Сборники Художественной, Технической, Справочной, Английской, Нормативной, Исторической, и др. литературы.



 I care not how humble your bookshelf may
be, nor how lowly the room which it adorns.
Close the door of that room behind you, shut
off with it all the cares of the outer world,
plunge back into the soothing company of the
great dead, and then you are through the
magic portal into that fair land whither worry
and vexation can follow you no more. You
have left all that is vulgar and all that is sordid
behind you. There stand your noble, silent
comrades, waiting in their ranks. Pass your
eye down their files. Choose your man. And
then you have but to hold up your hand to
him and away you go together into dreamland.
Surely there would be something eerie about
a line of books were it not that familiarity has
deadened our sense of it. Each is a mummified
soul embalmed in cere-cloth and natron
of leather and printer's ink. Each cover of a
true book enfolds the concentrated essence of
a man. The personalities of the writers have
faded into the thinnest shadows, as their bodies
into impalpable dust, yet here are their very
spirits at your command.

 It is our familiarity also which has lessened
our perception of the miraculous good
fortune which we enjoy. Let us suppose that
we were suddenly to learn that Shakespeare
had returned to earth, and that he would
favour any of us with an hour of his wit and
his fancy. How eagerly we would seek him
out! And yet we have him---the very best
of him---at our elbows from week to week,
and hardly trouble ourselves to put out our
hands to beckon him down. No matter what
mood a man may be in, when once he has
passed through the magic door he can summon
the world's greatest to sympathize with
him in it. If he be thoughtful, here are the
kings of thought. If he be dreamy, here are
the masters of fancy. Or is it amusement
that he lacks? He can signal to any one of
the world's great story-tellers, and out comes
the dead man and holds him enthralled by the
hour. The dead are such good company that
one may come to think too little of the living.
It is a real and a pressing danger with many
of us, that we should never find our own
thoughts and our own souls, but be ever obsessed
by the dead. Yet second-hand romance
and second-hand emotion are surely better
than the dull, soul-killing monotony which
life brings to most of the human race. But
best of all when the dead man's wisdom and
strength in the living of our own strenuous

 Come through the magic door with me,
and sit here on the green settee, where you
can see the old oak case with its untidy lines
of volumes. Smoking is not forbidden.
Would you care to hear me talk of them?
Well, I ask nothing better, for there is no
volume there which is not a dear, personal
friend, and what can a man talk of more
pleasantly than that? The other books are
over yonder, but these are my own favourites
---the ones I care to re-read and to have near
my elbow. There is not a tattered cover
which does not bring its mellow memories
to me.

 Some of them represent those little sacrifices
which make a possession dearer. You
see the line of old, brown volumes at the
bottom? Every one of those represents a
lunch. They were bought in my student days,
when times were not too affluent. Threepence
was my modest allowance for my midday sandwich
and glass of beer; but, as luck would
have it, my way to the classes led past the
most fascinating bookshop in the world. Outside
the door of it stood a large tub filled with
an ever-changing litter of tattered books, with
a card above which announced that any volume
therein could be purchased for the identical
sum which I carried in my pocket. As I approached
it a combat ever raged betwixt the
hunger of a youthful body and that of an inquiring
and omnivorous mind. Five times out of
six the animal won. But when the mental
prevailed, then there was an entrancing five
minutes' digging among out-of-date almanacs,
volumes of Scotch theology, and tables of logarithms,
until one found something which made
it all worth while. If you will look over these
titles, you will see that I did not do so very
badly. Four volumes of Gordon's ``Tacitus''
(life is too short to read originals, so long
as there are good translations), Sir William
Temple's Essays, Addison's works, Swift's
``Tale of a Tub,'' Clarendon's ``History,''
``Gil Blas,'' Buckingham's Poems, Churchill's
Poems, ``Life of Bacon''---not so bad for
the old threepenny tub.

