A book is good company. It is full of conversation without loquacity. It comes to our longing with full instruction, but pursues us never. It is not offended at our absent-mindedness, nor jealous if we turn to other pleasures, of leaf, or dress, or mineral, or even of books. It silently serves the soul without recompense, not even for the hire of love. And, yet more noble, it seems to pass from itself, and to enter the memory, and to hover in a silvery transformation there, until the outward book is but a body and its soul and spirit are flown to you, and possess your memory like a spirit. And while some books, like steps, are left behind us by the very help which they yield us, and serve only our childhood or early life, some others go with us, in mute fidelity, to the end of life, a recreation for fatigue, an instruction for our sober hours, and solace for our sickness or sorrow. Except the great out-doors, nothing that has so much life of its own gives so much life to us.
a. W. Beecher, Conn., 1813—.