C.N. Douglas, comp. Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical. 1917.


Books are embalmed minds.


A book is the only immortality.

Rufus Choate.

A true book is an inspiration.

Alexander H. Everett.

The medicine of the mind.


Books wind into the heart.


Law dies; books never.


The virtue of books is to be readable.


Good books are true friends.


Medicine for the soul.

Inscription over the door of the library at Thebes.

The monument of vanished mindes.

Sir Wm. Davenant.

Books are not seldom talismans and spells.


Go, litel boke! go litel myn tregedie!


Books which are no books.

Charles Lamb.

A book may be as great a thing as a battle.


Not many but good books.

Bayard Taylor.

Books, the children of the brain.


My library was dukedom large enough.


Begin by reading thyself rather than books.


Deep versed in books and shallow in himself.


Books are a languid pleasure.


Beware you be not swallowed up in books.

John Wesley.

A multitude of books distracts the mind.


Books are sepulchres of thought.


The worth of a book is a matter of expressed juices.


There is no book so poor that it would not be a prodigy if wholly made by a single man.


Learning hath gained most by those books by which printers have lost.


The last thing that we discover in writing a book is to know what to put at the beginning.


Every man is a volume if you know how to read him.


There is nothing so imperishable as a book.

James Hain Friswell.

A good book is the best of friends,—the same to-day and forever.


Books are the legacies that a great genius leaves to mankind.


We prize books, and they prize them most who are themselves wise.


There is no past so long as books shall live.


Next to acquiring good friends, the best acquisition is that of good books.


Great books, like large skulls, have often the least brains.

W. B. Clulow.

Those faithful mirrors, which reflect to our mind the minds of sages and heroes.


We are as liable to be corrupted by books as by companions.


Books,—lighthouses erected in the great sea of time.


There was a time when the world acted upon books. Now books act upon the world.


It is always easy to shut a book, but not quite so easy to get rid of a lettered coxcomb.


A small number of choice books are sufficient.


Without grace no book can live, and with it the poorest may have its life prolonged.

Horace Walpole.

Books are true friends that will never flatter nor dissemble: be you but true to yourself,… and you shall need no other comfort.


Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man.


He hath never fed of the dainties that are bred in a book.


No book can be so good, as to be profitable when negligently read.


  • ’Tis pleasant, sure, to see one’s name in print;
  • A book’s a book, although there’s nothing in ’t.
  • Byron.

    A taste for books, which is still the pleasure and glory of my life.


  • The burning soul, the burden’d mind,
  • In books alone companions find.
  • Mrs. Hale.

    It is a sure evidence of a good book if it pleases us more and more as we grow older.


    Every great book is an action, and every great action is a book.

    Martin Luther.

    Books are the best things, well used; abused, among the worst.


  • Come, and take choice of all my library,
  • And so beguile thy sorrow.
  • Shakespeare.

  • ’Tis in books the chief
  • Of all perfections to be plain and brief.
  • Butler.

  • Books cannot always please, however good,
  • Minds are not ever craving for their food.
  • Crabbe.

    When a new book comes out, I read an old one.


    How science dwindles, and how volumes swell!


    A first book has some of the sweetness of a first love.


    The true University of these days is a collection of books.


    A book should be luminous, but not voluminous.


    Books must follow sciences, and not sciences books.


    Wise books for half the truths they hold are honored tombs.

    George Eliot.

    Books are the ever-burning lamps of accumulated wisdom.

    G. W. Curtis.

    These hoards of wealth you can unlock at will.


    Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.


    Let every man, if possible, gather some good books under his roof.


    Books think for me, I can read anything which I call a book.


    It is not with the living that we should live, but with the dead.


    Let us digest them; otherwise they enter our memory, but not our minds.


  • A blessing on the printer’s art!—
  • Books are the mentors of the heart.
  • Mrs. Hale.

    Books that you may carry to the fire, and hold readily in your hand, are the most useful after all.


