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THE BOOK-LOVER.



THE BOOK-LOVER

foe to tfje tot Eeafcing



BY

JAMES BALDWIN



Whosoever 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.

RICHARD DE BURY



SEVENTH EDITION, REVISED



CHICAGO

A. C. McCLURG AND COMPANY
1889



COPYRIGHT,

BY JANSKN, McCLURG, & Co.
A.D. 1884.

COPYRIGHT,
BY A. C. MCCLURG & Co.

A.D. 1888.



JFore



/ T N HE titlepage of this book explains its plan
and purpose. The Courses of Reading
and the Schemes for Practical Study, herein
indicated, are the outgrowth of the Author's
long experience as a lover of books and director
of reading. They have been tested and found
to be all that is claimed for them. As to the
large number of quotations in the first part
of the book, they are given in the belief that
" in a multitude of counsels there is wisdom."
And the Author finds consolation and encour-
agement in the following words of Emerson :
" 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 the value of
the most useful inventions depends upon the



vi A FORE WORD.

ingenious placing of their parts, so the origi-
nality of this work may be found to lie chiefly
in its arrangement. Yet the writer confidently
believes that his readers will enjoy that which
he has borrowed, and possibly find aid and
encouragement in that which he claims as his
own ; and therefore this book is sent out with
the hope that book-lovers will find in it a safe
Guide to the Best Reading.




CONTENTS.



PAGE
PRELUDE: IN PRAISE OF BOOKS 9



CHAPTER

I. ON THE CHOICE OF BOOKS 23

II. How TO READ 42

III. ON THE VALUE AND USE OF LIBRARIES 56

IV. BOOKS FOR EVERY SCHOLAR 69

V. WHAT BOOKS SHALL YOUNG FOLKS READ 7 84

VI. THE LIBRARY IN THE SCHOOL . . . . 108

VII. COURSES OF READING IN HISTORY . . 119

VIII. COURSES OF READING IN GEOGRAPHY

AND NATURAL HISTORY 144

IX. PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGION 154

X. POLITICAL ECONOMY AND THE SCIENCE

OF GOVERNMENT 167



viii CONTENTS.

CHAPTER PAGE

XI. ON THE PRACTICAL STUDY OF ENGLISH

LITERATURE 174

XII. "THE HUNDRED BEST BOOKS" . . . 202
AN AFTER WORD 215



INDEX 217




PRELUDE.
Praise of




|ET us consider how great a com-
modity of doctrine exists in Books ;
how easily, how secretly, how safely
they expose the nakedness of hu-
man ignorance without putting it to shame.
These are the masters who instruct us with-
out rods and ferules, without hard words and
anger, without clothes or money. If you ap-
proach them, they are not asleep ; if inves-
tigating 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 in-
dependent. You give to all who ask, and
enfranchise all who serve you assiduously.
Truly, you are the ears filled with most pala-
table grains. You are golden urns in which

9



10 THE BOOK-LOVER.

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 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.
RICHARD DE BURY, 1344.

BOOKS are friends whose society is ex-
tremely agreeable to me ; they are of all ages,
and of every country. They have distin-
guished themselves both in the cabinet and in
the field, and obtained high honors 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



IN PRAISE OP BOOKS. 1 1

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 accommodate them with a convenient
chamber in some corner of my humble habi-
tation, where they may repose in peace ; for
these friends are more delighted by the tran-
quillity of retirement, than with the tumults
of society. FRANCESCO PETRARCA.

BOOKS are the Glasse of Counsell to dress
ourselves by. They are Life's best Business :
Vocation to them 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 any Client
or Petitioner. They are for Company, the
best Friends ; in doubts, Counsellours ; in
Damp, Comforters ; Time's Perspective ; the
home Traveller's Ship, or Horse ; the busie
Man's best Recreation; the Opiate of idle



12 THE BOOK-LOVER.

Wearinesse; the Mind's best Ordinary; Na-
ture's Garden and Seed-plot of Immortality.

A WRITER OF THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY
(quoted in " Allibone's Dictionary").

Bur 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 de-
light of my life ; nay, I will even say, all desire
of living."

BALTHASAR BONIFACIUS RHODIGINUS, 1656.

FOR books are not absolutely dead things,
but do contain a potency of life in them to
be as active as that soul was whose progeny
they are ; nay, they do preserve, as in a vial,
the purest efficacy and extraction of that
living intellect that bred them. I know they
are as lively and as vigorously productive
as those fabulous dragon's teeth, and, being
sown up and down, may chance to spring up
armed men. . . . Many a man lives, a burden
to the earth; but a good book is the pre-
cious life-blood of a master spirit, embalmed
and treasured up on purpose for a life

beyond life.

