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first gropings of its gigantic hand, he shall look forward to an ever expanding knowledge as to a becoming creator. He shall see, that Nature is the opposite of the soul, answering to it part for part. One is seal, and one is print. Its beauty is the beauty of his own mind. Its laws are the laws of his own mind. Nature then becomes to him the measure of his attainments. So much of Nature as he is ignorant of, so much of his own mind does he not yet possess. And, in fine, the ancient precept, “Know thyself,” and the modern precept, “Study Nature,” become at last one maxim.
II. The next great influence into the spirit of the scholar, is, the mind of the Past,-in whatever form, whether of literature, of art, of institutions, that mind is inscribed. Books are the best type of the influence of the past, and perhaps we shall get at the truth,-learn the amount of this influence more conveniently,—by considering their value alone.
The theory of books is noble. The scholar of the first age received into him the world around; brooded thereon; gave it the new arrangement of his own mind, and uttered it again. It came into him,-life; it went out from him,-truth. It
came to him,-short lived actions; it went out from him,-immortal thoughts. It came to him, -business; it went from him,-poetry. It was, -dead fact; now, it is quick thought. It can stand, and it can go. It now endures, it now flies, it now inspires. Precisely in proportion to the depth of mind from which it issued, so high does it soar, so long does it sing.
Or, I might say, it depends on how far the process had gone, of transmuting life into truth. In proportion to the completeness of the distillation, so will the purity and imperishableness of the product be. But none is quite perfect. As no air-pump can by any means make a perfect vacuum, so neither can any artist entirely exclude the coventional, the local, the perishable from his book, or write a book of pure thought, that shall be as efficient, in all respects, to a remote posterity, as to cotemporaries, or rather, to the second age. Each age, it is found, must write its own books ; or, rather, each generation for the next succeeding. The books of an older period will not fit this.
Yet, hence arises a grave mischief. The sacredness which attaches to the act of creation,
-the act of thought,-is instantly transferred to the record. The poet, chanting, was felt to be a
divine man; henceforth, the chant is divine also. The writer was a just and wise spirit; henceforward it is settled, the book is perfect, as love of the hero corrupts into worship of his statue. Instantly, the book becomes noxious. The guide is a tyrant. We sought a brother, and lo! a governor. The sluggish and perverted mind of the multitude, always slow to open to the incursions of Reason, having once so opened, having once received this book, stands upon it, and makes an outcry, if it is disparaged. Colleges are built on it. Books are written on it by thinkers, not by Man Thinking; by men of talent, that is, who start wrong, who set out from accepted dogmas, not from their own sight of principles. Meek young men grow up in libraries, believing it their duty to accept the views which Cicero, which Locke, which Bacon, have given ; forgetful that Cicero, Locke, and Bacon, were only young men in libraries when they wrote these books.
Hence, instead of Man Thinking, we have the bookworm. Hence the book-learned class, who value books, as such; not as related to Nature and the human constitution, but as making a sort of Third Estate with the world and the soul. Hence the restorers of readings, the emendators, the bibliomaniacs of all degrees.
This is bad; this is worse than it seems. Books are the best of things, well used ; abused, among the worst. What is the right use? What is the one end which all means go to effect? They are for nothing but to inspire. I had better never see a book than to be warped by its attraction clean out of my own orbit, and made a satellite instead of a system. The one thing in the world, of value, is the active soul,—the soul, free, sovereign, active. This, every man is entitled to; this, every man contains within him; although, in almost all men, obstructed, and, as yet, unborn. The soul active, sees absolute truth; and utters truth, or creates. In this action, it is genius; not the privilege of here and there a favourite, but the sound estate of every man. In its essence it is progressive. The book, the college, the school of art, the institution of any kind, stop with some past utterance of genius. This is good, say they,-let us hold by this. They pin me down. They look backward, and not forward ; but genius always looks forward. The eyes of man are set in his forehead, not in his hindhead. Man hopes. Genius creates. To create,—to create,- is the proof of a divine presence. Whatever talents may be, if the man create not, the pure efflux of the Deity is not his. Cinders and
smoke there may be, but not yet flame. There are creative manners, there are creative actions, and creative words; manners, actions, words that is, indicative of no custom or authority, but springing spontaneous from the mind's own sense of good and fair.
On the other part, instead of being its own seer, let it receive always from another mind its truth, though it were in torrents of light, without periods of solitude, inquest, and self-recovery, and a fatal disservice is done. Genius is always sussiciently the enemy of genius by over-influence. The literature of every nation bear me witness. The English dramatic poets have Shakspearised now for two hundred years.
Undoubtedly there is a right way of reading, so it be sternly subordinated. Man Thinking must not be subdued by his instrument. Books are for the scholar's idle times. When he can read God directly, the hour is too precious to be wasted in other men's transcripts of their readings. But when the intervals of darkness come,-as come they must, when the soul seeth not, when the sun is hid, and the stars withdraw their shining, we repair to the lamps which were kindled by their ray, to guide our steps to the East again, where the dawn is. We hear, that we may speak.