 They were not always in such plebeian company.
Look at the thickness of the rich
leather, and the richness of the dim gold
lettering. Once they adorned the shelves of
some noble library, and even among the odd
almanacs and the sermons they bore the traces
of their former greatness, like the faded silk
dress of the reduced gentlewoman, a present
pathos but a glory of the past.

 Reading is made too easy nowadays, with
cheap paper editions and free libraries. A
man does not appreciate at its full worth the
thing that comes to him without effort. Who
now ever gets the thrill which Carlyle felt
when he hurried home with the six volumes
of Gibbon's ``History'' under his arm, his
mind just starving for want of food, to devour
them at the rate of one a day? A book should
be your very own before you can really get the
taste of it, and unless you have worked for it,
you will never have the true inward pride of

 If I had to choose the one book out of all
that line from which I have had most pleasure
and most profit, I should point to yonder
stained copy of Macaulay's ``Essays.'' It
seems entwined into my whole life as I look
backwards. It was my comrade in my student
days, it has been with me on the sweltering
Gold Coast, and it formed part of my humble
kit when I went a-whaling in the Arctic.
Honest Scotch harpooners have addled their
brains over it, and you may still see the grease
stains where the second engineer grappled
with Frederick the Great. Tattered and dirty
and worn, no gilt-edged morocco-bound volume
could ever take its place for me.

 What a noble gateway this book forms
through which one may approach the study
either of letters or of history! Milton,
Machiavelli, Hallam, Southey, Bunyan,
Byron, Johnson, Pitt, Hampden, Clive, Hastings,
Chatham---what nuclei for thought!
With a good grip of each how pleasant and
easy to fill in all that lies between! The short,
vivid sentences, the broad sweep of allusion,
the exact detail, they all throw a glamour
round the subject and should make the least
studious of readers desire to go further. If
Macaulay's hand cannot lead a man upon those
pleasant paths, then, indeed, he may give up
all hope of ever finding them.

 When I was a senior schoolboy this book
---not this very volume, for it had an even
more tattered predecessor---opened up a new
world to me. History had been a lesson
and abhorrent. Suddenly the task and the
drudgery became an incursion into an enchanted
land, a land of colour and beauty,
with a kind, wise guide to point the path.
In that great style of his I loved even the
faults---indeed, now that I come to think of
it, it was the faults which I loved best. No
sentence could be too stiff with rich embroidery,
and no antithesis too flowery. It
pleased me to read that ``a universal shout
of laughter from the Tagus to the Vistula informed
the Pope that the days of the crusades
were past,'' and I was delighted to learn that
``Lady Jerningham kept a vase in which
people placed foolish verses, and Mr. Dash
wrote verses which were fit to be placed in
Lady Jerningham's vase.'' Those were the
kind of sentences which used to fill me with
a vague but enduring pleasure, like chords
which linger in the musician's ear. A man
likes a plainer literary diet as he grows older,
but still as I glance over the Essays I am filled
with admiration and wonder at the alternate
power of handling a great subject, and of adorning
it by delightful detail---just a bold sweep of
the brush, and then the most delicate stippling.
As he leads you down the path, he for ever
indicates the alluring side-tracks which branch
away from it. An admirable, if somewhat old-fashioned,
literary and historical education
night be effected by working through every
book which is alluded to in the Essays. I should
be curious, however, to know the exact age of
the youth when he came to the end of his

 I wish Macaulay had written a historical
novel. I am convinced that it would have
been a great one. I do not know if he had
the power of drawing an imaginary character,
but he certainly had the gift of reconstructing
a dead celebrity to a remarkable degree. Look
at the simple half-paragraph in which he gives
us Johnson and his atmosphere. Was ever a
more definite picture given in a shorter space---

