Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

BOOKS. Let us consider how great a commodity Libraries are as the shrines where all of doctrine exists in books, how easily, the relics of the ancient saints, full of how secretly, how safely they expose the true virtue, and that without delusion or nakedness of human ignorance, without imposture, are preserved and reposed. -putting it to shame. These are the mas- BACON, FRANCIS LORD, 1605, The Adters who instruct us without rods and vancement of Learning. ferules, without hard words and anger, I never come into a library (saith Heinwithout clothes or money. If you ap- sius) but I bolt the door to me, excluding proach them, they are not asleep; if inves- lust, ambition, avarice, and all such vices tigating you interrogate them, they con- whose nurse is idleness, the mother of ceal nothing: if you mistake them, they ignorance and melancholy herself; and in never grumble; if you are ignorant, they the very lap of eternity, among so many cannot laugh at you.-BURY, RICHARD DE,

divine souls, I take my seat with so lofty 1345 ?-1473, Philobiblion.

a spirit and sweet content that I pity all He hath never fed of the dainties that

our great ones and rich men that know are bred in a book; he hath not eat paper, not their happiness.-BURTON, ROBERT, as it were; he hath not drunk ink; his 1621, Anatomy of Melancholy. intellect is not replenished; he is only an

Books are not absolutely dead things, animal, only sensible in the duller parts.

but do contain a progeny of life in them, -SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM, 1588-98, Love's

to be as active as that soul whose progeny Labours Lost, Act iv, Scene ii.

they are; nay, they do preserve as in a Happy, ye leaves! when as those lilly hands, Which hold my life in their dead-doing might,

vial the purest efficacy and extraction of Shall handle you, and hold in love's soft that living intellect that bred them.-bands,

MILTON, JOHN, 1644, Areopagitica.
Like captives trembling at the victors sight
And happy lines! on which, with starry light,

Our books.

Do not our hearts Those lamping eyes will deigne sometimes to hug them, and quiet themselves in them

look And reade the sorrowes of my dying spright,

even more than in God ?-BAXTER, RichWritten with teares in harts close-bleeding ARD, 1650, The Saint's Everlasting Rest. book.

This to a structure led well known to fame, And happy rymes! bath'd in the sacred brooke

And called, “ The Monument of Vanished Of Helicon, whence she derived is;

Minds," When ye behold that Angels blessed looke,

Where when they thought they saw in wellMy soules long-lacked foode, my heavens blis;

sought books Leaves, lines, and rymes, seeke her to please

The assembled souls of all that men thought alone,

wise, Whom if ye please, I care for other none!

It bred such awful reverence in their looks,
-SPENSER, EDMUND, 1595, Amoretti. As if they saw the buried writers rise.
If I were not a King, I would be a Uni- Such heaps of written thought; gold of the

dead, versity man; and if it were so that I must

Which Time does still disperse but not debe a prisoner, if I might have my wish,

vour, I would desire to have no other prison Made them presume all was from deluge

freed than that library, and to be chained to

Which long-lived authors writ ere Noah's gether with so many good authors, et shower. mortuis magister.---JAMES I., 1605, Speech -DAVENANT, SIR WILLIA

-DAVENANT, SIR WILLIAM, 1651, Gondion Visit to the Bodleian Library.

bert.

a

Unconfused Babel of all tongues, which e'er Verse will seem prose; but still persist to The mighty linguist Fame, or Time, the read, mighty traveller,

And Homer will be all the books you need. That could speak, or this could hear.

-SHEFFIELD, JOHN, 1682, Essays on Majestic monument and pyramid !

Poetry. Where still the shapes of parted souls abide Embalmed in verse; exalted souls which now Books like proverbs receive their chief Enjoy those arts they wooed so well below; value from the stamp and esteem of ages Which now all wonders plainly see

through which they have passed.-TEMThat have been, are, or are to be, In the mysterious library,

PLE, SIR WILLIAM, 1689-99, Ancient and The beatific Bodley of the Deity!

Modern Learning. -COWLEY, ABRAHAM, 1667? Ode on the

We whom the world is pleased to honBodleian Library.

our with the title of modern authors The spectacles of books. — DRYDEN, should never have been able to compass JOHN, 1668, Essay on Dramatic Poetry. our great design of everlasting rememBright books! the perspectives to our weak brance and never-dying fame if our ensights,

deavours had not been so highly serviceThe clear projections of discerning lights, Burning and shining thoughts, man's post

able to the general good of mankind. hume day,

SWIFT, JONATHAN, 1704, A Tale of a Tub. And track of fed souls, and their milkie way;

Read we must, be writers ever so indifThe dead alive and busie, the still voice

ferent.-SHAFTESBURY, ANTHONY ASHLEY Of enlarged spirits, kind Heaven's white decoys!

