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“But I say, Tom, do you know how I hope I have given you some slight ale is made ?"
idea of one of the most interesting spots I reassured him on the point, and we I have ever visited; but if you find yourleft the castle' in a kindly spirit, having self in its vicinity some time, don't fail lunched.
to go and see it.
'Twas in my power to give;
Within my heart.
0, loving heart!
A price-he has not paid I
He pledged his honor, and his truth,
To love till death should part;
O, happy time!
O, happy clime,
A fragrant path we made!
But soon we reached the outer edge
Of this our Eden land;
0, loving heart !
0, trustful heart !
-But has the price been paid ?
If I should live a thousand years,
I pe'cr again should know
When first my heart,
This foolish heart!
-But has the price been paid ?
The careless tone-the unkind word
The changed and chilling, mood,
O, foolish heart!
Be loth to part
That fow will pay their price!
THE BOOKS WE READ. IF, as has sometimes been said, the laws the burden lies so heavy upon their hearts, of a nation indicate, with much accuracy, that they can find no rest until a public its progress
in civilization, and intellec- judgment is passed upon their pet theotual and moral culture; the remark, we ries; and should they fail to secure that think, might now be made with more per- wide recognition to which they think tinency of its current literature. For their opinions justly entitle them, they whatever may have been true of the le- can safely count upon the praise of a few gislation of past times, it certainly would admirers. This of itself is a sufficient stimnot be safe at present to draw very broad ulus to their industry-an ample reward inferences concerning the real condition for their efforts. Others still, cherish the of a people from the laws enacted by their belief that they have a peculiar aptitude legislators. The rich and influential in to shine in the field of fiction, and the the community have come to regard mod- result is that they contribute to swell the ern legislation much in the same light as long list of novels that make up the huge did King Philip of Macedon the walls of auction catalogue. the cities he wished to conquer. It was
But such writers as these are no proper enough for him, he said, if he could only index of the popular demand for current succeed in making a breach in them large literature. Still it will not do to pass enough for an ass laden with gold to pass them over in silence, or ignore their existhrough. And this is all that now seems tence. Their individual significance may Tecessary, in most instances, for either an be small, yet the aggregate is by no means individual or a particular interest or party, contemptible. They indicate the rills, to secure just such legislation as the exi- however obscure or turbid the fountains gencies of the occasion may require. The from which they take their rise, that help barriers and defences of law are of but slight to swell the great stream of literary proaccount when a bribe—which may assume duction. Their vagaries may not inaptly as many shapes as the fabled Proteus- be compared to the comets of the solar can find so ready a passage through them. system, completing while slightly dis
But the books of a nation are at this turbing it. At intervals their odd or day a more reliable index of its character fanciful opinions, especially if connected than its legislation. Here comes into oper- with the subject of religion, ignite the ation the great law of demand and supply. tinder element in society much as a spark Books are produced, as a rule, to meet will the dry leaves of the forest, and proexisting and known wants. This is not, duce a combustion more or less extended. however, invariably the case. Some are Sometimes these work sad havoc among written more to gratify an author's love the weak-minded, and those of unstable of fame than at the behest of the public. principles, but possibly harming only their A young poet, for instance, feels that he authors. has only to display his genius in print in A journalist is oftentimes entertainorder to win the renown of a Byron, a ed, but more frequently saddened as he Tennyson, or a Longfellow; and the re- notices the books which are submitted sult is, he spoils many reams of white to his critical judgment. He soon learns paper, and assures the book-stalls of a new that, as a general thing, their external supply of heavy stock. Other men have appearance betrays somewhat their insucceeded in convincing themselves, and ternal character. For books have a believe they can convince others, that physiognomy as well as men.