    In proportion as society refines, new books must ever become more necessary.


    “Books,” says my lord Bacon, “should have no patrons but truth and reason.”


  • Some said, John, print it, others said, Not so;
  • Some said, it might do good, others said, No.
  • Bunyan.

    The pleasant books, that silently among our household, treasures take familiar places.


    Old wood to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, old books to read.

    Alonzo of Arragon.

    Books bear him up awhile, and make him try to swim with bladders of philosophy.


    Come, my best friends, my books! and lead me on.


    All the known world, excepting only savage nations, is governed by books.


    The great objection to new books is that they prevent our reading old ones.


    I entrench myself in my books, equally against sorrow and the weather.

    Leigh Hunt.

    That is a good book which is opened with expectation and closed with profit.


    Some books are only cursorily to be tasted of.


    Books that are books are all that you want, and there are but half a dozen in any thousand.


    The writings of the wise are the only riches our posterity cannot squander.


    It is nearly an axiom that people will not be better than the books they read.

    Dr. Potter.

  • All books grow homilies by time; they are
  • Temples, at once, and Landmarks.
  • Bulwer-Lytton.

    In the highest civilization the book is still the highest delight.


    “There is no book so bad,” said the bachelor, “but something good may be found in it.”


  • Thou art a plant sprung up to wither never
  • But, like a laurel, to grow green forever.
  • Herrick.

    A man will turn over half a library to make one book.

    Samuel Johnson.

    Books are the immortal sons deifying their sires.


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


    Every book is, in an intimate sense, a circular-letter to the friends of him who writes it.

    R. L. Stevenson.

    For books are as meats and viands are; some of good, some of evil substance.


  • Leaving us heirs to amplest heritages
  • Of all the best thoughts of the greatest sages,
  • And giving tongues unto the silent dead!
  • Longfellow.

    No matter what his rank or position may be, the lover of books is the richest and the happiest of the children of men.


  • We call some books immortal! Do they live?
  • If so, believe me, Time hath made them pure.
  • In Books, the veriest wicked rest in peace.
  • Bulwer-Lytton.

    As you grow ready for it, somewhere or other you will find what is needful for you in a book.

    George MacDonald.

    A good book is fruitful of other books; it perpetuates its fame from age to age, and makes eras in the lives of its readers.


    Books, like proverbs, receive their chief value from the stamp and esteem of ages through which they have passed.

    Sir W. Temple.

    The quantity of books in a library is often a cloud of witnesses of the ignorance of the owner.


    Worthy books are not companions, they are solitudes; we lose ourselves in them, and all our cares.


    If a book come from the heart, it will contrive to reach other hearts; all art and authorcraft are of small amount to that.


    A book may be compared to the life of your neighbor. If it be good, it cannot last too long; if bad, you cannot get rid of it too early.

    H. Brooke.

    He who loves not books before he comes thirty years of age will hardly love them enough afterwards to understand them.


    That wonderful book, while it obtains admiration from the most fastidious critics, is loved by those who are too simple to admire it.


    Some books are drenched sands, on which a great soul’s wealth lies all in heaps, like a wrecked argosy.

    Alexander Smith.

  • That book in many’s eyes doth share the glory,
  • That in gold clasps locks in the golden story.
  • Shakespeare.

    Employ your time in improving yourselves by other men’s documents: so shall you come easily by what others have labored hard for.


    Old books, as you well know, are books of the world’s youth, and new books are the fruits of its age.

    O. W. Holmes.

    The images of men’s wits and knowledge remain in books, exempted from the worry of time and capable of perpetual renovation.


    All that mankind has done, thought, gained, or been,—it is lying as in magic preservation in the pages of books.


    Strong as man and tender as woman, they welcome you in every mood, and never turn from you in distress.

    J. A. Langford.

  • Pray thee, take care, that tak’st my book in hand,
  • To read it well; that is to understand.
  • Ben Jonson.

