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dom worked for themselves, or for the sake
of fame.

"For Truth with tireless zeal they sought;
In joyless paths they trod :
Heedless of praise or blame they wrought,
And left the rest to God.

" But though their names no poet wove
In deathless song or story,
Their record is inscribed above;
Their wreaths are crowns of glory." r *

1 Lord Beaconsfield. 2 Dewart.


Attention and application to your studies
are absolutely necessary to the enjoyment of
life. If you give only half your mind to what
you are doing, it will cost you twice as much

It is sad to think how little intellectual
enjoyment has yet added to the happiness of
Man, and yet the very word school (o^oX-ty)
meant originally rest or enjoyment. It is
most important, says Mr. J. Morley, "both
for happiness and for duty, that we should
habitually live with wise thoughts and right

The brain of Man should be

" The Dome of thought, the Palace of the Soul." J
We are, says Donne,

" We are but farmers of ourselves, yet may,
If we can stock ourselves and thrive, uplay
Much good treasure for the great rent day."

There is much in the creed of Positivists
with which I cannot agree, but they have a
noble motto " L' amour pour principe, 1'or-
dre pour base, et le progres pour but."

1 Byron.


There are, however, says Emerson, many
"innocent men who worship God after the
tradition of their fathers, but whose sense of
duty has not extended to the use of all their

Man measures everything by himself. The
greatest mountain heights, and the depth of
the ocean, in feet ; our very system of arith-
metical notation is founded on the number of
our fingers. And yet what poor creatures we
are ! What poor creatures we are, and how
great we might be ! What is a man ? and
what is a man not ?

A man, says Pascal, is " res cogitans, id
est dubitans, affirmans, negens, pauca intelli-
gens, multa ignorans, volens, nolens, imagi-
nans etiam, et sentiens."

Man, he says elsewhere, " is but a reed, the
feeblest thing in Nature ; but he is a reed that
thinks (un roseau pensant). It needs not that
the Universe arm itself to crush him. An
exhalation, a drop of water, suffices to destroy
him. But were the Universe to crush him,
Man is yet nobler than the Universe, for he
knows that he dies ; and the Universe, even


in prevailing against him, knows not its

What qualities are essential for the perfect-
ing of a human being ? A cool head, a warm
heart, a sound judgment, and a healthy body.
Without a cool head we are apt to form hasty
conclusions, without a warm heart we are
sure to be selfish, without a sound body we
can do but little, while even the best inten-
tions without sound judgment may do more
harm than good.

If we wish to praise a friend we say that
he is a perfect gentleman. What is it to be
a gentleman ? asked Thackeray, " is it to be
honest, to be gentle, to be brave, to be wise ;
and possessing all these qualities, to exercise
them in the most graceful outward manner ?"
A gentleman, he adds, " is a rarer thing than
some of us think for." Kings can give titles,
but they cannot make gentlemen. We can
all, however, be noble if we choose.

" That man," says Archdeacon Farrar, " ap-
proaches most nearly to such perfection as is
attainable in human life whose body has been
kept in vigorous health by temperance, so-


berness, and chastity ; whose mind is a rich
storehouse of the wisdom learned both from
experience and from the noblest thoughts
which his fellow- men have uttered ; whose
imagination is a picture gallery of all things
pure and beautiful ; whose conscience is at
peace with itself, with God, and with all the
world, and in whose spirit the Divine Spirit
finds a fitting temple wherein to dwell."

The true method of self-education, says
John Stuart Mill, is " to question all things :
never to turn away from any difficulty ; to
accept no doctrine either from ourselves or
from other people without a rigid scrutiny by
negative criticism ; letting no fallacy or in-
coherence or confusion of thought, step by
unperceived ; above all, to insist upon having
the meaning of a word clearly understood
before using it, and the meaning of a preposi-
tion before assenting to it : these are the
lessons we learn." And these lessons we
might all learn.