JOHN MILTON.



IN PRAISE OP BOOKS. 13

BOOKS are a guide in youth, and an enter-
tainment for age. They support us under
solitude, and keep us from being a burden to
ourselves. They help us to forget the cross-
ness of men and things, compose our cares
and our passions, and lay our disappoint-
ments 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.

JEREMY COLLIER.



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 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



14 THE BOOK-LOVER.

from what is called the best society in the
place where I live.

WILLIAM ELLERY CHANNING.

IN a corner of my house I have books,
the miracle of all my possessions, more won-
derful 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.

DR. ARNOTT.

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 (commenta-
ries, deductions, philosophical, political sys-
tems; or were it only sermons, pamphlets,
journalistic essays), every one of which is
talismanic and thaumaturgic, for it can per-
suade man. O thou who art able to write a
book, which once in two centuries or oftener



IN PRAISE OF BOOKS. 15

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 out-
last all marble and metal, and be a wonder-
bringing city of mind, a temple and seminary
and prophetic mount, whereto all kindreds

of the earth will pilgrim.

THOMAS CARLYLE.

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, hav-
ing the precedence only when friends tire.
The most mannerly of companions, accessible
at all times, in all moods, they frankly de-
clare 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, with-
out 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 fellowship? We were
alone in the world without it.

A. BRONSON ALCOTT.



1 6 THE BOOK-LOVER.

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 ac-
tivity 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 demi-gods standing around us,
who will not let us sleep. Then they ad-
dress 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. ... In the highest
civilization the book is still the highest

delight.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON.



IN PRAISE OF BOOKS. 1 7

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 a treasure it brings to every land, scat-
tering the seeds of truth, justice, love, and
piety, to bless the world in ages yet to come !

THEODORE PARKER.

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. JOHN BRIGHT

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 ;

2



1 8 THE BOOK-LOVER.

Here talk I with the wise in ages gone,
And with the nobly gifted in our own :
If love, joy, laughter, sorrow please my mind,
Love, joy, grief, laughter in my books I find.

FRANCIS BENNOCH.

BOOKS are the windows through which the
soul looks out. HENRY WARD BEECHER .

BOOKS are our household gods ; and we
cannot prize them too highly. They are the
only gods in all the mythologies that are
beautiful and unchangeable ; for they betray
no man, and love their lovers. I confess my-
self an idolater 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.

JANUARY SEARLE.

THE only true equalizers in the world are
books ; the only treasure-house open to all
comers is a library; the only wealth which



IN PRAISE OF BOOKS. 19

will not decay is knowledge ; the only jewel
which you can cany 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. Alt that, is needed for the acqui-
sition of these inestimable treasures is the

love of books.

J. A. LANGFORD.

LET us thank God for books. When I
consider what some books have done for the
world, and what they are doing; how they
keep up our hope, awaken new courage and
faith, soothe pain, give an ideal life to those
whose homes are hard and cold, bind to-
gether 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.

JAMES FREEMAN CLARKE.

BOOKS, we know,

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

WILLIAM WORDSWORTH.

PRECIOUS and priceless are the blessings
which books scatter around our daily paths.
We walk, in imagination, with the noblest



20 THE BOOK-LOVER.

spirits, through the most sublime and en-
chanting regions, regions which, to all that
is lovely in the forms and colors of earth,

"Add the gleam,

The light that never was on sea or land,
The consecration and the poet's dream."

A motion of the hand brings all Arcadia to
sight. The war of Troy can, at our bidding,
rage in the narrowest chamber. Without
stirring from our firesides, we may roam to
the most remote regions of the earth, or soar
into realms where Spenser's shapes of un-
earthly beauty flock to meet us, where Milton's
angels peal in our ears the choral hymns of
Paradise. Science, art, literature, philosophy,

all that man has thought, all that man has
done, the experience that has been bought
with the sufferings of a hundred generations,

all are garnered up for us in the world of
books. There, among realities, in a "sub-
stantial world," we move with the crowned
kings of thought. There our minds have a
free range, our hearts a free utterance. Rea-
son is confined within none of the partitions
which trammel it in life. In that world, no
divinity hedges a king, no accident of rank or
fashion ennobles a dunce or shields a knave.
We can select our companions from among
the most richly gifted of the sons of God;



IN PRAISE OF BOOKS. 21

and they are companions who will not desert
us in poverty, or sickness, or disgrace.

EDWIN P. WHIPPLE.

My latest passion shall be for books.

FRIEDRICH II. OF PRUSSIA.

