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Entertaining Books Post by :pss2040 Category :Essays Author :Lydia H. Sigourney Date :November 2011 Read :2033

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Entertaining Books

The age in which we live abounds with entertaining books. Stories of every description, some of them containing good lessons, are exceedingly numerous. Those of the better class furnish food for fancy and feeling.

Fiction has its peculiar attractions, and so has truth. Imagination can scarcely devise more strange events, more striking characters, or more romantic results, than occur on the pages of history. The entertainment derived from true books is the most valuable, because it is the most worthy of being remembered. The mind rests upon it with satisfaction. It accords with its native tastes. The child as soon as it can speak, says, "Please to tell me a true story." Those who are most familiar with unfolding infancy, agree, that incidents simplified from the Scriptures, delight it, though they may be frequently repeated.

So, from the great storehouse of history, the young may entertain and enrich themselves at the same time. By extending their acquaintance through past ages and distant nations, the powers of thought expand themselves, an acquaintance with illustrious characters is formed, and knowledge gained which will be profitable through life, both for reflection and conversation.

Some have objected, that a wide range of history may give the young mind a premature introduction to the vices and follies that disgrace mankind. Yet thus to study them on the map of man, and to form a correct opinion of good and evil, and to deepen the love of virtue, and the hatred of vice, by the force of selected examples, might prepare the young better to understand character, and resist temptation, in the actual struggle of life. The entertainments of history may be as safe as those of fiction, and more salutary. If they sometimes reveal the whirlpools of ambition or the abysses of cruelty, they change the scene, and present the quiet waters of peace fertilizing the valleys, and the pure rose of virtue blooming in the wilderness. Examples of true greatness, generosity, and piety, if less frequent than those of an opposite nature, borrow force from contrast, and may therefore make a deeper impression, and awaken a stronger desire of imitation.

The entertainments of history aid in acquiring a knowledge of human nature. We there see what man has been from the beginning, and what motives or temptations have moved him to good or to evil. Great care should be taken to form a correct judgment, and to measure by a true standard of excellence those whom the world has called illustrious.

Especially, should opinions be cautiously formed, of those whose fame rests only upon military exploits. Though the pride, cruelty, and revenge, that stain many of those whom the Old World applauded as heroes, are in a measure palliated because they were heathen, still we are bound to judge of right and wrong, as Christians. When we think of the misery, mourning, and death, that marked their course upon the earth, we cannot but wonder by what rule of equity, "one murder should make a villain, and many, a hero!"

To purchase a single conquest, how many eyes have wept, how many bosoms been pierced, how many hearts broken. If victories, and triumphs, and trophies, dazzle the eye, look at their dark reverse: torrents of blood flowing, widows and orphans plunged in despair, throngs of unprepared souls driven into the presence of their Maker.

The patriotism that dares danger for the preservation of liberty, the firmness that repels the encroachments of tyranny, the courage that protects those whose lives are entrusted to its care, differ from the ambition that is willing to build its glory on contention, suffering, and death. This spirit is at war with His precepts, at whose birth the harps of angels breathed the song of "Peace on earth, and good-will to men."

History may be read by the young with a resolution of transcribing into their own character, whatever it exhibits that is "just, lovely, and of good report." Thus will its pages not only afford rational entertainment, but be subservient to usefulness and piety in this life, and to the happiness of that which is to come.

(The end)
Lydia H. Sigourney's essay: Entertaining Books

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