 ``As we close it, the club-room is before
us, and the table on which stand the omelet
for Nugent, and the lemons for Johnson.
There are assembled those heads which live
for ever on the canvas of Reynolds. There
are the spectacles of Burke, and the tall thin
form of Langton, the courtly sneer of Beauclerk
and the beaming smile of Garrick, Gibbon
tapping his snuff-box, and Sir Joshua with
his trumpet in his ear. In the foreground is
that strange figure which is as familiar to us
as the figures of those among whom we have
been brought up---the gigantic body, the huge
massy face, seamed with the scars of disease,
the brown coat, the black worsted stockings,
the grey wig with the scorched foretop, the
dirty hands, the nails bitten and pared to the
quick. We see the eyes and mouth moving
with convulsive twitches; we see the heavy
form rolling; we hear it puffing, and then
comes the `Why, sir!' and the `What then,
sir?' and the `No, sir!' and the `You
don't see your way through the question,
sir! ' ''

 It is etched into your memory for ever.

 I can remember that when I visited London
at the age of sixteen the first thing I did after
housing my luggage was to make a pilgrimage
to Macaulay's grave, where he lies in Westminster
Abbey, just under the shadow of Addison,
and amid the dust of the poets whom he
had loved so well. It was the one great object
of interest which London held for me. And
so it might well be, when I think of all I owe
him. It is not merely the knowledge and the
stimulation of fresh interests, but it is the
charming gentlemanly tone, the broad, liberal
outlook, the general absence of bigotry and of
prejudice. My judgment now confirms all
that I felt for him then.

 My four-volume edition of the History
stands, as you see, to the right of the Essays.
Do you recollect the third chapter of that
work---the one which reconstructs the England
of the seventeenth century? It has always
seemed to me the very high-water mark
of Macaulay's powers, with its marvellous
mixture of precise fact and romantic phrasing.
The population of towns, the statistics of
commerce, the prosaic facts of life are all
transmuted into wonder and interest by the
handling of the master. You feel that he
could have cast a glamour over the multiplication
table had he set himself to do so. Take
a single concrete example of what I mean.
The fact that a Londoner in the country, or
a countryman in London, felt equally out of
place in those days of difficult travel, would
seem to hardly require stating, and to afford
no opportunity of leaving a strong impression
upon the reader's mind. See what Macaulay
makes of it, though it is no more. than a hundred
other paragraphs which discuss a hundred
various points---

 ``A cockney in a rural village was stared
at as much as if he had intruded into a kraal
of Hottentots. On the other hand, when the
lord of a Lincolnshire or Shropshire manor
appeared in Fleet Street, he was as easily
distinguished from the resident population as
a Turk or a Lascar. His dress, his gait, his
accent, the manner in which he gazed at the
shops, stumbled into gutters, ran against the
porters, and stood under the waterspouts,
marked him out as an excellent subject for
the operations of swindlers and banterers.
Bullies jostled him into the kennel, Hackney
coachmen splashed him from head to foot,
thieves explored with perfect security the huge
pockets of his horseman's coat, while he stood
entranced by the splendour of the Lord Mayor's
Show. Money-droppers, sore from the cart's
tail, introduced themselves to him, and appeared
to him the most honest friendly gentlemen
that he had ever seen. Painted women,
the refuse of Lewkner Lane and Whetstone
Park, passed themselves on him for countesses
and maids of honour. If he asked his way to
St. James', his informants sent him to Mile
End. If he went into a shop, he was instantly
discerned to be a fit purchaser of everything
that nobody else would buy, of second-hand
embroidery, copper rings, and watches that
would not go. If he rambled into any fashionable
coffee-house, he became a mark for
the insolent derision of fops, and the grave
waggery of Templars. Enraged and mortified,
he soon returned to his mansion, and
there, in the homage of his tenants and the
conversation of his boon companions, found
consolation for the vexations and humiliations
which he had undergone. There he was once
more a great man, and saw nothing above himself
except when at the assizes he took his seat
on the bench near the Judge, or when at the
muster of the militia he saluted the Lord Lieutenant.''

