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famous writers and orators who can never be forgotten.
“In my library,” he was wont to say, “I am ten paces from Homer, though there are thirty centuries of human life between us. I can recall Aristophanes on the instant, to give me all the witty chaff of Athens. Here is my favourite philosophic poet Lucretius; here also my favourite amorous poet Catullus; both ready to give me their ideas if only I am fortunate enough to understand them. Shakspeare will step from that shelf when I ask him, surrounding me with such strong humanity and strange romance as never came beneath wand of any other enchanter. Even the spirits of men still living are summoned at my will. I sit here as a magician beyond the reach of unpleasantness from without, and with infinite intellectual wealth inside."
That he was inconsistent with himself is manifest, but the best men have their inconsistencies. He said this, or something like it, to Dr. John Sterne. The Doctor was a very humorous fellow, and a very able physician. Humour and ability are frequent partners. Many a fool, of each sex, has been cured of imaginary illness by the Doctor's satire.
Squire,” said the Doctor, who, though a man not quite thirty, had considerable influence over those who knew him, “it is strange that with this love of books and knowledge of their power, you talk of keeping them locked against your son and daughter. Here you have the finest collection of books and manuscripts in Devon,-some of the latter unique and inedited. Now I ask you, Squire, what business have you to possess these treasures, and forbid your children to enjoy them ?”
“I could plead paternal right, Doctor, according to the ancient law of the wisest nations,' quoth Squire Silchester, lying comfortably back in his chair. He liked an argument; he particularly liked an argument with Dr. Sterne. But I will not return to first
principles; I will argue the question with you on utilitarian grounds. What atom or iota of good have writing and printing done to the human race?"
“I rather think this library answers your question,” said the Doctor, waving his hand to the long rows of nobly bound books carefully preserved behind glass. Russia and vellum and morocco had not been spared; there were finest editions of the most illustrious presses.
“When you are in Rome," said the Squire, you must do as do the Romans. My forefathers, or, to speak more accurately, foregangers, left me a fine library, and I have done my best to improve it. They also left me a good estate, and I have improved that, and should have done so even had I believed that property is robbery. Moreover, they left me as a legacy the arts of writing and reading -and I exercise them, and do my uttermost to exercise them wisely. If you find you have to
do a thing, do it well : this need not prevent your asking whether the thing ought to be done. If I were a soldier, I would fight my hardest, though I believe war to be the absolute maximum of wickedness and folly. So, I have a library, and power of reading the books therein, and I exercise my power as well as
Still I would rather not have learnt an alphabet or seen a book."
“I know your theory of old,” said Sterne, “and have always held that there is something in it. Indeed, there is always an element of reason in the most impracticable of notions. There is sublimity in the idea of teaching all things through poetry-in passing human ideas from mouth to ears, while the untired eye
is left to gather its virgin impressions from the beauty that surrounds it. I am throwing back to you what I have heard, from you, because we agree in a certain measure. But you cannot roll back the wheels of time; you can no
more abolish writing and printing than you can abolish money.
“ You are quite right, my dear Doctor, and your illustration is apposite. I know it were vain to try to abolish money, but I think I can teach my girl and boy to understand that money is a mere representative of goods, and that a sovereign is no better than a pound's worth of dung in a cart.
In like manner,
I have no desire to revolutionize the world and abolish writing and printing ; but my children shall not be taught to read or write. I will teach them by the living voice. I will put theology and science in verse for them, when necessary; but I will in the first place make them learn from me the noblest poetry in English. Their eyes shall be taught, not to pore over type, though it were Baskerville's clearest, but to see the robin singing on its branch, the wren hiding in foliage, the heron fishing its pool, and suddenly astounded when the hawk swings into poise above it, the water