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in receipt of two pounds a week to have recourse to champagne and a short residence at the seaside.
In what sense, then, do I use the word imagination? Johnson's dictionary shall answer. I wish you particularly to note the answer Johnson gives as regards the meaning of “ imagination.” He defines it as “ the power of forming ideal pictures;" “ the power of representing absent things to ourselves and to others."
Such is the power which I am going to ask you, confidently, to cultivate in your schools, by your libraries at home, by every influence which I can gain for the cause; and I hope I shall be able to carry you with me and show you why you should cultivate that power. I repeat it is the power of forming ideal pictures and of representing absent things to yourselves and to others. That is the sense in which I shall use the word imagination in the course of my
address. Now follow out this thought and I think I can make my meaning clear. Absent things! Take history. History deals with the things of the past. They are absent in a sense, from your minds--that is to say you cannot see them; but the study of history qualifies you and strengthens your capacity for understanding things that are not present to you, and thus I wish to recommend history to you as a most desirable course of study.
Then again take foreign countries—travels. Here again you have matters which are absent, in the physical sense, from you; but the study of travels will enable you to realize things that are absent to your own minds. And as for the power of forming ideal pictures, there I refer
you to poets, dramatists, and imaginative writers, to the great literature of all times and of all countries Such studies as these will enable you to live, and to move, and to think, in a world different from
the narrow world by which you are surrounded. These studies will open up to you sources of amusement which, I think I may say, will often rise into happiness.
I wish you, by the aid of the training which I recommend, to be able to look beyond your own lives and have pleasure in surroundings different from those in which you move. I want you to be able—and mark this point-to sympathize with other times, to be able to understand the men and women of other countries, and to have the intense enjoyment—an enjoyment which I am sure you would all appreciate-of mental change of scene. I do not only want you to know dry facts; I am not only looking to a knowledge of facts, nor chiefly to that knowledge. I want the heart to be stirred as well as the intellect. I want you to feel more and live more than you can do if you only know what surrounds yourselves I want the action of the imagination, the sympathetic study of history and travels, the broad teaching of the poets, and, indeed, of the best writers of other times and other countries, to neutralize and check the dwarfing influences of necessarily narrow careers and necessarily stunted lives. That is the point which you will see I mean when I ask you to cultivate the imagination. I want to introduce you to other, wider, and nobler fields of thought, and to open up vistas of other worlds, whence refreshing and bracing breezes will stream upon your
minds and souls. And do not believe for a moment I am rather anxious on this point—that the cultivation of this faculty will disgust you or disqualify you for
your daily tasks.
I hold a very contrary view. I spoke just now of mental change of scene; and as the body is better for a change of scene and a change of air, so I believe that the mind is also better for occasional changes of mental atmosphere. I do not believe that it is
good either for men or women always to be breathing the atmosphere of the business in which they are themselves engaged.
You know how a visit to the seaside sometimes brings color to the cheeks and braces the limbs. Well, so I believe that a mental change of scene which I recommend will bring color into your minds, will brace you to greater activity, and will in every way strengthen both your intellectual and your moral faculties. I want you—if I may use the phrase to breathe the bracing ozone of the imagination.
And over what worlds will not fancy enable you to roam the world of the past, ideal worlds, and other worlds beyond your sight, probably brighter worlds, possibly more interesting worlds than the narrow world in which most of us are compelled to live; at all events, different worlds and worlds that give us change.
I am an enthusiast for the study of history and I entreat you to give it as much attention as you can at this place. You will see that my whole argument tends to the study of history and of general literature, not for the sake of the facts alone, not for mere knowledge, but for their influence on the mind. History may be dry and technical if you confine yourself to the chronological order of facts—if you study only to know what actually took place at certain dates.
I am sure we have all suffered from the infliction of skeleton histories—excellent tests of patience, but I am afraid as little exciting to the imagination as any other study in which any one can possibly engage. What I am looking to is rather the coloring of history the familiarity with times gone by, with the characters, the passions, the thoughts and aspirations of men who have gone before us. History with that life and color-and many historians of the present day
write histories which fulfil these conditions—history with that life and color cultivates the imagination as much and better than many
of the best romances. When thus written and when once the reader is fairly launched into it history is as absorbing as a novel and more amusing and interesting than many a tale.
I will be quite candid with you. I am something of a novel reader myself. I admit that I like reading a novel occasionally. The fact is there is one difference between a novel and a history which is in favor of the former at the first start. In a history the first fifty pages are often intolerably dull, and it is the opening which, to use a familiar expression, chokes off half the readers. You generally have some preliminary description--of the state of Europe, for instance, or of the state of India, or the state of France, or some other country at a given time. You don't come to the main pointyou don't come to what interests you at first sight; and thus many persons are frightened off before they thoroughly get into the book, and they throw aside a history and characterize it as being very dull. Now, in a novel you very often begin to enjoy yourself at the very first page.
Still, when I have taken up some interesting history-for instance, lately I have been reading “Kaye's History of the Sepoy War”-and when I have got over the first few introductory pages,
are a little heavy, I say to myself, How is it possible that a man of sense can spend his time on reading novels when there are histories of this absorbing interest which are so vastly more entertaining, so vastly more instructive, and so much better for the mind than any novel? Believe me an intelligent and a systematic study of history contains a vast resource of interest and amusement to all those who will embark in it.
with a very
Let me explain a little more. Histories, if you only deal with chronological details, you may possibly find to be exceedingly like “ Bradshaw's Railway Guide”-very confusing, very uninteresting in themselves, only useful sometimes in enabling you to know how to go from one period to another—to make an historical journey.
Or you might compare these general surveys of history of which I was speaking to a skeleton map of a country of which you know very little. You see the towns noted down. They are but uninteresting spots on the map. They convey nothing to you; they don't interest you. But if you have travelled in that country, if you know the towns mentioned you pore over the map
different interest. It gives you real personal pleasure; your mind and imagination recall the country itself. So you will find that the grand secret to enjoy history is to get beyond the outlines, to be thoroughly familiar with a particular period, to saturate yourselves with the facts, the events, the circumstances, and the personages which belong to a certain time in history.
When you have done this, the men and women of that period become your personal friends; you take an intense delight in their society, and you experience a sense of pleasure equivalent to what is given by any novel. I heard yesterday an anecdote of a lady who had lived a great deal in political circles. She had received from a friend a book about Sir Thomas More. When she had read it she wrote back and thanked the sender of the book, telling him with what delight she had perused it, and adding, “ Sir Thomas More and Erasmus are particularly intimate friends of mine." She was so well acquainted with that period that all that was written about it came home to her heart-she knew it, she had lived