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a thousand more of emotions than he can consciously trace back to them. Dim by their origination, these emotions yet arise in him, and mould him through life like the forgotten incidents of childhood."*
The distinction thus drawn between the literature of knowledge and the literature of power is, however, of uncertain application to many books in which, while the chief object is to impart information of some kind, power is given also; but this is certain that in all literature of a high order—a nation's purest literature, it is power that is given, and not knowledge. But what, it may be asked, is this Power which literature creates in the spirits of men? what is this soul-engendered energy? The knowledgeliterature is measurable, and we can judge of the utility of this or that branch of it, its aptness to this or that man, this or that woman : but the power-literature is immeasurable, because it partakes of the infinite, and passing through and beyond the mere intellect, it dwells in the deep places of the soul. The common products of education are tangible and temporal, but there is a higher education that lifts you into the region of things eternal, “Truths that wake to perish never.” There is an education which deals with acquirements, accomplishments, learning it may be, and, in all this, there may be vast variety and a huge profit, but there will be a transitoriness and withal weariness and vexation of spirit in it.
There is a higher education, which is akin to religion, for it is a ministry of the soul, and deals not so much with what we know as with what we are, what we can do and what we can suffer, and what we may become here and hereafter. Thus it is that there are books of knowledge, and of power-books that make us more knowing, and books that make us wiser, and, in that wisdom, better.
* Essay on Pope, pp. 149, 152. American edition.
This great distinctive principle gives good guidance to us, and it may be made most practical if a little thoughtful discrimination be bestowed in our intercourse with books; instead of apathy on the one hand, or on the other the voracious appetite that takes no heed of the various uses of books. A book may be read merely to talk about, and that is perhaps the meanest thing to read it for: it may be read for amusement, and that may be seasonable and salutary; but it also may be
perpetual rather than a passing joy: it may give health of
for it; the mind's eye may see all the clearer for it. As you close a book, ask yourself what it has done for you; and better, perhaps, than criticism or any outer counsel, shall the silent communings of your heart tell you whether the oracle was a good or an evil one.
I have thus sought to show how, amid the hundreds of thousands of books which are accumulating in the world, we may select as “literature” those which are characterized by the universality of being addressed to man as man; and how, in the next place, we may contract it to a more essential literature, in the books which strengthen rather than store the mind-giving it power rather than apparel; and then, how we may raise it to a purer and higher literature, in the books which, by calling forth the good elements in our being and by chastening the evil ones, give spiritual health, and innocence, and moral power. Let these principles be taken to heart, and let there be some thoughtful and genial intercourse with books, and there comes by degrees what seems almost an instinct to guide us in our companionship with them-leading to the good and truthful, and turning us away from the foolish, the false, and the pernicious. Even moderate experience, let it only be docile, thoughtful, and affectionate, will win for you an almost intuitive sense in judging what books you may take to your heart as friends, and friends for life : it will give also that confidence, most valuable in the days of multitudinous publications, the confidence in determining what books, and they are very many, it is good to be immutably ignorant of.
Reflecting on what a book can do and ought to do for you—how it may act on your mind, and your mind react on it and thus holding communion, you can travel through a wilderness of volumes onward, onward through time, wisely and happily, and with perfect vision of your way, as the woodman sees a path in the forest—a path to his home, while the wanderer, whether standing or staggering, is lost in blind and blank bewilderment.
Literature, according to this conception of it, is to be employed for culture of character-manly character and womanly character. I speak of them separately, not because it is necessary so to do with reference to that which is essential literature, but because attention has lately been drawn to the subject of the social position of woman, and there is heard at least a sound of conflicting opinions and opposing theories. It is a discussion into which I mean not to enter, but only to touch upon in its connection with my present subject. Let me say, in the first place, that I question whether it is proper, or even practicable, so to detach womanhood from our common human nature as to make it a topic of distinct disquisition; it seems to me a little too much like a naturalist's study of some subject in zoology—the form and habits of some other species of created things. Again, as to all controversies respecting the equality of the sexes, or relative superiority or inferiority, I have only to say, that to me they are simply odious,-wrong, I believe,-in faith, in philosophy, and in feeling. Why should our minds be perplexed with modern speculations on this subject, when we have inspired teaching, which, in a few words, if we will but look at them, will show us the whole truth : “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” “God doth not say," observes an old English divine, “it is not good for man to be alone," "he doth not say it is not good for this or that particular man to be alone; but it is not good in the general, for the whole frame of the world, that man should be alone.”* Thus we find the creation of woman, and that providential law which preserves the equal numbers of the sexes, resting on the divinelyinstituted principle of companionship, not alone of marriage, not alone of mother and child, but the manifold companionship of woman, single or married, companionship involving, of necessity, reciprocal dependence, but having nothing to do with equality or superiority or inferiority on one side or the other. There is a law of companionship far deeper than that of uniformity, or equality, or similarity, the law which reconciles similitude and dissimilitude, the harmony of contrast, in which
what is wanting on the one side finds its complement on
Heart with heart and mind with mind,
Through Nature's skill,
More closely still*
* Wordsworth. The Grave of Burns.