We go eastward to realize history and study the works of art and literature, retracing the steps of the race; we go westward as into the future, with a spirit of enterprise and adventure.
In literature it is only the wild that attracts us.
English literature, from the days of the minstrels to the Lake Poets--Chaucer and Spenser and Milton, and even Shakespeare, included--breathes no quite fresh and, in this sense, wild strain.
If I lay awake, noting the wild pulsations of my heart, and listening to the death-watch in the wall, I was certainly very much scared, but I was not without the consolation that I was at least a sufferer for literature.
Their modest old brown cloth binding had long been a quiet warrant of quality in the literature it covered, and now this splendid blossom of the bookmaking art, as it seemed, was fitly employed to convey the sweetness and richness of the loveliest poetry that I thought the world had yet known.
I was willing to do as much of it as I could get to do, but I distrusted my health, somewhat, and I had many forebodings, which my adored poet helped me to transfigure to the substance of literature, or enabled me for the time to forget.
On the whole, however, there is no greater ethical, moral, and spiritual force in English Literature than Carlyle, and so much of his thought has passed into the common possession of all thinking persons to-day that we are all often his debtors when we are least conscious of it.
To 1865 belongs his most widely-read book, 'Sesame and Lilies,' three lectures on the spiritual meaning of great literature in contrast to materialism, the glory of womanhood, and the mysterious significance of life.
Two thousand summers have imparted to the monuments of Grecian literature, as to her marbles, only a maturer golden and autumnal tint, for they have carried their own serene and celestial atmosphere into all lands to protect them against the corrosion of time.
I think that having learned our letters we should read the best that is in literature, and not be forever repeating our a-b-abs, and words of one syllable, in the fourth or fifth classes, sitting on the lowest and foremost form all our lives.
All that we reckoned settled shakes and rattles; and literatures, cities, climates, religions, leave their foundations and dance before our eyes.
The use of literature is to afford us a platform whence we may command a view of our present life, a purchase by which we may move it.