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the drossiest volume, than a fool, wisdom out of Scripture.' It is certain that the effect of reading depends nearly as much on the disposition and taste of the reader, as on the character of the writer. Hence the great importance of considering not only what we read, but also in what way, and for what ends. A love of books can be acquired only by those who find pleasure in using them; and hence, whoever would cultivate in himself or others this most desirable taste, should select, especially at first, such works as can be read with sustained and quickened attention. But let it not be forgotten, that such books, if read only to amuse and entertain, must, if good, fail of much of their effect, while, if bad, their influence will be deplorable. By degrading them into instruments of momentary pleasure, we shall lose sight of their true worth, and learn to confound them with that herd of books, usually known as 'light reading books which seem to have been written in order to be once read, and then forever forgotten. Soon, too, we shall disrelish all books than contain any serious matter, and be content only with those of the most frivolous and exciting kind. These last will claim every hour that can be allotted to reading; and happy shall we be, if they do not steal hours that ought to have been given to study. . To this danger we are peculiarly exposed in our own day... We should choose books that will exercise the faculty of close and continuous attention, and as we advance, we should subject it to the necessity of more strenuous and protracted effort. They should be books, too, which require us to think; which sometimes incline us to close our volume, that we may review the arguments and statements of the writer, and test them by the rules of sound reasoning; books, which call us to analyze what is complicated, to arrest what is fugitive, and trace out what is subtle; which suggest new subjects for reflection and inquiry, and gradually lead us to appreciate and enjoy the pleasure that results from the mere exercise of our intellectual powers.. So, again, in regard to taste. All men have been endowed, though in different degrees, with a relish for what is beautiful or perfect of its kind....... Hence, books, as well as companions, should be selected with reference to the cultivation, not only of the understanding, but also of the taste. And in this respect we are exposed to much danger. Not a few of the works of our day (especially those of a fictitious and periodical character— works, too, which command enthusiastic applause,) are directly calculated to encourage a false taste in literature, as well as a vicious tone in manners and morals. What is true of intellect and taste is not less true of our moral And, as our moral judgments, moreover, are insensibly but powerfully affected by companions, so are they by books-companions, against whom we are apt to be least on our guard, whose instructions we are disposed to receive with a too implicit faith, and whose society we enjoy at those seasons of relaxation, when the heart is most open to influence. It is nearly an axiom, that people will not be better than the books they read. . . . . It is important that all books be proscribed, which inculcate indifference to moral distinctions; which tend, however indirectly, or insidiously, to excite our evil passions; which exhibit the guilty and profligate as objects of sympathy and admiration; or which serve to lessen, in the least, our reverence for principle, or our hatred of a mean and time-serving policy. . . . . . In thus explaining the objects which ought to be kept in view in reading, I have, in effect, furnished rules for judging of books, of their character and value. If one great end of reading be to enlarge our knowledge, then we should, for the most part, read no books which do not furnish useful information. I say, for the most part, because we sometimes read rather to improve taste, quicken and cultivate imagination, or discipline reason, rather than to gain knowledge. Hence another rule, by which we may try a book, is the effect it has upon the understanding. Does it require thought, and excite to reflection? Does it deal in sound reasoning only, avoiding all specious fallacies, and making no appeals to mere prejudice or passion? Does it cultivate in our minds a disinterested love of truth? If, on the other hand, it be a work of imagination or taste, it should be tried by its influence on the sensitive part of our nature. If it pre


sent us with images of beauty and simplicity, enable us to view the works of nature and art, with a keener and more discriminating relish, inspire us with a love for the perfect, and, above all, if it strengthen and animate our noble sentiments of virtue, it merits frequent and careful perusal. But, if otherwise, &c., I need not add, that it is a book to be reprobated and avoided. . . . . . . . . WHAT SHOULD WE READ? Only good books; which Milton describes as 'the precious life-blood of master-spirits, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.' To know whether a book be good, consider, 1st, whether it adds to our sum of knowledge: 2ndly, whether it induces thought, and exercises reason: 3dly, whether it improves taste: and 4thly, whether it strengthens conscience.'-Dr. Potter: Advantages of Science, pp. 9-12, 22-27, 31.

