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that thinks for you, but the one which makes you think." It is plain, then, that a "course of reading" may be a great good or a great evil, according to its use. The late Bishop Alonzo Potter, one of the most judicious of literary helpers, offered to readers this sound piece of advice: "Do not be so enslaved by any system or course of study, as to think it may not be altered." However conscious one may be of his own deficiencies, and however he may feel the need of outside aid, he should never permit his own independence and selfrespect to be obliterated. He who reads incessantly," says Milton,
And to his reading brings not
A spirit and judgment equal or superior,
Deep versed in books, but shallow iu himself.
The general agreement of intelligent people as to the merit of an author or the worth of a book, is, of course, to be accepted until one finds some valid reason for reversing it. But nothing is to be gained by pretending to like what one really dislikes, or to enjoy what one does not find profitable, or even intelligible. If a reader is not honest and sincere in this matter, there is small hope for him. The lowest taste may be cultivated and improved, and radically changed; but pretense and artificiality can never grow into anything better. They must be wholly rooted out at the start. If you dislike Shakespeare's "Hamlet," and greatly enjoy a trashy story, say so with sincerity and sorrow, if occasion requires, and hope and work for a reversal of your taste. It's guid to be honest and true," says Burns, and nowhere is honesty more needed than here.
It should always be borne in mind that the busiest reader must leave unread all but a mere fraction of the good books in the world. "Be not alarmed because so many books are recommended," says Bishop Potter; and "do not attempt to read much or fast;" but "dare to be ignorant of many things." There are now 1,100,000 printed books in the library of the British Museum alone; and the library of the Bibliothèque Nationale of Paris contains more than 3,000,000 volumes. Mr. F. B. Perkins, an experienced librarian, estimates that not less than 25,000 new books now appear annually; and yet the reading of a book a fortnight, or say twenty-five books a year, is quite as much as the average reader can possibly achievea rate at which only 1,250 books could be read in half a century. Since this is so, he must be very thoughtless and very timid who feels any shame in confessing that he is wholly ignorant of a great many books; and on the other hand, none but a very superficial and conceited reader will venture to express surprise at the deficiencies of others, when a little thought would make his own so clearly mani fest. In Cowper's words:
Knowledge is proud that he has learned so much;
THE READING HABIT.
There are some persons who are so fortunate as to be unable to tell when they formed the habit of reading; who find it a constant and ever-increasing advantage and pleasure, their whole lives long; and who will not lay itdownso long as they live. There are women and men in the world whose youth and whose old age are so bound up in the reading habit that, if questioned as to its first inception and probable end, they could only reply, like Dimple-chin and Grizzled-face, in Mr. Stedman's pretty poem of "Toujours Amour:" "Ask some younger lass than 1;""Ask some older sage than I." Happy are those whose early surrounding thus permit them to form the reading habit unconsciously; whose parents and friends surround them with good books and periodicals; and whose time is so apportioned, in childhood and youth, as to permit them to give a fair share of it to reading, as well as to study in school, on the one hand, and physical labor, on the other. It is plain that a great duty and responsibility thus rests upon the parents, and guardians, and teachers of the young, at the very outset. It is theirs to furnish the books, and to stimulate and suggest, in every wise way, the best methods of reading.
Just where, in this early formation of the reading habit, absolute direction should end an advice begin, is a matter which the individual parent or guardian must decide for himself, in large measure. Perhaps there is greater danger of too much direction than of too much suggestion. It is well to allow the young reader, in great part, the power of forming his own plans and making his own choice. Of this promotion of self-development Herbert Spencer says: In education the process of self-development should be en couraged to the fullest extent. Children should be led to make their own investigations, and to draw their own inferences. They should be told as little as possible, and induced to discover as much as possible. Humanity has progressed sol ly by self-instruction; and that to achieve the best results each mind rust progress somewhat after the same fashion, is continually proved by the marked success of self-made men. Those who have been brought up under
THE CHOICE OF BOOKS
the ordinary school-drill, and have carried away with them the idea that education is practicable only in that style, will think it hopeless to make children their own teachers. If, however, they will call to mind that the all-important knowledge of surrounding objects which a child gets in its early years is got without help, if they will remember that the child is self-taught in the use of its mother's tongue; if they will estimate the amount of that experience of life, that outof-school wisdom which every boy gathers for himself; if they wili! mark the unusual intelligence of the uncared for London gamin, as shown in all directions in which his faculties have been tasked, if, further, they will think how many minds have struggled up unaided. not only through the mysteries of our irrationally-planned curricu lum, but through hosts of other obstacles besides, they will find it a not unreasonable conclusion, that if the subjects be put before him in right order and right form, any pupil of ordinary capacity will surmount his successive difficulties with but little assistance. Who indeed can watch the ceaseless observation and inquiry and inference going on in a child's mind, or listen to its acute remarks on matters within the range of its faculties, without perceiving that these powers which it manifests, if brought to bear systematically upon any studies within the same range, would readily master them without help? This need for perpetual telling is the result of our stupidity, not of the child's. We drag it away from the facts in which it is interested, and which it is actively assimilating of itself; we put before it facts far too complex for it to understand, and therefore distasteful to it; finding that it will not voluntarily acquire these facts, we thrust them into his mind by force of threats and pun. ishment; by thus denying the knowledge it craves, and cramming it with knowledge it cannot digest, we produce a morbid state of its faculties, and a consequent disgust for knowledge in general, and when, as a result partly of the stolid indifference we have brought on, and partly of still continued unfitness in its studies, the child can understand nothing without explanation, and becomes a mere passive recipient of our instruction, we infer that education must necessarily be carried on thus. Having by our method induced helplessness, we straightway make the helplessness a reason for our method."
