had found out in 
Cooke's edition of the "British Novelists" was to me 
a dance through life, a perpetual gala-day. The six- 
penny numbers of this work regularly contrived to 
leave off just in the middle of a sentence, and in the 
nick of a story. . . . With what eagerness I used 
to look forward to the next number, and open the 
prints ! Ah ! never again shall I feel the enthusiastic 
delight with which I gazed at the figures, and 
anticipated the story and adventures of Major Bath and 
Commodore Trunnion, of Trim and my Uncle Toby, of 
Don Quixote and Sancho and Dapple, of Gil Bias and 
Dame Lorenza Sephora, of Laura and the fair Lucretia, 
whose lips open and shut like buds of roses. To what 
nameless ideas did they give rise, — with what airy de- 
lights I filled up the outlines, as I hung in silence 
over the page ! — Let me still recall them, that they 
may breathe fresh life into me, and that I may live 
that birthday of thought and romantic pleasure over 
again 1 Talk of the ideal I This is the only true ideal 
— the heavenly tints of Fancy reflected in the bubbles 
that float upon the spring-tide of human life. 

O Memory ! shield me from the world's poor strife, 
And give those scenes thine everlasting life ! 

The Plain Speaker: ''On Reading Old Books:' 


I cannot understand the rage manifested by the 
greater part of the world for reading New Books. If 
the public had read all those that have gone before, I 
can conceive how they should not wish to read the same 
work twice over ; but when I consider the countless 
volumes that lie unopened, unregarded, unread, and 
unthought-of, I cannot enter into the pathetic com- 
plaints that I hear made that Sir Walter writes no 
more-^that the press is idle — that Lord Byron is dead. 
If I have not read a book before, it is, to all intents 
and purposes, new to me, whether it was printed yes- 
terday or three hundred years ago. If it be urged that 
it has no modern, passing incidents, and is out of date 
and old-fashioned, then it is so much the newer ; it is 
farther removed from other works that I have lately 
read, from the familiar routine of ordinary life, and 
makes so much more addition to my knowledge. But 
many people would as soon think of putting on old 
armour as of taking up a book not published within 
the last month, or year at the utmost. There is a 
fashion in reading as well as in dress, which lasts only 
for the season. One would imagine that books were, 
like women, the worse for being old ; that they have a 
pleasure in being read for the first time ; that they open 
their leaves more cordially ; that the spirit of enjoy- 
ment wears out with the spirit of novelty ; and that, 
after a certain age, it is high time to put them on the 
shelf. This conceit seems to be followed up in practice. 
What is it to me that another — that hundreds or thou- 
sands have in all ages read a work ? Is it on this 
account the less likely to give me pleasure, because it 
has delighted so many others? Or can I taste this 


pleasure by proxy ? Or am I in any degree the wiser 
for their knowledge ? Yet this might appear to be the 
inference. — Sketches and Essays: ^^ On Reading New 

The greatest pleasure in life is that of reading, and I 
have had as much of this pleasure as perhaps anyone, 
I have had more pleasure in reading the adventures 
of a novel (and perhaps changing situations with the 
hero) than I ever had in my own. I do not think any 
one can feel much happier — a greater degree of heart's 
ease — than I used to feel in reading Tristram Sha7tdy, 
and Peregrine Pickle^ and Tom Jones ^ and The Tatler, 
and Gil Bias of Santillane, and Werter, and Boccacio. 
It was some years after that I read the last, but his 

Dallied with the innocence of love, 

Like the old time. 

The story of Federigo Alberigi affected me as if it 
had been my own case. . . . Mrs. Inchbald was 
always a great favourite with me. There is the true 
soul of woman breathing from what she writes, as 
much as if you heard her voice. It is as if Venus had 
written books. ... I once sat on a sunny bank 
in a field, in which the green blades of corn waved in 
the fitful northern breeze, and read the letter in the 
*'New Heloise" in which St. Preux describes the 
Pays de Vaud. I never felt what Shakespeare calls 
** my glassy existence" so much as then. ... I 
have certainly spent some enviable hours at inns, 
luxuriantly in books. I remember getting completely 
wet through one day and stopping at an inn (I think 


it was at Tewkesbury), where I sat up all night to read 
Patil and Virginia, Sweet were the showers in early 
youth that drenched my body, and sweet the drops of 
pity that fell upon the books I read ! . . . I 
stopped two days at Bridgewater, and when I was 
tired of sauntering on the banks of its muddy river, 
returned to the inn and read Ca??iilla. So have I 
loitered my life away, reading books, looking at pic- 
tures, going to plays, hearing, thinking, writing on 
what pleased me best. I have wanted only one thing 
to make me happy; but wanting that have wanted 
everything. . . , It was on the loth of April, 
1798, that I sat down to a volume of The Neiv Heloise, 
at the inn at Llangollen, over a bottle of sherry and a 
cold chicken. I had brought the book with me as a 
bonne bouche to crown the evening with. It was my 
birth-day, and I had for the first time come from a 
place in the neighbourhood to visit this delightful spot. 
. . . For myself, I should like to browse on folios, 
and have to deal chiefly with authors that I have 
scarcely strength to lift, that are as solid as they are 
heavy, and if dull, are full of matter. It is deHghtful 
. . . to travel out of one's self into the Chaldee, 
Hebrew, and Egyptian characters ; to have the palm- 
trees waving mystically in the margin of the page, and 
the camels moving slowly on in the distance of three 
thousand years. . . . Not far from the spot 
where I write [Winterslow Hut, February 20, 1828], 
I first read Chaucer's The Flower and The Leaf^ and 
was charmed with that young beauty, shrouded in her 
bower, and listening with ever-fresh delight to the 
repeated song of the nightingale close by her— the 


impression of the scene, the vernal landscape, the cool 
of the morning, the gushing notes of the songstress, 

'* And ay en methought she sang close by mine ear," 
is as vivid as if it had been of yesterday. — From 
vaTious Essays : ^^ My First Acquaintmice with Poets, ^^ 
*^A Farewell to Essay-writing,'''' ^c. 

Books are but one inlet of knowledge ; and the 
powers of the mind, like those of the body, should be 
left open to all impressions. I applied too close to my 
studies, soon after I was of your age, and hurt myself 
irreparably by it. Whatever may be the value of 
learning, health and good spirits are of more. . . . 
By conversing with the mighty dead, we imbibe senti- 
ment with knowledge. We become strongly attached 
to those who can no longer either hurt or serve us, except 
through the influence which they exert over the mind. 
We feel the presence of that power which gives immor- 
tality to human thoughts and actions, and catch the 
flame of enthusiasm from all ages and nations. . . . 
As to the books you will have to read by choice or for 
amusement, the best are the commonest. The names 
of many of them are already familiar to you. Read 
them as you grow up with all the satisfaction in your 
power, and make much of them. It is perhaps the 
greatest pleasure you will have in life, the one you 
will think of longest, and repent of least. If my life 
had been more full of calamity than it has been (much 
more than I hope yours will be), I would live it over 
again, my poor little boy, to have read the books I 
did in my youth. — On the Co7id2ict of Life; or Advice 
to a Schoolboy, 


[The following passages are from the last article 
which Hazlitt wrote. It is entitled The Sick Chamber^ 
and appeared in the New Monthly Magazine for August, 
1830. Hazlitt died on the i8th of September of the 
same year, at the age of fifty-two. For some time he 
had been ailing, and all through the month of August 
was struggling with death. He seemed to live on 
*'by a pure act of volition," His old and ever-dear 
friend, Charles Lamb — who said of him that "in his 
natural and healthy state, he was one of the wisest 
and finest spirits breathing," and **that he should go 
down to the grave without finding, or expecting to 
find, such another companion " — was beside him at the 
close, which was so peaceful that his son, who was 
sitting by his bed-side, did not know that he had gone, 
till the breathing had ceased for a moment or two. 
During his illness a friend saw him as he lay ghastly, 
shrunk, and helpless, on the bed from which he never 
afterwards rose. That friend said that his mind seemed 
to have weathered all the dangers of extreme sickness, 
and to be safe and as strong as ever; but the body had 
endured much decay. The article here quoted from, 
and another that preceded it, called The Free Admis- 
sion, — brilliant, and full of fine things, — have never been 
reprinted in any of the editions of his works which have 
.appeared since his death. The article possesses excep- 
tional interest, — being the last composition of a man 
of true genius, written within a few weeks of his death. 
It exhibits many of the characteristics of its author— 


his intellectual vigour and robustness, his keen sen&s of 
the Beautiful, his imagination, and passionate intensity. 
It presents, with undiminished power and vividness, the 
conditions and surroundings, the consolations and heart- 
sinkings, the fluctuations of thought and feeling, incident 
to the inmate of a sick-room. This Essay may truly 
be said to be unknown — buried as it has been for more 
than half-a-century in the dust-covered volume of a 
forgotten Periodical. As it concludes with a touching 
tribute to Books, and as these are often associated 
with the hush and quietude of a sick-chamber, the 
compiler may be forgiven for reverently and lovingly 
snatching from oblivion and preserving for future 
readers these latest recorded thoughts of a favourite 
author. Assuredly the works of Hazlitt will, in course 
of time, become better known than they now are, and 
take their fitting place in our Literature.]* 

* Bulwer [Lord Lytton], in his Essay entitled ** Some Thoughts 
on the Genius of William Hazlitt," says : — 

"The present century has produced many men of poetical 
genius, and some of analytical acumen ; but I doubt whether it 
has produced anyone who has given to the world such signal 
proofs of the union of the two as William Hazlitt . . . He 
possessed the critical faculty in its noblest degree — his taste was 
not the creature of schools and canons ; it was begotten of Enthu- 
siasm by Thought. . . . Scattered throughout his Essays is 
a wealth of thought and poetry, beside which half the contem- 
poraries of their author seem as paupers. He had a keen sense 
of the Beautiful and the Subtile ; and what is more, he was 
deeply imbued with sympathy for the humane. He ranks high 
amongst the social writers — his intuitive feeling was in favour 
of the multitude ; yet he had nothing of the demagogue or 


What a difference between this subject and my last — 
a " Free Admission !" Yet from the crowded theatre 

litterateur ; he did not pander to a single vulgar passion. 
When he died, he left no successor. Others may equal him, 
but none resemble. I must confess that few deaths of the great 
writers of my time ever affected me more powerfully than his. 
. . . He went down to dust without having won the crown 
for which he had so bravely struggled. . . . His faults have 
been harshly judged, because they have not been fairly analysed 
— they arose mostly from an arrogant and lordly sense of 
superiority. . . . He was the last man to play the thrifty 
with his thoughts — he sent them forth with an insolent ostenta- 
tion, and cared not much what they shocked or whom they 
cflfended. . . . Posterity will do him justice. To the next 
age, he will stand among the foremost of the thinkers of the 
present ; and late and tardy retribution will assuredly be his, 
which compensates to others the neglect to which men of genius 
sometimes are doomed j — that retribution which, long after the 
envy they provoked is dumb, and the errors they committed are 
forgotten — invests with interest everything associated with their 
names — making it an honour even to have been their con- 
temporaries, and an hereditary rank to be their descendants." 

The same critic, thirty years later, in an article on " Charles 
Lamb, and Some of His Companions," in the Quarterly Review, 
Jan., 1867, again writes of Hazhtt, and delivers this mature 
judgment of him : — 

** But amidst all these intolerant prejudices and this wild 
extravagance of apparent hate, there are in Hazlitt from time 
to time — those times not unfrequent — outbursts of sentiment 
scarcely surpassed among the writers of our century for tender 
sweetness, rapid perceptions of truth and beauty in regions of 
criticism then but sparingly cultured — nay, scarcely discovered — 
and massive fragments of such composition as no hand of ordinary 
strength could hew out of the unransacked mines of our native 
language. . . . It is not as a guide that HazUtt can be useful 
to any man. His merit is that of a companion in districts little 
trodden — a companion strong and hardy, who keeps our sinews 


to the sick chamber ; from the noise, the glare, the keen 
delight, to the loneliness, the darkness, the dulness, 
and the pain, there is but one step. A breath of air, 
an overhanging cloud effects it ; and though the transi- 
tion is made in an instant, it seems as if it would last 
for ever. A sudden illness not only puts a stop to the 
career of our triumphs and agreeable sensations, but 
blots out and cancels all recollection of and desire for 
them. We lose the relish of enjoyment : we are 
effectually cured of our romance. Our bodies are con- 
fined to our beds : nor can our thoughts wantonly 

in healthful strain ; rough and irascible, whose temper will con- 
stantly offend us if we do not steadily preserve our own ; but 
always animated, vivacious, brilliant in his talk ; suggestive of 
truths, even where insisting on paradoxes ; and of whom when 
we part company we retain impressions stamped with the crown- 
mark of indisputable genius. Gladly would we welcome among 
the choicer prose works of our age some volumes devoted to the 
more felicitous specimens of Hazlitt's genius. He needs but an 
abstract of his title deeds to secure a fair allotment in the ground, 
already overcrowded, which has been quaintly described by a 
Scandinavian poet as the garden-land lying south between 
Walhalla and the sea." 

" In his Essays and other writings," says a critic of fine sym- 
pathies, the late Alexander Smith, "it is almost pathetic to notice 
how he clings to the peaceful images which the poet loves ; how he 
reposes in their restful lines. . .• . He is continually quoting 
Sidney's Arcadian image of the shepherd-boy imder the shade, 
piping as though he would never grow old,— ■as, if the recurrence 
of the image to his memory brought with it silence, sunshine, 
and waving trees. . . . When at his best, his style is excel- 
lent, concise, sinewy — laying open the stubborn thought as the 
sharp ploughshare the glebe. . . . His best Essays were, in 
a sense, autobiographical, because in them he recalls his enthu- 
siasm, and the passionate hopes on which he fed his spirit." 


detach themselves and take the road to pleasure, but 
turn back with doubt and loathing at the faint, evanes- 
cent phantom which has usurped its place. If the 
folding-doors of the imagination were thrown open or 
left ajar, so that from the disordered couch where we 
lay, we could still hail the vista of the past or future, 
and see the gay and gorgeous visions floating at a dis- 
tance, however denied to our embrace, the contrast, 
though mortifying, might have something soothing in 
it, the mock splendour might be the greater for the 
actual gloom : but the misery is that we cannot con- 
ceive anything beyond or better than the present evil ; 
we are shut up and spell-bound in that, the curtains of 
the mind are drawn close, we cannot escape from "the 
body of this death," our souls are conquered, dismayed, 
" cooped and cabined in," and thrown with the lumber 
of our corporeal frames in one corner of a neglected 
and solitary room. We hate ourselves and everything 
else; nor does one ray of comfort *'peep through the 
blanket of the dark " to give us hope. How should 
we entertain the image of grace and beauty, when our 
bodies writhe with pain ? To what purpose invoke the 
echo of some rich strain of music, when we ourselves 
can scarcely breathe ? The very attempt is an im- 

It is amazing how little effect physical suffering or 
local circumstances have upon the mind, except while 
we are subject to their immediate influence. While 
the impression lasts, they are everything : when it is 
gone, they are nothing. We toss and tumble about 
in a sick bed : we lie on our right side, we then change 
to our left ; we stretch ourselves on our backs, we turn 


on our faces ; we wrap ourselves up under the clothes 
to exclude the cold, we throw them off to escape the 
heat and suffocation ; we grasp the pillow in agony, 
we fling ourselves out of bed, we walk up and down 
the room with hasty or feeble steps ; we return into 
bed ; we are worn out with fatigue and pain, yet can 
get no repose for the one, or intermission for the other ; 
we summon all our patience, or give vent to passion and 
petty rage : nothing avails ; we seem wedded to our 
disease, "like life and death in disproportion met ; " 
we make new efforts, try new expedients, but nothing 
appears to shake it off, or promise relief from our grim 
foe : it infixes its sharp sting into us, or overpowers us 
by its sickly and stunning weight : every moment is as 
much as we can bear, and yet there seems no end of 
our lengthening tortures ; we are ready to faint with 
exhaustion, or work ourselves up to frenzy : we 
*' trouble deaf Heaven with our bootless prayers :" we 
think our last hour has come, or peevishly wish it 
were, to put an end to the scene; . . . when 
lo ! a change comes, the spell falls off, and the next 
moment we forget all that has happened to us. No 
sooner does our disorder turn its back upon us than we 
laugh at it. The state we have been in sounds like a 
dream, a fable ; health is the order of the day, strength 
is ours de jure and de facto ; and we discard all un- 
called-for evidence to the contrary with a smile of 
contemptuous incredulity, just as we throw our physic- 
bottles out of the window ! I see (as I awake from a 
short, uneasy doze) a golden light shine through my 
white window-curtains on the opposite wall :— is it the 
dawn of a new day, or the departing light of evening ? 


I do not well know, for the opium "they have drugged 
my posset with " has made strange havoc with my 
brain, and I am uncertain whether time has stood still, 
or advanced, or gone backward. By " puzzling o'er 
the doubt," my attention is drawn a little out of my- 
self to external objects ; and I consider whether it 
w^ould not administer some relief to my monotonous 
langour, if I could call up a vivid picture of an evening 
sky I witnessed a short while before, the white fleecy 
clouds, the azure vault, the verdant fields and balmy 
air. In vain ! the wings of fancy refuse to mount from 
my bedside. The air without has nothing in common 
with the closeness within : the clouds disappear, the 
sky is instantly overcast and black. 

It is curious that, on coming out of a sick-room, 
where one has been pent some time, and grown weak 
and nervous, and looking at Nature for the first time, 
the objects that present themselves have a very 
questionable and spectral appearance, the people in 
the street resemble flies crawling about, and seem 
scarce half- alive. It is we who are just risen from 
a torpid and unwholesome state, and who impart our 
imperfect feelings of existence, health, and motion to 
others. Or it may be that the violence and exertion 
of the pain we have gone through make common 
e very-day objects seem unreal and unsubstantial. 
It is not till we have established ourselves in form 
in the sitting-room, wheeled round the arm-chair to the 
fire (for this makes part of our re-introduction to the 
ordinary modes of being in all seasons,) felt our 
appetite return, and taken up a book, that we can be 
considered as at all restored to ourselves. And even 


then our first sensations are rather empirical than 
positive ; as after sleep we stretch out our hands to 
know whether we are awake. This is the time for 
reading. Books are then indeed "a world, both pure 
and good," into which we enter with all our hearts, 
after our revival from illness and respite from the tomb, 
as with the freshness and novelty of youth. They are 
not merely acceptable as without too much exertion they 
pass the time and relieve ennui ; but from a certain 
suspension and deadening of the passions, and abstrac- 
tion from worldly pursuits, they may be said to bring 
back and be friendly to the guileless and enthusiastic 
tone of feeling with which we formerly read them. 
Sickness has weaned us pro tempore from contest and 
cabal ; and we are fain to be docile and children again . 
All strong changes in our present pursuits throw us 
back upon the past. This is the shortest and most 
complete emancipation from our late discomfiture. 
We wonder that any one who has read The History 
of a Foundling should labour under an indigestion ; 
nor do we comprehend how a perusal of the Faery 
Queen should not insure the true believer an unin- 
terrupted succession of halcyon days. Present objects 
bear a retrospective meaning, and point to "a foregone 
conclusion." Returning back to life with half-strung 
nerves and shattered strength, we seem as when we 
first entered it with uncertain purposes and faltering 
aims. The machine has received a shock, and it moves 
on more tremulously than before, and not all at once 
in the beaten track. Startled at the approach of death, 
we are willing to get as far from it as we can by 
making a proxy of our former selves ; and finding the 


precarious tenure by which we hold existence, and its 
last sands running out, we gather up and make the 
most of the fragments that memory has stored up for 
us. Everything is seen through a medium of reflec- 
tion and contrast. We hear the sound of merry 
voices in the street ; and this carries us back to 
the recollections of some country-town or village- 

" We see the children sporting on the shore 
And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore. " 

A cricket chirps on the hearth, and we are reminded 
of Christmas gambols long ago. The very cries in the 
street seem to be of a former date ; and the dry toast 
eats very much as it did — twenty years ago. A rose 
smells doubly sweet, after being stifled with tinctures 
and essences ; and we enjoy the idea of a journey and 
an inn the more for having been bed-rid. But a book 
is the secret and sure charm to bring all these implied 
associations to a focus. I should prefer an old one, 
Mr. Lamb's favourite, the Journey to Lisbon, by 
Henry Fielding ; or the Decameron, if I could get it. 
. . . Well, then, I have got the new paraphrase 
on the Beggars Opera, — Paul Clifford,— \y^ Bulwer, 
am fairly embarked in it ; and at the end of the first 
volume, where I am galloping across the heath with 
the three highwaymen, while the moon is shining full 
upon them, feel my nerves so braced, and my spirits so 
exhilarated, that, to say truth, I am scarce sorry for 
the occasion that has thrown me upon the work and 
the author — have quite forgot my Sick Room, and am 


' more than half ready to recant the doctrine that a Free- 
Admission to the theatre is 

— **The true pathos and sublime 
Of human life : " — 
for I feel as I read that if the stage shows us the masks 
of men and the pageant of the world, books let us 


Charles C. Colton. 1780 — 1832. 

So idle are dull readers, and so industrious are dull 
authors, that puffed nonsense bids fair to blow unpuffed 
sense wholly out of the field. 

Nothing is so difficult as the apparent ease of a clear 
and flowing style : those graces which, from their pre- 
sumed facility, encourage all to attempt an imitation 
of them, are usually the most inimitable. 

In reading the life of any great man, you will always, 
in the course of his history, chance upon some obscure 
individual who, on some particular occasion, was 
greater than he whose life you are reading. 

Some read to think, — these are rare ; some to write, — 
these are common ; and some read to talk, — and these 
form the great majority. The first page of an author 
not unfrequently suffices for all the purposes of this 
latter class : of whom it has been said, that they treat 
books as some do lords ; they inform themselves of their 
m/eSf and then boast of an intimate acquaintance. 

DR. W. E. CHANNING. 193 

Many books require no thought from those who read 
them, and for a very simple reason ; — they made no 
such demand upon those who wrote them. Those 
works therefore are the most valuable, that set our 
thinking faculties in the fullest operation. For as the 
solar light calls forth all the latent powers and dormant 
principles of vegetation contained in the kernel, but 
which, without such a stimulus, would neither have 
struck root downwards, nor borne fruit upwards, so it 
is with the light that is intellectual ; it calls forth and 
awakens into energy those latent principles of thought 
in the minds of others, which, without this stimulus, 
reflection would not have matured, nor examination 
improved, nor action embodied. — Lacon: or, Many 
Things in few words : Addressed to Those who Think, 

Dr. William Ellery Channing. 
1780 — 1842. 

It is chiefly through books that we enjoy intercourse 
with superior minds ; and these invaluable means of 
communication are in the reach of all. In the best 
books, great men talk to us, give us their most precious 
thoughts, and pour their souls into ours. God be 
thanked for books ! They are the voices of the distant 
and the dead, and make us heirs of the spiritual life 
of past ages. Books are the true levellers. They 
give to all who will faithfully use them, the society, 
the spiritual presence of the best and greatest of our 
race. No matter how poor I am ; no matter though 
the prosperous of my own time will not enter my 


194 ^^- ^- ^' CHANNING, 

obscure dwelling ; if the sacred writers will enter and 
take up their abode under my roof— if Milton will 
cross my threshold to sing to me of Paradise ; and 
Shakspeare to open to me the worlds of imagination 
and the workings of the human heart ; and Franklin 
to enrich me with his practical wisdom — I shall not 
pine for want of intellectual companionship, and I 
may become a cultivated man, though excluded from 
what is called the best society in the place where I 

To make this means of culture effectual, a man must 
select good books, such as have been written by right- 
minded and strong-minded men, real thinkers ; who, 
instead of diluting by repetition what others say, h.ave 
something to say for themselves, and write to give 
relief to full earnest souls : and these works must not 
be skimmed over for amusement, but read with fixed 
attention, and a reverential love of truth. In selecting 
books, we may be aided much by those who have 
studied more than ourselves. But after all, it is best 
to be determined in this particular a good deal by our 
own tastes. The best books for a man are not always 
those which the wise recommend, but oftener those 
which meet the peculiar wants, the natural thirst of his 
mind, and therefore awaken interest and rivet thought. 
And here it may be well to observe, not only in regard 
to books, but in other respects, that self-culture must 
vary with the individual. All means do not equally 
suit us all. A man must unfold himself freely, and 
should respect the peculiar gifts or biasses by which 
nature has distinguished him from others. Self-culture 
does not demand the sacrifice of individuality ; it does 

DR. W. E. CHANNING. 195 

not regularly apply an established machinery ; for the 
sake of torturing every man into one rigid shape, called 
perfection. As the human countenance, with the same 
features in us all, is diversified without end in the race, 
and is never the same in any two individuals ; so the 
human soul, with the same grand powers and law, 
expands into an infinite variety of forms, and would 
be wofully stinted by modes of culture requiring all 
men to learn the same lesson, or to bend to the same 

I know how hard it is to some men, especially to 
those who spend much time in manual labour, to fix 
attention on books. Let them strive to overcome the 
difficulty, by choosing subjects of deep interest, or 
by reading in company with those whom they love. 
Nothing can supply the place of books. They are 
cheering or soothing companions in solitude, illness, 
affliction. The wealth of both continents would not 
compensate for the good they impart. Let every man, 
if possible, gather some good books under his roof, 
and obtain access for himself and family to some 
social library. Almost any luxury should be sacrificed 
to this. 

One of the very interesting features of our times, is 
the multiplication of books, and their distribution 
through all conditions of society. At a small expense, 
a man can now possess himself of the most precious 
treasures of English literature. Books, once confined 
to a few by their costliness, are now accessible to the 
multitude ; and in this way a change of habits is going 
on in society, highly favourable to the culture of the 
people. Instead of depending on casual rumour and 


loose conversation for most of their knowledge and 
objects of thought ; instead of forming their judgments 
in crowds, and receiving their chief excitement from 
the voice of neighbours, men are now learning to study 
and reflect alone, to follow out subjects continuously, 
to determine for themselves what shall engage their 
minds, and to call to their aid the knowledge, original 
views, and reasonings of men of all countries and ages ; 
and the results must be, a deliberateness and indepen- 
dence of judgment, and a thoroughness and extent of 
information, unknown in former times. The diffusion 
of these silent teachers, books, through the whole 
community, is to work greater effects than artillery, 
machinery, and legislation. Its peaceful agency is to 
supersede stormy revolutions. The culture, which it 
is to spread, whilst an unspeakable good to the indi- 
vidual, is also to become the stability of nations. — 
Self- Culture : An Address introductory to the Franklin 
Lectures i at Boston^ 1838. 

Washington Irving. 1783 — 1859. 

The scholar only knows how dear these silent, yet 
eloquent, companions of pure thoughts and innocent 
hours become in the season of adversity. When all 
that is worldly turns to dross around us, these only re- 
tain their steady value. When friends grow cold, and 
the converse of intimates languishes into vapid civility 
and common-place, these only continue the unaltered 
countenance of happier days, and cheer us with that 
true friendship which never deceived hope nor deserted 
sorrow. — The Sketch Book. 


Leigh Hunt. 1784 — 1859. 

Were I to name, out of the times gone by, 
The poets dearest to me, I should say, 
Pulci for spirits, and a fine, free way ; 
Chaucer for mannas, and close, silent eye ; 
Milton for classic taste, and harp strung high ; 
Spenser. for luxury, and sweet, sylvan play; 
Horace for chatting with, from day to day ; 
Shakspeare for all, but most, society. 

But which take with me, could I take but one ? 

Shakspeare, — as long as I was unoppress'd 

With the world's weight, making sad thoughts intenser ; 

But did I wish, out of the common sun, 

To lay a wounded heart in leafy rest. 

And dream of things far off and healing, — Spenser. 

London Examiner, Dec. 24, 1815. 

We like a small study, where we are almost in con- 
tact with our books. We like to feel them about us, — 
to be in the arms of our mistress Philosophy, rather 
than see her at a distance. . . . We do not know 
how our ideas of a study might expand with our walls. 
Montaigne, who was Montaigne ** of that ilk," and lord 
of a great chateau, had a study " sixteen paces in diameter, 
with three noble and iree prospects." . . . "The figure 
of my study is round, and has no more flat (bare) wall, 
than what is taken up by my table and my chairs : so 
that the remaining parts of the circle present me with 
a view of all my books, at once, set upon five degrees 


of shelves round about me." A great prospect we 
hold to be a very disputable advantage, upon the same 
reasoning as before ; but we like to have some green 
boughs about our windows, and to fancy ourselves as 
much as possible in the country when we are not there. 
Milton expressed a wish with regard to his study, 
extremely suitable to our present purpose. He would 
have the lamp in it seen ; thus letting others into a 
share of his enjoyments, by the imagination of them. 

" And let my lamp at midnight hour 
Be seen in some high lonely tower, 
Where I may oft outwatch the Bear 
With thrice great Hermes ; or unsphere 
The Spirit of Plato, to unfold 
What world or what vast regions hold 
The immortal mind, that hath forsook 
Her mansion in this fleshy nook." 

The Indicator. 1819. 

Sitting last winter among my books, and walled 
round with all the comfort and protection which they 
and my fire-side could afford me, — to wit, a table of 
high -piled books at my back, my writing desk on 
one side of me, some shelves on the other, and the 
feeling of the warm fire at my feet, — I began to con- 
sider how I loved the authors of those books ; how I 
loved them too, not only for the imaginative pleasures 
they afforded me, but for their making me love the very 
books themselves, and delight to be in contact with 
them. I looked sideways at my Spenser, my Theo- 
critus, and my Arabian Nights ; then above them at 


my Italian Poets ; then behind me at my Dryden and 
Pope, my Romances, and my Boccaccio ; then on my 
left side at my Chaucer, who lay on my writing desk ; 
and thought how natural it was in Charles Lamb to 
give a kiss to an old folio, as I once saw him do to 
Chapman's Homer. ... ^ 

I entrench myself in my books^ equally against 
sorrow and the weather. If the wind comes through 
a passage, I look about to see how I can fence it off 
by a better disposition of my moveables ; if a melan- 
choly thought is importunate, I give another glance at 
my Spenser. When I speak of being in contact with 
my books, I mean it literally. I like to be able to 
lean my head against them. ... 

I like a great library next my study ; but for the 
study itself, give me a small snug place almost entirely 
walled with books. There should be only one window 
in it, looking upon trees* Some prefer a place with 
few or no books at all ; nothing but a chair or a table, 
like Epictetus : but I should say that these were 
philosophers, not lovers of books, if I did not recollect 
that Montaigne was both. He had a study in a round 
tower, walled as aforesaid. It is true, one forgets one's 
books while writing : at least they say so. For my 
part, I think I have them in a sort of sidelong mind's 
eye; like a second thought, which is none; like a 
waterfall, or a whispering wind. . . . 

The very perusal of the backs is a "discipline of 
humanity." There Mr. Southey takes his place again 
with an old Radical friend : there Jeremy Collier is at 
peace with Dryden : there the lion, Martin Luther, 
lies down with the Quaker lamb, Sewell : there Guzman 


d'Alfarache thinks himself fit company for Sir Charles 
Grandison, and has his claims admitted. Even the 
"high fantastical" Duchess of Newcastle, with her 
laurel on her head, is received with grave honours, and 
not the less for declining to trouble herself with the 
constitutions of her maids. . . . 

How pleasant it is to reflect that the greatest lovers 
of books have themselves become books ! What 
better metamorphosis could Pythagoras have desired ! 
How Ovid and Horace exulted in anticipating theirs ! 
And how the world have justified their exultation ! 
They had a right to triumph over brass and marble. 
It is the only visible change which changes no further ; 
which generates, and yet is not destroyed. Consider : 
mines themselves are exhausted ; cities perish ; king- 
doms are swept away, and man weeps with indignation 
to think that his own body is not immortal. . . . 

Yet this little body of thought that lies before me in 
the shape of a book has existed thousands of years ; 
nor since the invention of the press, can any thing short 
of an universal convulsion of nature, abolish it. To 
a shape like this, so small, yet so comprehensive, so 
slight, yet so lasting, so insignificant, yet so venerable, 
turns the mighty activity of Homer, and so turning, is 
enabled to live and warm us for ever. To a shape 
like this turns the placid sage of Academus: to a 
shape like this the grandeur of Milton, the exuberance 
of Spenser, the pungent elegance of Pope, and the 
volatility of Prior. In one small room, like the com- 
pressed spirits of Milton, can be gathered together 

"The assembled souls of all that men held wise." 


May I hope to become the meanest of these existences ? 
This is a question which every author, who is a lover • 
of books, asks himself some time in his life ; and which 
.must be pardoned, because it cannot be helped. I 
know not. I cannot exclaim with the poet, 

" Oh that my name were numbered among theirs. 
Then gladly would I end my mortal days." 

For my mortal days, few and feeble as the rest of them 
may be, are of consequence to others. But I should 
like to remain visible in this shape. The little of 
myself that pleases myself, I could wish to be accounted 
worth pleasing others. I should like to survive so, 
were it only for the sake of those who love me in private, 
knowing as I do what a treasure is the possession of a 
friend's mind, when he is no more. At all events, 
nothing, while I live and think, can deprive me of my 
value for such treasures. I can help the appreciation 
of them while I last, and love them till I die ; and 
perhaps, if fortune turns her face once more in kind- 
ness upon me before I go, I may chance, some quiet 
day, to lay my over-beating temples on a book, and so 
have the death I most envy.* — The Literary Examiner: 
''My Books:' 1823. 

The want we wish to supply by the London Journal is 
that of something more connected with the ornamental 

* ** We think few can read this very lovely passage and not 
sympathise cordially in the wish so nobly conceived and so 
tenderly expressed. Something not to be replaced would be 
struck out of the gentler literature of our century, could the 
mind of Leigh Hunt cease to speak to us in a book." — Lord 
Lytton (E. L. Bulwer). ^^ Charles Lamb and jsome of His 
Companions'^ &*c. Quarterly Review. 1867. 


part of utility,— yfiih. the art of extracting pleasurable 
ideas from the commonest objects, and the participations 
of a scholarly experience. In the metropolis there are 
thousands of improving and inquiring minds, capable 
of all the elegance of intellectual enjoyment, who, for 
want of education worthy of them, are deprived of a 
world of pleasures, in which they might have in- 
structed others. We hope to be read by these. In every 
country town there is always a knot of spirits of this 
kmd, generally young men, who are known, above 
others, for their love of books, for the liberaHty of 
their sentiments, and their desire to be acquainted 
with all that is going forward in connection with the 
graces of poetry and the fine arts. We hope to have 
these for our readers. . . . Pleasure is the busi- 
ness of this journal ; we own it ; we love to begin it 
with the word ; it is like commencing the day with 
sunshine in the room. Pleasure for all who can 
receive pleasure ; consolation and encouragement for 
the rest : this is our purpose. But then it is pleasure 
like that implied by our simile, innocent, kindly, we 
dare to add, instructive and elevating. Nor shall the 
gravest aspects of it be wanting. As the sunshine 
floods the sky and the ocean, and yet nurses the baby- 
buds of the roses on the wall, so we would fain open 
the largest and the very least sources of pleasure, the 
noblest that expands above us into the heavens, and 
the most familiar that catches our glance in the home- 
stead. We would break up the surface of habit and 
indifference, and shew the treasures concealed beneath. 
Man has not yet learnt to enjoy the world he lives in. 
We would fain help him to render it productive of 



Still greater joy. We would make adversity hopeful, 
prosperity sympathetic, all kinder, richer, and happier ; 
and we have some right to assist in the endeavour, for 
there is scarcely a single joy or sorrow within the ex- 
perience of our fellow creatures which we have not 
tasted ; and the belief in the good and beautiful has 
never forsaken us. It has been medicine to us in 
sickness, riches in poverty, and the best part of all 
that has ever delighted us in health and wealth. . . . 
We have been at this work now, off and on, man and 
boy (for we began essay-writing while in our teens) for 
upwards of thirty years, and excepting that we would 
fain have done yet more, we feel the same as we have 
done throughout ; and we have the same hope, the 
same love, the same faith in the beauty and goodness 
of nature and all her prospects, in space and in time ; 
we could almost add, if a sprinkle of white hairs in our 
black would allow us, the same youth. , . . We 
have had so much sorrow, and yet are capable of so 
much joy, and receive pleasure from so many familiar 
objects, that we sometimes think we should have had 
an unfair portion of happiness, if our life had not been 
one of more than ordinary trial. — London Journal, 
April I, 1834. 

Conceive what our pleasure must be when those who 
have a right to judge pronounce our Journal to have 
done well, both in spirit and letter, and unite heartily 
in approving the cultivation of one sequestered spot in 
the regions of literature. . . . It is our ambition 
to be one of the sowers of a good seed in places where 
it is not common, but would be most profitable ; to be 


one of those who should try to render a sort of public 
loving-kindness a grace of common life, a conventional, 
and for that very reason, in the highest sense of the 
word, a social and universal elegance. We dare to 
whisper in the ears of the wisest, and therefore of the 
all-hearing and the kindliest judging, that we would 
fain do something, however small and light, towards 
Christianizing public minds. . . . If we end in 
doing nothing but extending a faith in capabilities of 
any sort, and showing some thousands of our fellow- 
creatures that sources of amusement and instruction 
await but a touch in the objects around them, to start 
up like magic, and enrich the meanest hut, perhaps 
the most satiated ennuiy we shall have done something 
not unworthy. — London Journal^ August 2^ , 1834. 

Our object was to put more sunshine into the feel- 
ings of our countrymen, more good will and 
good humour, a greater habit of being pleased 
with one another, and with everything, and therefore 
a greater power of dispensing with uneasy sources of 
satisfaction. We wished to create one corner and 
field of periodical literature in which men might be 
more of hope and cheerfulness, and of the cultivation 
of peaceful and flowery thoughts, without the accom- 
paniment of anything inconsistent with them ; we 
knew that there was a desire at the bottom of every 
human heart to retain a faith in such thoughts, and to 
see others believe in them and recommend them ; and 
heartily have anxious as well as happy readers in this 
green and beautiful England responded to our belief. 
, , , Still blow then, ye fair winds, and keep open 


upon us, ye blue heavens — still hail us as ye go, all 
gallant brother voyagers, and encourage us to pursue 
the kindly task which love and adversity have taught 
us, touching at all curious shores of reality and 
romance, endeavouring to make them know and love 
one another, to learn what is good against the roughest 
elements, or how the suffering that cannot be remedied 
may be best endured, to bring news of hope and joy 
and exaltation from the wings of the morning, and the 
uttermost parts of the sea, making familiar companions, 
but not the less revered on that account, of the least 
things on earth and the greatest things apart from it — 
of the dust and the globe, and the divided moon, of 
sun and stars, and the loneliest meetings of man's 
thought with immensity, which is not too large for his 
heart, though it be for his knowledge ; because know- 
ledge is but man's knowledge, but the heart has a 
portion of God's wisdom, which is Love.* — London 
Journal^ Sept. 4, 1834. 

* *' The London ^^Mr«a/ was a miscellany of essays, criticisms, 
and passages from books. The note which it struck was of too 
aesthetical a nature for cheap readers in those days ; and in 1836, 
after attaining the size of a goodly folio double volume, it termi- 
nated. I have since had the pleasure of seeing the major part 
of the essays renew their life, and become accepted by the public, 
in a companion volume to the Indicator, called the Seer. The 
Seer does not mean a prophet, or one gifted with second sight, 
but an observer of ordinary things about him, gifted by his 
admiration of nature with the power of discerning what every 
body else may discern by a cultivation of the like secret of satis- 
faction. ... I have been pleased to see that the London 
Journal maintains a good steady price with my old friends, the 
bookstalls. . . . Assuredly its large, triple-columned, eight 
hundred pages, full of cheerful ethics, of reviews, anecdotes, 


We still find ourselves halting as instinctively at the 
humblest, or even the most familiar book-stall, as we 

legends, table-talk, and romances of real life, make a reasonable 
sort of library, %ic.^^— Autobiography. 

The London Jour^ial^ in two folio volumes, is often to be met 
with in second-hand book catalogues, and will be found a perfect 
storehouse of literary amenities and delights. An ardent 
admirer of Hunt— Mr. Frank Carr, of Newcastle — who chooses 
to veil his identity under the nojn de plume of *' Lancelot Cross," 
has devoted a dainty little volume to a description of the merits 
and varied contents of the London Journal^ as a Typical 
Literary Miscellany. He says of it :— 

"The charm of his articles does not lie alone in their ever 
sparkling freshness, in the morning sweetness that pervades 
them, but in the largeness of their scope — in their consideration, 
according to the call of the moment, of all human needs. Hunt's 
was of the inquisitive and exploring order of minds ; industry 
and method he shared with hundreds of other literary workers — 
but he superadded (and therein lay his power) a genial humanity 
which looked on all things with an equal eye, moved towards all 
with a warm sympathising heart, and sought good in all things 
with a clear, trustful mind. His style was conversational 
picturesqueness, richness of ready learning, plus unfailing 
cordiality and communicativeness. If we had to state his power 
in a brief sentence it would be — the alchemy of intelligent 

*' There is to be found in those two volumes," he says, ** matter 
that will stir every pure power of the soul— smiles, tears, deep 
thought, and devotion. It is a book that can be laid before the 
child, the lady, the poet, and the philosopher. It is a noble boast 
when an author can declare that he leaves not ' one line which, 
dying, he could wish to blot ; ' but it is tenfold higher praise 
when it may be said of him that he has not only left his multi- 
farious writings pure, — all misconceptions atoned for, all rash 
judgments corrected — (as when he says * How pleasant it is thus 
to find oneself reconciled to men whom we have ignorantly 


used to do when first fresh from school, In vain have 
got cold feet at it, shivering, wind-beaten sides, and 
black-fingered gloves. The dusty old siren still delays 
us, charming with immortal beauty inside her homely 
attire, and singing songs of old poets. We still find 
ourselves diving even into the sixpenny or threepenny 
"box," in spite of eternal disappointment, and 
running over whole windows of books, which we saw 
but three days before for the twentieth time, and of 
which we could repeat by heart a good third of the titles. 
Nothing disconcerts us but absolute dirt, or an ill- 
tempered looking woman. What delights us is to see a 
plentiful sprinkle of old poetry, little Elzevir classics, 
Ariostos full of loving comment, and a woman getting 

under-valued, and how fortunate to have lived long enough to 
say so ') — but that in the immense mass of charming selections 
that he has made and commented upon over a long period of 
time, there is not one sullied by temper, pruriency, or factious- 
ness. Their range includes the fruits of all intellects, of all 
forms of human endeavour, from the sayings of childhood to 
those of the wisest of the sons of man ; from instances of 
domestic magnanimity to the heroic achievements in art, science, 
and public strife, and each and all convey the most ennobling 
lessons. We love the glorious two folios for their own sake, and 
because, in addition to other great merits, they are a Prime 
Exemplar of Periodical Literature far fulness, variety, ease, 
elegance, enthusiasm, and urbanity." 

Christopher North (Professor Wilson), who at one time viru- 
lently attacked Leigh Hunt, made the amende honorable in 
thus speaking of the London Journal: "It is not only beyond 
all comparison, but out of all sight the most entertaining and 
instructive of all the cheap periodicals ; and when laid, as it duly 
is once a week, on my breakfast-table, it lies there, — but is not 
permitted to lie long— like a spot of sunshine dazzling the snow." 


gradually better and better dressed, her afternoon 
ribbons matching with her pleasant face, and a chubby- 
urchin in her arm§. 

They who can afford to give a second-hand book- 
seller what he asks in his catalogue, may in general do 
it with good reason, as well as a safe conscience. He 
is of an anxious and industrious class of men, com' 
pelled to begin the world with laying out ready money 
and living very closely ; and if he prospers, the com- 
modities and people he is conversant with, encourage 
the good and intellectual impressions with which he set 
out, and generally end in procuring him a reputation 
for liberality as well as acuteness. 

One of the many curious things about bookstalls and 
other cheap shops of the kind, is the appearance, in 
sudden flocks, of certain copies of the same old book. 
If we dealt in inferior providences like a Pagan, we 
might be tempted to think that the God of Books 
{^^ Liber Pater ^^) had thought fit to make that special 
disbursement for some good existing reason ; an old 
poet, to counteract too much prose ; or something gay, 
as a hint against something too serious. So, however, 
it is. 

A Second -Hand Bookseller's Catalogue is not a 
mere catalogue or list of saleables as the uninitiated 
may fancy. Even a common auctioneer's catalogue of 
goods and chattels, suggests a thousand reflections to 
a peruser of any knowledge ; judge then what the case 
must be with a catalogue of Books ; the very titles of 
which run the rounds of the whole world, visible and in- 


visible ; geographies — biographies — histories — loves — 
hates — joys — sorrows — cookeries — sciences — fashion, 
— and eternity ! We speak on this subject from the most 
literal experience ; for often and often have we cut 
open a new catalogue of old books, with all the fervour 
and ivory folder of a first love ; often read one at tea ; 
nay, at dinner ; and have put crosses against dozens of 
volumes in the list, out of the pure imagination of 
buying them, the possibility being out of the question t 
— Series of Papers in The Monthly Repository y 1837, 
entitled ^^Retrospective Review, or Companion to The 
Lover of Old Books ;^^ Old Books and Bookshops — 
Beneficence of Bookstalls — Catalogues of Cheap Books. 

This book (A Book for a Corner ), for the most part, 
is a collection of passages from such authors as retain, if 
not the highest, yet the most friendly and as it were 
domestic hold upon us during life, and sympathize with 
us through all portions of it. Hence the first extract is 
a Letter addressed to an Infant, the last the Elegy in the 
Churchyard, and the intermediate ones have something 
of an analogous reference to the successive stages of 
existence. It is therefore intended to be read by in- 
telligent persons of all times of life, the youthful 
associations in it being such as the oldest readers love 
to call to mind, and the oldest such as all would gladly 
meet with in their decline. It has no politics in it, no 
polemics, nothing to offend the delicatest mind. The 
innocentest boy and the most cautious of his seniors 
might alike be glad to look over the other's shoulder, 
and find him in his corner perusing it. This may be 
speaking in a boastful manner ; but an Editor has a 


right to boast of his originals, especially when they are 
such as have comforted and delighted him throughout 
his own life, and are for that reason recommended by 
him to others. 

This compilation is intended for all lovers of books, 
at every time of life, from childhood to old age, 
particularly such as are fond of the authors it quotes, 
and who enjoy their perusal most in the quietest 
places. It is intended for the boy or girl who loves 
to get with a book into a corner — for the youth who 
on entering life finds his advantage in having become 
acquainted with books — for the man in the thick of life, 
to whose spare moments books are refreshments — and 
for persons in the decline of life, who reflect on what 
they have experienced, and to whom books and gardens 
afford their tranquillest pleasures. It is a book (not to 
Bay it immodestly) intended to lie in old parlour win- 
dows, in studies, in cottages, in cabins aboard ship, in 
country-inns, in country-houses, in summer-houses, 
in any houses that have wit enough to like it, and are 
not the mere victims of a table covered with books for 
show. . . . 

Some of the most stirring men in the world, persons 
in the thick of business of all kinds, and indeed with 
the business of the world itself on their hands, — 
Lorenzo de Medici, for instance, who was at once the 
great merchant and the political arbiter of his time, — 
have combined with their other energies the greatest love 
of books, and found no recreation at once so wholesome 
and so useful. We hope many a man of business will 
refresh himself with the short pieces in these volumes, 


and return to his work the fitter to baffle craft, and yet 
retain a reverence for simpHcity. Every man who has 
a right sense of business, whether his business be that of 
the world or of himself, has a respect for all right things 
apart from it ; because business with him is not a mind- 
less and merely instinctive industry, like that of a 
beetle rolling its ball of clay, but an exercise of faculties 
congenial with the other powers of the human being, 
and all working to some social end. Hence he 
approves of judicious and refreshing leisure — of 
domestic and social evenings — of suburban retreats — 
of gardens— of ultimate retirement "for good" — of a 
reading and reflective old age. Such retirements have 
been longed for, and in many instances realized, by 
wise and great men of all classes, from the Diocletians 
of old to the Foxes and Burkes of our own days. 
Warren Hastings, who had ruled India, yearned for 
the scenes of his boyhood ; and lived to be happy in 
them. The wish to possess a country-house, a retreat, 
a nest, a harbour of some kind from the storms and 
even from the agitating pleasures of life, is as old as 
the sorrows and joys of civilization. The child feels it 
when he *' plays at house ;" the schoolboy, when he is 
reading in his corner ; the lover, when he thinks of his 
mistress. Epicurus felt it in his garden ; Horace and 
Virgil expressed their desire of it in passages which the 
sympathy of mankind has rendered immortal. It was 
the end of all the wisdom and experience of Shakspeare. 
He retired to his native town, and built himself a house 
in which he died. And who else does not occasionally 
" flit " somewhere meantime if he can ? The country 
for many miles round London, and indeed in most 


Other places, is adorned with houses and grounds of 
men of business, who are whirled to and fro on weekly 
or daily evenings, and who would all find something to 
approve in the closing chapters of our work. . . . 

It is Books that teach us to refine on our pleasures 
when young, and which, having so taught us, enable 
us to recall them with satisfaction when old. For let 
the half-witted say what they will of delusions, no 
thorough reader ever ceased to believe in his books, 
whatever doubts they might have taught him by the 
way. They are pleasures too palpable and habitual 
for him to deny. The habit itself is a pleasure. They 
contain his young dreams and his old discoveries ; all 
that he has lost, as well as all that he has gained ; and, 
as he is no surer of the gain than of the loss, except 
in proportion to the strength of his perceptions, the 
dreams, in being renewed, become truths again. He 
is again in communion with the past ; again interested 
in its adventures, grieving with its griefs, laughing with 
its merriment, forgetting the very chair and room he 
is sitting in. Who, in the mysterious operation of 
things, shall dare to assert in what unreal corner of 
time and space that man's mind is ; or what better 
proof he has of the existence of the poor goods and 
chattels about him, which at that moment (to him) are 
non-existent? "Oh!" people say, **but he wakes 
up, and sees them there." Well ; he woke down then, 
and saw the rest. What we distinguish into dreams 
and realities, are, in both cases, but representatives of 
impressions. Who shall know what difference there is 
in them at all, save that of degree, till some higher 
state of existence help us to a criterion ? 



For our part, such real things to us are books, that, 
if habit and perception make the difference between 
real and unreal, we may say that we more frequently 
wake out of common life to them^ than out of them to 
common life. Yet we do not find the life the less real. 
We only feel books to be a constituent part of it ; a 
world, as the poet says, 

** Round which, with tendrils strong as flesh and 
Our pastime and our happiness will grow." 

. . . And yet, when readers wake up to that other 
dream of life, called real life (and we do not mean to 
deny its palpability), they do not find their enjoyment 
of it diminished. It is increased — increased by the 
contrast — by the variety — by the call upon them to 
show the faith which books have originally given them 
in all true and good things, and which books, in spite 
of contradiction and disappointment, have constantly 
maintained. Mankind are the creatures of books, as 
well as of other circumstances ; and such they eternally 
remain ; proofs, that the race is a noble and believing 
race, and capable of whatever books can stimulate. 

The volumes now offered to our fellow readers 
originated in this kind of passion for books. They 
were suggested by a wish we had long felt to get up a 
book for our private enjoyment, and of a very particular 
and unambitious nature. It was to have consisted of 
favourite passages, not out of the authors we most 
admired, but those whom we most love ; and it was to 
have commenced, as the volumes do, with Shenstone's 
"Schoolmistress," and ended with Gray's ** Elegy." 


It was to have contained indeed little which the 
volumes do not comprise, though not intended to be 
half so big, and it was to have proceeded on the same 
plan of beginning with childhood and ending with the 
church-yard. We did not intend to omit the greatest 
authors on account of their being the greatest, but . 
because they moved the feelings too strongly. What we 
desired was not an excitement, but a balm. Readers, 
who have led stirring lives, have such men as Shak- 
speare with them always, in their very struggles and 
sufferings, and in the tragic spectacles of the world. 
Great crowds and great passions are Shakspeares ; and 
we, for one (and such we take to be the case with many 
readers), are sometimes as willing to retire from their 
"infinite agitation of wit," as from strifes less exalted; 
and retreat into the placider corners of genius more 
humble. It is out of no disrespect to their greatness; 
neither, we may be allowed to say, is it from any fear 
of being unable to sustain it ; for we have seen perhaps 
as many appalling faces of things in our time as they 
have, and we are always ready to confront more if 
duty demand it. But we do not choose to be always 
suffering over again in books what we have suffered in 
the world. We prefer, when in a state of repose, to 
renew what we have enjoyed — to possess wholly what 
we enjoy still — to discern in the least and gentlest 
things the greatest and sweetest intentions of Nature — 
and to cultivate those soothing, serene, and affectionate 
feelings, which leave us in peace with all the world, 
and in good hope of the world to come. The very 
greatest genius, after all, is not the greatest thing in 
the world, any more than the greatest city in the world 


is the country or the sky. It is a concentration of 
some of its greatest powers, but it is not the greatest 
diffusion of its might. It is not the habit of its success, 
the stability of its sereneness. And this is what readers 
like ourselves desire to feel and know. The greatest 
use of genius is but to subserve to that end ; to further 
the means of enjoying it, and to freshen and keep it 
pure ; as the winds and thunders, which come rarely, are 
purifiers of the sweet fields, which are abiding. . . . 
We have imagined a book-loving man, or man able 
to refresh himself with books, at every successive 
period of his life ; — the child at his primer, the sanguine 
boy, the youth entering the world, the man in the 
thick of it, the man of alternate business and repose, 
the retired man calmly considering his birth and his 
death ; and in this one human being we include, of 
course, the whole race and both sexes, mothers, wives, 
and daughters, and all which they do to animate and 
sweeten existence. Thus our invisible, or rather many- 
bodied hero (who is the reader himself), is in the first 
instance a baby; then a child under the ** School- 
mistress " of Shenstone ; then the schoolboy with Gray 
and Walpole, reading poetry and romance ; then '' Gil 
Bias " entering the world ; then the sympathiser with 
the ** John Buncles " who enjoy it, and the "Travellers" 
who fill it with enterprise; then the matured man 
beginning to talk of disappointments, and standing in 
need of admonition "Against Inconsistency in his 
Expectations " [the title of an admirable Essay by Mrs. 
Barbauld] ; then the reassured man comforted by his 
honesty and his just hopes, and refreshing himself with 
his Club or his country-lodging, his pictures, or his 


theatre ; then the retiring, or retired, or finally old 
man, looking back with tenderness on his enjoyments, 
with regret for his errors, with comfort in his virtues, 
and with a charity for all men, which gives him a right 
to the comfort ; loving all the good things he ever 
loved, particularly the books which have been his 
companions and the childhood which he meets again 
in the fields ; and neither wishing nor fearing to be 
gathered into that kindly bosom of Nature, which 
covers the fields with flowers, and is encircled with 
the heavens. . . . 

