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“Walter, 'it is good for us that we have suf- 1 A SUMMER-DAY RHYME. fered.'”
The low, humble, solemn tones reply: “The Lord's ways are not our ways; to him be the
BY EBEN REXFORD. glory! My dear, dear Laura! my bride, my wife!”
The buttercups bloom in the meadows, “Sister, sister! Ann's tones are both im
The clover nods on the hill, perative and impatient.
And the violets blow in the shadows,
Where the summer winds are still.
The breezes in wild commotion the background. Ann looks up from the heap
Sweep down from the mountain-side, of silk and lace by which she is half hidden, And the meadow sways like an ocean with the exclamation :
At the rising of the tide, “Everything is arranged. The chaplain of the "Tribune' is to perform the ceremony, You are to be married “Twelfth-day,' early in
The sunshine drifts like a shower the morning; then you will take a bridal trip
Across the swaying grass,
And kisses each little flower to Lima." “Whether I will or not?”
That watches to see it pass. “Yes, mademoisselle, whether you will or
I can hear the honey-bees humming,
As they gather in their sweets,
From the water-nymph's retreats.
Yet even in these happy days,
When his eyes on me turn,
My cheek and forehead burn :
But deems not I ve'er loved before. 1867,
And shrouded in royal splendour,
They will lay her down to rest,
READING AS A MEANS OF CULTURE.
In the early ages of the world, before the art, otherwise would hang heavily on their hands. of writing was invented, men had to depend, for | Their minds are listless, or they are tormented the acquisition of knowledge, chiefly upon oral with sad thoughts, or inward upbraidings, or instruction. In this way, each generation were, remorse, or shame, from which they wish to in turn, the pupils of the preceding, and the escape; and by killing time in this escape from teachers of the following generation in the re- themselves, so far forth, they commit suicide. ception and the transmission of the traditionary | Another class read in order to make a show lore of the times. And as the family bond was of learning. They read incessantly, and incesthen a strong one, each child was in a pre- santly boast of what they have read. They are eminent sense the pupil of his parent, and each ostentatious; they are vain in their knowledge, patriarch was in a pre-eminent sense the teacher and pedantic. of his child, when he “sat with him in the The true end of reading, as the means of selfhouse, and when he walked with him by the culture, is evidently, in the very statement of way, when he lay down, and when he rose the terms of the proposition, self-culture. Now,
self-culture aims at the improvement of all the After the invention of alphabet-writing, and higher powers of our nature. Just so far, then, before that of printing, oral instruction was still as reading contributes to self-culture, it conthe principal means of imparting knowledge. tributes to improve, and elevate, and refine our Readers were few; books still fewer, and not whole nature. By holding intercourse with the accessible; transcription was expensive. So great minds of the world as they still live in valuable, indeed, were some works, that, in their works, we can become like them. Our order to obtain the loan of a book, it was memories can be stored with the treasures of necessary to pledge an estate for its safe return: knowledge gathered by them. Our imaginaindeed, in some instances, books were kept tions can rove freely among the forms of thought chained, so that they could not be removed among which they expatiated with delight. Our from the place where they were kept.
judgment can decide correctly in view of the But since the art of making paper was in facts which they have collected, and the princivented, and, as related to this, the art of ples which they have evolved, and the reasonings printing, a mighty change has taken place in they have elaborated. Our wills can be conrespect to the number of books and the number firmed by the motives they administer. Our of readers. In our own country, where all hearts can be brought into harmony with their may, if they choose, enjoy the advantages of hearts by contemplating what awakened their popular education, the majority are readers. emotional nature. Our moral seelings can beAll, therefore, must be interested in the subject come assimilated to theirs by inbaling their which I have chosen, namely, READING AS spirit. THE MEANS OF SELF-CULTURE.
In books we have the concentrated wisdom In treating this subject, I hope, in some de- of past ages and of the present, which we can gree, to supply a felt want frequently expressed appropriate to ourselves, for our own improve. by those who are engaged in self-culture, ment and that of others. The true end of whether they are at school or at home, or en reading is to make this appropriation. Lord gaged in some professional employment. Bacon's rule is the best : “Read, not to contraWhat end shall I aim at in reading ?
dict and confute, nor to believe and take for What time shall I spend in reading ?
granted, nor to find talk and discourse, but to What mode shall I adopt in reading?
weigh and consider." What books shall I read ?
