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BOOKS0 AND READING., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 124, 10 July 1880
BOOKSO AND READING.
The following is the original paper read by the Rev. W. Keall, at the entertainment. ' ■ ■ ■ - Southey, tells the story of a' certain Quaker who took a MS. to Franklin to print and publish. Franklin looked over it, and said to the author that it was somewhat deficient in arrangement.- “ It’s no matter,” said the Quaker, “Put any part thou pleasost first.” The reader of this paper almost fears lest he should seem by the broken character of his subject, to lay himself open to a similar criticism. We are frequently told that ours is a reading age, and truly many things indicate that it so. And this is to our credit, for by reading books we educate our thoughts, enlarge our'stock of information, obtain ideas, and secure evergreens and flowers, as well as luscious fruit to the soul. It is essential to read if we would acquire and maintain mental vigor. If we do not read we can never make good our claim to be intelligent. Without reading, our knowledge will ' be superficial and vain. Some men live almost exclusively on what is spoken by their fellow men—they become mere hangers on at public meetings, frothy lectures, and political orations, until in the long run their mental and moral life, is destroyed by spontaneous combustion. To young people, especially, it is a reproach hot to like reading. A disposition to spend ' our spare time in reading good, solid,'and profitable books is one to covet, and such a reader is a blessing io the community. Some one has said that ‘ ‘ books are windows through which the soul looks out.” A house without books is like a room without windows. Though books are not made for house furniture, nothing, can more completely furnish a house. The plainest row of books, on the plainest shelf, is more significant than the most elaborately carved sideboard. Men are not accustomed to buy books unless they need them, and the man who contents himself with cheap; and plain fare that he may be; able , to buy books, commands esteem. He who throws aside the questionable luxuries of pipe, beer, and such things, for the purpose of adding a few volumes yearly to his bookshelves is to be congratulated, for “ he is prudent and dealeth with wisdom.” A library is not a luxury, but one of the necessaries of life. If it is possible for us to purchase books, it is our duty to possess them. To bring up children without surrounding them With books is a ! sin tb them. They learn to read by being in the presence of books. The love of knowledge comes with reading, and grows upon it, and this love in a young mind is almost a warrant against the inferior excitement of passions and vices. But do not be a bookworm. That is a character not' to' be coveted. Some of you may have seen a picture of one irr “The Cottager and Artizan” for 1872. He sits at his study table, bn which several books are piled. Re . is intently reading one. Over his eyes he wears a shade to protect .them from the glare of hislaiiip. His locks are frizzy, as if accidentally singed with the flame of a candle. A pen is behind his ear for the purpose of taking .notes. ,-Helms one elbow* on the table, and the hand propping the chin, while the other hand holds on his eyeglasses. His face is shrunken and shrivelled, and he looks the very picture of selfishness, captiousness, and cynicism. He keeps his knowledge to - himself, and is a mere cold critic—keenly watchful for the slips of speech or pen that others make, and appears as if he will die of indigestion. So, be no mere bookworm. And, now*, having said this much on books and reading, let me add a little on reading aloud. For sociality, pleasure, and improvement, reading aloud is a good practice, and ought to be far more general than it .is. , There would then be leas idle talking, and many precious evening hours that are now wasted in sheer gossip by circles of acquaintances would be well spent if one in the company would take a useful book and read aloud for the good of the rest. That there is so little reading aloud is perhaps partly due to the selfishness of readers. This sin sadly besets many of them. Who 1 hat sees the head of a family indulging in his newspaper at breakfast, and commanding the profoundest silence from all at the table, so that he may the better keep his hews to himself, .but' feels what a lump of selfishness that domestic lord is 1 When a book or paper worm lolls back in his easy chair, with his slippered feet on hob or fender, and a new serial in his hand, he is not just then, accustomed to, experience that "boundless charity divine,” which makes .him exert himself for the instruction and happiness of those in the parlor with him, by offering to read aloud to them. As the miser counts his pelf, and as the glutton snatches the choicest food on the table, so is that swinish joy, which in company devours the intellectual dainties in selfish silence. Whose conscience now says, “Thou art the man ? ” 0, ye mental epicures, whether bachelor chums, husbands, or fathers, when will ye in this particular learn to “ love your neighbor as, , yourselves 1 ” No longer withhold good from 1 them to whom it is due, seeing that it is in the power of thine hand to do it, for this very good reason among others, that in reading aloud “giving does not impoverish you, neither doth withholding enrich you.” You can impart knowledge without impairing your own stock. The light by which one now reads enables all to see, for it fills the place. The reader does not see less clearly because the light which shines on him shines on the audience also. “ As we list to the song of the lark as she flies,” her strains are not 'be less delightful to us because they thrill other ears besides our own. As in reading aloud, the pleasure and instruction •
which the reader derives is not diminished because liis hearers share the same. Another reason we have so little reading aloud, is the fact that but few persons feel they possess the necessary qualifications for imparting pleasure to others by this practice. And being unable to read properly is a very serious objection, but it is not necessarily a fatal one. Yery few persons can so read as to make an audience spell-bound, while their words go forth with power to the understanding and heart. The sins of elocution are many, and easily beset. One person has an indistinct utterance, a second whines, a third drones, a fourth has a nasal twang, and a fifth hesitates. Does not every evening party, testify to these faults if any thing is required to be* read 1 What with weak lungs, squeaking voices, choking , fits, tendency to,' hoarseness, nursery singsong, a waggon-wheel rumble, or a : monotone, it is quickly discovered that no body can read. Still let us not be; hindered from readying aloud. _ Attempt a thing so beneficial.-; If beaten in + he beginning of such practice it need be no disgrace. ‘‘Put- a cheerful' courage on,” let your audience hear what you are reading, mind your stops, and don’t go on for ever. /’ . While reading pleases, but no longer ‘ read. A RMSTRONG.
BOOKS0 AND READING., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 124, 10 July 1880
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