Page images

They you


own country, it is important that you acquaint yourselves with the history and condition of the countries whence your ancestors came. will be able to compare your country with other countries, your own times with preceding ages. Thus informed, you will not fall into the common national vanity of fancying all knowledge, all virtue, and all progress. concentrated in the United States; nor into a worse error. a culpable ignorance of the advantages of your own country, and insensibility to them. You will find well writien and authentic travels a very improving and delightful kind of reading. You may lack money and opportunity to travel twenty miles from home, when for one or two dollars you may buy a book that will take you, with a well-instructed and all-observing companion, half over the world. Or, if you cannot expend the cost of the book, you may get it from a society, or district-library; or, borrow it from some kindly disposed person. :Good biographies are very improving books. The experience of others will often suggest models, advice, and reproof, that comes in the most inoffensive form. Every well educated young person who has leisure for reading, should be well versed in English literature. . . . . In the wide department of fictitious writing, let your consciences restrain and direct your inclination, and rectify your taste. When our Saviour employed fiction in the parables of the prodigal son, and of the good Samaritan, it was, no doubt, to give to an important iruth, a form that should be universally interesting and touching. Few will object to your reading such fictitious writings as do good to your hearts; and while you have such as Sir Walter Scott's, and Miss Edgeworth's, you have no excuse for reading the profligate and romantic novels of the last century, or the no less profligate and far more insidious romances of the present day.

“ Next to 'what to read,' comes the great question how to read,' and I am not sure the last is not the weightier of the two. . No hook will improve you which does not make you think; which does not make your own mind work. This is as certain as that the mill is not improved by the corn that passes through it, or that the purse is none the richer for the money that has been in it. . . . . When you read, do not take for granted, believing, with ignorant credulity, whatever you see stated in a book. Remember an author is but one witness, and often a very fallible one. Pause in your reading, reflect, compare what the writer tells you with what you have learned from other sources on the subject, and, above all, use your own judgment independently, not presumptuously. . . . . . Knowing how short and precious time is, be more careful in the selection of your books than eager to read a great many. When you do read, read thoroughly and understandingly. It is a good practice to talk about a book you have just read; not to display your knowledge, for this is pedantry or something worse; but to make your reading a social blessing by communicating liberally to those in your family circle, who may have less time and opportunity for reading than you have. You may often, too, by the superior knowledge of a friend, correct the false impressi

ssions you have received. Or, your friend may have read the same book, and then it is a delightful point of sympathy. . . . . One word before I close this subject, as to the

preservation of your books. If you love them, you will respect them, and unless you are incorrigibly slovenly and careless, you will not break off the covers, soil the leaves, and dog-ear the corners. . There is a common and offensive habit destructive to books, which we should not presume to caution any educating little girl against, if we had not seen it practiced by educated men. This is wetting the fingers to turn over the leaves. Surely this should not be. When you borrow a book, put a cover on it before you read it. Use it with clean hands. Never lay it down on the face, nor where it is exposed to be knocked down by the next passer-by. Do not readily yield to any one's request to lend it again, but return it promptly and punctually Perform the borrower's duty strictly, and Heaven bless you with libera lenders.”—Miss C. M. Sedgwick: Means and Ends.


PLAN OF READING RECOMMENDED BY THOMAS S. GRIMKE. 1. Before I commenced an author, I made myself thoroughly master of the whole scheme of his work, (if a table of contents and chapters enabled me to do so,) of the character of his whole system, of the principles on which he had separated and arranged the parts, and of their relation to each other, and to the whole. 2. I then studied the author in the following manner. After reading the first sentence, 1 meditated on it, developing the author's thought, as well as I was able ; and reducing the whole, as nearly as possible, to a single, distinct, concise expression. I then read the second sentence, and did the same: and next compared the two sentences together, meditating on them, and gathering out of them their substance. Thus I went through the paragraph, and then reflected on the whole, until I had reduced it to a single sentence, containing its essence. I then studied the next paragraph in like manner: and having finished it, I compared the two together, and gathered out of them their substance. The same plan was followed in the comparison of sections with sections, chapters with chapters, books with books, until the author was finished. This may appear, at first sight, an exceedingly tedious process; but any one, acquainted with the nature of the mind, knows the wonderful facility that would soon be acquired by a faithful, patient adherence to this mode of study, even through a single chapter. 3. A third rule was to pass nothing unexamined, nothing without reflection, whether in poetry or fiction, history or travels, politics, philosophy, or religion. Gratitude will not allow me to pass unnoticed the vast advantages derived from a humble, patient, thankful perusal of Watts' admirable book on the Improvement of the Mind. Nor ought I to omit the three rules of Professor Whitaker, of Cambridge, given to John Boyse, one of the eminent translators of the Bible in the time of James the 1st, to study chiefly standing or walking, never to study at a window, and not to go to bed, on any account, with cold feet.