    The foolishest book is a kind of leaky boat on a sea of wisdom; some of the wisdom will get in anyhow.

    O. W. Holmes.

    In every man’s memory, with the hours when life culminated are usually associated certain books which met his views.


    If time is precious, no book that will not improve by repeated readings deserves to be read at all.


    The greatest pleasure in life is that of reading while we are young. I have had as much of this pleasure perhaps as any one.


  • Books should to one of these four ends conduce,
  • For wisdom, piety, delight, or use.
  • Sir John Denham.

    How many books there are whose reputation is made that would not obtain it were it now to make!


    Many books owe their success to the good memories of their authors and the bad memories of their readers.


    Books are the negative pictures of thought, and the more sensitive the mind that receives their images, the more nicely the finest lines are reproduced.


    He that studies books alone, will know how things ought to be; and he that studies men will know how things are.


    We should have a glorious conflagration if all who cannot put fire into their works would only consent to put their works into the fire.


    In the best books great men talk to us, give us their most precious thoughts, and pour their souls into ours.


    Books are men of higher stature, and the only men that speak aloud for future times to hear.

    Mrs. Browning.

    A good book is the precious life blood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.


    God be thanked for books. They are the voices of the distant and the dead, and make us heirs of the spiritual life of past ages.


    Here, in the country, my books are my sole occupation; books my sure solace, and refuge from frivolous cares. Books the calmers, as well as the instruction of the mind.

    Mrs. Inchbald.

    As good almost kill a man as kill a good book; who kills a man kills a reasonable creature, God’s image; but he who destroys a good book kills reason itself.


    It is with books as with men: a very small number play a great part; the rest are confounded with the multitude.


    It is thought and digestion which makes books serviceable, and gives health and vigor to the mind.

    Thomas Fuller.

    If a book really wants the patronage of a great name, it is a bad book; and if it be a good book, it wants it not.


    Men often discover their affinity to each other by the mutual love they have for a book.

    Samuel Smiles.

    A book! oh, rare one! be not, as in this fangled world, a garment nobler than it covers.


    He who loveth a book will never want a faithful friend, a wholesome counsellor, a cheerful companion, or an effectual comforter.


  • Books, we know,
  • Are a substantial world, both pure and good;
  • Round these, with tendrils strong as flesh and blood,
  • Our pastime and our happiness will grow.
  • Wordsworth.

    The scholar only knows how dear these silent yet eloquent companions of pure thoughts and innocent hours become in the season of adversity.

    Washington Irving.

    In books lies the soul of the whole Past Time; the articulate audible voice of the Past, when the body and material substance of it has altogether vanished like a dream.


    Books are the legacies that genius leaves to mankind, to be delivered down from generation to generation, as presents to the posterity of those that are yet unborn.


    It is books that teach us to refine our pleasures when young, and which, having so taught us, enable us to recall them with satisfaction when old.

    Leigh Hunt.

    Books are necessary to correct the vices of the polite; but those vices are ever changing, and the antidote should be changed accordingly—should still be new.


    Many books require no thought from those who read them, and for a simple reason,—they made no such demand upon those who wrote them.


    It is chiefly through books that we enjoy intercourse with superior minds; and these invaluable communications are within the reach of all.

    Mme. de Genlis.

    If the crowns of all the kingdoms of Europe were laid down at my feet in exchange for my books and my love of reading, I would spurn them all.


    When a book raises your spirit, and inspires you with noble and courageous feelings, seek for no other rule to judge the work by; it is good, and made by a good workman.

    La Bruyère.

    Our favorites are few; since only what rises from the heart reaches it, being caught and carried on the tongues of men wheresoever love and letters journey.


    There is a kind of physiognomy in the titles of books no less than in the faces of men, by which a skilful observer will as well know what to expect from the one as the other.


    Books are the true levellers. They give to all who faithfully use them the society, the spiritual presence, of the best and greatest of our race.


