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Literature

Literature

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Published by glennpease
BY ROBERT F. HORTON

Vita sine litteris est mors was a saying of Robert-
son, the Scottish historian — "Life without litera-
ture is death." But a sick doubt sometimes steals
over the world, in the incredible multiplication of
written and printed matter, whether life even with
literature is much better.
BY ROBERT F. HORTON

Vita sine litteris est mors was a saying of Robert-
son, the Scottish historian — "Life without litera-
ture is death." But a sick doubt sometimes steals
over the world, in the incredible multiplication of
written and printed matter, whether life even with
literature is much better.

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Published by: glennpease on Feb 10, 2014
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LITERATURE BY ROBERT F. HORTON Vita sine litteris est mors was a saying of Robert-son, the Scottish historian — "Life without litera-ture is death." But a sick doubt sometimes steals over the world, in the incredible multiplication of written and printed matter, whether life even with literature is much better. When books were few and rare, and (despite Bacon's pessimistic view that the weighty things sink in the stream of time and only the driftwood and the bubbles and the froth are carried down on its bosom) only those that were of weight survived, when a newspaper was an event, and even letters were written with care as if for pos-terity, the student in his library might easily feel that he breathed the air of the immortals and conversed with the good and great of all time. Such a commerce with what is noble in literature was a finer life; to be deprived of it would naturally seem to be death. But when the flood of written and printed matter assumes vast {Proportions, when the ephemeral writing of the day, in papers or books, leaves no time for reference to the solemn and silent monitors upon the shelves,
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when writing is a trade for wresting from the restless 255 256 GREAT ISSUES and curious mind of man a living, and journalism becomes the record of facts which do not happen for the benefit of minds that do not think, then literature, if all that is written and printed is to assume the venerable name, appears as a muddy and defiling deluge, in which, though the precious products of time are still tossed and whirled, the mind is more likely to be debauched and defiled by the flood than to be saved by the treasures. Life wiih letters is a death for the imhappy minds that feed upon vanity, for children who use the art of reading to debauch their spirits with sensational stories, for men who use it to exasperate the fever of gambling, and the like. None but a pessimist would say that a cheap press means more evil than
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good to the world, but he must be a blind optimist who does not recognize that the evil goes near to balancing the good. Life without letters is death! But in contrast with the city population feeding on the garbage of the daily press, with no palate for any writing which is not spiced with lubricity, or malice, or sensational-ism, consider the illiterate, still to be found in re-mote and quiet places, old men who live in dumb contact with the vital earth, or the still more vital heavens, tossed on the crisp waves of the sea, bronzed with the weather, hardy with the han-dling of the rope or of the spade. These illiterates are at least in presence of the living forces of Nature, and know the solemnity and uplift of the eternal LITERATUSE 257 things. They read in the legends of the stones and the hedgerows more salutary messages than the paragraphs of the daily press; they hear in the twitter
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