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"Mightiest of the mighty means,
On which the arm of Progress leans—
"Books are spectacles with which to read nature. They teach us to understand and feel what we see, to decipher and syllable the hieroglyphics of the senses."—Dryden.
Books are an essential element of our social economy. The best minds of every age are trained by
"Those dead but sceptred sovereigns, who still rule
From books they receive most of their culture; and by them are disciplined in youth, stimulated in manhood, and solaced in age. "When I am reading a book," said Swift, "whether wise or silly, it seems tome to be alive or talking to me." Such is the feeling of every student who appreciates the author he reads.
"There are those who desire a book as a living companion of the mind; and to such, a good work is society to his loneliness—a balm to his troubles—a friend to the friendless— wealth to the poor, and, moreover, can keep the mind in action, though the body dies. It was Plato who went to play when he was elected to the consulship, but the evening before he died, he read. Mind lives by mind as it has been developed and preserved; and man, by this medium, has shown himself in action like an angel, in words like a god. Take this from him and he is nothing."*
"In books we have friends for every mood—comforters for every sorrow; a glorious company of immortals, scattering their sweet influences on the worn and beaten paths of our daily life. Shapes 'that haunt thought's wilderness' are around us, in toil, and suffering, and joy: mitigating labor, soothing care, giving a keener relish to delight; touching the heroic string in our nature with a noble sentiment; kindling our hearts, lifting our imaginations, and hovering alike over the couch of health and the sick pillow, to bless and cheer, and animate and console."
Book-making, once a science, acquired by long laborious toil, has, by the appliances of modern machinery, become a mercantile pursuit of almost unlimited extent. In olden times, the stylus and parchment were the mechanical essentials of a book, and years were often devoted to its production; now, by the magic of metal type and the steam-press, volumes are multiplied almost by the hour. Formerly, a book, both as to its mind and mechanism, was the sole work of the monk or scribe; now, there is a division of labor—the author writes it, the steam-press prints it, and the publisher is its purveyor to the public.
* Henry Giles.