In the earlier stages of Education at any
rate all men might be equal ; neither rank
nor wealth give any substantial advantage.


Sir W. Jones said of himself that with
the fortune of a peasant, he gave himself the
education of a prince. It was long ago re-
marked that there was no royal road to learn-
ing : or rather perhaps it might more truly
be said that all roads are royal. And how
great is the prize ! Education lights up the
History of the World and makes it one bright
path of progress ; it enables us to appreciate
the literature of the world ; it opens for us
the book of Nature, and creates sources of
interest wherever we find ourselves.

And if we cannot hope that it should ever
be said of us that

" He was a man, take him for all in all,
I shall not look upon his like again," l

it might at any rate be true that

" He hath a daily beauty in his life,"

for have we not all immortal longings in us ?
If Education has not been in all cases suc-
cessful, this has been the fault not of educa-
tion itself, but of the spirit in which it has
been too often undertaken. " For men have

1 Shakespeare.


entered into a desire of learning and knowl-
edge sometimes upon a natural curiosity and
inquisitive appetite, sometimes to entertain
their minds with variety and delight, some-
times for ornament and reputation, but seldom
sincerely to give a true account of their gift
of reason to the benefit and use of men. As
if there were sought in knowledge a couch
whereupon to rest a searching and restless
spirit ; or a terrace for a wandering and vari-
able mind to walk up and down with a fair
prospect ; or a tower of state for a proud
mind to rest itself upon ; or a fort or com-
manding ground for strife and contention ; or
a shop of profit or sale, and not a rich store-
house for the glory of the Creator and the
relief of man's estate." *

1 Bacon.



A GREAT countryman of ours, Richard de
Bury, Bishop of Durham, writing in praise of
books more than five hundred years ago, well
said : " 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 can-
not laugh at you. 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."

And if he could say this with truth so long
ago, how much more may we do so. Let us
just consider how much better off we are than
he was then. In the first place, to say noth-
ing of the advantages of print, how much
cheaper books are. For the price of a little
beer, or one or two pipes of tobacco, a man
can buy as much as he can read in a month ;
in his day, on the contrary, books were very
expensive. Again, while our books are small
and handy, theirs were ponderous, immense,
very inconvenient either to hold or read.
Even our most learned books are in one sense
light reading. But, what is far more im-
portant, we have not only all the most inter-
esting books which De Bury could command,
but many more also. Even of ancient litera-
ture, much had been lost and has been re-
discovered. In his day one might almost
say that the novel was unknown. As regards
Poetry he lived before Shakespeare or Milton,
Scott or Byron, to say nothing of living more
recent authors. We have the interesting and


exciting voyages of Captain Cook, Darwin,
Humboldt, and many other great travellers
and explorers. In science, chemistry and
geology have been created, and indeed the
progress of discovery has made all the other
sciences, natural history, astronomy, geog-
raphy, etc., far more interesting.

Schopenhauer has observed that though his
Science never brought him in any income, it
had saved him a great deal of expense. As
a nation, we must gratefully admit that
science has not only enormously increased
our income, but has greatly reduced our ex-
penditure in various ways. Money spent on
schools, libraries, and museums is rather an
investment than an expense. We do not,
however, advocate schools and Public Libra-
ries because they save our pockets, but
because they do so much to lighten and
brighten the lives of our fellow-citizens.
There is but little amusement in the lives
of the very poor.

