Adventures Among Books eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 217 pages of information about Adventures Among Books.

Now, Dr. John Brown was at the opposite pole of feeling.  He had no mawkish toleration of things and people intolerable, but he preferred not to turn his mind that way.  His thoughts were with the good, the wise, the modest, the learned, the brave of times past, and he was eager to catch a reflection of their qualities in the characters of the living, of all with whom he came into contact.  He was, for example, almost optimistic in his estimate of the work of young people in art or literature.  From everything that was beautiful or good, from a summer day by the Tweed, or from the eyes of a child, or from the humorous saying of a friend, or from treasured memories of old Scotch worthies, from recollections of his own childhood, from experience of the stoical heroism of the poor, he seemed to extract matter for pleasant thoughts of men and the world, and nourishment for his own great and gentle nature.  I have never known any man to whom other men seemed so dear—­men dead, and men living.  He gave his genius to knowing them, and to making them better known, and his unselfishness thus became not only a great personal virtue, but a great literary charm.  When you met him, he had some “good story” or some story of goodness to tell—­for both came alike to him, and his humour was as unfailing as his kindness.  There was in his face a singular charm, blended, as it were, of the expressions of mirth and of patience.  Being most sensitive to pain, as well as to pleasure, he was an exception to that rule of Rochefoucauld’s—­“nous avons tous assez de force pour supporter les maux d’autrui.” {2}

He did not bear easily the misfortunes of others, and the evils of his own lot were heavy enough.  They saddened him; but neither illness, nor his poignant anxiety for others, could sour a nature so unselfish.  He appeared not to have lost that anodyne and consolation of religious hope, which had been the strength of his forefathers, and was his best inheritance from a remarkable race of Scotsmen.  Wherever he came, he was welcome; people felt glad when they had encountered him in the streets—­the streets of Edinburgh, where almost every one knows every one by sight—­and he was at least as joyously received by the children and the dogs as by the grown-up people of every family.  A friend has kindly shown me a letter in which it is told how Dr. Brown’s love of dogs, his interest in a half-blind old Dandy which was attached to him, was evinced in the very last hours of his life.  But enough has been said, in general terms, about the character of “the beloved physician,” as Dr. Brown was called in Edinburgh, and a brief account may be given, in some detail, of his life and ways.

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Adventures Among Books from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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