COOPER EARL, 1711, Characteristics. Who lives with you, lives like those knowing

Whence is thy learning? Hath thy toil flowers,

O'er books consumed the midnight oil? Which in commerce with light spend all --GAY, JOHN, 1727-38, The Shepherd and

their hours; Which shut to clouds, and shadows nicely

the Philosopher, Fables. shun,

(Query) Whether the collected wisdom But with glad haste unveil to kiss the sun.

of all ages and nations be not found in Beneath you, all is dark and a dead night, Which whoso lives in, wants both health

books?-BERKELEY, GEORGE, 1735-37, and sight.

The Querist. By sucking you, the wise, like bees, do grow

Nor is there any paternal fondness Healing and rich, though this they do most slow,

which seems to savour less of absolute Because most choicely; for as great a store instinct, and which may be so well reconHave we of books, as bees of herbs, or more;

ciled to worldly wisdom, as this of And the great task to try, then know, the good,

authors for their books. These children To discern weeds, and judge of wholesome may most truly be called the riches of

their father, and many of them have with Is a rare, scant performance. For man dyes Oft ere 'tis done, while the bee feeds and true filial piety fed their parent in his old flyes.

age; so that not only the affection but But you were all choice flowers; all set and

the interest of the author may be highly dressed By old sage florists, who well knew the best; injured by those slanderers whose poison

, And I amidst you all am turned a weed, ous breath brings his book to an untimely Not wanting knowledge, but for want of

end.-FIELDING, HENRY, 1749, The Hisheed. Then thank thyself, wild fool, that would'st tory of Tom Jones. not be

My neighbours think me often alone, Content to know,-what was too much for

and yet at such times I am in company thee! - VAUGHAN, HENRY, 1678, Thalia Redi- with more than five hundred mutes, each viva.

of whom communicates his ideas to me by Read Homer once, and you can read po more;

dumb signs quite as intelligibly as any For all books else appear so mean, so poor, person living can do by uttering of words;

food,

and with a motion of my hand I can bring In my youthful days I never entered a them as near to me as I please; I handle great library ... but my predominant them as I like; they never complain of feeling was one of pain and disturbance of ill-usage; and when dismissed from my mind, -not much unlike that which drew presence, though ever so abruptly, take tears from Xerxes on viewing his immense no offence. -STERNE, LAURENCE, 1775, army, and reflecting that in one hundred

, Letters.

years not one soul would remain alive. Come, Child of Care! to make thy soul serene, To me, with respect to the books, the same Approach the treasures of this tranquil scene; effect would be brought about by my own Survey the dome, and, as the doors unfold, The soul's best cure, in all her cares, behold!

death. Here, said I, are one hundred Where mental wealth the poor in thought thousand books, the worst of them capamay find,

ble of giving me some pleasure and inAnd mental physic the diseased in mind;

struction; and before I can have had time See here the balms that passion's wounds assuage;

to extract the honey from one-twentieth See coolers here, that damp the fire of rage; of this hive in all likelihood I shall be Here alteratives, by slow degrees control

summoned away.-DE QUINCY, THOMAS, The chronic habits of the sickly soal; And round the heart, and o'er the aching 1823-60, Letters to a Young Man. head,

We visit at the shrine, drink in some Mild opiates here their sober influence shed. Now bid thy soul man's busy scenes exclude,

measure of the inspiration, and cannot And view composed this silent multitude:- easily breathe in other air less pure, acSilent they are--but, though deprived of customed to immortal fruits.-HAZLITT,

sound, Here all the living languages abound;

WILLIAM, 1826, The Plain Speaker. Here all that live no more; preserved they lie, Were I to pray for a taste which should In tombs that open to the curious eye. stand me instead under every variety of --CRABBE, GEORGE, 1781, The Library.

circumstances, and be a source of happiKnowledge is proud that he has learned so

ness and cheerfulness to me during life, much; Wisdom is humble that he knows no more.

and a shield against its ills, however things Books are not seldom talisman and spells. might go amiss, and the world frown -COWPER, WILLIAM, 1785, The Task, upon me, it would be a taste for reading. bk. vi.