I have been good-humouredly laughed at
more than once for having expressed the
opinion that in the next generation the


great readers would be our artisans and

Bat is not the continued increase of Pub-
lic Libraries an argument in support of my
contention ? Before a Free Library can be
started a popular vote must be taken, and
we know that the clergy and the lawyers,
the doctors and the mercantile men, form
but a small fraction of the voters. The Pub-
lic Libraries are called into being by the
artisan and the small shopkeeper, and it is
by them that they are mainly used. Books
are peculiarly necessary to the working-men
in our towns. Their life is one of much
monotony. The savage has a far more
varied existence. He must watch the habits
of the game he hunts, their migrations and
feeding-grounds ; he must know where and
how to fish; every month brings him some
fresh occupation and some change of food.
He must prepare his weapons and build his
own house; even the lighting of a fire, so
easy now, is to him a matter of labour and
skill. The agricultural labourer turns his
hand to many things. He ploughs and sows,


mows and reaps. He plants at one season,
uses the bill-hook and the axe at another.
He looks after the sheep and pigs and cows.
To hold the plough, to lay a fence, or tie up
a sheaf, is* by no means so easy as it looks.
It is said of Wordsworth that a stranger
having on one occasion asked to see his
study, the maid said : " This is master's
room, but he studies in the fields." The
agricultural labourer learns a great deal in
the fields. He knows much more than we give
him credit for, only it is field-learning, not
book-learning and none the worse for that.
But the man who works in a shop or man-
ufactory has a much more monotonous life.
He is confined to one process, or, perhaps,
even one part of a process, from year's end
to year's end. He acquires, no doubt, a skill
little short of miraculous, but, on the other
hand, very narrow. If he is not himself to
become a mere animated machine, he must
generally obtain, and in some cases he can
only obtain, the necessary variety and inter-
est from the use of books. There is happily
now some tendency to shorten the hours of


labour, except, indeed, in shops, and what is
less satisfactory, there are times when work
is slack. But the hours of leisure should not
be hours of idleness; leisure is one of the
grandest blessings, idleness one of the greatest
curses one is the source of happiness, the
other of misery. Suppose a poor man has
for a few days no work, what is he to do ?
How is he to employ his time? If he has
access to a Library it need no longer be lost.
The reasons for educating our children
apply equally to the grown-up. We have
now all over the country good elementary
schools. We do our best to educate our chil-
dren. We teach them to read, and try to
give them a love of reading. Why do we do
this? Because we believe that no one can
study without being the better for it, that
it tends to make the man the better work-
man, and the workman the better man. But
education ought never to stop, and the library
is the school for the grown-up. There is a
story that King Alfred, when a child, once
set his heart on a book. " He shall have the t
book," said his mother, "when he can read


it ; " and by that title Alfred won it. Our
children have learnt to read ; have they not
also the same title to books ? Many of those
who are not Socialists in the ordinary sense,
would be so if they thought Socialism would
have the effect which its advocates anticipate.
It is because we do not believe that Socialism
in the ordinary sense would promote "the
greatest good of the greatest number," that
we are not Socialists. But the difficulties we
feel do not apply to books. It is said that
a poor woman on seeing the Sea for the first
time was delighted. " It was grand," she
said, "to see something of which there was
enough for everybody." Well, there are
books enough for every one, and the best
books are the cheapest. Reading is a pleas-
ure as to which wealth gives scarcely any
advantage. This applies to few other things.
We who are engaged in the "puzzle of busi-
ness " seem always to wish for rather more
than we have. But in books fortune showers
on us more than we can possibly use.

We are beginning to realise that education
should last through life, that the education


of our children should not be a mere matter
of grammar and of words, but should include
some training of the hand and eye ; so, on
the other hand, the life of the grown-up
man and woman should not be altogether
devoted to work with the hands, to the pur-
suit of money, but they should devote some
time to the acquisition of knowledge, and the
improvement of their minds. Why should
not every one, moreover, add something to
the sum of human knowledge ? however hum-
ble his lot in life, he may do so. We do
not yet appreciate the dignity of manual
labour, and there seems a general impression
that science is something up in the clouds ;
all very well for philosophers and geniuses,
and those who have the means of buying ex-
pensive apparatus, but for them only. This
is quite a mistake. To whom do we owe our
national progress ? Partly, no doubt, to wise
sovereigns and statesmen, partly to our brave
Army and Navy, partly to the gallant ex-
plorers who paved the way to our Colonial
Empire, partly to students and philosophers.
But while we remember with gratitude all



they have accomplished, we must not forget
that the British workman, besides all he has
done with his strong right arm, has used his
brains also to great advantage.

