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page Remarks on reading
163 Parkinson's Tour in America 219 The ancient romance 168 | Anecdotes of Washington
226 The Reflector, No. VIII
169 | The Adversaria, No. XIV 227 On poetical expression
172 Institutions for extinguishing fires 231 On habituating ourselves to an in
231 dividual pursuit 176 Substitute for bridges
232 Sketch of the poet Spenser 178 Literary and philosophical intelliAnecdotes and character of Frede
233 ric the great of Prussia
183 On the classical knowledge of Pope 199
POETRY. Remarks on Southey's Madoc 200 Advantages of metaphysical studies 210 || The murder of the Red Cuming 237 Account of Michaux's Travels 211 || Song
239 Mildew in corn explained 216 | Lines by a young lady
239 First public testimony of friends To a new-born child
240 against slavery
218 || To readers and correspondents 240
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SINCE writing is justly denomi- objects, while the other receives the nated an art, reading may surely impression not only of their colours claim the same distinction. T and shades, but their distinct graces adorn ideas with elegance is an act and real forms. of the mind superior to that of re To account for this difference we ceiving them, and is the province must recur to a distinction, which of genius; but to receive them with appears to reveal one of the great a happy discrimination is a task not mysteries in the art of reading. less useful, and can only be the ef- Logic distinguishes between percepfect of a just taste.
tions and ideas. Perception is that Yet it will be found that a just faculty which notices the simple taste only will not obtain the proper impression of objects : but it is only end of reading. Two persons of when these objects exist in the mind, equal taste rise from the perusal and are there treasured and arof the same book with very different ranged as materials for reflection, notions ; the one will not only have that they become ideas. A percepthe ideas of the author at command, tion is like a transient sun-beam, and strongly imbibe his manner, which just shows the object, but but will have enriched his own mind leaves neither light nor warmth ; by a new accession of matter, and while an idea is like the fervid beam find a new train of thought awaken- of noon, which throws a settled and ed and in action. The other quits powerful light. his author in a pleasing distraction, Many ingenious readers complain but of the pleasures of reading, no- that their memory is defective, and thing remains but a tumultuous sen their studies fruitless. This defect, sation. He has only delighted him. however, arises from their indulging self with the brilliant colouring, and the facile pleasures of perception the mingled shadows of a variety of in preference to the laborious task
VOL. V. NO, XXX.
of forming ideas. We must not de- rugged rocks, and pass many days ceive ourselves. Perceptions re. bewildered in wild deserts. But he quire only the sensibility of taste, who only desires to gratify a more and their pleasures are continuous, delicate sensation, the reader of easy, and exquisite. Ideas not only taste, must be contented to range in require the same power of taste, but more contracted limits, and to rean art of combination, and an exer- strict himself to the paths of culturtion of the reasoning powers, which ed pleasure grounds. Without form no mean operation of the mind. this distinction in reading, study beIdeas are therefore labours; and comes a labour painful and interfor those who will not undergo the minable ; and hence readers of taste fatigue of labour, it is unjust to como complain that there is no end of plain, if they come from the harvest reading, and readers of erudition with scarcely a sheaf in their hands. that books contain nothing but
The numerous class of readers of words. When the former confine taste, who only prefer a book to the themselves to works of taste, their odd trick at whist, have, therefore, complaints cease, and when the lat. no reason to murmur, if that which ter keep to books of facts, they fix is only taken up as an amusement, on the proper aliment for their inshould terminate, like all amuse- satiable curiosity. ments, in temporary pleasure. To Nor is it always necessary, in the be wiser and better is rarely the in- pursuits of learning, to read every tention of the gay and frivolous; the book entire. Perhaps this task has complaints of the gay and frivolous now become impossible, notwithare nothing but a new manner of standing those ostentatious students, displaying gaiety and frivolity; they who, by their infinite and exact quotaare lamentations full of mirth. tions, appear to have read and digest.
