Adventures Among Books eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 273 pages of information about Adventures Among Books.
we not add Dr. Weir Mitchell?—­Dr. Holmes excellently represents the physician in humane letters.  He has left a blameless and most amiable memory, unspotted by the world.  His works are full of the savour of his native soil, naturally, without straining after “Americanism;” and they are national, not local or provincial.  He crossed the great gulf of years, between the central age of American literary production—­the time of Hawthorne and Poe—­to our own time, and, like Nestor, he reigned among the third generation.  As far as the world knows, the shadow of a literary quarrel never fell on him; he was without envy or jealousy, incurious of his own place, never vain, petulant, or severe.  He was even too good-humoured, and the worst thing I have heard of him is that he could never say “no” to an autograph hunter.


“Enough,” said the pupil of the wise Imlac, “you have convinced me that no man can be a poet.”  The study of Mr. William Morris’s poems, in the new collected edition, {5} has convinced me that no man, or, at least, no middle-aged man, can be a critic.  I read Mr. Morris’s poems (thanks to the knightly honours conferred on the Bard of Penrhyn, there is now no ambiguity as to ’Mr. Morris’), but it is not the book only that I read.  The scroll of my youth is unfolded.  I see the dear place where first I perused “The Blue Closet”; the old faces of old friends flock around me; old chaff, old laughter, old happiness re-echo and revive.  St. Andrews, Oxford, come before the mind’s eye, with

      “Many a place
      That’s in sad case
   Where joy was wont afore, oh!”

as Minstrel Burne sings.  These voices, faces, landscapes mingle with the music and blur the pictures of the poet who enchanted for us certain hours passed in the paradise of youth.  A reviewer who finds himself in this case may as well frankly confess that he can no more criticise Mr. Morris dispassionately than he could criticise his old self and the friends whom he shall never see again, till he meets them

   “Beyond the sphere of time,
      And sin, and grief’s control,
   Serene in changeless prime
      Of body and of soul.”

To write of one’s own “adventures among books” may be to provide anecdotage more or less trivial, more or less futile, but, at least, it is to write historically.  We know how books have affected, and do affect ourselves, our bundle of prejudices and tastes, of old impressions and revived sensations.  To judge books dispassionately and impersonally, is much more difficult—­indeed, it is practically impossible, for our own tastes and experiences must, more or less, modify our verdicts, do what we will.  However, the effort must be made, for to say that, at a certain age, in certain circumstances, an individual took much pleasure in “The Life and Death of Jason,” the present of a college friend, is certainly not to criticise “The Life and Death of Jason.”

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Adventures Among Books from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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