[ocr errors]


From Good Words.


of India." But even in this I do not nection with shooting there is the very recollect any description of the deoser great difficulty one has in procuring naportions of the jungle – those dark thick. tives acquainted with the habits and pur. ets and gloomy recesses of rank vegeta- suit of the local game. tion, where a hundred varieties of ferns, To the above list of the attractions of canes, and palms entangle one another Burmah many more might be added, to in bewildering confusion, as they climb induce the traveller passing that way to towards the upper height of the immense take a look at our new possession, but the forest trees; where the sunlight can limits of a magazine article preclude tbeir scarcely pierce through, except to shoot being entered upon; and I can only condown here and there in shafts of brilliant clude by saying, that I feel pretty sure light that strike the sand or the pool be that any one visiting it for the first time low — and where, in many places, the foot will carry away very agreeable and very of man has never trod, and the bison, the varied memories of an extremely interesttiger, and the elephant, alone dispute for ing and quite unique country and people. dominion.

B. C. F. I lately made two shooting trips to the jungles of lower Burmah, and each time, in the midst of the greatest hardships, the forest scenery had the power to force itself upon the notice as seeming, each

THE RESPONSIBILITY OF READING. day, more and more impressive and magnificent.

BY THE REV. R. F. HORTON, M.A. At such times both the silence and the We are as a rule very particular about strange sounds of the jungles, each in the people with whom we associate; there their different way, combine to affect the are few things which more agitate the sportsman; the occasional weird hootings minds of British parents than the society of the monkeys in the tree-tops; the dis. in which their children are

to tant flap, flap, of an elephant's ears break. About the principle of discrimination it is ing in upon the perfect stillness as you not necessary to say anything. We all of approach the herd, or perhaps, instead, us have some principle of our own; there the penny-trumpet-like squeak which an are people whom we want to know, there nounces its proximity; and, as the day are others whom we treat with reserve; wears on, the stillness suddenly broken in there are some whom we keep at arm's. upon by the whirring and soon almost length. This is the essence of our dig. deafening sound with which with one nity-or, let us call it, our self-respect. accord the insects revive after the heat of When our principle of discrimination is the afternoon; all these influences com- false, our dignity may become undignified, bine to produce an effect which those who the dignity merely of a funkey; but when have not experienced them will find diffi- our principle of discrimination is sound, cult to imagine, and those who have expe- when we want to know the good and noble, rienced thein must find hard to describe. and are indifferent to the vulgar distinc.

Apropos of the wild elephants, the herds tions of wealth and spurious rank, the of these animals are doing much mischief soul becomes strong and pure by virtue in some parts to the native communities of its discerning choice and rigorous selfliving near their haunts, destroying their restraint in the matter of companionship. crops continuously and their lives occa. We may observe, however, a difference as sionally, and I cannot help thinking that our character ripens and our moral form an even better method of abating the mis becomes set. In youth we must shun the chief than that of shooting them might vicious and the weak, counting their very be found in their systematic capture on a presence a danger and their breath a large scale.

miasma; later on we can pass unharmed Burmah as a field for sport is improv. among men of all sorts, securely assiming, for the quieting down of the country ilating what is good and rejecting what is is rendering it possible to travel in regions bad; and at last, by the grace of God, we where a short while ago an armed escort may become so firmly knit in all purity was a necessity, and it contains many ani. and truth and charity that our presence mals such as the sine (a species of wild among inen of the most degraded type cattle), the tummin (or brow.antlered deer), will be harmless to ourselves, but serviceand others that are peculiar to the coun. able to them. try.