The improvement of your intellectual and These are interrogatories prompted by a desire your moral powers being the true end of reading, of self-improvement on the part of the modest I shall proceed to the second question : WHAT and earnest aspirant, whatever be his position ; TIME SHALL I SPEND IN READING? and they demand a careful and a correct answer. The answer to this question must depend
WHAT, THEN, IS THE END TO BE AIMED upon the circumstances in which you are placed AT IN READING?
and the duties you have to perform. You are Now, a large class of readers propose to in the district-school, or the academy, themselves no end at all, in their reading. or in the preparation for some profesThey feel attracted to the page of a book or to sional employment, or in the practice of some the column of a newspaper, just as they are to a profession, or are actively employed in family garden of flowers, or to a winding river. They duties. Now, whenever reading, by consuming have no purpose in view; they have no object time, interferes with your regular studies, or to be accomplished. The act of reading ter- your professional employments, or your family minates in itself, so far as any end is concerned. duties, it should be avoided, even though at a It is just a matter of present gratification, of sacrifice of inclination. present amusement.
Moreover, when it creates a distaste for Another class rear only to kill time, which studies or other duties, by withdrawing attention
from them, by impairing the intellectual vigour, , in the sweet hour of prime, if it be only for five by weakening the moral power so as to disa minutes. Read, if you can, when resting from qualify you for study or labour, it defeats the your toil at noon. Read especially more or less main purpose for which you were placed under during the long wirter evenings. Read in the instruction, or for which you devoted yourselves season of youth, when the impressions made on to labour. For instance: if a student has in the mind are permanent. Read in middle life, his room a book that creates a distaste for the when the judgment is strong, Read in the study of arithmetic, a branch which he is pur | season of old age, when your minds become suing, he had better spend no time in reading contemplative, and the body unfitted for active that book, for the plain reason that arithmetic, life. Let some book furnish daily food for the in relation to his duties as a student, is of more mind, as the table does for the body. importance to him. If a merchant's clerk has We are now prepared to answer the third a book which creates a distaste for his ledger, question: WHAT IS THE BEST MODE OF he had better spend no time in reading that READING? book, for the plain reason that it disqualifies The best inode of reading is that which is him for his paramount duties.
| best adapted to accomplish the end of reading. And so too, when reading fatigues and ex. And the highest end of reading, as in every hausts the mind, it should be avoided. Some part of education, is to furnish and discipline books are so exciting to the attention, to the the mind, and thus to prepare it to act in accordimagination, to the passions, that they produce ance with its high capacity on earth and in a mental debauch, which, if often repeated, heaven. In order to gain these high ends, the destroys the firm tone of the mind, and renders mind must be tasked to a high effort. it fitful and inefficient in its exertions.
But, as a matter of fact, there is often Moreover, reading should be avoided when it careless reading when there ought to be the interferes with necessary repose, as it does when closest application of the inind. There is pursued at a late hour of night. It then has a often reading, in the common sense of the pernicious influence upon the health first, then word, when there ought to be study, beupon the spirits, then upon the mind itself. cause the former is easier than the latter. It The knowledge gained in this way is, for the has been said, with some appearance of truth: most part, but of little value, for it is gained at the “ Study is labour, and labour is pain, and no expense of mental vigour, and sometimes even one loves pain.” There is, therefore, a temptaof life itself. To read when you ought to be in tion to substitute the pleasure of negligent bed, especially to read when in bed, is to inflict reading for the pain of study. Reading is often a great evil on yourself without an equivalent. identical with study, as when one is said to read It is to injure your eyes, your brain, your law. For success in study, the higher powers nervous system, your intellect.
of the mind must be put in requisition. Again, reading ought not to interfere with There must be the full vigour of the attention the due cultivation of the social affections, without any of its wanderings, the full retentivewhether by personal intercourse with friends or ness of the memory, the full activity of the a punctual correspondence. Some are such imagination. In the examination of the subject, bookworms that they become insensible to the the judgment must be ever vigilant; the will, sweet charities of domestic life, and all the de- even in the midst of discouragement, must lightful amenities of general society.
never swerve from its high purpose, The afFinally, only so much time should be spent fections must often be summoned from their in reading, as will allow leisure for reflection repose, to give impulse to the intellect. And upon what has been read, in order that it the body, too, in that much study which is a may become our own, for the purposes of weariness to the flesh, must be roused from its mental discipline and strength. Now it hap- languor, only to writhe and quiver under the pens that one may have a great appetite and a chafings of the intellect. In short, for successpoor digestion. He may read much and think ful study, there must be the highest etforts of little. Hence, what he reads, not going through the best powers of the mind. But in reading the process of assimilation, instead of invigo- the mind is often in nearly a passive state, like rating, burdens the mind. Thus addicted to | that of dreaming or reverie, in which images mental gluttony, thus suffering from mental Ait before the mind without any act of volition repletion, he is incapacitated for high achieve- to retain them. In rapid reading it is nearly ments. He is
in the same state as yours is when you are
whirled through a country in a railway-carriage “A bookful blockhead ignorantly read,
or post-chai-e. How much do you know of that With loads of learned lumber in his head.” country in the one case? How much do you
know of the book in the other? A person He is, it may be, a living lexicon, a walking en mentally indolent may be fond of reading. He cyclopædia; but he is motiopless and dead, so may love to read in a recumbent posture until far as practical usefulness is concerned. he falls asleep, every day or night of his life. It
With these cautions and exceptions, endea- might be too much to say that his room resembles vour to find time, if possible, to read every day the famous cave of the god of sleep. But he of your life. Read, if you can, in the morning, furnishes proof in his experience, that the leaves
of a book are as sure an opiate as the petals of greater speed in the end. Interruptions will the poppy, the symbol of that god. Indeed, we become fewer and fewer as you advance. have known those who regularly take a book to But you say that you can understand what hed with them every night, as "a shoe-horn to you read without all this trouble. Perhaps pull on sleep with." Indeed, we have seen a you can; and perhaps the reason is, that you whole family, each with a book in hand, to read those ephemeral productions that require which he seemed to be bowing in devotion, | as little labour to read them as it did to write except one bright young girl, who archly sung: them.