A universalist, in one high bibliographical respect, 
may be said to be the only true reader ; for he is the 
only reader on whom no writing is lost. Too many 
people approve no books but such as are representatives 
of some opinion or passion of their own. They read, 
not to have human nature reflected on them, and so be 
taught to know and to love everything, but to be 
reflected themselves as in a pocket mirror, and so inter- 
change admiring looks with their own narrow cast of 
countenance. The universalist alone puts up with 
difference of opinion, by reason of his own very 
difference ; because his difference is a right claimed by 
him in the spirit of universal allowance, and not a 
privilege arrogated by conceit. He loves poetry and 
prose, fiction and matter of fact, seriousness and mirth, 
because he is a thorough human being, and contains 
portions of all the faculties to which they appeal. A 
man who can be nothing but serious, or nothing but 
merry, is but half a man. The lachrymal or the risible 
organs are wanting in him. He has no business to 
have eyes or muscles like other men. The universalist 


alone can put up with him, by reason of the very 
sympathy of his antipathy. He understands the defect 
enough to pity, while he dislikes it. The universalist 
is the only reader who can make something out of 
books for which he has no predilection. He sees 
differences in them to sharpen his reasoning ; sciences 
which impress on him a sense of his ignorance ; nay, 
languages which, if they can do nothing else, amuse 
his eye and set him thinking of other countries. . . . 
Our compilation, therefore, though desirous to please 
all who are willing to be pleased, is ambitious to satisfy 
this sort of person most of all. It is of his childhood 
we were mostly thinking when we extracted the 
"Schoolmistress." He will thoroughly understand 
the wisdom lurking beneath the playfulness of its 
author. He will know how wholesome as well as 
amusing it is to become acquainted with books like 
**Gil Bias" and "Joseph Andrews." -^^ will derive 
agreeable terror from " Sir Bertram" and the "Haunted 
Chamber;" will assent with delighted reason to every 
sentence in "Mrs. Barbauld's Essay ;" will feel himself 
wandering into solitudes with "Gray;" shake honest 
hands with "Sir Roger de Coverley;" be ready to 
embrace "Parson Adams," and to chuck "Pounce" 
out of window, instead of the hat ; will travel with 
"Marco Polo" and "Mungo Park;" stay at home 
with "Thomson;" retire with "Cowley;" be in- 
dustrious with "Hutton;" sympathizing with "Gay 
and Mrs. Inchbald ; " laughing with (and at) "Buncle ; " 
melancholy, and forlorn, and self-restored, with the 
shipwrecked mariner of "De Foe." There are "Robin- 
son Crusoes " in the moral as well as physical world, 


and even a universalist may be one of them ; — men, 
cast on desert islands of thought and speculation \ 
without companionship ; without worldly resources ; 
forced to arm and clothe themselves out of the remains 
of shipwrecked hopes, and to make a home for their 
solitary hearts in the nooks and corners of imagination 
and reading. It is not the worse lot in the world. 
Turned to account for others, and embraced with 
patient cheerfulness, it may, with few exceptions, even 
be one of the best. We hope our volume may light 
into the hands of such men. Every extract which is 
made in it, has something of a like second-purpose, 
beyond what appears on its face. There is amuse- 
ment for those who require nothing more, and instruc- 
tion in the shape of amusement for those who choose 
to find it. . . . 

Our book may have little novelty in the least sense 
of the word ; but it has the best in the greatest sense ; 
that is to say, never-dying novelty ; — antiquity hung 
with ivy-blossoms and rose-buds ; old friends with the 
ever-new faces of wit, thought, and affection. Time 
has proved the genius with which it is filled, *'Age 
cannot wither it," nor "custom stale its variety." We 
ourselves have read, and shall continue to read it to 
our dying day; and we should not say thus much, 
especially on such an occasion, if we did not know, that 
hundreds and thousands would do the same, whether 
they read it in this collection or not. — Introduction to 
A Book for a Corner, Selections in Prose and Verse 
from Authors the best suited to that mode of enjoyment^ 
with Comments on eachy and General Introduction. 


I must therefore end life as I began it, in what 
is perhaps my only true vocation, that of a love of 
nature and books ; complaining of nothing, — grate- 
ful, if others will not complain of me,— a little proud 
perhaps (nature allows such balm to human weakness) 
of having been found not unworthy of doing that for 
the Good Cause by my sufferings, which I can no longer 
pretend to do by my pen, — and possessed of one golden 
secret, tried in the fire, which I still hope to recom- 
mend in future writings ; namely, the art of finding as 
many things to love as possible in our path through 
life, let us otherwise try to reform it as we may, — Fare- 
well Address in the Monthly Repository, 1838. 

I am not aware that I have a single enemy, and I 
accept the fortunes, good and bad, which have occurred 
to me, with the same disposition to believe them the 
best that could have happened, whether for the correc- 
tion of what was wrong in me, or for the improvement 
of what was right. I have never lost cheerfulness of 
mind or opinion. What evils there are, I find to be, 
for the most part, relieved with many consolations : 
some I find to be necessary to the requisite amount of 
good ; and every one of them I find come to a termi- 
nation, for either they are cured and live, or are killed and 
die ; and in the latter case I see no evidence to prove that 
a little finger of them aches any more. — Autobiography. 

[After giving some account of his religious views 
and convictions, he thus concludes his " Auto- 

* When Hunt's ** Autobiography " appeared in 1850, Carlyle 
read it with the deepest interest, and wrote to the author ex- 


Such are the doctrines, and such only, accompanied 
by expositions of the beauties and wonders of God's great 

pressing his admiration of the work. A letter more overflowing 
with loving-kindness, and hearty recognition and sympathy, is 
not to be found in the whole range of literary correspondence. 
A verbatim reprint of this letter has never before appeared. 
The following is a faithful reproduction of the original, of which 
the compiler of this volume is the fortunate possessor : — 
" Dear Hunt, 

"I have just finished your 'Autobiography,* which has been 
most pleasantly occupying all my leisure these three days ; and 
you must permit me to write you a word upon it, out of the 
fulness of the heart, while the impulse is still fresh, to thank you. 
This good Book, in every sense one of the best I have read this 
long while, has awakened many old thoughts, which never were 
extinct, or even properly asleep^ but which (like so much else) 
have had to fall silent amid the tempests of an evil time, — 
Heaven mend it ! A word from me, once more, I know, will 
not be unwelcome, while the world is talking of you. 

** Well, I call this an excellently good Book ; by far the best 
of the autobiographic kind I remember to have read in the 
English language ; and indeed, except it be Boswell's of Johnson, 
I do not know where we have such a Picture drawn of a human 
Life, as in these three volumes. A pious, ingenious, altogether 
human and worthy Book; imaging with graceful honesty and 
free felicity, many interesting objects and persons on your life- 
path, — and imaging throughout, what is best of all, a gifted, 
gentle, patient, and valiant human soul, as it buffets its way thro* 
the billows of the time, and will not drown, tho* often in danger ; 
cannot be drowned, but conquers, and leaves a track of radiance 
behind it : that, I think, comes out more clearly to me than in 
any other of your Books ; and that I can venture to assure you 
is the best of all results to realise in a Book or written record. 
In fact this Book has been like an exercise of devotion to me : 
I have not assisted at any sermon, liturgy or litany, this long 
while, that has had so religious an effect on me. Thanks in the 
name of all men ! And believe along with me that this Book 


book of the universe, which will be preached in the 
temples of the earth, including those of our beloved 
country, England, its beautiful old ivied turrets and their 
green neighbourhood, then, for the first time, thoroughly 
uncontradicted and heavenly ; with not a sound in them 
more terrible than the stormy yet sweet organ, analogous 
to the beneficent winds and tempests; and no thought of 
here or hereafter, that can disturb the quiet aspect of 
the graves, or the welcome of the new-born darling, and 
that such a consummation may come slowly but surely, 
without intermission in itsadvance, and without an injury 
to a living soul, will be the last prayer, as it must needs- 
be among the latest words of the author of this book . 

[To some readers of these pages it may appear that 
the passages from Leigh Hunt's writings occupy a dis- 
proportionate space, when compared with the selections 
given from other authors. In explanation, the compiler 
would remark that, of all the authors quoted, this one 
affords the greatest abundance, variety, and appropriate- 
ness of thought on the subject-matter of the present 
volume, viz., the consolations, companionship, and 
pleasures of Books. On this special topic, and others 

will be welcome to other generations as well as to ours — ^and long 
may you live to write more Books for us ; and may the evening 
sun be softer on you (and on me) than the noon sometimes was ! 
"Adieu, dear Hunt, (you must let me use this familiarity, for 
I am an old fellow too now as well as you). I have often thought 
of coming up to see you once more ; and perhaps I shall one of 
these days (tho' horribly sick and lonely, and beset with spectral 
lions, go whitherward I may); but whether I do or not, believe 
for ever in my regard. And so God bless you. 

•'Yours heartily, 

"T. Carlyle.'* 


having close affinity to it, no other author has left behind 
him so many beautiful thoughts ; nor can a more interest- 
ing example be adduced of a long and anxious life finding 
its best solace in the comfort of Books. Leigh Hunt 
is one of the most striking exemplars of a genuine 
Book-Lover — one to whom Books were a world of real, 
exhaustless delights. With catholic tastes, and a very 
wide range of sympathies, he was tolerant of every 
variety and form of thought and opinion, and hospitably 
entertained, without stint or limit, every intellectual 
guest who came in the shape of a book. His refined 
critical power, wide culture, and subtle perception of 
beauty made him a matchless interpreter of our great 
poets and dramatists — Chaucer, Spenser, Marlow, 
Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Beaumont and Fletcher, 
Middleton, Webster, Milton, Marvel, Dryden, Pope, 
Coleridge, Keats, Shelley, and others — as exemplified in 
his "Imagination and Fancy, " and ' ' Wit and Humour;" * 
— in which the essayist and critic shows himself in- 
trinsically competent to his theme, and "makes the 
reader feel," as has been happily remarked, " that he 
is taking a most delicious tour through every species of 
poetical beauty with one deeply imbued with every 

* The full titles of these two works are : — 

"Imagination and Fancy; or Selections from the English 
Poets, illustrative of those first requisites of their Art; with 
markings of the best passages, critical notices of the writers, and 
an essay in answer to the question, * What is Poetry?'" 1845. 

" Wit and Humour : selected from the English Poets ; with an 
illustrative essay and critical comments." 1846. 


point of view of the glorious scenery he has himself so 
long dwelt amongst." He had also a keen relish for 
the fine things that lie hidden in the pages of com- 
paratively unknown and half-forgotten authors — 
bringing to light quaint beauties and lurking flavours 
unsuspected by the reader, as they were probably 
undesigned by the writer. The excellent sense and 
sanity of his mind, giving balance to his critical 
faculties, his warm and generous sympathies, and that 
goodness of heart which is an essential requisite of a 
good critic, constitute him, without dispute, one of the 
most genial and discriminating of literary guides. 
** It is not every consummate man of letters of 
whom it can be unhesitatingly affirmed that he 
was true, brave, just, and pious." We cannot take 
farewell of Hunt atid his writings in words more 
appropriate than those used by his eldest son at the 
conclusion of the introduction to his father's "Auto- 
biography " : "To promote the happiness of his kind, 
to minister to the more educated appreciation of order 
and beauty, to open more widely the door of the library, 
and more widely the window of the library looking out 
upon nature — these were the purposes that guided his 
studies, and animated his labours to the very last. "]* 

* The best writers and finest critics of his time — Lamb, Keats, 
Shelley, Hazlitt, Forster, Talfourd, Carlyle, Bulwer, Macaulay. 
Dickens, Thackeray, Jerrold, Charles Cowden Clarke, Lord 
Houghton, and many others — have borne cordial testimony to the 
fine genius of this essayist, who remained to the last " true as 
steel " to the best hopes of human nature. 


Love Peacock. 1785 — 1866. 

[Dr. Folliott loquitur\ There is nothing more fit 
to be looked at than the outside of a book. It is, as I 
may say from repeated experience, a pure and unmixed 
pleasure to have a goodly volume lying before you, and 
to know that you may open it if you please, and need 
not open it unless you please. It is a resource against 
ennuii if ennui should come upon you. To have the 
resource and not to feel the ennui^ to enjoy your bottle 
in the present, and your book in the indefinite future, is 
a delightful condition of human existence. There is 
no place, in which a man can move or sit, in which 
the outside of a book can be otherwise than an innocent 
and becoming spectacle. — Crotchet Castle^ Chap, vii., 
** The Sleeping Venus. ''^ 

Thomas de Quincey. 1786 — 1859. 

A great scholar, in the highest sense of the term, is 
not one who depends simply on an infinite memory, 
but also on an infinite and electrical power of combi- 
nation ; bringing together from the four winds, like 
the Angel of the Resurrection, what else were dust 
from dead men's bones, into the unity of breathing 

And of this let every one be assured — that he owes 
to the impassioned books which he has read, many a 
thousand more of emotions than he can consciously 
trace back to them. Dim by their origination, these 
emotions yet arise in him, and mould him through life 
like the forgotten incidents of childhood. 


Books teach by one machinery, conversation by 
another ; and if these resources were trained into- 
correspondence to their own separate ideals, they might 
become reciprocally the complements of each other. 

At this hour, five hundred years since their creation,, 
the tales of Chaucer, never equalled on this earth for 
their tenderness, and for life of picturesqueness, are 
read familiarly by many in the charming language of 
their natal day, and by others in the modernisations 
of Dryden, of Pope, and Wordsworth. At this hour, 
one thousand eight hundred years since their creation, 
the Pagan tales of Ovid, never equalled on this earth 
for the gaiety of their movement and the capricious 
graces of their narrative, are read by all Christendom. 
This man's people and their monuments are dust ; but 
he is alive : he has survived them, as he told us that 
he had it in his commission to do, by a thousand years ; 
" and shall a thousand more." — Essay on Pope. 

Lord Brougham. 1778 — 1868. 

There is something positively agreeable to all men,, 
to all, at least, whose nature is not most grovelling 
and base, in gaining knowledge for its own sake. 
. . . This kind of gratification is of a pure and 
disinterested nature, and has no reference to any of 
the common purposes of life ; yet it is a pleasure — an 
enjoyment. You are nothing the richer for it ; you do 
not gratify your palate, or any other bodily appetite; 
and yet it is so pleasing that you would give something 
out of your pocket to obtain it, and would forego some 
bodily enjoyment for its sake. 


The pleasure derived from science is exactly of the 
like nature, or rather it is the very same. For what 
has been just spoken of is in fact science, which, in its 
most comprehensive sense, only means knowledge^ and 
in its ordinary sense means knowledge redticed to a 
system; that is, arranged in a regular order, so as to 
be conveniently taught, easily remembered, and readily 

There is also a pleasure in seeing the uses to which 
knowledge may be applied, wholly independent of 
the share we ourselves may have in those practical 
benefits. . . . The mere gratification of curiosity ; 
the knowing more to-day than we knew yesterday; 
the understanding clearly what before seemed obscure 
and puzzling; the contemplation of general truths, 
and the comparing together of different things, — is an 
agreeable occupation of the mind; and, beside the 
present enjoyment, elevates the faculties above low 
pursuits, purifies and refines the passions, and helps 
our reason to assuage their violence. — Practical Obser- 
vations on the Education of the People, 

Richard Whately. 1787 — 1863. 

If, in reading books, a man does not choose wisely, 
at any rate he has the chance offered to him of doing 
so. After all, it is the will of Providence that man 
should be exposed to the temptations of hearing truth 
and falsehood ; of seeing a good and a bad example. 
Wherever we go in life, even in the darkest alleys of 
literature, a good and an evil example will always be 


put before us ; and because this world is not heaven, • 
we must be left to make our choice between good and 
evil ; but the more a person's views are enlarged, and 
the wider the choice that is offered to him, the better 
hope there is that he may take the good and leave the 
evil. All that we can do is to give him light — light in 
every possible direction ; and if a man chooses to make 
a bad use of his eyes and ears, and of his other faculties, 
all that we can say is, we have done our best ; we cannot 
make the world heaven ; but if we put it into the power 
of men to cultivate their minds, and get a knowledge 
of good sense, that is precisely the system which the 
Almighty Himself has directed us to pursue, and which 
is pursued by Himself in the government of His 
creation. We must guide ourselves with His help, 
according to our own responsibilities, and the faculties 
He has endowed us with. We may say, as the inspired 
prophet did in the name of his Heavenly Master to 
his people, ''Behold, I set before you this day good 
and evil; now, therefore, choose good." — Speech of 
Archbishop Whately at the Manchester Athemeufn, 
October, 1846. 

He who not only understands fully what he is 
reading, but is earnestly occupying his mind with the 
matter of it, will be likely to read as if he understood 
it, and thus to make others understand it ; and in like 
manner, with a view to the impressiveness of the 
delivery, he who not only feels it, but is exclusively 
absorbed with that feeling, will be likely to read as if 
he felt it, and to communicate the impression to his 
hearers. But this cannot be the case if he is occupied 


with the thought of what their opinion will be of this 
reading, and how his voice ought to be regulated ; if, 
in short, he is thinking of himself, and, of course, in 
the same degree abstracting his attention from that 
which ought to occupy it exclusively. It is not, indeed, 
desirable that in reading the Bible, for example, or 
anything that is not intended to appear as his own 
composition, he should deliver what are avowedly 
another's sentiments in the same style as if they were 
such as arose in his own mind ; but it is desirable that 
he should deliver them as if he were reporting another's 
sentiments which were both fully understood and felt 
in all their force by the reporter ; and the only way to 
do this effectually — with such modulation of voice and 
gesture as are suitable to each word and passage — is to 
fix his mind earnestly on the meaning, and leave 
nature and habit to suggest the utterance. 

Bryan Waller Procter (Barry 
Cornwall). 1787^1874. 

All round the room my silent servants wait, — 

My friends in every season, bright and dim 

Angels and seraphim 

Come down and murmur to me, sweet and low, 

And spirits of the skies all come and go 

Early and late ; 

From the old world's divine and distant date, 

From the sublimer few, 

Down to the poet who but yester-eve 

Sang sweet and made us grieve. 


All come, assembling here in order due. 

And here I dwell with Poesy, my mate, 

With Erato and all her vernal sighs. 

Great Clio with her victories elate, 

Or pale Urania's deep and starry eyes. 

Oh friends, whom chance and change can never 

"Whom Death the tyrant cannot doom to die 
Within whose folding soft eternal charm 
I love to lie, 

And meditate upon your verse that flows. 
And fertilizes wheresoe'er it goes. 
Whether .... 

Bryan Waller Procter (Barty Cornwall) : 
An Autobiographical Fragment and Bio- 
graphical Notes, with Personal Sketches 
of Contemporaries, Unpublished Lyrics, 
and Letters of Literary Friends. 1877. 

Lord Byron. 1788 — 1824. 

But words are things, and a small drop of ink, 

Falling like dew, upon a thought, produces 
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think ; 

'Tis strange, the shortest letter which man uses 
Instead of speech, may form a lasting link 

Of ages ; to what straits old Time reduces 
Frail man, when paper — even a rag like this 

Survives himself, his tomb, and all that's his. 

Don Juan, Catito iii., s. 88. 

s»30 DR. ARNOTT. 

Dr. Arnott. 1788 — 1824. 

In remote times the inhabitants of the earth were 
divided into small states or societies, often at enmity 
among themselves, and whose thoughts and interests 
were confined much within their own narrow territories 
and rude habits. In succeeding ages men found them- 
selves belonging to larger communities, as when the 
English heptarchy became united, or more lately when 
England, Scotland, and Ireland have become one ; 
but still distant kingdoms and quarters of the world 
were of no interest to them, and often were totally 
unknown. Now, however, a man feels that he is a 
member of one vast more civilized society which covers 
the face of the earth, and no part of the earth is in- 
different to him. In England, for instance, a man of 
small fortune, nay, even a journeyman mechanic who 
is honest, sober, and intelligent, may cast his regards 
around him, and say, with truth and exultation, **I 
am lodged in a house that affords me conveniences and 
comforts which some centuries ago even a king could 
not command. Ships are crossing the seas in every 
direction to bring what is useful to me from all parts 
of the earth ; in China men are gathering the tea leaf 
for me, in the West India Islands and elsewhere they 
are preparing my sugar and my coffee; in America 
they are cultivating cotton for me ; elsewhere they are 
shearing the sheep to give me abundance of warm 
clothing ; at home powerful steam-engines are spinning 
and weaving for me and making cutlery, and pumping 
the mines that minerals useful to me may be procured. 
My patrimony was small, yet I have railway-trains 

DR. ARNOTT. 231 

running day and night on all the roads to carry my 
correspondence and to bring the coal for my winter 
fire ; nay, I have protecting fleets and armies around 
my happy country, to render secure my enjoyments 
and repose. Then T. have editors and printers, who 
daily send me an account of what is going on throughout 
the world, among these people who serve me. And 
in a corner of my house I have books — the miracle of 
all my possessions, more wonderful than the wishing- 
cap of the Arabian tales, for they transport me instantly, 
not only to all places, but to all times. By my books 
I can conjure up before me to a momentary existence 
many of the great and good men of past ages, and for 
my individual satisfaction they seem to act again the 
most renowned of their achievements ; the orators 
declaim for me, the historians recite, the poets sing." 
This picture is not overcharged, and might be much 
extended ; such being the goodness and providence 
which devised this world, that each individual of the 
civilized millions that cover it, if his conduct be prudent, 
may have nearly the same happiness as if he were the 
single lord of all. — The Elements of Physics, 

Arthur Schopenhauer. 1788 — 1860. 

It is the case with literature as with life ; wherever 
we turn we come upon the incorrigible mob of human- 
kind, whose name is Legion, swarming everywhere, 
damaging everything, as flies in summer. Hence the 
multiplicity of bad books, those exuberant weeds of 
literature which choke the true corn. Such books rob 


the public of time, money, and attention, which ought 
properly to belong to good literature and noble aims, 
and they are written with a view merely to make money 
or occupation. They are therefore not merely useless, 
but injurious. Nine-tenths of our current literature has 
no other end but to inveigle a thaler or two out of the 
public pocket, for which purpose author, publisher, 
and printer are leagued together. A more pernicious, 
subtler, and bolder piece of trickery is that by which 
penny-a-liners and scribblers succeed in destroying 
good taste and real culture. . . . Hence, the 
paramount importance of acquiring the art not to 
read; in other words, of not reading such .books as 
occupy the public mind, or even those which make a 
noise in the world, and reach several editions in their 
first and last year of existence. We should recollect 
that he who writes for fools finds an enormous audi- 
ence, and we should devote the ever scant leisure of 
our circumscribed existence to the master-spirits of all 
ages and nations, those who tower over humanity, and 
whom the voice of Fame proclaims : only such writers 
cultivate and instruct us. Of bad books we can never 
read too little: of the good never too much. The 
bad are intellectual poison and undermine the under- 
standing. Because people insist on reading not the best 
books written for all time, but the newest contem- 
porary literature, writers of the day remain in the 
narrow circle of the same perpetually revolving ideas, 
and the age continues to wallow in its own mire. . . 
Mere acquired knowledge belongs to us only like a 
wooden leg or a wax nose. Knowledge attained by 
means of thinking resembles our natural limbs, and is 


the only kind that really belongs to us. Hence the 
difference between the thinker and the pedant. The 
intellectual possession of the independent thinker is 
like a beautiful picture which stands before us, a living 
thing with fitting light and shadow, sustained tones, 
perfect harmony of colour. That of the merely 
learned man may be compared to a palette covered 
with bright colours, perhaps even arranged with 
some system, but wanting in harmony, coherence 
and meaning. . . . 

We find in the greater number of works, leaving out 
the very bad, that their authors have thought, not 
seen — written from reflection, not intuition. And 
this is why books are so uniformly mediocre and 
wearisome. For what an author has thought, the 
reader can think for himself; but when his thought is 
based on intuition, it is as if he takes us into a land we 
have not ourselves visited. All is fresh and new. . , . 
We discover the quality of a writer's thinking powers 
after reading a few pages. Before learning what he 
thinks, we see how he thinks — namely, the texture of 
his thoughts ; and this remains the same, no matter 
the subject in hand. The style is the stamp of 
individual intellect, as language is the stamp of race. 
We throw away a book when we find ourselves in a 
darker mental region than the one we have just 
quitted. Only those writers profit us whose under- 
standing is quicker, more lucid than our own, by 
whose brain we indeed think for a time, who quicken 
our thoughts, and lead us whither alone we could not 
find our way. — Parerga und Paralipoi7iena, 


Not to my contemporaries, not to my countrymen, 
no ! to humanity I confide this work, trusting that it 
will not prove valueless, though its real value, as is the 
case with much that is good, may be discovered in 
distant times only. — Welt als Wille und Vo7'stellung. 

[An account of the Life and Philosophy of this re- 
markable thinker, written by Helen Zimmern, was 
published in 1876. The reader may also consult the 
following articles: — "The Philosophy of Schopen- 
hauer, "in Westminster Review, April, 1853, understood 
to be by John Oxenford ; " The Pessimist's View of 
Life," The Cornhill Magazine, 1876; "Arthur Scho- 
penhauer," by Dr. Francis Hueffer, in Fortnightly 
Review, Dec, 1876; "The Literary Aspects of 
Schopenhauer's Work," by the same author, in The 
New Quarterly Magazine, July, 1877 ; "Schopenhauer 
on Men, Books, and Music," by Miss Betham Edwards, 
in Eraser's Magazine, June, 1879. Several volumes 
relating to Schopenhauer and his Philosophy have been 
recently published in Paris : — " Pensees, Maximes, et 
Aphorismes;" "Aphorismes sur La Sagesse dans La 
Vie;" "La Philosophic de Schopenhauer, par Th. 

" The World as Will and Idea " (Welt als Wille und 
Vorstellung), translated by R. B. Haldane, M.A., and 
John Kemp, M.A. Vol. i. (to be completed in three 
volumes) was published in 1883. "When this transla- 
tion is completed," says the Times, "the English reader 
will be in a position to make acquaintance with one of 
the most striking and impressive works of the century."] 

charles knight. 235 

Charles Knight. 1791 — 1873. 

Books are, no doubt, the readiest roads to knowledge, 
but there may be a great deal of knowledge, and a great 
deal of taste, without any very extensive acquaintance 
with books. If I enter the premises of a working-man, 
and find his garden deformed with weeds — his once 
latticed porch broken and unseemly — his walls dis- 
coloured — his hearth dirty — I know that there is little 
self-respect in the master of that hovel, and that he 
flies from his comfortless home to the nightly gratifi- 
cation which the ale-house supplies. But show me the 
trim crocus in the spring, or the gorgeous dahlia in the 
autumn, flourishing in his neat enclosure — let me see 
the vine or the monthly rose covering his cottage-walls 
in regulated luxuriance — let me find within, the neatly- 
sanded floor, the well-polished furniture, a few books, 
and a print or two over his chimney, and I am satisfied 
that -the occupiers of that cottage have a principle at 
work within them which will do much to keep them 
from misery and degradation. They have found out 
unexpensive employments for their leisure ; they have 
the key to the same class of enjoyments which 
constitute a large portion of the happiness of the 
best-informed ; they have secured a share of the 
common inheritance of intellectual gratification. — 
Speech delivered to the Members of the Windsor and 
Et07i Public Library^ Oct., i^SS- 

There are some, no doubt, amongst those whom 
I have the honour of addressing, who have been 
familiar long ago with the poetry and the philosophy 


that has sprung up, and flourished in their own soil, 
and who, in advancing years, derive new pleasures 
from their recollection. Those things which were the 
delight of our jocund days, steal in upon the sober 
consolations of our waning time — bright images, tender 
echoes. Memory dwells upon the scenes in which 
childhood was nourished, and youth walked fearlessly; 
but it especially dwells upon the enduring productions 
of mind which were treasured up when our fancies 
were vivid, and our hopes ardent. Is not this a 
reason, if any were needed, for asking the young man 
to familiarize himself with the highest and the purest 
things that belong to the imagination, to store up the 
soundest things that are to be imparted by history and 
philosophy ; to seek the companionship, in a word, 
of the best books. ... It has been said that 
mediocrity will be the result of the vast extension 
of the reading public. I venture to think that the 
mediocrity of a century ago was the result of the 
confined space in which the then reading public 
moved. — Speech at the Opening of the Sheffield 
Athenceutn, May 5, 1847. 

Lord Mahon (Philip Henry Stanhope). 
1791— 1875. 

Believe me, ladies and gentlemen, the pleasures of 
reading deserve most careful cultivation. Other 
objects which we have in this world, other pleasures 
which we seek to pursue, depend materially on other 



circumstances, on the opinion or caprice of others, on 
the flourishing or depressed state of an interest or 
a profession, on connections, on friends, on oppor- 
tunities, on the prevalence of one party or the other 
in the State. Thus, then, it happens, that without 
any fault of ours, with regard to objects dear to us, we' 
may be constantly doomed to disappointment. In 
the pleasure of reading, on the other hand, see how 
much is at all times within your own power ; how 
little you depend upon any one but yourselves . 
see how little the man who can rely on the pleasures 
of reading is dependent on the caprice or the will of 
his fellow-men. See how much there is within his 
own power and control ; — ^how by reading, if his 
circumstances have been thwarted by any of the 
fortuitous events to which I have just referred, how 
often it is in his power, by these very studies, to better 
his condition ; or, failing in that, how many hours he 
has in which to obtain oblivion from it, when com- 
muning with the great and good of other days. Surely, 
then, all those who feel — and who does not?— the 
variety and the vicissitudes of human life, ought, on 
that very account, if they be wise, to cultivate in 
themselves, and also to promote in others, an 
enlightened taste for reading. Of the pleasures of 
reading I will say, that there is no man so high as to 
be enabled to dispense with them ; and no man so 
humble who should be compelled to forego them. 
Rely upon it, that in the highest fortune and the 
highest station, hours of lassitude and weariness will 
intrude, unless they be cheered by intellectual occu- 
pation. Rely on it, also, that there is no life so 


toilsome, so devoted to the cares of this world, and to 
the necessity of providing the daily bread, but what it 
will aiford intervals (if they be only sought out) in 
which intellectual pleasures may be cultivated and 
oblivion of other cares enjoyed. Depend upon it that 
these are pleasures, which he who condemns, will find 
himself a miserable loser in the end. — Address to the 
members of the Manchester Athenceum^ Novetuber 1 1, 

Sir John Herschel. 1792 — 1871. 

There is a want too much lost sight of in our estimate 
of the privations of the humbler classes, though it is 
one of the most incessantly craving of all our wants, 
and is actually the impelling power which, in the vast 
inajority of cases, urges men into vice and crime. It 
is the want of amusement. . , . Now I would 
ask, what provision do we find for the cheap and 
innocent and daily amusements of the mass of the 
labouring population of this country? What sort of 
resources have they to call up the cheerfulness of their 
spirits, and chase away the cloud from their brow after 
the fatigue of a day's hard work, or the stupefying 
monotony of some sedentary occupation ? Why, really 
very little— I hardly like to assume the appearance of 
a wish to rip up grievances by saying how little. The 
pleasant field walk and the village green are becoming 
rarer and rarer every year. . . . The beer-shop and 
the public-house, it is true, are always open, and always 
full, but it is not by those institutions that the cause of 
moral and intellectual culture is advanced. The truth 


is, that under the pressure of a continually condensing 
population, the habits of the city have crept into the 
village — the demands of agriculture have become 
sterner and more imperious, and while hardly a foot 
of ground is left uncultivated, and unappropriated, 
there is positively not space left for many of the 
cheerful amusements of rural life. . . . 

I hold it, therefore, to be a matter of very great 
consequence, independent of the kindness of the 
thing — that those who are at their ease in this world 
should look about and be at some pains to furnish 
available means of harmless gratification to the in- 
dustrious and well-disposed classes, who are worse 
provided for than themselves in every respect, but 
who, on that very account, are prepared to prize more 
highly every accession of true enjoyment, and who 
really want it more. To do so is to hold out a bonus 
for the withdrawal of a man from mischief in his idle 
hours — it is to break that strong tie which binds many 
a one to evil associates and brutal habits — the want of 
something better to amuse him, — by actually making 
his abstinence become its own reward. 

Now, of all the amusements which can possibly be 
imagined for a hard-working man, after his daily toil, 
or in its intervals, there is nothing like reading an 
entertaining book, supposing him to have a taste for 
it, and supposing him to have the book to read. It 
calls for no bodily exertion, of which he has had 
enough or too much. It relieves his home of its dull- 
ness and sameness, which, in nine cases out of ten, is 
what drives him out to the ale-house, to his own ruin 
and his family's. It transports him into a livelier, and 


gayer, and more diversified and interesting scene, and 
while he enjoys himself there he may forget the evils 
of the present moment, fully as much as if he were 
ever so drunk, with the great advantage of finding 
himself the next day with his money in his pocket, or 
at least laid out in real necessaries and comforts for 
himself and his family, — and without a headache. Nay, 
it accompanies him to his next day's work, and if the 
book he has been reading be anything above the very 
idlest and lightest, gives him something to think of 
besides the mere mechanical drudgery of his every day 
occupation, — something he can enjoy while absent^ 
and look forward with pleasure to return to. 

But supposing him to have been fortunate in the 
choice of his book, and to have alighted upon one 
really good and of a good class. What a source of 
domestic enjoyment is laid open ! What a bond of 
family union ! He may read it aloud, or make his wife 
read it, or his eldest boy or girl, or pass it round from 
hand to hand. All have the benefit of it — all contribute 
to the gratification of the rest, and a feeling of common 
interest and pleasure is excited. Nothing unites people 
like companionship in intellectual enjoyment. It does 
more, it gives them mutual respect, and to each 
among them self-respect — that corner-stone of all 
virtue. . . , 

I recollect an anecdote told me by a late highly- 
respected inhabitant of Windsor as a fact which he 
could personally testify, having occurred in a village 
where he resided several years, and where he actually 
was at the time it took place. The blacksmith of the 
village had got hold of Richardson's novel of "Pamela, 


or Virtue Rewarded," and used to read it aloud in the 
long summer evenings, seated on his anvil, and never 
failed to have a large and attentive audience. It is a 
pretty long-winded book — but their patience was fully 
a match for the author's prolixity, and they fairly 
listened to it all. At length, when the happy turn of 
fortune arrived, which brings the hero and heroine 
together, and sets them living long and happily 
according to the most approved rules — the congregation 
were so delighted as to raise a great shout, and procuring 
the church keys, actually set the parish bells ringing. 
Now let any one say whether it is easy to estimate the 
amount of good done in this simple case. Not to speak 
of the number of hours agreeably and innocently spent 
— not to speak of the good-fellowship and harmony 
promoted — here was a whole rustic population fairly 
won over to the side of good — charmed — and night 
after night spell -bound within that magic circle which 
genius can trace so effectually, and compelled to bow 
before that image of virtue and purity which (though at 
a great expense of words) no one knew better how to 
body forth with a thousand life-like touches than the 
author of that work. 

If I were to pray for a taste which should stand me 
in stead under every variety of circumstances, and be a 
source of happiness and cheerfulness to me through 
life, and a shield against its ills, however things might 
go amiss, and the world frown upon me, it would be a 
taste for reading. I speak of it of course only as a 
worldly advantage, and not in the slightest degree as 
superseding or derogating from the higher office and 
surer and stronger panoply of religious principles — but 


as a taste, an instrument and a mode of pleasurable 
gratification. Give a man this taste, and the means of 
gratifying it, and you can hardly fail of making a happy 
man, unless, indeed, you put into his hands a most 
perverse selection of books. You place him in contact 
with the best society in every period of history — with 
the wisest, the wittiest— with the tenderest, the bravest, 
and the purest characters who have adorned humanity. 
You make him a denizen of all nations — a cotemporary 
of all ages. The world has been created for him. It 
is hardly possible but the character should take a higher 
and better tone from the constant habit of associating 
in thought with a class of thinkers, to say the least of 
it, above the avejrage of humanity. It is morally 
impossible but that the manners should take a tinge of 
good breeding and civilization from having constantly 
before one's eyes the way in which the best-bred and 
the best-informed men have talked and conducted 
themselves in their intercourse with each other. There 
is a gentle, but perfectly irresistible coercion in a habit 
of reading well directed, over the whole tenor of a 
man's character and conduct, which is not the less 
effectual because it works insensibly, and because it is 
really the last thing he dreams of. It cannot, in short, 
be better summed up, than in the words of the Latin 

** EmoUit mores, nee sinit esse feros." 

It civilizes the conduct of men — and suffers them not 
to remain barbarous. 

The reason why I have dwelt so strongly upon the 
point of amusement, is this— that it is really the only 
handle, at least the only innocent one, by which we 


can gain a fair grasp of the attention of those who have 
grown up in a want of instruction, and in a careless- 
ness of their own improvement. ... If then we 
would generate a taste for reading, we must, as our 
only chance of success, begin by pleasing. And what 
is more, this must be not only the ostensible, but the 
real object of the works we offer. The listlessness and 
want of sympathy with which most of the works written 
expressly for circulation among the labouring classes, 
are read by them, if read at all, arises mainly from this 
— that the story told, of the lively or friendly style 
assumed, is manifestly and palpably only a cloak for 
the instruction intended to be conveyed— a sort of 
gilding of what they cannot well help fancying must 
be a pill, when they see so much and such obvious 
pains taken to wrap it up. 

But try it on the other tack. Furnish them liberally 
with books not written expressly for them as a class — 
but published for their betters (as the phrase is), and 
those the best of their kind. You will soon find that 
they have the same feelings to be interested by the 
varieties of fortune and incident — the same discernment 
to perceive the shades of character — the same relish for 
striking contrasts of good and evil in moral conduct, and 
the same irresistible propensity to take the good side 
— the same perception of the sublime and beautiful in 
nature and art, when distinctly placed before them by 
the touches of a master — and what is most of all to the 
present purpose, the same desire having once been 
pleased, to be pleased again. In short, you will find 
that in the higher and better class of works of fiction 
and imagination duly circulated, you possess all you 


require to strike your grappling-iron into their souls, 
and chain them, willing followers, to the car of 
advancing civilization. . . 

The novel, in its best form, I regard as one of the most 
powerful engines of civilization ever invented . . . 
the novel as it has been put forth by Cervantes and 
Richardson, by Goldsmith, by Edgeworth, and Scott. 
In the writings of these and such as these, we have a 
stock of works in the highest degree enticing and 
interesting, and of the utmost purity and morality — 
full of admirable lessons of conduct, and calculated in 
every respect to create and cherish that invaluable habit 
of resorting to books for pleasure. Those who have 
once experienced the enjoyment of such works will not 
easily learn to abstain from reading, and will not 
willingly descend to an inferior grade of intellectual 
privilege— they have become prepared for reading of a 
higher order— and may be expected to relish the finest 
strains of poetry, and to draw with advantage from the 
purest wells of history and philosophy. Nor let it be 
thought ridiculous or over-strained to associate the idea 
of poetry, history or philosophy, with the homely garb 
and penurious fare of the peasant. . . . There is 
always this advantage in aiming at the highest results — 
that the failure is never total, and that though the end 
accomplished may fall far short of that proposed, it 
cannot but reach far in advance of the point from which 
we start. There never was any great and permanent 
good accomplished but by hoping for and aiming at 
something still greater and better. 

A taste for reading once created, there can be little 
difficulty in directing it to its proper objects. . . . 


But the first step necessary to be taken is to set 
seriously about arousing the dormant appetite by 
applying the stimulant ; to awaken the torpid intel- 
lectual being from its state of inaction to a sense of its 
existence and of its wants. The after-task, to gratify 
them, and while gratifying to enlarge and improve 
them, will prove easy in comparison. — An Address to 
the Subscribers to the Windsor and' Eton Public Library 
and Reading Room, 2^th January j 1833. 

Julius C. Hare. 1795 — 1855. 

For my own part, I have ever gained the most profit, 
and the most pleasure also, from the books which have 
made me think the most ; and when the difficulties 
have once been overcome, there are the books which 
have struck the deepest root, not only in my memory and 
understanding, but likewise in my affections. . . . 
Above all, in the present age of light reading, that is 
of reading hastily, thoughtlessly, indiscriminately, 
unfruitfully, when most books are forgotten as soon as 
they are finished, and very many sooner, it is well if 
something heavier is cast now and then into the midst 
of the literary public. This may scare and repel the 
weak, it will rouse and attract the stronger, and 
increase their strength, by making them exert it. In 
the sweat of the brow, is the mind as well as the body 
to eat its bread. Nil sine magfio Miisa labore dedit 
mortalibus. . . . 

Desultory reading is indeed very mischievous, 
by fostering habits of loose, discontinuous thought, 
by turning the memory into a common sewer for 


rubbish of all thoughts to float through, and by 
relaxing the power of attention, which of all our 
faculties most needs care, and is most improved by it. 
But a well-regulated course of study will no more 
weaken the mind than hard exercise will weaken the 
body ; nor will a strong understanding be weighed 
down by its knowledge, any more than oak is by its 
leaves, or than Samson was by his locks. He whose 
sinews are drained by his hair, must already be a 
weakling. — Guesses at 7 ruth. 

Thomas Carlyle. 1795 — 1881. 

Excepting one or two individuals, I have little 
society that I value very highly ; but books are a 
ready and effectual resource. May blessings be upon 
the head of Cadmus, the Phoenicians, or whoever it 
was that invented books ! I may not detain you with 
the praises of an art that carries the voice of man to 
the extremity of the earth and to the latest generations ; 
but it is lawful for the solitary wight to express the 
love he feels for those companions so steadfast and 
unpresuming, that go or come without reluctance, 
and that, when his fellow-animals are proud or stupid 
or peevish, are ever ready to cheer the languor of his 
soul, and gild the barrenness of life with the treasures 
of bygone times. — Letter to Robert Mitchell (an inti- 
mate college-friend), Kirkcaldy^ Feh'uary i6th^ 18 18 
(in his 2'^rdyear). 

Yet wherefore should we murmur ? A share of evil, 
greater or less (the difference of shares is not worth 


mentioning), is the unalterable doom of mortals, and 
the mind may be taught to abide in peace. Complaint 
is generally despicable, always worse than unavailing. 
It is an instructive thing, I think, to observe Lord 
Byron, surrounded with the voluptuousness of an Italian 
seraglio, chanting a mournful strain over the wretched- 
ness of human life — and then to contemplate the poor 
but lofty-minded Epictetus, the slave of a cruel master 
too ; and to hear him lifting up his voice to far distant 
generations in these unforgotten words. [Quotation 
from the " Enchiridion " of Epictetus.] But a truce 
to moralizing ; suffice it with our Stoic, to suffer and 
abstain. — Letter to Thomas Murray (another intimate 
friend )y Kirkcaldy, 2%th July, 1818. 

Do not fear that I shall read you a homily on that 
hackneyed theme — contentment. Simply I wish to 
tell you that in days of darkness — for there are days 
when my support (pride, or whatever it is) has enough 
to do — I find it useful to remember that Cleanthes, 
whose memorable words may last yet other two 
thousand years, never murmured when he laboured by 
night, as a street-porter, that he might hear the lectures 
of Zeno by day ; and that Epictetus, the ill-used slave 
of a cruel tyrant's as wretched minion, wrote that 
** Enchiridion " which may fortify the soul of the latest 
inhabitant of the earth. — Letter to Robert Mitchell,. 
Kirkcaldy, 6th November, 18 18. 

And herein lies the highest merit of a piece, and the 
proper art of reading it. We have not read an author 
till we have seen his object, whatever it may be, as he 


saw it. Is it a matter of reasoning, and has he reasoned 
stupidly and falsely ? We should understand the cir- 
cumstances which, to his mind, made it seem true, or 
persuaded him to write it, knowing that it was not so. 
In any other way we do him injustice if we judge him. 
Is it of poetry ? His words are so many symbols, to 
which we ourselves must furnish the interpretation ; or 
they remain, as in all prosaic minds the words of poetry 
ever do, a dead letter : indications they are, barren in 
themselves, but, by following which, we also may reach, 
or approach, that Hill of Vision where the poet stood, 
beholding the glorious scene which it is the purport 
of his poem to show others. 

A reposing state, in which the Hill were brought 
under us, not we obliged to mount it, might indeed 
for the present be more convenient ; but, in the end, 
it could not be equally satisfying. Continuance of 
passive pleasure, it should never be forgotten, is here, 
as under all conditions of mortal existence, an impossi- 
bility. Everywhere in life, the true question is, not 
what we gain, but what we do : so also in intellectual 
matters, in conversation, in reading, which is more 
precise and careful conversation, it is not what we 
receive, but what we are made to give, that chiefly 
contents and profits us. True, the mass of readers 
will object ; because, like the mass of men, they are 
too indolent. But if any one affect, not the active 
and watchful, but the passive and somnolent line of 
study, are there not writers expressly fashioned for him, 
■enough and to spare ? It is but the smaller number of 
books that become more instructive by a second perusal : 
the great majority are as perfectly plain as perfect 


triteness can make them. Yet, if time is precious, 
no book that will not improve by repeated readings 
deserves to be read at all. And were there an artist 
of a right spirit ; a man of wisdom, conscious of his 
high vocation, of whom we could know beforehand 
that he had not written without purpose and earnest 
meditation, that he knew what he had written, and had 
embodied in it, more or less, the creations of a deep 
and noble soul, — should we not draw near to him 
reverently, as disciples to a master ; and what task 
could there be more profitable than to read him as we 
have described, to study him even to his minutest 
meanings? For, were not this to think as he had 
thought, to see with his gifted eyes, to make the very 
mood and feeling of his great and rich mind the mood 
also of our poor and little one ? — Miscellaneous Essays: 
* ' Goethe's Helena. " 1828. 

I thank Heaven I have still a boundless appetite for 
reading. I have thoughts of lying buried alive here for 
many years, forgetting all stuff about "reputation," suc- 
cess, and so forth, and resolutely setting myself to gain 
insight by the only method not shut out from me — that 
of books. Two articles (of fifty pages) in the year will 
keep me living ; employment in that kind is open 
enough. For the rest, I really find almost that I do 
best when forgotten by men, and nothing above or 
around me but the imperishable Heaven. It never 
wholly seems to me that I am to die in this wilderness ; 
a feeling is always dimly with me that I am to be 
called out of it, and have work fit for me before I 
depart, the rather as I can do either way. Let not soli- 


tude, let not silence and unparticipating isolation make 
a savage of thee — these, too, have their advantages. — 
Journal, Craigenputtock, September yd, 1832. (See 
Froude^s Life of Carlyle, vol, ii.,/. 309.) 

No book, I believe, except the Bible, has been so 
universally read and loved by Christians of all 
tongues and sects as Thomas a Kempis' " De Imita- 
tione Christi. " It gives me pleasure to think that the 
Christian heart of our good mother may also derive 
nourishment and strength from what has already 
nourished and strengthened so many. [He had sent 
his mother a copy of the book in February, 1833.]— 
Fronde's Life of Carlyle, vol. ii., p. 337. 

" Visible and tangible products of the past, again, I 
reckon up to the extent of three : Cities, with their 
cabinets and arsenals; their tilled Fields, to either or 
to both of which divisions roads with their bridges may 

belong; and thirdly Books. In which third, truly, 

the last invented, lies a worth far surpassing that of the 
two others. Wondrous indeed is the virtue of a true 
book ! Not like a dead city of stones, yearly crumbling, 
yearly needing repair ; more like a tilled field, but then 
a spiritual field ; like a spiritual tree, let me rather say, 
it stands from year to year, and from age to age (we 
have books that already number some hundred and 
fifty human ages) ; and yearly comes its new produce 
of leaves (commentaries, deductions, philosophical, 
political systems ; or were it only sermons, pamphlets, 
journalistic essays), every one of which is talismanic 
and thaumaturgic, for it can persuade men. O thou 


who art able to write a book, which once in the two 
centuries or oftener there is a man gifted to do, envy- 
not him whom they name city-builder, and inexpres- 
sibly pity him whom they name conqueror or city- 
burner ! Thou, too, art a conqueror and victor ; but 
of the true sort, namely, over the Devil. Thou, too, 
hast built what will outlast all marble and metal, and 
be a wonder-bringing city of the mind, a temple and 
seminary and prophetic mount, whereto all kindreds of 
the earth will pilgrim."— 6"^;^^;' Resartus, 1833. 

Our pious Fathers, feeling well what importance lay 
in the speaking of man to men, founded churches, made 
endowments, regulations ; everywhere in the civilised 
world there is a Pulpit, environed with all manner of 
complex dignified appurtenances and furtherances, that 
therefrom a man with the tongue may, to best advan- 
tage, address his fellow-men. They felt that this was 
the most important thing ; that without this there was 
no good thing. It is a right pious work, that of theirs ; 
beautiful to behold ! But now with the art of Writing, 
with the art of Printing, a total change has come over 
that business. The Writer of a Book, is not he a 
Preacher preaching not to this parish or that, on this day 
or that, but to all men in all times and places ? . . . 

Certainly the Art of Writing is the most miraculous 
of all things man has devised. Odin's Runes were the 
first form of the work of a Hero ; Books, written 
words, are still miraculous Runes, the latest form ! In 
Books lies the soul of the whole Past Time ; the arti- 
culate audible voice of the Past, when the body and 
material substance of it has altogether vanished like a 


dream. Mighty fleets and armies, harbours and 
arsenals, vast cities, high-domed, many-engined, — 
they are precious, great : but what do they become ? 
Agamemnon, the many Agamemnons, Pericleses, and 
their Greece ; all is gone now to some ruined fragments, 
dumb mournful wrecks and blocks : but the Books of 
Greece ! There Greece, to every thinker, still very 
literally lives ; can be called-up again into life. No 
magic Rune is stranger than a Book. All that Man- 
kind has done, thought, gained or been : it is lying as 
in magic preservation in the pages of Books. They 
are the chosen possession of men. 

Do not Books still accomplish miracles as Runes 
were fabled to do? They persuade men. Not the 
wretchedest circulating-library novel, which foolish 
girls thumb and con in remote villages, but will help to 
regulate the actual practical weddings and households 
of those foolish girls. So " Celia " felt, so " Clifford " 
acted : the foolish Theorem of Life, stamped into those 
young brains, comes out as a solid Practice one day. 
Consider whether any Rune in the wildest imagination 
of Mythologist ever did such wonders as, on the actual 
firm Earth, some Books have done ! What built St. 
Paul's Cathedral ? Look at the heart of the matter, it 
was that divine Hebrew Book, — the word partly of the 
man Moses, an outlaw tending his Midianitish herds, 
four thousand years ago, in the wildernesses of Sinai ! 
It is the strangest of things, yet nothing is truer. With 
the Art of Writing, of which Printing is a simple, an 
inevitable and comparatively insignificant corollary, the 
true reign of miracles for mankind commenced. It 
related, with a wondrous new contiguity and perpetual 


closeness, the Past and Distant with the Present in 
time and place ; all times and all places with this our 
actual Here and Now. All things were altered for 
men ; all modes of important work of men : teaching, 
preaching, governing and all else. . . . 

Once invent Printing, you metamorphosed all Uni- 
versities, or superseded them ! The Teacher needed 
not now to gather men personally round him, that he 
might speak to them what he knew ; print it in a Book, 
and all learners, far and wide, for a trifle, had it each 
at his own fireside, much more effectually to learn it ! 
. If we think of it, all that a University, 01 
final highest School can do for us, is still but what the 
first School began doing, — teach us to read. We learn 
to read^ in various languages, in various sciences ; we 
learn the alphabet and letters of all manner of Books. 
But the place where we are to get knowledge, even 
theoretic knowledge, is the Books themselves ! It 
depends on what we read, after all manner of Pro- 
fessors have done their best for us. The true University 
of these days is a Collection of Books. . . . 

Coleridge remarks very pertinently somewhere, that 
wherever you find a sentence musically worded, of true 
rhythm and melody in the words, there is something 
deep and good in the meaning too. For body and 
soul, word and idea, go strangely together here, as 

I many a time say, the writers of Newspapers, 
Pamphlets, Poems, Books, these are the real working 
effective Church of a modern country. Nay not only 
our preaching, but even our worship, is not it too 
accomplished by means of Printed Books ? The noble 


sentiment which a gifted soul has clothed for us in 
melodious words, which brings melody into our hearts, 
— is not this essentially, if we will understand it, of the 
nature of worship ? There are many, in all countries, 
who, in this confused time, have no other method of 
worship. He who, in any way, shows us better than 
we knew before that a lily of the fields is beautiful, 
does he not show it us as an effluence of the Fountain 
of all Beauty ; as the handwritings made visible there, 
of the great Maker of the Universe ? He has sung for 
us, made us sing with him a little verse of a sacred 
Psalm. Essentially so. How much more he who 
sings, who says, or in any way brings home to our 
heart the noble doings, feelings, darings and endurances 
of a brother man ! ' He has verily touched our hearts 
as with a live codlfrom the altar. Perhaps there is no 
worship more authentic. . . . 

On all sides, are we not driven to the conclusion 
that, of the things which man can do or make here be- 
low, by far the most momentous, wonderful and worthy 
are the things we call Books ! Those poor bits of rag- 
paper with black ink on them ; — from the Daily 
Newspaper to the sacred Hebrew Book, what have 
they not done, what are they not doing ! — For indeed, 
whatever be the outward form of the thing (bits of 
paper, as we say, and black ink), is it not verily, at 
bottom, the highest act of man's faculty that produces 
a Book ? It is the Thought of man ; the true thauma- 
turgic virtue ; by which man works all things 
whatsoever. All that he does, and brings to pass, is 
the vesture of a Thought. This London City, with 
all its houses, palaces, steam engines, cathedrals, and 



huge immeasurable traffic and tumult, what is it but 
a Thought, but millions of Thoughts made into One ; 
— a huge immeasurable Spirit of a Thought, em- 
bodied in brick, in iron, smoke, dust, Palaces, 
Parliaments, Hackney Coaches, Katherine Docks, and 
the rest of it ! Not a brick was made but some man 
had to think of the making of that brick. — The thing 
we called '* bits of paper with traces of black ink," is 
the Jfurest embodiment a Thought of man can have. 
No wonder it is, in all ways, the activest and noblest. 

If a book come from the heart, it will contrive to 
reach other hearts ; all art and author-craft are of small 
account to that. — Lectures on Heroes : *' The Hero as 
Man of Letters. " 1 840. 

Possibly too you may have heard it said that the 
course of centuries has changed all this; and that "the 
true University of our days is a Collection of Books." 
And beyond doubt, all this is greatly altered by the 
invention of Printing, which took place about midway 
between us and the origin of Universities. Men 
have not now to go in person to where a Professor is 
actually speaking ; because in most cases you can get 
his doctrine out of him through a book ; and can then 
read it, and read it again and again, and study it. 
That is an immense change, that one fact of Printed 
Books. And I am not sure that I know of any Uni- 
versity in which the whole of that fact has yet been 
completely taken in, and the studies moulded in 
complete conformity with it. . . . 

It remains, however, practically a most important 
truth, what I alluded to above, that the main use of 


Universities in the present age is that, after you have 
done with all your classes, the next thing is a collec- 
tion of books, a great library of good books, which 
you proceed to study and to read. What the Univer- 
sities can mainly do for you, — what I have found the 
University did for me, is. That it taught me to read, 
in various languages, in various sciences ; so that I 
could go into the books which treated of these things, 
and gradually penetrate into any department I wanted 
to make myself master of, as I found it suit me. 

Whatever you may think of these historical points, 
the clearest and most imperative duty lies on every one 
of you to be assiduous in your reading. Learn to be 
good readers, — which is perhaps a more difficult thing 
than you imagine. Learn to be discriminative in your 
reading ; to read faithfully, and with your best atten- 
tion, all kinds of things which you have a real interest 
in, a real not an imaginary, and which you find to be 
really fit for what you are engaged in. . . . The 
most unhappy of all men is the man who cannot tell 
what he is going to do, who has got no work cut-out 
for him in the world, and does not go into it. For 
work is the grand cure of all the maladies and miseries 
that ever beset mankind, — honest work, which you 
intend getting done. . . . 