It is an error to suppose that a course of study is confined to the period of youth, and that when a young man has left school or college, he has finished his education, and has nothing to study but his profession. In truth he has done little more than treasure up some of the important materials, and acquire the elementary habits and discipline, which are indispensable to the continued improvement of his mind. If he expects to be a scholar, not in the literary sense of the word, but in a far higher and nobler sense, as a Christian, patriot, philanthropist, and public servant, in the state or national councils. in literary, benevolent, and religious institutions; if he means to be distinguished for his sense of duty, and his spirit of usefulness, for just. principles, enlarged views, dignified sentiments and liberal feelings, for sound thinking, and clear, close reasoning, let him be assured that he has done little more than lay the foundations, in the school, or even in the college, up to the age of twenty: He must make up his mind to be a devoted student, in spite of his professional engagements, for ten years at least; until he shall have been able to deepen and strengthen, and enlarge, and elevate his mind, so as to fit himself for solid, honorable, permanent usefulness. Let him remember, that the school only prepares the youth to enter on the course of study, appropriate to the young man: and that the college only enables the young man to enter on the course of study appropriate to the man. Manhood has its appropriate course of study, and the difference between inen arises very much from their selection and pursuit of a right course of study; Many fine minds, capable of enlarged and durable improvement and usefulness, are lost every year to the community, in which their lot is cast, to the country they are bound to serve, to the cause of religion, humanity, justice and literature: because they have failed in this great duty, they have neglected the course of study, appropriate to manhood. And here let it be remarked, that the true student never conbiders how much he reads, but rather how little, and only what and how lie reads.- Grimke on Science, Education, and Literature, p.p. 54–56.





This letter originally appeared in a little volume entitled “ Instructions for Travelers, by Robert Earl of Essex, Sir Philip Sidney and Secretary Davison, 1633." It was written in 1578, probably on the application of his brother Robert, about to set out on bis travels, who had been urged by his father, Sir Henry Sidney, at that time Lord Deputy to the Queen for Ireland, “to look to the practice of your most loving brother. Imitate his virtues, exercises, studies and actions. Seek the knowledge of the estate of every prince, court, and city you pass through. Address yourself to the company, to learn this of the elder sort, and yet neglect not the younger. By one you shall gather learning, wisdom, and knowledge; by the other, acquaintance, languages and exercise."

Sir PHILIP SIDNEY, whose act and words on the fatal field of Zutphen, to the poor wounded soldier who, as he was borne by on a litter, cast a longing look on a bottle of wine which the wounded knight was putting to his own lips—“Poor fellow! thy necessity seems greater than mine," and pushed the bottle towards him-has outlived the memory of his Defense of Poesy,' or his • Arcadia,' and all but the traditions of his many personal and intellectual accomplishments, was born November 29, 1554, at Penshurst, and died, as above intimated, from the wound received at Zutphen, October 16, 1586, in the very prime of his days, “ the idol of his times-the soldier's, scholar's, courtier's eye, tongue, and word.” His dying words to his brother were: ‘Love my memory, cherish my friends. But above all, govern your will and affections by the will and word of your Creator, in me beholding the end of this world with all her vanities.' In his own travels, which occupied three years, he devoted himself to the studies, exercises and society for which each city had special opportunities, -at Vienna, to horsemanship; at Padua, to geometry and astronomy, for which the University was then famous; at Frankfort he cultivated the society of Hubert Languet, and at Venice, of Tasso,


