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his office is contained. Him Nature solicits with all her placid, all her monitory pictures. Him the past instructs. Him the future invites. Is not, indeed, every man a student, and do not all things exist for the student's behoof? And, finally, is not the true scholar the only true master ? But, as the old oracle said, “ All things have two handles. Beware of the wrong one." In life, too often, the scholar errs with mankind, and forfeits his privilege. Let us see him in his school, and consider him in reference to the main influences he receives.
I. The first in time and the first in importance of the influences upon the mind is that of Nature. Every day, the sun; and, after sunset, night and her stars. Ever the winds blow; ever the grass grows. Every day, men and women, conversing, beholding and beholden. The scholar must needs stand wistful and admiring before this great spectacle. He must settle its value in his mind. What is nature to him ? There is never a beginning, there is never an end, to the inexplicable continuity of this web of God, but always circular power returning into itself. Therein it resembles his own spirit, whose beginning, whose ending, he never can find,-s0 entire, so boundless. Far, too, as her splendours shine, system on system, shooting like rays, upward, downward, without centre, without circumference,-in the mass and in the particle, Nature hastens to render account of herself to the mind. Classification begins. To the young mind, everything is individual, stands by itself. By and by, it finds how to join two things, and see in them one nature; then three, then three thousand; and so, tyrannised over by its own unifying instinct, it goes on tying things together, diminishing anoma
lies, discovering roots running under ground, whereby con· trary and remote things cohere, and flower out from one
stem. It presently learns that, since the dawn of history, there has been a constant accumulation and classifying of facts. But what is classification but the perceiving that these objects are not chaotic, and are not foreign, but have a law, which is also a law of the human mind? The astronomer discovers that geometry, a pure abstraction of the human mind, is the measure of planetary motion. The chemist finds proportions and intelligible method throughout matter ; and science is nothing but the finding of analogy, identity, in the most remote parts. The ambitious soul sits down before each refractory fact; one after another, reduces all strange constitutions, all new powers, to their class and their law, and goes on for ever to animate the last fibre of organization, the outskirts of Nature, by insight.
Thus to him, to this school-boy under the bending dome of day, is suggested, that he and it proceed from one root; one is leaf and one is flower ; relation, sympathy, stirring in every vein. And what is that Root? Is not that the soul of his soul ?-A thought too bold,-a dream too wild. Yet when this spiritual light shall have revealed the law of more earthly natures,—when he has learned to worship the soul, and to see that the natural philosophy that now is, is only the first gropings of its gigantic hand, he shall look forward to an ever ex panding knowledge as to a becoming creator. He shall see that Nature is the opposite of the soul, answering to it part for part. One is seal, and one is print. Its beauty is the beauty of his own mind. Its laws are the laws of his own mind. Nature then becomes to him the measure of his attainments. So much of Nature as he is ignorant of, so much of his own mind does he not yet possess. And, in fine, the ancient precept, “ Know thyself,” and the modern precept, “ Study Nature," become at last one maxim.
II. The next great influence into the spirit of the scholar, is, the mind of the Past,-in whatever form, whether of literature, of art, of institutions, that mind is inscribed. Books are the best type of the influence of the past, and perhaps we shall get at the truth,--learn the amount of this influence • more conveniently,—by considering their value alone.
The theory of books is noble. The scholar of the first age received into him the world around ; brooded thereon ; gave it the new arrangement of his own mind, and uttered it again. It came into him,-life; it went out from him,-truth. It
came to him, -short-lived actions ; it went out from him, immortal thoughts. It came to him,-business; it went from him,-poetry. It was,—dead fact; now, it is quick thought. It can stand, and it can go. It now endures, it now flies, it now inspires. Precisely in proportion to the depth of mind from which it issued, so high does it soar, so long does it sing.
Or, I might say, it depends on how far the process had gone, of transmuting life into truth. In proportion to the completeness of the distillation, so will the purity and imperishableness of the product be. But none is quite perfect. As no air-pump can by any means make a perfect vacuum, so neither can any artist entirely exclude the conventional, the local, the perishable from his book, or write a book of pure thought, that shall be as efficient, in all respects, to a remote posterity, as to cotemporaries, or rather, to the second age. Each age, it is found, must write its own books; or rather, each generation for the next succeeding. The books of an older period will not fit this.
