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Cottage Grove, MN
5 Stars Out Of 5
Timeless wisdom needed in the 21st century.
July 26, 2012
Cottage Grove, MN
Have you read your enchiridion today? Do you even know what an enchiridion is? I didn't either until I looked it up at dictionary.com. An enchiridion is a handbook or manual and that's exactly how William Penn referred to his little book of proverbs, wisddom, and principles for better living, commonly known as Some Fruits of Solitude. Attic Books (an imprint of New Leaf Publishing Group) recently published a beautiful edition of Some Fruits of Solitude, which preserves the character, style, and content of the spectacular 1901 edition published by Archibald Constable & Co. Ltd, London.
This new edition from Attic books has an elegant weathered look and feel to it, complete with tattered page edges. The book itself is a work of art and is s an intriguing show piece that will certainly stand out on your bookshelf, desk, or coffee table. Visitors to your home or office will want to pick it up just to find out what it is.
According to the introduction, "The form of "Some Fruits of Solitude" is wholly due to the influence of La Rochefoucauld`s famous compendium of sentences, the vogue of which was at its height in England when Penn wrote." (introduction, p. xx - xi) William Penn most likely composed his maxims between 1665 and 1693.
The subject matter covered throughout the book is quite broad, touching on 165 different topics. These include education, discipline, friendship, justice, ambition, jealousy, leadership, and much much more. The number of maxims presented throughout the book comes in at a whopping total of 855. That's a lot of ground to cover in only 170 pages!
Here a few of the maxims that particularly resonated with me:
*Pride - "In his Prayers he says, Thy Will be done: But means his own: At least acts so." (p. 10)
*Indifferency - "Indifference is good in Judgment, bout bad i nRelation, and stark nought in Religion." (p. 82)
*Of Envy - "But certainly they are in the Wrong, that can think they are lessened, because others have their Due." (p. 128)
*Of Jealousy - "The Jealous are Troublesome to others, but a Torment to themselves." (p. 147)
*Of Conduct in Speech - "It is safer to Learn, than teach; and who conceals his Opinion, has nothing to Answer for." (p. 134)
Some Fruits of Solitude is the kind of book that will make you sit up and think deeply about how you conduct yourself in all parts of your life. The wisdom Penn offers in these pages is timeless and is fruitful and profitable for people in the 21st century, just as it was for his contemporaries in 17th century. I recommend this book for readers of all ages and think it could be put to good use as a daily reading for personal reflection or as a book to share from around the dinner table.
Disclaimer: This book was provided by Attic books for review. The reviewer was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.
Here's a treasure trove of wisdom from yesteryear. Written be William Penn and given as "Proverbs, Wisdom, and Principles For Better Living." Yes, that is the William Penn of Pennsylvania fame. It's not a book about solitude, but the wisdom he came up within periods of solitude. Perhaps we need more solitude if we could have as much insight as he did.
The book is set up in categories like pride, luxury, frugality or bounty, right marriage, and many more. Yes, as you would expect, a category on friendship is included. This book can be taken in large or small chunks. I read several of these statements to my family and they spurred some good discussions. I would find my wife Alicia picking it up and reading it as well. Guess which one she found and loved the most? "Between a man and his wife nothing ought to rule but love. Authority is for children and servants: yet not without sweetness." Strangely, that's the very same one the publishers found best to put on the back cover. She and I both felt this book had good things to say to families. Our children need these forgotten truths.
Older words are used at times and that may turn off some, but you can pretty easily understand the statements. Plus it has that classic look and feel to it.
As I read it I so wished the people with influence in our country still viewed the world as Mr. Penn did. I say let's bring back this type of common sense.
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 .
Just had to say that...sorry. (Really, I'm not at all sorry...Attic Books is a gem!)
You see, I am an antique book freak. I'm the girl who goes into the antique store and heads straight to the books. Children's books, classic books, books of various themes that interest me...even hymnals!
Yes, that's me. There...it's out...I've said it.
So, when I am blessed with the honor of reading and reviewing antique books reprinted as they were written in ages past...do you think I am thankful?! Well, that's an understatement.
Take for instance Some Fruits of Solitude by William Penn. This beautiful, small book has the typical Attic Books torn-edged ecru pages and antique-looking hardback cover. Something unique about it for me is that I am pretty certain it is the oldest book (other than the Bible) I have read so far. Reading old books is like a mental workout---a good one. It trains you to read carefully and think about what you are reading. Like with this 17th century treasure. I admit it is cumbersome reading at times, but well worth it!
With its sometimes poetic, short-versed, Proverb-like style, it is no wonder that Some Fruits of Solitude was a daily inspiration to the likes of Robert Louis Stevenson.
I could quote all day long from the short 170 pages of this book, but I will choose just a few to leave you with as I again HIGHLY recommend you check into the selection of gems that Attic Books offers.
As Attic Books states in the Publisher's Notes:
An edition such as this of William Penn's work may at first seem to be a challenging endeavor. Yet, seeing the work in its original style, with what some would call its archaic style of spelling or spelling variants from the 17th century, is an important preservation of the original work.
And now from the author himself:
~ READER,---This Enchiridion, I present thee with, is the Fruit of Solitude: A School few care to learn in, tho' None instructs us better.
~ Despise no Body, nor no Condition; lest it come to be thine own.
~ Opportunities should never be lost, because they can hardly be regained.
~ Do Good with what thou hast, or it will do thee no good.
~ Too few know when they have Enough; and fewer know how to employ it.
~ Patience and Diligence, like Faith, remove Mountains.
~ It must be therefore a gross Fault to strive so hard for the Pleasure of our Bodies, and be so insensible and careless of the Freedom of our Souls.
~ Death cannot kill, what never dies.
~ The truest end of Life, is, to know the Life that never ends.
I leave you with a few of my own final thoughts---or questions, rather.
- Do you know that Life that never ends?
- Do you have that Freedom of your Soul?
- Will death kill you or merely send you home?
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from New Leaf Publishing Group. No other compensation was received. The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.
I love all books in general but there is something special about a really good old book. That being the case, I was delighted to discover this reprint of William Penn's Fruits of Solitude. I like the size of the book and the old tattered look of the cover, along with the torn edge pages, really add a nice touch of antique feeling to this new reprint of an old classic. I also especially like that the book was not updated in any way but all the old style spelling and format left in its original style. That just added to the special charm of the book.
I found this little gem to be full of words of wisdom. It reminded me of reading Proverbs from the Bible as the format of small tidbits of advice is the same. You can really get a lot to contemplate and learn from by these small little pieces of observation. It doesn't take long to read this small volume but it could well take a lifetime to truly ponder all the words of wisdom tucked inside.
Consider a few:
It is admirable to consider how many Millions of People come into, and go out of the World, Ignorant of themselves, and of the World they have lived in.
Lend not beyond thy Ability, or refuse to lend out of thy Ability; especially when it will help others more than it can hut thee.
Men are generally more careful of the Breed of their Horses and Dogs than of their Children.
Do Good with what thou hast, or it will do thee no good.
Avoid Popularity. It has many Snares, and no real Benefit to thy self; and Uncertainty to others.
If thou wouldest conquer thy Weakness, thou must never gratify it. Speak properly, and in as few Words as you can, but always plainly; for the End of Speech is not Ostentation, but to be understood.
The Jealous are Troublesome to others, but a Torment to themselves.
I received this complimentary copy from the publisher for this review. A positive review was not required and the opinions expressed here are my own.