Watt was a mechanical engineer ; Henry
Cort, whose improvements in manufactures
are said to have added more to the wealth
of England than the whole value of the
national debt, was the son of a brickmaker;
Huntsman, the inventor of cast steel, was a
poor watchmaker ; Crompton was a weaver ;
Wedgwood was a potter ; Brindley, Telford,
Mushat, and Neilson were working men;
George Stephenson began life as a cowboy at
twopence a day, and could not read till he
was eighteen ; Dalton was the son of a poor
weaver; Faraday of a blacksmith; Newco-
men of a blacksmith ; Arkwright began life
as a barber ; Sir Humphrey Davy was an
apothecary's apprentice ; Boulton, " the father
of Birmingham," was a button-maker; and
Watt the son of a carpenter. To these men,
and others like them, the world owes a deep
debt of gratitude. We ought to be as proud of
them as of our great generals and statesmen.


We often hear of " civilised nations/' and
no doubt some are more civilised than others.
But no country is yet even approximately en-
titled to the name. We must try to make
ours a real civilisation, and the establishment
of libraries is certainly one step forwards in
the right direction.

When Household Suffrage was passed, Lord
Sherbrooke remarked that we must educate
our masters, but it is even more important to
enable them to educate themselves.

There are many whose birth is a sentence
of hard labour for life ; but it does not follow
that their life should on that account be un-
happy or uninteresting. Only if they have
few amusements, and little variety in their
lives, all the more desirable is it that they
should have access to good books.

One of our greatest men of science, Sir
John Herschel, has told us that : " Were I to
pray for a taste that should stand me in stead
under every variety of circumstances, and be
a source of happiness and cheerfulness to me
during life, and a shield against its ills, how-
ever things might go amiss, and the world


frown upon me, it would be a taste for read-
ing. Give a man this taste, and the means
of gratifying it, and you can hardly fail of
making him a happy man ; unless, indeed,
you put into his hands a most perverse selec-
tion of books. You place him in contact
with the best society in every period of his-
tory, with the wisest, the wittiest, the tender-
est, the bravest, and the purest characters
which have adorned humanity. You make
him a denizen of all nations, a contemporary
of all ages. The world has been created for

Books are almost living beings. " Books,"
said Milton, " do contain a progeny of life in
them, as active as that soul was whose pro-
geny they are." Great writers at any rate
never die.

" He is not dead whose glorious mind

Lifts thine on high.
To live in hearts we leave behind,
Is not to die."

The Duke of Urbino, who founded the
great library there, made it a rule that every
book should be bound in crimson, ornamented
with silver.


Books are the accumulated treasures of
by-gone ages. Lamb used to say that there
was more reason for saying grace before a
new book, than before a dinner.

When, moreover, we remember how much
is spent on drink, certainly no one can accuse
us of extravagance on books. How little our
libraries cost us as compared with our cel-
lars! Most people look a long time at the
best book before they would give the price of
a bottle of wine for it. It is rather sad to
think that when we speak of a public-house,
we always think of a place for the sale of
drink. I am glad, however, to know that on
all sides public-houses are now rising for the
supply, not of beer, but of books.



