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THE PRAISE OF BOOKS.

PRELIMINARY ESSAY.

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The love of books is a love which requires neither justification, apology, nor defence.

It is a good thing in itself: a possession to be thankful for, to rejoice over, to be proud of, and to sing praises for. With this love in his heart no man is ever poor, ever without friends, or the means of making his life lovely, beautiful, and happy. In prosperity or adversity, in joy or sorrow, in health or sickness, in solitude or crowded towns, books are never out of place, never without the power to comfort, console, and bless. They add wealth to prosperity, and make sweeter the sweet uses of adversity; they intensify joy and take the sting from, or give a bright relief to sorrow; they are the glorifiers of health and the blessed consolers of sickness; they people solitude with the creations of thought, the children of fancy, and the offsprings of imagination, and to the busy haunts of men they lend a purpose and an aim, and tend to keep the heart unspotted in the world. It is better to possess this love than to inherit a kingdom, for it brings wealth which money can never buy, and which power is impotent to secure. It is better than gold, “yea, than much fine gold,” and splendid palaces and costly raiment. No possession can surpass, or even equal, a good library to the lover of books. Here are treasured up for his daily use and delectation riches which increase by being con. sumed, and pleasures which never cloy. It is a realm as large as the universe, every part of which is peopled by spirits who lay before his feet their precious spoils as his lawful tribute. For him the poets sing, the philosophers discourse, the historians unfold the wonderful march of life, and the searchers of nature reveal the secrets and mysteries of creation. No matter what his rank or position may be, the lover of books is the richest and the happiest of the children of men.

“What a place to be in,” says Charles Lamb,

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