Give a man this taste, and the means of I adopted the tolerating measure of gratifying it, and you can hardly fail of the elder Pliny—"nullum esse librum tam making him a happy man; unless, indeed, malum ut non in aliqua parte prodesset.” you put into his hands a most perverse -GIBBON, EDWARD, 1794, Autobiography. selection of Books. You place him in A book's a book, although there's nothing in't. contact with the best society in every -BYRON, LORD, 1809, English Bards and period of history, -with the wisest, the Scotch Reviewers.

wittiest, the tenderest, the bravest, and What a place to be in is an old library! the purest characters who have adorned It seems as though all the souls of all the humanity. You make him a denizen of writers that have bequeathed their labours all nations, a contemporary of all ages. to the Bodleians were reposing here as in - HERSCHEL, SIR John, 1833, Address at some dormitory or middle state. . . . I the Opening of the Eton Library. seem to inhale learning, walking amid their It is our duty to live among books.foliage; and the odour of their old moth- NEWMAN, JOHN HENRY, 1834, Tracts for scented coverings is fragrant as the first the Times, No. 2. bloom of the sciential apples which grew Nothing is pleasanter than exploring amid the happy orchard.-LAMB, CHARLES, in a library.-- LANDOR, WALTER SAVAGE, 1820, Oxford in the Long Vacation. 1836, Pericles and Aspasia.

.

.

nounce

[ocr errors]

In the best books, great men talk to us,

I will bury myself in my books and the devil. give us their most precious thoughts, and

may pipe to his own.

-TENNYSON, ALFRED LORD, 1842, Lockspour their souls into ours. God be thanked

ley Hall. for books. They are the voices of the

Lightly as I have spoken of these old distant and the dead, and make us heirs of

books, there yet lingers with me a superthe spiritual life of past ages. Books are

stitious reverence for literature of all the true levellers. They give to all, who

kinds. A bound volume has a charm in will faithfully use them, the society, the spiritual presence of the best and greatest

my eyes similar to what scraps of manu

script possess for the good Mussulman. of our race. No matter how poor I am. No matter though the prosperous of my own

He imagines that those wind-wafted rectime will not enter my obscure dwelling.

ords are perhaps hallowed by some sacred

verse; and I, that every new book or anIf the Sacred Writers will enter and

tique one may contain the “open sesame,” take up their abode under my roof, if Mil

-the spell to disclose treasures hidden ton will cross my threshold to sing to me of Paradise, and Shakespeare to open to

in some unsuspected cave of Truth.

HAWTHORNE, NATHANIEL, 1846, Mosses me the worlds of imagination and the work

from an Old Manse. ings of the human heart, and Franklin to

Yet is it just enrich me with his practical wisdom, I That here, in memory of all books which lay shall not pine for want of intellectual Their sure foundations in the heart of man, companionship, and I may become a culti

That I should here assert their rights, attest vated man though excluded from what is Their honours, and should, once for all, procalled the best society in the place where

Their benediction, speak of them as powers I live. Nothing can supply the

For ever to be hallowed; only less place of books. They are cheering and For what we are and what we may become soothing companions in solitude, illness,

Than Nature's self, which is the breath of

God, affliction. The wealth of both continents Of His pure Word by miracle revealed. would be no equivalent for the good they –WORDSWORTH, William, 1850, The

, WILLIAM impart. Let every man, if possible, gather Prelude. some good books under his roof, and obtain It is oppressive to conceive what a world access for himself and family to some of human thought and human passion is social library. Almost any luxury should dwelling on the silent and senseless paper, be sacrificed to this. -CHANNING, WIL- how much of wisdom is ready to make its LIAM ELLERY, 1838, Self-Culture.

entrance into the mind that is prepared On ail sides, are we not driven to the to give it welcome.

Reflecting conclusion that, of the things which men on what a book can do and ought to do can do or make here below, by far the for you-how it may act on your mind, most momentous, wonderful and worthy are and your mind react on it-and thus, holdthe things we call Books! . . . For in- ing communion, you can travel through a deed, whatever be the outward form of the wilderness of volumes onward, onward thing ... is it not verily, at bottom, through time, wisely and happily, and the highest act of man's faculty that pro- with perfect vision of your way, as the duces a Book? It is the Thought of man; woodman sees a path in the forest-a path the true thaumaturgic virtue; by which to his home, while the wanderer, whether man works all things whatsoever. All that standing or staggering, is lost in blind he does, and brings to pass, is the vesture and blank bewilderment. ---REED, HENRY, of a Thought.-CARLYLE, THOMAS, 1841, 1855, Lectures on English Literature from Heroes and Hero Worship.

Chaucer to Tennyson.

« PreviousContinue »