BOOKS are to Mankind what Memory is
to the Individual. They contain the History
of our race, the discoveries we have made,
the accumulated knowledge and experience
of ages ; they picture for us the marvels and
beauties of Nature ; help us in our difficulties,
comfort us in sorrow and in suffering, change
hours of ennui into moments of delight, store
our minds with ideas, fill them with good and
happy thoughts, and lift us out of and above

There is an Oriental story of two men : one
was a king, who every night dreamt he was
a beggar ; the other was a beggar, who every
night dreamt he was a prince and lived in a
palace. I am not sure that the king had very
much the best of it. Imagination is some-




times more vivid than reality. But, however
this may be, when we read, we may not only
(if we wish it) be kings and live in palaces,
but, what is far better, we may transport
ourselves to the mountains or the seashore,
and visit the most beautiful parts of the earth,
without fatigue, inconvenience, or expense.
"Give me," says Fletcher

" 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,
Into a strict account ; and in my fancy
Deface their ill-placed 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."

Books have often been compared to friends.
But among our living companions, inexorable
Death often carries off the best and brightest.
In books, on the contrary, time kills the bad,
and purifies the good.



" The wise

(Minstrels or sage) out of their books are clay ;
And in their books, as from their graves, they rise
Angels, that side by side, upon our way,
Walk with and warn us !

We call some books immortal. 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." l

Many of those who have had, as we say, all
that this world can give, have yet told us they
owed much of their purest happiness to books.
Ascham, in Tlie Schoolmaster, tells a touching
story of his last visit to Lady Jane Grey. He
found her sitting in an oriel window read-
ing Plato's beautiful account of the death of
Socrates. Her father and mother were hunt-
ing in the Park, the hounds were in full cry
and their voices came in through the open
window. He expressed his surprise that she
had not joined them. But, said she, " I wist
that all their pleasure in the Park is but a
shadow to the pleasure I find in Plato."

Macaulay had wealth and fame, rank and

1 Bulwer Lytton.


power, and yet he tells us in his biography
that he owed the happiest hours of his life to
books. In a charming letter to a little girl,
he says, "Thank you for your very pretty
letter. I am always glad to make my little
girl happy, and nothing pleases me so much
as to see that she likes books, for when she
is as old as I am she will find that they are
better than all the tarts and cakes, toys and
plays, and sights in the world. If any one
would make me the greatest king that ever
lived, with palaces and gardens and fine din-
ners, and wines and coaches, and beautiful
clothes, and hundreds of servants, on con-
dition that I should not read books, I would
not be a king. I would rather be a poor man
in a garret with plenty of books than a king
who did not love reading."

Books, indeed, endow us with a whole en-
chanted palace of thoughts. There is a wider
prospect, says Jean Paul Richter, from Par-
nassus than from the throne. In one way
they give us an even more vivid idea than
the actual reality, just as reflections are often
more beautiful than real Nature. All mirrors,


says George Macdonald, " are magic mirrors.
The commonest room is a room in a poem
when I look in the glass."

If a book does not interest us it does not
follow that the fault is in the book. There
is a certain art in reading. Passive reading
is of very little use. We must try to realise
what we read. Everybody thinks they know
how to read and write ; whereas very few
people write well, or really know how to
read. It is not enough to recognise the
mere words on the paper, to read listlessly
or mechanically ; we must endeavour to
realise the scenes described, and the persons
who are mentioned, to picture them in the
" Gallery of the imagination." " Learning,"
says Ascham, " teacheth more in one year
than experience in twenty; and learning
teacheth safely when experience maketh
more miserable than wise. He hazardeth
sore that waxeth wise by experience. An
unhappy shipmaster is he that is made cun-
ning by many shipwrecks, a miserable mer-
chant that is neither rich nor wise but after
some bankrouts. It is costly wisdom that is



bought by experience. We know by experi-
ence itself that it is a marvellous pain to
find out but a short way by long wandering.
And surely he that would prove wise by ex-
perience, he may be witty indeed, but even
like a swift runner, that runneth fast out of
his way, and upon the night, he knoweth not
whither. And, verily, they be fewest in num-
ber that be happy or wiser by unlearned expe-
rience. And look well upon the former life
of those few, whether your example be old or
young, who without learning have gathered,
by long experience, a little wisdom and some

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Online LibraryJohn LubbockThe use of life; → online text (page 6 of 14)