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great, that it keeps twelve men busy in writing the slips and pasting them into the catalogue.
Well, let us look a little further into the arrangement of this finest reading-room in the world. Outside of the exterior of these concentric tables runs a path of seven or eight feet in width, and from that radiate to the walls, or rather to the spacious path along by the book-shelves, readers' tables. These are the rays of the star to which I likened the reading-room. Each of these long tables has a partition running its entire length, so that the readers on the one side cannot see those on the other side. This screen serves a number of uses. It contains pipes for hot air in winter, and for a draught of cool air in summer: it has a recess in it for an ink-well and quill-pens : it has two movable and most convenient book-racks for each person. These are so ingenious that I will not attempt to describe. They will hold a book at any height or angle which you may desire, and accommodate you equally well, whether you are reading or copying. Under the table runs a pipe for cold water, to serve as a foot-warmer in winter. The chairs are most luxurious and inviting. Three hundred readers can be accommodated there, and very often the room is full. It is an institution worthy of Great Britain. As old puritanic Boston may rightly be proud of her New Library, so may London and England be proud of the Library and the Reading Room of the British Museum. This is the only library in Europe, so far as I know, that is not hampered by so many restrictions as to be little avail. ing to the general scholar. I have used those of Paris and Dresden and Berlin, and would rather have a good library of twenty thousand volumes at my command, than the hundreds of thousands of those vast collections, under the petty and annoying restrictions which the reader must endure. But the British Museum is open without charge, and most freely. A person who wishes to use the readingroom applies over his signature for permission, and has the indorsement of some respectable citizen, and the request is immediately granted. Without any expense or any annoyance to the individual, this great collection is freely opened to the British public; and here am I, an American citizen, enjoying the same great advantages.
You will wish to get a glimpse of the modus operandi. Do you notice those little slips of blue paper which are just at hand at every yard of the catalogue tables ? Tear one off, and you will see on the back the few brief regulations of the reading-room, and on the other, five divisions, in one of which you write the book-mark, that is, the library shelf which contains the volume, then the full title of the work wanted, then the size, then the place and date of publication. Hand that to one of those softly-stepping young men, and take your seat and read your newspaper, or take down one of the twenty thousand volumes which you can reach with your hand as you walk the circuit of the great readingroom. In about half an hour the young man will return: there is your book, or, if you asked for half a dozen or for fifty, there they are : now use them at your will. It is computed that every reader at the Museum consults on an average over six volumes a day. There is absolutely no limit to the number of volumes which can be ordered. I have seen an attendant bring a wheelbarrow-load at a time. All kinds of people come here, and I love to see the kinds of books which are called for. Here comes a gentleman with hair just touched with gray, and with a thoughtful, expressive face. He wants the Latin Chroniclers of the First Crusade. Here comes
a smart, stylishly-dressed young fellow, with a goatee and moustaches; he wants one of Bulwer's early novels. A pretty lady, rather carelessly dressed, comes to the table next; she is looking for works of art. So all kinds of people are here : authors and loungers, all are accommodated by this magnificent institution of the British Empire.
There are a hundred details which I would be glad to enter into, which make up the perfectness of this library ;
but the limits of my letter will not allow me to say more than this, that, so far as regards the matter of ventilation, it is so complete that a current of air is being continually forced up behind the books to keep them well aired. With such precautions as these and the like, there is no limit to the time which the valuable collection shall endure. And long may it exist, an honor and source of rich intellectual life to the country from whose munificence it has sprung.
W. London, October 27th, 1859.
Do we not often find that a halo hovers around the memory of past days, as if they had been seasons of unmingled happiness, or at least of fewer anxieties and sorrows than the present? So they seem as we look back upon them through the mellowing haze of years, softening and blending them into one uniform hue of quiet satisfaction, if not of gladness. Yet when we review and analyze them, we find that their flow was broken by many sorrows, which then were hard to bear, and overshadowed by anxieties which sometimes appalled the heart. Perhaps the memory of some loved one, now removed from us, sheds such a glory over past years, that even the recollection of pain and sorrow is gilded by the thought of her: and are there not those around us now, by whose dear presence our path is brightened, - whose sympathy heightens our joys, and gives us strength and patience to endure every sorrow ? May not the years come, when we shall revert to the present time as bright with joys since passed away ?
Let us gratefully cherish the memory of the past, thanking God for all its pleasures of love and joy; but let us not be unmindful of present blessings, for they are without number; and every night and every morning should awaken cheerful thanksgiving for the “ goodness and mercy” wbich follow us all the days of our life.
A PLAN OF LIFE.
A SERMON FOR THE NEW YEAR.
BY REV. GEORGE E. ELLIS, D. D.
1 CORINTHIANS vi, 3:-“The things that pertain to this life.”
There may be some here present, who, with their other thoughts and feelings on entering upon a New Year, may have raised or recalled in their minds some questions as to their Plan of Life. The Plan of Life, - the prin
the principle or method or aim of existence, - let this be our present theme. It is, of course, a theme altogether too extensive for a satisfactory treatment in a sermon, and it is one of those vast and comprehensive subjects on which hints and gleams of wise counsel may more reasonably content us than upon some simpler subjects. It is very difficult to apply an exhaustive wisdom to such a theme, or to find in the exercise of a single mind upon it a train of thought to which the moral sense of any large number of persons will respond. In our common literature there are two prevailing ways, in the one or the other of which this theme is treated; and while all moralists and essayists have dealt with it, many have sounded it too deeply, or have but skimmed over it superficially, whether in prose or poetry..
One prevailing style and tone of writing on the plan of living has produced many dull and dreary volumes, in which theology has swallowed up humanity, and ghostly counsels and rigid severities have been proposed against every natural feeling within us.. How sombre and repulsive, to the young especially, are some of those grim treatises which are filled with prohibitions of everything that seems to them most genial, and which require terms utterly arbitrary and unreal to them! There can be no doubt but that the substance and essence of even the most rigid catechism of life are in the main true. But when a code for conduct and character and business is drawn out into specific rules, for daily toil, and a measured demeanor, and a piety performed by rote, there is something so stiff in the method as to repel most readers, even among the well disposed.
The other prevailing characteristic of many sermons and essays on the plan of life is a sort of rhetorical, sentimental, high-wrought, or exaggerated way of describing human experience, with its various incidents. Life is thus delineated in heroic poetry : and commonplace matters, instead of being treated with that homely simplicity which best befits them, are swollen out with fanciful and foggy rhetoric. We are told about the “ mission of life," " the nobility of toil,” “ the glory of not succeeding,” and “ the chivalry of self-devotion.” We feel, on reading such swollen exaggerations of commonplace cares and experiences, as if we were walking on stilts, and had got elevated above the earth, in a way that made a sure footing in it only the more precarious. When we are seeking to form or amend our plan of living, we do not wish for rhetorical rhapsodies, nor for sombre shades cast from the vanities of mortality, but for some simple, cheerful, practical views, which we may understand, approve, and then put in practice.
And how large a portion of those here present may be supposed to be interested in this theme, or open to instruction from it? That depends very much upon the way in which the theme is entered upon, and the manner in which it engages their attention. It may be well, therefore, to define at once what is meant by a plan or method of living. The theme of course will vary in its general features, according to the audience before which it is treated. For any assembly composed of one class of persons, - the young, or the middle-aged, – belonging to a profession, a trade, or
, any common calling, - a plan of life might be defined or
described in many particulars which must be overlooked in a more general view of it. It seems more difficult to state such a plan as is applicable or available to any large number