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"HIS is an excellent tract on the necessity of taking notes in
writing, in order to profit by what we read ; and the manner of doing it is prescribed.
The memory is unfaithful, and the best memory cannot retain all. Auguftin complained of the many things he had suffered himself to lose, and was obliged to seek after them again. Much time is lost in this way. Instances are given of learned men endued with great memory, who yet all aslisted themselves by making collections-ergo notandum et excerpendum.
Pliny Secundus, the secretary of nature, attained to prodigious erudition by this method, which he observed constantly; infomuch that his ne," jew tells us, he never read any thing without making extracts. While he was lying in the sunshine ; at fupper; after supper; while he was bathing; while he was dressing, liber legebatur, adnotabatur. Even while he was on a journey, an amanuensis was with him ; who wrote in gloves if the weather was cold: while his nephew was walking out for the air, he used that memorable expression, poteras has horas non perdere–0 temporis parfimoniam, quàm ignota es et rara !-Omnium rerum jactura reparabilis, præter quam temporis,
Extracts are necessary, even to a poet, who works from his imagination. We fee an example of this in Herman Hugo, whose Pia Desideria are an ingenious contexture of the Scriptures and the Fathers together; out of which, when he had collected, he made this excellent use. Extracts are the life and soul of history : and no history can be composed without previous nota: tion. Even orators must read, and note, and transfer the excellencies of others into their own page.
Which of them all did ever arrive at the summit of learning, without constant applican
tion to notes and extracts ? Aristotle exceeded all that went before him ; but not without the making of infinite collections from the books they had left behind them. Among great divines, examples are given of Augustin, Jerom, Cyprian, and Bernard;/ and after every one, Drexelius presses the inference, that nothing great ever was, or ever will be done, without iudustrious notation. At last he adds an example from his own experience, and protests, that he would not part with his notes for any price but that of heaven itself. In*displaying the profit of it, he observes, 1. That whatever subject was proposed, he could tell all the authors that had written upon it; even though the subject were minute and out of the way. A friend wanted to borrow his book: but most authors are of use only to those that have read them. He reckons a man nothing, if he could not talk an hour upon a subject. 2. In preaching: If the Scriptures were duly read and extracted, a man's store would never be exhausted. 3. For infructing any person who comes to consult or afk. Particulars of time and place can rarely be recollected without notes. 4. A man may subsist upon his own stock, in case of sickness, or under any hindrance, or in time of age, when he must write, but cannot read. It is miserable to be running to the baker, when we should be going to dinner: think of the ant and the bee. The author declares of himself, with advantage and fatisfaction he used the fruits of thirty years labour, and that, if his life were to last ever so long, his fund would never be o!it.
He was a great example of his own doctrine. 5. In all kinds of speaking and writing, he found himself in readiness: and could engage to write two books in a year on different subjects out of his excerpta. There is little difficulty in building, when all the necessary materials are ready at hand. . 6. It is of excellent use in conversation ; keeps it from flagging, and places us above the necessity of vain repetitions, such as women and ignorant persons fall'into for want' of matter.
After the doctrine has been confirmed by testimonies and examples, the author considers the reasons. 1. It is observed, that the attention is fixed better by writing and noting, than by repeated readings. Dionysius of Halicarnassus reports, that Demosthenes transcribed Thucydides eight times. Jerom wrote over many volumes. 2. The matter is decper impressed upon the mind. In reading, the eye wanders, and the judgment is less exact, Money is not examined merely by looking at it: we
rub it, and weigh it, and found it, to distinguish between the precious and the vile, and by a similar method we must diftinguithi truth from error, and one style from another. * 3. What is written is not forgotten--litera fcripta manet--as it was said in a forwer chapter. 4. How many volumes for the benefit of the public have been sent abroad from the mere industry of collecting! Antiqua leftiones, Florigelia, Horce fubfeciva, Mufarum horti, &c. &c. And if we find the collections of others fo ferviceable,
how much more to will our own be? When we ourselves are the 1 collectors, our own uses and purposes are provided for; and we
may derive more use from one page of this fort, than from a hundred by another person, who works according to his own views, not according to yours; as every scholar will discover, who has any exercise in this way: he takes only what suits him; turning and twisting every stream into his own channel. (This teaches how we are exposed when another person pickšout an history for us.) 5. The ant collects in summer for her food in winter. This is beautifully described and applied--itionibus ac reditionibus eandem viam relegit millies, fatigari nefcia-bruma injurias non metuit, infacundum hiemem non agre tolerat, &c. The happy industry of the bee is described with the same poetical eleganceOmmes apicula flores delibant, et velut judicio excerpunt-violarum Juaves divitias--nec extrahunt nisi quod melioris fucci est; venenum quod in flore deterius, araneis relinquunt. Hæc apum sedulitas, et in excerpendo fludiúm, mellis et ceræ thefauris orbem opulentat. Let us be as wise as they in our studies : let us take the best authors, and out of them the best things : otherwise, like fummer flies, we have neither honey nor wax; our conversation and writings are poor and empty. 6. Notes forin an epitome, and contain the essence of a library, and will supply the place of it: they will travel with us, where books are difficult to be met with. Take what you want out of the book you are reading, and it is done for ever; you need never turn it over any more. Incredible how useful a volume may be compiled in how short a time! Your own papers will always be found your best library.
Obje&ions answered.-. I have no delign to write volumes like Origen. A. But the finallest thing cannot be well done without it-hence we have fo many jejune compositions and when any public exercise comes in course, not having dug, we are forced to beg and borrow.*2. Another objection : that persons who write, neglect the use of memory, and fo loferit. A. This
is not to set afide, but to aflift, the memory; and keeps it in exercise ; for, after all, you inust remember when, where, what you have noted. Alistance your memory must have, unless it is universal, and you can carry off by heart the books of a library. -3. Many, and they not unlearned, do not practise this method. A. Make not those your example who turn out of the straight road, but follow those who are in it. They who do as well as they can without these helps, would do much better with them.
-4. The old philosophers delivered to their scholars by ear and memory. A. But they wrote afterwards at home. The practice of all universities is an answer to this, where they write down, notes of the lectures given to them. ----5. You may lose your notes, and then what becomes of your learning? 4. What if the sky should fall? Do mep avoid laying up money, for fear the thieves should have it? or to build houses, for fear they fhould be burned? And suppose I should lose my papers, I may at the worst have more left upon my mind, than you who never wrote at all.-6. It will be troublesome 10 carry them about. A. If they are collected with judgment, according to the method I teach, they will never rise to a great bulk : besides, you, who are fo afraid of being over-burthened, consider how many articles were carried from place to place by every Roman soldier-cibum, utenfilia, vallum, arma-and is not learning a sort of warfare? 7. It is a work of too much time. A. Your time cannot be better employed : and to some persons, all the time they spend in reading without it, is thrown away. Marking the book, as some people do, is a flovenly trick, and of little use.-8. There are indexes. A. Into which you will often look without obtaining any satisfaction-They promise great things, and often do little Authors seldom make them for themselves---Many books have none-No index so good as our own, taken with the reading of the context. It is too late to consult indexes when you are to write or speak : and befides, it is part of the use of your own notes to direct
you what bocks to consult, and what indexes to go to. Idleness is at the bottom of all these excuses : you read for ease and pleasure, not for profit; your reading is of no value-- It is not worth while to build a granary to lay up chaff. - There is no more bencfit in reading a great deal, than in eating a great deal : the good is from what is properly digested. The work may have its trouble ; but nothing valuable is obtained without it. Many of moderate parts become great by the practice of noting. That