"Read always the best and most recent book on the subject which you wish to investigate. You are to remember,' says Pliny the younger, 'that the most approved authors of each sort are to be carefully chosen, for, as it has been well observed, though we should read much, we should not read many authors."-Dr. Potter: Handbook for Readers, p. 18.


own case...

"Some prejudice, against what are called courses of study, has been justly provoked by the great number and variety of those which have been proposed from time to time....... ... At the outset, almost any course of reading is better than the desultory and irregular habits which prevail so extensively. When once the student has acquired a taste for good books, and some just ideas of the object and uses of reading, he may be safely left to glean for himself, from the counsels of others, such hints and directions as are best adapted to his Do not become so far enslaved by any system or course of study, as to think it may not be altered, when alteration would contribute to the healthy and improving action of the mind.. . Beware, on the other hand, of frequent changes in your plan of study. This is the besetting sin of young persons. No, take your course wisely, but firmly,' says Wirt, and having taken it, hold upon it with heroic resolution, and the Alps and Pyrenees will sink before you. The whole empire of learning will be at your feet, while those who set out with you, but stopped to change their plans, are yet employed in the very profitable business of changing their plans. Let your motto be, Perseverando vinces, (by perseverance thou shalt conquer.) Practice upon it, and you will be convinced of its value, by the distinguished eminence to which it will conduct you.' . . . . . Study subjects, rather than books; therefore, compare different authors on the same subjects; the statements of authors, with information collected from other sources; and the conclusions drawn by a writer with the rules of sound logic. 'Learning,' says Feltham, 'falls far short of wisdom; nay, so far that you scarcely find a greater fool than is sometimes a mere scholar." 'I take care,' says one of the profoundest and most versatile scholars in England, as quoted by Mr. Warren, in his Law Studies, 'always to ascertain the value of what I look at, and if satisfied on that score, I most carefully stow it away. I pay, besides, frequent visits to my magazine,' and keep an inventory of at least every thing important, which I frequently compare with my stores. It is, however, the systematic disposition and arrangement I adopt, which lightens the labors of memory. I was by no means remarkable for memory, when young; on the contrary, I was considered rather defective on that score.' Dare to be ignorant of many things. 'In a celebrated satire, (the Pursuits of Literature) much read in my youth,' says Dr. Quincy, and which I myself read about twenty-five years ago, I remember one counsel there addressed to young men, but, in fact, of universal application. I call upon them, said the author, to dare to be ignorant of many things; a wise counsel and justly expressed... A good scheme of study will soon show itself to be such by this one test, that it will exclude as powerfully as it will appropriate; it will be a system of repulsion no less than of attrac

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tion; once thoroughly possessed and occupied by the deep and genial pleas ures of one truly intellectual pursuit, you will be easy and indifferent to all others that had previously teased you with transient excitement."-Dr. Potter: Handbook for Readers. pp. 15–18, 20, 21.


"In learning any new thing, there should be as little as possible first proposed to the mind at once. That being understood, and fully mastered, proceed to the next adjoining part, yet unknown. This is a slow, but safe and sure way to arrive at knowledge. The mind will be able, in this manner, to cope with great difficulties, and prevail over them, with amazing and happy sucEngage not the mind in the intense pursuit of too many things at once; especially, such as have no relation to one another. This will be ready to distract the understanding, and hinder it from attaining perfection in any one subject of study. . . . . . In the pursuit of every valuable subject of knowledge, keep the end always in your eye, and be not diverted from it by every petty trifle you meet with in the way. .... Be not satisfied with a mere knowledge of the best authors, that treat of any subject, instead of acquainting yourselves thoroughly with the subject itself."-Dr. Watts on the Mind, pp. 131-133, 72.