We are all agreed, then, that the society One great drawback, however, in con- which we affect is not a matter of indiffer

court news

ence; it must be at all times wisely chosen, guarded against misunderstanding, or a its effects upon us must be scrupulously mean interpretation might be put upon it. watched, its tendencies to deflect us from It is not meant that people who move in the appointed way, must be rigorously the humble ranks of society should use checked and valiantly frustrated.

the medium of literature to become acNow the object of the present essay is quainted with the ways and habits of the to show that in the power of reading we great. There are society journals, cheap have admission to society of all kinds, to novels, and despicable

of society of all ages; that our intercourse various descriptions, which affect to lead with men and women through the written their readers into the charmed and inacpage is often · more intimate than that cessible circles; literature of this kind which we hold with living people; that issues from, and ministers to, the inborn the influence which these invisible minds vulgarity of human nature. The introducexercise over us is incalculable ; and that tion to courts, which is professedly given, therefore the choice which we must bring is quite illusory; if by such means we are to bear in the selection of what we read admitted at all, we enter as valets, huckshould be even more intelligent, more sters, or buffoons. The kings and queens earnest, more severe than that which reg- referred to in this passage are of a quite ulates the selection of our companions different kind; they are those regal minds and friends.

which in the long silence of the ages have The idea is old and even trite, it is the exercised their widening sway by the auapplication which is not so trite. While thority of clearer insight, more passionate readers were chiefly or entirely the culti- feeling, stronger reasoning, and sweeter vated few, who approached books with a numbers than common minds were capable carefully trained intelligence, and with all of. Flunkeyism is as rampant in literathe composure and fastidiousness of culture as among living men; in books and ture, the caution was hardly needed; but papers, no less than in society, one needs when everybody reads, when books are an eye which is impatient of tinsel and free to us as the air we breathe, when all penetrative of solid worth. of us are thrown into the crowd of authors In the power of reading we have admiswhich jostle one another in the crowded sion to society of all kinds, to society of all streets of literature, it is necessary to cau. ages. There is something quite pathetic tion the unwary against those besmirching in the sight of young men and women persons who may rub against them un reading their scrappy and titillating news. a wares and to suggest by what methods it papers, or their blood-curdling and sensais possible to quit the mixed throng of the tional novels, when they might be at the thoroughfares, and to find in quiet and same time holding high converse with the wholesome places the companionship with strong master spirits of humanity; might the good and the great by which the soul be “ laughing with Chaucer in the haw. can thrive.

thorn shade" instead of guffawing with No better preface can be given to what the clown who grimaces and holds the is now to be said than these wise and pit for a day and a morrow; might be beautiful words of Mr. Ruskin : “Will moving in the fields of fancy with Shake. you go and gossip with your housemaid speare, and learning from that wise spirit or your stable-boy, when you may talk the mysterious secrets of life, hearing the with kings and queens, while this eternal "sweet, sad music of humanity" instead court is open to you, with its society wide of losing all the capacity of genuine feelas the world, multitudinous as its days, ing by submitting to the unreal raptures, the chosen and the mighty of every place the base alarms, and the subtle poisons and time? Into that you may enter al- of popular fiction. But it is not quite true ways; in that you may take fellowship to say that admission to that society of and rank according to your wish; from the noble is open to all. There is need of that, once entered into it, you can never effort, of patience, of discipline to apbe outcast but by your own fault; by your proach great minds in literature. Any aristocracy of companionship there, your one can read “King Solomon's Mines,"' own inherent aristocracy will be assuredly but not every one can read “The Antitested, and the motives with which you quary;” any one can read Mr. Gilbert's strive to take high place in the society of songs, but not every one can read Milton's the living, measured, as to all the truth sonnets. The present writer once knew and sincerity that are in them, by the an athletic man who made a notable re. place you desire to take in this company mark. The conversation turned on of the dead.” This passage must be discussion whether it was better to read



“ Hamlet” or to see Shakespeare. Our move his soul, and until the strong music athletic friend determined that it would of that lofty verse has sounded in his ears be better to see Shakespeare, on the sin. like the tumult of seas, and the low mur. gular ground that "it would take less mur of continuous streams; and then Miltime.” Now, beyond all question, it takes ton will lead him, as Virgil led Dante, time and energy and active thought to through all the circles of Inferno, Purgahold intercourse with those great authors torio, Paradiso, without any taint to his who have attained their greatness by the spirit or faltering of his mind. And then expenditure of time and energy and active - if this vein of dogmatism may yet be thought. These monarchs of literature pardoned — when youth is setting into are only at home with those who can don manhood, let him turn to Wordsworth. their own regal dress. There are some Dismissing that childish judgment which minds which, for lack of use and training, calls Wordsworth childish, let him ap. feel more at home in the servants' hall proach gently those shorter poems which than at the master's board. And here at first seen the more attractive, and in comes in the responsibility of reading; it them let him meditate a little until “ The is our duty to nerve ourselves to encoun- mighty being seems awake.” Then let ters with the great; we are to put on the him read with patience, and not hurriedly, livery of the master minds.

those longer works, which are not so much But it may be said, Who are the master poems as the plain, straightforward utterminds? By what mark are we to distin-ance of some vital truths which it concerns guish them? How are we to discharge us all to know, “ The Prelude " and " The our responsibility in the absence of those Excursion." Let the grandeur and integ. regal insignia with which alone we are rity of Wordsworth's harmonious nature familiar? Here is an acknowledged diffi. become apparent, let the charm of a sim. culty. And in it may be rooted a plea for plicity which shrinks from ornament and reading more of those writers whose place of a passionate truthfulness which is not in literature is fixed, and less of those afraid of seeming bare and bald be felt, current writers who have not yet passed let the taste and judgment be in this clear the stern examination of time, or received air braced and purified, and it will be the Hall mark of that final criticism which found that a discerning spirit has entered is not loc or of the age, but universal in taken possession of the soul, so and eternal. For Englishmen, at any that it is no longer so doubtful as it once rate, there is little excuse if they go wrong. appeared, who and what are the master There have risen in our heavens so many spirits of all time. There is a certain note constant stars, that by their steady and which is quickly perceived in the miods glowing light more mutable objects may which are whole and strong, it is like the be fixed. And rather than seek inclusive- deep sound of a bell, which, though there ness to the loss of definiteness it may be are all varieties of tone and compass and well to dogmatize. Let a man while he vibration, can never be produced where is young and yet uninforined, and while the metal is base, or where the bell is the uncertainty of conflicting authorities cracked. This note bas been caught by leaves him in some doubt to whom he many of us in the study of the great mas. should attach his reverence and affection, ters of classical antiquity, Homer and take up his Milton and approach through Thucydides, Sophocles and Plato, Virgil the flowery gardens of "Comus," “L’Al and Tacitus ; but it may be caught even legro,” “ 11 Penseroso," that wide and more readily from the great masters of lofty upland of “Paradise Lost,” “ Para- English, from Spenser and Shakespeare, dise Regained,” on whose breezy slopes from Bacon and Raleigh, from Milton and he will gain strength to read the “Samson Hooker, from Addison and Johnson and Agonistes.” Let him commune with the Burke, from Burns and Wordsworth and spirit of Milton and learn by a detach- Scott, from Helps, John Stuart Mill, Carment from the petty controversies of his Tyle, not to approach any nearer to the time, to gain some insight into him whose noble company of the living. "soul was like a star and dwelt apart.” And as Sir Arthur Helps has been men. Let him not murmur because the excite- tioned incidentally, let one of his wise ment of the pursuit seems small, and the counsels find a place here. • Every man air of the uplands is at first chilly and and every woman who can read at all," he stupefying; let him press on, until the says, “should adopt some definite purmagnitude of that great mind has assumed pose in their reading - should take some. definite proportions, until the stirring thing for the main stem and trunk of their power of its moral energy has begun to culture, whence branches might grow out