I do not know whether it has been sufficiently 
brought home to you that there are two kinds of books. 
When a man is reading on any kind of subject, in most 
departments of books, — in all books, if you take it in a 
wide sense,— he will find that there is a division into 
good books and bad books. Everywhere a good kind 
of book and a bad kind of book. I am not to assume 


that you are unacquainted, or ill-acquainted with this 
plain fact ; but I may remind you that it is becoming a 
very important consideration in our day. And we 
have to cast aside altogether the idea people have, 
that if they are reading any book, that if an ignorant 
man is reading any book, he is doing rather better 
than nothing at all. I must entirely call that in ques- 
tion ; I even venture to deny that. It would be much 
safer and better for many a reader, that he had no con- 
cern with books at all. There is a number, a frightfully 
increasing number, of books that are decidedly, to the 
readers of them, not useful. But an ingenious reader 
will learn, also, that a certain number of books 
were written by a supremely noble kind of jDeople, 
— ^not a very great number of books, but still a 
number fit to occupy all your reading industry, do 
' adhere more or less to that side of things. In short, as 
I have written it down somewhere else, I conceive that 
books are like men's souls ; divided into sheep and 
goats. Some few are going up, and carrying us up, 
heavenward ; calculated, I mean, to be of priceless 
advantage in teaching, — in forwarding the teaching of 
all generations. Others, a frightful multitude, are 
going down, down ; doing ever the more and the wider 
and the wilder mischief. Keep a strict eye on that 
latter class of books, my young friends ! — And for the 
rest, in regard to all your studies and readings here, and 
to whatever you may learn, you are to remember that 
the object is not particular knowledges, — not that of 
getting higher and higher in technical perfections, and 
all that sort of thing. There is a higher aim lying at the 
rear of all that, especially among those who are intended 


for literary or speaking pursuits, or the sacred profes- 
sion. You are ever to bear in mind that there lies 
behind that the acquisition of what may be called 
wisdom ; — namely, sound appreciation and just decision 
as to all the objects that come round you, and the habit 
of behaving with justice, candour, clear insight, and 
loyal adherence to fact. — Rectorial Address at Edin- 
burgh, 2nd April, 1866, 

carlyle's style. 
"With a little labour, it is true, we have become 
reconciled to it, and we can tell every reader that it is 
worth some labour. It is not to be forgotten that this 
<*The French Revolution') is a history of a very 
different order from any that has yet been attempted 
in our language, and in which the usually approved 
style of historical narrative, the nervous simplicity of 
Hume, or the gorgeous march of Gibbon, would have 
been, not to say misplaced, but actually impossible of 
application. Every original thing must speak its own 
language. Consider the work as much a poem as a 
history, and the regular groupings and inversion of 
words will no longer seem singular — consider it as the 
intense outpouring of the heart of a great thinker made 
in the manner of a soliloquy as of one thinking aloud — 
do anything that will reconcile you to a style which is 
at first very strange and unusual — reckon it worth some 
labour, and be content to make some sacrifice of leisure 
and of taste — rather than throw down one of the most 
remarkable books of our age in ignorant, short-sighted 
disgust. We repeat that we wish the style altered in 
many places, as in matters of quiet and level considera- 


tion ; but in the major portion of the book, we would 
not have the alteration of a word. It is the very 
language of the season and the men — rivetting breath- 
less attention, and stirring the deepest yearnings of the 
affections. The finest eloquence or the miost ruthless 
logic relieves in their proper seasons the grotesque, the 
pathetic, the ludicrous, or the horrible. — Albany Fon- 
blanqtie, in ^^ London Examiner" September 17, 1837. 

Mr. Froude, writing on the same subject, says : 
**His style, in some respects, is of almost unequalled 
excellence. It is admirable for every purpose of de- 
scription — nervous, natural, and vivid, to a degree 
which cannot be exaggerated. There is hardly to be 
found in the whole range of English literature a book 
which by mere power of style produced so great and 
permanent effect as * The French Revolution ; a 
History.'" — Eraser^ s Magazine^ 1866, vol. Ixxii. 

'* In the name of all ends and consequences, what 
odds about the manner, if we have the matter ? Why 
curl up our noses at the form, if we have the substance ? 
What odds what sort of a trumpet it is, if it be a 
trumpet ? What matter what kind of a dialect it be, 
if it can be mastered, and if it contain secrets worthy 
to be mastered?" — Letters on Carlyle, by " Caliban," 
in ''The Truth Seeker,'' 1850. 

* * His writing has in it his own power, which is a 
power altogether independent of his eccentricities of 
language. Sometimes no other mode of speech could 
possibly be so vigorous, picturesque, or animating." — 
Newspaper Paragraph. 

26o dr. arnold— judge talfourd. 
Thomas Arnold. 1795 — 1842. 

Keep your view of men and things extensive, and 
depend upon it that a mixed knowledge is not a super- 
ficial one. As far as it goes, the views that it gives 
are true ; but he who reads deeply one class of writers 
only, gets views which are almost sure to be perverted, 
and which are not only narrow but false. Adjust your . 
proposed amount of reading to your time and inclina- 
tion; but whether that amount be large or small, let it 
be varied in its kind, and widely varied. If I have a 
confident opinion on any one point connected with the 
improvement of the human mind it is on this, — Stank/ s 
Life of Arnold: Letter to C.J, Vaughan. 

Thomas Noon Talfourd. 1795 — 1854. 

How important then is it, that throughout our land, 
but more especially here where all the greatest of the 
material instruments have their triumphant home, the 
spiritual agencies should be quickened into kindred 
activity ; that the brief minutes of leisure and repose 
which may be left us should become hours of that true 
time which is dialled in heaven. . . . The solitary 
leisure of the clerk, of the shopman, of the apprentice, 
of the overseer, of every worker in all departments of 
labour, from the highest to the lowest, shall be glad- 
dened, at will, by those companions to whom the 
"serene creators of immortal things," in verse and 
prose, have given him perpetual introduction, and who 
will never weary, or betray, or forsake him. — Speech 
at the Manchester Athenawn, October 23, 1845. 

hartley coleridge, 261 

Hartley Coleridge. 1796 — 1849. 

Books, no less than their authors, are liable to get 
ragged, and to experience that neglect and contempt 
which generally follows the outward and visible signs 
of poverty. We do therefore most heartily commend 
the man, who bestows on a tattered and shivering 
volume, such decent and comely apparel, as may 
protect it from the insults of the vulgar, and the more 
cutting slights of the fair. But if it be a rare book, 
" the lone survivor of a numerous race," the one of its 
family that has escaped the trunk-makers and pastry- 
cooks, we would counsel a little extravagance in 
arraying it. Let no book perish, unless it be such an 
one as it is your duty to throw into the fire. There is 
no such thing as a worthless book, though there are 
some far worse than worthless ; no book which is not 
worth preserving, if its existence may be tolerated; 
as there are some men whom it may be proper to hang, 
but none who should be suffered to starve. To reprint 
books that do not rise to a certain pitch of worth, is 
foolish. It benefits nobody so much as it injures the 
possessors of the original copies. It is like a new 
coinage of Queen Anne's farthings. That any thing is 
in being, is a presumptive reason that it should remain 
in being, but not that it should be multiplied. 

The binding of a book should always suit its com- 
plexion. Pages, venerably yellow, should not be 
cased in military morocco, but in sober brown Russia. 
Glossy hot pressed paper looks best in vellum. We 
have sometimes seen a collection of old whitey-brown 
black letter ballads, &c., so gorgeously tricked out, 


that they remind us of the pious liberality of the 
Catholics, who dress in silk and gold the images of 
saints, part of whose saintship consisted in wearing 
rags and hair-cloth. The costume of a volume should 
also be in keeping with its subject, and with the 
character of its author. How absurd to see the works 
of William Pen, in flaming scarlet, and George Fox's 
Journal in Bishop's purple ! Theology should be 
solemnly gorgeous. History should be ornamented 
after the antique or gothic fashion. Works of science, 
as plain as is consistent with dignity. Poetry, simplex 
inunditiis. — Biographia Borealis ; or Lives of Distin- 
guished Northerns : " lVillia7n Roscoe." 

CoNNOP Thirlwall. 1797 — 1875. 

I flatter myself that I can sympathise with your 
enjoyment of a quiet day. A life of constant society 
would to me be perfectly intolerable, while I was never 
yet tired by what is called solitude (being indeed some 
of the choicest society to one who likes a book). 

Nobody can be more interested in the correctness of 
Dr. 's views on reading than myself. 

My practice is quite the reverse of his. My reading 
covers a pretty large area, but at many points is very 
superficial, and, therefore, I am not an impartial judge. 
I cannot, however, assent to his opinion — as you state 
it. But if the maxim runs, "Better read one good 
book eight times than many once," I should need to 
know something more about the many. Are they 
supposed to be also good? And if so, on the same 


or different subjects? I should quite agree that it is 
better to study one good book on any subject accurately 
than to hurry through many, even though equally good, 
on the same subject. But if, after I had read one book 
seven times, the question vsras whether I should give it 
an eighth reading or should skim over the work of 
another writer, though of inferior merit, on the same 
subject, I should have no doubt that my knowledge of 
the subject and my capacity of judging would be more 
enlarged by a hasty perusal of the new book, and that 
I should understand the first better than if I read it 
again. I suspect that a man of one or very few books 
may be familiar with their contents, but be little the 
better for them for want of means of comparing 
different views with one another. 

A person who was a very great reader and hard 
thinker told me that he never took up a book except 
with the view of making himself master of some subject 
which he was studying, and that while he was so 
engaged he made all his reading converge to that point. 
In this way he might read parts of many books, but 
not a single one "from end to end." This I take to 
be an excellent method of study, but one which implies 
the command of many books as well as of much 

It must, however, be remembered that superficial 
is a relative term. There is hardly a department, 
however narrow, in the whole range of human 
knowledge that is not absolutely unfathomable and 
inexhaustible, and its chief adepts would be the first to 
own or proclaim that no human life is long enough to 
make any one completely master of it. This holds not 


only with regard to the higher ologies — theology, 
philology, physiology, geology, zoology, &c. — but 
even to their minutest ramifications. Lives, I believe, 
have been spent and may be spent on such pursuits as 
numismatics and heraldry, which are branches of 
history, and involve a great extent of historical reading; 
but I also believe that the same may be said of some 
of the minutest compartments of animal and vegetable 
life. The study can never be exhausted. But would 
a life be well spent in the acquisition of a relatively 
profound knowledge of beetles or grasses, or coins or 
blazonry, to the exclusion of everything else ? 

Yet I think Dr. 's theory logically leads to this. 

I believe that nothing is forgotten, so that the 
remembrance of it may not be revived. How often 
do scenes and words of more than sixty years ago 
recur to my mind with the vividness of impressions of 
yesterday ! 

Was it not Admiral Beaufort who was once very 
nearly drowned, and while under water had a vision of 
his whole past life in all its details?— Z^//<?rj io a 
Friend, by Connop Thh'hvall, Bishop of St, David s, 

[A letter from Admiral Sir Frederick Beaufort, 
descriptive of the incident here referred to, was pub- 
lished in Sir John Barrow's " Autobiography," and is 
given in the Appendix to Bishop Thirl wall's " Letters 
to a Friend," Enlarged Edition, 1882. The subject 
is also treated in Miss Martineau's ** Biographical 
.Sketches. "] 

A. B, ALCOTT. 265 

A. Bronson Alcott. b. 1799 [Living]. 

Good books, like good friends, are few and chosen ; 
the more select the more enjoyable ; and like these 
are approached with diffidence, nor sought too familiarly 
nor too often, having the precedence only when friends 
tire. The most mannerly of companions, accessible 
at all times, in all moods, they frankly declare the 
author's mind, without giving offence. Like living 
friends they too have their voice and physiognomies, 
and their company is prized as old acquaintances. We 
seek them in our need of counsel or of amusement, 
without impertinence or apology, sure of having our 
claims allowed. A good book justifies our theory of 
personal supremacy, keeping this fresh in the memory 
and perennial. What were days without such fellow- 
ship ? We were alone in the world without it. Nor 
does our faith falter though the secret we search for 
and do not find in them will not commit itself to litera- 
ture, still we take up the new issue with the old 
expectation, and again and again, as we try our friends 
after many failures at conversation, believing this visit 
will be the favored hour and all will be told us. Nor 
do I know what book I can well spare, certainly none 
that has admitted me, though it be but for the moment 
and by the most oblique glimpse, into the mind and 
personality of its author ; though few there are that 
prefer such friendly claim to one's regard, and satisfy 
expectation as he turns their leaves. Our favorites 
are few ; since only what rises from the heart reaches 
it, being caught and carried on the tongues of men 
wheresoever love and letters journey. 

266 A. B. ALCOTT. 

Nor need we wonder at their scarcity or the value 
we set upon them ; life, the essence of good letters as 
of friendship, being its own best biographer, the artist 
that portrays the persons and thoughts we are, and are 
becoming. And the most that even he can do, is but 
a chance stroke or two at this fine essence housed in 
the handsome dust, but too fugitive and coy to be caught 
and held fast for longer than the passing glance ; the 
master touching ever and retouching the picture he 
leaves unfinished. 

"My life has been the poem I would have writ. 
But I could not both live and utter it." 

. . . Any library is an attraction. And there is 
an indescribable delight — who has not felt it that 
deserves the name of scholar — in mousing at choice 
among the alcoves of antique book-shops especially, 
and finding the oldest of these sometimes newest of 
the new, fresher, more suggestive than the book just 
published and praised in the reviews. And the 
pleasure scarcely less of cutting the leaves of the new 
volume, opening by preference at the end rather than 
title-page, and seizing the author's conclusions at a 
glance. Very few books repay the reading in course. 
Nor can we excuse an author if his page does not tempt 
us to copy passages into our common places, for quota- 
tion, proverbs, meditation, or other uses. A good 
book is fruitful of other books ; it perpetuates its fame 
from age to age, and makes eras in the lives of its 
readers. — Tablets : ' ' Books. " 

Next to a friend's discourse, no morsel is more 
delicious than a ripe book, a book whose flavor is as 

A. B. ALCOTT. 267 

refreshing at the thousandth tasting as at the first. 
Books when friends weary, conversation flags, or 
nature fails to inspire. The best books appeal to the 
deepest in us and answer the demand. A book loses 
if wanting the personal element, gains when this is 
insinuated, or comes to the front occasionally, blending 
history with mythology. 

My favorite books have a personality and com- 
plexion as distinctly drawn as if the author's portrait 
were framed into the paragraphs and smiled upon me 
as I read his illustrated pages. Nor could I spare 
them from my table or shelves, though I should not 
open the leaves for a twelve-month ; — the sight of 
them, the knowledge that they are within reach, 
accessible at any moment, rewards me when I invite 
their company. Borrowed books are not mine while 
in hand. I covet ownership in the contents, and fancy 
that he who is conversant with these is the rightful 
owner, and moreover, that the true scholar owes to 
scholars a catalogue of his chosen volumes, that they 
may learn from whence his entertainment during leisure 
moments. Next to a personal introduction, a list of 
one's favourite authors were the best admittance to his 
character and manners. . . . 

Without Plutarch, no library were complete. Can 
we marvel at his fame, or overestimate the surpassing 
merits of his writings ? It seems as I read as if none 
before, none since, had written lives, as if he alone 
were entitled to the name of biographer, — such intimacy 
of insight is his, laying open the springs of character, 
and through his parallels portraying his times as no 
historian had done before. ... It is good exer- 

268 A. B, ALCOTT, 

cise, good medicine, the reading of his books, — good 
for to-day, as in times it was preceding ours, salutary 
reading for all times. 

Montaigne also comes in for a large share of the 
scholar's regard. Opened anywhere, his page is 
sensible, marrowy, quotable. He may be taken up, 
too, and laid aside carelessly without loss, so inconse- 
quent is his method, and he so careless of his wealth. 
Professing nature and honesty of speech, his page has 
the suggestions of the landscape, is good for striking 
out in any direction, suited to any mood, sure of yielding 
variety of information, wit, entertainment, — not to be 
commended, to be sure, without grave abatements, to 
be read with good things growing side by side with 
things not such and tasting of the apple. Still, with 
every abatement, his book is one of the ripest and 
mellowist, and, bulky as it is, we wish there were more 
of it. He seems almost the only author whose Access 
warrants in every stroke of his pen his right to guide 
it ; he of the men of letters, the prince of letters ; 
since writing of life, he omits nothing of its substance, 
but tells all with a courage unprecedented. His frank- 
ness is charming. So his book has indescribable 
attractions, being as it were a Private Book, — his 
diary self-edited, and offered with an honesty that 
wins his readers, he never having done bestowing his 
opulent hospitalities on him, gossiping sagely, and 
casting his wisdom in sport to any who care for it. 
Everywhere his page is alive and rewarding, and we 
are disappointed at finding his book comes to an end 
like other books. — Concord Days : " Books J'^ 

A. B. ALCOTT. 269 

One cannot celebrate books sufficiently. After 
saying his best, still something better remains to be 
spoken in their praise. As with friends, one finds new 
beauties at every interview, and would stay long in the 
presence of those choice companions. As with friends, 
he may dispense with a wide acquaintance. Few and 
choice. The richest minds need not large libraries. 
That is a good book which is opened with expectation 
and closed with profit. 

An author who sets his reader on sounding the 
depths of his own thoughts serves him best, and at the 
same time teaches the modesty of authorship. 

The more life embodied in the book, the more com* 
panionable. Like a friend, the volume salutes one 
pleasantly at every opening of its leaves, and entertains ; 
we close it with charmed memories, and come again 
and again to the entertainment. The books that 
charmed us in youth recall the delight ever afterwards ; 
we are hardly persuaded there are any like them, any 
deserving equally our affections. Fortunate if the best 
fall in our way during this susceptible and forming 
period of our lives. 

I value books for their suggestiveness even more than 
for the information they may contain, works that may 
be taken in hand and laid aside, read at moments, con- 
taining sentences that quicken my thoughts and prompt 
to following these into their relations with life and 
things. I am stimulated and exalted by the perusal 
of books of this kind, and should esteem myself 
fortunate if I might add another to the few which the 
world shall take to its affections. — Table Talk: 
^^ Learning.'''' 

870 MACAl/LAV. 

Thomas Babington Macaulay. 
1800 — 1859. 

There is scarcely any delusion which has a better 
claim to be indulgently treated than that under the 
influence of which a man ascribes every moral excellence 
to those who have left imperishable monuments of their 
genius. The causes of this error lie deep in the inmost 
recesses of human nature. We are all inclined to judge 
of others as we find them. Our estimate of a character 
always depends much on the manner in which that 
character affects our own interests and passions. We 
find it difficult to think well of those by whom we are 
thwarted or depressed ; and we are ready to admit 
every excuse for the vices of those who are useful or 
agreeable to us. This is, we believe, one of those 
illusions to which the whole human race is subject, and 
which experience and reflection can only partially 
remove. It is, in the phraseology of Bacon, one of the 
idola tribus. Hence it is that the moral character of a 
man eminent in letters or in the fine arts is treated 
often by contemporaries, almost always by posterity, 
with extraordinary tenderness. The world derives 
pleasure and advantage from the performances of such 
a man. The number of those who suffer by his per- 
sonal vices is small, even in his own time, when 
compared with the number of those to whom his talents 
are a source of gratification. In a few years all those 
whom he has injured disappear. But his works remain, 
and are a source of delight to millions. The genius of 
Sallust is still with us. But the Numidians whom he 
plundered, and the unfortunate husbands who caught 


him in their houses at unseasonable hours, are forgotten. 
We suffer ourselves to be delighted by the keenness of 
Clarendon's observation, and by the sober majesty of 
his style, till we forget the oppressor and the bigot in 
the historian. Falstaff and Tom Jones have survived 
the gamekeepers whom Shakspeare cudgelled, and the 
landladies whom Fielding bilked. A great writer is 
the friend and benefactor of his readers ; and they 
cannot but judge of him under the deluding influence 
of friendship and gratitude. We all know how 
unwilling we are to admit the truth of any disgraceful 
story about a person whose society we like, and from 
whom we have received favours ; how long we struggle 
against evidence, how fondly, when the facts cannot 
be disputed, we cling to the hope that there may be 
some explanation or some extenuating circumstance 
with which we are unacquainted. Just such is the 
feeling which a man of liberal education naturally 
entertains towards the great minds of former ages. 
The debt which he owes to them is incalculable. 
They have guided him to truth. They have filled his 
mind with noble and graceful images. They have 
stood by him in all vicissitudes, comforters in sorrow, 
nurses in sickness, companions in solitude. These 
friendships are exposed to no danger from the occur- 
rences by which other attachments are weakened or 
dissolved. Time glides on; fortune is inconstant; 
tempers are soured ; bonds which seemed indissoluble 
are daily sundered by interest, by emulation, or by 
caprice. But no such cause can affect the silent 
converse which we hold with the highest of human 
intellects. That placid intercourse is disturbed by no 


jealousies or resentments. These are the old friends 
who are never seen with new faces, who are the same 
in wealth and in poverty, in glory and in obscurity. 
With the dead there is no rivalry. In the dead there 
is no change. Plato is never sullen. Cervantes is 
never petulant. Demosthenes never comes un- 
seasonably. Dante never stays too long. No differ- 
ence of political opinion can alienate Cicero. No 
heresy can excite the horror of Bossuet. — Critical and 
Historical Essays : * * Lord Bacon, " . 

Compare the literary acquirements of the great men 
of the thirteenth century with those which will be within 
the reach of many who will frequent our reading room. 
As to Greek learning, the profound man of the 
thirteenth century was absolutely on a par with the 
superficial man of the nineteenth. In the modern 
languages, there was not, six hundred years ago, a 
single volume which is now read. The library of our 
profound scholar must have consisted entirely of Latin 
books. We will suppose him to have had both a large 
and a choice collection. We will allow him thirty, 
nay forty manuscripts, and among them a Virgil, a 
Terence, a Lucan, an Ovid, a Statius, a great deal of 
Livy, a great deal of Cicero. In allowing him all this, 
we are dealing most liberally with him ; for it is much 
more likely that his shelves were filled with treatises 
on school divinity and canon law, composed by writers 
whose names the world has very wisely forgotten. 
But, even if we suppose him to have possessed all that 
is most valuable in the literature of Rome, I say with 
perfect confidence that, both in respect of intellectual 

MAC AC/LAV. 273 

improvement, and in respect of intellectual pleasures, 
he was far less favourably situated than a man who 
now, knowing only the English language, has a book- 
case filled with the best English works. Our great 
man of the Middle Ages could not form any conception 
of any tragedy approaching Macbeth or Lear, or of any 
comedy equal to Henry the Fourth or Twelfth Night. 
The best epic poem that he had read was far inferior to 
the Paradise Lost ; and all the tomes of his philosophers 
were not worth a page of the Novum Organum, 

A large part of what is best worth knowing in 
ancient literature, and in the literature of France, 
Italy, Germany, and Spain, has been translated into 
our own tongue. It is scarcely possible that the 
translation of any book of the highest class can be 
equal to the original. But, though the finer touches 
may be lost in the copy, the great outlines will remain. 
An Englishman who never saw the frescoes in the 
Vatican may yet, from engravings, form some notion of 
the exquisite grace of Raphael, and of the sublimity 
and energy of Michael Angelo. And so the genius of 
Homer is seen in the poorest version of the Iliad ; 
the genius of Cervantes is seen in the poorest version 
of Don Quixote. Let it not be supposed that I wish 
to dissuade any person from studying either the ancient 
languages or the languages of modem Europe. Far 
from it. I prize most highly those keys of knowledge ; 
and I think that no man who has leisure for study 
ought to be content until he possesses several of them. 
I always much admired a saying of the Emperor 
Charles the Fifth. "When I learn a new language," 


he said, "I feel as if I had got a new soul." But I 
would console those who have not time to make 
themselves linguists by assuring them that, by means of 
their own mother tongue, they may obtain ready access 
to vast intellectual treasures, to treasures such as might 
have been envied by the greatest linguists of the age of 
Charles the Fifth, to treasures surpassing those which were 
possessed by Aldus, by Erasmus, and by Melancthon. 

And thus I am brought back to the point from which 
I started. I have been requested to invite you to fill 
your glasses to the Literature of Britain ; to that 
literature, the brightest, the purest, the most durable 
of all the glories of our country ; to that literature, so 
rich in precious truth and precious fiction ; to that 
literature which boasts of the prince of all poets and of 
the prince of all philosophers ; to that literature which 
has exercised an influence wider than that of our 
commerce, and mightier than that of our arms; to 
that literature which has taught France the principles 
of liberty, and has furnished Germany with models of 
art ; to that literature which forms a tie closer than 
the tie of consanguinity between us and the common- 
wealths of the valley of the Mississippi ; to that 
literature before the light of which impious and cruel 
superstitions are fast taking flight on the banks of the 
Ganges ; to that literature which will, in future ages, 
instruct and delight the unborn millions who will have 
turned the Australasian and Cafl"rarian deserts into 
cities and gardens . To the Literature of Britain, then ! 
And, wherever British literature spreads, may it be 
attended by British virtue and by British freedom ! — 
Speech delivered at the Opening of the Edinburgh 
Philosophical histittde^ November 4, 1846. 


William Chambers. 1800 — 1883. 

I was now to have an opportunity of learning prac- 
tically how far my weekly earnings as a bookseller's 
aj^prentice would go in defraying the cost of board 
and lodging. In short, at little above fourteen years 
of age, I was thrown on my own resources. From 
necessity, not less than from choice, I resolved at all 
hazards to make the weekly four shillings serve for 
everything. I cannot remember entertaining the 
slightest despondency on the subject. ... As 
favourable for carrying out my aims at an indepen- 
dent style of living, I had the good-fortune to be 
installed in the dwelling of a remarkably precise and 
honest widow, a Peebles woman, who, with two 
grown-up sons, occupied the top story of a building in 
the West Port. My landlady had the reputation of 
being excessively parsimonious, but as her honesty was 
of importance to one in my position, and as she con- 
sented to let me have a bed, cook for me, and allow 
me to sit by her fireside — the fire, by the way, not 
being much to speak of — for the reasonable charge of 
eighteenpence a week, I was thought to be lucky in 
finding her disposed to receive me within her establish- 
ment. To her dwelling, therefore, I repaired with my 
all, consisting of a few articles of clothing and two or 
three books, including a pocket Bible— the whole con- 
tained in a small blue-painted box, which I carried on 
my shoulder along the Grassmarket. 

I made such attempts as were at all practicable, 
while an apprentice, to remedy the defects of my 


education at school. Nothing in that way could be 
done in the shop, for there reading was proscribed. 
But allowed to take home a book for study, I gladly 
availed myself of the privilege. The mornings in 
summer, when light cost nothing, were my chief 
reliance. Fatigued with trudging about, I was not 
naturally inclined to rise, but on this and some other 
points I overruled the will, and forced myself to get 
up at five o'clock, and have a spell at reading until it 
was tirne to think of moving off — my brother, when he 
was with me, doing the same. In this way I made 
some progress in French, with the pronunciation of 
which I was already familiar from the speech of the 
French prisoners of war at Peebles. I likewise dipped 
into several books of solid worth — such as Smith's 
Wealth of Nations, Locke's Human Understanding, 
Paley's Moral Philosophy, and Blair's Belles-Lettrcs — 
fixing the leading facts and theories in my memory by 
a note-book for the purpose. In another book, I kept 
for years an accurate account of my expenses, not 
allowing a single halfpenny to escape record. 

In the winter of 1815-16, when the cold and cost of 
candle-light would have detained me in bed, I was so 
fortunate as to discover an agreeable means of spending 
my mornings. . . . From this hopeful personage, 
whom it was my duty to look after, I one day had a pro- 
position, which he had been charged to communicate. 
If I pleased, he would introduce me to his occasional 
employer, the baker in Canal Street, who, he said, was 
passionately fond of reading, but without leisure for its 
gratification. If I would go early — very early — say five 


o'clock in the morning, and read aloud to him and his 
two sons, while they were preparing their batch, I 
should be regularly rewarded for my trouble with 
a penny roll newly drawn from the oven. . . 
Behold me, then, quitting my lodgings in the West 
Port, before five o'clock in the winter mornings, and 
pursuing my way across the town to the cluster of 
sunk streets below the North Bridge, of which Canal 
Street was the principal. The scene of operations was 
a cellar of confined dimensions, reached by a flight of 
steps descending from the street, and possessing a small 
back window immediately beyond the baker's kneading 
board. Seated on a folded-up sack in the sole of the 
window, with a book in one hand and a penny candle 
stuck in a bottle near the other, I went to work for the 
amusement of the company. The baker was not 
particular as to subject. All he stipulated for was 
something droll and laughable. Aware of his tastes, I 
tried him first wdth the jocularities oi Roderick Random, 
which was a great success, and produced shouts of 
laughter. I followed this up with other works of 
Smollett, also with the novels of Fielding, and with 
Gil Bias; the tricks and grotesque rogueries in this 
last -mentioned work of fiction giving the baker and his 
two sons unqualified satisfaction. My services as a 
reader for two and a half hours every morning were 
unfailingly recompensed by a donation of the antici- 
pated roll, with which, after getting myself brushed 
of the flour, I went on my way to shop-opening, lamp- 
cleaning, and all the rest of it, at Calton Street. — 
Memoir of Robert Chambers ; with Autobiographic 
Reminiscetices of Williaiti Chambers, 

278 james crosslev. 

James Crossley (Late President of the 
Cheetham Society). 1800 — 1883. 

Who is not delighted to meet in a place utterly 
barren and unpromising, with something akin to his 
habits, and congenial to his pursuits? . . . To 
know what pleasure is, we ought to meet with the 
thing, which, of all others, we most want, in the place, 
where, of all others, we least expect to find it. . . . 
We were led into these speculations by a late visit 
to the library, founded by Humphrey Cheetham, in 
Manchester ; a venerable institution, rendered more 
striking, by presenting somewhat of the appearance of 
a college, amidst the hurry and business of a large 
manufacturing town. It is pleasing to pass from the 
noise and dissonance of a crowded street, into the com- 
paratively still and silent court of a spacious antique 
mansion, with low-browed roofs, and narrow windows, 
apparently of the architecture of the time of James 
the First, where the only habitants seem to be a little 
population of boys, in their grotesque liveries, according 
well with their ancient domicile. To feel that there 
is such a place amidst warehouses, factories, and shops, 
is some satisfaction, as it shows you are not completely 
immersed in trade and calculation, but that there is 
still amidst wool shops, and cotton rooms, a little zoar 
set apart for better things. As you enter the door 
leading towards the library, from the court on the left, 
you are struck with a spacious and lofty hall — whose 
appearance reminds you of ancient feasts, and old 
English hospitality — which is now appropriated as the 
dining room of the children, who are educated by the 


bounty of the founder. You proceed up a flight of 
stone stairs to the library, where the books are dis- 
posed in compartments, secured by wires from the 
encroachments of the profane. 

As you pass along the two galleries, plentifully stored 
with the physic of the soul, to the reading room, you 
cannot but perceive, that their contents are not much 
similar to those of a modern circulating library. Dapper 
duodecimos give place to the venerable majesty of the 
folio. If you look among the shelves, you will find, 
instead of the Scotch novels, or Anastasius, Wagensal's 
Tela Ignea, or the works of Erasmus. It is not the 
library of a modern dilitanti, but of an English scholar 
of the old school, in which, Aquinas, and Duns Scotus, 
may yet be seen, and by them their worthy brother 
Durandus Bradwardine and Bonaventuro. 
There is something very substantial in the appearance 
of a library of this description. . . . All within it 
contributes to withdraw us to the past. The mind is 
left here to resign itself to its own fancies without 
being recalled by some startling incongruity to the 
recollections of the present ; and for aught which 
strikes us in the rapidity of a first impression, we 
might imagine it the spot where Bacon was accus- 
tomed to study, and Raleigh delighted to muse. It 
is impossible to enter a large library, especially when 
in appearance so antique as the one of which we are 
now writing, without feeling an inward sensation of 
reverence, and without catching some sparks of noble 
emulation, from the mass of mind which is scattered 
around you. The very dullest, and least intellectual 
of the sons of earth, must be conscious of the high and 


lofty society into which he is intruding ; a society 
which no combination of living talent can ever hope to 
parallel. . . . We feel, as we reverence the 
mighty spirits around us, that we are in some sort their 
brothers ; and the very homage which we pay to their 
majesty is itself the bond of our alliance. . . . 
Through a door studded with nails in the ancient 
fashion, you pass into the reading-room, an antique 
apartment, with oaken casements, massive chairs of 
such heaviness and contexture, as utterly to defy all 
muscular power, and tables of make and workmanship 
truly patriarchal, one of which you are informed by 
your guide, is composed of as many pieces as there are 
days in a year, 365. Around are disposed dusky 
looking portraits of eminent divines, who have been 
born in or near Manchester, Whitaker, Nowell, 
Latimer, and Bradford, of the latter of whom the 
facetious Fuller saith, **He was a most holy and 
mortified man, who secretly in his closet would so 
weep for his sins, one would have thought he would 
never have smiled again, and then appearing in public, 
he would be so harmlessly pleasant, one would think 
he had never wept before. " No such marks of celestial 
benignity are here visible in his countenance ; he looks 
truly as grim-visaged as Herod himself in the Massacre 
of the Innocents. Over the fire-place, surmounted by 
his coat of arms, is the portrait of Humphrey Cheetham 
himself, the charitable "dealer in Manchester commo- 
dities," as he has been called, to whose beneficence 
this excellent institution is owing. . , . The 
windows of this room are in unison with the rest of its 
structure, and though they do not absolutely "exclude 


the light," yet there is a certain degree of dimness in 
it, which does not ill agree with the dark pannels and 
beams by which it is encased and over-hung. At the 
farther end is a recess, which being almost windowed 
round, is rendered a little lightsomer than the other 
parts of the room. It is pleasant to sit in this 
sequestered nook, the locus benedicHis of this ancient 
place, and view from thence the gallery with its shelves 
of books, sinking by degrees into duskiness. . . . 
Still pleasanter is it to resign the mind to those 
fantasies, which, in a place like this, are wont to rise 
and steal upon it with a soft but potent fascination — 
and to suffer the imagination to raise up its visions of 
the worthies of olden time. To embody and imper- 
sonate our forefathers, while we are tarrying in their 
edifice, and while we are drinking "at the pure wells 
of EngHsh undefiled," to picture to ourselves the 
worthies who stood and guarded at its fountain. To 
create and call forth figures for our sport, like those in 
the Tempest, airy and unsubstantial, clad in ruffs and 
doublets, and passing by us with stiff mien and haughty 
stateliness; introducing to our eyes a succession of 
" maskings, mummeries, entertainments, jubilees, tilts 
and tournaments, trophies, triumphs, and plays," till 
we can see the whole court of Elizabeth, and the great 
master of the dance, the graceful Sir Christopher 

" Lead the brawls. 
While seals and maces dance before him." 

We are transported visibly to the times when the 
Euphues and the Arcadia were the light reading of 


maids of honour, when queens harangued universities 
in Latin, and kings amused themselves by writing of 
demon ology and tobacco. The theological tomes 
around us seem to communicate something of their 
influence to us, and to dip us " five fathom deep" in 
the controversies of the times. We can almost join in 
alacrity in the crusade against .the Beast " who had 
filled the world with her abominations," and sally out 
with bishops for our leaders, and a ponderous folio for 
our armour of proof. 

The works around us naturally bring their authors 
before our eye. We can see Hooker in his quiet 
country parsonage, beholding ** God's blessings spring 
out of his mother earth, and eating his own bread 
in peace and privacy." We can see Sidney amongst 
the shades of Penshurst writing on poetry, with 
all the enthusiasm of a poet, and proving, that 
" poesie is full of virtue, breeding delightfulness, and 
void of no gift that ought to be in the noble name 
of learning." We can see Bacon in his closet, con- 
ceiving in his mighty mind the greatest birth of time, 
and unbent by misfortune, and undejected by disgrace, 
illuminating philosophy " with all the weight of 
matter, worth of subject, soundness of argument, life 
of invention, and depth of judgment." We can see 
Selden amidst bulls, breviats, antiphoners, and monkish 
manuscripts, laying up the stores of his vast learning, 
and awaiting from posterity the rewards which were 
denied him by a prejudiced clergy. We can be present 
with Burton, whilst enjoying the delights of voluntary 
solitariness, and walking alone in some grove, betwixt 
wood and water, by a brook side, to meditate upon 


some delightsome and pleasant subject, and hear him 
declaring in ecstasy, "what an incomparable delight it 
is so to melancholize and build castles in the air." 
And last, though second to none of his contemporaries, 
we can be witness to the lonely musings of him, **who 
untamed in war, and indefatigable in literature, as 
inexhaustible in ideas as exploits, after having brought 
a new world to light, wrote the history of the old in a 
prison." , , . 

If thy footsteps lead thee, good reader, to the 
venerable place which has suggested these specu- 
lations, let us advise thee to amuse thyself with 
something suitable, and not incongruous with its 
character. There is a fitness in all things. There are 
other places for perusing the ephemeral productions of 
the day, circulating libraries for novels, and commercial 
rooms for newspapers. If these be the food for which 
thy mind is most disposed, to such places be thy walks 
confined. But go not to the library of Humphrey 
Cheetham, without opening one of the ** time-honoured 
guests. " If classical learning be the study most grati- 
fying to thy palate, take down the Basil edition of 
Horace, with the notes of eighty commentators, and 
read through the commentaries on the first ode, thou 
wilt find it no very easy or dispatchable matter. If 
divinity be thy pursuit, let one of the compendious 
folios of Caryl on Job minister to thy amusement, and 
thus conduce to thy attainment of that virtue of which 
Job was so eminently the possessor. If Natural 
History present more attractions to thee than classical 
learning or divinity, Ulysses Aldrovandus will find 
thee employment enough, without resorting to the 


latter publications of Pennant or BufFon. But should 
thy thoughts, good reader, have a different direction, 
and all these studies be less agreeable to thee than the 
study of light reading, take with thee Pharamond to 
thy corner, or that edifying and moral work, Mat. 
Ingelo's Bentivoglio and Urania ; and so needest thou 
have no fear of being too violently interested in thy 
subject to leave off with pleasure. — Article on the 
Cheetham Library, Blackwood's Magazine, June, 1821. 

Earl of Shaftesbury (Anthony Ashley 
Cooper), b. 1801 [Living]. 

I am not going to speak with disparagement of the 
library of reference, but I am going to speak with 
peculiar admiration and affection of the library of 
circulation ; and for this reason : — ^because it tends to 
purify and maintain that which is the very strength of 
a nation, the very glory of a people ; — among all the 
ordinances of God, the most merciful and the most 
amicable — the domestic system of the country. And I 
hope that many a husband, and many a brother, 
availing himself of the opportunity offered, will carry 
the book to his own fireside, and make his wife and 
his children, or his mother and his sister, partake of 
his studies, and tend to elevate and purify the female 
mind ; for, depend upon this, that a country may 
stand for a time the corruption of the male sex; it 
<;annot stand for an instant the utter corruption of the 
female sex. If the men are corrupted, I have some 
hope; if the women are corrupted, I am in utter 
despair. And see how it must be : — is it not the case 


that for the first eight years of life the children are 
almost exclusively under the care of the mother ? 
Does not the child imbibe at its mother's knees the 
first lessons of piety and of prayer? Is it not truths 
that many of the most eminent saints and servants of 
God traced, not to their fathers, but to their mothers, 
the first institution in religious life? And I myself 
have heard many a man declare that in his after-life of 
profligacy, and of sorrow, he had been recalled to a 
sense of God and of eternity, by remembering in an 
hour of privation and of difficulty, some holy and 
happy word that fell from the lips of his blessed and 
sainted mother. Therefore it is that I rejoice in this 
lending library. I rejoice in the spirit you now 
manifest, because I think that you show that you have 
received my words with kindness and affection, and 
that you will endeavour to do that which, be assured, 
will conduce to your own honour, to your domestic 
happiness, and to the security of the kingdom. — 
Speech at the Inauguration of the Manchester Free: 
Library, September 2, 1852. 

Robert Chambers. 1802 — 187 1. 

English literature gives all who can enjoy it a fund 
of pleasure, of the great amount of which we are not 
apt to be quite aware till we run over a few of the 
items. There are the Waverley Novels — in direct 
contemplation, only the talk of an old-fashioned Scotch 
gentleman, who died a few years ago — or, in a still 
more gross consideration, but a few masses of printed 
paper. Yet, in effect, what are they ! To how many 


thousands upon thousands has life been made less 
painful or more delightful by these charming tales ! 
The world would have gone on without them, no 
•doubt, but it would not have gone on so agreeably. 
There would have been an infinite deal less happiness 
in it during the last twenty-five years, if they had not 
been written. 

Thousands of other things there are in our literature, 
which we feel to be amongst the most precious of our 
possessions and privileges. Cowper's Task is as good 
as an estate to every reading-man in the kingdom. 
There are some of Burns's songs, the loss of which, if 
it were possible, would be to me more deplorable, as 
far as I am personally concerned, than the total repeal 
of the Habeas Corpus Act. The blotting out of the 
Vicar of Wakefield from most minds, would be more 
grievous than to know that the island of Borneo had 
sunk in the sea. . . . Going back a little farther, 
how does the heart leap up when we recollect the 
many admirable things of Fielding and Smollett. 
Parson Adams himself gilds the whole time. What 
simplicity, what true goodness ! — ^verily, the world's 
history gives us few characters equal to him — and yet 
we feel that he is natural. 

There are some books usually read in youth, and 
without which youth would not be what it is. Of 
these are Robinson Crusoe and Gulliver. How youth 
passed long ago, when there was no Crusoe to waft it 
away in fancy to the Pacific, and fix it upon the lonely 
doings of the shipwrecked mariner, is inconceivable; 
but we can readily suppose that it must have been 
essentially diff"erent. The first reading of Crusoe is 


now a feature in every man's biography. Gulliver is 
not so indispensable, but yet the having him is much to 
be rejoiced in. 

The Arabian Nights' Entertainments are not ours by 
birth, but they have nevertheless taken their place 
amongst the similar things of our own which constitute 
the national literary inheritance. They bring us into a 
considerably different world from any other we are 
acquainted with. The caliph, the cadi, the Moham- 
medan faith, genii, enchanters, are the prominent 
novelties they display to us. There is a fine want of 
precise outline about everything in the book. We see 
as through some prismatically-disturbing medium. 
, . . Altogether, it is a glorious book, and one to 
which we cannot well shew enough of respect. 

Come we now to Pope, that prince of sayers of acute 
and exquisite things — that most mellifluous of all the 
rhetorical class of poets amongst whom he flourished. 
Fashion has set him a little aside, which it can never 
do with an author who has not written in some measure 
according to a fashion ; but he was a fine spirit and a 
great poet, nevertheless, and English literature would 
shew a mighty blank indeed were he taken out of it. 
. Dryden is even better than Pope. He has 
immense masculine energies. There is a lashing 
strength about his verse that no other writer ap- 
proaches. His works are the farewell of the sound 
old English, for which the stiffened and glistered 
language of the last century was the substitute, and 
which there has latterly been a disposition to revive. 
Dryden is also much out of view, but most undeservedly. 
Few know what a treasure of thought and expression 


lies in his Hind and Panther, and Fables. We are 
apt, in the large attention we pay to modern literature, 
to set down him and Pope in our minds as scarcely 
poets at all, or at the best good versifiers; but when 
we open their works, and actually read them, we cease 
to wonder that our fathers and grandfathers talked of 
these men as something only a little lower than the 

A class of compositions altogether apart from all 
that have yet been adverted to remains to be noticed. 
These are the songs and ballads, whether of England 
or of Scotland. No era can be mentioned for these 
compositions : they have glimpsed forth from the 
darkness of past ages, as stars come by night into the 
sky, without any one being able to tell exactly when 
they first became visible. No authors' names can be 
mentioned for them: they have sprung forth like the 
unbidden beauty of the prairie, which no one can tell 
how it became planted. Involuntary gushings they 
would appear to have been of that "faculty divine" 
which has resided at all times in the bosoms of the 
people, and may or may not have regular professors, 
as the accident of culture may direct. . . . Nor 
less are the charms of the song-class of our traditionary 
poetry. The "Cowdenknowes" will be for ever vocal 
with the sweetest of verse, and the " Marion of the 
Ewe-Buchts " must shine as a star until all time. 

What is above written gives but the heads of the 
wealth which we possess under the name of English 
literature. The addition of the inferior and yet 
worthy names would swell the account, like the 
putting down of ciphers on the right-hand side of a 


number. And is not this substantial wealth, albeit it 
is not of the kind which the political economists insist 
so much upon, that kind which, as they say, has an 
exchangeable value? Does any man think otherwise, 
let him only reflect what would be our condition if no 
literature, ancient or modern, existed. The accumula- 
tion of these stores of the thoughts and fancies of 
eminent minds, is just like the construction of public 
works in a country ; and a country without a literature 
is like a country in which as yet no roads have been 
formed, no bridges thrown over rivers, nor any halls of 
popular assembly built. But England is in both these 
respects a wealthy country. It has been put by our 
fathers into our hands, furnished with an amount of 
physical conveniences and sources of comfort beyond 
all precedent, and endowed with an intellectual in- 
heritance such as no other country ever had. Evils 
manifold may affect it, if some will have the case to be 
so ; but, amidst all that troubles her, there still remain, 
unsullied, intact, ever ready for the solacement of her 
thinking sons, the deathless productions of her intel- 
lectual great. — Chambers's Journal: " What English 
Literature Gives us. " 

What I would speak of now is the engrossing and 
all-absorbing quality of books. Reflection itself, of 
course, possesses the same attribute, in a less degree ; 
but we cannot sit down to reflect at a moment's 
notice — deeply or earnestly enough to forget what is 
passing around us— and be perfectly sure of doing it, 
any more than we can be sure of going to sleep when 
we wish to do so. Now, a congenial book can be 



taken up by any lover of books, with the certainty of 
its transporting the reader within a few minutes to a 
region immeasurably removed from that which he 
desires to quit. . . . Books are the blessed chloro- 
form of the mind. We wonder how folks in trouble 
did without them in old time. 

It is not a very high claim that is here set forth on 
behalf of Literature — that of Pass-time, and yet what 
a blessed boon even that is ! Conceive the hours of 
i7iertia (a thing different from idleness) that it has mer- 
cifully consumed for us ! hours wherein nothing could 
be done, nothing, perhaps, be thought, of our own 
selves, by reason of some impending calamity. 

I am writing of the obligation which we owe to 
Literature, and not to Religion ; yet I cannot but feel 
"thankful" — using the word in its ordinary and de- 
votional sense — to many a book which is no sermon, 
nor tract, nor commentary, nor anything of that kind 
at all. Thus, I have cause to revere the name of 
Defoe, who reached his hand down through a century 
and a half to wipe away bitter tears from my childish 
eyes. The going back to school was always a dreadful 
woe to me, casting its black shadow far into the latter 
part of my brief holidays. I have had my share of 
suffering and sorrow since, like other men, but I have 
seldom felt so absolutely wretched as when, a little 
boy, I was about to exchange my pleasant home-life 
for the hardships and uncongenialities of school. . . . • 
And yet, I protest, I had but to take up Robinson 
Crusoe, and in a very few minutes I was out of all 
thought of the approaching calamity. ... I had 
travelled over a thousand leagues of sea ; I was in my 


snug weil-fortified cave, with the ladder upon the right 
side of it, " so that neither man nor beast could get at 
me," with my half-a-dozen muskets loaded, and my 
powder distributed in separate parcels, so that not even 
a thunderbolt should do me any irreparable injury. 
Or, if not quite so secure, I was visiting my summer 
plantation among my goats and corn, or shooting, in 
the still astonished woods, birds of marvellous beauty ; 
or lying upon my stomach upon the top of the hill, 
watching through my spy -glass the savages putting to 
sea, and not displeased to find myself once more alone 
in my own little island. No living human being could 
just then have done me such a service as dead Defoe. 

Again, during that agonising period which intervened 
between my proposal of marriage by letter to Jemima 
Anne, and my reception of her reply, how should I 
ever have kept myself alive, save for the chivalrous 
aid of the Black Knight in Ivanhoe. To him, mainly, 
assisted by Rebecca, and (I am bound to say) by that 
scoundrel Brian de Bois Guilbert, are my obligations 
due, that I did not — through the extremities of despair 
and hope, suffered during that interval — become a 
drivelling idiot. 

When her answer did arrive — in the negative— what 
was it which preserved me from the noose, the razor, 
or the stream, but Mr. Carlyle's French Revolution. 
In the woes of poor Louis Capet, I forgot my own. 
. . . Who, having a grateful heart, can forget these 
things, or deny the Blessedness of Books ? If it were 
only for the hours of weary waiting which they have 
consumed for me at desolate railway stations, I pay 
them grateful homage. 


Nay, under far more serious circumstances, when 
disappointment has lain heavy on my soul, and once 
when ruin itself seemed overshadowing me and mine, 
what escape have I not found from irremediable woes 
in taking the hand of Samuel Johnson (kindly intro- 
duced to that great man by Mr. Boswell), and hearing 
him discourse with wondrous wisdom upon all things 
under heaven, sometimes at a club of wits and men of 
letters, and sometimes at a common tavern table, and 
sometimes even in an open boat upon the Hebridean 

I often think, if such be the fascination exercised 
by books upon their readers, how M^ondrous must be 
the enchantment wrought upon the Writers themselves ! 
What human sorrow can afflict, what prosperity dazzle 
them, while they are describing the fortunes of the 
offspring of their own imagination ? They have only 
to close their study door, and take their magic pen in 
hand, and lo ! they are at once transported from this 
weary world of duns, and critics, and publishers, into 
whatever region and time they will. Yes, truly, it is 
for authors themselves, more than for any other order 
of men whatever, to acknowledge the Blessedness of 
Books. — Chambers's J'ournal: " The Blessedness of 

My brother William and I lived in lodgings together. 
Our room and bed cost three shillings a week. . . . 
The woman who kept the lodgings was a Peebles 
woman, who knew and wished to be kind to us. She. 
was, however, of a very narrow disposition,' partly the 
result of poverty. I used to be in great distress for 


want of fire. I could not afford either that or candle 
myself. So I have often sat beside her kitchen fire — 
if fire it could be called, which was only a little heap 
of embers — reading Horace and conning my dictionary 
by a light which required me to hold the books almost 
close to the grate. What a miserable winter that was ! 
Yet I cannot help feeling proud of my trials at that 
time. My brother and I — he then between fifteen and 
sixteen, I between thirteen and fourteen — had made a 
resolution together that we would exercise the last 
degree of self-denial. My brother actually saved 
money out of his income. I remember seeing him take 
five-and-twenty shillings out of a closed box which he 
kept to receive his savings ; and that was the spare 
money of only a twelvemonth. — Memoir of Robert 
Chambers ; with Autobiographic Re77iiniscences of 
William Chambers. 

Alexander (Lord Chief Justice) 

COCKBURN. 1802 — 1880. 

Happy is he who, when the day's work is done, 
finds his rest, and solace, and recreation in communion 
with the master minds of the present and of the past — 
in study, in literature, and the enjoyment of pleasures 
which are to be derived from this source. If I might 
address to the younger portion of the community a few 
words of advice and exhortation — trusting to one who 
has been as hard a worker as the hardest workers 
amongst you — I would say there is no rest, no recrea- 
tion, no refreshment to the wearied and jaded body 
and mind, worn by work and toil, equal to the intel- 


lectual pleasures to which I have just been referring. 
Let them bear in mind that the time will come when 
the pleasures that now allure them and draw them away 
from intellectual pursuits will come to an end. Old 
age will take the place of bodily vigour. Let them 
again trust to one who is advancing fast in declining 
years — there is no enjoyment to equal the enjoyment 
of the great intellectual treasures which are always, at 
hand and always at your disposal. . . . With the 
prolonged cultivation of the intellect in continued 
study, together with the continued worship and admi- 
ration of all that is pure and holy, sublime and beautiful 
in nature, in letters, and in art, the mind may be made 
to preserve its energy and vigour long after old age has 
crept upon us. . . , Happy those who take to 
study and find in knowledge, in learning, and in those 
invaluable and priceless treasures, which the great 
geniuses, who have thought and written for us, have 
left us, as an undying inheritance, a lasting, a pure, an 
unmixed pleasure. — Address to the viemhej's of the 
Manchester Athenceum, January 22, 1875. 

Victor Hugo. h. 1802 [Living]. 
Tu viens d'incendier la Bibliotheque ? 

— Oui. 
J'ai mis le feu 1^. 

— Mais c'est un crime inouT, 
Crime commis par toi centre toi-meme, infame ! 
Mais tu viens de tuer le rayon de ton ame ! 
C'est ton propre flambeau que tu viens de souffler ! 
Ce que ta rage impie et folle ose bruler, 


C'est ton bien, ton tresor, ta dot, ton heritage ! 

Le livre, hostile au maitre, est k ton avantage. 

Le livre a toujours pris fait et cause pour toi. 

Une bibliotheque est un acte de foi 

Des generations tenebreuses encore 

Qui rendent dans la nuit temoignage ^ I'aurore. 

Quoi ! dans ce venerable amas des verites, 

Dans ces chefs-d'oeuvre pleins de foudre et de clartes, 

Dans ce tombeau des temps devenu repertoire, 

Dans les siecles, dans I'homme antique, dans I'histoire, 

Dans le passe, le9on qu'epelle I'avenir, 

Dans ce qui commen5a pour ne jamais finir, 

Dans les poetes ! quoi, dans ce gouffre des bibles, 

Dans le divin monceau des Eschyles terribles, 

Des Homeres, des Jobs, debout sur I'horizon, 

Dans Moliere, Voltaire et Kant, dans la raison, 

Tu jettes, miserable, une torehe enflammee ! 

De tout I'esprit humain tu fais de la fumee ! 

As-tu done oublie que ton liberateur, 

C'est le livre ? le livre est la sur la hauteur ; 

II luit ; parce qu'il brille et qu'il les illumine, 

II detruit I'echafaud, la guerre, la famine ; 

II parle ; plus d'esclave et plus de paria. 

Ouvre un livre. Platon, Milton, Beccaria. 

Lis ces prophetes, Dante, ou Shakspeare, ou Corneille;. 

L'ame immense qu'ils ont en eux, en toi s'eveille ;. 

Ebloui, tu te sens le meme homme qu'eux tous ; 

Tu deviens en lisant grave, pensif et doux ; 

Tu sens dans ton esprit tous ces grands hommes croltre ; 

lis t'enseignent ainsi que I'aube eclaire un cloitre ; 

A mesure qu'il plonge en ton coeur plus avant, 

Leur chaud rayon t'apaise et te fait plus vivant ; 


Ton ame interrogee est prete \ leur repondre ; 

Tu te reconnais bon, puis meilleur ; tu sens fondre 

Comme la neige au feu, ton orgueil, tes fureurs, 

Le mal, les prejuges, les rois, les empereurs ! 

Car la science en I'homme arrive la premiere. 

Puis vient la liberte. Toute cette lumiere, 

C'est a toi, comprends done, et c'est toi qui I'eteins ! 

Les buts reves par toi sont par le livre atteints. 

Le livre en ta pensee entre, il defait en elle 

Les liens que I'erreur k la verite mele. 

Car tout conscience est un noeud gordien. 

II est ton medecin, ton guide, ton gardien. 

Ta haine, il la guerit ; ta demence, il te I'ote. 

Voila ce que tu perds, helas, et par ta faute ! 

Le livre est ta richesse ^ toi I c'est le savoir, 

Le droit, la verite, la vertu, le devoir, 

Le progres, la raison dissipant tout delire. 

Et tu detruis cela, toi ! 

— ^Je ne sais pas lire. 

V Annie Terrible, Juin^ viii. : ^^ A Qui 
La Faute ? " 

[To Miss Mathilde Blind, the accomplished translator 
'of Strauss's "The Old Faith and the New," author of 
"The Prophecy of St. Oran, and other Poems," and 
" George Eliot," in the Eminent Women Series, the 
compiler is indebted for the following spirited rendering 
of Victor Hugo's indignant remonstrance. The lines 
here translated constitute an occurrence in one of the 
itwelve divisions (Juin) of " L'Annee Terrible," 1871. 


The remonstrance is supposed to be addressed to a 
Communist, whose incendiary rage has just destroyed 
a Parisian Library. After having been eloquently 
reproached for quenching the light of reason in his • 
own soul, and destroying his own heritage, the 
Communist replies in that epigrammatic ending so 
characteristic of Victor Hugo, and so crushingly 
unanswerable : " I cannot read,"] 


'Tis you then burned the library ? 

I did, 
I brought the fire. 

— O most unheard-of crime. 
Crime, wretch, which you upon yourself commit ! 
Why, you have quenched the light of your own soul ! 
'Tis your own torch which you have just put out ! 
That which your impious madness has dared burn, 
Was your own treasure, fortune, heritage ! 
The Book (the master's bugbear) is your gain 1 
The Book has ever taken side with you. 
A Library implies an act of faith 
Which generations still in darkness hid 
Sign in their night in witness of the dawn. 
What ! miscreant, you fling your flaming torch 
Into this pile of venerable truths. 
These master-works that thunder forth and lighten, 
Into this tomb become time's inventory, 
Into the ages, the antique man, the past 
Which still spells out the future — history 
Which having once begun will never end, 


Into the poets ! Into this mine of Bibles 
And all this heap divine — dread -^schylus, 
Homer, and Job upright against th' horizon, 
Moliere, Voltaire and Kant you set on fire ! 
Thus turning human reason into smoke ! 
Have you forgotten that your liberator 
Is this same Book ? The Book that's set on high 
And shines ; because it lightens and illumes ; 
It undermines the gallows, war and famine ; 
It speaks; the Slave and Pariah disappear. 
Open a Book. Plato, Beccaria, Milton, 
Those prophets, Dante, Shakspeare or Corneille, 
Shall not their great souls waken yours in you ? 
Dazzled you feel the same as each of them ; 
Reading you grow more gentle, pensive, grave ; 
Within your heart you feel these great men grow ; 
They teach you as the dawn lights up a cloister. 
And as their warm beams penetrate your heart 
You are appeased and thrill with stronger life ; 
Your soul interrogated answers theirs; 
You feel you're good, then better ; — as snow in fire- 
Then melt away your pride, your prejudice. 
Evil and rage and Kings and Emperors ! 
For Science, see you, first lays hold of men, 
Then Liberty, and all this flood of light, 
Mark me, 'tis you who have extinguished it ! 
The goal you dreamt of by the Book was reached ; 
The Book enters your thoughts and there unties 
The bonds wherein truth was by error held, 
For each man's conscience is a Gordian knot. 
The Book is your physician, guardian, guide : 
It heals your hate, and cures your frenzied mood. 


See what you lose by your own fault, alas ! 

Why, know the Book's your wealth ! The Book means 

Knowledge and Duty, Virtue, Progress, Right, 
And Reason scattering hence delirious dreams. 
And you destroy this, you ! 

I cannot read. 

Lord Lytton (E. L. Bulwer). 1803 — 1873. 

"I say, then, that books, taken indiscriminately, 
are no cure to the diseases and afflictions of the mind. 
There is a world of science necessary in the taking 
them. I have known some people in great sorrow fly . 
to a novel, or the last light book in fashion. One 
might as well take a rose- draught for the plague ! 
Light reading does not do when the heart is really 
heavy. I am told that Goethe, when he lost his son, 
took to study a science that was new to him. Ah ! 
Goethe was a physician who knew what he was about. 
In a great grief like that, you cannot tickle and divert 
the mind ; you must wrench it away, abstract, absorb — 
bury it in an abyss, hurry it into a labyrinth. There- 
fore, for the irremediable sorrows of middle life and 
old age, I recommend a strict chronic course of science 
and hard reasoning — Counter-irritation. Bring the 
brain to act upon the heart ! If science is too much 
against the grain (for we have not all got mathematical 
heads,) something in the reach of the humblest under- 
standing, but sufficiently searching to the highest — a 
new language — Greek, Arabic, Scandinavian, Chinese, 
or Welsh ! For the loss of fortune, the dose should 
be applied less directly to the understanding — I would 


administer something elegant and cordial. For as the 
heart is crushed and lacerated by a loss in the affections, 
so it is rather the head that aches and suffers by the 
loss of money. Here we find the higher class of poets 
a very valuable remedy. For observe that poets of 
the grander and more comprehensive kind of genius 
have in them two separate men, quite distinct from 
each other — the imaginative man, and the practical, 
circumstantial man ; and it is the happy mixture of 
these that suits diseases of the mind, half imaginative 
and half practical. There is Homer, now lost with 
the gods, now at home with the homeliest, the very 
. *poet of circumstance,' as Gray has finely called him ; 
and yet with imagination enough to seduce and coax 
the dullest into forgetting, for a while, that little spot 
on his desk which his banker's book can cover. There 
is Virgil, far below him, indeed — 

' Virgil the wise. 
Whose verse walks highest, but not flies,' 

as Cowley expresses it. But Virgil still has genius 
enough to be two men — to lead you into the fields, not 
only to listen to the pastoral reed, and to hear the bees 
hum, but to note how you can make the most of the 
glebe and the vineyard. There is Horace, charming 
man of the world, who will condole with you feelingly 
on the loss of your fortune, and by no means under- 
value the good things of this life ; but who will yet 
show you that a man may be happy with a vile modicum 
or parva rura. There is Shakspeare, who, above all 
poets, is the mysterious dual of hard sense and empy- 
real fancy — and a great many more, whom I need not 


name ; but who, if you take to them gently and quietly, 
will not, like your mere philosopher, your unreasonable 
stoic, tell you that you have lost nothing ; but who will 
insensibly steal you out of this world, with its losses 
and crosses, and slip you into another world, before 
you know where you are ! — a world where you are just 
as welcome, though you carry no more earth of your 
lost acres with you than covers the sole of your shoe. 
Then, for hypochondria and satiety, what is better than 
a brisk alterative course of travels, — especially early, 
out-of-the-way, marvellous, legendary travels ! How 
they freshen up the spirits ! How they take you out 
of the humdrum yawning state you are in. See, with 
Herodotus, young Greece spring up into life ; or note 
with him how already the wondrous old Orient world 
is crumbling into giant decay ; or go with Carpini and 
Rubruquis to Tartary, meet * the carts of Zag'athai 
laden with houses, and think that a great city is 
travelling towards you.' Gaze on that vast wild em- 
pire of the Tartar, where the descendants of Jenghis 
* multiply and disperse over the immense waste desert, 
which is as boundless as the ocean.' Sail with the 
early northern discoverers, and penetrate to the heart 
of winter, among sea-serpents and bears, and tusked 
morses, with the faces of men. Then, what think you 
of Columbus, and the stern soul of Cortes, and the 
kingdom of Mexico, and the strange gold city of the 
Peruvians with that audacious brute, Pizarro ? and the 
Polynesians, just for all the world like the ancient 
Britons? and the American Indians, and the South- 
Sea Islanders ? how petulant, and young, and adven- 
turous, and frisky your hypochondriac must get upon 


a regimen like that ! Then, for that vice of the mind 
which I call sectarianism — not in the religious sense of 
the word, but little, narrow prejudices, that make you 
hate your next-door neighbour, because he has his eggs 
roasted when you have yours boiled ; and gossiping 
and prying into people's affairs, and backbiting, and 
thinking heaven and earth are coming together, if 
some broom touch a cobweb that you have let grow 
over the window-sill of your brains — what like a large 
and generous, mildly aperient (I beg your pardon, my 
dear) course of history ! How it clears away all the fumes 
of the head ! — better than the hellebore with which the 
old leeches of the middle ages purged the cerebellum. 
There, amidst all that great whirl and sturmbad (storm- 
bath), as the Germans say, of kingdoms and empires, 
and races and ages, how your mind enlarges beyond 
that little, feverish animosity to John Styles ; or that 
unfortunate prepossession of yours, that all the world 
is interested in your grievances against Tom Stokes 
and his wife ! 

*' I can only touch, you see, on a few ingredients in 
this magnificent pharmacy — its resources are boundless, 
but require the nicest discretion. I remember to have 
cured a disconsolate widower, who obstinately refused 
every other medicament, by a strict course of geology. 
I dipped him deep into gneiss and mica schist. Amidst 
the first strata, I suffered the watery action to expend 
itself upon cooling crystallised masses ; and, by the 
time I had got him into the tertiary period, amongst 
the transition chalks of Maestricht, and the conchi- 
ferous marls of Gosau, he was ready for a new wife. 
Kitty, my dear ! it is no laughing matter. I made no 


less notable a cure of a young scholar at Cambridge, 
who was meant for the church, when he suddenly 
caught a cold fit of freethinking, with great shiverings, 
from wading out of his depth in Spinosa. None of 
the divines, whom I first tried, did him the least good 
in that state ; so I turned over a new leaf, and doctored 
him gently upon the chapters of faith in Abraham 
Tucker's book, (you should read it, Sisty ;) then I threw 
in strong doses of Fichte ; after that I put him on the 
Scotch metaphysicians, with plunge-baths into certain 
German transcendentalists ; and having convinced him 
that faith is not an unphilosophical state of mind, and 
*hat he might believe without compromising his under- 
standing — for he was mightily conceited on that score — 
I threw in my divines, which he was now fit to digest ; 
and his theological constitution, since then, has become 
so robust, that he has eaten up two livings and a 
deanery ! In fact, I have a plan for a library, that, 
instead of heading its compartments, 'Philology, 
Natural Science, Poetry,' &c., one shall head them 
according to the diseases for which they are severally 
good, bodily and mental — up from a dire calamity, or 
the pangs of the gout, down to a fit of the spleen or a 
slight catarrh ; for which last your light reading comes 
in with a whey-posset and barley-water. But," con- 
tinued my father, more gravely, "when some one 
sorrow, that is yet reparable, gets hold of your mind 
like a monomania — when you think, because heaven 
has denied you this or that, on which you had set your 
heart, that all your life must be a blank — oh ! then diet 
yourself well on biography — the biography of good 
and great men. See how little a space one sorrow 


really makes in life. See scarce a page, perhaps, given 
to some grief similar to your own ; and how trium* 
phantly the life sails on beyond it ! Vou thought the 
wing was broken ! — Tut — tut — it was but a bruised 
feather! See what life leaves behind it when all is 
done ! — a summary of positive facts far out of the 
region of sorrow and suffering, linking themselves 
with the being of the world. Yes, biography is the 
medicine here ! Roland, you said you would try my 
prescription — here it is," — and my father took up a 
book, and reached it to the Captain. 

My uncle looked over it — *'Life of the Reverend 
Robert Hall." "Brother, he was a Dissenter, and 
thank heaven! I am a church-and-state man, to the 
back-bone ! " 

" Robert Hall was a brave man, and a true soldier 
under the Great Commander," said my father, artfully. 

The Captain mechanically carried his forefinger to 
his forehead in military fashion, and saluted the book 

*'I have another copy for you, Pisistratus — that is 
mine which I have lent Roland. This, which I bought 
for you to-day, you will keep ." 

*' Thank you, sir," said I, listlessly, not seeing what 
great good the "Life of Robert Hall" could do me, 
or why the same medicine should suit the old weather- 
beaten uncle, and the nephew yet in his teens. 

"I have said nothing," resumed my father, slightly 
bowing his broad temples, "of the Book of Books, for 
that is the lignum vitce^ the cardinal medicine for all. 
These are but the subsidiaries." — The Caxtons: "^ 
Family Picture,'''' 


Laws die, Books never. 

Richelieti. Act i., Scene 2. 

Beneath the rule of men entirely great 

The pen is mightier than the sword. Behold 

The arch-enchanter's wand ! . . . 

. . . Take away the sword — 
States caji be saved without it. 

Richelieu. Act ii., Scene 2. 

Ye ever-living and imperial Souls, 

Who rule us from the page in which ye breathe, 

What were our wanderings if without your goals ? 
As air and light, the glory ye dispense. 
Becomes our being — who of us can tell 
What he had been, had Cadmus never taught 
The art that fixes into form the thought — 
Had Plato never spoken from his cell, 
Or his high harp blind Homer never strung ? — 
Kinder all earth hath grown since genial Shakspeare 
sung ! 

The Wise 
(Minstrel or Sage) out of their books are clay ; 
But in their books, as from their graves, they rise, 
Angels — that, side by side, upon our way. 
Walk with and warn us ! 

Hark ! the world so loud 
And they^ the movers of the world, so still ! 

We call some books immoral ! Do they live ? 
If so, believe me, time hath made them pure. 


In Books, the veriest wicked rest in peace — 
God wills that nothing evil should endure ; 
The grosser parts fly off and leave the whole. 
As the dust leaves the disembodied soul ! 

All books grow homilies by time ; they are 
Temples, at once, and Landmarks. In them, we 
"Who but for them, upon that inch of ground 
We call *' The Present," from the cell could see 
No daylight trembling on the dungeon bar ; 
Turn, as we list, the globe's great axle round, 
Traverse all space, and number every star, 
And feel the Near less household than the Far ! 
There is no Past, so long as Books shall live ! 
A disinterr'd Pompeii wakes again 
For him who seeks yon well. 

The Souls of Books, 

Ralph Waldo Emerson. 1803 — 1882. 

But it is not less true that there are books which are 
of that importance in a man's private experience, as 
to verify for him the fables of Cornelius Agrippa, of 
Michael Scott, or of the old Orpheus of Thrace, — 
books which take rank in our life with parents and 
lovers and passionate experiences, so medicinal, so 
stringent, so revolutionary, so authoritative, — books 
which are the work and the proof of faculties so com- 
prehensive, so nearly equal to the world which they 
paint, that, though one shuts them with meaner ones, 
he feels his exclusion from them to accuse his way of 


Consider what you have in the smallest chosen 
library. A company of the wisest and wittiest men 
that could be picked out of all civil countries, in a 
thousand years, have set in best order the results of 
their learning and wisdom. The men themselves were 
hid and inaccessible, solitary, impatient of interruption, 
fenced by etiquette ; but the thought which they did 
not uncover to their bosom friend is here written out 
in transparent words to us, the strangers of another 
age. We owe to books those general benefits which 
'Come from high intellectual action. Thus, I think, we 
often owe to them the perception of immortality. 
They impart sympathetic activity to the moral power. 
Go with mean people, and you think life is mean. 
Then read Plutarch, and the world is a proud place, 
peopled with men of positive quality, with heroes and 
demigods standing around us, who will not let us 
sleep. Then they address the imagination : only 
poetry inspires poetry. They become the organic 
culture of the time. College education is the reading 
of certain books which the common sense of all scholars 
agrees will represent the science already accumulated. 
If you know that, — for instance, in geometry, if you 
have read Euclid and Laplace, — your opinion has some 
value ; if you do not know these, you are not entitled 
to give any opinion on the subject. Whenever any 
sceptic or bigot claims to be heard on the questions of 
intellect and morals, we ask if he is familiar with the 
books of Plato, where all his pert objections have once 
for all been disposed of. If not, he has no right to 
our time. Let him go and find himself answered 


Meantime the colleges, whilst they provide us with 
libraries, furnish no professor of books ; and, I think, 
no chair is so much wanted. In a library we are sur- 
rounded by many hundreds of dear friends, but they 
are imprisoned by an enchanter in these paper and 
leathern boxes; and though they know us, and have 
been waiting two, ten, or twenty centuries for us, — 
some of them, — and are eager to give us a sign, and 
unbosom themselves, it is the law of their limbo that 
they must not speak until spoken to ; and as the 
enchanter has dressed them, like battalions of infantry, 
in coat and jacket of one cut, by the thousand and ten 
thousand, your chance of hitting on the right one is to 
be computed by the arithmetical rule of Permutation 
and Combination, — not a choice out of three caskets, 
but out of half a million caskets all alike. But it 
happens, in our experience, that in this lottery there 
are at least fifty or a hundred blanks to a prize. It 
seems, then, as if some charitable soul, after losing 
a great deal of time among the false books, and 
alighting upon a few true ones which made him happy 
and wise, would do a right act in naming those which 
have been bridges or ships to carry him safely over 
dark morasses and barren oceans, into the heart of 
sacred cities, into palaces and temples. This would be 
best done by those great masters of books who from 
time to time appear, — the Fabricii, the Seldens, Mag- 
liabecchis, Scaligers, Mirandolas, Bayles, Johnsons, 
whose eyes sweep the whole horizon of learning. But 
private readers, reading purely for love of the book, 
would serve us by leaving each the shortest note of 
what he found. — Society and Solitude. 


In the highest civilization the book is still the highest 
delight. He who has once known its satisfactions is 
provided with a resource against calamity. Like 
Plato's disciple who has perceived a truth, **he is 
preserved from harm until another period." . . . 
We find in Southey's " Common-place Book " this 
said of the Earl of Strafford : '* I learned one rule of 
him," says Sir G. Radcliffe, '* which I think worthy to 
be remembered. When he met with a well-penned 
oration or tract upon any subject, he framed a speech 
upon the same argument, inventing and disposing what 
seemed fit to be said upon that subject, before he read 
the book ; then, reading, compared his own with the " 
author's, and noted his own defects and the author's 
art and fulness; whereby he drew all that ran in the 
author more strictly, and might better judge of his own 
wants to supply them." . . . 

Original power is usually accompanied with assimi- 
lating power, and we value in Coleridge his excellent 
knowledge and quotations perhaps as much, possibly 
more, than his original suggestions. If an author 
give us just distinctions, inspiring lessons, or imagina- 
tive poetry,' it is not so important to us whose they 
are. If we are fired* and guided by these, we know 
him as a benefactor, and shall return to him as long as 
he serves us so well. We may like well to know what 
is Plato's, and what is Montesquieu's or Goethe's part, 
and what thought was always dear to the writer 
himself; but the worth of the sentences consists in 
their radiancy and equal aptitude to all intelligence. 
They fit all our facts like a charm. We respect our- 
selves the more that we know them. 


Next to the originator of a good sentence is the first 
quoter of it. Many will read the book before one 
thinks of quoting a passage. As soon as he has done 
this, that line will be quoted east and west. Then 
there are great ways of borrowing. Genius borrows 
nobly. When Shakspeare is charged with debts to 
his authors, Landor replies : *' Yet he was more 
original than his originals. He breathed upon dead 
bodies and brought them into life." And we must 
thank Karl Ottfried Miiller for the just remark, 
"Poesy, drawing within its circle all that is glorious 
and inspiring, gave itself but little concern as to where 
its flowers originally grew." So Voltaire usually 
imitated, but with such superiority that Dubuc said: 
"He is like the false Amphitryon ; although the 
stranger, it is always he who has the air of being 
master of the house." Wordsworth, as soon as he 
heard a good thing, caught it up, meditated upon 
it, and very soon reproduced it in his conversation and 
writing. If De Quincey said, " That is what I told 
you," he replied, "No; that is mine — mine, and not 
yours. " On the whole, we like the valor of it. 'T is 
on Marmontel's principle, "I pounce on what is mine, 
wherever I find it ;" and on Bacon's broader rule, " I 
take all knowledge to be my province." It betrays 
the consciousness that truth is the property of no 
individual, but is the treasure of all men. And 
inasmuch as any writer has ascended to a just view of 
man's condition, he has adopted this tone. In so far 
as the receiver's aim is on life, and not on literature, 
will be his indifference to the source. The nobler the 
truth or sentiment, the less imports the question of 


authorship. It never troubles the simple seeker from 
whom he derived such or such a sentiment. Whoever 
expresses to us a just thought makes ridiculous the 
pains of the critic who should tell him where such a 
word had been said before. **It is no more according 
to Plato than according to me." Truth is always 
present : it only needs to lift the iron lids of the mind's 
eye to read its oracles. But the moment there is the 
purpose of display, the fraud is exposed. In fact, it is 
as difficult to appropriate the thoughts of others, as it 
is to invent. Always some steep transition, some 
sudden alteration of temperature, of point of view, 
betrays the foreign interpolation. . . . 

We are as much informed of a writer's genius by 
what he selects as by what he originates. We read 
the quotation with his eyes, and find a new and fervent 
sense ; as a passage from one of the poets, well recited, 
borrows new interest from the rendering. As the 
journals say, "the italics are ours." The profit of books 
is according to the sensibility of the reader. The pro- 
foundest thought or passion sleeps as in a mine, until an 
equal mind and heart finds and publishes it. . . . 

In hours of high mental activity we sometimes do 
the book too much honor, reading out of it better 
things than the author wrote, — reading, as we say, 
between the lines. You have had the like experience 
in conversation : the wit was in what you heard, not 
in what the speakers said. Our best thought came 
from others. We heard in their words a deeper sense 
than the speakers put into them, and could express 
ourselves in other people's phrases to finer purpose 
than they knew. . . , 


We cannot overstate our debt to the Past, but the 
moment has the supreme claim. The Past is for us : 
but the sole terms on which it can become ours are its 
subordination to the Present. Only an inventor knows 
how to borrow, and every man is or should be an 
inventor. We must not tamper with the organic 
motion of the soul. 'T is certain that thought has its 
own proper motion, and the hints which flash from it, 
the words overheard at unawares by the free mind, are 
trustworthy and fertile, when obeyed, and not per- 
verted to low and selfish account. This vast memory 
is only raw material. The divine gift is ever the 
instant life, which receives and uses and creates, and 
can well bury the old in the omnipotency with which 
Nature decomposes all her harvest for recomposition. — 
Letters and Social Aims: ' * Quotation and Originality, '* 

" Literature is the record of the best thoughts. 
Every attainment and discipline which increases a 
man's acquaintance with the invisible world, lifts his 
being. Every thing that gives him a new perception 
of beauty, multiplies his pure enjoyments. A river of 
thought is always running out of the invisible world 
into the mind of man. Shall not they who received 
the largest streams spread abroad the healing waters? 

** Homer and Plato and Pindar and Shakspere serve 
many more than have heard their names. Thought is 
the most volatile of all things. It can not be con- 
tained in any cup, though you shut the lid never so 
light. Once brought into the world, it runs over the 
vessel which received it into all minds that love it. 
The very language we speak thinks for us by the subtle 


distinctions which already are marked for us by its 
words, and every one of them is the contribution of 
the wit of one and another sagacious man in all the 
centuries of time. Consider that it is our own state of 
mind at any time that makes our estimate of life and 
the world. . . . Now, if you can kindle the 
imagination by a new thought, by heroic histories, by 
uplifting poetry, instantly you expand,— are cheered, 
inspired, and become wise, and even prophetic. Music 
works this miracle for those who have a good ear; 
what omniscience has music ! so absolutely impersonal, 
and yet every sufferer feels his secret sorrow reached. 
Yet to a scholar the book is as good or better. There 
is no hour of vexation which, on a little reflection, 
will not find diversion and relief in the library. His 
companions are few ; at the moment he has none ; 
but, year by year, these silent friends supply their 
place. Many times the reading of a book has made 
the fortune of the man, — has decided his way of life. 
It makes friends. 'Tis the tie between men to have 
been delighted with the same book. Every one of us is 
always in search of his friend ; and when, unexpectedly, 
he finds a stranger enjoying the rare poet or thinker who 
is dear to his own solitude, it is like finding a brother. 

" In books I have the history or the energy of the 
past. Angels they are to us of entertainment, sym- 
pathy, and provocation. With them many of us spend 
the most of our life, — these silent guides, these tractable 
prophets, historians, and singers, whose embalmed life 
is the highest feat of art ; who now cast their moon- 
light illumination over solitude, weariness, and fallen 
fortunes. You say 'tis a languid pleasure. Yes ; but 


its tractableness, coming and going, like a dog at youf 
bidding, compensates the quietness, and contrast with 
the slowness of fortune, and the inaccessibleness of 
persons. You meet with a man of science, a good 
thinker or good wit ; but you do not know how to 
draw out of him that which he knows. But the book 
is a sure friend, always ready at your first leisure, 
opens to the very page you desire, and shuts at your 
first fatigue, as possibly your professor might not. 

"It is a tie between men to have read the same 
book; and it is a disadvantage not to have read the 
book your mates have read, or not to have read it at 
the same time, so that it may take the place in your 
culture it does in theirs, and you shall understand 
their allusions to it, and not give it more or less 
emphasis than they do. . . . 

" In saying these things for books, I do not for 
a moment forget that they are secondary, mere means, 
and only used in the off-hours, only in the pause, and, 
as it were, the sleep, or passive state, of the mind. 
The intellect reserves all its rights. Instantly, when 
the mind itself wakes, all books, all past acts are 
forgotten, huddled aside as impertinent in the august 
presence of the creator. Their costliest benefit is that 
they set us free from ourselves ; for they wake the 
imagination and the sentiment, and in their inspira- 
tions we dispense with books. Let me add, then, 
read proudly, — put the duty of being read invariably on 
the author. If he is not read, whose fault is it? I am 
quite ready to be charmed, but I shall not make believe 
I am charmed." — Address on the Dedication of the 
Free Library in Concord, May, ^^IZ- 


"Let us not forget the genial miraculous force we 
have known to proceed from a book. We go musing 
into the vault of day and night ; no constellation shines, 
no muse descends, the stars are white points, the roses 
brick-colored dust, the frogs pipe, mice peep, and 
wagons creak along the road. We return to the house 
and take up Plutarch or Augustine, and read a few 
sentences or pages, and lo! the air swims with life; 
the front of heaven is full of fiery shapes ; secrets 
of magnanimity and grandeur invite us on every hand ; 
life is made up of them. Such is our debt to a book. " — 
The Dial, 1840 : " Thoughts on Modern Literature. ^^ 

"Whenever I have to do with young men and 
women, he said, I always wish to know what their 
books are ; I wish to defend them from bad ; I wish 
to introduce them to good ; I wish to speak of the 
immense benefit which a good mind derives from 
reading, probably much more to a good mind from 
reading than from conversation. It is of first im- 
portance, of course, to select a friend ; for a young 
man should find a friend a little older than himself, 
or whose mind is a little older than his own, in order 
to wake up his genius. That service is performed 
oftener for us by books. I think, if a very active 
mind, if a young man of ability, should give you his 
honest experience, you would find that he owed more 
impulse to books than to living minds. The great 
masters of thought, the Platos, — not only those that we 
call sacred writers, but those that we call profanes, — 
hav£; acted on the mind with more energy than any com- 
panions. I think that every remarkable person whom 


you meet will testify to something like that, that the fast- 
opening mind has found more inspiration in his book 
than in his friend. We take the book under great advan- 
tages. We read it when we are alone. We read it with 
an attention not distracted. And, perhaps, we find there 
our own thought, a little better, a little maturer, than it 
is in ourselves." — Address to the Students ( coloured) of 
Howard University, Washington, January, 1872. 

Richard Cobden. 1804 — 1865. 

Gentlemen, I exhort you to maintain this and kindred 
institutions on every ground, public and private. I 
have had many changes, I have seen many phases of 
society, probably as many as most. I do not say this 
egotistically, because I am merely now going to eluci- 
date a thought. I have seen many phases of society, 
I have had many excited means of occupation, and of 
gratification; but I tell you honestly and conscientiously, 
that if I want to look back to that which has given me 
the purest satisfaction of mind, it is in those pursuits 
which are accessible to every member of the Athenaeum. 
I have not found the greatest enjoyment in the exciting 
plaudits of a public meeting; I have not found the 
greatest pleasure or interest in intercourse, sometimes 
with men of elevated sphere abroad, where others 
would think probably that you were privileged to meet 
such men ; I come back to you conscientiously to declare 
that the purest pleasures I have ever known are those 
accessible to you all ; it is in the calm intercourse with 
intelligent minds, and in the communion with the 
departed great, through books, by our own firesides. — 
Address to the memhci's of the Manchester Athenceum, 
November 18, 1847. 

f. d. maurice. 317 

Frederick Denison Maurice. 1805 — 1872. 

Sir Walter Scott has also kindled a healthy desire 
among us for real histories, not merely historical novels. 
The demand has been met by many authors, whose 
patient industry as well as their power of exhibiting 
acts, and the sources of acts, surely promise that they 
shall live. Charles Lamb said, in one of his exquisite 
essays, 'that there were some histories written in the 
last age which cannot be called books at all. They 
were merely the pasteboard covers * ' History of Eng- 
land," or " History of the World," which careful 
librarians put into their shelves when their books are 
absent. Some of the historians that our age has pro- 
duced are books in the truest sense of the word. They 
illustrate great periods in our own annals, and in the 
annals of other countries. They show what a divine 
discipline has been at work to form men : they teach 
us that there is such a discipline at work to form us into 
men. That is the test to which I have urged that all 
books must at last be brought : if they do not bear it 
their doom is fixed. They may be light or heavy, the 
penny sheet, or the vast folio; they may speak of 
things seen or unseen ; of Science or Art; of what has 
been, or what is to be ; they may amuse us, weary us, 
flatter us, or scorn us; if they do not assist to make us 
better or more substantial men, they are only providing 
fuel for a fire larger and more utterly destructive than 
that which consumed the library of the Ptolemies. — 
The Friendship of Books ^ and other Lectures, by the 
Rev. F. D. Maurice. On Books: An Address" delivered 
to the Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society, 
November y 1865. 


Samuel Palmer (Artist). 1805 — 1881. 

" There is nothing like poetry," said Charles James 
Fox, who might often be found engrossed by Virgil's 
Eclogues in the intervals of a very different career. 
I think we may extend his remark, and say, "There is 
nothing like books." Of all things sold incomparably 
the cheapest ; of all pleasures the least palling : they 
take up little room, keep quiet when they are not 
wanted, and, when taken up, bring us face to face 
with the choicest men who have ever lived, at their 
choicest moments. As my walking companion in the 
country I was so un-Enghsh as, on the whole, to prefer 
my pocket Milton, which I carried for twenty years, to 
the not unbeloved bull-terrier "Trimmer," who accom- 
panied me for five ; for Milton never fidgeted, frightened 
horses, ran after sheep, or got run over by a goods- 
van. — Memoir of Samuel Palmer , the artist^ by A, H, 
Palmer^ 1 882. 

Lord Beaconsfield (Benjamin Disraeli). 
1805— 1881. 

The idea that human happiness is dependent on the 
cultivation of the mind, and on the discovery of truth, 
is, next to the conviction of our immortality, the idea 
the most full of consolation to man ; for the cultivation 
of the mind has no limits, and truth is the only thing 
that is eternal. Indeed, when you consider what a 
man is who knows only what is passing under his own 
eyes, and what the condition of the same man must be 


who belongs to an institution like the one which has 
assembled us together to-night, is it — ought it to 
be — a matter of surprise that, from that moment to the 
present, you have had a general feeling throughout the 
civilised world in favour of the diffusion of knowledge? 
A man who knows nothing but the history of the 
passing hour, who knows nothing of the history of the 
past, but that a certain person whose brain was as 
vacant as his own occupied the same house as himself, 
who in a moment of despondency or of gloom has no 
hope in the morrow because he has read nothing that 
has taught him that the morrow has any changes — 
that man, compared with him who has read the most 
ordinary abridgment of history, or the most common 
philosophical speculation, is as distinct and different 
an animal as if he had fallen from some other planet, 
was influenced by a different organization, working for 
a different end, and hoping for a different result. It 
is knowledge . that equalizes the social condition of 
man — that gives to all, however different their political 
position, passions which are in common, and enjoy- 
ments which are universal. Knowledge is like the 
mystic ladder in the patriarch's dream. Its base rests 
on the primeval earth — its crest is lost in the shadowy 
splendour of the empyrean ; while the great authors 
who for traditionary ages have held the chain of 
science and philosophy, of poesy and erudition, are 
the angels ascending and descending the sacred scale, 
and maintaining, as it were, the communication between 
man and heaven. — Speech to the members of the Man- 
chester AtheitceuMy October 23, 1844. 


An Author may influence the fortunes of the world 
to as great an extent as a statesman or a warrior ; and 
the deeds and performances by which this influence is 
created and exercised, may rank in their interest and 
importance with the decisions of great Congresses, or 
the skilful valour of a memorable field. M. de Voltaire 
was certainly a greater Frenchman than Cardinal Flury, 
the Prime Minister of France in his time. His actions 
were more important ; and it is certainly not too much 
to maintain that the exploits of Homer, Aristotle, 
Dante, or my Lord Bacon were as considerable events 
as anything that occurred at Actium, Lepanto, or 
Blenheim. A Book may be as great a thing as a 
Battle, and there are systems of Philosophy that have 
produced as great revolutions as any that have disturbed 
the social and political existence of our centuries. 
Memoir of Isaac Disraeli^ by his Son^ Benjamin 
Disraeli (Lord Beaconsfield). Prefixed to posthumous 
Edition of ** Curiosities of Literature^ 

H. W. Longfellow. 1807 — 1882. 

O precious evenings ! all too swiftly sped. 
Leaving us heirs to amplest heritages 
Of all the best thoughts of the greatest sages, 

And giving tongues unto the silent dead ! 

Sonnet to Mrs. Fanny Kefuble, 

[The following touching sonnet is the last emanation 
from the pen of a poet whose writings will always be 
loved and admired for their purity, tenderness, and 
simplicity] \-^ 


My Books. 

Sadly as some old medioeval knight 
Gazed at the arms he could no longer wield, 
The sword two-handed and the shining shield 
Suspended in the hall, and full in sight, 

While secret longings for the lost delight 
Of tourney or adventure in the field 
Came over him, and tears but half concealed 
Trembled and fell upon his beard of white. 

So I behold these books upon their shelf, 
My ornaments and arms of other days ; 
Not wholly useless, though no longer used. 

For they remind me of my other self, 

Younger and stronger, and the pleasant ways, 
In which I walked, now clouded and confused. 
December, 18S1. 

George S. Hillard (American Jurist and 
Author), b, 1808, d. ? 

In books, be it remembered, w^e have the best 
products of the best minds. We should any of us 
esteem it a great privilege to pass an evening with 
Shakspeare or Bacon, were such a thing possible. 
But, were we admitted to the presence of one of these 
illustrious men, we might find him touched with in- 
firmity or oppressed with weariness, or darkened 
with the shadow ot a recent trouble, or absorbed by 
intrusive and tyrannous thoughts. To us the oracle 
might be dumb, and the light eclipsed. But, when 



we take down one of these volumes, we run no such 
risk. Here we have their best thoughts embalmed in 
their best words ; immortal flowers of poetry, wet 
with Castalian dews, and the golden fruit of Wisdom 
that had long ripened on the bough before it was 
gathered. Here we find the growth of the choicest 
seasons of the mind, when mortal cares were forgotten, 
and mortal weaknesses were subdued; and the soul, 
stripped of its vanities and its passions, gave forth its 
highest emanations of truth and beauty. We may be 
sure that Shakspeare never out-talked his Hamlet, 
nor Bacon his Essays. Great writers are indeed best 
known through their books. How little, for instance, 
do we know of the life of Shakspeare ; but how much 
do we know of him ! 

For the knowledge that comes from books, I would 
claim no more than it is fairly entitled to. I am well 
aware that there is no inevitable connection between 
intellectual cultivation, on the one hand, and individual 
virtue or social well-being, on the other. "The tree 
of knowledge is not the tree of life." I admit that 
genius and learning are sometimes found in combina- 
tion with gross vices, and not unfrequently with 
contemptible weaknesses ; and that a community at 
once cultivated and corrupt is no impossible monster. 
But it is no over-statement to say, that, other things 
being equal, the man who has the greatest amount of 
intellectual resources is in the least danger from inferior 
temptations, — if for no other reason, because he has 
fewer idle moments. The ruin of most men dates 
from some vacant hour. Occupation is the armour of 
the soul ; and the train of Idleness is borne up by all 


the vices. I remember a satirical poem, in which the 
Devil is represented as fishing for men, and adapting 
his baits to the taste and temperament of his prey ; but 
the idler, he said, pleased him most, because he bit the 
naked hook. To a young man away from home, 
friendless and forlorn in a great city, the hours of peril 
are those between sunset and bed time ; for the moon 
and the stars see more of evil in a single hour than the 
sun in his whole day's circuit. The poet's visions of 
evening are all compact of tender and soothing images. 
It brings the wanderer to his home, the child to his 
mother's arms, the ox to his stall, and the weary 
labourer to his rest. But to the gentle-hearted youth 
who is thrown upon the rocks of a pitiless city, and 
stands ** homeless among a thousand homes," the 
approach of evening brings with it an aching sense of 
loneliness and desolation, which comes down upon the 
spirit like darkness upon the earth. In this mood his 
best impulses become a snare to him; and he is led 
astray because he is social, affectionate, sympathetic, 
and warm-hearted. If there be a young man thus cir- 
cumstanced within the sound of my voice, let me say 
to him that books are the friends of the friendless, and 
that a library is the home of the homeless. A taste for 
reading will always carry you into the best possible 
society, and enable you to converse with men who will 
instruct you by their wisdom, and charm you by their 
wit ; who will soothe you when fretted, refresh you 
when weary, counsel you when perplexed, and 
sympathise with you at all times.- — Address before the 
Mercantile Library Association of Boston. 1850. 

324 caroline norton. 

Mrs. Norton (C. E. S. Stirling- 
Maxwell). 1808 — 1877. 

To My Books, 
Silent companions of the lonely hour, 
Friends, who can never alter or forsake, 
Who for inconstant roving have no power, 
And all neglect, perforce, must calmly take. 
Let me return to You ; this turmoil ending 
Which worldly cares have in my spirit wrought, 
And, o'er your old familiar pages bending, 
Refresh my mind with many a tranquil thought : 
Till, haply meeting there, from time to time. 
Fancies, the audible echo of my own, 
'Twill be like hearing in a foreign clime 
My native language spoke in friendly tone, 
And with a sort of welcome I shall dwell 
On these, my unripe musings, told so well. 

Robert Aris Willmott. 1809 — 1862. 

An affecting instance of the tenderness and the 
compensations of Learning is furnished by the old age 
of Usher, when no spectacles could help his failing 
sight, and a book was dark except beneath the strongest 
light of the window. Hopeful and resigned he con- 
tinued his task, following the sun from room to room 
through the house he Hved in, until the shadows of 
the trees disappeared from the grass, and the day was 
gone. How strange and delightful must have been 
his feelings, when the sunbeam fell brilliantly upon 
some half-remembered passage, and thought after 


thought shone out from the misty words, like the 
features of a familiar landscape in a clearing fog. 
Pleasant it would be for us, in our gloomier hours of 
time and sadness, if we might imitate that Indian bird 
which, enjoying the sunshine all the day, secures a 
faint reflection of it in the night, by sticking glow- 
worms in the walls of its nest. And something of this 
light is obtained from the books read in youth, to be 
remembered in age — 

"And summer's green all girded up in sheaves." 

Coleridge said that the scenes of his childhood were 
so deeply written on his mind, that when upon a still, 
shining day of summer he shut his eyes, the river Otter 
ran murmuring down the room, with the soft tints of 
its waters, the crossing plank, the willows on the 
margin, and the coloured sands of its bed. What 
lover of books does not know the sweeter memories 
that haunt his solitude ! — Pleasures, Objects , and Ad- 
vantages of Literature, 

Elizabeth Barrett Browning. 
1809 — 1861. 

Or else I sate on in my chamber green, 

And lived my life, and thought my thoughts, 

and prayed 
My prayers without the vicar ; read my books, 
Without considering whether they were fit 
To do me good. Mark, there. We get no good 
By being ungenerous, even to a book, 
And calculating profits,— so much help 


By SO much reading. It is rather when 
We gloriously forget ourselves and plunge 
Soul-forward, headlong, into a book's profound. 
Impassioned for its beauty and salt of truth — 
*Tis then we get the right good from a book. 

Books, books, books \ 
I had found the secret of a garret-room 
Piled high with cases in my father's name, 
Piled high, packed large, — where, creeping in 

and out 
Among the giant fossils of my past, 
Like some small nimble mouse between the 

Of a mastodon, I nibbled here and there 
At this or that box, pulling through the gap. 
In heats of terror, haste, victorious joy, 
The first book first. And how I felt it beat 
Under my pillow, in the morning's dark, 
An hour before the sun would let me read ! 
My books ! At last because the time was ripe, 
I chanced upon the poets. 

Aurora Leigh. 

John Hill Burton. 1809 — 1881. 

As to collectors, it is quite true that they do not in 
general read their books successively straight through, 
and the practice of desultory reading, as it is some- 
times termed, must be treated as part of their case, 
and if a failing, one cognate with their habit of col- 
lecting. They are notoriously addicted to the practice 


of standing arrested on some round of a ladder, where, 
having mounted up for some certain book, they have 
by wayward chance fallen upon another, in which, 
at the first opening, has come up a passage which 
fascinates the finder as the eye of the Ancient Mariner 
fascinated the wedding-guest, and compels him to stand 
there, poised on his uneasy perch, and read. Perad- 
venture the matter so perused suggests another passage 
in some other volume which it will be satisfactory 
and interesting to find, and so another and another 
search is made, while the hours pass by unnoticed, and 
the day seems all too short for the pursuit which is a 
luxury and an enjoyment, at the same time that it fills 
the mind with varied knowledge and wisdom. — The 
B 00k- Hunter : ** The Desultory Reader^ or Bohemian 
of Literature, ^^ 

To every man of our Saxon race endowed with full 
health and strength, there is committed, as if it were 
the price he pays for these blessings, the custody of a 
restless demon, for which he is doomed to find ceaseless 
excitement, either in honest work, or some less profit- 
able or more mischievous occupation. Countless have 
been the projects devised by the wit of man to open up 
for this fiend fields of exertion great enough for the 
absorption of its tireless energies, and none of them is 
more hopeful than the great world of books, if the 
demon is docile enough to be coaxed into it. Then 
will its erratic restlessness be sobered by the immensity 
of the sphere of exertion, and the consciousness that, 
however vehemently and however long it may struggle, 
the resources set before it will not be exhausted when 


the life to which it is attached shall have faded away ; 
^nd hence, instead of dreading the languor of inaction, 
it will have to summon all its resources of promptness 
and activity to get over any considerable portion of the 
ground within the short space allotted to the life of 
man. — The Book- Hunter : " The Collector and the 
Scholar. " 

Oliver Wendell Holmes. 
b. 1809 [Living]. 

Society is a strong solution of books. It draws the 
virtue out of what is best worth reading, as hot water 
draws the strength of tea-leaves. If I were a prince, 
I would hire or buy a private literary teapot, in which 
I would steep all the leaves of new books that promised 
well. The infusion would do for me without the vege- 
table fibre. You understand me ; I would have a 
person whose sole business should be to read day and 
night, and talk to me whenever I wanted him to. I 
know the man I would have : a quick-witted, out- 
spoken, incisive fellow ; knows history, or at any rate 
has a shelf full of books about it, which he can use 
handily, and the same of all useful arts and sciences ; 
knows all the common plots of plays and novels, and 
the stock company of characters that are continually 
coming on in new costume ; can give you a criticism of an 
octavo in an epithet and a wink, and you can depend 
on it ; cares for nobody except for the virtue there is 
in what he says ; delights in taking off big-wigs and 
professional gowns, and in the disembalming and un- 
bandaging of all literary mummies. Yet he is as 


tender and reverential to all that bears the mark of 
genius— that is, of a new influx of truth or beauty — 
as a nun over her missal. In short, he is one of those 
men that know everything except how to make a 
living. Him would I keep on the square next my 
own royal compartment on life's chessboard. To him 
I would push up another pawn, in the shape of a comely 
and wise young woman, whom he would, of course, 
take — to wife. For all contingencies I would liberally 
provide. In a word, I would, in the plebeian, but 
expressive phrase, "put him through " all the material 
part of life ; see him sheltered, warmed, fed, button- 
mended, and all that, just to be able to lay on his talk 
when I liked— with the privilege of shutting it off at 

I believe in reading, in a large proportion, by subjects 
rather than by authors. Some books must be read 
tasting, as it were, every word. Tennyson will bear 
that as Milton would, as Gray would — for they tasted 
every word themselves as Ude or Careme would taste 
• z.potage meant for a king or a queen. But once become 
familiar with a subject, so as to know what you wish 
to learn about it, and you can read a page as a flash of 
lightning reads it. 

I like books, I was born and bred among them, and 
have the easy feeling, when I get into their presence, 
that a stable-boy has among horses. I don't think I 
undervalue them either as companions or as instructors. 
But I can't help remembering that the world's great 
men have not commonly been great scholars, nor its 


great scholars great men. The Hebrew patriarchs 
had small libraries, I think, if any ; yet they represent 
to our imaginations a very complete idea of manhood, 
and I think, if we could ask in Abraham to dine with 
us men of letters next Saturday, we should feel 
honoured by his company. 

What I wanted to say about books is this: that 
there are times in which every active mind feels itself 
above any and all human books. 

You talk about reading Shakspeare, using him as 
an expression for the highest intellect, and you wonder 
that any common person should be so presumptuous as 
to suppose his thought can rise above the text which 
lies before him. But think a moment. A child's 
reading of Shakspeare is one thing, and Coleridge's 
or Schlegel's reading of him. is another. The satura- 
tion-point of each mind differs from that of every other. 
But I think it is as true for the small mind which can 
only take up a little as for the great one which takes 
up much, that the suggested trains of thought and 
feeling ought always to rise above — ^not the author, • 
but the reader's mental version of the author, whoever 
he may be. 

I think most readers of Shakspeare sometimes find 
themselves thrown into exalted mental conditions like 
those produced by music. Then they may drop the 
book, to pass at once into the region of thought with- 
out words. We may happen to be very dull folks, you 
and I, and probably are, unless there is some particular 
reason to suppose the contrary. But we get glimpses , 
now and then of a sphere of spiritual possibilities, , 


where we, dull as we are now, may sail in vast circles 
round the largest compass of earthly intelligences. 

I always believed in life rather than in books. I 
suppose every day of earth, with its hundred thousand 
deaths and something more of births, — with its loves 
and hates, its triumphs and defeats, its pangs and 
blisses, has more of humanity in it than all the books 
that were ever written, put together. I believe the 
flowers growing at this moment send up more fragrance 
to heaven than was ever exhaled from all the essences 
ever distilled. 

Books are the negative pictures of thought, and the 
more sensitive the mind that receives their images, the 
more nicely the finest lines are reproduced. — The 
Atitocrat of the Breakfast- Table, by Oliver Wendell 
Holmes^ M.D. 

Truth is tough. It will not break, like a bubble, 
at a touch ; nay, you may kick it about all day, like a 
football, and it will be round and full at evening. Does 
not Mr. Bryant say, that Truth gets well if she is run 
over by a locomotive, while Error dies of lockjaw if she 
scratches her finger ? I never heard that a mathema- 
tician was alarmed for the safety of a demonstrated 
proposition. I think, generally, that fear of open 
discussion implies feebleness of inward conviction, 
and great sensitiveness to the expression of individual 
opinion is a mark of weakness. — The Ptvfessor at the 
Breakfast- Table. 

The first thing, naturally, when one enters a scholar's 
study or library, is to look at his books. One gets a 


notion very speedily of his tastes and the range of his 
pursuits by a glance round his book-shelves. 

Of course, you know there are many fine houses 
where the library is a part of the upholstery, so to 
speak. Books in handsome binding kept locked under 
plate-glass in showy dwarf book-cases are as important 
to stylish establishments as servants in livery, who sit 
with folded arms, are to stylish equipages. I suppose 
those wonderful statues with the folded arms do some- 
times change their attitude, and I suppose those books 
with the gilded backs do sometimes get opened, but it 
is nobody's business whether they do or not, and it is 
not best to ask too many questions. 

This sort of thing is common enough, but there is 
another case that may prove deceptive if you undertake 
to judge from appearances. Once in a while you will 
come on a house where you will find a family of readers 
and almost no library. Some of the most indefatigable 
devourers of literature have very few books. They 
belong to book clubs, they haunt the public libraries, 
they borrow of friends, and somehow or other get hold 
of everything they want, scoop out all it holds for 
them, and have done with it. When / want a book, 
it is as a tiger wants a sheep. I must have it with one 
spring, and, if I miss it, go away defeated and hungry. 
And my experience with public libraries is that the 
first volume of the book I inquire for is out, unless I 
happen to want the second, when that is out. 

Yes, — he said, — I have a kind of notion of the way 
in which a library ought to be put together — no, I 
don't mean that, I mean ought to grow. I don't pre- 


tend to say that mine is a model, but it serves my turn 
well enough, and it represents me pretty accurately. 
A scholar must shape his own shell, secrete it, one 
might almost say, for secretion is only separation, you 
know, of certain elements derived from the materials 
of the world about us. And a scholar's study, with the 
books lining its walls, is his shell. 

I've told you that I take an interest in pretty much 
everything, and don't mean to fence out any human 
interests from the private grounds of my intelligence. 
Then, again, there is a subject, perhaps I may say there 
is more than one, that I want to exhaust, to know to 
the very bottom. And besides, of course I must have 
my literary hare7?t, my pare aux cerfs, where my 
favorites await my moments of leisure and pleasure, — - 
my scarce and precious editions, my luxurious typo- 
graphical masterpieces; my Delilahs, that take my 
head in their lap : the pleasant story-tellers and the 
like; the books I love because they are fair to look 
upon, prized by collectors, endeared by old associations, 
secret treasures that nobody else knows anything about ; 
books, in short, that I like for insufficient reasons it 
may be, but peremptorily, and mean to like and to love 
and to cherish till death us do part. 

Every library should try to be complete on some- 
thing, if it were only on the history of pin-heads. I 
don't mean that I buy all the trashy compilations on 
my special subjects, but I try to have all the works of 
any real importance relating to them, old as well as 
new. — The Poet at the Breakfast- Table, 

334 william ewart gladstone, 

William Ewart Gladstone. 
h. 1809 [Living]. 

Be slow to stir enquiries which you do not mean parti- 
cularly to pursue to their proper end. Be not afraid to 
suspend your judgment, or feel and admit to yourself 
how narrow are the bounds of knowledge. Do not 
too readily assume that to us have been opened royal 
roads to truth, which were heretofore hidden from the 
whole family of man ; for the opening of such roads 
would not be so much favour as caprice. If it is bad 
to yield a blind submission to authority, it is not less 
an error to deny to it its reasonable weight. Eschewing 
a servile adherence to the past, regard with reverence 
and gratitude, and accept its accumulations in inward 
as well as outward things, as the patrimony which it 
is your part in life both to preserve and to improve. — 
Speech at Distribution of Prizes to the Pupils of Liver- 
pool College^ 1872. 

One who is now beginning at any rate to descend 
the hill of life naturally looks backwards as well as 
forwards, and we must be becoming conscious that the 
early part of this century has witnessed, in this and 
other countries, what will be remembered in future 
times as a splendid literary age. The elder among us 
have lived in the lifetime of many great men who have 
passed to their rest ; the younger have heard them 
familiarly spoken of, and still have their works in 
their hands, as I trust they will continue to be in the 
hands of all generations. I am afraid we cannot hope 
that literature — it would be contrary to all the ex- 
perience of former times were we to hope — should be 


equably sustained at that extraordinary high level 
which belongs, roughly speaking, to the first fifty 
years after the Peace of 18 15. That was a great 
period in England, in Germany, in France, and in 
Italy. I think we can hardly hope that it should 
continue on a perfect level at so high an elevation. 
Undoubtedly the cultivation of literature will ever be 
dear to the people of this country ; but we must 
remember what is literature, and what is not. In the 
first place, we should be all agreed that book-making is 
not literature. The business of book-making, I have 
no doubt, may thrive, and will be continued upon 
a constantly extending scale from year to year. But 
that we may put aside. For my own part, if I am to 
look a little forward, what I anticipate for the re- 
mainder of the century is an age, not so much of 
literature proper — not so much of great, permanent, 
and splendid additions to those works in which beauty 
is embodied as an essential condition of production, — 
but I rather look forward to an age of research ! This 
is .an age of great research, in science, in history, in all 
the branches of enquiry that throw light upon the 
former condition, whether of our race, or of the world 
which it inhabits ; and it may be hoped that, even if 
the remaining years of the century be not so brilliant 
as some of its former periods, in the production of 
works, great in themselves, and immortal, still they 
may add largely to the knowledge of mankind. And 
if they make such additions to the knowledge of man- 
kind, they will be preparing materials of a new tone 
and of new splendour in the realm of literature. There 
is a sunrise and a sunset. There is a transition from 


the light of the sun to the gentler light of the moon. 
There is a rest in Nature which seems necessary in 
all her great operations. And so with all the great 
operations of the human mind. But do not let us 
despond if we seem to see a diminished efficacy in the 
production of what is essentially and immortally great. 
Our sun is hidden only for a moment. He is like the 
day-star of Milton, which 

" Anon repairs his drooping head 
And tricks his beams, and with new-spangled ore 
Flames in the forehead of the morning sky." 

Speech at the Royal Academy Dinner, 1877. 

It was said of Socrates that he called down philo- 
sophy from heaven. But the enterprise of certain 
enlightened publishers has taught them to work for 
the million, and that is a very important fact. When 
I was a boy I used to be fond of looking into a book- 
seller's shop, but there was nothing to be seen there 
that was accessible to the working man of that day. 
Take a Shakspeare, for example. I remember very 
well that I gave £2. i6s. od. for my first copy; but 
you can get an admirable copy for 3s. Those books are 
accessible now which formerly were quite inaccessible. 
We may be told that you want amusement, but that 
does not include improvement. There are a set of 
worthless books written now and at times which you 
should avoid; which profess to give amusement; but 
in reading the works of such authors as Shakspeare 
and Scott there is the greatest possible amusement in 
its best form. Do you suppose when you see men 
engaged in study that they dislike it ? No. There is 


labour no doubt of a certain kind — mental labour, but 
it is so associated with interest all along that it is 
forgotten in the light it carries in its performance, and 
no people know that better than the working classes. 
I want you to understand that multitudes of books are 
constantly being prepared and placed within reach of 
the population at large, for the most part executed by 
writers of a high stamp having subjects of the greatest 
interest, and which enable you, at a moderate price, 
not to get cheap literature which is secondary in its 
quality, but to go straight into the very heart — if I may so 
say, into the sanctuary of the temple of literature — and 
become acquainted with the greatest and best works 
that men of our country have produced. It is not to 
be supposed that working-men, on coming home from 
labour, are to study Euclid and works of that character ; 
and it is not to be desired unless in the case of very 
special gifts ; but what is to be desired is that some 
effort should be made by men of all classes, and 
perhaps by none more than the labouring class, to lift 
ourselves above the level of what is purely frivolous, 
and to endeavour to find our amusement in making 
ourselves acquainted with things of real interest and 
beauty. — Speech m aid of the Backley Institute and 
Reading Room^ 1878. 

Lord Houghton (Richard Monckton 

MiLNEs). h, 1809 [Living]. 