"Deal freely with every author you read; and yield up your assent only to evidence and just reasoning on the subject. . . . . In the compositions of men, remember, you are a man as well as they; and it is not their reason, but your own, that is given to guide you, when you arrive at years of discretion. Enter into the sense and argument of the authors you read; examine all their proofs, and then judge of the truth or falsehood of their opinion... You will acquire by degrees a habit of judging justly, and of reasoning well, in imitation of the good writer, whose works you peruse.... Never apply yourself to read any human author, with a determination beforehand either for or against him; nor with a settled resolution to believe or disbelieve, to confirm or to oppose whatsoever he says; but always read with design to lay your mind open to truth, and to embrace it, as well as to reject every falsehood, though it appears under ever so fair a disguise. . . . . . Never let an unknown word pass in your reading, without seeking for its meaning. . . . And, indeed, how many volumes soever of learning a man possesses, he is still deplorably poor in his understanding, till he has made these several parts of learning his own property, by reasoning, by judging for himself, and remembering what he has read.-Dr. Watts on the Mind, pp. 61, 62, 66, 67, 72, 73.


Says Locke, 'Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.' Says Dugald Stewart, nothing, in truth, has such a tendency to weaken, not only the powers of invention, but the intellectual powers in general, as a habit of extensive and various reading without reflection.'. . . Accustom yourself to refer whatever you read to the general head to which it belongs, and trace it, if a fact, to the principle it involves or illustrates; if a principle, to the facts which it produces or explains."-Dr. Potter: Handbook for Readers, pp. 16, 17, 19. "Reading, to be useful, should be combined with reflection. Books can afford but little improvement to those who do not think as well as read.. Thus we see the great necessity of reading with deliberation; and may I not add, that in this respect, laboring people, and those whose pursuits give to them almost constant engagement, have advantages which they are not apt to appreciate. By reading at intervals, some portion of a good book, and then carrying the matter with them to their places of business, as a subject for thought and conversation, they will soon discover that the subject grows upon them in interest, that their views insensibly become clearer and more enlarged, and that useful reflections, not suggested by the author, rise before their minds. And thus it is, that men of active pursuits are more apt, as all expe

rience testifies, to accumulate useful knowledge, than those whose lives are passed in leisure and in the midst of books. Let me advise, then, that books be read deliberately. The old maxim, that if a thing be worth doing at all, it is worth doing well,' is peculiarly applicable to reading. A book run over hastily, is rarely understood; if not understood, it is not remembered; and if not remembered, the time spent in reading it is lost. By deep and diligent meditation, we (should) acquire something which may truly be called our own; for, as Milton says:-who reads

'Incessantly, and to his reading brings not
A spirit and judgment equal or superior,
Uncertain and unsettled still remains,

Deep versed in books, but shallow in himself.'"

Dr. Potter: Advantages of Science, pp. 17, 18, 27, 30.


'If three or four persons agree to read the same book, and each brings his own remarks upon it, at some set hours appointed for conversation, and they communicate, mutually, their sentiments on the subjects, and debate about it in a friendly manner, the practice will render the reading of any author more abundantly beneficial to every one of them. . . . . If several persons engaged in the same study, take into their hands distinct treatises on one subject, and appoint a season of communication once a week, they may inform each other in a brief manner, concerning the sense, sentiments and method of those several authors, and thereby promote each other's improvement, &c. . . . . Talking over the things which you have read to your companions, on the first proper opportunity, is a most useful manner of review or repetition, in order to fix them upon the mind. Teach them to your younger friends, in order to establish your own knowledge, while you communicate it to them."-Dr. Watts on the Mind, pp. 60, 61, 178.

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Company and conversation,' says Feltham, 'are the best instructors for a noble nature.' 'An engagement and combating of wits.' says Erasmus, 'does, in an extraordinary manner, both show the strength of geniuses, rouses them and augments them. If you are in doubt of any thing, do not be ashamed to ask, or, if you have committed an error, be corrected."-Dr. Potter: Handbook for Readers, p. 19.