In order thoroughly to understand a work “We are all noddin', nid, nid, noddin';
it is frequently necessary to read it a second or We are all noddin' at our house at home.” even a third time. One of the first scholars of
the age said that "he read Demosthenes three On the supposition that you propose to yourself times before the beauties of that divine author the true end of reading, and are ready to adopt | began to appear.” One part of a work throws the appropriate means to arrive at it, you will į light upon another part. After you have read take care to understand your author thoroughly. the conclusion of a work, you can better underA vague and general impression is not sufficient. stand the commencement. You must bestow the whole vigour of your | Lest I should myself fail of being understood, attention on the words, the phrases, the periods, I will adduce one or two more instances. Supthe paragraphs. If, at the first perusal, you do pose that you should, in conversation, use the Dot understand a passage, peruse it a second word water in the hearing of two persons, the or a third time. If you then fail in discover one a child of six years, and the other an acing its meaning, mark it for examination after complished chemist. Ask the child if he you have read the book through. When you understands what is meant by the word, can do it, be careful to furnish yourself with and he will promptly say: 'Oh! yes.' And yet every necessary help in books of reference such how inadequate is the meaning of the word as as dictionaries, general, classical, and bio- it stands in his mind, compared with that which graphical works on sacred and profane antiqui stands in the mind of the other, who is acties, geography, and chronology.
quainted with that substance in its elements and If a word occurs whose meaning you do not combinations ! know, be careful to refer to your dictionary, even Take another instance. Read the lines of though it may for a moment interrupt the Pope, descriptive of creative power, in the hearcourse of the narrative or the argument. If ing of two persons, one of whom has and the you meet with an allusion to a fact with which other has not reflected on the subject to which it you are unacquainted, immediately turn to your relates : book of reference for the necessary information. For instance, you meet for the first time with “Builds life on death, on change duration founds, the phrase, ultima thule, in a sentence like this : | And bids the eternal wheels to know their rounds." “ In that science, he reached the ultima thule of discovery. Instead of guessing at the im- | To the one, these lines may be little more than port of the phrase, carefully ascertain the mean mere words. To the other, they are full of ing, once for all. Again, you meet for the first meaning. In them, he sees the earth's face time with an allusion to the bow of Ulysses, in renewed by the breath of the Almigbty, and a sentence like this: “He cannot bend the bow nature for ever changing, yet the same for ever, of Ulysses.” Instead of being satisfied with a like the phæpix, springing up into the beauty conjecture, read the story of the suitors of of the present out of the ashes of the past. Penelope, who were put to the test of bending ! Take another instance : the bow of that hero, her husband, and you will understand the point of the allusion, “ So Zembla's rocks, the beauteous work of frost,
But you say that this is a very slow and Rise white in air and glitter o'er the coast : tedious way of reading. Slow it may be, but | Pale suns, unfelt at distance, roll away, not tedious, because your curiosity is constantly And on the impassive ice the lightnings play. awakened and constantly gratified. It is not Eternal snows the growing mass supply, tedious, any more than it is, in travelling | Till the bright mountains prop the incumbent sa through a country, to take time to examine the As Atlas fixed, each hoary pile appears, most grand and beautiful objects in nature and The gathered winter of a thousand years." art. Instead of being tedious, it is the only way of becoming deeply interested in any | The full beauty of this piece you cannot perhighly intellectual and finished work. It is the ceive unless you bring before your mind each only way in which you can transfer the views | brilliant portion of the whole of this winter landof your author to your own mind, and trans | scape. And this you cannot do, unless you! fuso his spirit to your own soul. And as | make yourself acquainted with phenomena of to slowness, you may, on this subject, adopt | a winter beyond the Arctic circle. And even the adage, “The more haste the worst speed.” | then you cannot do it unless you dwell long You proceed more slowly in the first part of | enough upon each image, to give it a distinct your course, in order that you may make the local habitation in the range of your conception. You are to gaze upon each part and on the whole / And when I speak of understanding a work, as you would upon the picture of it on canvas, I do not refer merely to pure intellect, but to all or as you would upon the original scene itself, the faculties that are addressed by the work. looking, one while, upon the glittering ice-moun. Sometimes a subject is presented in the “ dry tain springing from the shore far into the upper light" of the intellect; and sometimes, to use sky, piercing the clouds with its hoary head, another expression of Bacon, it is “ drenched and supporting, like another Atlas, the heavens; in the affections.” In the one case, the intellect and then looking at the sun fast struggling above of the reader is put in requisition; in the other, the edge of the far-off southern horizon, sending his affections likewise. For, instance, Samuel along the intervening ocean bis level, ineffectual | Clarke, whom Voltaire called a "reasoning marays; and then at the lightnings, the “dread chine," writes a book which can be understood arrows of the clouds,” glancing off from the by that reader only who, in the perusa), exunscathed brow of the giant mountain.