I think it impossible to overrate the political utility 
of such an institution as this. Think what a book is — 
what each one of these volumes is. It is a portion of 


the eternal mind, caught in its process through the 
world, stamped in an instant, and preserved for 
eternity. Think what it is ; that enormous amount of 
human sympathy and intelligence that is contained in 
these volumes ; and think what it is that this sympathy 
should be communicated to the masses of the people. 
Compare the state oi the man who is really well 
acquainted with the whole past of literature upon the 
subject on which he is speaking, and with which his 
mind is embued, with that of the solitary artisan, upon 
whom, perhaps, the light of genius has dawned in 
some great truth — ^in some noble aspiration — in some 
high idea — ^resting there, unable to accomplish itself, 
unable to reahse its meaning, and probably ending in 
nothing but discontent or despair. Compare the state 
of that man, such as he would be without books, with 
what that man may be with books. So that it is only 
books that can save him from the most exaggerated 
conclusions, from the falsest doctrines, and all those 
evils which may damage and even destroy the masses 
of mankind. It is only, remember, what lies in these 
books that makes all the difference between the wildest 
socialism* that ever passed into the mind of a man in 
this hall, and the deductions and careful processes of 
the mind of the student who will sit at these tables — 
who will learn humility by seeing what others have 
taught before him ; and who will gain from the 
sympathy of ages, intelligence and sense for himself. — 
Speech at the Inauguration of the Manchester Free 
Lib7'ary^ September 2, 1852. 

*The building in which the Free Library was first located 
was previously a Socialist Hall. 

theodore parker, 339 

Theodore Parker. i8io — 1860. 

The pleasures of the intellect not creative, but only 
recipient, have never been fully appreciated. What a 
joy is there in a good book, writ by some great master 
of thought, who breaks into beauty, as in summer the 
meadow into grass and dandelions and violets, with 
geraniums, and manifold sweetness. As an amuse- 
ment, that of reading is worth all the rest. What 
pleasure in science, in literature, in poetry, for any man 
who will but open his eye and his heart to take it in. 
What delight an audience of men who never speak, 
take in some great orator, who looks into their faces, 
and speaks into their hearts, and then rains a meteoric 
shower of stars, falling from his heaven of genius before 
their eyes; or, far better still, with a whole day of sun- 
light warms his audience, so that every manly and 
womanly excellence in them buds and blossoms with 
fragrance, one day to bear most luscious fruit before 
God, fruit for mortality, fruit for eternity not less. I 
once knew a hard-working man, a farmer and mechanic, 
who in the winter-nights rose a great while before day, 
and out of the darkness coaxed him at least two hours 
of hard study, and then when the morning peeped over 
the eastern hills, he yoked his oxen and went forth to 
his daily work, or in his shop he laboured all day long ; 
and when the night came, he read aloud some simple 
book to his family; but when they were snugly laid 
away in their sleep, the great-minded mechanic took 
to his hard study anew ; and so, year out and year in, 
he went on, neither rich nor much honoured, hardly 
entreated by daily work, and yet he probably had a 

340 DR. yOHN BROWN. 

happiness in his heart and mind which the whole 
county might have been proud to share. 

I fear we do not know what a power of immediate 
pleasure and permanent profit is to be had in a good 
book. The books which help you most are those which 
make you think the most. The hardest way of learning 
is by easy reading ; every man that tries it finds it so. 
But a great book that comes from a great thinker, — 
it is a ship of thought, deep freighted with truth, with 
beauty too. It sails the ocean, driven by the winds of 
heaven, breaking the level sea of life into beauty where 
it goes, leaving behind it a train of sparkling loveliness, 
widening as the ship goes on. And what treasures it 
brings to every land, scattering the seeds of truth, 
justice, love, and piety, to bless the world in ages yet 
to come. — Lessons from The World of Matter and The 
World of Man. 

John Brown. i8io — 1882. 

If our young medical student would take our advice, 
and for an hour or two twice a week take up a volume of 
Shakspeare, Cervantes, Milton, Dryden, Pope, Cowper, 
Montaigne, Addison, Defoe, Goldsmith, Fielding, 
Scott, Charles Lamb, Macaulay, Jeffrey, Sydney 
Smith, Helps, Thackeray, &c., not to mention 
authors on deeper and more sacred subjects— they 
would have happier and healthier minds, and make 
none the worse doctors. If they, by good fortune — 
for the tide has set in strong against the literce 
humaniores — have come off with some Greek or 
Latin, we would supplicate for an ode of Horace, a 
couple of pages of Cicero or of Pliny once a month, 


and a page of Xenophon. French and German should 
'be mastered either before or during the first years of 
study. They will never afterwards be acquired so 
easily or so thoroughly, and the want of them may be 
bitterly felt when too late. 

But one main help, we are persuaded, is to be found 
in studying, and by this we do not mean the mere 
reading, but the digging into and through, the 
energizing upon, and mastering such books as we 
have mentioned at the close of this paper. * These 
are not, of course, the only works we would re- 
commend to those who wish to understand thoroughly, 
and to make up their minds, on these great subjects as 
wholes; but we all know too well that our Art is long, 
broad, and deep, — and Time, opportunity, and our 
little hour, brief and uncertain, therefore, we would 
recommend those books as a sort of game of the mind, a 
mental exercise— like cricket, a gymnastic, a clearing of 
the eyes of their mind as with euphrasy, a strengthening 
their power over particulars, a getting fresh, strong 

* I. Arnauld's Port-Royal Logic ; translated by T. S. 
Baynes. — 2. Thomson's Outlines of the Necessary Laws of 
Thought. — 3. Descartes on the Method of Rightly Conducting 
the Reason, and Seeking Truth in the Sciences. — 4. Coleridge's 
Essay on Method.— 5. Whately's Logic and Rhetoric ; new and 
cheap edition. — 6. Mill's Logic; new and cheap edition. — 7. 
Dugald Stewart's Outlines. — 8. Sir John Herschel's Preliminary 
Dissertation. — 9. Quarterly Review, vol. Ixviii. ; Article upon 
Whewell's Philosophy of Inductive Sciences. — 10. Isaac Taylor's 
Elements of Thought.— 11. Sir William Hamilton's edition of 
Reid ; Dissertations ; and Lectures.— 12. Professor Eraser's 
Rational Philosophy. — 13. Locke on the Conduct of the Under- 


views of worn out, old things, and, above all, a learning 
the right use of their reason, and by knowing their own 
ignorance and weakness, finding true knowledge and 
strength. Taking up a book like Arnauld, and reading 
a chapter of his lively, manly sense, is like throwing 
your manuals, and scalpels, and microscopes, and 
natural (most unnatural) orders out of your hand and 
head, and taking a game with the Grange Club, or a 
run to the top of Arthur Seat. Exertion quickens your 
pulse, expands your lungs, makes your blood warmer 
and redder, fills your mouth with the pure waters of 
relish, strengthens and supples your legs ; and though 
on your way to the top you may encounter rocks, and 
baffling debris, and gusts of fierce winds rushing out 
upon you from behind corners, just as you will find in 
Arnauld, and all truly serious and honest books of the 
kind, difficuUies and puzzles, winds of doctrine, and 
deceitful mists ; still you are rewarded at the top by the 
wide view. You see, as from a tower, the end of all. 
You look into the perfections and relations of things. 
You see the clouds, the bright lights, and the ever- 
lasting hills on the far horizon. You come down the 
hill a happier, a better, and a hungrier man, and of a 
better mind . But, as we said, you must eat the book, 
you must crush it, and cut it with your teeth and 
swallow it ; just as you must walk up, and, not be 
carried up the hill, much less imagine you are there, 
or look upon a picture of what you would see were 
you up, however accurately or artistically done ; no — 
you yourself must do both. — Jlorcs Stcbsecivce: " With 
Brains, Sir!" by John Brozvti, M.D., Author of 
*' Rab and His Friettds." 


W. M. Thackeray. i8ii — 1863. 

Novels are sweets. All people with healthy literary 
appetites love them — almost all women ; a vast number 
of clever, hard-headed men, judges, bishops, chan- 
cellors, mathematicians, are notorious novel-readers, 
as well as young boys and sweet girls, and their kind, 
tender mothers. — Roundabout Papers, 

John Bright, b. 181 1 [Living]. 

What is a great love of books ? It is something like 
a personal introduction to the great and good men of 
all past times. Books, it is true, are silent as you see 
them on their shelves ; but, silent as they are, when I 
enter a library I feel as if almost the dead were present^ 
and I know if I put questions to these books they will 
answer me with all the faithfulness and fulness which 
has been left in them by the great men who have left 
the books with us. Have none of us, or may I not 
say are there any of us who have not, felt some of this 
feeling when in a great library — I don't mean a library 
quite so big as that in the British Museum or the 
Bodleian Library at Oxford, where books are so many 
that they seem rather to overwhelm one — but libraries 
that are not absolutely unapproachable in their mag- 
nitude? When you are within their walls, and see 
these shelves, these thousands of volumes, and consider 
for a moment who they are that wrote them, who has 
gathered them together, for whom they are intended, 
how much wisdom they contain, what they tell the 
future ages, it is impossible not to feel something of 


solemnity and tranquillity when you are spending time 
in rooms like these ; and if you come to houses of less 
note you find libraries that are of great estimation and 
which in a less degree are able to afford mental aliment 
to those who are connected with them; and I am 
bound to say — and if anyone cares very much for any- 
thing else they will not blame me — I say to them, you 
may have in a house costly pictures and costly orna- 
ments, and a great variety of decoration, yet, so far as 
my judgment goes, I would prefer to have one com- 
fortable room well stocked with books to all you can 
give me in the way of decoration which the highest art 
can supply. The only subject of lamentation is — one 
feels that always, I think, in the presence of a library — 
that life is too short, and I am afraid I must say also 
that our industry is so far deficient that we seem to 
have no hope of a full enjoyment of the ample repast 
that is spread before us. In the houses of the humble 
a little library in my opinion is a most precious pos- 

Some twenty years ago I was in Sutherlandshire, 
on the Helmsdale river, engaged in the healthful 
occupation of endeavouring to get some salmon 
out of it. In the course of the day, walking down 
the river, I entered the cottage of a shepherd. 
There was no one at home, I think, but the shepherd's 
wife or mother, I forget which, but she was an elderly 
woman, matronly, very kind and very courteous to us. 
Whilst I was in the house I saw upon the window-sill 
a small and very thin volume, and I took the liberty of 
going up to it, and taking it in my hand, I found, to 
my surprise and delight, that it was an edition which I 


had never met with before — an edition of ** Paradise 
Regained " — the work of a poet unsurpassed in any 
country or in any age, and a poem as to which I 
believe great authorities admit that if "Paradise Lost " 
did not exist "Paradise Regained" would be the finest 
poem in our language. I said I was surprised and 
delighted down in this remote country, in this solitary 
house, in this humble abode of the shepherd, I found 
this volume which seemed to me to transfigure the 
cottage. I felt as if that humble dwelling was illumined, 
as it was, indeed, by the genius of Milton, and, I may 
say, I took the liberty of asking how the volume came 
there, and who it was that read it. I learned that the 
good woman of the house had a son who had been 
brought up for the ministry, and I think at the time I 
was there he was then engaged in his labours as a 
Presbyterian minister in the colony of Canada. Now 
whenever I think of some of the rivers of Scotland, 
when I think of the river Helmsdale, if I turn, as 
my mind does, to that cottage, I always see, and shall 
never forget, that small, thin volume which I found 
on the window-sill, and the finding of which seemed to 
me to lift the dwellers in that cottage to a somewhat 
higher sphere. . . . My own impression is that 
there is no greater blessing that can be given to an 
artisan's family than a love of books. The home 
influence of such a possession is one which will guard 
them from many temptations and from many evils. 
How common it is — ^in all classes too common — but 
how common it is amongst what are termed the 
working classes — I have seen it many times in my 
district — where even an industrious and careful parent 


has found that his son or his daughter has been to him 
a source of great trouble and pain. No doubt, if it 
were possible, even in one of these homes, to have one 
single person who was a lover of books, and knew how 
to spend an evening usefully with a book, and who 
could occasionally read something from the book to 
the rest of the family, perhaps to his aged parents, 
how great would be the blessing to the family, how 
great a safeguard would be afforded ; and then to the 
men themselves, when they come — as in the case 
which I have mentioned — to the feebleness of age, and 
when they can no longer work, and when the sands of 
life are as it were ebbing out, what can be more advan- 
tageous, what more a blessing, than in these years of 
feebleness — may be sometimes of suffering — it must be 
often of solitude — if there be the power to derive 
instruction and amusement and refreshment from books 
which our great library will offer to every one ? To 
the young especially this is of great importance, for if 
there be no seed-time, there will certainly be no harvest, 
and the youth of life is the seed-time of life. I see in 
this great meeting a number of young men. It is im- 
possible for anybody to confer upon them a greater 
blessing than to stimulate them to a firm belief that to 
them now, and to them during all their lives, it may be 
a priceless gain that they should associate themselves 
constantly with this library, and draw from it any books 
they like. The more they read the more in all proba- . 
bility they will like and wish to read. What can be 
better than that the fair poetic page, the great instruc- 
tions of history, the gains of science — all these are 
laid before us, and of these we may freely partake. 


I spoke of the library in the beginning of my observa- 
tions as a fountain of refreshment and instruction and 
wisdom. Of it may be said that he who drinks shall 
still thirst, and thirsting for knowledge and still drinking, 
we may hope that he will grow to a greater mental and 
moral standard, more useful as a citizen, and more noble 
as a man. — Speech at opening of Birmingham Neiv 
Free Library^ June i, 1882. 

Lord Sherbrooke (Robert Lowe). 
b, 181 1 [Living]. 

Cultivate above all things a taste for reading. There 
is no pleasure so cheap, so innocent, and so remunera' 
tive as the real, hearty pleasure and taste for reading. 
It does not come to everyone naturally. Some people 
take to it naturally, and others do not; but I advise 
you to cultivate it, and endeavour to promote it in 
your minds. In order to do that you should read what 
amuses you and pleases you. You should not begin 
with difficult works, because, if you do, you will find 
the pursuit dry and tiresome. I would even say to 
you read novels, read frivolous books, read anything 
that will amuse you and give you a taste for reading. 
On this point all persons could put themselves on an 
equality. Some persons would say they would rather 
spend their time in society ; but it must be remembered 
that if they had cultivated a taste for reading before- 
hand they would be in a position to choose their society, 
whereas, if they had not, the probabilities were that they 
would have to mix with people inferior to themselves,. 


and who would pull them down rather than assist 
them forward. Having got the habit of reading, then 
is the time to consider how to turn it to the best 
advantage; and here you have an almost boundless 
field. Whatever may be said of other languages, I 
hold that the English language is the richest in the 
world in all the noblest efforts of the human intellect. 
Our historians and orators might rank with those of 
any nation and clime, and there is hardly any subject 
which you could not find fully and properly treated. 
Therefore I advise 'you, in the first instance, to give your 
minds very much to the study of English, and of the 
admirable works to be found in that language. — 
Speech to the Students of the Croydon Science and Art 
Schools f 1869. 

Francis Bennoch. b. 181 2 [Living]. 

My Books, 
I love my books as drinkers love their wine ; 
The more I drink, the more they seem divine ; 
"With joy elate my soul in love runs o'er. 
And each fresh draught is sweeter than before ! 
Books bring me friends where'er on earth I be, 
Solace of solitude, — bonds of society ! 
I love my books ! they are companions dear. 
Sterling in worth, in friendship most sincere ; 
Here talk I with the wise in ages gone, 
And with the nobly gifted of our own : 
If love, joy, laughter, sorrow please my mind, 
Love, joy, grief, laughter in my books I find. 

The Storm and other Poems, 

george gilfillan. 345. 

George Gilfillan. 1813 — 1878. 

Let us compare the different ways in which Crabbe 
and Foster (certainly a prose poet) deal with a library. 
Crabbe describes minutely and successfully the outer 
features of the volumes, their colours, clasps, the stub- 
born ridges of their bindings, the illustrations which 
adorn them, so well that you feel yourself among them, 
and they become sensible to touch almost as to sight. 
But there he stops, and sadly fails, we think, in bringing 
out the living and moral interest which gathers around 
a multitude of books, or even around a single volume. 
This Foster has amply done. The speaking silence of 
a number of books, where, though it were the wide 
Bodleian or Vatican, not one whisper could be heard, 
and yet where, as in an antechamber, so many great 
spirits are waiting to deliver their messages — their 
churchyard stillness continuing even when their readers 
are moving to their pages, in joy or agony, as to the 
sound of martial instruments — their awaking, as from 
deep slumber, to speak with miraculous organ, like 
the shell which has only to be lifted, and ** pleased it 
remembers its august abodes, and murmurs as the 
ocean murmurs there " — their power of drawing tears, 
kindling blushes, awakening laughter, calming or 
quickening the motions of the life's-blood, lulling to 
repose, or rousing to restlessness — the meaning which 
radiates from their quiet countenances — the tale of 
shame or glory which their title-pages tell — the me- 
mories suggested by the character of their authors, 
and of the readers who have throughout successive 
centuries perused them — the thrilling thoughts excited 


by the sight of names and notes inscribed on their 
margins or blank pages by hands long since mouldered 
in the dust, or by those dear to us as our life's-blood, 
who had been snatched from our sides — the aspects of 
gaiety or of gloom connected with the bindings and 
the age of volumes — the effects of sunshine playing 
as if on a congregation of happy faces, making the 
duskiest shine, and the gloomiest be glad — or of 
shadow suffusing a sombre air over all — the joy of 
the proprietor of a large library, who feels that Nebu- 
chadnezzar watching great Babylon, or Napoleon re- 
viewing his legions, will not stand comparison with 
himself seated amid the broad maps, and rich prints, 
and numerous volumes which his wealth has enabled 
him to collect, and his wisdom entitled him to enjoy — 
all such hieroglyphics of interest and meaning has 
Foster included and interpreted in one gloomy but 
noble meditation, and his introduction to Doddridge 
is the true "Poem on the Library." — Gallery of 
Literary Poj'traits : ** Geo7'ge Crabbe.^^ 

We admire John Foster's very long and very 
characteristic Preface to Doddridge's "Rise and Pro- 
gress," particularly its introduction, wherein he muses 
on a library in a peculiar and most impressive style, 
spreading the genius and the gloom of his mind over 
the place, where a silent people have fixed their abode, 
filling the populous solitude of books with his reveries, 
and weaving a cobweb of melancholy cogitation over 
the crowded shelves. Books talk to him, as he sits 
pensive and alone : they tell him the history of those 
who read and those who wrote them ; names inscribed 


centuries ago upon their margins or blank pages suggest 
strange surmises as to the fate of those who bore them ; 
and the vices or virtues, the weal or the wo, of their 
deceased authors, seem to cluster round, or to flash 
out, from the dumb volumes, and to stir the leaves with 
** airs from heaven or blasts from hell." It is the day- 
dream of a strange but holy soul. And turning round 
from his books, how closely does he grapple in a series 
of interrogations with the hearts and consciences of his 
readers ! It is like a spirit talking to us of eternity, 
over the mouth of the grave, and by the light of a 
waning moon. How strict yet tender the questionings ! 
— Gallery of Literary Portraits : ^^John Foster ^ 

Let us read good works often over. Some skip from 
volume to volume, touching on all points, resting on 
none. We hold, on the contrary, that, if a book be 
worth reading once, it is worth reading twice, and that 
if it stands a second reading, it may stand a third. 
This, indeed, is one great test of the excellence of 
books. Many books require to be read more than 
once, in order to be seen in their proper colours and 
latent glories, and dim discovered truths will by and 
by disclose themselves. The writings of Foster, the 
essayist, and William Hazlitt belong to this class. 
Their mood of thinking and writing is, at first sight, 
very peculiar, and almost repulsive ; but then there is 
such a vast fund of original and acute remark in their 
writings that you can refer to them again and again, 
and have no more fear of exhausting their riches than 
of emptpng the ocean. Again, let us read thought- 
fully ; this is a great secret in the right use of books. 


Not lazily, to mumble, like the dogs in the siege of 
Corinth, as dead bones, the words of the author, -^not 
slavishly to assent to his every word, and cry Amen to 
to his every conclusion,— not to read him as an officer 
his general's orders, — but to read him with suspicion, 
with inquiry, with a free exercise of your own faculties, 
with the admiration of intelligence, and not with the 
wonder of ignorance, — that is the proper and profitable 
way of reading the great authors of your native tongue. 
Address to the Members of a Literary Institute. 

How still and peaceful is a Library ! It seems quiet 
as the grave, tranquil as heaven, a cool collection 
of the thoughts of the men of all times. And yet, 
approach and open the pages, and you find them full 
of dissension and disputes, alive with abuse and detrac- 
tion — a huge, many-volumed satire upon man, written 
by himself. . . . What a broad thing is a library 
—all shades of opinion reflected on its catholic bosom, 
as the sunbeams and shadows of a summer's day 
upon the ample mirror of a lake. Jean Paul was 
always melancholy in a large library, because it 
reminded him of his ignorance. — Sketches^ Literary 
and Theological* 

Henry Ward Beecher. h. 1813 [Living]. 

We form judgments of men from little things about 
their houses, of which the owner, perhaps, never thinks 
In earlier years when travelling in the West, where 
taverns were scarce, and in some places unknown, and 
every settler's house was a house of entertainment, it 


was a matter of some importance and some experience 
to select wisely where you should put up. And we 
always looked for flowers. If there were no trees for 
shade, no patch of flowers in the yard, we were sus- 
picious of the place. But no matter how rude the 
cabin, or rough the surroundings, if we saw that the 
window held a little trough for flowers, and that some 
vines twined about strings let down from the eaves, we 
were confident that there was some taste and carefulness 
in the log cabin. In a new country, where people have 
to tug for a living, no one will take the trouble to rear 
flowers unless the love of them is pretty strong ; and 
this taste, blossoming out of plain and uncultivated 
people, is itself a clump of harebells growing out of 
the seams of a rock. We were seldom misled. A 
patch of flowers came to signify kind people, clean 
beds, and good bread. But in other states of society 
other signs are more significant. Flowers about a rich 
man's house may signify only that he has a good 
gardener, or that he has refined neighbours, and does 
what he sees them do. 

But men are not accustomed to buy books unless 
they want them. If on visiting the dwelling of a 
man in slender means we find that he contents himself 
with cheap carpets and very plain furniture in order 
that he may purchase books, he rises at once in our 
esteem. Books are not made for furniture, but there 
is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house. 
The plainest row of books that cloth or paper ever 
covered is more significant of refinement than the most 
elaborately carved 6tagere or sideboard. Give us a 
house furnished with books rather than furniture. 



Both, if you can, but books at any rate ! To spend 
several days in a friend's house, and hunger for some- 
thing to read, while you are treading on costly carpets, 
and sitting on luxuriant chairs, and sleeping upon 
down, is as if one were bribing your body for the sake 
of cheating your mind. Is it not pitiable to see a man 
growing rich, augmenting the comforts of home, and 
lavishing money on ostentatious upholstery, upon the 
table, upon everything but what the soul needs? We 
know of many, and many a rich man's house, where it 
would not be safe to ask for the commonest English 
Classics. A few garish Annuals on the table, a few 
pictorial monstrosities together with the stock re- 
ligious books of his "persuasion," and that is all! 
No poets, no essayists, no historians, no travels or 
biographies, — no select fiction or curious legendary 
lore. But the wall paper cost three dollars a roll, and 
the carpet cost four dollars a yard ! 

Books are the windows through which the soul looks 
out. A home without books is like a room without 
windows. No man has a right to bring up his children 
without surrounding them with books, if he has the 
means to buy them. It is a wrong to his family. He 
cheats them ! Children learn to read by being in the 
presence of books. The love of knowledge comes 
with reading and grows upon it. And the love of 
knowledge, in a young mind, is almost a warrant 
against the inferior excitement of passions and vices. 
Let us pity these poor rich men who live barrenly in 
great bookless houses ! Let us congratulate the poor 
that, in our day, books are so cheap that a man may 
every year add a hundred volumes to his library for the 

'* FANNY FERN.** 355 

price which his tobacco and his beer would cost him. 
Among the earliest ambitions to be excited in clerks, 
workmen, journeymen, and, indeed, among all that 
are struggling up in life from nothing to something, is 
that of forming and continually adding to a library 
of good books. A little library, growing larger every 
year, is an honourable part of a man's history. It is 
a man's duty to have books. A library is not a luxury, 
but one of the necessaries of life. — Sermons. 

Sara P. Parton (Fanny Fern). 

^. 1814, d. ? 

Oh ! but books are such safe company I They keep 
your Secrets well ; ^key never boast that they made 
your eyes glisten, or your cheek flush, or your heart 
throb. You may take up your favourite Author, and 
love him at a distance just as warmly as you like, for 
all the sweet fancies and glowing thoughts that have 
winged your lonely hours so fleetly and so sweetly. 
Then you may close the book, and lean your cheek 
against the cover, as if it were the face of a dear friend ; 
shut your eyes and soliloquise to your heart's content, 
without fear of misconstruction, even though you should 
exclaim in the fulness of your enthusiasm, '* What an 
adorable soul that man hasP^ You may put the volume 
under your pillow, and let your eye and the first ray of 
morning light fall on it together, and nothing shall 
rob you of that delicious pleasure. You may have 
a thousand petty, provoking, irritating annoyances 
through the day, and you shall come back again to 


your dear old book, and forget them all in dream- 
land. It shall be a friend that shall be always at 
hand; that shall never try you by caprice, or pain 
you by forgetfulness, or wound you by distrust. — 
Fern Leaves. 

Anthony Trollope. 1815 — 1882. 

Now, my young friends, to whom I am addressing 
myself, with reference to this habit of reading, I make 
bold to tell you that it is your pass to the greatest, the 
purest, and the most perfect pleasures that God ha? 
prepared for his creatures. Other pleasures may be 
more ecstatic. When a young man looks into a girl's 
eye for love, and finds it there, nothing may afford him 
greater joy for the moment ; when a father sees a son 
return after a long absence, it may be a great pleasure 
for the moment ; but the habit of reading is the only 
enjoyment I know, in which there is no alloy. It lasts 
when all other pleasures fade. It will be there to 
support you when all other recreations are gone. It 
will be present to you when the energies of your body 
have fallen away from you. It will last you until your 
death. It will make your hours pleasant to you as 
long as you live. But, my friends, you cannot acquire 
that habit in your age. You cannot acquire it in 
middle age ; you must do it now, when you are 
young. You must learn to read and to like reading 
now, or you cannot do so when you are old. — Speech 
at the Opening of the Art Exhibition at the Bolton 
Mechanics' Institution^ Dec. 7, 1868. 

"january searle," 357 

George Searle Phillips (January Searle). 
b. about 1816, d. ? 

Books are our household gods; and we cannot prize 
them too highly. They are the only gods in all the 
Mythologies that are ever beautiful and unchangeable ; 
for they betray no man, and love their lovers. I 
confess myself an Idolator of this literary religion, 
and am grateful for the blessed ministry of books. It 
is a kind of heathenism which needs no missionary 
funds, no Bible even, to abolish it ; for the Bible itself 
caps the peak of this new Olympus, and crowns it 
with sublimity and glory. Amongst the many things 
we have to be thankful for, as the result of modern 
discoveries, surely this of printed books is the highest 
of all ; and I for one, am so sensible of its merits that 
I never think of the name of Gutenberg without 
feelings of veneration and homage. 

I no longer wonder, with this and other instances 
before me, why in the old days of reverence and 
worship, the saints and benefactors of mankind were 
exalted into a kind of demi-gods, and had worship 
rendered to their tombs and memories ; for this is the 
most natural, as well as the most touching, of all human 
generosities, and springs from the profoundest depths 
of man's nature. Who does not love John Gutenberg? 
— the man that with his leaden types has made the 
invisible thoughts and imaginations of the Soul visible 
and readable to all and by all, and secured for the 
worthy a double immortality ? The birth of this person 
was an era in the world's history second to none save 
that of the Advent of Christ. The dawn of printing 


was the outburst of a new revelation, which, in its 
ultimate unfoldings and consequences, are alike incon- 
ceivable and immeasurable. 

I sometimes amuse myself by comparing the con- 
dition of the people before the time of Gutenberg, 
with their present condition ; that I may fix the idea 
of the value and blessedness of books more- vividly in 
my mind. It is an occupation not without profit, and 
makes me grateful and contented with my lot. In 
these reading days one can hardly conceive how our 
good forefathers managed to kill their superfluous time, 
or how at least they could be satisfied to kill it as they 
did. A life without books, when we have said all we 
can about the honour and nobility of labour, would be 
something like heaven without God; scarcely to be 
endured by an immortal nature. And yet this was the 
condition of things before Gutenberg made his fat 
sounding metallic tongues which reach through all the 
ages that have since past away, and make us glad with 
their eloquence. 

Formerly, the Ecclesiastics monopolized the litera- 
ture of the world ; they were indeed in many cases the 
Authors and Transcribers of books; and we are in- 
debted to them for the preservation of the old learning. 
Now, every Mechanic is the possessor of a Library, 
and may have Plato and Socrates, as well as Chaucer 
and the Bards, for his companions. I call this a 
heavenly privilege, and the greatest of all known 
miracles, notwithstanding it is so cheap and common. 
Plato died above two thousand years ago, yet in these 
printed books he lives and speaks for ever. There is 
no death to thought ; which though it may never be 


imprisoned in lettered language, has nevertheless an 
existence and propagative vitality as soon as it is 
uttered, and endures from generation to generation, to 
the very end of the world. I think we should all of 
us be grateful for books ; they are our best friends and 
most faithful'companions. They instruct, cheer, elevate, 
and ennoble us; and in whatever mood we go to 
them, they never frown upon us, but receive us with 
cordial and loving sincerity : neither do they blab, or 
tell tales of us when we are gone, to the next comer ; 
but honestly, and with manly frankness, speak to our 
hearts in admonition or encouragement. I do not 
know how it is with other men, but I have so much 
reverence for these silent and beautiful friends that I 
feel in them to have an immortal and divine possession, 
which is more valuable to me than many estates and 
kingdoms. The noise and babble of men disturb me 
not in my princely domain, enricht by the presence of 
so many high and royal souls. What can our foolish 
politicians, and long-winded teachers of less profane 
things, have to say to me, when Socrates speaks, 
or Shakspeare and Milton sing? I like to be alone in 
my chamber, and obey the muse or the spirit. We 
make too little of books, and have quite lost the meaning 
of contemplation. Our times are too busy; too exclu- 
sively outward in their tendency; and men have lost 
their balance in the whirlpools of commerce and the 
fierce tornadoes of political strife. I want to see more 
poise in men, more self-possession ; and these can only 
. be obtained by comiriunion with books. I lay stress 
on the word co?nmunion, because although reading is 
common enough, communion is but little known as a 


modern experience. If an author be worth anything, 
he is worth bottoming. It may be all very well to 
skim milk, for the cream lies on the top; but who 
could skim Lord Bacon ? 

The choice of books is not the least part of the duty 
of a Scholar. If he would become a man, and worthy 
to deal with manlike things, he must read only the 
bravest and noblest books ; books forged at the heart 
and fashioned by the intellect of a godlike man. A 
clever interesting writer, is a clever interesting fool; 
and is no Master for the scholar I speak of. Our 
literature abounds with such persons, and will abound 
with them so long as the public mind remains diseased 
with this morbid love of "light reading." We have 
exchanged the martial tramp of the Commonwealth's 
men, for the nimble foot of the lamplighter and the 
thief-taker. This comes from the false culture of men, 
and the consequent false tendencies of their minds and 
aims. We have had enough of this inane, unmanly 
discipline, and need a higher and truer one. I am 
not, however, for any Monkish exclusion of men from 
the world in their study of books; for the end of all 
study is action; and I would not cheat the Master by 
any bye-laws in favour of the Scholar. But a certain 
kind of exclusion is necessary for culture in the first 
instance, and for progressive developments of that 
culture afterwards. The human mind will not be 
played with, or the Player will find it out to his cost. 
For the laws of the intellect, and of man's Spiritual 
nature, are as stern and binding as those of matter, and 
you cannot neglect or violate them without loss or 
■suffering. Hence books should be our constant com- 


panions, for they stimulate thought, and hold a man to 
his purpose. — Essays, Poems , and an Elucidation of 
the Bhagavat Gheeta and ^^The Choice of Books. ^^ 

Philip James Bailey, b. 1816 [Living]. 

Worthy books 
Are not companions — they are solitudes ; 
We lose ourselves in them and all our cares. 

We entreat Thee, that all men whom Thou 

Hast gifted with great minds may love Thee well, 

And praise Thee for their powers, and use them most 

Humbly and holily, and, lever-like, 

Act but in lifting up the mass of mind 

About them ; knowing well that they shall be 

Questioned by Thee of deeds the pen hath done, 

Or caused, or glozed ; inspire them with delight 

And power to treat of noble themes and things, 

Worthily, and to leave the low and mean — 

Things born of vice or day-lived fashion, in 

Their naked native folly : — make them know 

Fine thoughts are wealth, for the right use of which 

Men are and ought to be accountable, — 

If not to Thee, to those they influence : 

Grant this we pray Thee, and that all who read, 

Or utter noble thoughts may make them theirs. 

And thank God for them, to the betterment 

Of their succeeding life ; — that all who lead 

The general sense and taste, too apt, perchance, 

To be led, keep in mind the mighty good 

They may achieve, and are in conscience, bound. 

And duty, to attempt unceasingly 


To compass. Grant us, All-maintaining Sire ! 

That all the great mechanic aids to toil 

Man's skill hath formed, found, rendered, — whether used 

In multiplying works of mind, or aught 

To obviate the thousand wants of life, 

May much avail to human welfare now 

And in all ages, henceforth and for ever ! 

Let their effect be. Lord ! to lighten labour, 

And give more room to mind, and leave the poor 

Some time for self-improvement. Let them not 

Be forced to grind the bones out of their arms 

For bread, but have some space to think and feel 

Like moral and immortal creatures. God ! 

Have mercy on them till such time shall come. 


Frederick William Robertson. 
1816— 1853. 

It is very surprising to find how little we retain of a 
book, how little we have really made our own when 
we come to interrogate ourselves as to what account 
we can give of it, however we may seem to have 
mastered it by understanding it. Hundreds of books 
read once have passed as completely from us as if we 
have never read them ; whereas the discipline of mind 
got by writing down, not copying, an abstract of a 
book which is worth the trouble, fixes it on the mind 
for years, and, besides, enables one to read other books 
with more attention and more profit. — I dfe and Letters 
of Fred, W. Robert son^ M.A. ; edited by Stopford A. 
Brooke, M.A, 

JOHN G. SAXE. 363 

John G. Saxe. b. 181 6. 

Ah ! well I love these books of mine 

That stand so trimly on their shelves, 
With here and there a broken line 

(Fat "quartos" jostling modest "twelves" 
A curious company I own ; 

The poorest ranking with their betters, 
In brief— a thing almost unknown, 

A pure Democracy— of Letters. 
If I have favourites here and there. 

And, like a monarch, pick and choose, 
I never meet an angry stare 

That this I take, and that refuse ; 
No discords rise my soul to vex 

Among these peaceful book relations, 
No envious strife of age or sex 

To mar my quiet lucubrations. 
I call these friends, these quiet books, 

And well the title they may claim 
Who always give me cheerful looks 

(What living friend has done the same ?) 

And, for companionship, how few. 

As these, my cronies ever present. 
Of all the friends I ever knew 

Have been so useful and so pleasant ? 

Poems by John Godfrey Saxe, LL,D., Boston. 

Arthur Helps. 181 7 — 1875. 

So varied, extensive, and pervading are human 
distresses, sorrows, short-comings, miseries, and mis- 
adventures, that a chapter of aid or consolation never 


comes amiss, I think. There is a pitiless, pelting rain 
this morning ; heavily against my study windows 
drives the north-western gale ; and altogether it is 
a very fit day for working at such a chapter. The 
indoor comforts which enable one to resent with com- 
posure, nay even to welcome, this outw^ard conflict 
and hubbub, are like the plans and resources provided 
by philosophy and religion, to meet the various 
calamities driven against the soul in its passage through 
this stormy world. The books which reward me have 
been found an equal resource in both respects, both 
against the weather from without and from within, 
against physical and mental storms; and, if it mi^ht 
be so, I would pass on to others the comfort which a 
seasonable word has often brought to me. If I were 
to look round these shelves, what a host of well-loved 
names would rise up, in those who have said brave or 
wise words to comfort and aid their brethren in ad- 
versity. It seems as if little remained to be said ; but 
in truth there is always waste land in the human heart 
to be tilled. 

There is another view of reading which, though it 
is obvious enough, is seldom taken, I imagine, or at 
least acted upon ; and that is, that in the course of 
our reading we should lay up in our minds a store of 
goodly thoughts in well-wrought words, which should 
be a living treasure of knowledge always with us, and 
from which, at various times and amidst all the shifting 
of circumstances, we might be sure of drawing some 
comfort, guidance, and sympathy. We see this with 
regard to the sacred writings. "A word spoken in 


due season, how good is it ! " But there is a similar 
comfort on a lower level, to be obtained from other 
sources than sacred ones. In any work that is worth 
carefully reading, there is generally something that is 
worth remembering accurately. A man whose mind 
is enriched with the best sayings of his own country, 
is a more independent man, walks the streets in a 
town, or the lanes in the country, with far more delight 
than he otherwise would have; and is taught by wise 
observers of man and nature, to examine for himself. 
Sancho Panza with his proverbs is a great deal better 
than he would have been without them ; and I contend 
that a man has something in himself to meet troubles 
and difficulties, small or great, who has stored in his 
mind some of the best things which have been said 
about troubles and difficulties. Moreover, the loneli- 
ness of sorrow is thereby diminished. — Friends in 

Charles Kingsley. 1819 — 1875. 

Except a living man, there is nothing more wonderful 
than a book ! — a message to us from the dead — from 
human souls whom we never saw, who lived, perhaps, 
thousands of miles away ; and yet these, on those little 
sheets of paper, speak to us, amuse us, vivify us, teach 
us, comfort us, open their hearts to us as brothers. 
. . . I say we ought to reverence books, to look at 
them as useful and mighty things. If they are good 
and true, whether they are about religion or politics, 
farming, trade, or medicine, they are the message 
of Christ, the maker of all things, the teacher of all 


John Ruskin. b. 1819 [Living]. 

Life being very short, and the quiet hours of it few, 
we ought to waste none of them in reading valueless 
books ; and valuable books should, in a civilized 
country, be within the reach of every one, printed in 
excellent form, for a just price ; but not in any vile, 
vulgar, or, by reason of smallness of type, physically 
injurious form, at a vile price. For we none of us 
need many books, and those which we need ought to 
be clearly printed, on the best paper, and strongly 
bound. And though we are, indeed, now, a wretched 
and poverty-struck nation, and hardly able to keep 
soul and body together, still, as no person in decent 
circumstances would put on his table confessedly bad 
wine, or bad meat without being ashamed, so he need 
not have on his shelves ill-printed or loosely and 
wretchedly-stitched books; for, though few can be 
rich, yet every man who honestly exerts himself may, 
I think, still provide, for himself and his family, good 
shoes, good gloves, strong harness for his cart or 
carriage horses, and stout leather binding for his books. 
And I would urge upon every young man, as the 
beginning of his due and wise provision for his house- 
hold, to obtain as soon as he can, by the severest 
economy, a restricted, serviceable, and steadily — how- 
ever slowly — increasing, series of books for use through 
life; making his little library, of all the furniture in 
his room, the most studied and decorative piece ; every 
volume having its assigned place, like a little statue in 
its niche, and one of the earliest and strictest lessons to 
the children of the house being how to turn the pages 


of their own literary possessions lightly and deliberately, 
with no chance of tearing or dogs' ears. — Preface to 
" Sesame and Lilies, ^^ 

But, granting that we had both the will and the 
sense to choose our friends well, how few of us have 
the power ! or, at least, how limited, for most, is the 
sphere of choice! Nearly all our associations are 
determined by chance or necessity; and restricted 
within a narrow circle. We cannot know whom we 
would; and those whom we know, we cannot have at 
our side when we most need them. All the higher 
circles of human intelligence are, to those beneath, 
only momentarily and partially open. We may, by 
good fortune, obtain a glimpse of a great poet, and 
hear the sound of his voice ; or put a question to a man 
of science, and be answered good-humouredly. We 
may intrude ten minutes' talk on a cabinet minister, 
answered probably with words worse than silence, 
being deceptive ; or snatch, once or twice in our lives, 
the privilege of throwing a bouquet in the path of a 
Princess, or arresting the kind glance of a Queen. 
And yet these momentary chances we covet; and 
spend our years, and passions, . and powers in pursuit 
of little more than these ; while, meantime, there is a 
society continually open to us, of people who will talk 
to us as long as we like, whatever our rank or occupa- 
tion; — talk to us in the best words they can choose, 
and with thanks if we listen to them. And this society, 
because it is so numerous and so gentle, — and can be 
kept waiting round us all day long, not to grant 
audience, but to gain it ; — kings and statesmen lingering 


patiently in those plainly furnished and narrow ante- 
rooms, our book-case shelves, — we make no account 
of that company, — perhaps never listen to a word they 
would say, all day long ! 

You may tell me, perhaps, or think within your- 
selves, that the apathy with which we regard this 
company of the noble, who are praying us to listen to 
them, and the passion with which we pursue the com- 
pany, probably of the ignoble, who despise us, or who 
have nothing to teach us, are grounded in this, — that 
we can see the faces of the living men, and it is them- 
selves, and not their sayings, with which we desire to 
become familiar. But it is not so. Suppose you never 
were to see their faces ;— suppose you could be put 
behind a screen in the statesman's cabinet, or the 
prince's chamber, would you not be glad to listen to 
their words, though you were forbidden to advance 
beyond the screen ? And when the screen is only a 
little less, folded in two, instead of four, and you can 
be hidden behind the cover of the two boards that bind 
a book, and listen, all day long, not to the casual talk, 
but to the studied, determined, chosen addresses of 
the wisest of men ; — this station of audience, and 
honourable privy council, you despise I . . . 

Will you go and gossip with your housemaid, or your 
stable boy, when you may talk with queens and kings ; 
or flatter yourselves that it is with any worthy con- 
sciousness of your own claims to respect that you jostle 
with the common crowd for entree here, and audience 
there, when all the while this eternal court is open to 
you, with its society wide as the world, multitudinous 
as its days, the chosen, and the mighty, of every place 


and time ? Into that you may enter always ; in that 
you may take fellowship and rank according to your 
wish ; from that, once entered into it, you can never be 
outcast but by your own fault ; by your aristocracy of 
companionship there, your own inherent aristocracy will 
be assuredly tested, and the motives with which you 
strive to take high place in the society of the living, 
measured, as to all the truth and sincerity that are in 
them, by the place you desire to take in this company 
of the Dead. 

"The place you desire," and the place yoM Jit yourself 
for, I must also say ; because, observe, this court of 
the past differs from all living aristocracy in this : — it 
is open to labour and to merit, but to nothing else. 
No wealth will bribe, no name overawe, no artifice 
deceive, the guardian of those Elysian gates. In the 
deep sense, no vile or vulgar person ever enters there. 
At the portieres of that silent Faubourg St. Germain, 
there is but brief question, " Do you deserve to enter?" 
*'Pass. Do you ask to be the companion of nobles? 
Make yourself noble, and you shall be. Do you long 
for the conversation of the wise ? Learn to understand 
it, and you shall hear it. But on other terms? — no. 
If you will not rise to us, we cannot stoop to you. 
The living lord may assume courtesy, the living 
philosopher explain his thought to you with con- 
siderable pain ; but here we neither feign nor interpret ; 
you must rise to the level of our thoughts if you would 
be gladdened by them, and share our feelings, if you 
would recognise our presence. "... 

I say first we have despised literature. What do 
we, as a nation, care about books? How much do 



you think we spend altogether on our libraries, public 
or private, as compared with what we spend on our 
horses ? If a man spends lavishly on his library, you 
call him mad — a biblio-maniac. But you never call 
any one a horse-maniac, though men ruin themselves 
every day by their horses, and you do not hear of 
people ruining themselves by their books. Or, to go 
lower still, how much do you think the contents of the 
bookshelves of the United Kingdom, public and private, 
would fetch, as compared with the contents of its wine 
cellars ? What position would its expenditure on litera- 
ture take, as compared with its expenditure on luxurious 
eating ? We talk of food for the mind, as of food for 
the body : now a good book contains such food inex- 
haustibly; it is a provision for life, and for the best 
part of us ; yet how long most people would look at 
the best book before they would give the price of 
a large turbot for it ! Though there have been men 
who have pinched their stomachs and bared their 
backs to buy a book, whose libraries were cheaper to 
them, I think, in the end than most men's dinners are. 
We are few of us put to such trial, and more the pity ; 
for, indeed, a precious thing is all the more precious to 
us if it has been won by work or economy ; and if 
public libraries were half as costly as public dinners, or 
books cost the tenth part of what bracelets do, even 
foolish men and women might sometimes suspect there 
was good in reading, as well as in munching and 
sparkling ; whereas the very cheapness of literature is 
making even wise people forget that if a book is worth 
reading, it is worth buying. No book is worth any- 
thing which is not worth much; nor is it serviceable 


until it has been read, and reread, and loved, and 
loved again ; and marked, so that you can refer to the 
passages you want in it, as a soldier can seize the 
weapon he needs in an armoury, or a housewife bring 
the spice she needs from her store. Bread of flour is 
good ; but there is bread, sweet as honey, if we would 
eat it, in a good book ; and the family must be poor 
indeed which once in their lives, cannot, for such 
multipliable barley-loaves, pay their baker's bill. We 
call ourselves a rich nation, and we are filthy and 
foolish enough to thumb each other's books out of 
circulating libraries ! . . . 

Nevertheless I hope it will not be long before royal 
or national libraries will be founded in every con- 
siderable city, with a royal series of books in them; 
the same series in every one of them, chosen books, 
the best in every kind, prepared for that national 
series in the most perfect way possible; their text 
printed all on leaves of equal size, broad of margin, 
and divided into pleasant volumes, light in the hand, 
beautiful, and strong, and thorough as examples of 
binders' work; and that these great libraries will be 
accessible to all clean and orderly persons at all times 
of the day and evening ; strict law being enforced for 
this cleanliness and quietness. 

I could shape for you other plans, for art galleries, 
and for natural history galleries, and for many precious, 
many, it seems to me, needful, things ; but this book 
plan is the easiest and needfullest, and would prove a 
considerable tonic to what we call our British constitu- 
tion, which has fallen dropsical of late, and has an evil 
thirst, and evil hunger, and wants healthier feeding. 


You have got its corn laws repealed for it ; try if you 
cannot get corn laws established for it, dealing in a 
better bread; — bread made of that old enchanted 
Arabian grain, the Sesame, which opens doors; — 
doors, not of robbers', but of Kings' Treasuries. 

Friends, the treasuries of true kings are the streets 
of their cities; and the gold they gather, which for 
others is as the mire of the streets, changes itself, for 
them and their people, into a crystalline pavement for 
evermore. — Sesame and Lilies : Of Kings' Treasuries. 

I know many persons who have the purest taste in 
literature, and yet false taste in art, and it is a pheno- 
menon which puzzles me not a little ; but I have never 
known any one with false taste in books, and true 
taste in pictures. It is also of the greatest importance 
to you, not only for art's sake, but for all kinds of 
sake, in these days of book deluge, to keep out of the 
salt swamps of literature, and live on a little rocky 
island of your own, with a spring and a lake in it, pure 
and good. I cannot, of course, suggest the choice of 
your library to you, every several mind needs different 
books ; but there are some books which we all need, 
and assuredly, if you read Homer,* Plato, ^schylus, 
Herodotus, Dante,t Shakspeare, and Spenser, as much 

* Chapman's, if not the original. 

t Carey's or Cayley's, if not the original. I do not know 
which are the best translations of Plato. Herodotus and 
iEschylus can only be read in the original. It may seem strange 
that I name books like these for "beginners:" but all the 
greatest books contain food for all ages; and an intelligent 
and rightly bred youth or girl ought to enjoy much, even in 
Plato, by the time they are fifteen or sixteen. 


as you ought, you will not require wide enlargement 
of shelves to right and left of them for purposes of 
perpetual study. Among modern books, avoid gene- 
rally magazine and review literature. Sometimes it 
may contain a useful abridgment or a wholesome 
piece of criticism ; but the chances are ten to one it 
will either waste your time or mislead you. If you 
want to understand any subject whatever, read the best 
book upon it you can hear of; not a review of the 
book. If you don't like the first book you try, seek 
for another ; but do not hope ever to understand the 
subject without pains, by a reviewer's help. Avoid 
especially that class of literature which has a knowing 
tone; it is the most poisonous of all. Every good 
book, or piece of book, is full of admiration and awe ; 
it may contain firm assertion, or stern satire, but it 
never sneers coldly, nor asserts haughtily, and it 
always leads you to reverence or love something with 
your whole heart. It is not always easy to distinguish 
the satire of the venomous race of books from the 
satire of the noble and pure ones ; but in general you 
may notice that the cold-blooded Crustacean and 
Batrachian books will sneer at sentiment ; and the 
warm-blooded, human books, at sin. Then, in 
general, the more you can restrain your serious 
reading to reflective or lyric poetry, history, and 
natural history, avoiding fiction and the drama, 
the healthier your mind will become. Of modern 
poetry keep to Scott, Wordsworth, Keats, Crabbe, 
Tennyson, the two Brownings, Lowell, Longfellow, 
and Coventry Patmore, whose "Angel in the House" 
is a most finished piece of writing, and the sweetest 


analysis we possess of quiet modern domestic feeling ; 
while Mrs. Browning's '* Aurora Leigh" is, as far as I 
know, the greatest poem which the century has pro- 
duced in any language. Cast Coleridge at once aside, 
as sickly and useless ; and Shelley, as shallow and 
verbose ; Byron, until your taste is fully formed, 
and you are able to discern the magnificence in him 
from the wrong. Never read bad or common 
poetry, nor write any poetry yourself ; there is, 
perhaps, rather too much than too little in the world 

Of reflective prose, read chiefly Bacon, Johnson, 
and Helps. Carlyle is hardly to be named as a writer 
for "beginners," because his teaching, though to some 
of us vitally necessary, may to others be hurtful. If 
you understand and like him, read him ; if he oflends 
you, you are not yet ready for him, and perhaps may 
never be so ; at all events, give him up, as you would 
sea-bathing if you found it hurt you, till you are 
stronger. Of fiction, read Sir Charles Grandison, 
Scott's novels, Miss Edgeworth's, and, if you are a 
young lady, Madame de Genlis', the French Miss 
Edgeworth ; making these, I mean, your constant 
companions. Of course you must, or will, read other 
books for amusement, once or twice ; but you will find 
that these have an element of perpetuity in them, 
existing in nothing else of their kind ; while their 
peculiar quietness and repose of manner will also be of 
the greatest value in teaching you to feel the same 
characters in art. Read little at a time, trying to feel 
interest in little things, and reading not so much for 
the sake of the story as to get acquainted with the 


pleasant people into whose company these writers 
bring you. A common book will often give you much 
amusement, but it is only a noble book which will give 
you dear friends. Remember also that it is of less 
importance to you in your earlier years, that the books 
you read should be clever than that they should be 
right. I do not mean oppressively or repulsively 
instructive ; but that the thoughts they express should 
be just, and the feelings they excite generous. It is 
not necessary for you to read the wittiest or the most 
suggestive books ; it is better, in general, to hear what 
is already known, and may be simply said. Much of 
the literature of the present day, though good to be 
read by persons of ripe age, has a tendency to agitate 
rather than confirm, and leaves its readers too fre- 
quently in a helpless or hopeless indignation, the worst 
possible state into which the mind of youth can be 
thrown. It may, indeed, become necessary for you, as 
you advance in life, to set your hand to things that need 
to be altered in the world, or apply your heart chiefly 
to what must be pitied in it, or condemned ; but, for a 
young person, the safest temper is one of reverence, and 
the safest place one of obscurity. Certainly at present, 
and perhaps through all your life, your teachers are 
wisest when they make you content in quiet virtue, 
and that literature and art are best for you which point 
out, in common life and familar things, the objects 
for hopeful labour, and for humble love. — The 
Elements of Drawing, in Three Letters to Beginners ; 
Appendix II, : ^^ Things to be Studied. ^^ Second 
Edition. 1857. 


Eliza Cook, h, 1818 [Living]. 

Uncouth surroundings fashion uncouth thinking 
And uncouth manners in our common life. 

Nice eyes and ears retire with painful shrinking 
Where hardness and vulgarity are rife. 

A high bred nature frets with hopeless sinking 
In the rough household with the sloven wife ; 

While Taste and Order in the workman's cot, 

Shed Joy and Beauty on the humblest lot. 

Books ! ye are " Things of Beauty," fair indeed ; 

Ye gild with waneless lustre homely shelves. 
Ye have brought unction balm in many a need, 

Deftly and softly as Titania's elves. 

Some heavy thought has often lost its weight 
When ** Robie Burns " has come to share the hour, 

Crooning his rhymes till the soul grows elate 
With deep responses to his minstrel power : 

When * * Campbell " wraps us in sweet * * Gertrude's " fate, 
Or rouses us to think we share the dower 

Of Freedom's heirs, whose Red Cross crests the seas. 

And, dauntless, "braves the battle and the breeze." 

Poetical Works. 

James Russell Lowell, h, 18 19 [Living]. 

The very gnarliest and hardest of hearts has some 
musical strings in it. But they are tuned differently in 
every one of us, so that the selfsame strain, which 
wakens a thrill of sympathetic melody in one, may 
leave another quite silent and untouched. For what- 
ever I love, my delight amounts to an extravagance. 


There are verses which I cannot read without tears of 
exultation which to others are merely indifferent. 
Those simple touches scattered here and there, by ali 
great writers, which make me feel that I, and every 
most despised and outcast child of God that breathes, 
have a common humanity with those glorious spirits, 
overpower me. Poetry has a key which unlocks some 
more inward cabinet of my nature than is accessible to 
any other power. I cannot explain it or account for 
it, or say what faculty it appeals to. . The chord which 
vibrates strongly becomes blurred and invisible in pro- 
portion to the intensity of its impulse. Often the mere 
thyme, the cadence and sound of the words, awaken 
this strange feeling in me. Not only do all the happy 
associations of my early life, that before lay scattered, 
take beautiful shapes, like iron dust at the approach of 
the magnet ; but something dim and vague beyond 
these, moves itself in me with the uncertain sound of 
a far-off sea. My sympathy with the remotest eld 
becomes that of a bystander and an actor. Those noble 
lines of Shakspeare, in one of his sonnets, drop their veil 
of mysticism, and become modern and ordinary : — 

* * No, Time, thou shalt not boast that I do change : 
Thy pyramids, built up with newer might. 
To me are nothing novel, nothing strange ; 
They are but dressings of a former sight. " 

The grand symphony of Wordsworth's Ode rolls 
through me, and I tremble, as the air does with the 
gathering thunders of the organ. My clay seems to 
have a sympathy with the mother earth whence it was 
taken, to have a memory of all that our orb has ever 


witnessed of great and noble, of sorrowful and glad. 
With the wise Samian, I can touch the mouldering 
buckler of Euphorbus and claim an interest in it deeper 
than that of its antiquity. I have been the bosom 
friend of Leander and Romeo. I seem to go behind 
Musseus and Shakspeare, and to get my intelligence at 
first hand. Sometimes in my sorrow, a line from 
Spenser steals in upon my memory as if by some 
vitality and external volition of its own, like a blast 
from the distant trump of a knight pricking towards 
the court of Faerie, and I am straightway lifted out of 
that sadness and shadow into the sunshine of a previous 
and long-agone experience. Often, too, this seemingly - 
lawless species of association overcomes me with a 
sense of sadness. Seeing a waterfall or a forest for 
the first time, I have a feeling of something gone, a 
vague regret, that in some former state, I have drank 
up the wine of their beauty, and left to the defrauded 
present only the muddy lees. Yet, again, what divine 
over-compensation, when the same memory (shall I 
call it ?), or phantasy, lets fall a drop of its invisible 
elixir into my cup, and I behold to-day, which before 
showed but forlorn and beggared, clothed in the royal 
purple, and with the golden sceptre of a line of 
majestical ancestry! — Conversations on Sofne of the 
Old Poets, 1844. 

