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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 can 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 a 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 portions 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 are wanting in him. He has no business to have eyes or
muscles like other men. The universalist alone can put up with him, by reason of the very sympathy of his antipathy. He understands the defect enough to pity, while he dislikes it. The universalist is the only reader who can make something out of books for which he has no predilection. He sees differences in them to sharpen his reasoning; sciences which impress on him a sense of his ignorance; nay, languages which, if they can do nothing else,
eye and set him thinking of other countries. He will detect old acquaintances in Arabic numerals, and puzzle over a sum or a problem, if only to try and taste the curiosity of it. He is the only man (except a soldier or a gardener) to whom an army list or an almanac would not be thoroughly disgusting on a rainy day in a country alehouse, when nothing else readable is at hand, and the coach has gone "just ten minutes.” The zodiacal light of “Francis Moore, Physician," would not be lost on him. He would laugh at the Doctor's verses; wonder who St. Alphage or St. Hugh could have been, as affecting the red-letter days; and see what christian or surnames prevailed in the army, or what personages had authority in those days. The words "Royal Highness the Duke of York” would set him thinking on the good-natured though not astonishing prince, and imagining how hearty a dish of beef-steaks he would have dispatched in the room in which he was sitting
Our compilation, therefore, though desirous to please all who are willing to be pleased, is ambitious to satisfy this sort of person most of all. It is of his childhood we were mostly thinking when we extracted the Schoolmistress. He will thoroughly understand the wisdom lurking beneath the playfulness of its author. He will know how wholesome as well as amusing it is to become acquainted with books like Gil Blas and Joseph Andrews. He will derive agreeable terror from Sir Bertram and the Haunted Chamber ; will assent with delighted reason to every sentence in Mrs. Barbauld's Essay ; will feel himself wandering into solitudes with Gray; shake honest hands with Sir Roger de Coverley; be ready to embrace Parson Adams, and to chuck Pounce out of window, instead of the hat; will travel with Marco Polo and Mungo Park; stay at home with Thomson ; retire with Cowley; be industrious with Hutton ; sympathizing with Shenstone and Mrs. Inchbald ; laughing with (and at) Buncle; melancholy, and forlorn, and self-restored, with the shipwrecked mariner of De Foe. There are Robinson Crusoes in the moral as well as physical world, and even a universalist may be one of them; men, cast on desert islands of thought and speculation ; without companionship; without worldly resources; forced to arm and clothe themselves out of the remains of shipwrecked hopes, and to make a home for their solitary hearts in the nooks and corners of imagination and reading. It is not the worst lot in the world. Turned to account for others, and embraced with patient cheerfulness, it may, with few exceptions, even be one of the best. We hope our volume may light into the hands