[ocr errors]


I think you


You have thought unkindness in me that I have not written oftener unto you, and have desired I should write unto you something of my opinion touching your travels; you being persuaded my experience thereunto be something, which I must needs confess, but not as you take it; for you think my experience grows from the good things which I have learned; but I know the only experience which I have gotten, is to find how much I might have learned, and how much indeed I have missed, for want of directing my course to the right end, and by the right means. have read Aristotle's Ethics ; if you have, you know it is the beginning and foundation of all his works, the end to which every man doth and ought to bend his greatest and smallest actions. I am sure you have imprinted in your mind the scope and mark you mean by your pains to shoot at: for if you should travel but to travel, or to say you had traveled, certainly you should prove a pilgrim to no purpose. But I presume so well of you, that though a great number of us never thought in ourselves why we went, but a certain tickling humor to do as other men had done, you purpose, being a gentleman born, to furnish yourself with the knowledge of such things as may be serviceable for your country and calling ; which certainly stands not in the change of air, for the warmest sun makes not a wise man ; no, nor in learning languages, although they be of serviceable use, for words are but words in what language soever they be, and much less in that all of us come home full of disguisements, not only of apparel, but of our countenances, as though the credit of a traveler stood all upon his outside; but in the right informing your mind with those things which are most notable in those places which you come unto.

Of which as the one kind is so vain, as I think ere it be long, like the mountebanks in Italy, we travelers shall be made sport of in comedies; so may I justly say, who rightly travels with the eye of Ulysses, doth take one of the most excellent ways of worldly wisdom. For hard sure it is to know England, without you

know it by comparing it with some other country, no more than a man can know the swiftness of his horse without seeing him well matched. For you, that are a logician, know, that as greatness of itself is a quantity, so yet the judgment of it, as of mighty riches and all other strengths, stands in the predicament of relation; so that you can not tell what the Queen of England is able to do defensively or offensively, but through knowing what they are able to do with whom she is to be matched. This, therefore, is one

notable use of travelers, which stands in the mind and correlative knowledge of things, in which kind comes in the knowledge of all leagues betwixt prince and prince; the topographical description of each country; how the one lies by situation to hurt or help the other; how they are to the sea, well harbored or not; how stored with ships; how with revenue; how with fortification and garrisons; how the people, warlike, trained, or kept under, with many other such considerations, which as they confusedly come into my mind, so I, for want of leisure, hastily set them down; but these things, as I have said, are of the first kind.

The other kind of knowledge is of them which stand in the things which are in themselves either simply good, or simply bad, and so serve for a right instruction or a shunning example. These the poet meant in this verse, “Qui multos hominum mores cognovit et urbes." For he doth not mean by “mores ” how to look, or put off one's cap with a new-found grace, although true behavior is not to be despised; marry my heresy is, that the English behavior is best in England, and the Italian's in Italy. But “mores” he takes for that from whence moral philosophy is so called; the certainness of true discerning of men's minds both in virtue, passion and vices. And when he saith, “cognovit urbes,” he means not, if I be not deceived, to have seen towns, and marked their buildings; for surely houses are but houses in every place, they do but differ “ cundum magis et minus ;" but he attends to their religion, politics, laws, bringing up of children, discipline both for war and peace, and such like. These I take to be of the second kind, which are ever worthy to be known for their own sakes. As surely in the great Turk, though we have nothing to do with him, yet his discipline in war matters is worthy to be known and learned.

Nay, even in the kingdom of China, which is almost as far as the Antipodes from us, their good laws and customs are to be learned; but to know their riches and power is of little purpose

for that can neither advance nor hinder us. But in our neighbor countries, both these things are to be marked, as well the latter, which contain things for themselves, as the former, which seek to know both those, and how their riches and power may be to us available, or otherwise. The countries fittest for both these, are those you are going into. France is above all other most needful for us to mark, especially in the former kind; next is Spain and the Low Countries; then Germany, which in my opinion excels all others as much in the latter consideration, as the other doth in the former, yet neither are void of neither; for as Germany, methinks,


us, since

« EelmineJätka »