    The profit of books is according to the sensibility of the reader. The profoundest thought or passion sleeps as in a mine, until an equal mind and heart finds and publishes it.


    When self-interest inclines a man to print, he should consider that the purchaser expects a pennyworth for his penny, and has reason to asperse his honesty if he finds himself deceived.


    Do not believe that a book is good, if in reading it thou dost not become more contented with thy existence, if it does not rouse up in thee most generous feelings.


    To buy books only because they were published by an eminent printer, is much as if a man should buy clothes that did not fit him, only because made by some famous tailor.


    The past but lives in words; a thousand ages were blank if books had not evoked their ghosts, and kept the pale, unbodied shades to warn us from fleshless lips.


    If the secret history of books could be written, and the author’s private thoughts and meanings noted down alongside of his story, how many insipid volumes would become interesting, and dull tales excite the reader.


    Books, to judicious compilers, are useful,—to particular arts and professions absolutely necessary,—to men of real science they are tools; but more are tools to them.


    Many a man lives a burden upon the earth; but a good book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose for a life beyond life.


    Homeliness is almost as great a merit in a book as in a house, if the reader would abide there. It is next to beauty, and a very high art.


    Plays and romances sell as well as books of devotion, but with this difference,—more people read the former than buy them, and more buy the latter than read them.

    T. Hughes.

    Men love better books which please them than those which instruct. Since their ennui troubles them more than their ignorance, they prefer being amused to being informed.

    L’Abbé Dubois.

    Most books fail, not so much from a want of ability in their authors, as from an absence in their productions of a thorough development of their ability.


    Books are faithful repositories which may be awhile neglected or forgotten, but when they are opened again, will again impart their instruction.


    Without books God is silent, justice dormant, natural science at a stand, philosophy lame, letters dumb, and all things involved in Cimmerian darkness.


    Those who are conversant with books well know how often they mislead us when we have not a living monitor at hand to assist us in comparing practice with theory.


    I like books. I was born and bred among them, and have the easy feeling when I get in their presence, that a stable-boy has among horses.

    O. W. Holmes.

    Gentlemen use books as gentlewomen handle their flowers, who in the morning stick them im their heads, and at night strawe them at their heeles.


    Oh, but books are such safe company! They keep your secrets well; they never boast that they made your eyes glisten, or your cheek flush, or your heart throb.

    Mrs. S. P. Parton.

    Properly speaking, we learn from those books only that we cannot judge. The author of a book that I am competent to criticise would have to learn from me.


  • Silent companions of the lonely hour,
  • Friends, who can alter or forsake,
  • Who for inconstant roving have no power,
  • And all neglect, perforce, must calmly take.
  • Mrs. Norton.

    I have somewhere seen it observed that we should make the same use of a book that the bee does of a flower: she steals sweets from it, but does not injure it.


    Nothing ought to be more weighed than the nature of books recommended by public authority. So recommended, they soon form the character of the age.


    No man writes a book without meaning something, though he may not have the faculty of writing consequentially and expressing his meaning.


    Of all the things which man can do or make here below, by far the most momentous, wonderful, and worthy are the things we call books.


    Be as careful of the books you read as of the company you keep, for your habits and character will be as much influenced by the former as the latter.

    Paxton Hood.

  • I love to lose myself in other men’s minds.
  • When I am not walking, I am reading;
  • I cannot sit and think. Books think for me.
  • Charles Lamb.

  • The pleasant books, that silently among
  • Our household treasures take familiar places,
  • And are to us as if a living tongue
  • Spake from the printed leaves or pictured faces!
  • Longfellow.

    In the poorest cottage are Books: is one Book, wherein for several thousands of years the spirit of man has found light, and nourishment, and an interpreting response to whatever is Deepest in him.


    After the pleasure of possessing books there is hardly anything more pleasant than that of speaking of them, and of communicating to the public the innocent richness or thought which we have acquired by the culture of letters.