There is their opinions on matters of finance, the ponderous 8vo in black muslin, conphilosophy, or government are of impor- taining a serious discussion of grave tance to the world, and must therefore themes an elaborate commentary on be embodied in a book, which will hand Scripture, or perhaps a compendious down their name to posterity. At least history—which belongs to the conserva
tive, aristocratic class of books, and which There is still another class of books, will be honored with a conspicuous place which carry their characters on their very in the library. of the theologian or scholar. face. These are paper-covered romances There is the subscription book, portly and or novels, ranging from the modest plethoric, reminding one by its large, 12mo to the Victor Hugo huge 8vo, staring type, of an octogenarian with his with hues varying from brick to orange, big spectacles, seemingly very wise and and ornamented or disfigured with woodprofound; or the sprightly looking, gild- cuts, portraits, mottoes, &c., designed to ed volume, in blue, or green, or red, arrest the attention and gratify the perand for which we have a personal friend- verted taste of those who find pleasure ship growing out of long familiarity, and in such productions. Books like theseto which we feel like saying, in the if indeed they deserve the name in their language of Webster to the veterans of undignified dishabille—are on the whole Bunker Hill, “Venerable men, ye have perhaps the most nauseous things for a come down to us from a former genera- sober-minded critic to encounter. He tion.” Then there is the spruce 12mo, instinctively turns away from them. which we at once see was designed to be They are not gold leaf, beaten thin from read with ease, at the fireside or in the a single grain of the precious metal; they railroad car, and treating of some matter are rather tin foil or lead rolled down to of popular interest, but in its dark muslin such tenuity that a single breath would covers leaving the critic quite in the rend them, and possessing no intrinsic dark as to its real merits, and forcing him value. The idea that tens of thousands to do as much at least as to read over a read such stuff as this by the light of single chapter before expressing an the midnight lamp, to the detriment of opinion as to the nature of its contents. sight, health, peace of mind, and freThese may stand as the type of a class quently principle, is simply appalling. of men, who with closed lips are often a The market should be closed to all such difficult problem to their neighbors, and productions. Or if sold at all, they whose words are necessary for the reve- should be labelled, as are certain poisonlation of their true character.
ous drugs, so that no one can mistake Then comes another class that is their character. Though they contain known at first sight, the 12mo novel, more opium than strychnine, still wherwith a profusion of tinsel, and infinitely ever they go they can work nothing but varied in shades and color. These are mischief. What false ideal worlds do the dread of critics who have any con- they create, to which the feelings, the scientious estimate of the value of time. tastes, the imaginations and the purposes They form, however, an interesting study of the reader adjust themselves ! And for the philosophic mind. Such an one just in proportion as they accept as real knows full well their general worthless- the painted images of the author, are ness, but he knows also that they form they unfitted for the stern realities of the staple reading of thousands; and as the world in which they dwell. So far he sees with what eagerness they are as the soul yields to these influences, it devoured by the youth of both sexes, he becomes distorted and mis-shapen. It can scarcely repress the frightful calcu- creates for itself inevitable disappointlation of the amount of money that has ments, and the discontent which springs been wasted in their production, or the up sours the temper, and disqualifies the time squandered in their perusal. These individual for the proper duties of life. serve to entertain their possessors for a Many of the heroes of our popular few, vacantless hours, and are then cast romances and novels are of just that aside like old clothes, which a change in peculiar and impracticable class whom fashions has rendered useless, and on peaceable and orderly society would be their way to oblivion find a temporary thankful to dispense with. It disowns shelter in some corner book-stall. them as models for the everyday experience of mankind, and recognizes them of weariness nor satisfaction to the reader, as simply abnormal, when they are not who has, perhaps, already devoured scores detestable,
of equally flimsy productions. Now works of this kind are not to be Now it is not difficult to predict what ignored or passed by, on the ground that must be the result where youth are they produce no appreciable influence. trained to a fondness for this kind of litOn the contrary, it is widespread and erature. They read merely for the sake disastrous. They are extensively read, of the story, and for nothing else. The as published statistics prove, and as their goodishness of the book is the salvo to own soiled and well-worn appearance tes, their consciences for perusing it on the tifies. Ainsworth's "Jack Shepherd” Sabbath, just as it has served to recomhas made a multitude of heroic thieves, mend it to Committees as worthy a place as their own confessions witness, having on the shelves of the Sunday school libraeducated them in their youth to the false ry. Most of these books contain the smalbelief that the highest virtue is to bid de- lest possible amount of profitable truth, fiance to all the restraints of law, and and but little, if anything, to form a truly trample on all the common virtues on manly, robust Christian character. Read which the welfare of society depends. hastily, and in great numbers, each can The susceptible age of the readers of this only leave the faintest ripple mark on the class of fiction, renders it the more perni- memory; and if at the end of a year, more cious. Were they persons of mature than the mere name can be recalled, it is years, or independent thinkers, they a marvel. The minds of our children are might discriminate more readily between thus made a beaten path for many hoofs, the chaff and the wheat. But they are and each succeeding