If I have not already exhausted the patience of my readers, I would

like to seize this opportunity perhaps the last I shall have of

addressing so many friends at once of putting on record some ideas that

have occurred to me, as to books desirable to be written–which I

should much like to attempt, but may not ever have the time or power to

carry through–in the hope that, if I should fail (and the years are

gliding away very fast) to finish the task I have set myself, other

hands may take it up.

First, a Child’s Bible. The only real essentials of this would be,

carefully selected passages, suitable for a child’s reading

and pictures. One principle of selection, which I would adopt, would be

that Religion should be put before a child as a revelation of love no

need to pain and puzzle the young mind with the history of crime and

punishment. (On such a principle I should, for example, omit the

history of the Flood.) The supplying of the pictures would involve no

great difficulty: no new ones would be needed: hundreds of excellent

pictures already exist, the copyright of which has long ago expired,

and which simply need photo-zincography, or some similar process, for

their successful reproduction. The book should be handy in size with a

pretty attractive looking cover–in a clear legible type–and, above all,

with abundance of pictures, pictures, pictures!

Secondly, a book of pieces selected from the Bible–not single texts,

but passages of from 10 to 20 verses each–to be committed to memory.

Such passages would be found useful, to repeat to one’s self and to

ponder over, on many occasions when reading is difficult, if not

impossible: for instance, when lying awake at night–on a railway-journey

–when taking a solitary walk-in old age, when eye-sight is failing of

wholly lost–and, best of all, when illness, while incapacitating us for

reading or any other occupation, condemns us to lie awake through many

weary silent hours: at such a time how keenly one may realise the truth

of David’s rapturous cry ‘O how sweet are thy words unto my throat: yea,

sweeter than honey unto my mouth!’

I have said ‘passages,’ rather than single texts, because we have no

means of recalling single texts: memory needs links, and here are none:

one may have a hundred texts stored in the memory, and not be able to

recall, at will, more than half-a-dozen–and those by mere chance:

whereas, once get hold of any portion of a chapter that has been

committed to memory, and the whole can be recovered: all hangs together.

Thirdly, a collection of passages, both prose and verse, from books

other than the Bible. There is not perhaps much, in what is called

‘un-inspired’ literature (a misnomer, I hold: if Shakespeare was not

inspired, one may well doubt if any man ever was), that will bear the

process of being pondered over, a hundred times: still there are such

passages–enough, I think, to make a goodly store for the memory.

These two books of sacred, and secular, passages for memory–will serve

other good purposes besides merely occupying vacant hours: they will

help to keep at bay many anxious thoughts, worrying thoughts,

uncharitable thoughts, unholy thoughts. Let me say this, in better

words than my own, by copying a passage from that most interesting book,

Robertson’s Lectures on the Epistles to the Corinthians, Lecture XLIX.

“If a man finds himself haunted by evil desires and unholy images,

which will generally be at periodical hours, let him commit to

memory passages of Scripture, or passages from the best writers in

verse or prose. Let him store his mind with these, as safeguards to

repeat when he lies awake in some restless night, or when despairing

imaginations, or gloomy, suicidal thoughts, beset him. Let these be to

him the sword, turning everywhere to keep the way of the Garden of Life

from the intrusion of profaner footsteps.”

Fourthly, a “Shakespeare” for girls: that is, an edition in which

everything, not suitable for the perusal of girls of (say) from 10 to 17,

should be omitted. Few children under 10 would be likely to understand

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Categories: Carroll, Lewis