    It is with books as with women, where a certain plainness of manner and of dress is more engaging than that glare of paint and airs and apparel which may dazzle the eye, but reaches not the affections.


    A book is a friend whose face is constantly changing. If you read it when you are recovering from an illness, and return to it years after, it is changed surely, with the change in yourself.

    Andrew Lang.

    Books are the true metempsychosis,—they are the symbol and presage of immortality. The dead men are scattered, and none shall find them. Behold they are here! they do but sleep.


    He that will have no books but those that are scarce evinces about as correct a taste in literature as he would do in friendship who would have no friends but those whom all the rest of the world have sent to Coventry.


    There are persons who flatter themselves that the size of their works will make them immortal. They pile up reluctant quarto upon solid folio, as if their labors, because they are gigantic, could contend with truth and heaven!


    I armed her against the censures of the world; showed her that books were sweet unreproaching companions to the miserable, and that if they could not bring us to enjoy life, they would at least teach us to endure it.


    To divert at any time a troublesome fancy, run to thy books; they presently fix thee to them, and driven the other out of thy thoughts. They always receive thee with the same kindness.


    Mankind are creatures of books, as well as of other circumstances; and such they eternally remain,—proofs, that the race is a noble and believing race, and capable of whatever books can stimulate.

    Leigh Hunt.

    Some new books it is necessary to read,—part for the information they contain, and others in order to acquaint one’s self with the state of literature in the age in which one lives; but I would rather read too few than too many.

    Lord Dudley.

    Nothing can supply the place of books. They are cheering or soothing companions in solitude, illness, affliction. The wealth of both continents would not compensate for the good they impart.


  • The Wise
  • (Minstrel or Sage), out of their books are clay;
  • But in their books, as from their graves they rise,
  • Angels—that, side by side, upon our way,
  • Walk with and warn us!
  • Bulwer-Lytton.

    Many readers judge of the power of a book by the shock it gives their feelings,—as some savage tribes determine the power of their muskets by their recoil; that being considered best which fairly prostrates the purchaser.


    There is this value in books, that they enable us to converse with the dead. There is something in this beyond the mere intrinsic worth of what they have left us.


    In looking around me seeking for miserable resources against the heaviness of time, I open a book, and I say to myself, as the cat to the fox: I have only one good turn, but I need no other.

    Madame Necker.

    A man ought to inquire and find out what he really and truly has an appetite for; what suits his constitution; and that, doctors tell him, is the very thing he ought to have in general. And so with books.


  • Learning is more profound
  • When in few solid authors ’t may be found;
  • A few good books, digested well, do feed
  • The mind; much cloys, and doth ill humors breed.
  • Robert Heath.

    In science, read, by preference, the newest works; in literature, the oldest. The classic literature is always modern. New books revive and redecorate old ideas; old books suggest and invigorate new ideas.


    What a joy is there in a good book, writ by some great master of thought, who breaks into beauty as in summer the meadow into grass and dandelions and violets, with geraniums and manifold sweetness.

    Theodore Parker.

    We ought to regard books as we do sweetmeats, not wholly to aim at the pleasantest, but chiefly to respect the wholesomest; not forbidding either, but approving the latter most.


    No man should consider so highly of himself as to think he can receive but little light from books, nor so meanly as to believe he can discover nothing but what is to be learned from them.

    Dr. Johnson.

    My favorite books have a personality and complexion as distinctly drawn as if the author’s portrait were framed into the paragraphs and smiled upon me as I read his illustrated pages.


  • Books, dear books,
  • Have been, and are my comforts; morn and night,
  • Adversity, prosperity, at home,
  • Abroad, health, sickness—good or ill report,
  • The same firm friends; the same refreshment rich,
  • And source of consolation.
  • Dr. Dodd.