FOR what a world of books offers itself, in
all subjects, arts, and sciences, to the sweet
content and capacity of the reader? In arith-
metic, geometry, perspective, optics, astron-
omy, architecture, sculptura, pictura, of which
so many and such elaborate treatises are of
late written ; in mechanics and their mysteries,
military matters, navigation, riding of horses,
fencing, swimming, gardening, planting, etc.
. . . What so sure, what so pleasant? What
vast tomes are extant in law, physic, and
divinity, for profit, pleasure, practice, specu-
lation, in verse or prose ! Their names alone
are the subject of whole volumes ; we have
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.

ROBERT BURTON.

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



22 THE BOOK-LOVER.

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. We ought to reverence books,
to look at them as useful and mighty things.
If they are good and true, . . . they are the
message of Christ, the maker of all things,

the teacher of all truth.

CHARLES KINGSLEY.

GOLDEN volumes I richest treasures 1
Objects of delicious pleasures 1
You my eyes rejoicing please,
You my hands in rapture seize.
Brilliant wits and musing sages,
Lights who beamed through many ages,
Left to your conscious leaves their story,
And dared to trust you with their glory;
And now their hope of fame achieved,
Dear volumes ! you have not deceived.

HENRY RANTZAU.





CHAPTER I.



n tfje Cfjotce of



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 no-
blest, books, books forged at the heart and fashioned by
the intellect of a godlike man. JANUARY SEARLE.

HE most important question for you
to ask yourself, be you teacher or
scholar, is this : What books shall
I read? For him who has incli-
nation to read, there is no dearth of reading
matter, and it is obtainable almost for the
asking. Books are in a manner thrust upon
you almost daily. Shall you read without dis-
crimination whatever comes most readily to
hand? As well say that you will accept as
a friend and companion every man whom you
meet on the street. Shall you read even
every good book that comes in your way,

23




24 THE BOOK-LOVER.

simply because it is harmless and interesting?
It is not every harmless book, nor indeed
every good book, that will make your mind
the richer for the reading of it. Never, per-
haps, has the right choice of books been
more difficult than at present ; and never did
it behoove more strongly both teachers and
scholars to look well to the character of that
which they read.

First, then, let us consider what books we
are to avoid. All will agree that those which
are really and absolutely bad should be
shunned as we shun a pestilence. In these
last years of the nineteenth century there is
no more prolific cause of evil than bad books.
There are many books so utterly vile that
there is no mistaking their character, and no
question as to whether they should be avoided.
There are others which are a thousand-fold
more dangerous because they come to us
disguised, " wolves in sheep's clothing,"
affecting a character of harmlessness, if not
of sanctity. I have heard those who ought to
know better, laugh at the silly jokes of a very
silly book, and offer by way of excuse that
there was nothing very bad in it. I have
heard teachers recommend to their pupils
reading matter which, to say the least, was of



THE CHOICE OF BOOKS. 25

a very doubtful character. Now, the only
excuse that can be offered in such cases is
ignorance, "I did n't know there was any
harm in the book." But the teacher who
through ignorance poisons the moral char-
acter and checks the mental growth of his
pupils is as guilty of criminal carelessness as
the druggist's clerk who by mistake sells ar-
senic for quinine. Step down and out of that
responsible position which you are in no wise
qualified to fill ! The direction of the pupils'
habits of reading, the choice of reading mat-
ter for them, is by no means the least of the
teacher's duties.

The elder Pliny, eighteen hundred years
ago, was accustomed to say that no book was
so bad but that some part of it might be read
with profit. This may have been true in
Pliny's time ; but it is very far from correct
now-a-days. A large number of books, and
many which attain an immense circulation,
are but the embodiment of evil from begin-
ning to end ; others, although not absolutely
and aggressively bad, contain not a single
line that can be read with profit.

What are the sure criterions of a bad book ?
There is no better authority on this subject
than the Rev. Robert Collyer. He says : " If



26 THE BOOK-LOVER.

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 prin-
ciples, 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 man, his
relations 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 I will not read it. Right and wrong shall
grow more clear ; life in and about me more
divine ; I shall come nearer to my fellows,
and God nearer to me, or the thing is a poi-



THE CHOICE OF BOOKS. 27

son. Faust, or Calvin, or Carlyle, if any one
of these cardinal things is the grain and the
grist of the book, and that is what it comes to
when I read it, I am being drugged and poi-
soned ; and the sooner I know it the better.
I want bread, and meat, and milk, not brandy,
or opium, or hasheesh." *

And Robert Southey, the poet, expresses
nearly the same thing : " 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 sus-
pect 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 dissatisfied and impa-
tient under the control of others, and dis-
posed you to relax in that self-government


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Online LibraryJames BaldwinThe book-lover, a guide to the best reading → online text (page 1 of 11)