Books are to mankind what memory is be the individual. They contain the history of our race, the discoveries we have made, the accumulated knowledge and experience of ages; they picture for us the marvels and beauties of nature, help us in our difficulties, comfort us in sorrow and in suffering, change hours of weariness into moments of delight, store our minds with ideas, fill them with good and happy thoughts, and lift us out of and above ourselves.
Many of those who have had, as we say, all that this world can give, have yet told us they owed much of their purest happiness to books. Macaulay had wealth and fame, rank and power, and yet he tells us in his biography that he owed the happiest hours of his life to books. He says: “If any one would make me the greatest king that ever lived, with palaces and gardens and fine dinners, and wines and coaches, and beautiful clothes, and hundreds of servants, on condition that I should rather be a poor man in a garret with plenty of books than a king who did not love reading.”
Precious and priceless are the blessings which the books scatter around our daily paths. We walk, in imagination, with the noblest spirits, through the most sublime and enchanting regions.
Without stirring from our firesides we may roam to the most remote regions of the earth, or soar into realms when Spender’s shapes of unearthly beauty flock to meet us, where Milton’s angels peal in our ears the choral hymns of Paradise. Science, art, literature, philosophy,---all that man has though, all that man has done,----the experience that has been bought with the sufferings of a hundred generations,---all are garnered up for us in the world of books.