[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]


in all directions, seeking air and light for influence. Here, on the other hand, is a the parent tree, which it is hoped might religious youth who opens a mere maga. eod in becoming something useful and zine article written against his faith ; he ornamental, and which at any rate all throws off the early influences of home along will have had life and growth in it.” like a mantle, and plunges thenceforward It is only by some self-discipline, by some into the "supless gulf of doubt,” with the concentration of purpose, by realizing that unspeakable morasses at the bottom. this magic faculty is not a convenient de. Here, again, a pure and untainted mind vice for passing heavy hours, but a golden will take up a book which is foul, prurient, stair which leads into high places, that and suggestive, and the very course of naany progress can be made towards that ture is set on fire; a turning-point comes, company of which we have been thinking and the old innocence is gone forever. This is not a warning against desultory In the quaint stories of an older day the reading, which is in its place a wise and Power of Evil would shape himself like a excellent thing, but it must be kept in its tiny animal, and effect an entrance into an own place; it must not be allowed to en- unsuspecting body; now he finds himself croach on the sacred ground which is re- between the dainty covers of a book, or served for the purposeful and disciplinary lurks in the brief paragraphs of a licenreading which will introduce us into that tious journal, and obtains an easy and un. “ eternal court open to us, with its society observed entrance into incautious minds. as wide as the world."

You may have observed, even in your Now we come to observe more particu. friends, changes from day to day, which larly that between an author and a careful are like the shadows chasing one another reader an intimacy is established of a kind on the hillside. A mind naturally gentle which is rarely possible in the actual in. and sympathetic passes into a phase of tercourse of life. An author can creep into cynicism; thinks it, for the time, the corthe soul, and is the more readily admitted rect thing to question every one's motives, because his approaches seem so silent and and to doubt whether simplicity and sinunintentional. The Bible is the most in. cerity have any visible existence on this timate of all religious influences. St. planet. You find on inquiry that your Paul, for example, approaches us more friend has been reading “Vanity Fair," or a nearly than the preacher who addresses book as cynical, without any of Thackeray's us every week from the pulpit. Those saving soundness and tenderness. Or, on nameless psalmists whose writings have the other hand, one who has been hitherto been preserved among the Psalms of lethargic and indifferent to all noble enterDavid, are more living, speak more di- prise, seems to be fired with great thoughts rectly to us, than the people whom we of service and devotion. You find that the meet in the streets or in the railway car- change is all due to the biography of an riage. We may pass the time of day and heroic soul which has been playing upon pod a smile to a man every morning for the springs of thought and feeling. twenty years and not know so much of But if these companions in sober bindhim as we know of that passionate soul ings are so potent over us for good or for who cried unto the Lord out of the depths, ill, is it not obviously necessary to chaland waited for him as the watchmen wait lenge them sharply before we allow them for the morning (Ps. cxxx.). But what to come to close quarters ? May we not the Bible is in a peculiar degree, other practise here that dignified exclusiveness books are in a less degree. There is even which elsewhere we are only too reacy to a touch of terror in opening a book, that a practise ? Every book should be formally man should be able to come into this introduced to us, not by its own introducgrappling connection with us; if he is a tion, but by some independent and trusttruthful spirit he can make us blush with worthy authority. Parents should be sbame, tremble, shed tears as we read. more particular in getting testimonials for We take the silent, innocent-seeming vol- the literature which comes into the hands ume into our hands, and when we put it of their children than in learning the chardown we shall never again be what we acter of the schools and the school comwere before. What a spell the writer panions. The writer remembers to this weaves! what a miraculous power he ex- day the impression made upon his boyish ercises! For, to pass to this other point, mind when his father emphatically forbade the influence the book exercises over us him to read “Don Juan,” saying that it is incalculable. St. Augustine opened the might inflict a serious injury upon the books, and one single sentence changed spirit. For more than twenty years that him from the brilliant, godless, self-satis- famous poem remained taboo to him, and fied rhetorician into a powerful religious | when at last he read it, he thanked God

for the wisdom of a father which had | as it is better to go friendless than to have saved him from passing through those false friends, consider that it is better to shameless pages before his moral frame go bookless than to read bad books. God, was knit, and the power of discrimination nature, man, are accessible to thee, read had come with the slow discipline of the them; the Bible, Milton, Wordsworth, are years. But long after the paternal author- accessible to thee, try to read them; and ity is no longer available — and indeed, for for the rest, where the heart ardently seeks most of us, up to the very end - it would for wisdom the wise are not far away. be well for us to expect some adequate guarantee from all printed matter which lays claim to come into close quarters with

