281 CHRONICLESneasily than a rich man?nIt would be an agonizing reappraisal,nthat final weeding of the shelves.nWell, let me set down here merelynthree such books from my own library,nby way of supplementing Perrin’s 40nand suggesting what a rich diversity ofnchoices every one of us CommonnReaders possesses.nOne of those three might benDreamthorp, by Alexander Smith, anlittle book of meditations published inn1863 —once well-known, but now seldomnmentioned. The Scots borough ofnDreamthorp, by its loch, is modelednupon the real town of Linlithgow, nownsadly altered from what it was innSmith’s day. Those Common Readersnwho know George Gissing’s slim volumenThe Private Papers of HenrynRyecroft — which is to be regarded as anclassic, I suppose, else I would includenit among my three—will understandnmy strong affection for Dreamthorp, itsnserenity tinged with graceful melancholy.nI do counsel you, CommonnReaders, to read Smith’s essays “OnnDeath and the Fear of Dying” and “AnShelf in My Bookcase.”nAnother of those three might benArthur Morrison’s Tales of MeannStreets (1894), I being something of anconnoisseur of tumbledown lanes myself.nThese are realistic stories ofnLondon’s East End, grim if often humorous,nby a man who was no sentimentalist.nI cannot resist mentioningnalso Morrison’s two novels of thenslums, A Child of the Jago and ThenHole in the Wall, full of terror, full ofnfortitude. “The Hole in the Wall” is annEast End pub; the novel commencesnengagingly, “My grandfather was anpublican — and a sinner, as you willnsee.”nDr. Perrin’s list began with a lady,nand mine must end with one: IrisnOrigo, the half-American granddaughternof an Irish Earl, the wife of annItalian marquis. Her charmingly writtennstudies of medieval Tuscany arenmodels of humane scholarship. But hernbook that I would carry with me forneternal delight would be War in Valnd’Orca, a journal of her precariousnexistence in rural Tuscany during thenSecond World War, when she and hernhusband gave shelter to partisans andnescaped prisoners of war and variousnwaifs and strays (published in 1947).nYankee Slavers by Clyde Wilsonn”Slavery they can have anywhere. It is a weed thatngrows in every soil.”n— Edmund BurkenProslavery: A History of thenDefense of Slavery in America,n1701-1840 by Larry E. Tise,nAthens and London: University ofnGeorgia Press; $40.nThe better part of a century ago, thengreat scholar A.E. Housman observednthat most of the new books thatncame across his desk served no purposenwhatever “except to interrupt our studies.”nThis is certainly the case todaynwith the vast literature in Americannhistory. And, generally speaking, thenmore prestigious the publisher and theninstitution of higher education after thenClyde Wilson is the editor of ThenPapers of John C. Calhoun.nauthor’s name, the more useless thenbook is.nThat is not true, however, in regardnto the work in review, which exhibitsntruly what many dust jackets proclaimnfalsely: original research and insight andnreal “relevance” in pursuit of the historian’snduty to make the past comprehensiblenand usable. That is, Proslaveryncuts through existing conventions andnold propaganda and uncovers fresh andntruthful aspects of that great middle eranof American history which precedednthe Civil War. What Tise has discoverednwill disappoint and demoralizenmany, I suspect, but a society whichnengages in convenient forgetfulnessnand comforting distortion about criticalnaspects of its past is at least as deludednand in need of therapy as an individualnnnOr should I choose, instead, her wisenand elegant memoirs, Images andnShadows? Should I buy a bigger bookbagnfor my celestial travels, and crowdnin all her books?nBut enough of trying to pick andnchoose among the thousands of booksnon my shelves, some of which I havenread but once, and others not at all!nThat way lies madness. Noel Perrinnmeans to divert us, not to confine usnwithin literary ramparts.nHis is the latest endeavor at callingnto our attention books that wake soundnsentiments or rouse the imagination.nOf earlier lively ventures of this kind, Incommend particularly Sir ArthurnQuiller-Couch’s The Art of Readingn(1920) and Montgomery Belgion’snReading for Profit (1945)—both ofnthese being, however, somewhat systematicnstudies, which A Reader’s Delightndoes not pretend to be. Browse innPerrin’s book for the fun of it; doubtlessnhe will be content if he has helped tonredeem a few souls from servitude tonthe boob tube or the tawdry fascinationsnof the best-seller list.nwho does so.nIt is not too much to say that whatnTise brings to light suggests the neednfor major revisions in American intellectualnand religious history, as theynhave been commonly recounted. And,nthough unintended, the book also createsna new and interesting perspectivenon the genealogy of the American rightnand left, whatever they may be. Norndoes it detract from the credit of thenauthor that the evidence he adducesnhas always been obvious in the historicalnrecord for anyone who has eyes tonsee that it really should not be surprising.nBecause American historians, inngeneral, are incapable of thinking exceptnalong the lines of conventions thatnhave been prefabricated for them, andnoften look without seeing, it is alwaysnan achievement to break through theirnorthodoxies. For the evidence presentednhere has not been so muchnunknown as it has been deliberatelynthrust from conscious recognition.nTo place this book among the manynbooks on slavery, we need to lookn