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cherishing a special liking to some particular book. This will depend very much upon our individual tastes, whether historical, scientific, philosophical, biographical, religious, or romantic, and we shall naturally prefer that particular class of books. Still more than this, we generally have some favourite book which we have read again and again, and which we can take up at any time, and read any chapter that may present itself when we open the volume. Or we may have taken the works of some great classical author, and studied his writings minutely—his style and composition—to aid us in improving and developing our own style. A long array of great men could be cited who have loved some particular work in preference to all others; for instance, Dr. Johnson said he hated to read books through, and yet he liked the “Pilgrim's Progress 80 much that he read it through more than once, declaring it to be one of those few books which he wished had been much longer. With Dr. Blair, Dr. Chalmers, Scott, Charles Lamb, and several others, “Robinson Crusoe was a great favourite, and indeed it may be asked, Who has read it without liking it ? Chaucer loved Aristotle; Benjamin Franklin frequently read “ Plutarch's Lives; and with Lord Byron, Burton's * Anatomy of Melancholy" and Scott's Novels were especial favourites.
There are some books that we all like, whatever our individual tastes may be, and perhaps the most general favourite of all is a good novel. There are many people who have conscientious scruples against reading such works, and yet there are few who do not make some exceptions, for instance, in favour of the “Waverley Novels." Every one admires the wonderful genius of Scott; his surpassing knowledge of human nature, especially among the Scottish peasantry; his most retentive memory, remembering oldfashioned country stories, scraps of old songs, and traditionary legends which he heard from the old women of the country side, and with which he has so much enriched his novels; and last, but not least, his wonderful skill in calling his scenes before us in a few sentences, roughly, and in some cases rudely drawn, and yet majestically grand. Charles Dickens may also be quoted as a favourite, although not to the same extent as Sir Walter Scott. His stories abound with fun and merriment, odd adventures and laughter-provoking mistakes; carrying us sometimes to the gaieties and amusements of the metropolis, at others to the shady lanes and green fields of the country; graphically painting the characteristics and oddities to be found in the streets of mighty London, and giving us glimpses of almost every phase of human nature. Still his writings are not such general favourites as those of the (once) “Great Unknown.” Thackeray, Bulwer Lytton, Kingsley, Cooper, James and Lever, Mrs. Stowe, Charlotte Bronté, Mrs. Gaskell, and George Eliot, all give us a wide variety of reading suited to every taste, and are the loved companions of many a leisure moment.
Poetry pleases and delights the most of us, although not to the same extent as norels do. It has charms and delights which no other department of literature possesses, although many people cannot appreciate these ; and indeed it may be said that poetry in this respect is like music,--that we must have an ear for it before we can properly understand it and take delight in it. There are 80 many great stars in English poetry that it is difficult to make a selection; but if we mention Chaucer, Milton, Pope, Cowper, Burns, Scott, Wordsworth, Southey, Coleridge, Tennyson, and Longfellow, we see at once what an inexhaustible mine is here opened up to the student of poetry, introducing us to the noblest thoughts of the greatest minds, giving us the most eloquent language, the grandest imagery, and the most felicitous thoughts that can anywhere be found, and affording us abundant scope for having favourite books and favourite authors.
But poetry and fiction are by no means the only sources from which favourite books are drawn. To many minds history presents charms which neither of these two can supply, and we need not wonder at it when we think of the rich intellectual feast which is there spread out before us. We can hardly help being delighted with the eloquent pages of Macaulay, full of life and reality, and giving us what all histories should possess-word-paintings of the life and habits of the people, as well as descriptions of the wars and other great affairs of the nations. Froude has followed in the same path, and given us a most interesting history. Clarendon, Hume, Robertson, Gibbon, Hallam, Grote, Alison, and Carlyle, are all standard authors, and well worthy of our reading and study.
In essays we have a variety to suit all tastes, from the elegant Spectators” of Addison, and the florid but sonorously eloquent “Ramblers” of Johnson, down to the easy and somewhat superficial writings of A. K. H. B., the Country Parson. But I need not go any further, for there is not a single department in our literature that is not suitable for this favouritism, and that has not supplied many a one with books which they have loved in preference to all others, even although there may be little enough to justify it.
When thus speaking of favourite books we are led to think of the intimate connection which exists between the author and his book. We can hardly read the one without thinking of the other; and I am quite sure that we can hardly read one without wishing to know something of the man who wrote it; something about his character, habits, or the circumstances of his life ; what led him to write it, and when and how he did it. And I am quite sure that if we know these particulars we shall understand and appreciate the work far better; for his whole life will breathe an influence upon it.
“Books are the duplicates of men ; their tone,
The marks and features of their parentage.”
increasing number of books. I do not know that it has ever been computed how many books have been published in all the world since the invention of printing, but the number must be many millions. The number of British publications at the present time is between four and five thousand annually, and it is calculated that upwards of fifty thousand volumes are published in all parts of the world every year, thus giving no less than a million of volumes every twenty years. How many of these five thousand volumes can any one of us read? Twenty, I should think, is a fair maximum, and to many a reader that number will dwindle down to five or six. And we may ask, also, would it be good for us if we could read more than twenty ? Assuredly, not; for rapid reading is something like writing on the sand, which the returning tide washes completely away within a very few hours. But although we can read only a few books, we can read these few well, for three or four read carefully and thoroughly will do us far more good than a hundred read hastily and superficially.
