« EelmineJätka »
thoughts that gowns, square caps, quadrangles, and mațin-bells naturally draw after them. I hope the air of Cambridge has brought no disorder upon you, and that you will compound with the muses so as to dedicate some bours, not less than two, of the day to exercise. The earlier you rise, the better your nerves will bear study. When you next do me the pleasure to write to me, I beg a copy of your elegy on your mother's picture: it is such admir. able poetry, that I beg you to plunge deep into prose and severer studies, and not indulge your genius with verse for the present. Substitute Tully and Demosthenes in the place of Homer and Virgil; and arm yourself with all the variety of manner, copiousness, and beauty of diction, nobleness and magnificence of ideas, of the Roman consul; and render the powers of eloquence complete by the irresistible torrent of vehement argumentation, the close and forcible reasoning, and the depth and fortitude of mind of the Grecian statesman. This I mean at leisure intervals, and to relieve the course of those studies which you intend to make your principal object. The book relating to the empire of Germany, which I could not recollect, is Vitriarius's Institutiones Juris Publici, an admirable book in its kind, and esteemed of the best authority in matters much controverted. We are all well.
Your affectionate uncle,
In the Correspondence of the Earl of Chatham,' edited by the executors of his son, John, Earl of Chatham, and published from the original manuscripts in their possession, ‘1838,' there are three more letters addressed to Mr. Thomas Pitt, during his studies at Cambridge, but they are without significance, beyond inquiries after the health of his nephew, who was admitted to the degree of A.M. in 1759. In February, 1800, he visited Portugal, attached to the British Legation to the Court of Lisbon, and, accompanied by the Earl of Strathmore, made a tour through Spain, and into Italy. On his return, he soon entered Parliament, and, until his death, was connected with the public service.
JOHN LOCKE.-ON STUDY.
ITS LIMITATIONS, OBJECTS, AND METHODS.
LIMITATIONS OF THE FIELD.
The end of study is knowledge, and the end of knowledge is practice or communication--for delight is so commonly joined with all improvements in knowledge, that it need not be proposed as an eud. The extent of knowledge, or things knowable, is so vast, our duration here so short, the entrance by which the knowledge of things gets into our understanding so narrow, with the necessary allowances for childhood and old age in which so little can be acquired beyond the range of the senses, and the refreshments of our bodies and unavoidable avocations, that it much behooves us to improve, the best we can, our time and talent on things most worthy of being known, and take the most direct road we can to our objects. To this purpose, it may not, perhaps, be amiss to decline some things that are likely to bewilder us, or at least lie out of our way
1. As all that maze of words and phrases which have been invented and employed only to instruct and amuse people in the art of disputing, and will be found, perhaps, when looked into, to have little or no meaning; and with this kind of stuff the logics, physics, ethics, metaphysics, and divinity of the schools are thought by some to be too much filled. This I am sure, that where we leave distinctions without finding a difference in things; where we make variety of phrases, or think we furnish ourselves with arguments without a progress in the real knowledge of things, we only fill our heads with empty sounds, which however thought to belong to learning and knowledge, will no. more improve our understandings and strengthen our reason, than the noise of a jack will fill our bellies or strengthen our bodies; and the art to fence with those which are called subtleties, is of no more use than it would be to be dex.. terous in tying and untying knots in cobwebs.
2. An aim and desire to know what hath been other men's opinions. Truth needs no recommendation, and error is not mended by it; and in our inquiry after knowledge, it as little concerns us what other men have thought, as it does one who is to go from Oxford to London, to know what scholars walk. quietly on foot, inquiring the way and surveying the country as they went, who rode post after their guide without minding the way he went, who were carried. along muffled up in a coach with their company, or where one doctor lost or went out of his way, or where another stuck in the mire. I do not say this to
Abridged. This essay is not contained in Locke's collected works, but was first publislied in Lord King's Life of the author.
undervalue the light we receive from others, or to think there are not those who assist us mightily in our endeavors after knowledge; perhaps without books we should be as ignorant as the Indians, whose minds are as ill clad as their bodies; but I think it is an idle and useless thing to make it one's business to study what have been other men's sentiments in things where reason is only to be judge, on purpose to be furuished with them, and to be able to cite them on all occasions. However it be esteemed a great part of learning, yet to a man that considers how little time he has, and how much work to do, how many things he is to learn, how many doubts to clear in religion, how many rules to establish to himself in morality, how much pains to be taken with himself to master his unruly desires and passions, how to provide himself against a thousand cases and accidents that will happen, and an infinite deal more, both in his general and particular calling; I say, to a man that considers this well, it will not seem much his business to acquaint himself designedly with the various conceits of men that are to be found in books even upon subjects of moment.
3. Purity of language, a polished style, or exact criticism in foreign languages_thus I think Greek and Latin may be called, as well as French and Italian, -and to spend much time in these may perhaps serve to set one off in the world, and give one the reputation of a scholar. But if that be all, methinks it is laboring for an outside ; it is at best but a handsome dress of truth or falsehood that one busies one's self about, and makes most of those who lay out their time this way rather as fashionable gentlemen, than as wise or useful men.
There are so many advantages of speaking one's own language well, and (being a master in it, that let a man's calling be what it will, it can not but be worth our taking some pains in it, but men's style is by no means to have the first place in our studies : but he that makes good language subservient to a good life, and an instrument of virtue, is doubly enabled to do good to others.
4. Antiquity and history as far as they are designed only to furnish us with story and talk. For the stories of Alexander and Cæsar, no farther than they instruct us in the art of living well, and furnish us with observations of wisdom and prudence, are not one jot to be preferred to the history of Robin Hood, or the Seven Wise Masters. I do not deny but history is very useful, and very instructive of human life ; but if it be studied only for the reputation of being an historian, it is a very empty thing; and he that can tell all the particulars of Herodotus and Plutarch, Curtius and Livy, without making any other use of them, may be an ignorant man with a good memory, and with all his pains hath only filled his head with Christmas tales. And which is worse, the greatest part of history being made up of wars and conquests, and their style, especially the Romans, speaking of valor as the chief, if not the only vir. tue, we are in danger to be misled by the general current and business of history, and looking on Alexander and Cæsar, and such like heroes, as the highest instances of human greatness, because hey each of them caused the death of several hundred thousand men, and the ruin of a much greater number, overrun a great part of the earth, and killed the inhabitants to
possess themselves of their countries—we are apt to make butchery, and rapine the chief marks and very essence of human greatness.
5. Nice questions and remote useless speculations, as where the earthly paradise was or what fruit it was that was forbidden—where Lazarus's soul was whilst his body lay dead and what kind of bodies we shall have at the resurrection ? &C., &c.
These things, well regulated, will cut off at once a great deal of business from one who is setting ont into a course of study; not that all these are to be counted utterly useless, and lost time cast away on them, The four last may be each of them the full and laudable employment of several persons who may with great advantage make languages, history, or antiquity, their study.
OBJECTS IN LIFE TO BE REGARDED.
1. Heaven being our great business and interest, the knowledge which may direct us thither is certainly so too, so that this is without peradventure, the study that ought to take the first, and chiefest place in our thoughts; but wherein it cousists, its parts, method, and application, will deserve a chapter.
2. The next thing to happiness in the other world, is a quiet prosperous passage through this, which requires a discreet conduct and management of ourselves in the several occurrences of our lives. The study of prudence then seems to me to deserve the second place in our thoughts and studies. A man may be, perhaps a good man (which lives in truth and sincerity of heart towards God), with a small portion of prudence, but he will never be very happy in himself nor useful to others without. These two are every man's business.
3. If those who are left by their predecessors with a plentiful fortune are excused from having a particular calling, in order to their subsistence in this life, it is yet certain that, by the law of God, they are under an obligation of doing something; which, having been judiciously treated by an able pen, I shall not meddle with, but pass to those who have made letters their business; and in these I think it is incumbent to make the proper business of their calling the third place in their study.
This order being laid, it will be easy for every one to determine with himself what tongues and histories are to be studied by him, and how far in subserviency to his general or particular calling.
HEALTH OF BODY AND MIND TO BE WATCHED. Our bodies and our minds are neither of them capable of continual study, and we must therefore take a just measure of both in our endeavors. He that sinks his vessel by overloading it, though it be with gold and silver, and precious stones, will give his owner but an ill account of his voyage. General rules must be adapted to the constitution and strength of each individual, and the mode of study may be varied, from books to conversation, according to the condition of mind or body.