After making all needed deductions from the somewhat impatient spirit in which Mr. Spencer here speaks, it can hardly be questioned that the young reader-and most of these suggestions apply equally well to those who begin to read later in life-will do much for himself; and that, on the whole, he stands in greater need of a judicious guide and helper than of a rigorous ruler and taskmaster. Of course, if he lacks both guidance and government, the latter is better than nothing; and there are times when only stern commandment will avail. But the rule should be made in accordance with the large purpose of helpfulness, not with the strict code alone. The reading
habit is a growth, a development, not a creation; and all measures for its cultivation, whether from without or within, should be made with this fact in mind. And where strict and even stern regulation is necessary, that direction will be most profitable which best succeeds in causing itself to be assimilated in the mind of the governed, as a part of that mind, and not as a foreign addition.
Whether the reader, thus helped by wise counsellors, be young or old, he should soon become familiar with the advantage of maki g his reading a part of his daily life. Miss Edith Simcox, one of the wisest of living Englishwomen, thus presses this point; "No part of a child's school knowledge can be safely allowed to remain long detached from its daily life. The history and geography of lesson books must join on to that of the newspapers; it is almost worse to know the name and date of a writer or a hero, without an independ ent familiarity with the nature of his books or actions, than to be frankly ignorant of all at once; and in every branc. of science it is admitted that a knowledge of definitions and formula is useless apart from experimental acquaintance with the actual bodies described. An inaccurate general knowledge, that would not stand the test of examination, may even in some cases have more educational value than a few correct and barren facts; and our educational results will not be thoroughly satisfactory if detailed information is imparted faster than circumstantial impressions about its color and bearing. Mr. Ruskin, too, has recently spoken of the duty of brightening the beginnings of education, and of the evils of cramming, against which, happily, the tide of the best contemporary thought is now setting strongly,- -never to ebb, let us hope Make your children," he says, "happy in their youth; let distinction come to them, if it will, after well-spent and well-remembered years; but let them now break and eat the bread of Heaven with gladness and singleness of heart, and send portions to them for whom nothing is prepared; and so Heaven send you its grace, before meat, and after it.” Of the ne cessity of making attractive the beginnings of reading, Edward Everett Hale says: "In the first place, we must make this business agreeable. Whichever avenue we take into the maze must be one of the pleasant avenues, or else, in a world which the good God has made very beautiful, the young people will go a-skating, or a-fishing, or a-swimming, or a-voyaging, and not a-reading, and no blame to them." How much can be done by others in making the literary path pleasant, is known to the full by those whose first steps were guided therein by a wise father, or mother, or teacher, or friend. How strongly the lack of the helpful hand is felt none who have missed it will need to be told.
But those who must be their own helpers need not be one whit discouraged. The history of the world is full of bright examples of the value of self-training, as shown by the subsequent success won as readers, and writers, and workers in every department of life by
those who apparently lacked both books to read and time to read them, or even the candle wherewith to light the printed page. It would be easy to fill this whole series of chapters with accounts of the way in which the reading habit has been acquired and followed in the face of every obstacle. But a single bit of personal reminiscence may be taken as the type of thousands; not only because of its touching beauty and its telling force, but because it is the latest to be told. To-morrow some other man of eminence will add no less strong tes timony to the possibility of self-education. It is the story told by the Rev. Robert Collyer, who worked his way from the anvil in a little English town, up to a commanding position among American preachers and writers. "Do you want to know,' he asked, how I manage to talk to you in this simple Saxon? I will tell you. I read Bunyan, Crusoe, and Goldsmith when I was a boy, morning, noon, and night. All the rest was task work; these were my delight, with the stories in the Bible, and with Shakespeare when at last the mighty master came within our doors. The rest were as senna to me. These were like a well of pure water, and this is the first step I seem to have taken of my own free wiil toward the pulpit. I took to these as I took to milk, and, without the least idea what I was doing, got the taste for simple words into the very fiber of my nature. There was day school for me until I was eight years old, and then I had to turn in and work thirteen hours a day. From the days when we used to spell out Crusoe and old Bunyan there had grown up in me a devouring hunger to read books. It made small matter what they were, so they were books. Half a volume of an old encyclopædia came along-the first I had ever seen. How many times I went through that I cannot even guess. I remember that I read some old reports of the Missionary Society with the greatest delight. There were chapters in them about China and Labrador. Yet I think it is in reading as it is in eating. when the first hunger is over you begin to be a little critical, and will by no means take to garbage if you are of a wholesome nature. And I remember this because it touches this beautiful valley of the Hudson. I could not go home for the Christmas of 1839, and was feeling very sad about it all, for I was only a boy; and sitting by the fire, an old farmer came in and said: 'I notice thou's fond o' reading, so I brought thee summat to read.' It was Irving's Sketch-Book.' had never heard of the work. I went at it, and was as them that dream.' No sucn delight had touched me since the old days of Cru
I saw the Hudson and the Catskills, took poor Rip at once into my heart, as everybody has, pitied Ichabod while I laughed at him, thought the old Dutch feast a most admirable thing, and long before I was through, all regret at my lost Christmas had gone down the wind, and I had found out there are books and books. That vast hunger to read never left me. If there was no candle, I poked my head down to the fire; read while I was eating, blowing the bellows,