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pressed in this manner, it is cordial as- them for £1000 each. When I pointed sent. I relapsed into silence, and filled out to Jessie what a road of fortune lay my glass. Septimus passed his hand before our baby, she laughed at him, and over his hair, which is rather long, and called him Tommy R.A. still thick, though streaked with many “ But of course in those days I could threads of grey, and gazed thoughtfully not be sure of the line in which my son. through the window, which opened on to would excel. My duty was to prepare him the lawn. A faint light lingered in the to excel in any which he might choose, west, and one star shone brilliantly above by developing in him the taste for comthe black cedar, near which was dimly petition. 'I looked about for a competiseen the graceful figure of my friend's tor, and had the good luck to find my wife. At her side was the young man on little nephew Theodore, who is ten minwhom, moved by genuine liking and the utes older than Tommy. I borrowed him emotions natural to a benevolent person from his parents, and at once brought who has dined well, I had just pro- the two lads into competition. I well nounced a seemingly inopportune pan- remember my first attempt, and its failegyric. We sat at a round table, over ure. I had been left in charge of the which a shaded light was hanging, and children for a short time, and seizing the the claret passed slowly between us. It opportunity, induced them to race across was too old to be hurried. After a si- the room for a lump of sugar." lence of a few minutes, my friend leaned Here I interrupted my friend by asking back in his chair, and said
if the boys were not young for education. “ If it would not bore you, I should “Not at all,” said he ; " for let me tell like to tell you a few anecdotes of my you that in these days, when the idea of dear boy's life.”
individual liberty is in the air we breatbe, "Pray do,” I said. I was in the mood children rebel against the influence of for listening - disposed for silence, and their parents almost before they are moderately curious. Septimus has a breeched.” manner gentle as the evening, and a " You surprise me," I said, “and wellvoice which might have grown mellow in nigh make me accept the poet's picture. his own cellar.
You remember the lines ? " It has long seemed to me,” he began, Didst never hear how the rebellious Egg “ that the rules of conduct which we try Stood up i’ the straw, and to his Mother Goose to impress on our children are absurdly Cried, Madame, I will not be sat upɔn.” inconsistent with those by which we expect them to regulate their later life. Septimus smiled in a deprecating man. When they are young they are to be un- ner, somewhat uncertain, I think, whether obtrusive, and to give up to everybody; I were in jest or earnest. He continued when they have reached man's estate his story." Tommy was a good walker, they are to give way to nobody, but to if you make allowance for the novelty of push their fortunes in the world. As the accomplishment, but lost some time well might we punish the child for going in lateral motion like those of a landsman near the water, and expect the man to on a rolling sea; therefore Theodore, swim; or train the runner for the race who had a perpetual inclination forward, by making him walk backwards. When and went with an involuntary goose-step, Tommy was born, 1 made up my mind to took the lead at once, and would have avoid the common error. In the battle won, had not his head, advancing too of life he should be taught to win, and quickly for his legs, come suddenly in not to go round, when the fighting was contact with the foor. Now was my over, with a red cross on his arm. When boy's chance; but instead of going by he was a baby he showed a great love of his cousin, who was prostrate and howl. colour, and would lie for hours smiling ing, he sat down on the carpet and belat the sunlight, and making little motions lowed twice as loud for sympathy: Jessie with his hands. It seemed clear to me said that I ought to be ashamed of myin those days that the child would be a self, and divided the lump of sugar begreat painter (you know that I was always tween the competitors. fond of art), and take a high position. " When the boys were a little older, I There is a great opening in that direc- again borrowed Theodore, and made a tion. An active man who cultivates a little class of him and Tommy, hoping for bold style, and is above niggling over de healthy rivalry in the acquisition of tails, can paint ten pictures in the year, knowledge. I began with an opening and, when he has made a name, can sell address, in which I pointed out to them
that the duty of each was to beat the of political economy are false, she said other; and that, as every man in the that she did not care if they were, and grown-up world' was trying to get as that she knew that it was better to help much of the luxuries and honours as he another than to help one's self.” could, so each boy should try to gain for Here I could not help interrupting my himself as large a share as possible of friend Septimus with the remark that the marbles, toffee, and other prizes, there was no better way of helping one's which I should from time to time offer. self than appearing as a helper of others, They heard me with great gravity, and you knew the right moment at which our opening day was a decided success. to leave them; and that some had grown I soon found, however, that my prize wonderfully rich in this manner. system was a failure, since, as the stu- Septimus seemed to think my remark dents always played together, they cared irrelevant, for he took no notice of it, but not a jot who won the toys, which they continued his story. enjoyed in common; and as to the toffee, You may suppose," he said, "that in they both suffered so much after the choosing a school for my boy I should first prize-day, that Jessie put her veto be greatly influenced by size ; for if comon that form of reward.