    By cultivating an interest in a few good books which contain the result of the toil or the quintessence of the genius of some of the most gifted thinkers of the world, we need not live on the marsh and in the mists. The slopes and ridges invite us.

    T. Starr King.

  • Some future strain, in which the muse shall tell
  • How science dwindles, and how volumes swell.
  • How commentators each dark passage shun,
  • And hold their farthing candle to the sun.
  • Young.

    Of many large volumes the volumes the index is the best portion and the usefullest. A glance through the casement gives whatever knowledge of the interior is needful. An epitome is only a book shortened; and as a general rule, the worth increases as the size lessons.


    One must be rich in thought and character to owe nothing to books, though perception is necessary to profitable reading; and the less reading is better than more;—book-struck men are of all readers least wise, however knowing or learned.


    The books which help you most are those which make you think the most. The hardest way of learning is by easy reading: but a great book that comes from a great thinker—it is a ship of thought, deep freighted with truth and with beauty.

    Theodore Parker.

    We ought to reverence books, to look at them as useful and mighty things. If they are good and true, whether they are about religion or politics, farming, trade, or medicine, they are the message of Christ, the maker of all things, the teacher of all truth.

    Rev. C. Kingsley.

    Books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a progeny of life in them to be as active as that soul was whose progeny they are; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them.


    Good books are to the young mind what the warming sun and the refreshing rain of spring are to the seeds which have lain dormant in the frosts of winter. They are more, for they may save from that which is worse than death, as well as bless with that which is better than life.

    Horace Mann.

    There are many virtues in books, but the essential value is the adding of knowledge to our stock by the record of new facts, and, better, by the record of intuitions which distribute facts, and are the formulas winch supersede all histories.


    In a well-written book we are presented with the maturest reflections, or the happiest flights of a mind of uncommon excellence. It is impossible that we can be much accustomed to such companions without attaining some resemblance to them.

    William Godwin.

    You, O Books, are the golden vessels of the temple, the arms of the clerical militia with which the missiles of the most wicked are destroyed; fruitful olives, vines of Engaddi; fig-trees knowing no sterility; burning lamps to be ever held in the hand.

    Richard Aungervyle.

    Books, like friends, should be few, and well chosen.
    Thou mayst as well expect to grow strong by always eating as wiser by always reading. Too much overcharges nature, and turns more into disease than nourishment. ’Tis thought and digestion which makes books serviceable, and gives health and vigor to the mind.


    There is no such thing as a worthless book, though there are some far worse than worthless; no book that is not worth preserving, if its existence may be tolerated: as there may be some men whom it may be proper to hang, but none who should be suffered to starve.


  • Books are a part of man’s prerogative
  • In formal ink, they thought and voices hold,
  • That we to them our solitude may give,
  • And make time present travel that of old,
  • Our life fame pieceth longer at the end,
  • And books it farther backward doth extend.
  • Sir Thomas Overbury.

    They are for company the best friends, in Doubts Counsellors, in Damps Comforters, Time’s Prospective, the Home Traveller’s Ship or Horse, the busie Man’s best Recreation, the Opiate of idle Weariness, the Mindes best Ordinary, Nature’s Garden and Seed-plot of Immortality.

    Bulstrode Whitelocke.

  • When I would know thee***my thought looks
  • Upon thy well-made choice of friends and books;
  • Then do I love thee, and behold thy ends
  • In making thy friends books, and thy books friends.
  • Ben Jonson.

    If I were to pray for a taste which would stand by me under every variety of circumstances, and be a source of happiness and cheerfulness to me through life, and a shield against its ills, however things might go amiss, and the world frown upon me, it would be a taste for reading.


    Many books belong to sunshine, and should be read out of doors. Clover, violets, and hedge roses breathe from their leaves; they are most lovable in cool lanes, along field paths, or upon stiles overhung by hawthorn, while the blackbird pipes, and the nightingale bathes its brown feathers in the twilight copse.


    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.