There are secrets in the art of ed every thing; readers, artless and reading, which tend to facilitate its honest, conceive from such writers purposes, by assisting the memory, splendid ideas of the power and exand augmenting intellectual opu- tent of the human faculties. Of many lence. Some, our own ingenuity must books we need only seize the plan, form, and perhaps every student has and examine some of the portions. an artificial manner of recollection, The quackery of the learned has and a peculiar arrangement, as, in been often exposed; and the task of short hand, almost every writer has quoting fifty books a day is neither a system of his own. There are, difficult nor tedious. Of the little however, some regulations which supplement at the close of a volume, appear of general utility.
few readers conceive the value ; but The elder Pliny who, having been some of the most eminent writers a voluminous compiler, must have have been grcat adepts in the art of had great experience in the art of index-reading. An index-reader is, reading, tells us, that there is no book, indeed, more let into the secrets of however bad, but which contains an author, than the other who atsomething good. Just and obvious tends him with all the tedious forms as this axiom may seem, it requires of ceremony. I, for my part, venesome explanation.
rate the inventor of indices; and To read every book would be I know not to whom to yield the fatal to the interest of most readers ; preference, either to Hippocrates, men of taste who read variously who was the first great anatomiser know that the pains exceed the plea. of the human body, or to that unsures; to men of curiosity the plea- known labourer in literature, who sures exceed the pains. The read. first laid open the nerves and arteer of erudition, who searches for ries of a book. facts and overlooks opinions, may Watts advises the perusal of the therefore read every book profitably. prefaces and the index of a book, as He must pick his few flowers from they both give light on its contents.
Gibbon says, we ought not to attend moral essays, and his Art of Criti. to the order of our books, so much cism, should be read, while his pas. as of our thoughts. The perusal of torals and his odes are forgotten, a particular work gives birth per. and his Wife of Bath, his Sappho, haps to ideas unconnected. with the and his Eloisa should be reserved subject it treats; I pursue these for the use of brothels. ideas and quit my proposed plan of A reader is too often a prisoner reading. Thus, in the midst of Ho- chained to the triumphal car of an mer, he read Longinus ; a chapter author of great celebrity, and when of Longinus led to an epistle of he ventures not to judge for himself, Pliny; and having finished Longi- conceives, while he is reading the nus, he followed the train of his bad works of great authors, that the ideas of the sublime and beautiful languor which he experiences arises in the Inquiry of Burke, and con- from his own defective taste. But cluded by comparing the ancient the best writers, when they are vowith the modern Longinus.
luminous, have a great deal of meIt may not be necessary to read diocrity; for whenever an author all the works of any one author, attains facility in composition, the but only those which have received success of his preceding labours not the approbation of posterity. By only stimulates him to new perfor. this scheme we become acquainted mances, but prejudices the public in pith the finest compositions in half their favour; and such being mostly the time those employ, who, attempt writers by profession, most of their ing to read every thing, are often works are the products, not of inlittle acquainted with, and even ig- clination, but necessity. norant of the best. Thus of Machi On the other side, readers must avel, it may be sufficient to read his not imagine that all the pleasures Prince and his history of Florence; of composition depend on the author; of Milton nearly all his poetry, little for there is something which a read. of his prose, and nothing of his his. er himself must bring to the book, tory ; of Fielding's twelve volumes, that the book may please. There six may suffice; and of Voltaire's is a literary appetite which the auninety, perhaps nine is more than thor can no more impart, than the enough. One half of the plays of most skilful cook can give appetite Shakespeare, and one half of each to the guests. When Richelieu said play, is quite enough for one who to Godeau, that he did not under, reads poetry merely for its own stand his verses, the honest poet resake. All Dryden's fables, two plied, it was not his fault. It would of his satires, one of his odes, indeed be very unreasonable, when with a few of his prefaces, should a painter exhibits his pictures in satisfy a reasonable student, while public, to expect that he should all his dramas, translations, pro- provide spectacles for the use of the logues, and songs, may be left to re- short-sighted. Every man must pose quietly on the shelf.
Of the come prepared as well as he can. forty volumes of Swift, two or three Simonides confessed himself incapavolumes-full might be culled out, ble of deceiving stupid persons ; while the dirty or malignant refusé and Balzac remarked of the girls of should be doomed to the jakes. The his village, that they were too silly periodical works of Steele and Ad. to be duped by a man of wit
. