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to say, is it from any fear of being unable to sustain it; for we have seen perhaps as many appalling faces of things in our time as they have, and we are always ready to confront more if duty demand it. But we do not choose to be always suffering over again in books what we have suffered in the world. We prefer, when in a state of repose, to renew what we have enjoyed_to possess wholly what we enjoy still to discern in the least and gentlest things the greatest and sweetest intentions of Nature—and to cultivate those soothing, serene, and affectionate feelings, which leave us in peace . with all the world, and in good hope of the world to come. The very greatest genius, after all, is not the greatest thing in the world, any more than the greatest city in the world is the country or the sky. It is a concentration of some of its greatest powers, but it is not the greatest diffusion of its might. It is not the habit of its success, the stability of its sereneness. And this is what readers like ourselves desire to feel and know. The greatest use of genius is but to subserve to that end; to further the means of enjoying it, and to freshen and keep it pure; as the winds and thunders, which come rarely, are purifiers of the sweet fields, which are abiding
The book, therefore, as originally contemplated, was to consist principally, besides the pieces mentioned, of such others as Cowley's Garden, Wotton's Happy Life, the favourite passages about the country from Horace and Virgil, Claudian's Old Man of Verona, Pope's Ode on Solitude, a selection from the Coverley papers in the Spectator, Thom
son's Castle of Indolence, Letters of Gray, Virgil's Gnat out of Spenser; and, though we have several editions of the work constantly by us, we think we could not have denied ourselves the pleasure of having something out of the Arabian Nights. Our Sequestered Book (for such, in our mind, we called it) would hardly have seemed complete without a chapter or two about Sindbad or the Forty Thieves, or the retirement of the Fairy Banou. The book was to have been addressed entirely to lovers of sequestered pleasures, and chiefly to such as were in the decline of life, or poetically beginning it.
When the volume, however, came to be considered with a view to publication, objections were made to the smallness of its size, and the probable fewness of its readers. Had we been rich, we should have parried the objection, and sent forth a volume at any rate, with the contents of which the few would have been pleased. We consoled ourselves with reflecting that we had other favourite passages which could be included in a larger book; and an extension of the plan now struck us, which in the eyes of many readers, perhaps of most, would in all probability improve it. This was, to suppose our sequestered reader thinking, not merely of the pleasures of his childhood or of his old age, but of his whole life, past or to come, and thus calling to mind passages from favourite authors of all kinds in illustration of its successive phases. The spirit of the first conception was still, however, to be carefully retained. Life, without effeminately shutting one's eyes to its perplexities, was to be re
garded, not in spleen, or in sorrow, or in narrowness of any kind, but with a cheerfulness befitting childhood, a manliness befitting a man, and with that calm and loving wisdom in age
which discerns so much beauty and goodness in the face of Nature, that it cannot doubt the benevolence of her soul.
Hence the inclusion in the present volume of knaveries and other half-witted activities out in the world, and of terrors and tragedies in solitude. Hence extracts from Le Sage and Fielding, from Steele, Smollett, Goldsmith, Mrs. Radcliffe, and others.
We have imagined a book-loving man, or man able to refresh himself with books, at every successive period of his life ;-the child at his primer, the sanguine boy, the youth entering the world, the man in the thick of it, the man of alternate business and repose, the retired man calmly considering his birth and his death; and in this one human being we include, of course, the whole race and both sexes, mothers, wives, and daughters, and all which they do to animate and sweeten existence. Thus our invisible, or rather many-bodied hero (who is the reader himself), is in the first instance a baby; then a child under the Schoolmistress of Shenstone; then the schoolboy with Gray and Walpole, reading poetry and romance; then Gil Blas entering the world; then the sympathiser with the John Buncles who enjoy it, and the Travellers who fill it with enterprise; then the matured man beginning to talk of disappointments, and standing in need of admonition Against
Inconsistency in his Expectations; then the reassured man comforted by his honesty and his just hopes, and refreshing himself with his Club or his country-lodging, his pictures, or his theatre; then the retiring, or retired, or finally old man, looking back with tenderness on his enjoyments, with regret for his errors, with comfort in his virtues, and with a charity for all men, which gives him a right to the comfort ; loving all the good things he ever loved, particularly the books which have been his companions and the childhood which he meets again in the fields; and neither wishing nor fearing to be gathered into that kindly bosom of Nature, which covers the fields with flowers, and is encircled with the heavens.
The reader, however, is not to suppose that any attention to this plan of the book is exacted of him. Such a demand would be a pedantry and a folly. It is only suggested to him in case he may like it, and for the purpose of showing that we set nothing before him which does not possess a principle of order. He may regard the book, if more convenient to do so, as a mere set of extracts with comments, or of extracts alone, not requiring comments. Our sequestered book was to have been without comments; and we should have been well content, had none been desired for this. There is a pleasure, it is true, in expressing love and admiration, and in hoping that we contribute to the extension of such feelings in the world; but we oan truly say, that we seldom quote a fine passage, and comment upon it at any length, without wishing that everybody had
been as well acquainted with it as ourselves, and could dispense with the recommendation. All we expect of the reader is that he should like the extracts on which the comments are made. If he does not do that, he has no business to be a reader of the book, or perhaps to be ai reader at all. At least he is no universalist; no sympathiser with the entire and genial round of existence ;; and it is for the reader who is, that these volumes are emphatically intended.
A universalist, in one high bibliographical respect, may be said to be the only true reader;' for he is the only reader on whom no writing is lost. Too many people approve no books but such as are representatives of some opinion or passion of their own. They read, not to have human nature reflected on them, and so be taught to know and to love everything, but to be reflected themselves as in a pocket mirror, and so interchange admiring looks with their own narrow cast of countenance. The universalist alone puts up with difference of opinion, by reason of his own very difference; because his difference is a right claimed by him in the spirit of universal allowance, and not a privilege arrogated by conceit. He loves poetry and prose, fiction and matter of fact, seriousness and mirth; because he is a thorough human being, and contains por: tions of all the faculties to which they appeal. - A man who can be nothing but serious, or nothing but merry, is but half a man. The lachrymal or the risible organs aré wanting in him. He has no business" to have eyes of