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THOSE who have the pleasure of attending the opening meetings of schools and colleges, and of giving away prizes and certificates, are generally expected at the same time to offer such words of counsel and encouragement as the experience of the world might enable them to give to those who are entering life.
Having been myself when young rather prone to suffer from low spirits, I have at several of these gatherings taken the opportunity of dwelling on the privileges and blessings we enjoy, and I reprint here the substance of some of these addresses
(omitting what was special to the circumstances of each case, and freely making any alterations and additions which have since occurred to me), hoping that the thoughts and quotations in which I have myself found most comfort may perhaps be of use to others also.
It is hardly necessary to say that I have not by any means referred to all the sources of happiness open to us, some indeed of the greatest pleasures and blessings being altogether omitted.
In reading over the proofs I feel that some sentences may appear too dogmatic, but I hope that allowance will be made for the circumstances under which they were delivered.
TO THE TWENTIETH EDITION
A LECTURE which I delivered three years ago at the Working Men's College, and which forms the fourth chapter of this book, has given rise to a good deal of discussion. The Pall Mall Gazette took up the subject and issued a circular to many of those best qualified to express an opinion. This elicited many interesting replies, and some other lists of books were drawn up. When my book was translated, a similar discussion took place in Germany. The result has been very gratifying, and after carefully considering the suggestions which have been made, I see no reason for any material change in the first list. I had not presumed to form a list of my own, nor did I profess to give my own favourites. My attempt was to give those most generally recommended by previous writers on the subject. In the various criticisms on my list, while large additions, amounting to several hundred works in all, have been proposed, very few omissions have been suggested. As regards those works with reference to which some doubts have been expressed — namely, the few Oriental books, Wake's Apostolic Fathers, etc.—I may observe that I drew up the list, not as that of the hundred best books, but, which is very different, of those which have been most frequently recommended as best worth reading.
For instance as regards the Sheking and the Analects of Confucius, I must humbly confess that I do not greatly admire either ; but I recommended them
because they are held in the most profound veneration by the Chinese race, containing 400,000,000 of our fellow-men. I may add that both works are quite short.
The Ramayana and Maha Bharata (as epitomised by Wheeler) and St. Hilaire's Bouddha are not only very interesting in themselves, but very important in reference to our great oriental Empire.
The authentic writings of the Apostolic Fathers are very short, being indeed comprised in one small volume, and as the only works (which have come down to us) of those who lived with and knew the Apostles, they are certainly well worth reading.
I have been surprised at the great divergence of opinion which has been expressed. Nine lists of some length have been published. These lists contain some three hundred works not mentioned