petition be a good, the wider the field of “ After this I determined to substitute competition the better. I sent him off to pennies, and for a time thought that I Eton with a copy of Mr. Smiles's stimuhad effected my purpose. Tommy grew lating, work on Self-Help,' and a manwonderfully industrious, and in spite of ual of political economy, to which his my strict impartiality accumulated a vast mother added a large hamper and a Bible. store of copper. Week after week he His school career was fairly successful, drew on me with papers of marks, which and would have been brilliant but for were duly honoured, until I saw myself that moral obliquity, of which, alas ! in days to be the aged father of the first of there was no longer room to doubt. gentile financiers. He should direct the There was no limit to his generosity, application of his neighbours' fortunes, which was constantly developed by an. speculate in a gigantic war, become ever-growing popularity. There never Baron Tommy at a foreign court, per- was so popular a boy: The masters haps Sir Thomas at his own. My dream could hardly find fault with him, and his was rudely dispelled. One day my small school-fellows made a hero of him, as was nephew came to me in great glee. natural, indeed, for he could refuse them
Uncle Septimus,' said he, do you know nothing. His gaiety, which never flagged, that it is my birthday ?' 'Yes,' I replied, grew riotous when he was conferring a
and Tommy's birthday too, although favour. He was the author of more you certainly gained an advantage over Latin verses than have been left to us by him, for which no activity on his part the poets of Rome, and never dashed off can ever compensate.' And please, his own copy until he had wooed the Uncle Septimus, continued Theodore, Muses to the side of Tomkins, Brabazon, I do look at the present which Tommy Jones, Montgomery, and a host of others. has given me ;' and he held up a highly Again and again I told him, both verdecorated whip and scarlet reins. It was bally and by letters, that popularity is the but too clear that the fortune which my reward of those who are the gulls of son had accumulated by his industry, society; that there is no current coin of had been expended in a present for the so little value ; and that the only real defeated candidate ; and when ques- proof of a man's success is the jealousy tioned on the subject, the young prodi- which he excites. He now not only neggal at once allowed that this had been lected my advice, but even respectfully the sole motive of his extraordinary devo- contradicted me; and it must be contion to study. While I was trying to fessed that his answers had a great look impress upon him that if the triumph of of brilliancy, for be was an unusually the successful resulted in the gain of the clever lad, and might now be anywhere unsuccessful competitor, emulation was if he chose. I ought to add that he impossible, his mother came in with a never grew angry in argument. He has rush and hugged him. Jessie is apt to his mother's sweet temper, which is a act from impulse, as almost all women very good thing in a woman. are. When I pointed out to her, on one "Perhaps you think that I have given occasion, that unless everybody is always' undue importance to trifles ; and indeed I trying to get as much of everything for made light of them myself until my son, in himself as he can, the most valuable laws a great crisis of his career, behaved in a
manner which I could not misinterpret, scholarly composition, and had breathed though I am thankful to say that I could a sigh for the lost slang of my early days, pardon it. He was now eighteen years it occurred to me that I had a chance of old, when he and his greatest friend, a praising my young friend for a virtue boy of the name of Dart, entered - to- which even a parent could not deny him. gether for scholarships at one of the Ox- And calling to mind an old tale of our ford Colleges. I will not linger over the university life, at which Sep and I were story; indeed, if you will excuse me for wont to smile when we were careless una moment, I will 'fetch my son's letter, dergraduates, I laughed, and said from which you will learn the catastrophe “ You should be thankful for so honest a at a glance, while I shall be spared the son, who did not keep it dark,' as he pain of recital.”