erts his reasoning faculty. Another author In the dawn of our intellectual existence, be- writes a work under the guidance of his heart, fore bad mental habits are formed, we adopt the and no one can thoroughly understand it whose true mode of gaining knowledge. The child, heart has not given a lesson to his head. Milton, when a new object is presented, gives up the on the seraph wings of ecstasy, passed the whole of its little mind to its examination. He flaming bounds of space and time; and who can gazes at it with intense interest, carefully survey. | follow him, without the aid of imagination, up ing every part. He applies all his senses, so far to the living throne and the sapphire blaze? as he can, to its examination, when it is within While different writers, in this way, exhibit a his reach. And so strong is his curiosity, that predominance of different faculties, it likewise he will break to pieces what he values, in order is evident that no reader can fully enter into the to discover its properties. In this way he trans- spirit of a work, who does not, in the perusal of fers to his mind a distinct and full image of the it, exert that faculty which is predominant in admired object, which, in the absence of that the author. Indeed, for fully understanding a object, he can gaze upon, in his contemplations, writer and thoroughly entering into his spirit, with the same interest that he could upon the it is necessary for you to give yourself up wholly object itself, if it were present to the bodily eye. into his hands, to put yourself in the same state These images, thus carefully formed in early life of mind, when you read, that he was when he by the faculty of conception, under the guiding wrote. You are in this way to go through the influence of nature, continue distinct and beau- letter into the spirit. Qui paret in litera, paret in tiful in the faithful keeping of memory, uninjured | cortice. by time. In this way, it happens that the young At the same time you are to bestow your ideas, which, under the teachings of nature, shoot attention upon the language which an author forth from the soul in the spring-time of life, employs to embody his thoughts, as well for the are perennial plants, continuing beautiful in leaf purpose of learning what those thoughts are, and in flower under the summer's sun of man- l as for being able to embody your own thoughts hood and in the winter of old age.
| when you shall address others. As language From the teachings of instinct in early life, I is the medium of thought, it is as necessary to reason should learn a lesson to be applied in understand the nature of that medium, as it is maturer years. True, the objects that we exam- to understand the nature of the medium through ine through the medium of words and sentences which you see objects with the bodily eye. In are often intellectual, not sensible. But in order dioptrics, you know that if you view an object to become intimately acquainted with them, there through one glass, it will appear magnified ; must be the same eager and thorough observa-, and through another, it will appear diminished; tion, the same deep enotion, the same curiosity, and through another, it will appear distorted ; which the child exhibits. Indeed, the distinct and through a fourth, it will appear coloured ; perception and full comprehension of abstract and through a fifth, it will appear just as it is, ideas, seen through the dispersive and refractive in form and size and colour. The same is true medium of language, require superior concen- of language in modifying thought. Five men tration of attention, full earnestness of curiosity, will present the same thought in five different and the quickening influence of emotion. If, ways. One will elevate it, another degrade
on the other hand, there is no curiosity felt, it, a third distort it, a fourth colour it, and .. no interest excited, and no vigour of attention, a fifth employ such appropriate language that it is all in vain that the eye traces the words on the reader, at the first view, sees it just as it is. the page.
If you will carefully observe how good authors But you say that you get ideas in this super express themselves, you will from them obtain ficial way. So you may, but they are ideas of such command of language, that, whenever you words, not of things. You may get ideas by have a thought to express, words, like "nimble reading the naked columns of a spelling-book, servitors, will come to their places” at your but not connected thought. When I speak of bidding. understanding a work, I do not refer merely to! I know that some have affected to underrate the words themselves in their lexical significa- | the knowledge of language in comparison with tion, but to their relations in sentences, in para- the knowledge of things. True, there is a difgraphs, in chapters, in the whole, in its general | ference between an idea and the expression of drift and scope.
it; and in order to express it, you must first