    In comparing men and books, one must always remember this important distinction,—that one can put the books down at any time. As Macaulay says, “Plato is never sullen, Cervantes is never petulant, Demosthenes never comes unseasonably, Dante never stays too long.”


    The silent power of books is a great power in the world; and there is a joy in reading them which those alone can know who read them with desire and enthusiasm. Silent, passive, and noiseless though they be, they may yet set in action countless multitudes, and change the order of nations.

    Henry Giles.

    Books, as Dryden has aptly termed them, are spectacles to read nature. Æschylus and Aristotle, Shakespeare and Bacon, are priests who preach and expound the mysteries of man and the universe. They teach us to understand and feel what we see, to decipher and syllable the hieroglyphics of the senses.


    To divert myself from a troublesome fancy, it is but to run to my books: they presently fix me to them, and drive the other out of my thoughts, and do not mutiny to see that I have only recourse to them for want of other more real, natural, and lively conveniences: they always receive me with the same kindness.


    A book becomes a mirror, with the author’s face shining over it. Talent only gives an imperfect image,—the broken glimmer of a countenance. But the features of genius remain unruffled. Time guards the shadow. Beauty, the spiritual Venus,—whose children are the Tassos, the Spensers, the Bacons,—breathes the magic of her love, and fixes the face forever.


  • In you are sent
  • The types of Truths whose life is The to Come;
  • In you soars up the Adam from the fall;
  • In you the Future as the Past is given—
  • Ev’n in our death ye bid us hail our birth—
  • Unfold these pages, and behold the Heaven,
  • Without one grave-stone left upon the Earth.
  • Bulwer-Lytton.

    Books are delightful when prosperity happily smiles; when adversity threatens, they are inseparable comforters. They give strength to human compacts, nor are grave opinions brought forward without books. Arts and sciences, the benefits of which no mind can calculate, depend upon books.

    Richard Aungervyle.

    A wise man will select his books, for he would not wish to class them all under the sacred name of friends. Some can be accepted only as acquaintances. The best books of all kinds are taken to the heart, and cherished as his most precious possessions. Others to be chatted with for a time, to spend a few pleasant hours with, and laid aside, but not forgotten.


    Books are a guide in youth, and an entertainment for age. They support us under solitude, and keep us from becoming a burden to ourselves. They help us to forget the crossness of men and things, compose our cares and our passions, and lay our disappointments asleep. When we are weary of the living, we may repair to the dead, who have nothing of peevishness, pride or design in their conversation.

    Jeremy Collier.

    As friends and companions, as teachers and consolers, as recreators and amusers, books are always with us, and always ready to respond to our wants. We can take them with us in our wanderings, or gather them around us at our firesides. In the lonely wilderness, and the crowded city, their spirit will be with us, giving a meaning to the seemingly confused movements of humanity, and peopling the desert with their own bright creations.


    Knowledge of books is like that sort of lantern which hides him who carries it, and serves only to pass through secret and gloomy paths of his own; but in the possession of a man of business it is as a torch in the hand of one who is willing and able to show those who are bewildered the way which leads to their prosperity and welfare.


    The diffusion of these silent teachers books through the whole community is to work greater effects than artillery, machinery, and legislation. Its peaceful agency is to supersede stormy revolutions. The culture which it is to spread, whilst an unspeakable good to the individual, is also to become the stability of nations.


    What is a great love of books? It is something like a personal introduction to the great and good men of all past time. Books, it is true, are silent as you see them on their shelves; but, silent as they are, when I enter a library I feel as if almost the dead were present, and I know if I put questions to these books they will answer me.

    John Bright.

    Books, of which the principles are diseased or deformed, must be kept on the shelf of the scholar, as the man of science preserves monsters in glasses. They belong to the study of the mind’s morbid anatomy, and ought to be accurately labelled. Voltaire will still be a wit, notwithstanding he is a scoffer; and we may admire the brilliant spots and eyes of the viper, if we acknowledge its venom and call it a reptile.