might have done. He seems as anxious Septimus, who had risen slowly while to avoid all misunderstanding as was he was speaking, crossed the passage to Toby O'Connor when he carefully, enhis study, and came back with the fol- graved his name upon the stone which he lowing note, which he placed in my afterwards flung through the dean's hands :
plate-glass window." “OXFORD,
This anecdote had never before failed “ MY DEAR FATHER,- 1 hope that to raise a smile ; but my friend was eviyou won't be awfully sick at what I have dently in no mood for laughter. After a done ; but I am afraid that you won't simper of acknowledgment, he carefully like it. I thought of you a great deal folded up the letter, and smoothing it before I made up my mind, but I don't with his hand, continued his story. know what else I could have done. “Can you imagine my feelings when There is a fellow up here called Mills, I read this missive ?” he said. “I could who is just going to take his degree, and not speak; so I threw it across the is very thick with the dons. He was at breakfast-table to Jessie, and went away my tutor's when I first went to Eton, and to my study. For a full half-hour there was very keen that I should get one of was no sound. Then I heard the door the scholarships here. Somehow or of the dining-room open, and my wife's other he found out from one of his don step in the passage. I called to her. friends (which, of course, he had no busi- When she came in, I saw that her eyes ness to do), before the last day of the ex- were full of tears. I took her in my amination, that a Clifton fellow was pret-arms, and begged her not to fret about ty safe for the first scholarship, and that it, saying that it was a terrible disapthe other was a very near thing between pointment, and that we must bear it toDart and me. Now you know that old gether. I was quite choky, and she did Dart could not have come up to Oxford not appear to hear me. O Septimus, at all if he had not got a scholarship, and she said, after a few minutes, “what have it did not make any difference to me, be- we done that God should have given us cause you always let me do what I want. such a noble son?' and she burst out So the fact is, that I did not do quite my sobbing. I have long ceased to feel surbest in the last papers. I am as good as prised at the behaviour of women. Every sure that it did not make the least differ- man marries a Sphinx. The power which ence in the world; for the dear old man that boy, with his frank manner, cheery is a perfect needler at a critical paper laughter, and honest heart, (for 1 admit (Greek particles and scholarship tips, &c., his charm, as who does not?) had got you know), and was bound to lick me over his mother, who is no fool, I can any way. "Only I did not like to keep tell you, is inexplicable. If he had it dark' from you, though of course be robbed the bank to buy sweetmeats for must never know anything about it; and the urchins of Little Britain, I believe you never saw any fellow so happy as he that his mother would have cried for joy is ; and so you must not be vexed, or at and gone to say her prayers. There is a least must have got over it before you peculiar beauty about a woman's characsee your affectionate son, TOMMY.
ter; but as to expecting rational conduct “P.S. -- Of course you will tell the or logical argument, you might as well mother, and she will make you forgive me, make a salad of roses or walk in highI know. I am awfully well and happy heeled boots." and the fellows here are tremendously dotes of his son. Leaning his head upon
Septimus had now finished the aneckind and jolly."
| his hand, and looking across the table, When I had finished reading this he asked, “What is my boy to be ?”
“What does he wish to be?” I asked (never heard, and who have certainly in turn.
achieved no position. But though he is “That is just what I asked him the without ambition, he is so far from idleother day," said my friend, with a half-ness, that his industry is almost a vice. smile; "and the young wretch suggested He not only pursues every study which that he should follow my profession." cannot possibly lead to fortune or place,
“ Your profession !” cried I, in amaze- but he occupies his spare time with other ment. I had known Septimus all my people's business. Some days ago my life, and was well aware that he had | labourer (I had but one) abruptly left the never followed an occupation for more place, and on inquiry I found that than six days at a time. The routine of Tommy, anxious to diminish the surplus work which he planned on Monday morn-agricultural population, had helped him ing, never could survive the intervention to emigrate. He is on the point of delivof the following Sunday.
ering a series of lectures to our peaceful My friend looked at me rather comical- rustics, who have heretofore been perly and said, “ I am afraid he was laugh- fectly satisfied with my penny readings, ing at me. You know that I went in for and by these means he will probably deall sorts of things when I was a young populate the village. He talks of a visit man. I was wild about art at one time; of inspection to the Valley of the Misand once I seriously thought of making a sissippi. In short, I begin to fear that I fortune on the Stock Exchange. You re- am the father of an agitator. A strange member my devotion to literature ; and lad, of whom the only thing which you how I studied architecture that year can safely predict is that he will do what when we travelled together. I might he likes, and that his mother will abet have made something of them, if I had him. Will you have any more wine ?” not been so often anticipated by Mr. “One moment,” I said. “I only want Matthew Arnold, Mr. Ruskin, and others. to ask, What has become of the borrowed It was not until I was engaged to Jessie Theodore ?” that I took up political economy, and “ He is a very fair player at Polo,” refound that I had been an unproductive plied my host. “You won't have any consumer. It is a wonderful science, more wine. Then let us join Jessie and and makes humanity so simple, showing my boy on the lawn." you that all men are very much alike, if you look at them in the right way, and don't confuse yourself by the analysis of people's characters." "Well , Septimus," I said, “ you can't
From Temple Bar. be surprised that your son should be as
THE VICE OF READING. idle a young dog as you were in your THERE are three bad habits which, if youth. Perhaps he may some day catch not altogether peculiar to the present this science, as you did, for it is certainly generation of men, are supposed, — and in the air.”
