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terably revolting. I venture to say that in dealing with the task of improving the law, or, what is more important, the administration of the law, I do not believe any man could be better qualified than the gentleman who has done me the favour of accepting the office of President of the Poor Law Board. A few words more with regard to the condition of Ireland. In England it will be my desire, in the course of policy pursued by her Majesty's Government, to enlist the sympathy and obtain the support of those members of the Liberal party who entertain views not very different from our own, and who, I hope, will not be deterred by previous party considerations from giving us independent support. In Ireland, unfortunately, the difficulties are greater ihan in England. There political animosity runs higher than in this country, divisions of party are more strongly marked, and, what is more important, religious differences blend with political differences, and tend to embitter the strife. Yet, my lords, I believe that a Government in Ireland determined to do its duty may hope to receive the support of a great portion of the Irish people, than whom there are none in the world more in favour of impartial justice. We desire to obtain the co-operation of those who wish to keep the peace of the country, to maintain property, and to put down illegal associations. Thus we desire to obtain the support of those too much neglected of late, namely, the different holders of property in Ireland : for, without saying too much, I might say that the Government of late years have trusted too much to information derived from the police, and have not made use of the local information and local support they might have received from proprietors in Ireland. With regard to that lamentable, and I am afraid wide-spread conspiracy called Fenianism, I am afraid that although the late Lord Lieutenant made most meritorious exertions, and succeeded giving a considerable check to that conspiracy, yet I would I could believe that the snake was killed, and not only scotched. Nothing would give me greater satisfaction, disapproving as I do of exceptional legislation for Ireland, than to put an end to the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. But if in our consciences we do not believe that for the protection of well-disposed and honest men it is necessary to continue that exceptional legislation, I confidently trust that you will give us fair and generous support as readily as we gave it to you when you asked it. Apart from that exceptional legislation, I apprehend our duty to be, with firm hand, to put down all violation of the law ; the disturbances of party ; religious animosity ; to give impartial justice to all, without discrimination as to creed ; and to call to our councils all who will co-operate with us for the government of the country, and for the preservation of the public peace. I have ventured now to lay before you a summary view of the course the Government will endeavour to follow. By that course we hope to conciliate additional supporters ; and I do hope that the time may not be far distant when there may be such a new arrangement of parties as to place on the one side of those who are in favour of innovations and violations of the Constitution ; and on the other, all those who, while they will not resist legislative progress, are determined to adhere to those institutions under which that Constitution has flourished. In the attempt to conduct a Government I may succeed, and in that I shall gain the highest object of my ambition. I may fail ; and if I fail, I shall fail with the consciousness of having attempted to discharge my duty. And with earnest prayer, with the blessing of heaven, whatever combinations may be formed, my course shall be such as shall be consistent with steady progress, the strengthening of the institutions of the country, and the maintaining of that balance of the forces of monarchy, aristocracy, and a House of Commons not altogether democratic, who for many centuries have constituted our Legislature, and which has gradually led forward this country to a condition reflecting the greatest glory on the Ministry, and conferring the greatest amount of happiness and prosperity on the country.
" Golden volumes ! richest treasures !
Objects of delicious pleasures !
The literature of our country will always be one of the most interesting subjects which can engage our attention; and if we only think of what it really is, we shall at once understand and acknowledge its importance. In its widest acceptation it is everything that embodies thought, no matter how small in amount or deficient in quality it may be. Every scrap of written or printed matter, monumental inscriptions, old letters, and even old accountbooks and ledgers, are all parts of a country's literature as much as its books and newspapers; and, indeed, everything that preserves anything that is to be remembered, that records anything that ever happened, or that can contain anything that ever emanated from the mind of man, are to be considered as forming a part of literature. But this definition is far too general, and embraces far too much. We must confine its meaning to books, including magazines, newspapers, and similar publications in that term. Even this, however, gives a wider area than what suggests itself to our minds when we speak of literature; and if we confine ourselves to English literature we must exclude a very large part of the publications of the present day, and embrace only the standard authors of the past. And what a wide and splendid field is yet included within these limits! We have the very cream of our literature; the thoughts of the mightiest and most powerful intellects in the world ; the writings of those intellectual giants who have appeared but once or twice in an age; the works of those men who have moulded the thoughts of the world, and indelibly stamped their names upon its history. We have poets who have sung of the most glorious themes the human mind can contemplate ; we have orators who have swayed the minds of vast multitudes, carrying their reasons and feelings captive, and moulding them as they wished; we have philosophers who have encompassed the widest possible range of thought, and handed down to us philosophies which have stood the test of ages, and can hardly be surpassed.
In one of his reflective poems Wordsworth beautifully expresses the affection with which we regard our books :
“ Books, we know,
Our pastime and our happiness will grow." They are a great deal more to us than merely sheets of printed paper enclosed in covers of cloth or leather. They are our friends and most intimate acquaintances. We acquire an affection for them which no lapse of time can erase, and which is proof against the cares and annoyances of every-day life. They are our best and truest friends ; for they give us judicious advice in our perplexities, solace us in our troubles, furnish us with matter for thought in our graver moods, and minister to our amusement in our lighter ones. They never change with the seasons, or as the years pass by; they always tell us the same truths, are always ready at our call, and are as useful on the one day as the other. History tells us of the great events that have occurred in the world before we entered into it; of the circumstances that have built up some nations, and demolished others; of the influences that have moulded the characters of the people of different countries ; and furnishes us with those facts and data upon which to ground our calculations, and establish the theory which guides our future movements. Biography reveals to us the inner life of men of which we would otherwise know nothing; places before us their thoughts and feelings ; shows us how they attained to eminence ; how they succeeded in their undertakings, and how we may
go and do likewise.” Science tells us of the many wonders which her researches have brought to light; explains the workings of the material world around us ; chronicles the national progress in arts and manufactures ; and contributes alike to our wealth and happiness, our comfort and recreation. Religion tells us all we can know about God, how we can honour and serve Him, and the only way in which we can secure the salvation of our immortal souls. Poetry, essays, novels, and the lighter departments of literature please and gratify us ; refresh our minds when exhausted with severer studies ; and supply us with descriptions of the manners and customs, follies and amusements, of the people of bygone ages, which we cannot get from the histories of the period. What wonder, then, that we feel, and can truly say,
“ That place that does Contain my books, the best companions, is To me a glorious court, where hourly I
Converse with the old sages and philosophers ” ? But although we thus love books as a whole, we cannot help
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 " comy 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 so 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.”