Great care is to be taken that our studies encroach not upon our sleep: this I am sure, sleep is the great balsam of life and restorative of nature, and studious sedentary men have more need of it than the active and laborious. We are to lay by our books and meditations when we find either our heads or stomachs indisposed upon any occasion; study at such time doing great harm to the body and very little good to the mind.
1. As the body, so the mind also, gives laws to our studies; I mean to the duration and continuance of them; let it be never so capacious, never so active, it is not capable of constant labor nor total rest. The labor of the mind is study, or intention of thought, and when we find it is weary, either in pursuing other men's thoughts, as in reading, or tumbling or tossing its own as in meditation, it is time to give off and let it recover itself
. Sometimes medita. tion gives a refreshment to the weariness of reading, and vice versa, sometimes the change of ground, i. e., going from one subject or science to another, rouses the mind, and fills it with fresh vigor; oftentimes discourse enlivens it when it flags, and puts an end to the weariness without stopping it one jot, but rather forwarding it in its journey; and sometimes it is so tired, that nothing but a perfect relaxation will serve the turn. All these are to be made use of according as every one finds most successful in himself to the best husbandry of his time and thought.
2. The mind has sympathies and antipathies as well as the body; it has a natural preference ofien of one study before another. It would be well if one had a perfect command of them, and sometimes one is to try for th· mastery, to bring the mind into order and a pliant obedience; but generally it is better to follow the bent and tendency of the mind itself, so long as it keeps within the bounds of our proper business, wherein there is generally latitude enough. By this means, we shall go not only a great deal faster, and hold out a great deal longer, but the discovery we shall make will be a great deal clearer, and make deeper impressions in our minds. The inclination of the mind is as the palate of the stomach ; that seldom digests well in the stomach, or adds much strength to the body that nauseates the palate, and is not recommended by it.
There is a kind of restiveness in almost every one's mind; sometimes without perceiving the cause, it will boggle and stand still, and one can not get it a step forward; and at another time it will press forward and there is no holding it in. It is always good to take it when it is willing, and keep on whilst it goes at ease.
TRUTH-THE MAIN OBJECT OF STUDY-METHOD. 1. It is a duty we owe to God as the fountain and author of all truth, who is truth itself; and it is a duty also we owe our own selves, if we will dea] candidly and sincerely with our own souls, to have our minds constantly disposed to entertain and receive truth wheresoever we meet with it, or under whatsoever appearance of plain
or ordinary, strange, new, or perhaps displeasing, it may come in our way. Truth is the proper object, the proper riches and furniture of the mind, and according as his stock of this is, so is the difference and value of one man above another. He that fills his head with vain notions and false opinions, may have his mind perhaps puffed up and seemingly much enlarged, but in trutlı it is narrow and empty; for all that it comprehends, all that it contains, amounts to nothing, or less than nothing; for falsehood is below ignorance, and a lie worse than nothing.
Our first and great duty, then, is to bring to our studies and to our inquiries after knowledge, a mind covetous of truth; that seeks after nothing else, and after that impartially, and embraces it, how poor, how contemptible, how un. fashionable soever it may seem. This is that which all studious men profess to do, and yet it is that where I think very many miscarry. Who is there almost that has not opinions planted in him by education time out of mind; which by that means come to be as the municipal laws of the country, which must not be questioned, but are then looked on with reverence as the standards of right and wrong, truth and falsehood; when perhaps these so sacred opinions were but the oracles of the nursery, or the traditional grave talk of those who pretend to inform our childhood; who received them from hand to hand without ever examining them. This is the fate of our tender age, which being thus seasoned early, it grows by continuation of time, as it were into the very constitution of the mind, which afterwards very difficultly receives a different tincture. When we are grown up, we find the world divided into bands and companies: not only as congregated under several politics and governments, but united only upon account of opinions, and in that respect, combined strictly one with another, and distinguished from others, especially in matters of religion. If birth or chance have not thrown a man young into any of these, which yet seldom fails to happen, choice, when he is grown up, certainly puts him into some or other of them; often out of an opinion that that party is in the right, and sometimes because he finds it is not safe to stand alone, and therefore thinks it convenient to herd somewhere. Now, in every one of these parties of men there are a certain number of opinions which are received and owned as the doctrines and tenets of that society, with the profession and practice whereof all who are of their communion ought to give up themselves, or else