 On the whole, I should put this detached
chapter of description at the very head of his
Essays, though it happens to occur in another
volume. The History as a whole does not, as
it seems to me, reach the same level as the
shorter articles. One cannot but feel that it
is a brilliant piece of special pleading from a
fervid Whig, and that there must be more to
be said for the other side than is there set forth.
Some of the Essays are tinged also, no doubt,
by his own political and religious limitations.
The best are those which get right away into
the broad fields of literature and philosophy.
Johnson, Walpole, Madame D'Arblay, Addison,
and the two great Indian ones, Clive
and Warren Hastings, are my own favourites.
Frederick the Great, too, must surely stand
in the first rank. Only one would I wish to
eliminate. It is the diabolically clever criticism
upon Montgomery. One would have
wished to think that Macaulay's heart was
too kind, and his soul too gentle, to pen so
bitter an attack. Bad work will sink of its
own weight. It is not necessary to souse
the author as well. One would think more
highly of the man if he had not done that
savage bit of work.

 I don't know why talking of Macaulay always
makes me think of Scott, whose books
in a faded, olive-backed line, have a shelf,
you see, of their own. Perhaps it is that they
both had so great an influence, and woke such
admiration in me. Or perhaps it is the real
similarity in the minds and characters of the
two men. You don't see it, you say? Well,
just think of Scott's ``Border Ballads,'' and
then of Macaulay's ``Lays.'' The machines
must be alike, when the products are so similar.
Each was the only man who could possibly
have written the poems of the other.
What swing and dash in both of them! What
a love of all that is and noble and martial!
So simple, and yet so strong. But there
are minds on which strength and simplicity
are thrown away. They think that unless a
thing is obscure it must be superficial, whereas
it is often the shallow stream which is turbid,
and the deep which is clear. Do you
remember the fatuous criticism of Matthew
Arnold upon the glorious ``Lays,'' where he
calls out ``is this poetry?'' after quoting---

  ``And how can man die better
    Than facing fearful odds
   For the ashes of his fathers
    And the Temples of his Gods?''

In trying to show that Macaulay had not
the poetic sense he was really showing that
he himself had not the dramatic sense. The
baldness of the idea and of the language had
evidently offended him. But this is exactly
where the true merit lies. Macaulay is giving
the rough, blunt words with which a simple-minded
soldier appeals to two comrades to
help him in a deed of valour. Any high-flown
sentiment would have been absolutely
out of character. The lines are, I think, taken
with their context, admirable ballad poetry,
and have just the dramatic quality and sense
which a ballad poet must have. That opinion
of Arnold's shook my faith in his judgment,
and yet I would forgive a good deal to the
man who wrote---

   ``One more charge and then be dumb,
     When the forts of Folly fall,
    May the victors when they come
     Find my body near the wall.'

Not a bad verse that for one's life aspiration.

 This is one of the things which  human
society has not yet understood---the value of
a noble, inspiriting text. When it does we
shall meet them everywhere engraved on appropriate
places, and our progress through the
streets will be brightened and ennobled by one
continual series of beautiful mental impulses
and images, reflected into our souls from the
printed thoughts which meet our eyes. To
think that we should walk with empty, listless
minds while all this splendid material is running
to waste. I do not mean mere Scriptural
texts, for they do not bear the same meaning
to all, though what human creature can fail to
be spurred onwards by ``Work while it is
day, for the night cometh when no man can
work.'' But I mean those beautiful thoughts---
who can say that they are uninspired thoughts?
---which may be gathered from a hundred
authors to match a hundred uses. A fine
thought in fine language is a most precious
jewel, and should not be hid away, but be
exposed for use and ornament. To take the
nearest example, there is a horse-trough across
the road from my house, a plain stone trough,
and no man could pass it with any feelings
save vague discontent at its ugliness. But
suppose that on its front slab you print the
verse of Coleridge---

 ``He prayeth best who loveth best
   All things, both great and small
  For the dear Lord who fashioned him
   He knows and loveth all.''

I fear I may misquote, for I have not ``The
Ancient Mariner'' at my elbow, but even as it
stands does it not elevate the horse-trough?
We all do this, I suppose, in a small way for
ourselves. There are few men who have not
some chosen quotations printed on thei

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