Books are not . . . dead things, but do [contain a certain potency] of life in them . . . as active as that soul whose progeny they are; they preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy . . . of that living intellect that bred them.
This is the month, and this the happy morn, Wherein the Son of Heaven's eternal King, Of wedded maid, and virgin mother born, Our great redemption from above did bring; For so the holy sages once did sing, That He our deadly forfeit should release, And with His Father work us a perpetual peace.
John Milton (1608 - 1674)
Source: Hymn. One the Morning of Christ’s Nativity
In those vernal seasons of the year when the air is calm and pleasant, it were an injury and sullenness against nature not to go out and see her riches, and partake in her rejoicing with heaven and earth.
When I consider how my light is spent, Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide, And that one talent which is death to hide Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent To serve therewith my Maker, and present My true account, lest He returning chide, "Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?" I fondly ask; But patience, to prevent That murmur, soon replies "God doth not need Either man's work or his own gifts. Who best Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His state Is kingly: thousands at His bidding speed And post o'er land and ocean without rest; They also serve who only stand and wait."
As good almost kill a man as kill a good book: who kills a man kills a reasonable creature, God's image; but he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself, kills the image of God, as it were in the eye.
Books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul was whose progeny they are; nay they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them.