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Life's Respite

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Dr. Oliver Wendell Homes recently ] nnaUe soine remarks on reading at a ' meeting of Uie Society to Encourage l Studies at Home. Among otker things, I he said : Life f or a ma is a sentence af capital puniskment, with a respite af a few scores of years. Tor a woman it is tlie same, witk imprisoiiment during a large part of tke period of the respite. As daughter, sister, wife, mother, aunt, grand motker, ker work is, in most cases, to a great extent, indoor work. There are no bars or bolts to lier prison, but she cannot escape i'rom it, as the inmates of our Concord State Prison do when tired of the place.. I was never in jail as a prisoner myself, but 1 have been quite as badly off as if I had been shut up on a short sentenco - conüned in quarantine at Martilles. What can be worse than tliat - shut up as an infected person, supposed fo carry about with him, not the comparatively karmless implementa of a robber or ;i burglar, not the jimmy and revolver, but the seeds of a pestilence which will decimate eittea and devástate wkole countries, which makes one theenemy of his race, who may be shot but must not be touched, whom one must gefc the windward of bef ore speaking to him and f rom whom a begger would not take a dollar unless it had been fumigated. Wel], I found myself imprisoned within four bare walls, I had one book with me ; you know what that book ougkt to have been, but it was not that. It was an old Latin book - villainous Latín it was written in - a history of some iwo or three hundred rare medical cases, by Nickolas Tulpius, whose portrait some of you have seen in a famous picture of Bembrandt or a well-known engraving from it, How I did read that one book! I was in my twenties then, but I remember man y of those cases as I do not any others that I read at that period of my life. I doubt if any living man knows them as well as I do. So much for being simt up and having but one book to read. A woman in captivity to her duties is not reduced to such extremities as those of the unüortunates I have mentioned. lier household labors, wketker of work or of superintendence, are varied in most cases to avoid unendurable monotony. Every woman kas her needie at any rate, or had, for I have been told, but hope it is not true, that some young women of tke present day are entiiely unschooled in its use. For tke lesser troubles of life, wken a man takes to kis pipe or kis cigar, if not to some more potent and dangerous aneesthetic, a woman takes to ker sewing or knitting. Tke needle-points are to her nervous irritability wliat the lightning-rod is to the electricity of tke storm cloud. But the work of hemming handkerchiefs and towels, of knitting mittens and even afgkans -this and those otker housekold labors from which few are wholly exempted, are not enough to take up all the mental energy of the busiest young wornan. AVhat did they do before the days of printed books? They carried the songs of their tribe, of their nation - the songs which were the best part al' their literature - in their memory. Now the rivulet which the press poured out four centuries ago lias widened with eyery succeeding generation till it is no longer a stream within its banks, but an inundation. Books, reviews, magazines, newspapers come in upon us like a flood and the landmarks of our oíd literal ure are lost sight of, if they are not sweptaway. But iiow shall we read V I must answer thte question very briefly. 1 believe in reading. in a large proportion, by subjeets rather than by authors. Some books must be read tasting, as lt were, eVfjry word. Tennyson will ülton would, as Gray wouji ,,,y tasted every word themselt, - iisL ,■ Careme would taste a potaye meant for a King or a queen. But once become familiar with a subject and you can read a page as a tlash of lightning readsit. Leai'n a lesson rom Houdin and his son's practice of looking in at a shop window and vHiieinberiiig all they saw. Learn to read a page in the shortest possible time and to stnnd a thorough examination on its contenta.


Old News
Michigan Argus