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That carpet-dusting, though a pretty trade,
Is not the imperative labour after all.



[Born, 1821. Educated at the University of Glasgow. Went to Birmingham as minister at Mount Zion Chapel, 1844. “An Address to the Eclectic Society,” 1846. Opened the Church of the Saviour, 1846. “ The Demands of the Age upon the Church "published, 1846. “ The Christian Sunday not the Jewish Sabbath,” 1866. Edited the Birmingham Morning News, 1871—3. Visited America on a lecturing tour, 1874. Died, 1876.]


A GREAT LIBRARY THE DIARY OF THE HUMAN RACE.—A great library contains the diary of the human race; for it is with the human race with the individuals of it; our memories go back but a little way, or, if they go back far, they

pick up

here a date and there an occurrence

* My thanks are due to Mr. Robert Browning for permission to quote these passages from “ Aurora Leigh.”

half forgotten. But when a man keeps a diary of "his life, he can at any time bring the whole of its scenes before him. The memory of the human race is just as short, as fragmentary, and as accidental as the memory of the individual; but when the books of mankind are gathered together in a room like this, we can sit down and read the solemn story of man's history, from his birth through all his mutations, and so, in learning the history of man, we reverence our ancestors, ascertain our own pedigree, and find the secret sources of the life we ourselves are now living Remember, we know well only the great nations whose books we possess ; of the others we know nothing, or but little. The great Hebrew people —their solemn thoughts and their glorious storylie open

to us because we have their books. We know the Greek, we are familiar with the Roman, but as for the nameless tribes which peopled the far deserts of the world—unchroniclel, bookless, libraryless—we have but a name, a date or two, a few myths, some trumpery legends, and that is all. But here in this room are gathered together the great diaries of the human race, the record

of its thoughts, its struggles, its doings, and its ways. The great consulting room of a wise man is a library. When I am in perplexity about life I have but to come here, and, without fee or reward, I commune with the wisest souls that God has blest the world with. If I want a discourse on immortality, Plato comes to my help. If I want to know of the human heart, Shakespeare opens all its chambers. Whatever be my perplexity or doubt, I know exactly the great man to call to me, and he comes in the kindest

he listens to my doubts, and tells me his convictions. So that a library may be regarded as the solemn chamber in which a man may take counsel with all that have been wise and great and good and glorious amongst the men that have gone before him. If we come down for a moment and look at the bare and immediate utilities of a library, we find that here a man gets himself ready for his calling, arms himself for his profession, finds out the facts that are to determine his trade, prepares himself for his examination. The utilities of it are endless and priceless. It is, too, a place for pastime; for man has no amusement more innocent, more sweet, more gracious, more elevating and more fortifying than he can find in a library. If he be fond of books, his fondness will discipline him as well as amuse him. (Address on opening the Birmingham Free Library, October

way ;

26th, 1866.)

SOME OF THE BLESSINGS OF A Good LIBRARY. Let me point out to you some of the blessings of a good library. Suppose we (as many of us are apt to do) get exceedingly hot in the midst of the various discussions-ecclesiastical, political, and social—of our day. Men are apt to think that the universe is pinned to their little creed, that the world really hangs upon their little conventicles, that their form of faith is the upholding of the throne of God, and that their little nostrum in politics will be the salvation of the world. I go to one of your meetings, and get hot and excited perhaps. I come to believe that if you will carry my

bill the millennium will follow; or I think if you carry this other proposal the world will come to an end. When a man has worked himself into this unwise heat, a good He says,

place for him to go to is a great library, and that will quiet him down admirably. It will have upon him the same effect that Emerson finely says nature has upon man.

“ Nature will not have us fret and fume. She does not like our benevolence or our learning much better than she likes our frauds and our wars. When we come out of the caucus, or the bank, or the abolition convocation, or the temperance meeting, or the transcendental club, into the fields and woods, she says

to us, “So hot, my little sir!'” At once you are calmed, and at once you are quieted. Sometimes we give ear to our prophets, our clerical prophets and our lay prophets, foretelling doom, the millennium, or the setting of England's sun in

And we grow quite alarmed until we go into the library and take down book after book, and find that this is a very old story after all. I can show you in this room now, how many times the millennium ought to have come.

I can show you how many

times the sun of England's prosperity ought to have set in the sea. But the day is as distant (I believe, although I am no prophet) as the day of doom when that sun shall set. I

the sea.

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