one tramples out the the young and inconsiderate—those track or impression of its predecessor. whose tastes are unformed, whose cliar- A taste, moreover, is thus formed that acters are still plastic, and who are at rejects more substantial food. Facts that transition period in life, when the and principles are too dry and uninterestimpressions received are apt to become ing to secure attention; and the mind permanent, with the strong probability wearies of every subject that requires that they will carry their distorted notions thought, and never acquires the muscle through all their future years. They thus and gristle of robust, manly strength. It become not only unfitted for the respon- is an education that enervates, and leaves sibilities of practical life, but it will be it weak and infantile. We doubt not well if, dissatisfied with their condition, that we express the feeling of thousands and with their morals vitiated, they do of parents in wishing that nine-tenths of not prove in the end a pest to society. the books in even our Sunday-school li
A scarcely less severe judgment, in braries were committed to the flames, some respects, many would be disposed and the youthful mind left more free to to pronounce upon the class of books de- deal with themes and scenes in which signed especially for youth, which are more of Scripture truth is embodied, and written with a laudable purpose, and to be brought face to face with the trials, which frequently contain good moral or and struggles, and triumphs of those who religious instruction. Some few may bė are living or have lived the life of faith read with profit, but their warp and woof in the Son of God. What we would have, are fiction, and as they are so rapidly is more of the Spartan element in our multiplied by the press of the country, processes of education, only of a Christheir infliction is only less grievous than tian, not a heathen type. The favorite the plagues of Egypt. Their standard scheme of too many now seems to be that style is the 16mo, with variously colored youth shall be kept blissfully ignorant of muslin covers, set off by a few indiffer- the stern, uncompromising principles and ent wood-cuts, and with well-leaded pa- duties which they must sooner or later ges, whose perusal leaves neither a sense encounter, and be borne to heaven on
"fowery beds of ease;" and conse- that deluges our Sunday-schools and our quently the granite points of duty and of homes. doctrine are covered over with all the It were easy to show that others feel picturesque beauty and prettinesses of quite as deeply as we do on this substyle that prove so attractive to shallow ject. A discriminating writer
"We have We know the excuse is made that the often been pained to find so large a propublic demand these juvenile works of portion of these books of a wholly fiafiction, and that if one publisher declines titious character. Now we know that to furnish them, others will do it. This books for children ought not to be too may be admitted, and still not furnish didactic and elaborate, but simple and the justification sought; since those who childlike in spirit and style. But must now offer the plea have, by their own we then draw so largely upon the imaacts, largely created the taste which gination for religious juvenile instruc they claim the privilege of gratifying. tion ? Our Sunday-school libraries are Our difficulty is not specially with the crammed with moral chaff, where it remultiplication of juvenile books, but with quires all the powers of mature wisdom their character, and the unbecoming con- to find the few grains of truth concealed cession made to the vicious popular de- therein. These little volumes usually mand. There are some writers whose purport to teach a certain moral by denames give assurance that the right kind tailing the life of some good being, which of literature is attainable, and that the the author's fancy has made. They speak public is capable of appreciating it-books of men, women, and children who have in which the reader finds all the neces- never lived, of good deeds never done, of sary interest in the story, but which con- a piety which the writer has made. The vey truth—the truth of fact, history, doc- little particle of gold is hammered and trine, or a wise experience, and that too beaten out into a leaf inconceivably thin, in an impressive manner. The attempt too delicate for any one to grasp. The to name the writers of this class of books little drop of wine is diluted with so would be considered invidious, since some much milk and water,' that all the flavor worthy of honorable mention would in- and virtue are lost. They excite a great evitably be overlooked. Surely the suc- passion for reading, but only this kind cess of the few proves, however, that the of reading. Children eagerly pore over world, at this late age, is not so deficient one and two books every week, somein genius, that if parents and teachers times read at one Sunday afternoon-sitshould use a proper discrimination and as- ting, and so far as our experience goes, sert their just prerogatives, such a demand we cannot find one in ten who can give might not be created for a better class of us two ideas from a whole volume. The children's books, as would stimulate our great mass of these books have nothing authors to supply it. We might not be to remember, nothing to nourish, only a favored with another inimitable allegory, pious tissue of fancy's weaving, a dish of such as Bunyan penned, or a new and moral'floating island.'' more perfect story of the Robinson Cru- One of the most imperative needs of 50e type, but we might at least have our current literature is a class of books, books almost equally adapted to charm which, while keeping clear of the license and instruct, with vivid pictures of truth of fiction on the one hand, and dry, geand life, which would fix themselves in neral statements on the other, will comthe memory of children. As it is, we are bine a genial humor with pure morals, and pained when we think of the bran instead a proper reverence for sacred things. Of of the wheaten-flour that our youth must theological treatises and volumes of sereat, or else go hungry; and of the viti- mons we have a large supply, but we ated taste that calls for the present fear the day has gone by when these can enormous supply of skim-milk literature form the staple of popular reading. The