Let us study English literature then, and let us above all study well a few of the standard works in each of its different departments ; in the full assurance that he who does so will find-to quote the words of a modern author—that he “will neither be superficial nor vain, neither ignorant nor self-satisfied. He will not feel that he is already perfect, nor will he feel paralyzed in the endeavour to press forward; but rather, like the philosopher who thought of himself as a child playing with pebbles on the seashore, he will gird himself up to the task, and launch out into the ocean of intelligence which on every hand expands itself to his view."'*
R. D., Jun.
ON THE SPIRIT OF FREE INQUIRY.-If any one would guard against error as far as his intellectual faculties will allow, he must make it not the second, but the first question in each case, —" Is this true ?” It is not enough to believe what you maintain, you must maintain what you believe, and maintain it because you believe it, and that on the most careful review of the evidence on both sides. For any one may bring himself to believe almost anything he is inclined to believe, and thinks it becoming and expedient to maintain. It makes all the difference, therefore, whether we begin or end with an inquiry as to the truth of our doctrines. To express the same maxim in other words, it is one thing to have truth on our side, and another thing to wish sincerely to be on the side of truth.- ARCHBISHOP WHATELY.
* British Controversialist, 1853.
The Reviewer. .
An Historical Account of the New Place, Stratford-upon-Avon, the
Last Residence of Shakspere. By JAMES O. HALLIWELL, Esq., F.R.S. Printed for Subscribers, by J. E. Adlard, London.
SHAKSPERE's birthday is one of the sacredest of secular dates to literary minds. On 23rd April we brought together and inspected our medals, busts, pictures, and books, connected with Shakspere. Among the latter we turned with delight over the pages of the mag. nificent folio which, by the goodness of the author, has been added, in an autographed presentation copy, to the library of the writer. It is a delicious specimen of typography, and contains many finely executed engravings; but it contains, besides, some new facts and some fair inferences concerning the closing years of England's dramatist. This gives the book its chief interest-in so far as regards its matter—to the writer; and this inclines him to notice the scarce, splendid, and costly volume in this Magazine. The writer trusts, from the reception given to his former papers on Shaksperian topics, that his readers will feel interested in any additional reliable information which can be furnished to them. No authority in English literature on Shakspere and his works is greater than that of James O. Halliwell, who has made these subjects the main items of a life-study, and has worked and written more for the promotion of true Shaksperian criticism than any other author. Upwards of a quarter of a century ago his fame was high among men as a writer on Shakspere; and now we may readily venture to name him the highest in repute for genial love, for faithful study, and for trustworthy knowledge of Shakspere. The spirit in which he labours is finely expressed in the opening words of the preface to the present volume, as follows:
“The materials which exist for a biography of Shakspere are unfortunately so scanty, and reveal so little beyond some of the barren facts of his material life, [that] an admiration of his genius, however enthusiastic, would fail to invest them with a high degree of value. Another sentiment must be invoked if we would regard them with real interest—that indefinable affection which the sympathizing reader of his works entertains for the writer, a kind of personal love, distinct from a reverence for his intellectual greatness, resulting in a longing desire to know something, however triling, of him as a man. They who cannot sympathize with this feeling, whose minds have not been attracted by Shakspere's inspirations of gentleness and lovingkindness to his race, to regard him as a friend and benefactor, the minutest relic respecting whom is of surpassing interest, may dismiss a book like this with a smile at my prosaic idolatry. Othors there will be, and these not
few, who will approach the subject in a different spirit, and be thankful for the discovery of the slightest indications of the history of the poet's sojourn upon earth.”
We are of those who consider every element of a man's earthly life as entering into and affecting his character, influence, and thoughts, and
therefore as important if we wish to know him thoroughly: How precious, therefore, must we esteem any fact throwing light upon the outward history or inward affections of William Shakspere! The evidence which Mr. Halliwell produces is all documentary, and the inferences which he makes seem to be carefully limited to matter contained in the premises. Few as the facts are, they tell us more of the life-surroundings and outward circumstances of Shakspere than we had any means of knowing before. These documents, too, are quoted at full length, not in mere abstract; and though the entire quotations are not relevant to the subject of the book, it is much more satisfactory to see them in ex. tenso, for then we can for ourselves gauge the value of the evidence laid down as the foundation of the several inferences which may be deduced from the facts.
Of course it is impossible---perhaps it would not even be just to quote here the elaborate legal papers which are now for the first time collected and printed; but we may usefully indicate the new facts, note their grounds, and occasionally make extract of a forcible or informing passage, referring to the work itself as the authority for the statements made, unless it be distinctly expressed that the inferences made are those of the writer of this notice. The subject of this production of Mr. Halliwell's research, it must be recollected, is “ New Place;” though our extracts and notices will in general be such as concern the eminent dramatist who breathed his last within its precincts.
Wm. Bott tenanted "New Place” from Wm. Clopton at first, but in 1563 he became its owner by purchase. “ Bott was at the time one of the wealthiest men in Stratford.”. He was an alderman, but was “expulsyed of the councill,” and in his stead, on July 4th, 1565, “ John Shakspeyr ys appwyntyd an alderman” (p. 13). From this we infer that John Shakspere was looked on as a worthy and wealthy citizen, and one who could stand Bott's enmity with. out fear or flinching, for stepping into his shoes.
In 1567 Bott sold the estate of New Place to Wm. Underhill, gentleman. “Wm. Underhill
, of Idlecote, died in July, 1597, a few weeks after the sale of New Place to Shakspere; and it appears, from a nuncupative will, made on his death-bed, that he had owing to him two thousand pounds, for which he had securities. It is not impossible that Shakspere gave a security for all or part of the purchase-money of New Place, by way of mortgage on the estate, instead of paying the money, and that this security was handed over by the executors to Hercules Underhill, in part payment of his legacy of £200. When Shakspere paid off the security in 1602,