"Some books should be read in company with others, especially with our family. We never relish a good book so highly as when we read it with a friend of congenial tastes. And in this plan of social reading, what friends so proper as those of our household! What employment more appropriate for the domestic circle, than one which causes the minds of all to move in unison, thus strengthening the ties of mutual affection, and causing us to associate with home, the remembrance of our intellectual pleasures! . . . . It will not be easy to preserve the good old practice of collecting our families around the cheerful fire, and teaching them to relish early the home-bred delights of affection, and of a commom intercourse with those best and most improving visiters, good books." Dr. Potter: Advantages of Science, pp. 27, 29.


"A frequent review and careful repetition of the things we would learn, and an abridgment of them in a narrow compass, has a great influence to fix them in the memory. . . . . Repetition is so very useful a practice, that Winemon, even from his youth to his old age, never read a book without making some small points, dashes, or hooks in the margin, to mark what parts of the discourse were proper for review; and when he came to the end of a section or chapter, he always shut his book, and recollected all the sentiments or expres


sions he had marked, so that he could give a tolerable analysis and abstract of every treatise he had read, just after he had finished it. Hence he became so well furnished with a rich variety of knowledge."-Dr. Watts on the Mind, P. 177.

Strive, by frequent reviews, to keep your knowledge always at command. 'What booteth,' says an old writer, 'to read much, which is a weariness to the flesh; to meditate often, which is a burden to the mind; to learn daily, with increase of knowledge, when he is to seek for what he hath learned, and perhaps then, especially, when he hath most need thereof? Without this, (reviewing) our studies are but lost labor."—Dr. Potter: Handbook for Readers, P. 20.

"I would recommend, that when we become acquainted with a truly good book, we read it often. Cecil tells us that he had a 'shelf for tried books; books, which he could never open without being incited to reflection, and enriched by some new hint or principle. It should be so with all of us. A few books properly selected and faithfully read, would suffice to yield us more, both of pleasure and profit, than any number, however great, taken at random, and read, as they usually are, in a hurried and unreflecting manner. A book, moreover, which deserves the praise of being good, has cost its author efforts which cannot be appreciated at a single reading."-Dr. Potter: Advantages of Science, p. 29.


"For want of retiring and writing, many a learned man has lost several useful meditations of his own, and could never recall them. . . . If a book has no index nor good table of contents, it is very useful to make one as you are reading it. .. It is sufficient in your index, to take notice only of those parts of the book which are new to you, or which you think well written, and well worthy of your remembrance or review. Shall I be so free as to assure my younger friends, from my own experience, that these methods of reading will cost some pains in the first years of your study, and especially in the first authors, which you peruse in any science, or on any particular subject; but the profit will richly compensate the pains. And in the following years of life, after you have read a few valuable books on any special subject in this manner, it will be very easy to read others of the same kind; because you will not usually find very much new matter in them, which you have not already examined. If the writer be remarkable for any peculiar excellencies or defects in his style or manner of writing, make just observations upon this also; and whatever ornaments you find there, or whatever blemishes occur in the language or manner of the writer, you may make just remarks upon them. And remember, that one book, read over in this manner, with all this laborious meditation, will tend more to enrich your understanding, than skimming over the surface of twenty. . . . . It is useful to note down matters of doubt and inquiry, and take the first opportunity to get them resolved either by persons or books.... Lawyers and Divines write down short notes or hints of the principal heads of what they desire to commit to memory, in order to preach or plead. . . . The art of short hand is of excellent use for this, as well as other purposes. Those who scarcely ever take a pen in their hands to write short notes or hints of what they are to learn, need a double degree of power to retain or recollect what they read or hear."-Dr. Watts on the Mind, pp. 42, 64, 65, 72, 178.

"Nor is it merely to the philosopher, who wishes to distinguish himself by his discoveries, that writing affords an useful instrument of study. Important assistance may be derived from it by all those who wish to impress on their minds the investigations which occur to them in the course of their reading." -Dugald Stuart: Philos. of the Mind, Vol. 1, p. 3.32.

"Seek opportunities to write and converse on subjects about which you

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