A man may usually be known by the books he reads as well as by the company he keeps: for there is a companionship of books as well as of men; and one should always live in the best company, whether it be of books or of men.
A good book may be among the best of friends. It is the same today that it always was, and it will never change. It is the most patient and cheerful of companions. It does not turn its back upon us in times of trouble or distress. It always receives us with the same kindness, amusing and instructing usin youth, and comforting us in age.
Books possess an extract having the fundamental properties of immortality. They are by far the most lasting products of human effort. Temples and statues decay, but books survive. Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh today as when they first passed through their author'sminds ages ago. The only effect of time has been to sift out the bad products, for nothing in literature can long survive but what is really good.
Books introduce us into the best society: they bring us into the presence of the greatest minds that have ever lived. We hear what they said and did. we see them as if they were really alive; we sympathize with them, enjoy with them, hurt with them; their experience becomes ours, and we feel as if we were, in a measure, actors with them in the scenes which they describe.
The great and good do not die even in this world. Embalmed in books, their spirits walk abroad. The book is a living voice. It is an intellect to which one still listens. Hence we ever remain under the influence of the great men of old. The great intellects of the world are as much alive now as they were ages ago.