we imagine with truth, — to have ac“ But,” said Septimus, " the curious quired in its course great extension and thing is that he is not idle at all. On the intensity. They are dram-drinking, teacontrary, he works very steadily, but drinking, and tobacco-smoking. Teahates to get anything for it. I have dunking it is difficult to assail, save by showo him bishops in their aprons, and public letters and leading articles; and judges in their gowns, but without the we very much doubt whether mortal slightest effect. When I took him into nerves would have been able to bear the the House of Commons he expressed an strain put upon them by modern civilizaopinion that all the members should wear tion, had it not been that the East had wigs like the Speaker's, maintaining that enriched the West with this non-inebriatno man could be revolutionary in a wig: (ing beverage. Few persons, however, He added that, but for the head-gear of entertain any doubt that the consumpthe lawyers, codification would be inevi. tion of spirituous liquors amongst us has table. When I introduced him to the already reached a point at which serious peer of my acquaintance, he cross-ques. injury is being inflicted on the physical tioned the noble lord about his tenants' strength and mental balance of the comcottages. I should suppose him to be munity, and that the use of tobacco promentirely without reverence, if he did not ises to attain proportions which will eventsometimes burst into enthusiasm over ually cause analogous deterioration of the people of whom, for the most part, I have species.
In all seriousness, we believe that the But, far from having been composed with race is threatened with another danger a desire to write a more or less exhausjust as real, just as imminent, and, we tive monograph on the subject of which fear, yet more deadly, since far more in- they profess to treat, they are for the sidious. We have nakedly entitled this most part put together with the deliberpaper “ The Vice of Reading;" for we ate intention of making them palatable to are unable to dispel the conviction that the “general public." Thus they teach, Reading, so long a virtue, a grace, an not what ought to be taught, but what education, and, in its effects, an accom- the writer thinks the reader will conplishment, has become a downright vice, sent to be taught. With this aim in view, --a vulgar, detrimental habit, like dram- Histories are made “diverting," Biogridrinking; an excuse for idleness; not phies scandalous, Travels sensational; only not an education in itself, but a and the author who refuses to spice his stumbling-block in the way of education ; dish for the ja led palate of the multitude a cloak thrown over ignorance; a soft- has usually the satisfaction of finding that ening, demoralizing, relaxing practice, it remains untasted. If we turn to what which, if persisted in, will end by enfee- are called Religion, Philosophy, and bling the minds of men and women, mak- Science, we find a very Babel of pens, ing flabby the fibre of their bodies, and amidst which one set of readers grow undermining the vigour of nations. hopelessly confused, another arrive at the
Why should people read, and what is conclusion that there are matters beyond the real solid value of printed matter? their understanding and their concern, There are three good reasons for read- whilst a third set funcy that they must ing, and we can think of no others. They know all about subjects respecting which are, to be made wiser, to be made nobler, so much has been written, whereas, in and to be innocently recreated. Books reality, they know just nothing at all. In which neither confer information which fact, it is rather by thinking than by readis worth having, nor list the spiritual part (ing that any opinion deserving of considof us up to loftier regions, nor, by eration is to be had upon such weighty judicious diversion, refreshen the mind matters; and, as we shall see, Reading, for further serious efforts, are bad books, as at present conducted, is rapidly deand the reading of such is invariably idle-stroying all thinking and all powers of ness, and not unoften the most danger- thought. ous kind of idleness. Reading is not, as But if so little profit is to be reaped so many people nowadays seem to sup- from the books which pretend in a pose, good in itself, as so many things mock manner to instruct, what shall we are which are by no means as highly say of those whose natural duty it thought of. All energy that is not injuri- would be to elevate? We entertain' the ous, wasteful, or subtracted from some profoundest veneration for works of the other effort incumbent upon him who puts imagination, and we hope we should be it forth, is good: as walking, riding, the last to under-estimate their value. boating, and the rest. But the reading of But we venerate and value them on one which we speak cannot, under the most condition : that they raise man not only favourable construction, be regarded as from the slough of despond, but from the energy. On the contrary, it is the very mire of selfish aims, of ignoble desires, laziest form of laziness. People fly to it cynical beliefs, and purely material views when they think they have nothing else of existence. Works of imagination to do, and they flatter themselves that by must operate as a perpetual sursum corda, reading they are really doing something; an invitation to us to lift up our hearts, and thus, nine times out of ten, they exon in the midit of so much that is painfully erate themselves from the obligation of calculated to depress them and induce performing some duty which is distaste them to grovel. The immortal words of ful to them.
Schiller best define our meaning, imaOf how many books which are pub- ginative as they are : "Man has lost his lished can it be said that they will add to dignity, but Art has saved it. Truth still the knowledge of any human being, or lives in Fiction, and from the copy the even that they have been written with the original will be restored.” The imaginaobject of producing such a result? A tion is the true refuge against expericertain number of volumes, doubtless, ence; its medicine, its corrective, which are issued every year which profess to be restores to it tone, health, and energy. “ serious reading," but all that is really Life is disenchanting, no doubt. Then be meant by this is that they are not novels. enchanted again, by surrendering yourself