One of the most delightful books in my father's 
library was White's Natural History of Selborne. 
For me it has rather gained in charm with years. I 
used to read it without knowing the secret of the 
pleasure I found in it, but as I grow older I begin to 


detect some of the simple expedients of this natural 
magic. Open the book where you will, it takes you 
out of doors. In our broiling July weather one can 
walk out with this genially garrulous Fellow of Oriel, 
and find refreshment instead of fatigue. You have no 
trouble in keeping abreast of him as he ambles along 
on his hobby-horse, now pointing to a pretty view, 
now stopping to watch the motions of a bird or an 
insect, or to bag a specimen for the Honourable Daines 
Barrington or Mr. Pennant. In simplicity of taste 
and natural refinement he reminds one of Walton ; in 
tenderness toward what he would have called the brute 
creation, of Cowper. . . . Since I first read him, 
I have walked over some of his favourite haunts, but 
I still see them through his eyes rather than by any 
recollection of actual and personal vision. The book 
has also the delightfulness of absolute leisure. Mr. 
White seems never to have had any harder work to do 
than to study the habits of his feathered fellow- 
townsfolk, or to watch the ripening of his peaches on 
the wall. His volumes are the journal of Adam in 

"Annihilating all that's made 
To a green thought in a green shade." 

It is positive rest only to look into that garden of his. 
It is vastly better than to — 

See great Diocletian walk 
In the Salonian garden's noble shade, 

for thither ambassadors intrude to bring with them the 
noises of Rome, while here the world has no entrance. 
No rumour of the revolt of the American Colonies 


seems to have reached him. ** The natural term of 
an hog's life " has more interest for him than that of 
an empire. Burgoyne may surrender and welcome ; 
of what consequence is that compared with the fact 
that we can explain the odd tumbling of rooks in the 
air by their turning over **to scratch themselves with 
one claw?" All the couriers in Europe spurring 
rowel-deep make no stir in Mr. White's little Chart- 
reuse ; but the arrival of the house-martin a day earlier 
or later than last year is a piece of news worth sending 
express to all his correspondents. Another secret 
charm of this book is its inadvertent humour, so much 
the more delicious because unsuspected by the author.* 
— My Study Windows: ^^ My Garden Acquaintance,^^ 

Then, warmly walled with books, 
While my wood-fire supplies the sun's defect, 
Whispering old forest-sagas in its dreams, 
I take my May down from the happy shelf 
Where perch the world's rare song-birds in a row. 
Waiting my choice to open with full breast, 
And beg an alms of spring-time, ne'er denied 
In-doors by vernal Chaucer, whose fresh woods 
Throb thick with merle and mavis all the year. 

* The compiler quotes the passage given above with no ordinary 
pleasure. When a youth, he was so smitten with the charms of 
" The Natural History of Selborne " — which had been knt to him 
by a friend — that he resolved to transcribe the entire work, before 
returning it to its owner. By this labour of love he became 
possessor of a copy which he could call his own, and thenceforth 
every rural walk or excursion was made more enjoyable, from 
his familiarity with its contents. In those early days he could 
truly and gratefully say of its pa.ges—/>ernoctani nobis, pere- 
£rmantur, rusticantur. 


. . Nay, I think 

Merely to bask and ripen is sometimes ' 

The student's wiser business ; the brain 
That forages all climes to line its cells, 
Ranging both worlds on lightest wings of wish, 
Will not distil the juices it has sucked 
To the sweet substance of pellucid thought, 
Except for him who hath the secret learned 
To mix his blood with sunshine, and to take 
The winds into his pulses. ^^^^^ ^^^ ^^^^^^^_ 

Therefore with thee I love to read 

Our brave old poets : at thy touch how stirs 

Life in the withered words ! how swift recede 

Time's shadows! and how glows again 

Through its dead mass the incandescent verse, 

As when upon the anvils of the brain 

It glittering lay, cyclopically wrought 

By the fast-throbbing hammers of the poet's thought ! 

What warm protection dost thou bend 
Round curtained talk of friend with friend, 
While the gray snow-storm, held aloof. 
To softest outline rounds the roof, 
Or the rude North with baffled strain 
Shoulders the frost-starred window-pane ! 
Now the kind nymph to Bacchus borne 
By Morpheus' daughter, she that seems 
Gifted upon her natal morn 
By him with fire, by her with dreams, 
Nicotia, dearer to the Muse 
Than all the grape's bewildering juice, 


We worship, unforbid of thee ; 

And, as her incense floats and curls 

In airy spires and wayward whirls, 

Or poises on its tremulous stalk 

A flower of frailest revery, 

So winds and loiters, idly free, 

The current of unguided talk. 

Now laughter-rippled, and now caught 

In smooth, dark pools of deeper thought. 

Meanwhile thou mellowest every word, 

A sweetly unobtrusive third ; 

For thou hast magic beyond wine, 

To unlock natures each to each ; 

The unspoken thought thou canst divine ; 

Thou fiU'st the pauses of the speech 

With whispers that to dream-land reach, 

And frozen fancy-springs unchain 

In Arctic outskirts of the brain ; 

Sun of all inmost confidences ! 

To thy rays doth the heart unclose 

Its formal calyx of pretences. 

That close against rude day's offences, 

And open its shy midnight rose. 

A Winter -Evening Hymn to My Fire. 

Walt Whitman, b. 1819 [Living]. 

Without doubt, some of the richest and most 
powerful and populous communities of the antique 
world, and some of the grandest personalities and 
events, have, to after and present times, left themselves 
entirely unbequeathed. Doubtless, greater than any 


that have come down to us, were among those lands, 
heroisms, persons, that have not come down to us at 
all, even by name, date, or location. Others have 
arrived safely, as from voyages over wide, centuries- 
stretching seas. The little ships, the miracles that 
have buoyed them, and by incredible chances safely 
conveyed them, (or the best of them, their meaning 
and essence,) over long wastes, darkness, lethargy, 
ignorance, &c., have been a few inscriptions — a few 
immortal compositions, small in size, yet compassing 
what measureless values of reminiscence, contemporary 
portraitures, manners, idioms and beliefs, with deepest 
inference, hint and thought, to tie and touch forever 
the old, new body, and the old, new soul. These ! 
and still these ! bearing the freight so dear —dearer 
than pride — dearer than love. All the best experience 
of humanity, folded, saved, freighted to us here ! Some 
of these tiny ships we call Old and New Testament, 
Homer, Eschylus, Plato, Juvenal, &c. Precious 
minims ! I think, if we were forced to choose, rather 
than have you, and the likes of you, and what belongs 
to, and has grown of you, blotted out and gone, we 
could better afford, appalling as that would be, to lose 
all actual ships, this day fastened by wharf, or floating 
on wave, and see them, with all their cargoes, scuttlec 
and sent to the bottom. 

Gathered by geniuses of city, race, or age, and put 
by them in highest of art's forms, namely, the literary 
form, the peculiar combinations, and the outshows o\ 
that city, age, or race, its particular modes of the 
universal attributes and passions, its faiths, heroes, 
lovers and gods, wars, traditions, struggles, crimes, 


emotions, joys, (or the subtle spirit of these,) having 
been passed on to us to illumine our own selfhood, 
and its experiences — what they supply, indispensable 
and highest, if taken away, nothing else in all the 
world's boundless store-houses could make up to us, 
or ever again return. 

For us, along the great highways of time, those 
monuments stand — those forms of majesty and beauty. 
For us those beacons burn through all the nights. 
Unknown Egyptians, graving hieroglyphs ; Hindus, 
with hymn and apothegm and endless epic ; Hebrew 
prophet, with spirituality, as in flashes of lightning, 
conscience, like red-hot iron, plaintive songs and 
screams of vengeance for tyrannies and enslavement ; 
Christ, with bent head, brooding love and peace, like 
a dove ; Greek, creating eternal shapes of physical and 
esthetic proportion ; Roman, lord of satire, the sword, 
and the codex ; — of the figures, some far-off and veiled, 
others nearer and visible ; Dante, stalking with lean 
form, nothing but fibre, not a grain of superfluous 
flesh ; Angelo, and the great painters, architects, 
musicians ; rich Shakspeare, luxuriant as the sun, 
artist and singer of Feudalism in its sunset, with all 
the gorgeous colours, owner thereof, and using them at 
will ; — and so to such as German Kant and Hegel, 
where they, though near us, leaping over the ages, sit 
again, impassive, imperturbable, like the Egyptian 
gods. Of these, and the like of these, is it too much, 
indeed, to return to our favourite figure, and view them 
as orbs and systems of orbs, moving in free paths in 
the spaces of that other heaven, the kosmic intellect, 
the soul ? 


To-day, doubtless, the infant Genius of American 
poetic expression lies sleeping far away, happily un- 
recognized and uninjured by the coteries, the art-writers, 
the talkers and critics of the saloons, or the lecturers 
in the colleges — lies sleeping, aside, unrecking itself, 
in some Western idiom, or native Michigan or Ten- 
nessee repartee, or stump -speech — or in Kentucky or 
Georgia or the Carolinas — or in some slang or local 
song or allusion of the Manhattan, Boston, Phila- 
delphia or Baltimore mechanic — or up in the Maine 
woods — or off in the hut of the California miner, or 
crossing the Rocky mountains, or along the Pacific 
railroad — or on the breasts of the young farmers of the 
Northwest, or Canada, or boatmen of the lakes. Rude 
and coarse nursing-beds these ; but only from such be- 
ginnings and stocks, indigenous here, may haply arrive, 
be grafted, and sprout, in time, flowers of genuine 
American aroma, and fruits truly and fully our own. 

The altitude of literature and poetry has always been 
Religion — and always will be. The Indian Vedas, the 
Nagkas of Zoroaster, The Talmud of the Jews, the Old 
Testament also, the Gospel of Christ arid his disciples, 
Plato's works, the Koran of Mohammed, the Edda of 
Snorro, and so on toward our own day, to Sweden- 
borg, and to the invaluable contributions of Leibnitz, 
Kant and Hegel, ^these, with such poems only in 
which, (while singing well of persons and events, of 
the passions of man, and the shows of the material 
universe,) the religious tone, the consciousness of 
mystery, the recognition of the future, of the unknown, 
of Deity, over and under all, and of the divine purpose, 


are never absent, but indirectly give tone to all — 
exhibit literature's real heights and elevations, tower- 
ing up like the great mountains of the earth. 

In a few years, there will be, in the cities of These 
States, immense Museums, with suites of halls, con- 
taining samples and illustrations from all the places 
and peoples of the earth, old and new. In these halls, 
in the presence of these illustrations, the noblest savans 
will deliver lectures to thousands of young men and 
women, on history, natural history, the sciences, &c. 
History itself will get released from being that false 
and distant thing, that fetish it has been. It will 
become a friend, a venerable teacher, a live being, 
with hands, voice, presence. It will be disgraceful to 
a young person not to know chronology, geography, 
poems, heroes, deeds, and all the former nations, and 
present ones also — and it will be disgraceful in a teacher 
to teach any less or more than he believes. 

— We see, fore-indicated, amid these prospects and 
hopes, new law-forces of spoken and written language 
— not merely the pedagogue-forms, correct, regular, 
familiar with precedents, made for matters of outside 
propriety, fine words, thoughts definitely told out — ^but 
a language fanned by the breath of Nature, which leaps 
overhead, cares mostly for impetus and effects, and for 
what it plants and invigorates to grow— tallies life and 
character, and seldomer tells a thing than suggests or 
necessitates it. 

The process of reading is not a half-sleep, but in 
highest sense, an exercise, a gymnast's struggle ; that 


the reader is to do something for himself, must be on 
the alert, must himself or herself construct indeed the 
poem, argument, history, metaphysical essay — the text 
furnishing the hints, the clue, the start or framework. 
Not the book needs so much to be the complete thing, 
but the reader of the book does. That were to make 
a nation of supple and athletic minds, well-trained, 
intuitive, used to depend on themselves, and not on a 
few coteries of writers. 

I not only commend the study of this literature, but 
wish our sources of supply and comparison vastly 
enlarged. American students may well derive from 
all former lands — from forenoon Greece and Rome, 
down to the perturbed medieval times, the Crusades, 
and so to Italy, the German intellect — all the older 
literatures, and all the newer ones — from witty and 
warlike France, and markedly, and in many ways, and 
at many different periods, from the enterprise and soul 
of the great Spanish race — bearing ourselves always 
courteous, always deferential, indebted beyond measure 
to the mother-world, to all its nations dead, as all its 
nations living — the offspring, this America of ours, the 
Daughter, not by any means of the British isles ex- 
clusively, but of the Continent, and all continents. 
Indeed, it is time we should realize and fully fructify 
those germs we also hold from Italy, France, Spain, 
especially in the best imaginative productions of those 
lands, which are, in many ways, loftier and subtler 
than the English, or British, and indispensable to com- 
plete our service. ... Of the great poems of 
Asian antiquity, the Indian epics, the Book of Job, 


the Ionian Iliad, the unsurpassedly simple, loving, 
perfect idyls of the life and death of Christ, in the 
New Testament, and along down, of most of the char- 
acteristic imaginative or romantic relics of the con- 
dnent, as the Cid, Cervantes' Don Quixote, &c., 
I should say they substantially adjust themselves to us, 
and, far off as they are, accord curiously with our bed 
and board, to-day, in 1870, in Brooklyn, Washington, 
Canada, Ohio, Texas, California — and with our notions, 
both of seriousness and of fun, and our standards of 
heroism, manliness, and even the Democratic require- 

I cannot dismiss English, or British imaginative 
literature without the cheerful name of Walter Scott. 
In my opinion he deserves to stand next to Shak- 
speare. . Both are, in their best and absolute quality, 
continental, not British — both teeming, luxuriant, true 
to their lands and origin, namely, feudality, yet ascend- 
ing into universalism. Then, I should say, both 
deserve to be finally considered and construed as 
shining suns, whom it were ungracious to pick 
spots upon. — Democratic Vistas. (Author's Edition, 
Camden, New Jersey.) 1876. 

Marian Evans (George Eliot). 
1820— 1881. 

At last Maggie's eyes glanced down on the books 
that lay on the window-shelf, and she half forsook her 
reverie to turn over listlessly the leaves of the *' Portrait 
Gallery," but she soon pushed this aside to examine 


the little row of books tied together with string. 
** Beauties of the Spectator," " Rasselas," " Economy 
of Human Life," "Gregory's Letters" — she knew the 
sort of matter that was inside all these : the " Christian 
Year " — that seemed to be a hymn-book, and she laid 
it down again ; but Thofnas d, Kempis ? — the name 
had come across her in her reading, and she felt the 
satisfaction, which every one knows, of getting some 
ideas to attach to a name that strays solitary in the 
memory. She took up the little, old, clumsy book 
with some curiosity : it had the corners turned down in 
many places, and some hand, now for ever quiet, had 
made at certain passages strong pen-and-ink marks, 
long since browned by time. Maggie turned from leaf 
to leaf, and read where the quiet hand pointed . . . 
' ' Know that the love of thyself doth hurt thee more 
than anything in the world. ... If thou seekest 
this or that, and wouldst be here or there to enjoy thy 
own will and pleasure, thou shalt never be quiet nor 
free from care : for in everything somewhat will be 
wanting, and in every place there will be some that 
will cross thee. . . . Both above and below, 
which way soever thou dost turn thee, everywhere 
thou shalt find the Cross : and everywhere of necessity 
thou must have patience, if thou wilt have inward 
peace, and enjoy an everlasting crown. . . ." 

A strange thrill of awe passed through Maggie while 
she read, as if she had been awakened in the night by 
a strain of solemn music, telling of beings whose souls 
had been astir while hers was in stupor. She went on 
from one brown mark to another, where the quiet 
hand seemed to point, hardly conscious that she was • 


reading — seeming rather to listen while a low voice 
said — " ... I have often said unto thee, and now 
again I say the same, Forsake thyself, resign thyself, 
and thou shalt enjoy much inward peace. . . . 
Then shall all vain imaginations, evil perturbations, 
and superfluous cares fly away ; then shall immoderate 
fear leave thee, and inordinate love shall die." 

. . . She read on and on in the old book, de- 
vouring eagerly the dialogues with the invisible 
Teacher, the pattern of sorrow, the source of all 
strength ; returning to it after she had been called 
away, and reading till the sun went down behind the 
willows. . . . She knew nothing of doctrines and 
systems — of mysticism or quietism ; but this voice out 
of the far-off" middle ages was the direct communication 
of a human soul's belief and experience, and came to 
Maggie as an unquestioned message. 

I suppose that is the reason why the small old- 
fashioned book, for which you need only pay sixpence 
at a book-stall, works miracles to this day, turning 
bitter waters into sweetness : while expensive sermons 
and treatises, newly issued, leave all things as they 
were before. It was written down by a hand that 
waited for the heart's prompting ; it is the chronicle of 
a solitary, hidden anguish, struggle, trust and triumph — 
not written on velvet cushions to teach endurance to 
those who are treading with bleeding feet on the stones. 
And so it remains to all time a lasting record of 
human needs and human consolations : the voice of a 
brother who, ages ago, felt and suffered and re- 
nounced — in the cloister, perhaps with serge gown 
and tonsured head, with much chanting and long fasts, 


and with a fashion of speech different from ours — but 
under the same silent far-off heavens, and with the 
same passionate desires, the same strivings, the same 
failures, the same weariness. — The Mill on the Floss, 
Book iv., Chap. 3. , 

George Dawson. 1821 — 1876. 

The great consulting room of a wise man is a library. 
When I am in perplexity about life, I have but to come 
here, and, without fee or reward, I commune with the 
wisest souls that God has blest the world with. If I 
want a discourse on immortality Plato comes to my 
help. If I want to know the human heart Shakspeare 
opens all its chambers. Whatever be my perplexity or 
doubt I know exactly the great man to call to me, and 
he comes in the kindest way, he listens to my doubts 
and tells me his convictions. So that a library may be 
regarded as the solemn chamber in which a man can 
take counsel with all that have been wise and great 
and good and glorious amongst the men that have 
gone before him. If we come down for a moment and 
look at the bare and immediate utilities of a library we 
find that here a man gets himself ready for his calling, 
arms himself for his profession, finds out the facts that 
are to determine his trade, prepares himself for his 
examination. The utilities of it are endless and price- 
less. It is too a place of pastime ; for man has no 
amusement more innocent, more sweet, more gracious, 
more elevating, and more fortifpng than he can find in 
a library. If he be fond of books, his fondness will 
discipline him as well as amuse him. , . . 


I go into my library as to a hermitage — and it is one 
of the best hermitages the world has. What matters 
the scoff of the fool when you are safely amongst the 
great men of the past ? How little of the din of this 
stupid world enters into a library, how hushed are the 
foolish voices of the world's hucksterings, barterings, 
and bickerings ! How little the scorn of high or low, 
or the mad cries of party spirit can touch the man 
who in this best hermitage of human life draws around 
him the quietness of the dead and the solemn sanctities of 
ancient thought ! Thus, whether I take it as a question of 
utility, of pastime or of high discipline I find the library — 
with but one or two exceptions — the most blessed place 
that man has fashioned or framed. The man who is fond 
of books is usually a man of lofty thought, of elevated 
opinions. A library is the strengthener of all that is 
great in life and the repeller of what is petty and mean ; 
and half the gossip of society would perish if the books 
that are truly worth reading were but read. 

When we look through the houses of a large part of 
the middle classes of this country we find there every- 
thing but what there ought most to be. There are no 
books in them worth talking of. If a question arises 
of geography they have no atlases. If the question be 
when a great man was bom they cannot help you. 
They can give you a gorgeous bed, with four posts, 
marvellous adornments, luxurious hangings and lac- 
quered shams all round; they can give you dinners 
■ad nauseam and wine that one can, or cannot, honestly 
praise. But useful books are almost the last things 
that are to be found there ; and when the mind is empty 
of those things that books can alone fill it with, then 


the seven devils of pettiness, frivolity, fashionableness, 
gentility, scandal, small slander and the chronicling of 
small beer come in and take possession of the mind. 
Half this nonsense would be dropped if men would 
only understand the elevating influences of their com- 
muning constantly with the lofty thoughts and the high 
resolves of men of old times. 

But as we cannot dwell upon all the uses and beauties 
of a library, let us pass on to see that this is a Corpora- 
tion Library, and in that we see one of the greatest and 
happiest things about it, for a library, supported, as 
this is, by rates and administered by a Corporation, is 
the expression of a conviction on your part that a town 
like this exists for moral and intellectual purposes. It 
is a proclamation that a great community like this is 
not to be looked upon as a fortuitous concourse of 
human atoms, or as a miserable knot of vipers strug- 
gling in a pot, each aiming to get his head above the 
other in the fierce struggle of competition. It is a 
declaration that the Corporation of a great town like 
this has not done all its duty when it has put in action 
a set of ingenious contrivances for cleaning and lighting 
the streets, for breaking stones, for mending ways ; and 
has not fulfilled its highest functions even when it has 
given the people of the town the best system of 
drainage —though that is not yet attained. Beyond 
all these things the Corporation of a borough like this 
has every function to discharge that is discharged by 
the master of a household — to minister to men by every 
office, that of the priest alone excepted. And mark 
this : I would rather a great book or a great picture fell 


into the hands of a Corporation than into the hands of 
an individual, for great and noble as has been the spirit 
of many of our collectors, when a great picture is in 
the hands of a nobleman however generous, or of a 
gentleman however large-hearted he may be, he will 
have his heirs, narrow-minded fools perhaps, or a suc- 
cessor pitifully selfish and small ; and this great picture 
that God never intended to be painted for the delight 
of but one noble family, or the small collection of little 
people it gathers around it, may be shut ^ip through 
the whim of its owner or the caprice of its master, or in 
self-defence against the wanton injury that some fool 
may have done it. But the moment you put great 
works into the hands of a Corporate body like this 
you secure permanence of guardianship in passionless 
keeping. A Corporation cannot get out of temper, or 
if it does it recovers itself quickly. A Corporation 
could not shut up this Library. It is open for ever. 
It is under the protection of the English law in all its 
majesty. Its endurance will be the endurance of the 
English nation. Therefore when a Corporation takes 
into its keeping a great picture or a great collection of 
books, that picture and those books are given to the 
multitude and are put into the best keeping, the keeping 
of those who have not the power, even if they had the 
will, to destroy. The time of private ownership has, 
I hope, nearly come to an end— not that I would put 
an end to it by law or by any kind of violence ; but I 
hope we shall in the open market bid against the 
nobility, gentry, and private collectors, for it is a 
vexation when a great picture or a great collection of 
books is shut up in a private house. ... 


If I had "my will there should not be a single 
cheap book in this room. If you want cheap books 
buy them. You can have *'Waverley" for sixpence 
and the choice of two editions. The object of a 
Library like this is to buy dear books — to buy 
books that the lover of books cannot afford to 
buy; to put at the service of the poorest, books 
that the richest can scarce afford. . . . The object 
is to bring together in this room a supply of what the 
private man cannot compass, and what the wisest man 
only wants to put to occasional use. One of the great 
offices of a Reference Library like this is to keep at 
the service of everybody what everybody cannot keep 
at home for his own service. It is not convenient to 
every man to have a very large telescope ; I may wish 
to study the skeleton of a whale but my house is not 
large enough to hold one ; I may be curious in micro- 
scopes but I may have no money to buy one of my 
own. But provide an institution like this and here is 
the telescope, here is the microscope, and here the 
skeleton of the whale. Here are the great picture, 
the mighty book, the ponderous atlas, the great 
histories of the world. They are here always ready 
for the use of every man without his being put to the 
cost of purchase or the discomfort of giving them house 
room. Here are books that we only want to consult 
occasionally and which are very costly. These are 
the books proper for a Library like this — mighty cyclo- 
paedias, prodigious charts, books that only Governments 
can publish. It is almost the only place where I would 
avoid cheapness as a plague and run away from mean 
printing and petty pages with disgust. . . . 


There are few things, Mr. Mayor, that I would more 
willingly share with you than the desire that, in days 
to come, when some student, in a fine rapture of grati- 
tude, as he sits in this room, may for a moment call to 
mind the names of the men, who by speech and by 
labour, by the necessary agitation or the continuous 
work, took part in founding this Library. There are 
few places I would rather haunt after my death than 
this room, and there are few things I would have my 
children remember more than this, that this man spoke 
the discourse at the opening of this glorious Library, 
the first-fruits of a clear understanding that a great 
town exists to discharge towards the people of that 
town the duties that a great nation exists to discharge 
towards the people of that nation — that a town exists 
here by the grace of God, that a great town is a solemn 
organism through which should flow, and in which 
should be shaped, all the highest, loftiest, and truest 
ends of man's intellectual and moral nature. . . . 
This Corporation has undertaken the highest duty 
that is possible to it : it has made provision for its 
people — for all its people — and it has made a provision 
of God's greatest and best gifts unto man. — Inaugural 
Address^ on the Opening of the Birmingham Free 
Reference Library ^ Oct. 26, 1866. 

Charles Buxton. 1822 — 1871. 

Readers abuse writers and say their writing is 
wretched stuff, stale nonsense, and so on. But what 
might not writers justly say of their readers ? What 
poor, dull, indolent, feeble, careless minds do they 


bring to deal with thoughts whose excellence lies deep ! 
A reader's highest achievement is to succeed in forming 
a true and clear conception of the author from his 
works. . . . 

We are richer than we think. And now and then it 
is not a bad thing to make a catalogue raisonne of the 
things that are helping to make us happy. It is 
astonishing how long the list is. The poorest of us 
has property, the value of which is almost boundless ; 
but there is not one of us who might not so till that 
property as to make it peld tenfold more. Our books, 
gardens, families, society, friends, talk, music, art, 
poetry, scenery, might all bring forth to us far greater 
wealth of enjoyment and improvement if we tried to 
squeeze the very utmost out of them. — Notes of 

Robert Leighton. 1822 — 1869. 

I cannot think the glorious world of mind, 

Embalm'd in books, which I can only see 
In patches, though I read my moments blind, 

Is to be lost to me. 

I have a thought that, as we live elsewhere, 
So will these dear creations of the brain ; 

That what I lose unread, I'll find, and there 
Take up my joy again. 

O then the bliss of blisses, to be freed 

From all the wonts by which the woi^ld is driven ; 

With liberty and endless time to read 
The libraries of Heaven ! 


Books and Thoughts. 
As round these well-selected shelves one looks, 

Remembering years of reading leisure flown, 
It kills all hope to think how many books 

He still must leave unknown. 
But when to thoughts, instead of books, he comes, 

Request grows less for what he cannot read. 
If he reflects how many learned tomes 

One thought may supersede. 
So, let him be a toiling, unread man. 

And the idea, like an added sense, 
Of God informing all his life, he can 

With many a book dispense. 
The fine conviction, too, that Death, like Sleep, 

Wakes into higher dreams — this thought will brook 

Denial of the libraries, and keep 

The key of many a book. „ ■> j .l t> 

^ ^ Kecords and other Poems, 

For Many Books, 
I would that we were only readers now, 

And wrote no more, or in rare heats of soul 
Sweated out thoughts when the o'er-burdened brow 

Was powerless to control. 
Then would all future books be small and few. 

And, freed of dross, the soul's refined gold ; 
So should we have a chance to read the new. 

Yet not forego the old. 
But as it is, Lord help, us, in this flood 

Of daily papers, books and magazines ! 
We scramble blind as reptiles in the mud, 

And know not what it means. 

y, A. LANGFORD. 399 

Is it the myriad spawn of vagrant tides, 

Whose growth would overwhelm both sea and 

Yet often necessary loss, provides 
Sufficient and no more ? 

Is it the broadcast sowing of the seeds, 

And from the stones, the thorns, and fertile soil, 

Only enough to serve the world's great needs 
Rewards the sower's toil ? 

Is it all needed for the varied mind ? 

Gives not the teeming press a book too much — 
Not one, but in its dense neglect shall find 

Some needful heart to touch ? 

Ah, who can say that even this blade of grass 
No mission has — superfluous as it looks ? 

Then wherefore feel oppressed I cry, Alas 
There are too many books ! 

Reuben^ and other Poems. 

J. A. Langford. h, 1823 [Living]. 

The love of books is a love which requires neither • 
justification, apology, nor defence. It is a good thing 
in itself: a possession to be thankful for, to rejoice 
over, to be proud of, and to sing praises for. With 
this love in his heart no man is ever poor, ever without 
friends, or the means of making his life lovely, beautiful, 
and happy. In prosperity or adversity, in joy or 
sorrow, in health or sickness, in solitude or crowded 
towns, books are never out of place, never without the 
power to comfort, console, and bless. They add 

400 y. A. LANGFORD, 

wealth to prosperity, and make sweeter the sweet uses 
of adversity ; they intensify joy and take the sting from, 
or give a bright relief to sorrow ; they are the glorifiers 
of health and the blessed consolers of sickness; they 
people solitude with the creations of thought, the 
children of fancy, and the offsprings of imagination, 
and to the busy haunts of men they lend a purpose and 
an aim, and tend to keep the heart unspotted in the 
world. It is better to possess this love than to inherit 
a kingdom, for it brings wealth which money can never 
buy, and which power is impotent to secure. It is 
better than gold, "yea, than much fine gold," and 
splendid palaces and costly raiment. No possession 
can surpass, or even equal, a good library to the lover 
of books. Here are treasured up for his daily use and 
delectation riches which increase by being consumed, 
and pleasures which never cloy. It is a realm as large 
as the universe, every part of which is peopled by 
spirits who lay before his feet their precious spoils as 
his lawful tribute. For him the poets sing, the philo- 
sophers discourse, the historians unfold the wonderful 
march of life, and the searchers of nature reveal the 
secrets and mysteries of creation. ■ No matter what his 
. rank or position may be, the lover of books is the 
richest and the happiest ofthe children of men. . . . 
The only true equalisers in the world are books; 
the only treasure-house open to all comers is a 
library ; the only wealth which will not decay is know- 
ledge; the only jewel which you can carry beyond the 
grave is wisdom. To live in this equality, to share in 
these treasures, to possess this wealth, and to secure 
this jewel may be the happy lot of every one. All 

y. A. LANGFORD. 401 

that is needed for the acquisition of these inestimable 
treasures is, the love of books. . . 

As ,friends and companions, as teachers and con- 
solers, as recreators and amusers books are always with 
us, and always ready to respond to our wants. We 
can take them with us in our wanderings, or gather 
them around us at our firesides. In the lonely wilder- 
ness, and the crowded city, their spirit will be with us, 
giving a meaning to the seemingly confused movements 
of humanity, and peopling the desert with their own 
bright creations. Without the love of books the 
richest man is poor ; but endowed with this treasure of 
treasures, the poorest man is rich. He has wealth 
which no power can diminish; riches which are 
always increasing; possessions which the more he 
scatters the more they accumulate ; friends who never 
desert him, and pleasures which never cloy. — The 
Praise of Books, 

Robert Collyer, b. 1823 [Living]. 

Those who must be their own helpers need not be 
one whit discouraged. The history of the world is 
full of bright examples of the value of self- training, as 
shown by the subsequent success won as readers, and 
writers, and workers in every department of life by 
those who apparently lacked both books to read and 
time to read them, or even the candle wherewith to light 
the printed page. *'Do you want to know how I manage 
to talk to you in this simple Saxon? I will tell you. 
I read Bunyan, Crusoe, and Goldsmith when I was a 
boy, morning, noon, and night. All the rest was task 



work, these were my delight, with the stories in the 
Bible, and with Shakspeare when at last the mighty 
master came within our doors. The rest were as senna 
to me. These were like a well of pure water, and this 
is the first step I seem to have taken of my own free 
will toward the pulpit. ... I took to these as I 
took to milk, and, without the least idea what I was 
doing, got the taste for simple words into the very fibre 
of my nature. There was day-school for me until I 
was eight years old, and then I had to turn in and work 
thirteen hours a day. . . . From the days when 
we used to spell out Crusoe and old Bunyan there had 
grown up in me a devouring hunger to read books. 
It made small matter what they were, so they were books. 
Half a volume of an old encyclopaedia came along — the 
first I had ever seen. How many times I went through 
that I cannot even guess. I remember that I read 
some old reports of the Missionary Society with the 
greatest delight. There were chapters in them about 
China and Labrador. Yet I think it is in reading as it 
is in eating, when the first hunger is over you begin to 
be a little critical, and will by no means take to garbage 
if you are of a wholesome nature. And I remember this 
because it touches this beautiful valley of the Hudson. 
I could not go home for the Christmas of 1839, and 
was feeling very sad about it all, for I was only a boy ; 
and sitting by the fire, an old farmer came in and said : 
*I notice thou's fond o' reading, so I brought thee 
summat to read.' It was Irving's 'Sketch Book.' I 
had never heard of the work. I went at it, and was 
*as them that dream.' No such delight had touched 
me since the old days of Crusoe. I saw the Hudson . 


and the Catskills, took poor Rip at once into my heart, 
as everybody has, pitied Ichabod while I laughed at 
him, thought the old Dutch feast a most admirable 
thing, and long before I was through, all regret at my 
lost Christmas had gone down the wind, and I had found 
out there are books and books. That vast hunger to 
read never left me. If there was no candle, I poked my 
head down to the fire \ read while I was eating, blowing 
the bellows, or walking from one place to another. I 
could read and walk four miles an hour. The world 
centred in books. There was no thought in my mind 
of any good to come out of it; the good lay in the 
reading. I had no more idea of being a minister than 
you elder men who were boys then, in this town, had 
that I should be here to-night to tell this story. Now, 
give a boy a passion like this for anything, books or 
business, painting or farming, mechanism or music, 
and you give him thereby a lever to lift his world, and 
a patent of nobility, if the thing he does is noble. 
There were two or three of my mind about books. We 
became companions, and gave the roughs a wide berth. 
The books did their work too, about that drink, and 
fought the devil with a finer fire. I remember while 
I was yet a lad reading Macaulay's great essay on 
Bacon, and I could grasp its wonderful beauty. There 
has been no time when I have not felt sad that there 
should have been no chance for me at a good educa- 
tion and training. I miss it every day, but such chances 
as were left lay in that everlasting hunger to still be 
reading. I was tough as leather, and could do the 
double stint, and so it was that, all unknown to myself, 
I was as one that soweth good seed in his field. " 


And these are among the sure criterions to me of a 
bad book. If, when I read a book about God, I find 
that it has put Him farther from me ; or about man, 
that it has put me farther from him ; or about this 
universe, that it has shaken- down upon it a new look 
of desolation, turning a green field into a wild moor ; 
or about life, that it has made it seem a little less 
worth living on all accounts than it was ; or about 
moral principles, that they are not quite so clear and 
strong as they were when this author began to talk ; 
then I know that, on any of these five cardinal things 
in the life of a man — his relation to God, to his fellows, 
to the world about him, and the world within him, and 
the great principles on which all things stable centre — 
that, for me, is a bad book. It may chime in with 
some lurking appetite in my own nature, and so seem 
to be as sweet as honey to my taste, but it comes to 
bitter, bad results. It may be food for another. I 
can say nothing to that. He may be a pine, while 
I am a palm. I only know this, that in these great 
first things, if the book I read shall touch them at all, 
it shall touch them to my profit or else I will not read 
it. Right and wrong shall grow more clear ; life in 
and about me more divine ; T shall come nearer to my 
fellows and God nearer to me, or the thing is a poison. 
Faust, or Calvin, or Carlyle, if any one of these car- 
dinal things is the grain and grist of the book, and 
that is what it comes to when I read it, I am being 
drugged and poisoned, and the sooner I know it the 
better. I want bread, and meat, and milk, not brandy, 
or opium, or hasheesh. 

y. MAIN FR IS WELL. 405 

If the book be of religion, and brings God nearer 
to my heart and life ; if it be of humanity, and 
brings me nearer to the heart and life of man ; if it be 
of philosophy, and makes this universe glow to me 
with a new grace ; or of metaphysics, and brings me 
more truly to myself; if it be poem, or story, adven- 
ture, or history, or biography, and I feel that it makes 
me more of a man, more dutiful, and sincere, and 
trusty, then no matter who wrote it or what men say 
about it, the judgment is set in my own soul. — Addresses, 
Sermons y d^c, by the Rev, Robert Collyer^ Chicago , 
U. S. 

James Hain Friswell. 1827 — 1878. 

When a man loves books he has in him that which 
will console him under many sorrows and strengthen 
him in various trials. Such a love will keep him at 
home, and make his time pass pleasantly. Even when 
visited by bodily or mental affliction, he can resort to 
this book-love and be cured. , . . And when a 
man is at home and happy with a book, sitting by his 
fireside, he must be a churl if he does not communicate 
that happiness. Let him read now and then to his 
wife and children. Those thoughts will grow and take 
root in the hearts of the listeners. Good scattered 
about is indeed the seed of the sower. A man who 
feels sympathy with what is good and noble is, at the 
time he feels that sympathy, good and noble himself. 

To a poor man book-love is not only a consoling 
preservative, but often a source of happiness, power, 
and wealth. It lifts him from the mechanical drudgery 

4o6 C. KEG AN PAUL. 

of the day. It takes him away from bad companions, 
and gives him the close companionship of a good and 
fine-thinking man ; for, while he is reading Bacon or 
Shakspeare, l\e is talking with Bacon or Shakspeare. 
While his body is resting, his mind is working and 
growing. . . . 

It is true that this priesthood is of no Church, and 
is not in orders ; but it is not the less important on 
that account. What a power does a writer hold who 
addresses every week, or every day, or month, a larger 
congregation than a hundred churches could hold ! 
There are many writers of the present day who address 
as many, nay, more than the number indicated, if we 
put it at its largest. 

This importance of the priesthood of letters is carried 
yet further if we remember that the words of a preacher 
fall on our ears and are often forgotten, while those of 
the writer remain. Ink-stains are difficult to get out : 
there is nothing so imperishable as a book, — The 
Gentle Life ; Second Series : *' On Book Love." 

C. Kegan Paul. b. 1828. 

To go into a library is like the wandering into some 
great cathedral church and looking at the monuments 
on the walls. Every one there was in his or her day 
the pattern of all the virtues, the best father, the 
tenderest wife, the most devoted child. Never were 
such soldiers and sailors as those whose crossed swords 
or gallant ships are graven in marble above their tombs ; 
every dead sovereign was virtuous as Marcus Aurelius, 
every bishop as blameless as Berkeley. The inscrip- 

C. KEG AN PAUL. 407 

tions are all of the kind which George IV. put on the 
statue of George III. at the end of the ** Long Walk " 
at Windsor. Having embittered his father's life while 
that father had mind enough to know the baseness of 
his son, he called him ** pater optimus," best of fathers ! 
This same George, it may be said in a parenthesis, 
gave to the library of Eton School, not such a tomb 
of dead books as is the library of Eton College, the 
dead Delphin Classics, which have been well described 
as " the useless present of a royal rake." 

Yet those names so forgotten which meet us in the 
Church were not without their influence. If there be 
one statement more than another to be disputed among 
those made by Shakspeare's Mark Antony, it is — 

" The evil that men do lives after them, 
The good is oft interred with their bones. " 

It has a truth, but a less truth than that the good more 
often lives, and passes into other lives to be renewed 
and carried forward with fresh vigour in the coming 
age. Were it not so the human race would steadily 
deteriorate, weltering down into a black and brutal 
corruption, ever quickening, if at all, into lower forms. 
As it is we know that the race, with all its imperfec- 
tions, "moves upward, working out the beast, and lets 
the ape and tiger die." The great men stand like stars 
at distant intervals, individuals grander, perhaps, than 
ever will be again, each in his own way ; but still the 
average level of every succeeding age is higher than 
that which went before it. We may never again have 
an Homer, Aristotle, Archimedes, St. Paul, Csesar, or 
Charlemagne ; but in all things those great ones who 


forecast philosophy, or science, or mediaeval civilization 
bear sway over us still, — *'the living are under the 
dominion of the dead." Those lesser forgotten ones 
of whom we have spoken have carried on the torch of 
life in his or her own home circle, were influential 
even if not widely known, and have helped to make 
humanity what she is and will be, — our lady, our 
mistress, our mother, and our queen. 

As perhaps no human life was ever wholly worth- 
less, and the worst use to which you can put a man, as 
has been said, is to hang him, so no book is wholly 
worthless, and none should ever be destroyed. We 
have probably all had the same experience, that we 
have never parted with a book, however little we fancied 
it would be wanted again, without regretting it soon 
afterwards. There is a spark of good remaining in the 
most un virtuous person or book. — " The Production 
and Life of Books, " Fortnightly Review^ Aprils 1 883. 

Alexander Smith. 1830 — 1867. 

In my garden I spend my days ; in my library I 
spend my nights. My interests are divided between 
my geraniums and my books. With the flower I am 
in the present ; with the book I am in the past. I go 
into my library, and all history unrolls before me. 
I breathe the morning air of the world while the scent 
of Eden's roses yet lingered in it, while it vibrated 
only to the world's first brood of nightingales, and to 
the laugh of Eve. I see the pyramids building ; I 
hear the shoutings of the armies of Alexander ; I feel 


the ground shake beneath the march of Cambyses. I 
sit as in a theatre,— the stage is time, the play is the 
play of the world. What a spectacle it is! What 
kingly pomp, what processions file past, what cities 
burn to heaven, what crowds of captives are dragged at 
the chariot-wheels of conquerors ! I hiss or cry 
** Bravo" when the great actors come on shaking the 
stage. I am a Roman emperor when I look at a 
Roman coin. I lift Homer, and I shout with Achilles 
in the trenches. The silence of the unpeopled 
Syrian plains, the out-comings and in-goings of the 
patriarchs, Abraham and Ishmael, Isaac in the fields 
at even-tide, Rebekah at the well, Jacob's guile, Esau's 
face reddened by desert sun-heat, Joseph's splendid 
funeral procession — all these things I find within the 
boards of my Old Testament. What a silence in those 
old books as of a half-peopled world — what bleating of 
flocks — what green pastoral rest — what indubitable 
human existence ! Across brawling centuries of blood 
and war, I hear the bleating of Abraham's flocks, the 
tinkling of the bells of Rebekah's camels. O men 
and women, so far separated yet so near, so strange 
yet so well-known, by what miraculous power do I 
know ye all ! Books are the true Elysian fields where 
the spirits of the dead converse, and into these fields a 
mortal may venture unappalled. What king's court 
can boast such company? What school of philosophy 
such wisdom? The wit of the ancient world is glancing 
and flashing there. There is Pan's pipe, there are the 
songs of Apollo. Seated in my library at night, and 
looking on the silent faces of my books, I am occa- 
sionally visited by a strange sense of the supernatural. 


They are not collections of printed pages, they are 
ghosts. I take one down and it speaks with me in 
a tongue not now heard on earth, and of men and 
things of which it alone possesses knowledge. I call 
myself a solitary, but sometimes I think I misapply the 
term. ■ No man sees more company than I do. I 
travel with mightier cohorts around me than ever did 
Timour or Genghis Khan on their fiery marches. I 
am a sovereign in my library, but it is the dead, not 
the living that attend my levees. — Dreamt horp: a 
Book of Essays Written in the Country, by Alexandej 
Smith, Author of "^ Lifers Drama^^'' ^c. 

To define the charm of style is as difficult as to define 
the charm of beauty or of fine manners. It is not one 
thing, it is the result of a hundred things. Everything 
a man has is concerned in it. It is the amalgam and 
issue of all his faculties, and it bears the same relation 
to these that light bears to the sun, or the perfume to 
the flower. And apart from its value as an embalmer 
and preserver of thought, it has this other value, that 
it is a secret window through which we can look in on 
the writer. A man may work with ideas which he has 
not originated, which do not in any special way belong 
to himself; but his style — in which is included his way 
of approaching a subject, and his method of treating 
it — is always personal and characteristic. We decipher 
a man by his style, find out secrets about him, as if we 
over-heard his soliloquies, and had the run of his diaries, 
just as in conversation, and in the ordinary business of 
life, we draw our impressions, not so much from what 
a man says, as from the manner and the tone of voice 


in which the thing is said. The cunning reader draws 
conclusions from emphasis, takes notes of the half- 
perceptible sneer, makes humour stand and deliver its 
secret, and estimates what bitterness it has taken to 
congeal into sharpness the icy spear of wit. After this 
fashion, in every book the writer's biography may 
more or less clearly be read. For a man needs not to 
speak directly about himself to be personally commu- 
nicative. And, in truth, it is in the amount of this 
kind of personal revelation that the final value of a 
book resides. We read books, not so much for what 
they say as for what they suggest. 

Take up an essay of Montaigne's ; you are startled 
by no remarkable breadth or weight of idea, but you 
are constantly encountering sentences through which 
you can look in on the author as through a stereo- 
scopic lens. You take up an essay of Charles Lamb's, 
and in the quaint setting of his thoughts — like a piquant 
face in a Quaker bonnet — you are continually renewing 
and improving your acquaintance with the shiest, most 
delicate, and, in some respects, the noblest and purest 
of modern spirits. People never weary of reading 
Montaigne and Lamb, for while the thoughts they 
express have sufficient merit as thoughts, they are at 
the same time biographies in brief. They may have 
written finely or foolishly, seriously or with levity, 
but they have always written with a certain personal 
flavour. . . . Every sentence of the great writer 
is like an autograph. There is no chance of mistaking 
Milton's large utterance, or Jeremy Taylor's images, 
or Sir Thomas Browne's quaintness, or Charles Lamb's 


cunning turns of sentence. These are as distinct and 
individual as the features of their faces or their signa- 
tures. If Milton had endorsed a bill with half-a-dozen 
blank verse lines, it would be as good as his name, and 
would be accepted as good evidence in court. If Lamb 
had never gathered up his essays into those charming 
volumes, he could be tracked easily by the critical eye 
through all the magazines of his time. The identity of 
these men can never be mistaken. Every printed page 
of theirs is like a coat of arms, every trivial note on 
ordinary business like the impression of a signet ring. — 
Last Leaves: Sketches and Criticisms. Edited, with a 
Meinoiryby P. P. Alexander, M.A, 

W. H. Rands (Matthew Browne). 
d. 1882. 

I am not at all afraid of urging overmuch the pro- 
priety of frequent, very frequent, reading of the same 
book. The book remains the same, but the reader 
changes, and the value of reading lies in the collision 
of minds. It may be taken for granted that no con- 
ceivable amount of reading could ever put me into 
the position with respect to his book — I mean as to 
intelligence only — in which the author strove to place 
me. I may read him a hundred times, and not catch 
the precise right point of view ; and may read him a 
hundred and one times, and approach it the hundred 
and first. The driest and hardest book that ever was 
contains an interest over and above what can be picked 
out of it, and laid, so to speak, on the table. It is 
interesting as my friend is interesting ; it is a problem 


which invites me to closer knowledge, and that usually 
means better liking. He must be a poor friend that 
we only care to see once or twice, and then forget. 

It never seems to occur to some people, who deliver 
upon the books they read very unhesitating judgments, 
that they may be wanting, either by congenital defect, 
or defect of experience, or defect of reproductive 
memory, in the qualifications which are necessary for 
judging fairly of any particular book. Yet the first 
question a practised and conscientious reader asks 
himself is, whether he has any natural or accidental 
disability for the task of criticism in any given case. 
It may surprise many persons to hear of the possibility 
of such a thing ; but perhaps it may be made clear by 

As to congenital defect. We all admit that some 
individuals are born with better "ears" for music, 
and better "eyes" for colour, and more "taste" for 
drawing than others, and we willingly defer, other 
things being equal, to the decisions upon the points in 
question of those who are by nature the best gifted. 
It is quite a common thing to meet people who, in 
spite of culture, continue unmusical all their lives 
long, or unable to catch perspective, or draw a wheel 
round or a chimney straight, or discriminate fine shades 
of colour at all. What is the value of the opinions of 
such persons upon questions of the fine arts ? Scarcely 
anything, of course. Now a book is in nowise dis- 
tinguished, for our present purpose, from a picture or 
a sonata. It is sure, if it be a good book, to appeal, 
in some of its parts, to special aptitudes of sensibility 
on the part of its readers ; but if the reader lacks the 


aptitudes, where is the author? And cases in point 
are not so rare as might be supposed. There are thou- 
sands of people who are wanting in sensibility to beauty 
in general ; in the feeling of personal attachment ; 
in the feelings of the hearth ; the feelings of the 
forum ; the feelings of the altar. It is not at all 
uncommon to come across characters in which the 
ordinary natural susceptibility to devotional ideas, nay 
to fervid ideas in general, seems wholly left out. It is 
as if they had come into the world with a sense short. • 
Again, you may meet people who have no idea of 
humour. Allow any latitude you please for taste in 
this matter — and, of course, taste differs — it still remains 
true that a total absence of the sense of fun is occa- 
sionally seen in society. This is, indeed, quite a 
commonplace. Now, we must remember, that in 
speaking of qualities we, after all, draw arbitrary 
boundary lines. There are many deficiencies as many 
as there are human beings, which cannot be labelled — 
compound deficiencies, so to speak, which affect the 
total appreciativeness of our minds to a degree which 
we ourselves cannot measure, though a healthy self- 
consciousness may keep us on our guard : and, of 
course, our estimates of literature, as of other forms 
of art, must be affected by such shortcomings in our 
natural make. 

Poor indeed must our experience be as readers of 
books if we have never found a page, which once we 
thought empty, now full of life and light and meaning. 
True, it is the business of the artist to make us feel 
with him and see with him; some fault may be his, — 


and yet not all the fault. At least, he may claim that 
we should bring to him a tolerably patient and receptive 
mind, not a repelling, refusive mind ; in a word, that 
we should treat him with decency, if we profess to 
attend to him at all. 

Akin to defect of experience is defect of retrospective 
or reproductive memory — the power of feeling one's 
past over again. It is very common for a man to take 
up a book which he once admired with passion, and to 
find scarcely anything in it. What, then, is the natural 
thought, the one that he is most likely to make? 
That his judgment is more mature, I suppose. Well, 
it may be, and it ought to be ; but certainly the author 
of the work may claim that his reader should ask 
himself another question, namely, Have I lost anything 
in general or specific sensibility since I first read this 
book ? I have myself had to ask this question, and to 
answer it against myself. Lapse of time must alter us ; 
and we are, perhaps, too apt to fancy ourselves wiser 
when we are only something more hard, and something 
more dull. It has happened to me, indeed, to agree 
with a writer upon first reading, to disagree with him 
upon second reading, after an interval of a year or two ; 
and then again, upon third reading, after another 
interval, to have to come back to my first opinion.— 
Views and Opinio7is : ^^ On Forming Opinions of 

Frederic Harrison, b. 1831 [Living]. 

Far be it from me to gainsay the inestimable value 
of good books, or to discourage any man from reading 
the best ; but I often think that we forget that other side 


to this glorious view of literature : — the misuse of books, 
the debilitating waste of life in aimless promiscuous 
vapid reading, or even, it may be, in the poisonous 
inhalation of mere literary garbage and bad men's 
worst thoughts. 

For what can a book be more than the man who 
wrote it? The brightest genius, perhaps, never puts 
the best of his own soul into his printed page; and 
some of the most famous men have certainly put the 
worst of theirs. Yet are all men desirable companions, 
much less teachers, fit to be listened to, able to give us 
advice, even of those who get reputation and command 
a hearing? Or, to put out of the question that writing 
which is positively bad, are we not, amidst the multi- 
plicity of books and of writers, in continual danger of 
being drawn off by what is stimulating rather than 
solid, by curiosity after something accidentally noto- 
rious, by what has no intelligible thing to recommend 
it, except that it is new? Now, to stuff our minds 
with what is simply trivial, simply curious, or that 
which at best has but a low nutritive power, this is to 
close our minds to what is solid and enlarging, and 
spiritually sustaining. Whether our neglect of the 
great books comes from our not reading at all, or from 
an incorrigible habit of reading the little books, it ends 
in just the same thing. And that thing is ignorance 
of all the greater literature of the world. To neglect 
all the abiding parts of knowledge for the sake of the 
evanescent parts is really to know nothing worth 
knowing. It is in the end the same thing, whether 
we do not use our minds for serious study at all, 
or whether we exhaust them by an impotent 


voracity for idle and desultory "information," as it is 
called — a thing as fruitful as whistling. Of the two 
plans I prefer the former. At least, in that case, the 
mind is healthy and open. It is not gorged and 
enfeebled by excess in that which cannot nourish, 
much less enlarge and beautify our nature. 

But there is much more than this. Even to those 
who resolutely avoid the idleness of reading what is 
trivial, a difficulty is presented, a difficulty every day 
increasing by virtue even of our abundance of books. 
What are the subjects, what are the class of books we 
are to read, in what order, with what connection, to 
what ultimate use or object? Even those who are 
resolved to read the better books are embarrassed by a 
field of choice practically boundless. The longest life, 
the greatest industry, the most powerful memory, would 
not suffice to make us profit from a hundredth part of 
the world of books before us. . . . 

A man of power, who has got more from books than 
most of his contemporaries, has lately said : **Form a 
habit of reading, do not mind what you read, the 
reading of better books will come when you have a 
habit of reading the inferior." I cannot agree with 
him. I think a habit of reading idly debilitates and 
corrupts the mind for all wholesome reading ; I think 
the habit of reading widely is one of the ihost difficult 
habits to acquire, needing strong resolution and infinite 
pains ; and I hold the habit of reading for mere reading's 
sake, instead of for the sake of the stuff we gain from 
reading, to be one of the worst and commonest and 
most unwholesome habits we have. Why do we still 
suffer the traditional hypocrisy about the dignity of 


literature, literature I mean, in the gross, which includes 
about equal parts of what is useful and what is useless? 
Why are books as books, writers as writers, readers as 
readers, meritorious and honourable, apart from any 
good in them, or anything that we can get from them? 
Why do we pride ourselves on our powers of absorbing 
print, as our grandfathers did on their gifts in imbibing 
port, when we know that there is a mode of absorbing 
print which makes it impossible we can ever learn any- 
thing good out of books? 

Our stately Milton said in a passage which is one of 
the watchwords of the English race, "as good almost 
kill a Man as kill a good Book." But has he not also 
said that he would "have a vigilant eye how Bookes 
demeane themselves, as well as men; and do sharpest 
justice on them as malefactors"? , . . Yes ! they 
do kill the good book who deliver up their few and 
precious hours of reading to the trivial book; they 
make it dead for them ; they do what lies in them to 
destroy "the precious life-blood of a master spirit, 
imbalm'd and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond 
life;" they "spill that season'd life of man preserv'd 
and stor'd up in Bookes." For in the wilderness of 
books most men, certainly all busy men, must strictly 
choose. If they saturate their minds with the idler 
books, the "good book," which Milton calls "an 
immortality rather than a life," is dead to them : it is a 
book sealed up and buried. 