    I have ever gained the most profit, and the most pleasure also, from the books which have made me think the most: and, when the difficulties have once been overcome, these are the books which have struck the deepest root, not only in my memory and understanding, but likewise in my affections.

    J. C. and A. W. Hare.

    Books are faithful repositories, which may be awhile neglected or forgotten, but when they are opened again, will again impart their instruction. Memory, once interrupted, is not to be recalled; written learning is a fixed luminary, which, after the cloud that had hidden it has passed away, is again bright in its proper station. Tradition is but a meteor, which, if it once falls, cannot be rekindled.


    Books, says Lord Bacon, can never teach us the use of books; the student must learn by commerce with mankind to reduce his speculations to practice. No man should think so highly of himself as to think he can receive but little light from books; no one so meanly, as to believe he can discover nothing but what is to be learned from them.


    Let us consider how great a commodity of doctrine exists in books; how easily, how secretly, how safely they expose the nakedness of human ignorance without putting it to shame. These are the masters who instruct us without rods and ferules, without hard words and anger, without clothes or money. If you approach them, they are not asleep; if investigating you interrogate them, they conceal nothing; if you mistake them, they never grumble; if you are ignorant, they cannot laugh at you.

    Richard de Bury.

  • Golden volumes! richest treasures,
  • Objects, of delicious pleasures!
  • You my eyes rejoicing please,
  • You my hands in rapture seize!
  • Brilliant wits and musing sages,
  • Lights who beam’d through many ages!
  • Left to your conscious leaves their story,
  • And dared to trust you with their glory;
  • And now their hope of fame achiev’d,
  • Dear volumes! you have not deceived.
  • Isaac Disraeli.

    Great books are not in everybody’s reach; and though it is better to know them thoroughly, than to know them only here and there; yet it is a good work to give a little to those who have neither the time nor means to get more. Let every book-worm, when, in any fragrant scarce old tome, he discovers a sentence, a story, and illustration that does his heart good, hasten to give it.


  • And as for me, though than I konne but lyte,
  • On bokes for to rede I me delyte,
  • And to hem yeve I feyth and ful credence,
  • And in myn herte have hem in reverence
  • So hertely, that ther is game noon,
  • That fro my bokes maketh me to goon,
  • But yt be seldome on the holy day.
  • Save, certeynly, when that the monthe of May
  • Is comen, and that I here the foules synge,
  • And that the floures gynnen for to sprynge,
  • Farwel my boke, and my devocion.
  • Chaucer.

  • We get no good
  • By being ungenerous, even to a book,
  • And calculating profits—so much help
  • By so much reading. It is rather when
  • We gloriously forget ourselves, and plunge
  • Soul-forward, headlong, into a book’s profound,
  • Impassioned for its beauty, and salt of truth—
  • ’Tis then we get the right good from a book.
  • E. B. Browning.

    Books have always a secret influence on the understanding; we cannot at pleasure obliterate ideas: he that reads books of science, though without any desire fixed of improvement, will grow more knowing; he that entertains himself with moral or religious treatises, will imperceptibly advance in goodness; the ideas which are often offered to the mind, will at last find a lucky moment when it is disposed to receive them.

    Samuel Johnson.

  • ———The 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;
  • And sometimes for variety, I confer
  • With kings and emperors, and weigh their counsels;
  • Calling their victories, if unjustly got,
  • Unto a strict account; and in my fancy,
  • Deface their ill-plac’d statutes.
  • Fletcher.

    Is is saying less than the truth to affirm that an excellent book (and the remark holds almost equally good of a Raphael as of a Milton) is like a well-chosen and well-tended fruit tree. Its fruits are not of one season only. With the due and natural intervals, we may recur to it year after year, and it will supply the same nourishment and the same gratification, if only we ourselves return to it with the same healthful appetite.