I hope you're having a wonderful Labor Day if you're in the U.S.A., relaxing and maybe reading a good book. Thanks to this blog, I found about this author, Emily Hickey, and her book Our Catholic Heritage in English Literature of Pre-Conquest Days. In that Project Gutenberg resource I read this brief chapter:
A man who made many a man and woman love literature and helped them to study it, the late Professor Henry Morley, has said that one who thinks that a bookroom is not a part of the world; one who thinks that, in leaving his books and going forth to commune with nature he is, as it were, passing from death to life, is one who has not yet learned to read. The good Professor saw that books have souls in them, so to speak, and that to love a book really and truly is to hold communion with that which is living and is a part of the great, beautiful scheme of God's great, beautiful world. To love one part of what Our Father has given us should never lead us to despise, or even undervalue, other parts. And we must remember, too, must we not? how one thing helps us to understand another; how great painters and great poets help us to understand the beauty of nature as we might not have understood it without them, just as they help us also to know men and women, and help us to know better some of the fair things in our great and glorious religion; things which God can and does teach without their help when He chooses, though He graciously and lovingly often uses their help—the help He has given them the power of giving—to teach others of His children. Our Father, being Our Father, not just your Father and my Father and his Father and her Father, but Our Father, the Father of us all as one big family of His, brothers and sisters in Him, wills that we all help one another with the gifts He has given us; and the more we can realise that all separate gifts are parts of one great harmonious whole, the more fully we shall live and feel and enjoy.
There is, of course, a delight in exquisite typography, and hand-made paper, and binding into which the soul of a true artist has gone. People may be willing to give large sums for these things, independently of the value of what is under them; or people may value books for their age, or because they are rare, or because they are records of facts which it is well to know and good to be able to verify.
But there is a better way of love than all of these. One may love the book through which one holds communion with the spirit of its writer, being ready to learn from him by direct learning, or by the learning received through suggestion, or through the rousing of the spirit of enquiry, or the spirit of opposition. Is not this the best kind of love, the love by which the thought of man is used by man, the spirit of man holds communion with the spirit of man?
All through the ages, great things have been handed down by written words, and people of all nations have shared one another's national heritage of written thought, and in that sharing made it larger and greater. We are now considering the earlier story of English Catholic literature, and it is surely well that people should know something of what things were said and sung in the olden time; the time when all art, all literature was fed by the great Mother of all Christian art and all Christian literature, the Holy Catholic Church.
As The Catholic English Teacher's main source for his post wrote in The Guardian:
A talented and complex writer, scholar and translator, Emily Henrietta Hickey, 1845-1923, was the daughter of a Protestant rector of Goresbridge, County Wexford. She eventually become a lecturer at Cambridge University, and a Catholic convert. Her history of English Catholic literature is still well worth reading for its lucidity and enthusiasm. She translated verse and tales from the Irish, and might seem to belong to the movement known as the Irish Literary Revival; however, she had a wide-ranging interest in languages and literature, and her contribution to the Revival doesn't seem to have had a nationalist motivation. She was a campaigning feminist, yet became, in her later life, primarily a religious writer. Probably her best-known work is her translation of the late Anglo-Saxon poem, The Battle of Maldon.
"One may love the book through which one holds communion with the spirit of its writer, being ready to learn from him by direct learning, or by the learning received through suggestion, or through the rousing of the spirit of enquiry, or the spirit of opposition."--that's what I love about reading! Happy Labor Day!