Men who are most observant as to the friends they 
make, or the conversation they join in, are carelessness 
itself as to the books to whom they entrust themselves. 


and the printed language with which they Saturate 
their minds. Yet can any friendship or society be 
more important to us than that of the books which 
form so large a part of our minds and even of our 
characters? Do we in real life take any pleasant 
fellow to our homes and chat with some agreeable 
rascal by our firesides, we who will take up any 
pleasant fellow's printed memoirs, we who delight in 
the agreeable rascal when he is cut up into pages and 
bound in calf ? . . . 

The vast proportion of books are books that we shall 
never be able to read. A serious percentage of books 
are not worth reading at all. The really vital books 
for us we also know to be a very trifling portion of the 
whole. And yet we act as if every book were as good 
as any other, as if it were merely a question of order 
which we take up first, as if any book were good 
enough for us, and as if all were alike honourable, 
precious, and satisfying. Alas ! books cannot be more 
than the men who write them ; and as a large propor- 
tion of the human race now write books, with Motives 
and objects as various as human activity, books, as 
books, are entitled ^ priori, until their value is proved, 
to the same attention and respect as houses, steam- 
engines, pictures, fiddles, bonnets, and other thoughtful 
or ornamental products of human industry. In the 
shelves of those libraries which are our pride, libraries 
public or private, circulating or very stationary, are to 
be found those great books of the world rarinantes in 
gurgite vasto, those books which are truly "the precious 
life-blood of a master spirit." But the very familiarity 
which their mighty fame has bred in us makes us 


indifferent ; we grow weary of what every one is sup- 
posed to have read; and we take down something 
which looks a little eccentric, or some author en the 
mere ground that we never heard of him before. 

And thus there never was a time, at least during the 
last two hundred years, when the difficulties in the way 
of making an efficient use of books were greater than 
they are to-day, when the obstacles were more real 
between readers and the right books to read, when it 
was practically so troublesome to find out that which it 
is of vital importance to know; and that not by the 
dearth, but by the plethora of printed matter. For it 
comes to nearly the same thing whether we are actually 
debarred by physical impossibility from getting the 
right book into Qur hand, or whether we are choked off 
from the right book by the obtrusive crowd of the 
wrong books ; so that it needs a strong character and a 
resolute system of reading to keep the head cool in the 
storm of literature around us. We read nowadays in 
the market-place — I would rather say in some large 
steam factory of letter-press, where damp sheets of new 
print whirl round us perpetually — if it be not rather 
some npisy book-fair where literary showmen tempt us 
with performing dolls, and the gongs of rival booths 
are stunning our ears from morn till night. 

But the question which weighs upon me with such 
really crushing urgency is this: — what are the books 
that in our little remnant of reading time it is most vital 
for us to know? For the true use of books is of such 
sacred value to us that to be simply entertained is to 


cease to be taught, elevated, inspired bybooks ; merely 
to gather information of a chance kind is to close the 
mind to knowledge of the urgent kind. Every book 
that we take up without a purpose is an opportunity 
lost of taking up a book with a purpose — every bit of 
stray information which we cram into our heads without 
any sense of its importance, is for the most part a bit of 
the most useful information driven out of our heads and 
choked off from our minds. It is so certain that infor- 
mation', i.e, the knowledge, the stored thoughts and 
observations of mankind, is now grown to proportions 
so utterly incalculable and prodigious, that even the 
learned whose lives are given to study can but pick 
up some crumbs that fall from the table of truth. 
They delve and tend but a plot in that vast and 
teeming kingdom, whilst those, whom active life leaves 
with but a few cramped hours of study, can hardly 
come to know the very vastness of the field before 
them, or how infinitesimally small is the corner they 
can traverse at the best. We know all is not of equal 
value. We know that books differ in value as much 
as diamonds differ from the sand on the seashore, as 
much as our living friend differs from a dead rat. We 
know that much in the myriad-peopled world of books — 
very much in all kinds — is trivial, enervating, inane, 
even noxious. And thus, where we have infinite oppor- 
tunities of wasting our efforts to no end, of fatiguing 
our minds without enriching them, of clogging the spirit 
without satisfying it, there, I cannot but think, the very 
infinity of opportunities is robbing us of the actual power 
of using them. And thus I come often, in my less 
hopeful moods, to watch the remorseless cataract of daily 


literature which thunders over the remnants of the past, 
as if it were a fresh impediment to the men of our day in 
the way of systematic knowledge and consistent powers 
of thought : as if it were destined one day to overwhelm 
the great inheritance of mankind in prose and verse. 

And so, I say it most confidently, the first intel- 
lectual task of our age is rightly to order and make 
serviceable the vast realm of printed material which 
four centuries have swept across our path. To organize 
our knowledge, to systematise our reading, to save, out 
of the relentless cataract of ink, the immortal thoughts 
of the greatest — this is a necessity, unless the productive 
ingenuity of man is to lead us at last to a measureless 
and pathless chaos. To know anything that turns up 
is, in the infinity of knowledge, to know nothing. To 
read the first book we come across, in the wilderness 
of books, is to learn nothing. To turn over the pages 
of ten thousand volumes is to be practically indifferent 
to all that is good. 

I stand by the men, and by all the men, who have 
moved mankind to the depths of their souls, who have 
taught generations, and formed our life. If I say of 
Scott, that to have drunk in the whole of his glorious 
spirit is a liberal education in itself, I am asking for no 
exclusive devotion to Scott, to any poet, or any school 
of poets, or any age, or any country, to any style or 
any order of poet, one more than another. They are 
as various, fortunately, and as many-sided as human 
nature itself. If I delight in Scott, I love Fielding, 
and Richardson, and Sterne, and Goldsmith, and 


Defoe. Yes, and I will add Cooper and Marryat, 
Miss Edgeworth and Miss Austen — to confine myself 
to those who are already classics, to our own country, 
and to one form of art alone, and not to venture on the 
ground of contemporary romance in general. What I 
have said of Homer, I would say in a degree but some- 
what lower, of those great ancients who are the most 
accessible to us in English — ^Eschylus, Aristophanes, 
Virgil, and Horace. What I have said of Shakspeare, 
I would say of Calderon, of Moliere, of Corneille, of 
Racine, of Voltaire, of Alfieri, of Goethe, of those 
dramatists, in many forms, and with genius the most 
diverse, who have so steadily set themselves to idealise 
the great types of public life and of the phases of 
human history. Let us all beware lest worship of the 
idiosyncrasy of our peerless Shakspeare blind us to 
the value of the great masters who in a different world 
and with different aims have presented the develop- 
ment of civilisation in a series of dramas, where the 
unity of a few great types of man and of society is 
made paramount to subtlety of character or brilliancy of 
language. What I have said of Milton, I would say of 
Dante, of Ariosto, of Petrarch, and of Tasso ; nor less 
would I say it of Boccaccio and Chaucer, of Camoens 
and Spenser, of Rabelais and of Cervantes, of Gil Bias 
and the Vicar of Wakefield, of Byron and of Shelley, 
of Goethe and of Schiller. Nor let us forget those 
wonderful idealisations of awakening thought and 
primitive societies, the pictures of other races and 
types of life removed from our own : all those primaeval 
legends, ballads, songs, and tales, those proverbs, 
apologues, and maxims, which have come down to us 


from distant ages of man's history — the old idylls and 
myths of the Hebrew race ; the tales of Greece, of the 
Middle Ages, of the East ; the fables of the old and the 
new world ; the songs of the Nibelungs ; the romances 
of early feudalism ; the Morte d'Arthur ; the Arabian 
Nights ; the Ballads of the early nations of Europe. 

I protest that I am devoted to no school in particular : 
I condemn no school, I reject none. I am for the 
school of all the great men ; and I am against the 
school of the smaller men. I care for Wordsworth as 
well as for Byron, for Burns as well as Shelley, for 
Boccaccio as v/ell as for Milton, for Bunyan as 
well as Rabelais, for Cervantes as much as for Dante, 
for Corneille as well as for Shakspeare, for Goldsmith 
as well as Goethe. I stand by the sentence of the 
world ; and I hold that in a matter so human and so 
broad as the highest poetry the judgment of the nations 
of Europe is pretty well settled, at any rate after a 
century or two of continuous reading and discussing. 
Let those who will assure us that no one can pretend 
to culture unless he swear by Fra Angelico and Sandro 
Botticelli, by Arnolpho the son of Lapo, or the Lom- 
bardic bricklayers, by Martini and Galuppi (all, by the 
way, admirable men of the second rank) ; and so, in 
literature and poetry, there are some who will hear of 
nothing but Webster or Marlowe ; Blake, Herrick, or 
Keats ; William Langland or the Earl of Surrey ; 
Heine or Omar Kayam. All of these are men of 
genius, and each with a special and inimitable gift of 
his own. But the busy world, which does not hunt poets 
as collectors hunt for curios, may fairly reserve these lesser 
lights for the time when they know the greatest well. 


Now poetry and the highest kind of romance are 
exactly that order of literature, which not only will 
bear to be read many times, but that of which the 
true value can only be gained by frequent, and indeed 
habitual, reading. A man can hardly be said to know 
the 1 2th Mass or the 9th Symphony, by virtue of 
having once heard them played ten years ago ; he can 
hardly be said to take air and exercise because he took 
a country-walk once last autumn. And so, he can 
hardly be said to know Scott, or Shakspeare, Moliere, 
or Cervantes, when he once read them since the close 
of his school days, or amidst the daily grind of his 
professional life. The immortal and universal poets of 
our race are to be read and re-read till their music and 
their spirit are a part of our nature ; they are to be 
thought over and digested till we live in the world 
they created for us ; they are to be read devoutly, as 
devout men read their Bible and fortify their hearts 
with psalms. For as the old Hebrew singer heard the 
heavens declare the glory of their maker, and the 
firmament showing his handiwork, so in the long roll 
of poetry we see transfigured the strength and beauty 
of humanity, the joys and sorrows, the dignity and 
struggles, the long life-history of our common kind. 

The great religious poets, the imaginative teachers 
of the heart, are never easy reading. But the reading 
of them is a religious habit, rather than an intellectual 
effort. I pretend not to-night to be dealing with a 
matter so deep and high as religion, or indeed with 
education in the fuller sense. I will say nothing of 
that side of reading which is really hard study, an 


effort of duty, matter of meditation and reverential 
thought. I need speak not to-night of such reading as 
that of the Bible ; the moral reflections of Socrates, of 
Aristotle, of Confucius ; the Confessions of St. Augus- 
tine and the City of God ; the discourses of St. Bernard, 
of Bossuet, of Bishop Butler, of Jeremy Taylor; the 
vast philosophical visions that were opened to the eyes 
of Bacon and Descartes; the thoughts of Pascal and 
Vauvenargues, of Diderot and Hume, of Condorcet 
and de Maistre ; the problem of man's nature as it is 
told in the Excursion, or in Faust, in Cain, or in the 
Pilgrim^s Progress; the unsearchable outpouring of 
the heart in the great mystics, of many ages and many 
races ; be the mysticism that of David or of John ; of 
Mahomet or of Bouddha ; of Fenelon or of Shelley. 

I vow that, when I see men, forgetful of the peren- 
nial poetry of the world, muck-raking in a litter of 
fugitive refuse, I think of that wonderful scene in the 
Pilgrint's Progress, where the Interpreter shows the 
wayfarers the old man raking in the straw and dust, 
whilst he will not see the Angel who offers him a 
crown of gold and precious stones. 

Was ever truer word said than that about Fielding 
as *'the prose Homer of human nature?" And yet 
how often do we forget in Tom Jones the beauty of un- 
selfishness, the well-spring of goodness, the tenderness, 
the manly healthiness and heartiness underlying its 
frolic and its satire, because we are absorbed, it may 
be, in laughing at its humour, or are simply irritated 
by its grossness ! Nay, Robiitsott Crusoe contains 


(not for boys but for men) more religion, more 
philosophy, more psychology, more political economy, 
more anthropology, than are found in many elaborate 
treatises on these special subjects. . . . For once 
that we take down our Milton, and read a book of that 
"voice," as Wordsworth says-, "whose sound is like 
the sea," we take up fifty times a magazine with some- 
thing about Milton, or about Milton's grandmother, or 
a book stuffed with curious facts about the houses in 
which he lived, and the juvenile ailments of his first 


• ••«•» 

To affect a profound interest in neglected authors 
and uncommon books, is a sign for the most part — 
not that a man has exhausted the resources of ordinary 
literature — but that he has no real respect for the 
greatest productions of the greatest men of the world. 
This bibliomania seizes hold of rational beings and so 
perverts them, that in the sufferer's mind the human 
race exists for the sake of the books, and not the books 
for the sake of the human race. There is one book 
they might read to good purpose, the doings of a great 
book collector — who once lived in La Mancha. To 
the collector, and sometimes to the scholar, the book 
becomes a fetich or idol, and is worthy of the worship 
of mankind, even if it cannot be the slightest use to 
anybody. As the book exists, it must have the com- 
pliment paid it of being invited to the shelves. The 
" library is imperfect without it," although the library 
will, so to speak, stink when it has got it. The great 
books are of course the common books ; and these are 
treated by collectors and librarians with sovereign con- 


tempt. The more dreadful an abortion of a book the 
rare volume may be, the more desperate is the struggle 
of libraries to possess it. Civilisation in fact has evolved 
a complete apparatus, an order of men, and a code of 
ideas, for the express purpose one may say of degrading 
the great books. It suffocates them under mountains 
of little books, and gives the place of honour to that 
which is plainly literary carrion. 

A philosopher with whom I hold (but with whose 
opinions I have no present intention of troubling you) 
has proposed a method of dealing with this indis- 
criminate use ' of books, which I think is worthy of 
attention. He has framed a short collection of books 
for constant and general reading. He put it forward 
" with the view of guiding the more thoughtful minds 
among the people in their choice for constant use." 
He declares that, " both the intellect and the moral 
character suffer grievously at the present time from 
irregular reading." It was not intended to put a bar 
upon other reading, or to supersede special study. It 
is designed as a type of a healthy and rational syllabus 
of essential books, fit for common teaching and daily 
use. It presents a working epitome of what is best 
and most enduring in the literature of the world. The 
entire collection would form in the shape in which 
books now exist in modern libraries, something like 
five hundred volumes. They embrace books both of 
ancient and modern times, in all the five principal 
languages of modern Europe. It is divided into four 
sections : — Poetry, Science, History, Religion. 


Some such firm foot-hold in the vast and increasing 
torrent of literature it is certainly urgent to find, unless 
all that is great in literature is to be borne away in the 
flood of books. With this, we may avoid an inter- 
minable wandering over a pathless waste of waters. 
Without it, we may read everything and know nothing ; 
we may be curious about anything that chances, and 
indifferent to everything that profits. Having such a 
catalogue before our eyes, with its perpetual warning — 
non multa sed multum — we shall see how with our 
insatiable consumption of print we wander, like un- 
classed spirits, round the outskirts only of those 
Elysian fields where the great dead dwell and hold 
high converse. We need to be reminded every day, 
how many are the books of inimitable glory, which, 
with all our eagerness after reading, we have never 
taken in our hands. It will astonish most of us to find 
how much of our very industry is given to the books 
which leave no mark, how often we rake in the litter 
of the printing-press, whilst a crown of gold and rubies 
is offered us in vain. — ^^ On the Choice of Books^^ : A 
Lecture given at the London Lnstiiution, Reprinted 
in The Fortnightly Review, April, i2>'j<). 

Earl Lytton (Owen Meredith). 
b. 1 83 1 [Living]. 
The museum is to art what the library is to literature. 
And something more. For we cannot get from books 
by long study such complete and familiar notions of 
the art of other ages and countries as may be easily 
acquired from the study of any good collection of its 
products. . . . But, for my part, I am persuaded 


that the best education in the world is that which we 
insensibly acquire from conversation with our intellec- 
tual superiors. The man who has studied a subject is 
on that subject the intellectual superior of the man who 
has not. And listening to a good lecturer is the next 
best thing to talking with a man of leading mind. It 
is, however, not to the museum, or the lecture-room, 
or the drawing-school, but to the library, that we must 
go for the completion of our humanity. It is books 
that bear from age to age the intellectual wealth of the 
world. . . , Indeed, I would not counsel you to 
exclude from the smallest library the masterpieces of 
foreign literature. Only let them be masterpieces. 
Even the most limited literary culture must include at 
least some knowledge of the highest thoughts and 
deepest feelings of ages and nations not our own. 
Cheap and excellent translations now give us access 
to all the supreme literatures of ancient Greece and 
Rome ; and to know nothing of them is to know 
nothing of the intellectual ancestry of our own minds. 
There are probably few, if any, modern writers from 
whose works we shall obtain more light or fuller matter 
for reflection, even upon the social and political pro- 
blems of the modern world, than may be got from the 
writings of Aristotle and Plato and Thucydides. And, 
to say the truth, I have generally found in old books a 
large number of ideas which, to me at least, were new 
ones, and in new books an equally large number of ideas 
which, on examination, turned out to be old ones. . . 
There are just a few words which I have much 
at heart to say to you on behalf of that department 
of literature which, belonging to pure imagination 


and fancy, has no direct connection with what we 
commonly call useful knowledge. Mankind owes 
all its intellectual and social progress — aye, even 
its moral sublimity — to that little fruitful germ of 
imagination, that restless faculty of wonder, which 
Nature has beneficently implanted in the mind of every 
child. Do not suppose that the cultivation and enjoy- 
ment of this faculty can be of no use to. you in the arts 
and industries on which you are engaged. Its uses are 
incalculable. In learning to know other things, and 
other minds, we become more intimately acquainted 
with ourselves, and are to ourselves better worth 
knowing. In our own nature, as it expands, we find 
a sweeter yet less selfish companionship. All that we 
have read and learned, all that has occupied and 
interested us in the thoughts and deeds of men abler 
or wiser than ourselves, constitutes at last a spiritual 
society of which we can never be deprived, for it rests 
in the heart and soul of the man who has acquired it. 
And though it is independent of the world around us, 
yet in that world also it enlarges the sphere of our 
sympathies ; so that our affections are deepened as our 
aspirations are uplifted by it. — Address to the Members 
of the Leeds Mechanics'' Institution and Literary Society^ 
October d^^ 1882. 

Philip Gilbert Hamerton. 
b. 1834 [Living]. 

People whose time for reading is limited ought not 
to waste it in grammars and dictionaries, but to confine 
themselves resolutely to a couple of languages, or three 


at the very utmost, notwithstanding the contempt of 
polyglots, who estimate your learning by the variety 
of your tongues. It is a fearful throwing away of time, 
from the literary point of view, to begin more languages 
than you can master or retain, and to be always 
puzzling yourself about irregular verbs. . . . 

The encouraging inference which you may draw 
from this in reference to your own case is that, since 
all intellectual men have had more than one pursuit, 
you may set off your business against the most absorbing 
of their pursuits, and for the rest be still almost as rich 
in time as they have been. You may study literature 
as some painters have studied it, or science as some 
literary men have studied it. The first step is to 
establish a regulated economy of your time, so that, 
without interfering with a due attention to business and 
to health, you may get two clear hours every day for 
reading of the best kind. It is not much, some men 
would tell you that it is not enough, but I purposely 
fix the expenditure of time at a low figure because I 
want it to be always practicable consistently with all 
the duties and necessary pleasures of your life. If 
I told you to read four hours every day, I know 
beforehand what would be the consequence. You 
would keep the rule for three or four days, by an effort, 
then some engagement would occur to break it, and 
you would have no rule at all. And please observe 
that the two hours are to be given quite regularly, 
because, when the time given is not much, regularity 
is quite essential. Two hours a day, regularly, make 
more than seven hundred hours in a year, and in seven 
hundred hours, wisely and uninterruptedly occupied, 


much may be done in anything. Permit me to insist 
upon that word uninterruptedly. Few people realize 
the full evil of an interruption, few people know all that 
is implied by it. . . . 

But now suppose a reader perfectly absorbed in his 
author, an author; belonging very likely to another age 
and another civilization entirely different from ours. 
Suppose that you are reading the Defence of Socrates 
in Plato, and have the whole scene before you as in a 
picture : the tribunal of the Five Hundred, the pure 
Greek architecture, the interested Athenian public, the 
odious Melitus, the envious enemies, the beloved and 
grieving friends whose names are dear to us, and 
immortal ; and in the centre you see one figure draped 
like a poor man, in cheap and common cloth, that he 
wears winter and summer, with a face plain to down- 
right ugliness, but an air of such genuine courage and 
self-possession that no acting could imitate it; and 
you hear the firm voice saying — 

The man, then, judges me worthy of death. 
Be it so. 

You are just beginning the splendid paragraph where 
Socrates condemns himself to maintenance in the 
Prytaneum, and if you can only be safe from interrup- 
tion till it is finished, you will have one of those 
minutes of noble pleasure which are the rewards of 
intellectual toil. But if you are reading in the daytime 
in a house where there are women and children, or 
where people can fasten upon you for pottering details 
of business, you may be sure that you will not be able 
to get to the end of the passage without in some way 


or other being rudely awakened from your dream, and 
suddenly brought back into the common world. The 
loss intellectually is greater than anyone who had not 
suffered from it could imagine. People think that an 
interruption is merely the unhooking of an electric 
chain, and that the current will flow, when the chain 
is hooked on again just as it did before. To the intel- 
lectual and imaginative student an interruption is not 
that ; it is the destruction of a picture. , . , 

There is a degree of incompatibility between the 
fashionable and the intellectual lives, which makes it 
necessary, at a certain time, to choose one or the other 
as our own. There is no hostility, there need not be 
any uncharitable feeling on one side or the other, but • 
there must be a resolute choice between the two. If 
you decide for the intellectual life, you will incur a 
definite loss to set against your gain. Your existence 
may have calmer and profounder satisfactions, but it 
will be less amusing, and even in an appreciable degree 
less human; less in harmony, I mean, with the com- 
mon instincts and feelings of humanity. For the 
fashionable world, although decorated by habits of 
expense, has enjoyment for its objects, and arrives at 
enjoyment by those methods which the experience of 
generations has proved most efficacious. Variety of 
amusement, frequent change of scenery and society, 
healthy exercise, pleasant occupation of the mind 
without fatigue — these things do indeed make exist- 
ence agreeable to human nature, and the science of 
living agreeably is better understood in the fashionable 
society of England than by laborious students and 
savans. The life led by that society is the true heaven 


of the natural man, who likes to have frequent feasts 
and a hearty appetite, who enjoys the varying spectacle 
of wealth, and splendour, and pleasure, who loves to 
watch, from the Olympus of his personal ease, the 
curious results of labour in which he takes no part, the 
interesting ingenuity of the toiling world below. In 
exchange for these varied pleasures of the spectator, 
the intellectual life can offer you but one satisfaction ; 
for all its promises are reducible simply to this., that 
you shall come at last, after infinite labour, into con- 
tact with some great reality — that you shall know and 
do in such sort that you will feel yourself on firm 
ground and be recognized — probably not much ap- 
plauded, but yet recognized— as a fellow-labourer by 
other knowers and doers. Before you come to this, 
most of your present accomplishments will be aban- 
doned by yourself as unsatisfactory and insufficient, but 
one or two of them will be turned to better account, 
and will give you after many years a tranquil self- 
respect, and what is still rarer and better, a very deep 
and earnest reverence for the greatness which is above 
you. Severed from the vanities of the Illusory, you 
will live with the reahties of knowledge, as one who 
has quitted the painted scenery of the theatre to listen 
by the eternal ocean or gaze at the granite hills. . , , 
The art of reading is to skip judiciously. Whole 
libraries may be skipped in these days, when we have 
the results of them in our modern culture without 
going over the ground again. And even of the books 
we decide to read, there are almost always large por- 
tions which do not concern us, and which we are sure 
to forget the day after we have read them. The art is 


to skip all that does not concern us, whilst missing 
nothing that we really need. No external guidance 
can teach us this ; for nobody but ourselves can guess 
what the needs of our intellect may be. But let us 
select with decisive firmness, independently of other 
people's advice, independently of the authority of 
custom. In every newspaper that comes to hand there 
is a little bit that we ought to read ; the art is to find 
that little bit, and waste no time over the rest. , . . 
I used to believe a great deal more in opportunities 
and less in application than I do now. Time and 
health are needed, but with these there are always 
opportunities. Rich people have a fancy for spending 
money very uselessly on their culture because it seems 
to them more valuable when it has been costly ; but 
the truth is, that by the blessing of good and cheap 
literature, intellectual light has become almost as 
accessible as daylight. I have a rich friend who 
travels more, and buys more costly things, than I do, 
but he does not really learn more or advance farther in 
the twelvemonth. If my days are fully occupied, 
what has he to set against them? only other well- 
occupied days, no more. If he is getting benefit at 
St. Petersburg he is missing the benefit I am getting 
round my house, and in it. The sum of the year's 
benefit seems to be surprisingly alike in both cases 
So if you are reading a piece of thoroughly good 
literature. Baron Rothschild may possibly be as well 
occupied as you — he is certainly not better occupied. 
When I open a noble volume I say to myself, "now 
the only Croesus that I envy is he who is reading a 
better book than this." ... 


I willingly concede all that you say against fashion- 
able society as a whole. It is, as you say, frivolous, 
bent on amusement, incapable of attention sufficiently 
prolonged to grasp any serious subject, and liable 
both to confusion and inaccuracy in the ideas which 
it hastily forms or easily receives. You do right, 
assuredly, not to let it waste your most valuable 
hours, but I believe also that you do wrong in keeping 
out of it altogether. 

The society which seems so frivolous in masses 
contains individual members who, if you knew them 
better, would be able and willing to render you the 
most efficient intellectual help, and you miss this help 
by restricting yourself exclusively to books. Nothing 
can replace the conversation of living men and women ; 
not even the richest literature can replace it. . . . 

The solitude which is really injurious is the severance 
from all who are capable of understanding us. Painters 
say that they cannot work effectively for very long 
together when separated from the society of artists, 
and that they must return to London, or Paris, or 
Rome, to avoid an oppressive feeling of discourage- 
ment which paralyses their productive energy. Authors 
are more fortunate, because all cultivated people are 
society for them ; yet even authors lose strength and 
agility of thought when too long deprived of a genial 
intellectual atmosphere. In the country you meet 
with cultivated individuals; but we need more than 
this, we need those general conversations in which 
every speaker is worth listening to. 

The life most favourable to culture would have its 
times of open and equal intercourse with the best minds. 


and also its periods of retreat. My ideal would be a 
house in London not far from one or two houses that are 
so full of light an warmth that it is a liberal education 
to have entered them, and a solitary tower on some 
island of the Hebrides, with no companions but the 
sea-gulls and the thundering surges of the Atlantic. 
One such island I know well, and it is before my 
mind's eye, clear as a picture, whilst I am writing. 
It stands in the very entrance of a fine salt-water loch, 
rising above two hundred feet out of the water and 
setting its granite front steep against the western 
ocean. When the evenings are clear you can see 
Staffa and lona like blue clouds between you and 
the sunset ; and on your left, close at hand, the 
granite hills of Mull, with Ulva to the right across 
the narrow strait. It was the dream of my youth to 
build a tower there, with three or four little rooms 
in it, and walls as strong as a light-house. There 
have been more foolish dreams, and there have been 
less competent teachers than the tempests that would 
have roused me and the calms that would have brought 
me peace. If any serious thought, if any noble inspira- 
tion might have been hoped for, surely it would have 
been there, where only the clouds and waves were 
transient, but the ocean before me, and the stars 
above, and the mountains on either hand, were 
emblems and evidences of eternity. . . . 

Let me recommend certain precautions which taken 
together are likely to keep you safe. Care for the 
physical health in the first place, for if there is a 
morbid mind the bodily organs are not doing their 
work as they ought to do. Next, for the mind itself, 


I would heartily recommend hard study, really hard 
study, taken very regularly but in very moderate 
quantity. The effect of it on the mind is as bracing 
as that of cold water on the body, but as you ought 
not to remain too long in the cold bath, so it is 
dangerous to study hard more than a short time every 
day. Do some work that is very difficult (such as 
reading some language that you have to puzzle out 
a coups de dictionnaire) two hours a day regularly, to 
brace the fighting power of the intellect, but let the 
rest of the day's work be easier. Acquire especially, 
if you possibly can, the enviable faculty of getting en- 
tirely rid of your work in the intervals of it, and of 
taking a hearty interest in common things, in a garden, 
or stable, or dog-kennel, or farm. If the work pursues 
you — if what is called unconscious cerebration, which 
ought to go forward without your knowing it, becomes 
conscious cerebration, and bothers you, then you have 
been working beyond your cerebral strength, and you 
are not safe. 

An organization which was intended by Nature for 
the intellectual life cannot be healthy and happy with- 
out a certain degree of intellectual activity. Natures 
like those of Humboldt and Goethe need immense 
labours for their own felicity, smaller powers need less 
extensive labour. To all of us who have intellectual 
needs there is a certain supply of work necessary to 
perfect health. If we do less, we are in danger of that 
ennui which comes from want of intellectual exercise ; 
if we do more, we may suffer from that other ennui 
which is due to the weariness of the jaded faculties, 
and this is the more terrible of the two. . . . 


The reading practised by most people, by all who 
do not set before themselves intellectual culture as one 
of the definite aims of life, is remarkable for the regu- 
larity with which it neglects all the great authors of 
the past. The books provided by the circulating 
library, the reviews and magazines, the daily news- 
papers, are read whilst they are novelties, but the 
standard authors are left on their shelves unopened. 
We require a firm resolution to resist this invasion of 
what is new, because it flows like an unceasing river, 
and unless we protect our time against it by some 
solid embankment of unshakable rule and resolution, 
every nook and cranny of it will be filled and flooded. 
An Englishman whose life was devoted to culture, but 
who lived in an out-of-the-way place on the Continent, 
told me that he considered it a decided advantage to 
his mind to live quite outside of the English library 
system, because if he wanted to read a new book he 
had to buy it and pay heavily for carriage besides, 
which made him very careful in his choice. For the 
same reason he rejoiced that the nearest English news- 
room was two hundred miles from his residence. . . . 

For literary men there is nothing so valuable as 
a window with a cheerful and beautiful prospect. It 
is good for us to have this refreshment for the eye 
when we leave off" working, and Montaigne* did wisely 
to have his study up in a tower from which he had 
extensive views. There is a well-known objection to 
extensive views as wanting in snugness and comfort, 
but this objection scarcely applies to the especial case 

* The reader will find Montaigne's description of his study at 
page 25 of this volume. 


of literary men. What we want is not so much snug- 
ness as relief, refreshment, suggestion, and we get 
these, as a general rule, much better from wide pros- 
pects than from limited ones. I have just alluded to 
Montaigne, — will you permit me to imitate that dear old 
philosopher in his egotism and describe to you the 
view from the room I write in, which cheers and 
amuses me continually? But before describing this, 
let me describe another of which the recollection is 
very dear to me and as vivid as a freshly-painted 
picture. In years gone by, I had only to look up 
from my desk and see a noble loch in its inexhaustible 
loveliness, and a mountain in its majesty. It was a 
daily and hourly delight to watch the breezes play 
about the enchanted isles, on the delicate silvery 
surface, dimming some clear reflection, or trailing it 
out in length, or cutting sharply across it with acres of 
rippling blue. It was a frequent pleasure to see the 
clouds play about the crest of Cruachan and Ben 
Vorich's golden head, grey mists that crept upwards 
from the valleys till the sunshine suddenly caught 
them and made them brighter than the snows they 
shaded. And the leagues and leagues of heather on 
the lower land to the southward that became like the 
aniline dyes of deepest purple and blue, when the sky 
was grey in the evening — all save one orange-streak ! 
Ah, those were spectacles never to be forgotten, 
splendours of light and glory, and sadness of deepening 
gloom when the eyes grew moist in the twilight and 
secretly drank their tears. — The Intellectual Life, 

442 "launcelot cross." 

Frank Carr (Launcelot Cross). 
d. 1834 [Living]. 

The Library entered, the door closed, no sound to 
break the solemn hush which reigns around, one soon 
discerns how manifold are the ways in which the mind 
is tranquillized, deliciously solicited and sustained in its 
attention, by the sweet synod of Book-souls. Here it 
is good to be, in every mood ; here, you can raise 
pleasure to her height ; you can, also, purge off the 
gloom which overcasts the mind in outer concerns, 
and heal the scar of the world's corrosive fires, if you 
will only make a beginning, if you will, indeed, only 
come hither. . . 

For men are here in abundance, — aye, the very 
flower of mankind. Generally, when living, these, in 
their highest moods, were solitaires to their fellows. 
Not through any lack of feelings of attachment, or 
repugnance to companionship— but, for the better 
intercourse of their souls they joined themselves to a 
great spiritual society. And here is such a society ! 
Not a mean soul is present. ... In this inviolate 
asylum we obtain knowledge, health, and recompense. 
We are consoled for the short-comings of the day, for 
all its injuries and miseries. So assured have I become 
of this, that I myself battle with lightheartedness 
against the evils of the busy hours ; I outwind them, 
knowing that I triumph if I but hold out till the 
evening. We can murmur sweet words of solace to 
ourselves, as a lover who has obtained his lady's grace, 
and \<rhose loneliness becomes brightened by her 
oresence. Murmurs sufch as these: — Tired of the 


outer world, we have a larger, lovelier, more enduring 
one here. Ever give us this radiant seigniory of books, 
and we have herewith sufficient mental intercourse ; 
the men we meet and mingle with are but fleeting 
phantoms, fleeting as vain, — these are substantial 
immortalities. . . . 

There is a pleasure in reading; a finer pleasure in 
reading and marking passages, which strike us with 
their power of thought or felicity of style ; the finest 
pleasure consists in re-reading these marked passages. 
This process condenses an author into a few passages, 
it may be a few sentences. . . . 

Perhaps the humbler a man begins, the richer and 
happier he is. The truest owner of a Library is he 
who has bought each book for the love he bears to it ; 
who is happy and content to say, — ** Here are my 
jewels ; my choicest material possessions !" who is 
proud to crown such assertion, thus, — " I am content 
that this Library shall represent the- use of the talents 
given me by Heaven!" That man's Library, though 
not commensurate with his love for Books, will de- 
monstrate what he has been able to accomplish with 
his resources ; it will denote economy of living, 
eagerness to possess the particles that compose his 
Library, and quick watchfulness to seize them, when 
means and opportunities serve. Such a man has built 
a temple, of which each brick has been the subject of 
curious and acute inteUigent examination and apprecia- 
tion before it has been placed in the sacred building. 

In the light of common day is the preciousness of 
Books evinced. Sara Coleridge's plain-spoken affirma- 


tion is as true as though hedged round by gospel 
proofs, when she wrote to her elder brother — " A 
genuine love of Books is one of the greatest things in 
life for man or woman . . . and may be enjoyed 
without the neglect of any duty." This language 
breathes humble household air. . . . 

Thus, we fall back for our salvation on our chief 
loves. These may not be the law-givers of literature — 
the leading souls — which refer to the essential existence 
of Books, and almost to our own ; they may be of the 
lower orders of the literary hierarchy — those to which we 
are espoused for the sake of ready culture and entertain- 
ment. Nevertheless, they are adequate to bring us 
immediate power, pleasure, and restoration. Their 
soft, low voices lead us on step by step, without con- 
fusipn or sense of unrest, or fill the mind with a tran- 
quil felicity, untroubled by a void or desire. 

Sympathy through Books has indeed a divineness in 
It ; attachments may spring up which the world's spirit 
cannot comprehend ; which are uninfluenced by opinions 
or diverse lines of reading, and which decay not with 
the lapse of years. The amenities of literature are 
innumerable, and their delicacy and deliciousness de- 
note not fragility ; they do not wither on the threshold 
of the Library, nor sink into the darkness of the grave ; 
there is the immortality of the tenderness and beauty, 
which smile over all the universe, and in the fields of 

Ever thus ready, sympathetic, and courageous — it 
shall be discovered that Thought becomes younger and 


more beautiful through Age — as it is with souls in 
heaven; that through it we have all our years — the 
centuries behind are ours, in all their freshness, and 
our own youth never loses its garlands, but comes 
back with all its transports when Age wears wisdom's 
snow. Thus, in a very distinct manner, a Book — a 
true Book is but the soliloquy of one's own spirit. — 
Hesperides: ** The Library.'''' 

Here let us face the last question of all : — In the 
shade and valley of Life, on what shall we repose ? 
When we must withdraw from the scenes which our 
own energies and agonies have somewhat helped to 
make glorious ; when the windows are darkened, and 
the sound of the grinding is low — where shall we find 
the beds of asphodel ? Can any couch be more 
delectable than that amidst the Elysian leaves of 
Books ? The occupation of the morning and the noon 
determines the affections, which will continue to seek 
their old nourishment when the grand climacteric has 
been reached. — Hesperides : *' Elect Book Spirits.'''' 

Frances R. Havergal. 1836 — 1879. 

Only a word of command, but it loses or wins the field ; 
Only a stroke of the pen, but a heart is broken or healed. 

William Blades. [Living.] 

I do not envy any man that absence of sentiment 
which makes some people careless of the memorials of 
their ancestors, and whose blood can be warmed up 
only by talking of horses or the price of hops. To 


them solitude means ennui, and anybody's company is 
preferable to their own. What an immense amount of 
calm enjoyment and mental renovation do such men 
miss. Even a millionaire will ease his toils, lengthen 
his life, and add a hundred per cent, to his daily 
pleasures if he becomes a bibliophile ; while to the 
man of business with a taste for books, who through 
the day has struggled in the battle of life with all its 
irritating rebuffs and anxieties, what a blessed season 
of pleasurable repose opens upon him as he enters his 
sanctum, where every article wafts to him a welcome, 
and every book is a personal friend. — The Enemies of 

William Freeland. [Living.] 
Give me a nook and a book, 

And let the proud world spin round : 
Let it scramble by hook or by crook 

For wealth or a name with a sound. 
You are welcome to amble your ways, 

Aspirers to place or to glory ; 
May big bells jangle your praise, 

And golden pens blazon your story ! 
For me, let me dwell in my nook, 
Here, by the curve of this brook. 
That croons to the tune of my book, 
Whose melody wafts me for ever 
On the waves of an unseen river. 

Give me a book and a nook 

Far away from the glitter and strife ; 

Give me a staff and a crook. 
The calm and the sweetness of life : 


Vain world, let me reign in my nook, 
King of this kingdom, my book, 
A region by fashion forsook : 
Pass on, ye lean gamblers for glory. 
Nor mar the sweet tune of my story ! 

A Birth Song and other Poems. 1882. 

Edwin P. Whipple. [Living.] 
Books — lighthouses erected in the sea of time. 

William E. A. Axon. [Living.] 

To students and lovers of books, the word library 
possesses a charm which scarcely any other can claim ; 
and there are few associations so pleasant as those 
excited by it. ' To them it means a place where one 
may withdraw from the hurry and bustle of every-day 
life, from the cares of commerce and the strife of 
politics, and hold communion with the saints and 
heroes of the past ; a place where the good and true 
men of bygone ages, being dead, yet speak, and 
reprove the vanity and littleness of our lives, where 
they may excite us to noble deeds, may cheer and 
console us in defeat, may teach us magnanimity in 
victory. There we may trace the history of nations 
now no more ; and in their follies and vices, in their 
virtues, in their grand heroic deeds, we may see that 
"increasing purpose" which "runs through all the 
ages," and learn how the " thoughts of men are 
widened by the process of the suns. " There we may 


listen to ** the fairy tales of science," or to the voices 
of the poets singing their undying songs. 

Every man should have a library. The works of 
the grandest masters of literature may now be pro- 
cured at prices that place them within the reach 
almost of the very poorest, and we may all put 
Parnassian singing birds into our chambers to cheer 
us with the sweetness of their songs. And when we 
have got our little library we may look proudly at 
Shakspeare, and Bacon, and Bunyan, as they stand 
in our bookcase in company with other noble spirits, 
and one or two of whom the world knows nothing, 
but whose worth we have often tested. These may 
cheer and enlighten us, may inspire us with higher 
aims and aspirations, may make us, if we use them 
rightly, wiser and better men. 

Ignorance is a prolific mother of vice and crime, and 
whatever tends to destroy ignorance aims a blow also at 
the existence of crime. . . . Surely a people who make 
bosom friends of the wise and good will become better 
men than they were before, by reason of that companion- 
ship. The spoken word as an instrument of education 
is now becoming of minor importance, and the printed 
voice is taking its place, chief engine in the dissemina- 
tion of thought. " An intelligent class can scarcely 
ever be, as a class, vicious," says Everett. Those who 
have tasted the sweets of intellectual pleasures will 
hardly care to descend to lower and grosser forms of 
enjoyment, and a people familiar with those lessons of 
wisdom and truth taught by the mighty dead, can hardly 
fail to be a nation wise, and just, and true. — Article 
on Free Public Libraries, in * ' Meliora^ " October, 1 867. 


Andrew Lang. b. 1844 [Living]. 

Ballade of the Book-Hunter. 
In torrid heats of late July, 

In March, beneath the bitter Use, 
He book-hunts while the loungers fly, — 

He book -hunts, though December freeze ; 
In breeches baggy at the knees. 

And heedless of the public jeers, 
For these, for these, he hoards his fees, 

Aldines, Bodonis, Elzevirs. 
No dismal stall escapes his eye, 

He turns o'er tomes of low degrees, 
There soiled romanticists may lie. 

Or Restoration comedies; 
Each tract that flutters in the breeze 

For him is charged with hopes and fears, 
In mouldy novels fancy sees 

Aldines, Bodonis, Elzevirs. 
With restless eyes that peer and spy, 

Sad eyes that heed not skies nor trees, 
In dismal nooks he loves to pry. 

Whose motto evermore is Spesl 
But ah ! the fabled treasure flees ; 

Grown rarer with the fleeting years. 
In rich men's shelves they take their ease, — 

Aldines, Bodonis, Elzevirs! 
. Envoy. 
Prince, all the things that teaze and please, — 

Fame, hope, wealth, kisses, cheers, and tears, 
What are they but such toys as these — 

Aldines, Bodonis, Elzevirs? 

DD XXII, Ballades in Blue Chma. 


In bibliography, in the care for books as books, the 
French are still the teachers of Europe, as they were 
in tennis and are in fencing. Thus, Richard de Bury, 
Chancellor of Edward III., writes in his " Philo- 
biblon," " Oh God of Gods in Zion ! what a rushing 
river of joy gladdens my heart as often as I have a 
chance of going to Paris ! There the days seem 
always short ; there are the goodly collections on the 
delicate, fragrant book-shelves." 

We must briefly defend the taste and passion of 
book-collecting, and the class of men known invidiously 
as book-worms and book-hunters. They and their 
simple pleasures are the paths of a cheap and shrewish 
set of critics, who cannot endure in others a taste 
which is absent in themselves. . . . We cannot 
hope to convert the adversary, but it is not necessary 
to be disturbed by his clamour. People are happier 
for the possession of a taste as long as they p6ssess it, 
and it does not, Hke the demons of Scripture, pursue 
them. The wise collector gets instruction and pleasure 
from his pursuit, and it may well be that, in the long 
run, he and his family do not lose money. The amuse- 
ment may chance to be a very fair investment. — 
The Library : *^ An A'pology for the Book- Hunter.''^ 

James Freeman Clarke (American 
Divine). [Living.] 

Let us thank God for books. When I consider 
what some books have done for the world, and what 
they are doing, how they k«ep up our hope, awaken 


new courage and faith, soothe pain, give an ideal life 
to those whose homes are hard and cold, bind together 
distant ages and foreign lands, create new worlds of 
beauty, bring down truths from heaven — I give eternal 
blessings for this gift, and pray that we may use it 
aright, and abuse it not. 

Austin Dobson. [Living.] 
My Books, 

Eut the row that I prize is yonder, 

Away on the unglazed shelves, 
The bulged and the bruised octavos^ 

The dear and the dumpy twelves, — 
Montaigne with his sheepskin blistered. 

And Howell the worse for wear. 
And the worm-drilled Jesuit's Horace, 

And the little old cropped Moliere, — 
And the Burton I bought for a florin. 

And the Rabelais foxed and flea'd, — 
For the others I never have opened. 

But those are the ones I read. 

Longman's Magazine^ April, 1883. 

Robert Louis Stevenson. [Living.] 

Every book is, in an intimate sense, a circular-letter 
to the friends of him who writes it. 

To treat all subjects in the highest, the most honour- 
able, and the pluckiest spirit, consistent with the fact, 
is the first duty of a writer. . . . In the hum'bles.t 


sort of literary work, we have it in our power 
either to do great harm or great good. We may 
seek merely to please ; we may seek, having no 
higher gift, merely to gratify the idle nine-days' curio- 
sity of our contemporaries ; or. we may essay, however 
feebly, to instruct. In each of these we shall have to 
deal with that remarkable art of words, which, because 
it is the dialect of life, comes home so easily and 
powerfully to the minds of men ; and since that is so, 
we contribute, in each of these branches, to build up 
the sum of sentiments and appreciations which goes 
by the name of Public Opinion or Public Feeling. 

There are two duties incumbent upon any man who 
enters on the business of writing : truth to the fact 
and a good spirit in the treatment. . . . Those 
who write have to see that each man's knowledge is, 
as near as they can make it, answerable to the facts of 
life ; that he shall not suppose himself an angel or a 
monster ; nor take this world for a hell ; nor be suffered 
to imagine that all rights are concentred in his own 
caste or country, or all veracities in his own parochial 
creed. Each man should learn what is within him, 
that he may strive to mend ; he must be taught what 
is without him, that he may be kind to others. It can 
never, be wrong to tell him the truth ; for in his dis- 
putable state, weaving as he goes his theory of life, 
steering himself, cheering or reproving others, all facts 
are of the first importance to his conduct ; and even if 
a fact shall discourage or corrupt him, it is still best 
that he should know it ; for it is in this world as it is, 
and not in a world made easy by educational suppres- 


sions, that he must win his way to shame or glory. 
In one word, it must always be foul to tell what is 
false ; and it can never be safe to suppress what is true. 
The very fact that you omit may be what somebody was 
wanting, for one man's meat is another man's poison. 

An author who reposes in some narrow faith, cannot, 
if he would, express the whole or even many of the 
sides of this various existence ; for his own life being 
maim, some of them are not admitted in his theory, 
and were only dimly and unwillingly recognised in his 
experience. Hence the smallness, the triteness, and 
the inhumanity in works of merely sectarian religion ; 
and hence we find equal although unsimilar limitations 
in w^orks inspired by the spirit of the flesh or the 
despicable taste for high society. So that the first 
duty of any man who is to write is intellectual. 
Designedly or not, he has so far set himself up for a 
leader of the minds of men ; and he must see that his 
own mind is kept supple, charitable, and bright. 
Everything but prejudice should find a voice through 
him ; he should see the good in all things ; where he 
has even a fear that he does not wholly understand, 
there he should be wholly silent ; and he should 
recognise from the first that he has only one tool in 
his workshop, and that tool is sympathy. — Article in 
the Fortnightly Review ^ April, 1881 : " The Morality 
of the Profession of Letters. " 

Charles F. Richardson. [Living.] 

With young or old, there is no such helper towards 
the reading habit as the cultivation of this warm and 


undying feeling of the friendliness of books. If a 
parent, or a teacher, or a book, seems but a task- 
master ; if their rules are those of a statute-book and 
their society like that of an officer of the law, there is 
small hope that their help can be made either service- 
able or profitable. But with the growth of i\iQ friendly 
feeling comes a state of mind which renders all things 
possible. When one book has become a friend and 
fellow, the world has grown that much broader and 
more beautiful. Petrarch said of his books, con- 
sidered as his friends : " I havie friends, &c." * 

The great secret of reading consists in this, that it 
does not matter so much what we read, or how we read 
it, as what we think and how we think it. Reading is 
only the fuel ; and, the mind once on fire, any and all 
material will feed the flame, provided only it have any 
combustible matter in it. And we cannot tell from 
what quarter the next material will come. The 
thought we need, the facts we are in search of, may 
make their appearance in the corner of the newspaper, 
or in some forgotten volume long ago consigned to dust 
and oblivion. Hawthorne, in the parlour of a country 
inn, on a rainy day, could find mental nutriment in an 
old directory. That accomplished philologist, the late 
Lord Strangford, could find ample amusement for an 
hour's delay at a railway-station in tracing out the 
etymology of the names in Bradshaw. The mind that 
is not awake and alive will find a library a barren 
wilderness. Now, gather up the scraps and fragments 
of thought on whatever subject you may be studying, — 

* The reader will find die passage quoted at page lo of this 


for of course by a note-book I do not mean a mere 
receptacle for odds and ends, a literary dust-bin, — but 
acquire the habit of gathering everything whenever 
and wherever you find it, that belongs in your line or 
lines of study, and you will be surprised to see how 
such fragments will arrange themselves into an orderly 
whole by the very organizing power of your own 
thinking, acting in a definite direction. This is a 
true process of self-education ; but you see it is 
no mechanical process of mere aggregation. It 
requires activity of thought, — but without that, what 
is any reading but mere passive amusement ? And it 
requires method. I have myself a sort of literary 
book-keeping. I keep a day-book, and at my leisure 
I post my literary accounts, bringing together in 
proper groups the fruits of much casual reading. . . 
A book that is worth reading all through, is pretty 
sure to make its worth known. There is something in 
the literary conscience which tells a reader whether he 
is wasting his time or not. An hour or a minute may 
be. sufficient opportunity for forming a decision con- 
cerning the worth or worthlessness of the book. If it 
is utterly bad and valueless, then skip the whole of it, 
as soon as you have made the discovery. If a part is 
good and a part bad, accept the one and reject the 
other. If you are in doubt, take warning at the first 
intimation that you are misspending your opportunity 
and frittering away your time over an unprofitable 
book. Reading that is of questionable value is not 
hard to find out ; it bears its notes and marks in un- 
mistakable plainness, and it puts forth, all unwittingly, 
danger-signals of which the reader should take heed. 


The art of skipping is, in a word, the art of noting 
and shunning that which is bad, or frivolous, or mis- 
leading, or unsuitable for one's individual needs. If 
you are convinced that the book or the chapter is bad, 
you cannot drop it too quickly. If it is simply idle and 
foolish, put it away on that account, — unless you are 
properly seeking amusement from idleness and frivolity. 
If it is so deceitful and disingenuous, your task is not so 
easy, but your conscience will give you warning, and 
the sharp examination which should follow, will tell 
you that you are in poor literary company. 

But there are a great many books which are good 
in themselves, and yet are not good at all times or for 
all readers. No book, indeed, is of universal value 
and appropriateness. As has been said in previous 
chapters of this series, the individual must always dare 
to remember that he has his own legitimate tastes and 
wants, and that it is not only proper to follow them, 
but highly improper to permit them to be overruled by 
the tastes and wants of others. It is right for one to 
neglect entirely, or to skip through, pages which 
another should study again and again. Let each 
reader ask himself: Why am I reading this? What 
service will it be to me ? Am I neglecting something 
else that would be more beneficial ? Here, as in every 
other question involved in the choice of books, the 
golden key to knowledge, a key that will only fit its 
own proper doors, is purpose. . . . 

Admitting thus the utility of the reading of 
periodicals, and even insisting upon the necessity and 
duty of reading them, it must nevertheless be said in 
the plainest manner that an alarming amount of time 


is wasted over them, or worse than wasted. * ' To learn 
to choose what is valuable and to skip the rest " is a 
good rule for reading periodicals ; and it is a rule whose 
observance will reduce, by fully one half^ the time 
devoted to them, and will save time and strength for 
better intellectual employments, — to say nothing of 
the very important fact that discipline in this line will 
prevent the reader from falling into that demoralising 
and altogether disgraceful inability to hold the mind 
upon any continuous subject of thought or study, 
which is pretty sure to follow in the train of undue or 
thoughtless reading of periodicals. And when, as too 
often happens, a man comes to read nothing save his 
morning 'paper at breakfast or on the train, and his 
evening paper after his day's work is over, that man's 
brain, so far as reading is concerned, is only half alive. 
It cannot carry on a long train of thought or study ; 
it notes superficial things rather than inner principles ; 
it seeks to be amused or stimulated, rather than to be 
instructed. — The Choice of Books, 

Charles Bray. h. 1811 [Living], 

Habit is as supreme in mind as in body, and the 
object of moral culture is to make virtue into a habit. 
There are two habits, which, although they have not 
yet been classed among the virtues, are yet each worth 
a fortune in itself. One is a habit of looking at the 
bright side of things; the other is a taste for good 
reading, which may be formed into a habit by cultiva- 
tion. I have cultivated both, on principle, and my 
happiness is now mainly dependent upon them. The 


habitual state of my mind is one of cheerfulness, which 
the external world now finds it very difEcult to depress. 
However untoward outside things may be, my mind 
soon springs back to its natural state, which is a happy 
one. For this I claim no merit ; I cannot help it ; the 
mind does so unconsciously, and this, I maintain, is 
the effect of culture, and is dependent in great measure 
upon the way I have accustomed myself to look at 
things. ... Carlyle, in his "Reminiscences of 
his Father," vol. i., p. 9, says, **A virtue he had 
which I should learn to imitate. He never spoke of 
what was disagreeable a7id past, I have often won- 
dered and admired- at this. The thing that he had 
nothing to do with, he did nothing with." I took 
people for what they were, and was not annoyed that 
they were not better ; consequently I gave no admission 
to envy, hatred, malice, or any kind of uncharitable- 
ness. ... I knew there was good in all, and I 
appealed to that when I could find it, and if I could 
not ftnd it, or if people, whether good or bad, were 
distasteful to me, and tended to create bad feeling 
in me, I kept out of their way. It may have been 
cowardly, but I dodged the evil rather than centend ; 
I did not see that anyone had a right to disturb my 
habitual calm. It is better to wait, if you can, and 
many evils will cure themselves, or you will get used 
to the new circumstances. As the Spanish proverb 
says, *'If you cannot have what you like, you must 
try to like what you have. " I always tried never to 
look at what I had lost, but at what I had left. . . . 
The tone of mind, as to whether joy or sorrow shall 
habitually prevail, depends upon culture; and culture 


means exercise, and exercise begets habit, and in this 
case, habitual cheerfulness is the result. 

The second thing, as already mentioned, upon which 
my happiness has been greatly dependent, is the taste 
for good reading. By good reading I mean not mere 
newspapers, magazines, novels, and light literature, 
but such first-class works as enable you to travel not 
only over the whole world of nature, but of thought. 
A man who has acquired such a taste has never a spare 
moment or a dull one, unless when dreadfully bored by 
society, from which he escapes as much as possible. 
People are in general far too busy to read to serious pur- 
pose when they are young, except when studying for a 
profession : they think there will be time for higher 
reading when they get old. But, like many other things 
so deferred, that time never comes to most of us, since 
it is the result only of early cultivation. We ought 
always to have a good book on hand which we viake 
time to read every day. 

