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it also seems inevitable. I wish that some could be devised for them, for these old books make at all events a very dignified and pleasant background, and the fragrance of well-warmed old leather is a delicate thing. But they are not even good places for working in, now that one has one's own books and one's own reading-chair. Moreover, if they were kept up to date, which would in itself be an expensive thing, there would come in the eternal difficulty of where to put the old books, which no one would have the heart to destroy.

Perhaps the best thing for a library like this would be not to attempt to buy books, but to subscribe like a club to a circulating library, and to let a certain number of new volumes flow through the place and lie upon the tables for a time. But, on the other hand, here in the University there seems to be little time for general reading; and indeed it is a great problem, as life goes on, as duties grow more defined, and as one becomes more and more conscious of the shortness of life, what the duty of a cultivated and openminded man is with regard to general reading. I am inclined to think that as one grows older one may read less; it is impossible to keep up with the vast output of literature, and it is hard enough to find time to follow even the one or two branches in which one is specially interested. Almost the only books which, I think, it is a duty to read, are the lives of great contemporaries; one gets thus to have an idea of what is going on in the world, and to realize it from different points of view. New fiction, new poetry, new travels are very hard to peruse diligently. The effort, I confess, of beginning a new novel, of making acquaintance with an unfamiliar scene, of


getting the individualities of a fresh group of people into one's head, is becoming every year harder for me; but there are still one or two authors of fiction for whom I have a predilection, and whose works I look out for. New poetry demands an even greater effort; and as to travels, they are written so much in the journalistic style, and consist so much of the meals our traveller obtains at wayside stations, of conversations with obviously reticent and even unintelligent persons; they have so many photogravures of places that are exactly like other places, and of complacent people in grotesque costumes, like supers in a play, that one feels the whole thing to be hopelessly superficial and unreal. Imagine a journalisti foreigner visiting the University, lunehing at the station refreshment-room, hurrying to half-a-dozen of the best known colleges, driving in a tram through the main thoroughfares, looking on at a football match, interviewing a Town Councillor, and being presented to the Vice-Chancellor – what would be the profit of such a record as he could give us? What would he have seen of the quiet daily life, the interests, the home-current of the place? The only books of travel worth reading are those where a person has settled deliberately in an unknown place, really lived the life of the people, and penetrated the secret of the landscape and the buildings.

I wish very much that there was a really good literary paper, with an editor of catholic tastes, and halfa-dozen stimulating specialists on the staff, whose duty would be to read the books that came out, each in his own line, write reviews of appreciation and not of contemptuous fault-finding, let feeble books alone, and make it their business to tell ordi

same scenes.

nary people what to read, not saving them the trouble of reading the books that are worth reading, but sparing them the task of glancing at a good many books that are not worth reading. Literary papers, as a rule, either review a book with hopeless rapidity, or tend to lag behind too much. It would be of the essence of such a paper as I have described, that there should be no delay about telling one what to look out for, and at the same time that the reviews should be deliberate and careful.

But I think as one grows older one may take out a license, so to speak, to read less. One may go back to the old restful books, where one know3 the characters well, hear the old remarks, survey the

One may meditate more upon one's stores, stroll about more, just looking at life, seeing the quiet things that are happening, and beaming through one's spectacles. One ought to have amassed, as life goes on and the shadows lengthen, a good deal of material for reflection. And after all, reading is not in itself a virtue; it is only one way of passing the time; talking is another way, watching things another. Bacon says that reading makes a full man; well, I cannot help thinking that many people are full to the brim when they reach the age of forty, and that much which they afterwards put into the overcharged vase merely drips and slobbers uncomfortably down the side and foot.

The thing to determine then, as one's brain hardens or softens, is what the object of reading is. It is not, I venture to think, what used to be called the pursuit of knowledge. Of course, if a man is a professional teacher or a professional writer, he must read for professional purposes, just as a coral insect must eat to enable it to secrete the substances out of which it builds its branching house. But I am not here speaking of professional studies, but of general reading. I suppose that there are three motives for reading — the first, purely pleasureable; the second, intellectual; the third, what may be called ethical. As to the first, a man who reads at all, reads just as he eats, sleeps, and takes exercise, because he likes it; and that is probably the best reason that can be given for the practice. It is an innocent mode of passing the time, it takes one out of oneself, it is amusing. Of course, it can be carried to an excess; and a man may become a mere book-eater, as a man may become an opium-eater. I used at one time to go and stay with an old friend, a clergyman in a remote part of England. He was a bachelor and fairly well off. He did not care about exercise or his garden, and he had no taste for general society. He subscribed to the London Library and to a lending library in the little town where he lived, and he bought, too, a good many books. He must have spent, I used to calculate, about ten hours of the twenty-four in reading. He seemed to me to have read everything, old and new books alike, and he had an astonishing memory; anything that he put into his mind remained there exactly as fresh and clear as when he laid it away, so that he never needed to read a book twice. If he had lived at a University he would have been a useful man;

if one wanted to know what books to read in any line, one had only to pick his brains. He could give one a list of authorities on almost every subject. But in his country parish he was entirely thrown away. He had not the least desire to make anything of his stores, or to write. He had not the

one that

art of expression, and he was a distinctly tiresome talker. His idea of conversation was to ask you if you had read a number of modern novels. If he found

you had not read, he sketched the plot in an intolerably prolix manner, so that it was practically impossible to fix the mind on what he was saying. He seemed to have no preferences in literature whatsoever; his one desire was to read everything that came out, and his only idea of a holiday was to go up to London and get lists of books from a bookseller. That is of course, an extreme case; and I cannot help feeling that he would have been nearly as usefully employed if he had confined himself to counting the number of words in the books he read. But, after all, he was interested and amused, and a perfectly contented man.

As to the intellectual motive for reading, it hardly needs discussing; the object is to get clear conceptions, to arrive at a critical sense of what is good in literature, to have a knowledge of events and tendencies of thought, to take a just view of history and of great personalities; not to be at the mercy of therrists, but to be able to correct a faulty bias by having a large and wide view of the progress of events and the development of thought. One who reads from this point of view will generally find some particular line which he intends to follow, some special region of the mind where he is desirous to know all that can be known; but he will, at the same time, wish to acquaint himself in a general way with other departments of thought, so that he may be interested in subjects in which he is not wholly well-informed, and be able to listen, even to ask intelligent questions, in matters with which he has no minute ac

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