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ought to be entirely thankful for them, and entirely ashamed of ourselves, if we make no good use of them ; but we make the worst possible use, if we allow them to usurp the place of true books; for, strictly speaking, they are not books at all, but merely letters or newspapers in good print.
10. A book is essentially, not a talked thing, but a written thing; and written, not with the view of mere communication, but of permanence. The book of talk is printed only because its author cannot speak to thousands of people at once; if he could, he would; the volume is mere multiplication of his voice. You cannot talk to your friend in India; if you could, you would; you write instead : that is mere conveyance of voice. But a book is written, not to multiply the voice merely, not to carry it merely, but to preserve it.
11. The author has something to say which he perceives to be true and useful, or helpfully beautiful. So far as he knows, no one has yet said it; so far as he knows, no one else can say it. He is bound to say it, clearly, and melodiously if he can; clearly, at all events. In the sum of his life, he finds this to be the thing, or group of things, manifest to him; this the piece of true knowledge, or sight, which his share of sunshine and earth has permitted him to seize.
12. He would fain set it down forever, engrave it on rock, if he could; saying, “ This is the best of me; for the rest, I ate, and drank, and slept, loved, and hated, like another; my life was as the vapor, and is not; but this I saw and knew; this, if anything of mine, is worth
your memory.” That is his 6
That is his “writing"; it is, in his small human way, and with whatever degree of true inspiration is in him, his inscription, or scripture. That is a “Book.”
13. Now books of this kind have been written in all ages by their greatest men; by great leaders, great statesmen, and great thinkers. These are all at your choice; and life is short. You have heard as much before; yet have you measured and mapped out this short life and its possibilities? Do you know, if you read this, that you cannot read that; what you lose to-day, you cannot gain to-morrow?
14. Will you go and gossip with your house-maid, or your stable-boy, when you may talk with kings and queens; or flatter yourselves that it is with any worthy consciousness of your own claims to respect, that you jostle with the common crowd for entrée here, and audience there, when all the while this eternal court is open to you, with its society wide as the world, multitudinous as its days, the chosen and the mighty of every place and time?
15. Into that you may enter always; in that you may take fellowship and rank according to your wish; from that, once entered into it, you can never be outcast but by your own fault. By your aristocracy of companionship there, your own inherent aristocracy will be assuredly tested, and the motives with which you strive to take a high place in the society of the living, measured, as to all the truth and sincerity that are in them, by the place you desire to take in this company of the Dead.
LXIX. - TOM BROWN'S LAST VISIT TO RUGBY,
1. In the summer of 1842, Tom Brown stopped once again at the well-known station; and leaving his bag and fishing-rod with a porter, walked slowly and sadly up towards the town. It was now July. He had rushed away
from Oxford the moment that term was over, for a fishing ramble in Scotland, with two college friends, and had been for three weeks living on oatcake and mutton-hams in the wildest part of Skye.
2. They had descended one sultry evening on the little inn at Kyle Rhea ferry, and while Tom and another of the party put their tackle together and began exploring the stream for a sea-trout for supper, the third strolled into the house to arrange for their entertainment. Presently he came out in a loose blouse and slippers, a short pipe in his mouth, and an old newspaper in his hand, and threw himself on the heathery scrub which met the shingle, within easy hail of the fishermen.
3. There he lay, the picture of free-and-easy, loafing, hand-to-mouth young England, “improving his mind,” as he shouted to them, by the perusal of the fortnightold weekly paper, the legacy of the last traveler, which he had hunted out from the kitchen of the little hostelry, and being a youth of a communicative turn of mind, began imparting the contents to the fishermen as he went on.
4. “Hullo, Brown! here's something for you,” called out the reading man. Why, your old master, Arnold of Rugby, is dead.”
Tom's hand stopped halfway in his cast, and his line and flies went all tangling round and round his rod; you might have knocked him over with a feather. Neither of his companions took any notice of him, luck
and with a violent effort he set to work mechanically to disentangle his line. He felt completely carried off his moral and intellectual legs, as if he had lost his standing-point in the invisible world. Besides which, the deep-loving loyalty which he felt for his old leader made the shock intensely painful. It was the first great wrench of his life, the first gap which the angel Death had made in his circle, and he felt numbed, and beaten down, and spiritless.
5. Well, well! I believe it was good for him and for many others in like case; who had to learn by that loss that the soul of man cannot stand or lean upon any human prop, however strong, and wise, and good; but that He upon whom alone it can stand and lean will knock away all such props in his own wise and merciful way, until there is no ground or stay left but Himself, the Rock of Ages, upon whom alone a sure foundation for every
soul of man is laid. 6. As he wearily labored at his line, the thought struck him, “ It may all be false, a mere newspaper lie,” and he strode up to the recumbent smoker. “ Let me look at the paper,” said he.
Nothing else in it,” answered the other, handing it up to him listlessly. “Hullo, Brown! what's the matter, old fellow ? ain't you well?”
“Where is it?" said Tom, turning over the leaves,
his hands trembling, and his eyes swimming, so that he could not read.
“ What? What are you looking for?” said his friend, jumping up and looking over his shoulder.
“ That — about Arnold,” said Tom.
7. “Oh, here,” said the other, putting his finger on the paragraph. Tom read it over and over again; there could be no mistake of identity, though the account was short enough.
“ Thank you,” said he at last, dropping the paper. “ I shall go for a walk : don't you and Herbert wait supper for me.” And away he strode, up over the moor at the back of the house, to be alone, and master his grief if possible.
8. His friend looked after him, sympathizing and wondering, and knocking the ashes out of his pipe, walked over to Herbert. After a short parley they walked together up to the house.
“I'm afraid that confounded newspaper has spoiled Brown's fun this trip.”
“How odd that he should be so fond of his old master!” said Herbert.
9. The two, however, notwithstanding Tom's prohibition, waited supper for him, and had everything ready when he came back some half an hour afterwards. But he could not join in their cheerful talk, and the party was soon silent, notwithstanding the efforts of all three. One thing only had Tom resolved, and that was that he couldn't stay in Scotland any longer; he felt an irresistible longing to get to Rugby, and then home; and