As regards my present condition, I never have a 
minute to spare, or a minute that I cannot fill pleasur- 
ably. I have a heap of books for every varied mood, 
so that they never bore me. Books to me, that is those 
of our. best writers, are ever new ; the books may be 
the same, but / am changed. Every seven years gives 
me a different, often a higher, appreciation of those I 
like. Every good book is worth reading three times 
at least. — Phases of Opinion and Experience During 
a Long Life. An A%itobiography^ by Charles Bray, 
Author of The ^^ Philosophy of Necessity,'''' \Privately 
Printed. ] 


Book-love is a home-feeling — a sweet bond of family 
union — and a never-failing source of domestic enjoy- 
ment. It sheds a charm over the quiet fireside, unlocks 
the hidden sympathies of human hearts, beguiles the 
weary hours of sickness or solitude, and unites kindred 
spirits in a sweet companionship of sentiment and idea. 
It sheds a gentle and humanising influence over its 
votaries, and woos even sorrow itself into a temporary 

Book-love is the good angel that keeps watch by the 
poor man's hearth, and hallows it ; saving him from 
the temptations that lurk beyond its charmed circle ; 
giving him new thoughts and noble aspirations, and 
lifting him, as it were, from the mere mechanical 
drudgery of his every-day occupation. The wife 
blesses it, as she sits smiling and sewing, alternately 
listening to her husband's voice, or hushing the child 
upon her knee. She blesses it for keeping him near 
her, and making him cheerful, and manly, and kind- 
hearted, — albeit understanding little of what he reads, 
and reverencing it for that reason all the more in him. 

Book-love is a physician ! and has many a healing 
balm to relieve, even where it cannot cure, the weary 
sickness of mind and body — many a powerful opiate to 
soothe us into a sweet and temporary forgetfulness. In 
cases of lingering convalescence, its aid is invaluable. 


We have known Book-love to be independent of the 
author, and lurk in a few charmed words traced upon 
the title-page by a once familiar hand — words of affec- 
tionate remembrance, rendered, it may be, by change 
and bereavement, inexpressibly dear ! Flowers in books 
are a sweet sign, and there is a moral in their very 
withering. Pencil-marks in books frequently recall 
scenes, and sentiments, and epochs in young lives that 
never come again. The faint line portrays passages 
that struck us years ago with their mournful beauty, 
and have since passed into a prophecy. Thoughts 
and dreams that seem like a mockery now are thus 
shadowed out. But memory's leaves are not all blanks, 
or tear-stained, but interwoven, thank God, with many 
a bright page. Pencil-marks in books have sweet as 
well as sad recollections connected with them. We 
point them out to one another, and call to mind par- 
ticular periods in our past lives. They also serve to 
register the change that has gradually and imperceptibly 
stolen over our own thoughts and feelings. 

There are some books which forcibly recall calm 
and tranquil scenes of by-gone happiness. We hear 
again the gentle tones of a once familiar voice long 
since hushed. We can remember the very passage 
where the reader paused awhile to play the critic, or 
where that eloquent voice suddenly faltered, and we 
all laughed to find ourselves weeping, and were sorry 
when the tale or the poem came to an end. Books 
read for the first time at some particular place or period 
of our existence may thus become hallowed for ever- 
more, or we love them because others loved them also 
in by-gone days. 


Books written by those with whom it has been our 
happy privilege to dwell in close companionship and 
sweet interchange of sentiment and idea are exceedingly 
precious. In reading them, we converse, as it were, 
with the author in his happiest mood, recognise the 
rare eloquence to which we have often sat and listened 
spell-bound, and feel proud to find our affectionate and 
reverential homage confirmed by the unanimous plau- 
dits of the world. The golden key, before mentioned, 
has been given into our keeping, and we unlock at will 
the sacred and hidden recesses of Genius and associa- 
tion. — Eraser's Magazine^ 1847: ^^ BookrLove.'^ 

Reading will not be the less recreative for being 
methodical. Desultoriness is more to be dreaded than 
routine. The latter need not be mechanical : the 
former must always be unproductive. A man may 
never become a scientific investigator or a profound 
linguist ; he may abandon the hope of enlightening the 
world with the announcement of some new theory of 
political economy, or the discovery of some new 
species of foraminifera ; and yet, through assiduous 
devotion to a few good authors, he may acquire a 
breadth of view and a refinement of taste that will 
make his life as instructive and stimulating as any 
book he himself could possibly have written. He may 
not have the opportunity of listening to scientific 
lectures, and may never compose an essay for a mutual 
improvement society, or send an article to a magazine. 
Yet in his own domestic circle he may find an audience 
that will always hang upon his lips when he retails the 


results of his reading, pointing some commonplace 
moral with an apt and striking illustration, or enforcing 
fatherly counsel by some wise man's weighty apoph- 
thegms. Better still will it -be if the example become 
contagious, and the reading father should train up a 
reading family ; if the habit of reading aloud be 
early fostered, together with the still more valuable 
habit of free discussion of the topics broached. Such 
habits as these, besides displacing the vacuity and 
isolation of home-life in great cities, or the scandals 
and jealousies of home-life in small towns and villages, 
would bind together the members of a family by ties 
more durable than those of sordid self-interest, and 
enable it to reahse its dignity as a small but important 
unit of a great social system. The past and the future 
would thus be linked by the profitable engagements of 
the present ; and the accumulation of such units, as of 
the sand on the sea-shore, would present a breakwater 
to the waves of barbarism more effectual than the 
academies of the ancient world, the monasteries of 
mediaevalism, or even the educational appliances — 
from universities to primary schools — of modern times. 
— London Quarterly Review^ 1881.* ^^ Books and 
Book-Hunting. " ____^ 

My wanderings among other people's libraries have 
led me to make a few discoveries which may or may 
not be original. Thus, I have laid down the general 
maxim that, as is the average man^, so is the average 
library. I look not, therefore, for aught beyond the 
commonplace. Bookshelves are made to match their 
owner ; the books upon them are a counterpart 


to tlie man who possesses them. Thus a beautiful 
harmony reigns in this as well as in other departments 
of nature. I am tempted to believe that after learning 
the profession of a man, studying his face, dress, and 
bearing, and hearing him talk for a single quarter of 
an hour, I should be able to tell, within a dozen books 
or so, all that he has ever bought. The converse of 
this proposition is certainly true, namely, that a very 
short examination of a library is sufficient to enable 
one to describe the owner in general and unmistakable 

A pretty allegory might be made showing how a cer- 
tain Pygmalion collected together a divine library, so 
beautiful, so perfect, so harmonious in all its parts, 'that 
he who made it and gazed upon it was straightway 
smitten with a passion which made his heart to beat 
and his cheek to glow ; and how presently the library 
became alive to him, a beneficent being, full of love 
and tender thought, as good as she was beautiful, a 
friend who never failed him ; and how they were 
united in holy wedlock and lived together, and never 
tired of each other until he died, when the life went 
also out of the library, his wife, and she fell all to 
separate pieces, every piece a precious seedling of 
future life should it be planted in the right place. Is 
there not here the material for an allegory ? A library, 
you will perceive, is essentially feminine : it is recep- 
tive ; it is responsive ; it is productive. You may 
lavish upon it — say, upon her — as much love as you 
have in your nature, and she will reward you with fair 
offspring, sweet and tender babes — ideas, thoughts, 


memories, and hopes. Who would not love the mother 
of such children ? Who would not be their father ? 

It. is really an appalling thing to think of the people 
who have no books. Can we picture to ourselves a 
home without these gentle friends ? Can we imagine 
a life dead to all the gracious influences of sweet 
thoughts sweetly spoken, of tender suggestions tenderly 
whispered, of holy dreams, glowing play of fancy, 
unexpected reminding of subtle analogies and un- 
suspected harmonies, and those swift thoughts which 
pierce the heart hke an arrow, and fill us with a new 
sense of what we are and what we may be ? Yet there 
are thousands and tens of thousands of homes where 
these influences never reach, where the whole of the 
world is hard, cruel fact unredeemed by hope or illusion, 
with the beauty of the world shut out and the grace of 
life destroyed. It is only by books that most men and 
women can lift themselves above the sordidness of life. 
No books ! Yet for the greater part of humanity that 
is the common lot. We may, in fact, divide our fellow- 
creatures into two branches — those who read books 
and those who do not. 

We do not sufficiently realise what is meant by this 
cheapness of literature. It means that the most 
delightful amusement— the chief recreation of the 
civilised world— the pursuit which raises the mind 
above the sordid conditions of life, gives ideas, un- 
folds possibilities, inspires noble thoughts, or presents 
pleasing images — is a thing which may be procured in 


sufficient quantity for a whole household for three, four, 
or five guineas a year — judiciously managed, and by 
arrangement with other families, for three guineas a 
year ; — administered in the way of a subscription, it 
represents nothing less than the recreation of a whole 
family for a twelvemonth. What an investment ! — 
Temple Bar, iSSi : ''On the Buying of Books:' 

The reader who browses at large in the fields of 
literature, unrestrained except by circumstance, the 
reader who fixes his mind for months upon an un- 
attainable book in a far-off book-store, who has 
courted slumber with a lump of untouched romance 
protruding through the scattered down of his pillow, 
he has found out the charm which lurketh within an 
unopened volume. The pleasure is not merely that 
of anticipation ; it passes insensibly into what I must 
call realisation. An unusually attractive title, some . 
anecdote we have heard of the author, a chance 
quotation which comes home to us, or even some 
totally extraneous association may lend personality to 
a book of which we know but little, and make it as 
distinct an acquisition to us, as those which we have 
read over and over. This experience cannot be un- 
common, though it is probably confined to readers with 
a vein of sentiment. — Atlantic Monthly, Oct., 1882. 

With increase of knowledge has come increasing 
refinement and weightiness of style. For style, in the 
true sense of the word, is not something which can be 


taught. It is, or ought to be, the finest flower of a 
man's intellectual growth. He arrives at it by labo- 
rious processes of choice and selection ; the more he 
knows, the less liable he is to exaggeration ; the more 
ready are his illustrations, the easier his erudition. 
The richer and more varied is his material, the more 
intricate and lovely will be the pattern into which he 
is able to throw it. — Newspaper Article, 

A woman's tribute to books. 

(From " The Spectator" December xoth, 1881.^ 

Sir, — Surely that is a sad article of yours in the 
Spectator of December 3rd on "Cheaper Books." 
You say, "As to the average Englishman, he simply 
hates buying books . . , and sometimes, in his 
eagerness to borrow, performs acts of incredible mean- 
ness. We have known authors asked to lend their 
own copies, by men of ten times their income ;" and 
so on, in the same sad strain. 

That, Sir, may be true of some, but surely not of 
all. I am a very " average " Englishwoman, and yet 
almost the keenest pleasure of my whole life has been 
to buy books. When I have made acquaintance with 
a noble, good, and beautiful book, I could not rest 
until it was mine, — my very own. The years roll back 
as I write, and I see myself, five-and-twenty of them 
ago, young, and just married. We had very foolishly 
married without and against the consent of our parents, 
and they (God bless them ! — they are here no more) 
thought, I fancy, to unmarry us, by a process ol 


Starvation. Many a time (my husband dining at an 
eating-house) did I eat only dry bread for dinner, all 
the while guarding and treasuring up— chiefly tied 
in a corner of my handkerchief for safety, fearing, 
if discovered, it would go in beef and mutton— a 
sovereign given me by a cousin, and which I destined 
to the purchase of " Boswell's Life of Johnson." I 
had to wait five months ere opportunity favoured me, 
and not until I had been some time at the Cape 
of Good Hope did I triumphantly carry home my 
volumes. But when at last I held them as my own in 
my eager hands, what were exile, and poverty, and 
vexation, in comparison ? 

Sir, every book on my shelves is dear to me, for 
every book means a sacrifice. But for what an end ! 
In my many sorrows, they — my books — have been un- 
failing in kindness and comfort. In foolishness they 
have given wisdom and guidance, they have been 
strength to my weakness, have helped me to help 
others, and in their possession has been deep joy ; and 
what is more, they have removed far from my home 
and from my heart that sore sorrow and trial of woman's 
life, — loneliness. 

It is to me a small matter that I have mostly fed 
poorly and dressed plainly, since, by so doing, I have 
been enabled to gather under my roof the great and 
noble of the earth, who look down at me from my 
walls with the faces of friends. Had I (would to God 
I could have !) the boon of life once more I should, 
so far as the blessed acquisition of books goes, live it 
all over again. — I am, Sir, &c., E. S. 


Joshua Sylvester. 1563 — 1618. 

Cease not to learne untill thou cease to live : 
Think that Day lost, wherein thou draw'st no Letter, 
Nor gain'st no Lesson, that new grace may give, 
To make thyself Learneder, Wiser, Better. 

Who readeth much, and never meditates, 
Is like the greedy eater of much food, 
Who so surcloyles his Stomach with his Gates, 
That commonly they do him little good. 

Tetrastica ; or the Quatrains of Guy de Faur, 
Lord of Pibt'ac. 

Roger Gale. 1672 — 1744. 

I have been very busy in ordering my study and 
making an exact catalogue of the books, a drye, tedious 
piece of slavery, God wott, but I have now finished it 
alphabetically, so that I can call any of my old leather 
coats down very readily whenever I please, and enjoy 
his company as my fancy directs. You may perhaps 
think I have much mispent my time and been at all 
these pains to little purpose ; but many a tedious hour 
has it helped me off with, and I flatter myself that 


many more will slide away with great pleasure, at least 
with less uneasiness, by their assistance. Seneca shall 
be my voucher that I do not promise myself this 
without reason, when he tells us "si te ad ea studia 
revocaveris omne vitse fastigium effugeris, nee noctem 
fieri optabis fastigio lucis; nee tibi gravis eris, nee aliis 
supervacuus. Probatum est," I must own that the 
fate of some magnificent collections that we have seen 
of late might deterr any one from being at the expense 
and trouble of assembling a numerous army of authors ; 
their legions indeed made them fdones de se; the 
necessitys and different tastes of the heirs to them 
soon caused their dissipation ; mine indeed were most 
of them raised to my hand, some new levys added by 
myself, and draughts made out of them, have reduced 
the whole to a moderate bulk, and if I can command 
them and use them as long as I am on this side of 
the grave, "Quid de me judicet hoeres" (Horace 
Epist. lij. 2, 191) will never trouble me, nor the 
dissipation of them ever distress my bones. — Roger 
Gale to the Rev. W. Stukeley, M.D., May 20, 1743, 
The Family Memoirs of Stukeley ^ ^c. (Surtees Society J^ 
1880, vol. i. 359-60. 

James Thomson. 1700 — 1748. 

Now, all amid the rigours of the year. 
In the wild depth of winter, while without 
The ceaseless winds blow ice, be my retreat 
Between the groaning forest and the shore, 
Beat by the boundless multitude of waves ; 
A rural, sheltered, solitary scene; 


.Where ruddy fire and beaming tapers join 
To cheer the gloom. There studious let me sit, 
And hold high converse with the mighty dead ; 
Sages of ancient time, as gods revered, 
As gods beneficent, who bless'd mankind 
With arts, with arms, and humanized a world. 
Pleased at th' inspiring thought, I draw aside 
The long-lived volume ; and, deep musing, hail 
The sacred shades, that, slowly rising, pass 
Before my wond'ring eye. 

First of your kind ! society divine ! 

Still visit thus my nights, for you reserved, 

And mount my soaring soul, to thoughts like yours. 

Silence, thou lonely power ! the door be thine ; 

See on the hallow'd hour that none intrude. 

Save a few chosen friends, who sometimes deign 

To bless my humble roof, with sense refined. 

Learning digested well, exalted faith, 

Unclouded wit, and humour ever gay. 

The Seasons: " WiJiter." 

John Wesley. 1703 — 1791. 

Read the most useful books, and that regularly, and 
constantly. Steadily spend all the morning in this 
employ, or, at least, five hours in four-and-twenty. 

"But I read only the Bible." Then you ought to 
teach others to read only the Bible, and, by parity of 
reason, to hear only the Bible. But if so, you need 
preach no more. * * Just so, " said George Bell. * ' And 
what is the fruit? Why, now he neither reads the 


Bible, nor anything else. This is rank enthusiasm." 
If you need no book but the Bible, you are got above 
St. Paul. He wanted others too. " Bring the books," » 
says he, "but especially the parchments," those wrote 
on parchment. "But I have no taste for reading." 
Contract a taste for it by use, or return to your trade. — 
The Works of the Rev. John Wesley, 1830, vol. viii., 
P* 315* ^^ Minutes oj- So??ie Late Conversations;''' ^c. 

C. Frognall Dibdin. 1776 — 1847. 

From beginning to end I have not been unmindful 
of the professed view, or title, of this work. Unless I 
have greatly deceived myself, it will afford comfort to 
those who at the close of a long and actively spent life, 
will find a communion with their books one of the 
safest and surest methods of holding a communion 
with their God. The library of a good man is one of 
his most constant, cheerful, and instructive companions ; 
and as it has delighted him in youth, so will it solace 
him in old age. — The Library Companion; or the 
Young Man^s Guide and the Old Man^s Comfort in the 
Choice of a Library, 

James Montgomery. 1771 — 1854. 

Breakfast dispatch'd, I sometimes read. 
To clear the vapours from my head ; 
For books are magic charms, I ween, 
Both for the crotchet and the spleen. 
When genius, wisdom, wit abound. 
Where sound is sense, and sense is sound ; 


When art and nature both combine, 

And live, and breathe, in every line ; 

The reader glows along the page 

With all the author's native rage ! 

But books there are with nothing fraught, — 

Ten thousand words, and ne'er a thought ; 

Where periods without period crawl, 

Like caterpillars on a wall. 

That fall to climb, and climb to fall ; 

While still their efforts only tend 

To keep them from their journey's end. 

The readers yawn with pure vexation, 

And nod — but not with approbation. 

In such a fog of dulness lost, 

Poor Patience must give up the ghost ; 

Not Argus' eyes awake could keep. 

Even Death might read himself to sleep ! 

Poems : * * Imprisonment. " 

John Kenyon. 1783 — 1856. 

How oft, at evening, when the mind, o'er wrought, 
Finds, in dim reverie, repose from thought. 
Just at that hour when soft subsiding day 
Slants on the glimmering shelves its latest ray ; 
Along those darkling files I ponder slow. 
And muse, how vast the debt to books we owe. 

Yes ! friends they are ! and friends thro* life to last ! 
Hopes for the future ! memories for the past ! 
With them, no fear of leisure unemployed ; 
Let come the leisure, they shall fill the void ; 


With them, no dread of joys that fade from view ; 
They stand beside us, and our youth renew ; 
TelHng fond tales of that exalted time, 
When lore was bliss, and power was in its prime. 
Come then, delicious converse still to hold, 
And still to teach, ye long-loved volumes old ! 

And sweet 'twill be, or hope would so believe, 
When close round life its fading tints of eve, 
To turn again our earlier volumes o'er. 
And love them then, because we've loved before ; 
And inly bless the waning hour that brings 
A will to lean once more on simple things. 

Poems: For the Most Part Occasional. 
^'■Pretence: a Satire^''"' pa7't ii., ^^ The 

Isaac Taylor. 1787 — 1865. 

As to daily social readings — continued from year to 
year, while a family is running through its course of 
changes — they constitute a bright continuity of its 
intellectual and moral existence. This communion of 
intelligence, and these recollections of books, that have 
left an impression upon the memories of the listeners — 
they readily coalesce with the remembrance of family 
events. I have said the same as to the connection 
of the seasons with family history. The book, and 
the events that marked the time of its perusal, weld 
into one ; and especially it will be so if, in any instance, 
the heavy hammer of suffering and sorrow has come, 
stroke upon stroke, so as to make all one in the 


memory. Taking a glance round at my own shelves, 
I see books, never to be forgotten — for they were in 
course of reading at such and such a time. — Personal 
Recollections in " Good Words" 1865. 

Hugh Miller. 1802 — ^1856. 

How pleasant it is, after one has been shut up for 
months, mayhap, in some country solitude, or engaged 
in some over-busy scene, without intelligent com- 
panionship, to meet with an accomplished, well-read 
man, with whom to beat over all the literary topics, 
and settle the merits of the various schools and authors. 
It is not less pleasant to turn to one's books after some 
period of close engrossing enjoyment, and to clear off, 
among the masters of thought and language, all trace 
of the homely cares and narrow thinking which the 
season of hard labour had imperatively demanded. — 
Essays : * * The A menities of Literature. ' ' 

John Cameron. [Living.] 

But now — What of books as instruments for the 
evolution of latent mental power? Books abound — 
they over-abound ; there is nothing of which we have so 
unmanageable a superfluity; their distracting variety 
makes it difficult to choose, and hard to hold to those 
even that we have chosen till We have inwardly digested 
them. Education is in the ratio of difficulty overcome. 
The best book, therefore, in this regard, is that which 
puts the utmost strain upon your faculty of meditation. 


Choose the thinker who forces you to wrestle with 
him — lifts you off your feet — but to set you down on 
a higher level than you stood on before you grappled 
with him. A hundred writers that you can at a hop, 
step, and jump, lightly overleap, will not so avail to 
make you a philosophical acrobat, as one that you will, 
even at the hundredth attempt, find too high for you 
to leap over. In phrase without figure, read only what 
you can see into the heart of without opening your 
eyes, and in a short time the embossed book for the 
blind will be the best book for you. What you can 
read when yawning will surely leave you sounder 
asleep than it found you, — Phases of Thought^ by John 
Cameron^ author of " The Notabilities of Wake/ield ;" 
^^ Discourses ;" ^^ Yarns by a Manchester Spinner;^'' 
** Clouds and Sunshine ;^^ ** The Trial of the Man- 
chester Bards ; " " The Old Piano ; " ^c. 

Mark Pattison. [Living.] 

Those who most read books don't want to talk about 
them. The conversation of the man who reads to any 
purpose will be flavoured by his reading ; but it will 
not be about his reading. The people who read in 
order to talk about it, are people who read the books of 
the season because they are the fashion — books which 
come in with the season and go out with it. "When 
a new book comes out I read an old one," said the 
poet Rogers. And Lord Dudley — the great Lord 
Dudley, not the present possessor of the title — writes 
to the Bishop of Llandaff : " I read new publications 


unwillingly. In literature I am fond of confining 
myself to the best company, which consists chiefly of 
my old acquaintance with whom I am desirous of be- 
coming more intimate. I suspect that nine times out 
of ten it is more profitable, if not more agreeable, to 
read an old book over again than to read a new one 
for the first time. . . . Is it not better to try to 
elevate and endow one's mind by the constant study 
and contemplation of the great models, than merely 
to know of one's own knowledge that such a book a'nt 
worth reading ? " — {Lord Dudley's Letters. ) We wear 
clothes of a particular cut because other people are 
wearing them. That is so. For to differ markedly 
in dress and behaviour from other people is a sign of 
a desire to attract attention to yourself, and is bad 
taste. Dress is social, but intellect is individual ; it 
has special wants at special moments. The tendency 
of education through books is to sharpen individuality, 
and to cultivate independence of mind, to make a man 
cease to be "the contented servant of the things that 
perish. * 

To a veteran like myself, who have watched the 
books of forty seasons, there is nothing so old as a 
new book. An astonishing sameness and want of 
. individuality pervades modern books. You would 
think they were all written by the same man. The 
ideas they contain do not seem to have passed through 
the mind of the writer. They have not even that 
originality — the only originality which John Mill in 
his modesty would claim for himself — "which every 
thoughtful mind gives to its own mode of conceiving 

478 MARK P ATT 1 SON, 

and expressing truths which are common property " — 
{Autobiography y p. 119). When you are in London 
step into the reading-room of the British Museum. 
There is the great manufactory out of which we turn 
the books of the season. We are all there at work 
for Smith and Mudie. It w^as so before there was 
any British Museum. It was so in Chaucer's time — 

" For out of the olde fieldes, as men saythe, 
Cometh all this newe corn from yere to yere, 
And out of olde bookes in good faithe 
Cometh all this newe science that men lere." 

It continued to be so in Cervantes' day. "There 
are," says Cervantes in Don Quixote (32), **men who 
will make you books and turn them loose in the world 
with as much despatch as they would do a dish of 

It is not, then, any wonder that De Quincey should 
account it {Life of De Quincey ^ i. 385) **one of the 
misfortunes of life that one must read thousands of 
books only to discover that one need not have read 
them," or that Mrs. Browning should say, **The ne 
plus ultra of intellectual indolence is this reading of 
books. It comes next to what the Americans call 
whittling." And I cannot doubt that Bishop Butler 
had observed the same phenomenon which has been 
my subject to-night when he wrote, in 1729, a century 
and a half ago {Preface to Sermons , p. 4): *'The 
great number of books of amusement which daily 
come in one's way, have in part occasioned this idle 
way of considering things. By this means time, even 
in solitude, is happily got rid of without the pain of 


attention; neither is any part of it more put to the 
account of idleness, one can scarce forbear saying is 
spent with less thought, than great part of that which 
is spent in reading." — Books and Critics, A Lecture 
delivered October i^th, 1877. Printed in Fortnightly 
Review^ vol. xxii. /. 659. 

John Morley [Living.] 

The love of literature awakens every faculty, refines 
every sentiment, and elevates every emotion ; while 
wealth is hard to acquire, and when acquired is 
difficult to keep, and, when both gained and retained, 
is apt to fret away the soul of the possessor in sordid 
care, — while honours and worldly fame are quite 
attainable without conferring any substantial satisfac- 
tion upon those who have grasped them, — while even 
domestic felicity may by force of circumstances become 
a source of poignant grief, and leave us environed by 
the blackness of inconsolable sorrow ; while all these 
are fleeting and unsubstantial, the sober pleasures of 
knowledge abide with us so long as intellect itself 
remains, and give us employment and consolation 
even when evil days come, and years draw nigh when 
we say. There is no pleasure in them. 

I do not advise the general student to take for 
his motto the inscription which Zacharias Ursinus of 
Heidelberg, had painted in forbidding letters over the 
door of his study : — '* My friend, whoever you are, if 
you come here, please either go away again, or give 
me some help in my study." But it is well for him to 


recognise at the outset that no solid advance, even in 
general learning, can be made by the cleverest man 
without some surrender of social joys, and without the 
endurance of much painful labour. The labour will 
in time cease to be painful, and will assuredly produce 
a more than adequate reward ; but the toil of him who 
goes forth with harrow, plough, and seed-basket, in 
order that he may eventually reap a material harvest, 
is not more unavoidable to the husbandman, than are 
the self-denial and the plodding which lead to the 
mental harvest of matured views, expanded emotions, 
and enlarged principles, to the student who would 
ponder over in the closet what may make him an 
intelligent actor in human affairs. 

Professor Max Muller, in considering the diametri- 
cally opposed doctrines of Adam Smith and Leibnitz, 
makes the following admirable observations : — *' There 
are two ways of judging former philosophers. One is 
to put aside their opinions as simply erroneous when 
they differ from our own. . . . Another way is to 
try to enter fully into the opinions of those from whom 
we differ — to make them, for a time at least, our own, 
till at last we discover the point of view from which 
each philosopher looked at the facts before him, and 
catch the light in which he regarded them. We shall 
then find that there is much less of downright error in 
the history of philosophy, than is commonly supposed ; 
nay, we shall find nothing so conducive to a right 
appreciation of truth, as a right appreciation of the 
error by which it is surrounded." 

yOHN MO R LEY. 481 

Concern yourself only with the attainment of truth, 
without respect to the ultimate conclusions which may 
be derived from it. Be not misled from this by the 
traditional respect or disrespect paid to writers, but 
form your own judgment. Adopt no principle, 
endorse no doctrine, without careful examination on 
your own part. Finally, respect all opinions which are 
supported by argument, however untenable they may 
seem. And above all, bear in mind Sir Thomas 
Browne's old saying — "I could never divide myself 
from any man upon the difference of an opinion, nor 
be angry with his judgment for not agreeing with me 
in that from which, within a few days, I should dissent 
myself. " 

I believe that the main object of literary culture at 
the present time ought to be to counteract the 
dominant tendencies flowing from the money-getting 
pursuits of the age, and so, without lessening the 
energy and attention at present devoted to those 
pursuits, to check the evil consequences apt to result 
from them, by the cultivation of tastes and habits of 
thought of an opposite, or rather, perhaps I should say, 
of a wholly different kind. As the ardent longing after 
money inclines a man to be self-seeking to an excessive 
extent, he should, if he would preserve a proper 
mental balance, devote as much time as he can spare, 
after the performance of his money-getting labours, to 
the investigation of subjects which may teach him the 
worth of money, and the fact that there are gifts 
which mere wealth can never purchase, nor mere 
opulence ever enjoy; that his interests as a human 



being are not confined to the narrow circle of his own 
business, but are co-extensive with those of the race to 
which he belongs; and that such interests are only 
promoted by a careful adherence to generous principles 
and the purest rectitude. 

The consolation of reading is not futile nor imaginary. 
It is no chimera of the recluse or the bookworm, but a 
potent reality. As a stimulus to flagging energies, as 
an inspirer of lofty aim, literature stands unrivalled. 
In the life of all, blank days come when we are 
inclined to envy those who say, * * Let us eat and drink, 
for to-morrow we die;" when the spirit of our 
youthful enthusiasm, like the ghost of some betrayed 
love, rises up and stands reproachfully before us, 
recalling the resolutions and aspirations of the past ; 
reminding us how base and unworthy we should in 
those times have deemed the indolence and want of 
faith of these ; and mutely asking if age, instead of 
ripening our wisdom and strengthening our will, has 
drawn a thick film over the eyes of our faith, and 
paralysed the right hand of our purpose. In moments 
like these, the lofty themes of poetry, the grandeur of 
history, and the noble examples of biography, kindle 
in those who will have recourse to them, a new energy 
and a fresh heart. This powerful quality of literature 
is not sufficiently recognised nor employed. Men 
know not the great agent of restoration which lies so 
near their hand. Other resources are not available in 
every circumstance, at all times, and at all ages ; but 
literature — the song of the poet, the meditations of the 
philosopher, the records of the historian, and the lives 


of men who have left great names upon the earth — 
this (to use the language of Cicero) is at once the 
instructor and guide of youth, and the comfort and 
grace of our riper years; it is an adornment to 
prosperity, a refuge and a solace in adversity; in 
private it is our delight, in public our help; and 
whether at home or abroad, whether in town or 
country, by day or by night, it remains an abiding joy 
and employment. — Re7narks on Readings delivered at 
the Blackburn Mechanics' Institute ^ 1864. 



Menage says : " The first thing one ought to do, 
after having borrowed a book, is to read it, so as to be 
able to return it as soon as possible." 

Toinard pungently remarks that "The reason why 
borrowed books are seldom returned, is because it is 
easier to retain the books themselves than what is 
inside of them." ., 

In a book-plate of the last century, the owner of the 
book has the following pertinent quotation from the 
Psalms : — " It is the wicked that borroweth, and 
payeth not again. " 

The following suggestion occurs in a newspaper 
article : — *'If ever a new religion is able to impose new 
festivals and fast-days on the human race, it is to be 
hoped that A solemn week of returning books 
TO THEIR owners will every year precede the Feast 
of Property. " 

A correspondent of The Tunes thus writes on the 
day after the commencement of the Parcel Post : — "A 
new idea often serves as a tonic to the relaxed con- 
science. If, while the joy of the new Parcel Post is 
fully on them, folks would only turn out their cupboards 
and examine their bookshelves for volumes long bor- 
rowed and never returned, they would probably set in 
motion for the time being the largest circulating library 
in the world, and administer consolation to tens of 
thousands of long despondent rightful owners. " 



Addison, Joseph . . . . . . . . . . . . 107 

Aikin, Dr. John . . •. 124 

Alcott, A. Bronson 265 

Alexandrian Library . . . . . . . . . . 2 

Allatius, Leo . . • . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 

Alonzo of Arragon . . .... 32 

Anonymous Authors . . . . . . . . . . 460 

Arnold, Dr. . . . . . , . . , . , . . . 260 

Arnott, Dr. . . . , . , . . . . . . . . 230 

Ascham, Roger .. .. .. .. .. .. 18 

Axon, William E. A 447 

Bacon, Lord . . . . . . . . 28 

Bailey, Philip James . . . . . . . . . . 361 

Barrow, Dr. Lsaac . . . . . . . . . . . . 86 

Bartholin, Thomas V. . , . . . . . . . . 82 

Baxter, Rev. Richard . . . . . . . . . . 72 

Bayle, Pierre .. .. .. .. .. .. 113 

Bedford, Earl of 71 

Beecher, Rev. Henry Ward 352 

Bennoch, Francis . . . . . . . . . . . . 348 

Blades, William .. .. .. .. .. ,. 445 

Blount, Charles . . . . . . . . . . . . loi 

Book-Borrowers . . . . . . . . . . . . 484 

Bray, Charles . . . . . . . . . . . . 457 

Bright, John . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 343 

Brougham, Lord . . . . . . . . . . . . 225 

Browne, Sir Thomas . . . . . . . . . . 61 

Brown, Dr. John . . . . . . . . . . . . 340 

Bjowning, Elizabeth Barrett 325 

486 INDEX. 

Bruyere, John de la . . , . . . . . . . 98 

Brydges, Sir Samuel Egerton 137 

Burke, Edmund .. .. .. .. .. .. 120 

Burton, Robert . . . . . , 45 

Burton, Dr. John Hill . . . . . . . . . . 326 

Bury, Bishop Richard de " 7 

Buxton Charles 396 

Byron, Lord . . . . . . . . 229 

Cameron, John . . . . . . . . . . . . 475 

Carlyle, Thomas . . . . 246 

Carr, Frank (Launcelot Cross) . . . . . . . . 442 

Cecil, Richard .. . .. 130 

Chambers, William . . . . . . . . . . . . 275 

Chambers, Robert . , 285 

Chandos, Lord . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 

Channing, Dr. W. E. . . 193 

Charpentier, Francis . . 82 

Chaucer, Geoffrey . . . . . . . . . . . , 12 

Chesterfield, Lord .. .. 112 

Chevreau, Urban . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 

Cicero . . . . 2 

Clarendon, Earl of . . . . . . 65 

Clarke, Rev. J. Freeman . . 450 

Cobbett, William 136 

Cobden, Richard . . . . . . 316 

Cockburn, Chief Justice . . . . 293 

Coleridge, Samuel Taylor .. ..154 

Coleridge, Hartley .. 261 

Collier, Rev. Jeremy . . . . 98 

Collyer, Rev. Robert . . . . 401 

Colton, Rev. Charles C 192 

Congreve, William . . . . 106 

Cook, Eliza 376 

Cotton, Charles . . . . 91 

Cowley, Abraham . . . . 76 

INDEX, 487 


Cowper, William 121 

Crabbe, George . . ^ 132 

Crossley, James . . . . 278 

Daniel, Samuel .. .. 31 

Davenant, Sir William .. .. .. •- •• 61 

Dawson, George 39^ 

Dibdin, C. Frognall 472 

Diderot, Denys 118 

Disraeli, Isaac . . . . . . • . • • • • 141 

Disraeli, Benjamin (Lord Beaconsfield) .. ..318 

Divine, A Seventeenth Century 98 

Dobson, Austin •• •• 45^ 

Dodd, Rev. William 120 

Earle, Dr. John 61 

Emerson, Ralph Waldo 306 

English Writer, Early . - 69 

Erasmus, Desiderius 16 

Evans, Marian (George Eliot) 388 

Feltham, Owen 68 

F^n^lon, Archbishop loi 

Ferriar, Dr. John 141 

Fielding, Henry 114 

Fletcher, John 44 

Florio, John 27 

Foster, John 148 

Freeland, William 446 

Friswell, James Hain . . . . 405 

Fuller, Dr. Thomas.. .. .. .. .. .. 63 

Fuller, Thomas, M.D 103 

Gale, Roger 469 

Gellius, Aulus . . . . 5 

Genlis, Countess de . . 124 

488 INDEX. 


Gibbon, Edward 123 

Gilfillan, Rev. George 349 

Gladstone, William Ewart 334 

Godwin, William .. 133 

Goethe, J. Wolfgang von 126 

Goldsmith, Oliver .. .. .. .. .. .. 119 

Green, Matthew .. .. 114 

Guevara, Antonio de . . . . 33 

Hale, Sir Matthew 66 

Hales, John 50 

Hall, Bishop Joseph 36 

Hall, John 84 

Halley, Edmund 114 

Hamerton, Philip Gilbert .. ..431 

Hare, Rev. Julius C. . . 245 

Harrison, Frederic. .. .. .. .. .. 415 

Havergal, Frances R . . . . . . 445 

Hazlitt, William . . . . . , 172 

Helps, Sir Arthur . . 363 

Herder, J. G. von 130 

Herschel, Sir John .. 238 

Hillard, George S. . . . . 321 

Hindu Saying , . . . 6 

Holmes, Dr. Oliver Wendell 328 

Horace . . . . 3 

Houghton, Lord (R. M. Milnes) 337 

Huet, Bishop . . . . . . 92 

Hugo, Victor 294 

Hume, David 117 

Hunt, Leigh 197 

I nchbald, Elizabeth 131 

Irving, Washington 196 

Johnson, Dr. Samuel .. .. .. .. ..115 

Jones, Sir William . . .. .. .- .. .. 123 

INDEX. 489 


Kempis, Thomas a . . .. .. .. .. .. 13 

Kenyon, John . . . . . , . . . . . . 473 

Kingsley, Rev. Charles . . . . . . . . . . 365 

Knight, Charles . . . . . . . . . . . . 235 

Lamb, Charles ,. .. .. .. ,, .. 163 

Landor, Walter Savage .. .. .. .. .. 171 

Lang, Andrew . . . . . . . . . . . . 449 

Langford, J. A. . . . . . . . . . . . . 399 

Leighton, Robert . . . . . . 397 

Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim . . . . . , . . 120 

Locke, John . . . . . . . . 94 

Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth . . . . . . . . 320 

Lowell, James Russell . . . . . , . . . , 376 

Luther, Martin 18 

Lylye, John . . . . . . . . 28 

Lytton, Lord (E. L. Bulwer) , , . . . . . . 299 

Lytton, Earl (Owen Meredith) , . . . . . . . 429 

Macaulay, Lord . . . . . , , . . . . . 270 

Machiavelli, Niccolo ,. ,. .. .. .. 18 

Mackenzie, Sir George . . , , . . . , . . 97 

Mahon, Lord . . . . . , . . . . . . 236 

Mancini, Dominico. . .. .. 11 

Matthew, Gospel of St 5 

Maurice, Rev. Frederick Penison .. .. .. 317 

Manage, Gilles ' " . . 69 

Middleton, Dr. Conyers . . . . , . . , . . no 

Miller, Hugh . . 475 

Milton, John 64 

Montagu, Lady Mary Wortley .. .. .. 

Montaigne, Michel de . . . . 24 

Montesquieu, Baron .. 

Montgomery, James . . . , . . . . . . 472 

Moore, Dr. John ., .. .. ., .. .. 121 

Morley, John . . . . . . 479 

Moulin, Peter du 59 

490 INDEX. 


Nierembergius, Jean Eusebe . . . . . . . . 55 

Norris, Rev. John, of Bemerton . . . . . . 103 

Norton, Mrs. Caroline . . . . 324 

Osborne, Francis . . . . . . . . . - . . 67 

Overbury, Sir Thomas , . . . . . . . . . 49 

Owen, Dr. John . . . . . . 75 

Palmer, Samuel . . . , . 318 

Parker, Rev. Theodore 339 

Parton, Sara P. (Fanny Fern) 355 

Pattison, Mark 476 

Paul, C. Kegan 406 

Paul, St. 6 

Peacham, Henry . . . . 45 

Peacock, Thomas Love . . . . 224 

Persian, Saying from the . . . . 6 

Persian, Saying from the . . . . 7 

Petrarca, Francesco 9 

Phillips, George S. (January Searle) . . . . . . 357 

Plato I 

Pliny, the younger 6 

Plutarch . . 5 

Pope, Alexander .. no 

Prayer, Book of Common . . . . 28 

Procter, Bryan Waller (Barry Cornwall) . . . . 228 

Quincey, Thomas de 224 

Quintilian 5 

Rands, W. H. (Matthew Browne) . . . . . . 412 

Rhodiginus, Balthasar Bonifacius 52 

Richardson, Charles F . . 453 

Richter, Jean Paul F 140 

Ringelbergius, J. Fortius .. 14 

Rioja, Francesco di • . . . . . . . . . . 59 

Robertson, Rev. Frederick William 362 

INDEX, 491 


Rochefoucauld, Due de la 71 

Roscoe, William 131 

Rousseau, Jean Jacques 117 

Ruskin, John 366 

Saxe, John G . . - ■ 363 

Scaliger, Joseph 35 

Schiller, Friedrich , . 1 34 

Schopenhauer, Arthur .. .. 231 

Seneca . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 

Shaftesbury, Earl of 284 

Shakespeare, William , 32 

Shenstone, William .. .. .. ,. ..119 

Sherbrooke, Lord (Robert Lowe) . . . . . . 347 

Shirley, James 56 

Sidney, Sir Philip . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 

Smith, Alexander . . 408 

Socrates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i 

Solomon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i 

Song, Old English 35 

Sorbiere, Samuel . . . . . . . . . . . . 68 

South, Dr. Robert 96 

Southey, Robert .. -157 

Steele, Sir Richard. . .. .. .. .. .. 107 

Sterne, Laurence .. .. .. .. .. .. 118 

Stevenson, Robert Louis .. .. .. .. ..451 

Swift, Jonathan . . . . . . . . . . . . 106 

Sylvester, Joshua . . . . . . . . . . . . 469 

Talfourd, Judge . . . . . . . . . . . . 260 

Taylor, Isaac . . . . 474 

Taylor, Bishop Jeremy . . . . , . . . . . 70 

Temple, Sir William 84 

Thackeray, W. Makepeace . . . . . . . 343 

Thirlwall, Bishop . . . . . . . . . . . . 262 

Thomson, James . . . , . . . . . . . . 470 

492 INDEX. 


Toinard, M. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 

Trollope, Anthony . . . . . . . . . . . . 356 

Tuckney, Antony . . . . 58 

Vaughan, Henry 83 

Voltaire, Frangois M. A. de .. .. ., ., 114 

Waller, Sir William 56 

Walpole, Horace .. .. .. .. .. .. 119 

Watts, Dr. Isaac . . . . . . . . . . . . 109 

Wesley, John .. .. .. .. .. .. 471 

Whately, Archbishop . . . . . . . . . . 226 

Whichcote, Dr. Benjamin . . . . . . . . 67 

Whipple, Edwin P. .. .. .. ., .. 447 

Whitman, Walt 382 

Willmott, Rev. Robert Aris . . . . . . . . 324 

Wither, George . . . . 54 

Wordsworth, William .. ..153 

Writer, Sixteenth Century . . 36 

Wyttenbach, Daniel 124 

Yriarte, Tomas de . . . . . . . . . . . . 131 

■ ^C'jt^ " ' 


PALL Mall. 

^be BooK^Xover's jencbiriMon : 


Solace and Companionship of Books. 

^12 pages. Cloth gilt, lettered. Price 6s. 

In Parchment, Embossed 'in Gold, with Gilt Edges, 

suitable for an elegant Gift-Book, los. 6d. 

London : Simpkin, Marshall, & Co. 
London & Edinburgh : W. & R. Chambers. 

©pinions oX tbe ipress 

(Selected from more than Fifty Newspaper Reviews and 

The Times. — A choice volume, the compilation of which has 
evidently been a labour of love, and the result is a storehouse of 
admirable quotations, which readers should make much of. 

Daily Telegraph. — Were we asked to choose the single volume 
most appropriate for a present to a person of refined and studious 
habits, we should unhesitatingly name Alexander Ireland's 
" Book- Lover's Enchiridion." It contains the best thoughts of 
the best minds on the pleasures of reading and the reward of 
scholarship, lovingly transcribed and arranged in praiseworthy 
order by one who is himself an indefatigable reader and a pro- 
found student of literature. 

( I ) 

Pall Mali Gazette.— \t is creditable to this hasty age that it 
should within ten months have demanded a third edition of so 
solid a work as the " Book-lover's Enchiridion." Mr. Alexander 
Ireland is an old book-lover himself, and has, we are sure, written 
of books as fondly and sympathetically as any of the two hundred 
and forty authors from whom he gives us quotations. The result 
of his labours is a wholesome and unexceptionable little volume, 
calculated to stimulate the energy of the young student and to 
solace the leisure of age. 

The S^ectator.r-' rh^ extracts have been most judiciously 
selected, and are evidently the result of years of careful reading 
and close observation. The highest commendation we can give 
the book is to say that the compiler's object, as described by 
himself in the preface to this (the third) edition, has been fully 
achieved. "My object," he says, "has been to bring together, 
from the reading of a lifetime, a body of thought, old and new, 
which cannot fail to be welcome to those who find their purest 
and highest enjoyment in studious contemplation ; who love to 
retire from 'the fretful stir unprofitable, and the fever of the 
world,' and dwell for a time in 'the heaven revealed to medita- 
tion ;' and who feel their inner life sustained and refreshed, by a 
knowledge of the consolations which the most gifted minds have 
ever found in books." 

Saturday Review.— M.t. Ireland's " Enchiridion" has already 
shown that it possesses popular qualities. It is now in its third 
edition; in many ways it deserves to see many more editions. 
. . . The volume contains many passages about bibliophilism 
which will be new even to omnivorous readers. . . . Mr. 
Ireland's old English writers are among the very best, most 
sensible, and least read of his authorities. 

AthencBum. — A very charming volume, arranged in a way 
that shows a true love of literature. The extracts supply some 
delightful reading. The volume does infinite credit not only to 
the printer, but to the compiler. 

Academy. — The selection is very catholic. Many happy 
hours of studious, leisure must have gone to the in-gathering 
of the contents of this volume ; and to a good and pleasant 

( 2 ) 

Illustrated London News.~T\i^ whole number of individual 
authors enlisted in the editor's service is now increased from 125 
to about 210 ; while in the quality and aptness of the extracts he 
has chosen, there is certainly no abatement. It is wonderful that 
so many original reflections could have been made with so little 
repetition of the same ideas, upon a topic of common experience 
such as that of the uses and delights of literature. 

Manchester Guardian.— h. dainty gift-book, which will give 
great pleasure to every lover of literature. No better gift could 
be devised for a studious youth or girl. 

Scotsman. — It is beautifully got up, and printed with great 
clearn^s and beauty. It contains a selection of thought, the like 
of which we do not remember to have met with before. 

The Literary ff^^r/^.— That this small volume should have 
reached a third edition within a year may sufficiently vouch for 
its sterling worth and popularity. . . . Mr. Ireland has 
supplied book-lovers with a charming companion, and one that, 
once obtained, they will not readily part with. 

The Bookseller.— To all who love books for themselves and 
not as furniture, this little book will be a valuable acquisition. 
The bibliophile will find in it the touch of nature which pro- 
claims its authors here. All that the wisest and greatest writers 
have said about books will be found here. 

The Publishers' Circular.— \X. is in truth a book of pure and 
elevated thought, and of noble suggestion, and its wide range of 
reading makes it a pleasant companion. 

Harper's Magazine (New York). —A most valuable and 
attractive volume — a more companionable book for a country 
ramble or the winter fireside of a reading man could hardly be 
thought of. The compiler gives evidence of deep reading and 
accurate scholarship, and his annotations are not the least in- 
teresting part of this very charming book. 

Manchester City News.^-Ks Mr. Ireland has chosen to 
arrange his selection chronologically, the volume is one rather for 
odd moments than continuous perusal ; and it addresses itself 
mainly to those who have already found their solace in the com- 

( 3 ) 

panionship of books, and need no convincement. In a classified 
form it might be made immensely serviceable to studious 
beginners. As it stands it can hardly fail to realise the author's 
hope, that it may " meet some of the special needs and moods of 
those who are thoughtful, reverent, and earnest, and who seek to 
gain from books something more than passing amusement." 

The Manchester Trade youmal. — This book is the work of a 
literary man of the old genuine type, rare now, and revives one's 
early reminiscences of Leigh Hunt and others who.were saturated 
with the spirit of book-hunting for love. We read maturity of 
taste on every page ; the very excisions are eloquent, creating 
epigram frequently, but never at the cost of the original meaning 
to be conveyed. . . . The title includes an apt definition of 
the purposes of literature y2?r the help and betterment of readers^ 
and the book constitutes in itself a powerful missionary. 

The Isle of Man Examiner. — What men who have written 
books have said about books, and how books have been to them 
a solace and an enjoyment — the inspiration of their best and 
truest thinking, is the purpose of this sweet little book. It is 
confined to no one age or people: whoever has said aught in 
praise of books, commencing with Solomon, and coming down to 
our own nation and time, finds a loving appreciative record in 
the Book Lover, How eloquently those who have realised 
Channing's dictum that "nothing can supply the place of books," 
and who commend their study and companionship to all who 
would avoid life's evils and conserve its chief good, is the burthen 
and charm of every page. Instead of books being a mere 
appendage, something to fill a shelf, or add to the furniture of a 
house — which they too often are, — the Book Lover would have 
them to be daily and hourly companions, so that the wisdom of 
the past may become the experience of the present ; and life as a 
result be more joyous and beautiful. 

The Freeman. — The compiler of this admirable volume is not 
a book-lover merely, but a book-knower, for only in the course 
of long years of the widest and most discriminating reading 
would it have been possible to collect together the varied in- 
tellectual materials which in their mass, their versatility, their 
interest, and their suggestiveness fully justify the use of Marlowe's 
line, "infinite riches in a. little room." . . . There is no 

( 4 ) 

single testimony to the preciousness of a true book from the pen 
of any great writer or actor upon the world's stage which does not 
find a place somewhere in the pages of this volume. . . . More 
than 200 writers of all ages and nations are laid under contribu- 
tion, and he must be a very wide and omnivorous reader who 
does not come across many happy thoughts which are new friends 
to him. . . . Each author has something to say which we 
cannot spare, because it has been said in the same way by no one 
else, because it has some individual touch which makes it an 
unique influence. We are glad to see that the compiler has drawn 
so largely from the writings of Leigh Hunt, whose exquisite 
prose, much of which, though of the rarest and most delicate 
quality, is practically unknown to the. present generation of 

The Chrisiian Leader. — This is the daintiest book of a season 
unusually fruitful in typographical gems. It contains the distilled 
essence of a reader of fifty years' acquaintance with the best 
authors of past and present times. Everything that printer and 
binder could possibly do to make the volume *'a thing of beauty " 
has been done, so that externally it is a perfect work of art ; and 
the selections, worthy of such a setting, will indeed be a "joy for 
ever" to all who become possessors of the book. No section of 
the vast field of the world's literature has been overlooked ; 
apostles and philosophers, evangelists and novelists, the leaders of 
science and the sons of song, are laid under tribute ; we have 
them all, from St. Paul and Plato, Horace and Cicero, to Carlyle, 
Emerson, and Ruskin. The collection deserves praise not only 
for its sound judgment and exquisite taste, 'but also for its 
catholicity. The maker of this little book does not bow down to 
mere names. He takes the really good thing, no matter where 
he finds it. 

Glasgow Herald.— To a wide and thorough knowledge of 
books Mr. Ireland unites a catholic and yet a discriminating taste, 
a sympathy with all honest thought, and an unaffected appre- 
ciation of the pleasure literature can give to every rational being. 
On certain men and periods in our literary history Mr. Ireland is 
one of the best living authorities, and as befits his well-known 
leanings, Charles Lamb, Hazlitt, and Leigh Hunt receive due 
honour in this little volume. John Bright's wise words about 
books are quoted from his speech at the opening of the Birmingham 

( 5 ) 

New Free Library; and from Carlyle, Emerson, George Eliot, 
Bacon, Shakspere, and a host of other worthies we have noble 
utterances. . . . But we must refer our readers to the book 
itself for all the great names and beautiful thoughts it helps to 
commemorate. There are many ways by which men travel 
through this life in search of happiness, but assuredly there are 
none more innocent, more wholesome, and more certain of leading 
us to a good end than a love of reading and the cultivation of the 
power to appreciate what the wise and the earnest have written 
for our guidance. 

lEjtracts from betters. 

Her Royal and Imperial Highness the Crown Princess of 
Germany (late Princess Royal of England). 

Dear Mrs. , Many thanks for your kind letter and Mr. 

Ireland's charming book, which I admire very much indeed. The 
perusal of it has given me great pleasure. 

The Rev. fames Martineau, LL.D. 

Your "Enchiridion" is a truly fascinating book — a precious 
repertory of the fine things which the wise have to say about 

The Honourable fames Russell Lowell. 

Hearty thanks for the thought of making this book. It is a 
true Contemplative Man's Recreation, a secluded nook where he 
will always be sure of a bite. You have done for the fisher after 
choice passages what dear old Izaac Walton did for the more 
vulgar angler, and your name will swim with his. 

Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes. 

I must tell you how I first carried your "Enchiridion" into 

my parlor. It was too lovely for the library, and it lies in its 

virginal dress among the volumes of favorite writers that adorn 

my wife's centre-table. But I take it up often as "a box where 

( 6 ) 

sweets compacted lie," and am never disappointed in what I find 
in the inside. It was a charming thought to bring together the 
thoughts of so many scholars in different lands and in different 
ages. This one book makes a whole library more valuable ; for 
every work which is quoted gains in our estimate thereof. I have 
not taken down my little Elzevir Colloquia of Erasmus for many a 
long day, but no sooner does my eye fall on your quotation from 
it than at once I must go to my shelves and verify it. And that 
story of Heinsius, which I was a little while ago reading in my 
old folio Burton, comes back to me with an added pleasure as I 
found it in your pages. Your book is one which it is a luxury to 
read and also a luxury to look upon. 

JohnMorley, M.P. 

Nothing could be more delightful or fascinating than this 
volume ; I am truly enchanted to find myself its possessor, and 
most grateful to you for compiling such a book. It will be on my 
table for the rest of my natural life. I thank you for a really 
delicate and abundant feast. 

Frederic Harrison^ M.A. 
Your volume is a very charming one. It is really an Enchi- 
ridion, fit to take up again and again at spare half-hours, and is 
certainly a masterpiece of typography and skilful arrangement. 
You have done for me what I have never yet managed to do for 
myself— put some of my fugitive passages into a solid form that 
may go on a library shelf, and I shall be in future less careless 
than I have hitherto been of my stray lectures, when I remember 
the good company into which you have introduced my rags and 

Philip Gilbert Hamerton, 
Your book cannot fail to increase the appreciation of Books, 
which is scarcely yet so great as it ought to be. Few people quite 
realise their value in comparison with other things less capable of 
affording prolonged pleasure of a high kind. 

Robert Louis Stevenson. 
Vour book is admirably done, and I find it not only beautiful 
for the eye, but quite one of those volumes which one can read 
and re-read without end or weariness. 

( 7 ) 

I «?4 

Mrs. Anne Gilchrist., Author of " The Life of Mary 
Lamb. " 
Its "infinite riches in a little room" suits well with the 
becoming contemplative mood which belongs to a holiday. But 
it will suit all times and moods. The breadth of range in it is a 
wonderful charm, and I heartily thank you, as one of the public, 
for your judicious realisation of an excellent scheme. 

The late James Crossley (Presidetit of the Chetham Society). 

It is a perfect gem — merum. sail My literary tastes and 
sympathies afford me an intense enjoyment when I meet with a 
thoroughly good book like this. I have been so constantly 
occupied with it since I got it that my ordinary occupations have 
for the time been abandoned. In it I shake hands with all my 
old friends and add fresh ones, who instantly become friends for 
ever, and I am in a state of beatified enjoyment. Thousands 
will yet thank you for your beautiful selection. 

W. E. A. Axon. 

Your book will be a healthy influence wherever it goes. Such 
influences are greatly needed. 

R. R. D. 

A beautiful book both in body and in soul. Of the taste and# 
the many-sided culture which have presided over its production, 
I need not speak. I promise myself constant pleasure in turning 
to its charming pages. 

( 8 )