« ZurückWeiter »
out selfishness. Strong as man, and tender as woman,' they welcome you in every mood, and never turn from you in distress. No change of fortune affects their relations to you; neither pro perity nor adversity has any influence on them. They are friends for all times, under all circumstances, and in all places. In joy and sorrow; in health and sickness; in pleasure and tribulation; in weal and woe; in honour and dishonour; in wealth and poverty, their friendship may be relied on, for it is most active when needed most. The voice of the world never reaches their ears, or disturbs their serene ccafidence and trust. to them for help and they give it; you ask them for support and it is never refused; you turn to them for counsel and it is ungrudgingly supplied ; you appeal to them for sympathy and are not rejected. When you are hungering for bread, they do not offer you a stone; when you require aid, they do not depress you with advice; and when all human friends forsake you, they turn not away, but receive you with a heartier welcome, a more genial smile, and a deeper love. The heart of your brother may grow cold towards you, but
the heart of a book is always warm, ready to fold you in the closest embrace, and to help you with its life-reviving heart. Books are not summer friends only, that leave you with the swallows. They remain with you for life, and share with you its merry sunshine, or bide with you “the pelting of the pitiless storm.” In the winter of the heart they are the fastest friends. They are tried and proved by storm and distress, as gold is tried and proved by fire; and they are truer, firmer, stronger and purer for the test. Books are friends whose friendship never fails.
Nor need you fear to lose them from any whim, caprice, temper, or humour on their part. They meet all your whims, caprices, tempers, and humours with a corresponding sympathy. They have no littlenesses which you have to guard against; no prejudices which you have to allow for; no idiosyncrasies about which you have to be uncomfortably careful. They welcome you as you are, and for what you are. Your mood is their mood; and they receive you on equal terms; remain with you as long as you please; are never wearied with your long stay ; nor offended at your abrupt departure. You can talk with them nor fear to be charged with garrulousness; you can weep over them nor dread the accusation of maudlin senility; you can laugh in their presence and they will not rebuke you for frivolity. Their friendship knows no limitation, and never repels your confidence by indifference or coldness. You can resort to them at all times without the fear of intrusion, and reveal the inmost secrets of your heart without the dread of betrayal to check your confessions.
For every grief they will provide a solace, for every sorrow a balm, for every pain an anodyne. To them you can reveal all your hopes and fears, doubts and struggles, aspirations and dreams, and they will not repress you into silence by complaint of your egotism. However bright your hopes they will add a ray of splendour which will increase their brightness; beneath the benign influence of their wisdom fears will diminish or pass away altogether; they will supply you with strength to battle with and conquer your doubts, or to sustain your struggles ; however lofty your aspirations they will unfold empyrean heights which you may yet attain, and will show the
paths which will lead to the fulfilment of your most etherial and fantastic dreams. In the humblest affairs and the lowliest duties they will be with you, cheering, encouraging, and rewarding your toil, friends to the end ; friends unobtrusive, sympathetic, faithful, and never failing. Books are friends which every man may call his
They have no class limitations, no distinctions of rank or caste, no preferences for the wealthy, no subservience for the monarch, no superciliousness for the peasant. They embrace with equal love, and welcome with equal pleasure, the wearers of hodden grey, and those clad in jewelled raiment and fine linen. All they ask is the open eye, the loving heart. To every one possessing these they freely offer their most priceless treasures, their exhaustless wealth, their richest blessings. No other "
open sesame is needed to enter the golden gates which lead to their fruitful gardens and amaranthine bowers, whose flowers and fruit are free for all to gather and enjoy. No comer is refused admittance, no applicant rejected, no pilgrim turned away. Whoever desires is admitted into the divine circle, and is welcomed as a friend by friends who are true not only for life, but for “a Life beyond life.” The friendship of books never dies; it grows stronger by use, increases by distribution, and possesses an immortality of perpetual youth. It is the friendship, not of “dead things,” but of ever-living souls; and books are friends who, under no circumstances, are ever applied to in vain. They can be relied on, whoever else, or whatever else may fail.
A wise man will select his books, for he would not wish to class them all under the sacred name of friends. Some can be accepted only as acquaint
The best books of all kinds taken to the heart, and cherished as his most precious possessions. Others to be chatted with for a time, to spend a few pleasant hours with, and laid aside, but not forgotten. All that is of worth in them extracted and kept in remembrance with thankfulness for what they are, and what they give. These are for the hours when the mind asks a little recreation ; and seeks to be free, for a time, from the necessity of thinking. At such periods of sweet relaxation the lighter kind of books are