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They fasten themselves in the memory by the very flow and cadence of the verse, and they minister to that sense of melody that dwells in every human brain. What the world owes to its great poets can never be fully measured. But some faint idea of it may be gained from the wondrous stimulus given through them to the imaginative power, and from the fact that those sentiments of human sympathy, justice, virtue, and freedom, which inspire the best poetry of all nations, become sooner or later incarnated in their institutions. This is the real significance of the oftquoted saying of Andrew Fletcher, that stout Scotch republican of two centuries ago, that if one were permitted to make all the ballads of a nation, he need not care who should make the laws.

In the best poetry, the felicity of its expressions of thought, joined with their rhythmical form, makes it easy for the reader to lay up almost unconsciously a store in the memory of the noblest poetic sentiments, to comfort or to divert him in many a weary or troubled hour. Hence time is well spent in reading over and over again the great poems of the world. Far better and wiser is this, than to waste it upon the newest trash that captivates the popular fancy, for the last will only tickle the intellectual palate for an hour, or a day, and be then forgotten, while the former will make one better and wiser for all time.

Nor need one seek to read the works of very many writers in order to fill his mind with images of truth and beauty which will dwell with him forever. The really great poets in the English tongue may be counted upon the fingers. Shakespeare fitly heads the list—a world's classic, unsurpassed for reach of imagination, variety of scenes and characters, profound insight, ideal power, lofty eloquence, moral purpose, the most moving pathos, alternating with the finest humor, and diction unequalled for strength and beauty of expression. Milton, too, in his minor poems, has given us some of the noblest verse in the language. There is poetry enough in his L'Allegro and Il Penseroso to furnish forth a whole galaxy of poets.

Spenser and Pope, Gray and Campbell, Goldsmith and Burns, Wordsworth and the Brownings, Tennyson and Longfellow,--these are among the other foremost names in the catalogue of poets which none can afford to neglect. Add to these the best translations of Homer, Virgil, Horace, Dante, and Goethe, and one need not want for intellectual company and solace in youth or age.

Among the books which combine entertainment with information, the best narratives of travellers and voyagers hold an eminent place. In them the reader enlarges the bounds of his horizon, and travels in companionship with his author all over the globe. While many, if not the most, of the books of modern travellers are filled with petty incidents and personal observations of no importance, there are some wonderfully good books of this attractive class. Such are Kinglake's "Eothen, or traces of travel in the East,” Helen Hunt Jackson's "Bits of Travel," a volume of keen and amusing sketches of German and French experiences, the books of De Amicis on Holland, Constantinople, and Paris, those on England by Emerson, Hawthorne, William Winter, and Richard Grant White, Curtis Nile Notes, Howells’ “Venetian Life," and Taine's "Italy, Rome and Naples."

The wide domain of science can be but cursorily touched upon. Many readers get so thorough a distaste for science in early life—mainly from the fearfully and wonderfully dry text-books in which our schools and colleges have abounded—that they never open a scientific book in later years. This is a profound mistake, since no one can afford to remain ignorant of the world in which we live, with its


myriad wonders, its inexhaustible beauties, and its unsolved problems. And there are now works produced in every department of scientific research which give in a popular and often in a fascinating style, the revelations of nature which have come through the study and investigation of man. Such books are “The Stars and the Earth,” Kingsley's “Glaucus, or Wonders of the Shore,” Clodd's “Story of Creation,” (a clear account of the evolution theory) Figuier's "Vegetable World,” and Professor Langley's "New Astronomy.” There are wise specialists whose published labors have illuminated for the uninformed reader every nook and province of the mysteries of creation, from the wing of a beetle to the orbits of the planetary worlds. There are few pursuits more fascinating than those that bring us acquainted with the secrets of nature, whether dragged up from the depths of the sea, or demonstrated in the substance and garniture of the green earth, or wrung from the far-off worlds in the shining heavens.

A word only can be spared to the wide and attractive realm of fiction. In this field, those are the best books which have longest kept their hold upon the public mind. It is a wise plan to neglect the novels of the year, and to read (or to re-read in many cases) the master-pieces which have stood the test of time, and criticism, and changing fashions, by the sure verdict of a call for continually new editions. Ouida and Trilby may endure for a day, but Thackeray and Walter Scott are perennial. It is better to read a fine old book through three times, than to read three new books through once.

Of books more especially devoted to the history of literature, in times ancient and modern, and in various nations, the name is legion. I count up, of histories of English literature alone (leaving out the American) no less than one hundred and thirty authors on this great field or some portion of it. To know what ones of these to study, and what to leave alone, would require critical judgment and time not at my command. I can only suggest a few known by me to be good. For a succinct yet most skilfully written summary of English writers, there is no book that can compare with Stopford A. Brooke's Primer of English Literature. For more full and detailed treatment, Taine's History of English Literature, or Chambers' Cyclopaedia of English Literature, two volumes, with specimens of the writers of every period, are the best. E. C. Stedman's Victorian Poets is admirable, as is also his Poets of America. For a bird's eye view of American authors and their works, C. F. Richardson's Primer of American Literature can be studied to advantage, while for more full reference to our authors, with specimens of each, Stedman's Library of American Literature in eleven volumes, should be consulted. M. C. Tyler's very interesting critical History of the Early American Literature, so little known, comes down in its fourth volume only to the close of the revolution in 1783.

For classical literature, the importance of a good general knowledge of which can hardly be overrated, J. P. Mahaffy's History of Greek Literature, two volumes, and G. A. Simcox's Latin Literature, two volumes, may be commended. On the literature of modern languages, to refer only to works written in English, Saintsbury's Primer of French Literature is good, and R. Garnett's History of Italian Literature is admirable (by the former Keeper of Printed Books in the British Museum Library). Lublin's Primer of German Literature is excellent for a condensed survey of the writers of Germany, while W. Scherer's History of German Literature, two volumes, covers a far wider field. For Spanish Literature in its full extent, there is no work at all equal to George Ticknor's three volumes,

but for a briefer history, H. B. Clark's Hand-book of Spanish Literature, London, 1893, may be used.

I make no allusion here to the many works of reference in the form of catalogues and bibliographical works, which may be hereafter noted. My aim has been only to indicate the best and latest treatises covering the leading literatures of the world, having no space for the Scandinavian, Dutch, Portuguese, Russian, or any of the Slavonic or oriental tongues.

Those who find no time for studying the more extended works named, will find much profit in devoting their hours to the articles in the Encyclopaedia Britannica upon the literatures of the various countries. These are within reach of everyone.

The select list of books named in this chapter does not by any means aim to cover those which are well worth reading; but only to indicate a few, a very few, of the best. It is based on the supposition that intelligent readers will give far less time to fiction than to the more solid food of history, biography, essays, travels, literary history, and applied science. The select list of books in the fields already named is designed to include only the most improving and well-executed works. Many will not find their favorites in the list, which is purposely kept within narrow limits, as a suggestion only of a few of the best books for a home library or for general reading. You will find it wise to own, as early in life as possible, a few of the choicest productions of the great writers of the world. Those who can afford only a selection from a selection, can begin with never so few of the authors most desired, or which they have not already, putting in practice the advice of Shakespeare:

“In brief, sir, study what you most affect.” Says John Ruskin: “I would urge upon every young man

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