From The Leisure Hour. the soul. You shall do wisely to learn bow few are the writers to whom you can

A MUSICAL VILLAGE IN YORKSHIRE. safely surrender yourself, how few the ABOUT forty years ago a manufacturer guides whom you can follow with closed at Eccleshill near Bradford, who was fond or even half-closed eyes. And if this ap- of music, set his eye on a weaver who plies to books of some standing, if we lived at Horsforth, near by, and who was need, for instance, to understand who and one of the singers at the Wesleyan Chapel what Hume and Macaulay are before we there. This manufacturer was interested read them with instantaneous and uncor- in the New Connection Chapel at Eccles. roborated assent, if we require some cer- hill, and he wanted a singer. The weaver tificate from Mill or from George Eliot in question, Fawcett by name, soon rebefore we yield to the author our allegiance ceived an offer of employment from this as well as our admiration, how much more music-lover. He thereupon moved to does it behove us to be critical and even Eccleshill, and became the founder of a fastidious in approaching that catch-penny remarkable family of musicians, who are literature, in the daily and weekly press, known all over the north of England as or that excitation of the baser passions in excellent orchestral players. ephemeral books, which form the staple of In a recent journey northwards I some unfortunate people's reading! Let stopped a night at Bradford for the speit be realized once for all that a mind de- cial purpose of making acquaintance with bauched and gulled by the dull tirades of these plain, sturdy Yorkshire folk and of a one-sided party newspaper, or a mind hearing the story of their lives. The surrendered to a faction in politics or reli- Great Northern train lands one in a few gion, and fed only on the morsels dished minutes at Eccleshill station, and thence up to it by one-eyed partisans, becomes the walk to the top of the hill is soon permanently degenerate, and finally inca- accomplished. What a lovely view spreads pable of clear vision or free thinking. It before us! The chimneys of Bradford we have learnt the meaning of “party " have been left behind, and we are in the and “faction," and if we distinctly label land of dales and moors, of wood and our newspaper, pamphlet, tract, sermon, stream. There is scarcely a yard of level or speech with its appropriate title before ground, and one can understand how the we read it, a sound mind may escape with hardy, robust natures of these hill-men are out any permanent injury. But even formed by their physical surroundings. under these more favorable conditions it is As we sit in the old-fashioned, comforthardly wise to read party politics without able house of Joseph Fawcett, with a great constant reference to those impartial mas-oak beam crossing the ceiling, various ters of political fact and theory, whose members of the clan Fawcett are standing judgments are raised above the suspicion or sitting around. Most interesting of of bias ; nor is it safe to read any theolog- all, by his venerable appearance, is the ical literature at all without constant study old father, progenitor of the race, tall and of the Book which is too full of God to be spare, seventy-six years of age, yet clear theological, and too much penetrated with of eye and mind, and full of pleasant rectruth to decide in absolute favor of any ollections of long ago. In his young days partial or transitory system.

women did not sit in the singing pews at And if it be asked, Who then shall the chapels. It would not have been constand to us in loco parentis ? Who shall sidered becoming. He himself was assure in our maturity what we may read ? tenor, and learnt to read music by the old The answer to be given cannot be alto-fa sol la system which prevailed in the gether unequivocal. Let the wise decide, time of Shakespeare. An old member of until thy own wisdom has become mani- the Bradford Festival Choral Society, he fest to the wise as well as to thyself; and went to London with the choir aod sang if the wise are inaccessible to thee, then with them before the queen. He plays


« ElőzőTovább »