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knows much more than we give him credit for, only it is field-learning, not book-learning—and none the worse for that.
But the man who works in the shop or manufactory has a much more monotonous existence. He is confined, perhaps, to one process or even one part of a process, from year's end to year's end. He acquires, no doubt. a skill little short of miraculous, but on the other hand very narrow.
If he is not himself to become a mere animated machine, he must generally obtain, and in some cases he can only obtain, the necessary variety and interest from the use of books. There is happily now some tendency to shorten the hours of labor, except, indeed, in shops, and, what is less satisfactory, there are times when work is slack. But the hours of leisure should not be hours of idleness; leisure is one of the greatest blessings, idleness one of the greatest curses-one is the source of happiness, the other of misery. Suppose the poor man has for a few days no work, what is he to do? How is he to employ his time? If he has access to a free library, it need no longer be lost.
The reasons for educating our children apply equally to the grown-up. It has been said somewhat cynically, that we must educate our masters; but this does not apply to children only. We have now all over the country good elementary schools. We do our best to educate our children. We teach them to read, and try to give them a love of reading. Why do we do this? Because we believe that no one can study without being better for it, that it tends to make the man the better workman, and the workman a better man. The free library is the school for the grown-up. There is a story that King Alfred when a child once set his heart on a book. “He shall have the book," said his mother," when he can read it"; and by that title Alfred won it. Our children have learned to read; have they not also the same title to books?
Many of those who are not Socialists in the ordinary sense, would be so if they thought Socialism would have the effect which its advocates anticipate. It is because we do not believe that Socialism in that sense would promote “the greatest good of the greatest number” that we
are not Socialists. But the difficulties we feel do not apply to books. It is said that a poor woman, on seeing the sea for the first time, was delighted. “It was grand, she said, “to see something of which there was enough for everybody." Well, there are books enough for every one, and the best books are the cheapest. For the price of a little beer or tobacco we can buy Shakespeare or Milton; in fact, almost as many books as a man can read with profit in a year.
This applies to few other things. We who are er.gaged in “ the puzzle of business” seem always to wish for rather more than we have. But in books fortune showers on us more than we can possibly use.
Some of the wisest of our fellow-creatures have told us that they owed their happiest hours to books. Happy indeed is the man who knows really how to read; he can find comfort, counsel, and companionship in his books. As long ago as the Fourteenth century Richard de Bury, Bishop of Durham, said: “The library, therefore, of wisdom is more precious than of riches, and nothing that can be wished for is worthy to be compared with it. Whosoever, therefore, acknowledges himself to be a zealous follower of truth, and happiness, of wisdom, of science, or even of the faith, must of necessity make himself a lover of books."
We are beginning to realize that education should last through life, that the education of our children should not be a mere matter of grammar and of words, but should include some training of the hand and eye; so, on the other hand, the life of the grown-up man and woman should not be altogether devoted to work with the hands, to the pursuit of money, but they should devote some time to the acquisition of knowledge and the improvement of their minds. It has indeed been well said that if a man has not the elements of happiness in himself not all the beauty and variety, the pleasures and interest, of the world can give it to him. “To one man,” says Schopenhauer, "the world is barren, dull, and superficial; to another rich, interesting, and full of meaning.'
We are trying here in this country to make ours a real civilization. ' A Swiss statesman once said that many of their children were born to a life of poverty, but they were
determined that it should not be one of ignorance also. There are many whose very birth is a sentence of hard labor for life. But that does not apply to the poor only. How many rich people there are whose very money makes them miserable--in whose life there is no rest, no calm, no peace. We cannot in this world avoid sufferings, but if we would, we might rise above them; no one was ever made truly miserable, except by himself. Pietro de Medici is said to have once employed the great Michelangelo to make a statue out of snow. That was a stupid waste of precious time. But if Michelangelo's time was precious to the world, our time is just as precious to ourselves, and yet we too often waste it in making statues of snow and even worse, in making idols out of mire.
No doubt there are many questions which books cannot settle. The Greeks tried to determine many questions by verbal argument which can, in reality, be determined by observation only. There is for instance, an essay in Plutarch's works on the question “Which came first, the bird or the egg?” and one reason for deciding that the hen preceded the egg is that every one calls it "a hen's egg" and no one speaks of “an egg's hen.”
But in urging the multiplication of free libraries, over and above all the solid advantages of study, it is pleasant to think of the many happy hours which would be spent within their walls. So delightful, indeed, are books that we must be careful not to neglect our duties for them; in cultivating the mind we must not neglect the body. Studies are a means, and not an end. Those who will not find time for exercise will have to find time for illness. I have generally observed in life that it is the idle people who complain that they cannot find time to do what they fancy they would like to do. The truth is that we can generally make time for what we really wish to do. It is not so much the time, but rather the will that is wanting, and the advantage of leisure is not that it confers the privilege of idling our time away, but that it gives us the power of choosing our own work for ourselves.
What delightful memories rise out of the very thought of books! Shakespeare, with no less truth than beauty, tells us that:
All places that the eye of Heaven visits
But this is nowhere truer than of a library.
A library is a true fairyland, a very palace of delight, and heaven of repose from the storms and troubles of the world. Rich and poor can enjoy it equally, for here, at least, wealth gives no advantage. You can transport yourself without delay and without expense to any part of the globe, or even in a region of the skies. You can call up the greatest men of the past or the present of this or any other country. Surely to the works of Englishmen, at least, Englishmen have some right. The literature of England is the birthright and inheritance of every Englishman. England has produced, and is producing some of the greatest poets, of philosophers, of men of science. No country can boast a brighter, purer, and nobler literature, richer than our commerce, more powerful than our armies, the true pride and glory of our country. To this literature in every town, where a free library is erected, the very poorest citizen will have access.