Yet, hence arises a grave mischief. The sacredness which attaches to the act of creation,—the act of thought,-is instantly transferred to the record. The poet, chanting, was felt to be a divine man; henceforth, the chant is divine also. The writer was a just and wise spirit; henceforward it is settled, the book is perfect, as love of the hero corrupts into worship of his statue. Instantly, the book becomes noxious. The guide is a tyrant. We sought a brother, and lo! a governor. The sluggish and perverted mind of the multitude, always slow to open to the incursions of Reason, having once so opened, having once received this book, stands upon it, and makes an outcry, if it is disparaged. Colleges are built on it. Books are written on it by thinkers, not by Man Thinking ; by men of talent, that is, who start wrong, who set out from accepted dogmas, not from their own sight of principles. Meek young men grow up in libraries, believing it their duty to accept the views which Cicero, which Locke, which Bacon, have given ; forgetful that Cicero, Locke, and Bacon, were only young men in libraries when they wrote these books.
Hence, instead of Man Thinking, we have the bookworm. Hence the book-learned class, who value books, as such ; not as related to Nature and the human constitution, but as making a sort of Third Estate with the world and the soul. Hence the restorers of readings, the emendators, the bibliomaniacs of all degrees.
This is bad ; this is worse than it seems. Books are the best of things, well used ; abused, among the worst. What is the right use? What is the one end which all means go to effect ? They are for nothing but to inspire. I had better never see a book than to be warped by its attraction clean out of my own orbit, and made a satellite instead of a system. The one thing in the world, of value, is the active soul,—the soul, free, sovereign, active. This, every man is entitled to; this, every man contains within him; although, in almost all men, obstructed, and, as yet, unborn. The soul active, sees absolute truth; and utters truth, or creates. In this action, it is genius; not the privilege of here and there a favourite, but the sound estate of every man. In its essence it is progressive. The book, the college, the school of art, the institution of any kind, stop with some past utterance of genius. This is good, say they,
-let us hold by this. They pin me down. They look backward, and not forward ; but genius always looks forward.
The eyes of man are set in his forehead, not in his hindhead. Man hopes. Genius creates. To create,—to create,- is the proof of a divine presence. Whatever talents may be, if the man create not, the pure efflux of the Deity is not his. Cinders and smoke there may be, but not yet flame. There are creative manners, there are creative actions, and creative words; manners, actions, words—that is, indicative of no custom or authority, but springing spontaneous from the mind's own sense of good and fair.
On the other part, instead of being its own seer, let it receive always from another mind its truth, though it were in torrents of light, without periods of solitude, inquest, and selfrecovery, and a fatal disservice is done. Genius is always sufficiently the enemy of genius by over-influence. The literature of every nation bear me witness. The English
dramatic poets have Shakspearized now for two hundred years.
Undoubtedly there is a right way of reading, so it be sternly subordinated. Man Thinking must not be subdued by his instruments. Books are for the scholar's idle times. When he can read God directly, the hour is too precious to be wasted in other men's transcripts of their readings. But when the intervals of darkness come,-as come they must, -when the soul seeth not, when the sun is hid, and the stars withdraw their shining, we repair to the lamps which were kindled by their ray, to guide our steps to the East again, where the dawn is. We hear, that we may speak. The Arabian proverb says, “ A fig-tree looking on a fig-tree becometh fruitful.”
It is remarkable, the character of the pleasure we derive from the best books. They impress us ever with the conviction, that one nature wrote and the same reads. We read the verses of one of the great English poets,—of Chaucer, of Marvell, of Dryden, with the most modern joy,—with a pleasure, I mean, which is in great part caused by the abstraction of all time from their verses. There is some awe mixed with the joy of our surprise, when this poet, who lived in some past world, two or three hundred years ago, says that which lies close to my own soul,—that which I also had wellnigh thought and said. But for the evidence thence afforded to the philosophical doctrine of the identity of all minds, we should suppose some pre-established harmony, some foresight of souls that were to be, and some preparation of stores for their future wants, like the fact observed in insects, who lay up food before death for the young grub they shall never see.
I would not be hurried by any love of system, by any exaggeration of instincts, to underrate the Book. We all know that, as the human body can be nourished on any food, though it were boiled grass and the broth of shoes, so the human mind can be fed by any knowledge. And great and heroic men have existed, who had almost no other information than by the printed page. I only would say, that it needs a strong head to bear that diet. One must be an inventor to read