A Rakuten Company

More titles to consider

Shopping Cart

itemsitem

Synopsis

To Prof. W. H. Venable, who reviewed the manuscript of this work, I am indebted for many valuable suggestions, and I can not speak too kindly of him as a critic. The illustrations, excepting those mechanical and historical, making in themselves a beautiful narrative without words, are due to the admirable artistic conceptions and touch of Mr. J. Augustus Knapp. Structural imperfections as well as word selections and phrases that break all rules in composition, and that the care even of Prof. Venable could not eradicate, I accept as wholly my own. For much, on the one hand, that it may seem should have been excluded, and on the Other, for giving place to ideas nearer to empiricism than to science, I am also responsible. For vexing my friends with problems that seemingly do not concern in the least men in my position, and for venturing to think, superficially, it may be, outside the restricted lines of a science bound to the unresponsive crucible and retort, to which my life has been given, and amid the problems of which it has nearly worn itself away, I have no plausible excuse, and shall seek none. Books are as tombstones made by the living for the living, but destined soon only to remind us of the dead. The preface, like an epitaph, seems vainly to "implore the passing tribute" of a moment's interest. No man is allured by either a grave-inscription or a preface, unless it be accompanied by that ineffable charm which age casts over mortal productions. Libraries, in one sense, represent cemeteries, and the rows of silent volumes, with their dim titles, suggest burial tablets, many of which, alas! mark only cenotaphs—empty tombs. A modern book, no matter how talented the author, carries with it a familiar personality which may often be treated with neglect or even contempt, but a volume a century old demands some reverence; a vellum-bound or hog-skin print, or antique yellow parchment, two, three, five hundred years old, regardless of its contents, impresses one with an indescribable feeling akin to awe and veneration,—as does the wheat from an Egyptian tomb, even though it be only wheat. We take such a work from the shelf carefully, and replace it gently. While the productions of modern writers are handled familiarly, as men living jostle men yet alive; those of authors long dead are touched as tho' clutched by a hand from the unseen world; the reader feels that a phantom form opposes his own, and that spectral eyes scan the pages as he turns them

People who read this also enjoyed

Get a 1 year subscription
for / issue

Read This On

You can read this item using any of the following Kobo apps and devices:

  • DESKTOP
  • eREADERS
  • TABLETS
  • IOS
  • ANDROID
  • BLACKBERRY
  • WINDOWS