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THE PUBLISHER'S FESTIVAL.
which floods, for its possessor, all things visible and invisible with its unceasing radiance, brighter than the sunlight. Under this inspiration, his mind clothes in its own forms of beauty the world of things he sees not, weaves from its own abundant stores garments of light and loveliness' for his wife, his children, and his friends; and creates, from the common material that every-day sounds furnish-from the talk of the fireside; from a friend's voice reading the daily newspaper; from the street cries, the tread of many feet, and the rattle of wheels in the busy city; from the tinkle of cow-bells, the babble of brooks, and the songs of birds in the country--a world of its own, in which he lives (in spite of what appears to be, and is so great a privation)—a life far richer in joy, and peace, and gladness than falls to the lot of ordinary men."
The following is an imperfect newspaper report of an address delivered by Mr. Milburn, at the "Publishers' Festival,” held in the Crystal Palace, New York, in 1855. It describes, in a graphic and amusing manner, some of his difficulties in the pursuit of knowledge, and gives a sketch of his experience as a "pioneer preacher."
“MR. PRESIDENT: I sincerely thank you for your honourable recognition of the Clergy. Perhaps that branch of it to which I belong may not be the least worthy to respond to your sentiment, for they were probably the first to penetrate the wilds of the new countries, carrying those precious commodities-books. "Were the Church compared to an army, I should say that the other clergymen present belonged to the Artillery, and good service are they doing in their permanent positions at the batteries and in the trenches, against our common foes, Ignorance and Sin. I happened to be draughted in the Light Brigade, whose service was upon the outskirts of the camp. In a ministry, the twelfth year of which completed itself yesterday, it has fallen to my lot to travel over two hundred thousand
miles in the performance of clerical duties. Our training, as itinerant ministers, began in the saddle, and, in lieu of holsters, we carried saddle-bags crammed with books for study and for sale; for our church economy held it a duty of the minister to circulate good books, as well as to preach the Word.
"Let me change the figure. Although we were graduates of Brush College and the Swamp University, we were always the friends of a wholesome literature. Picture, then, a young itinerant, clad in blue jean or copperas homespun; his nether extremities adorned with leggings; his head surmounted with a straw hat in summer, a skin cap in winter; dismounting from the finest horse in the settlement, at the door of a log cabin, which may serve as a schoolhouse or a squatter's home, carefully adjusting on his arm the well-worn leather bookcase. See
him as he enters the house of one room where is assembled the little congregation of half-a-dozen or a dozen hearers-backwoods farmers and hunters, bringing with them their wives and little ones, their hounds and rifles. The religious service is gone through regularly as in a cathedral. At its close, our young friend opens the capacious pockets of his saddle-bags, displaying on the splint-bottom chair which has served him as a pulpit, his little stock of books, to the eager gaze of the foresters.
"Thus, day after day does the circuit-rider perform his double duties, as preacher and bookseller. Not a few men of my acquaintance have driven a large trade in this line, turning thereby many an honest penny. The plan was designed to work as a two-edged sword, cutting both ways-to place a sound religious literature in the homes of the people, and (as we bought at a discount of thirty-three per cent.) to enable men whose salaries were a hundred dollars a year, and who rejoiced greatly if they received half that amount, to provide themselves with libraries. But most of my sales were on credit, and some of the accounts are still, after eleven years, outstanding. I therefore quitted the business at the end of the first year.
"From this picture you will see that the relations of the clergy to the book trade are more intimate than may be generally known. "But wherefore am I speaking at a festival given to literary men-a man who cannot read? No one would cast a shadow,
STUDIES AND RESULTS.
however slight, upon a joyous scene like this. But if á testimony to the worth of knowledge may be wrung from infirmity, surely a further personal allusion may be pardoned.
66 Time was, when, after a fashion, I could read; but never with that flashing glance which instantly transfers a word, a line, a sentence from the page to the mind. It was the perpetuation of the child's process, a letter at a time, always spelling, never reading truly. Thus, for more than twenty years, with the shade upon the brow, the hand upon the cheek, the finger beneath the eye, to make an artificial pupil, with beaded sweat joining with the hot tears trickling from the weak and paining organ, to blister upon the page, was my reading done. Nevertheless, as I have striven to study my native tongue in Shakspeare's dictionary, and eloquence in the well-nigh inspired page of Milton, or endeavoured to look through the sightless sockets yet life-giving mind of Homer, upon the plain of Troy; or have sat me at a wayside, with solitary Bartimeus, to hear, if we could not see the Son of Man, I have found that knowledge is its own exceeding great reward.
"The waters of the fountain of learning are not the less, perhaps more sweet, because mixed with the bitter drops of suffering.
"Gentlemen booksellers, the leaves you scatter are from the tree whose fruit is for the healing of the nations. Gentlemen publishers, the well-heads opened in your press-rooms may send forth streams to refresh and gladden the homes of a continent, so that the parched land shall beco ne a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water, and in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass, with reeds and rushes.'
"But if I magnify the office of a maker and seller of a book, how much more the author's. As Wolfe sadly and sweetly recited Gray's Elegy, upon the St. Lawrence, the night before his glorious fall on the plains of Abraham, he said, 'I would rather have the honour of writing that poem, than of taking Quebec to-morrow.'
"Were I to paraphrase his thoughts to my wish, it would be thus. Could I have written the Sketch Book (turning to Mr. Irving), almost every word of which I had by heart before I was eight years old; or could I have sung that ode commencing
'The groves were God's first temples' (turning to Mr. Bryant), which I committed to memory in a saddle on a Western prairie, cheerfully would I go through life, binding this badge of infirmity upon my brow, to wear it as a crown, or groping in the unbroken darkness, so were it the Father's will, for threescore years and ten of man's appointed time.
66 But, what though the Sage's pen and Poet's song be not ours to utter and to wield! Is not the man greater than the author? Nor is theirs any ignoble lot who are called to learn and show that,
They also serve, who only stand and wait.'"
His industry is
The lectures contained in this volume will show that their author is possessed of genius; but they will also show that he does not trust to this, but seeks to perfect his work by skill and labour. said to be untiring. No source of information within his reach is left unransacked for facts to form the basis of his lectures. The reader will observe, throughout the following pages, the proofs of large knowledge. The body of each discourse is made up of sound and valuable information. For the acquisition of this, the author is necessarily dependent upon the assistance of others. It is an interesting fact, and worthy to be mentioned in any "talk about women," that Mr. Milburn's wife, "a woman of thorough education and practical good sense, is his principal reader. She has read to him, at some periods, ten hours a day for weeks; often four or five at a sitting; and occasionally fifteen out of the twenty-four!"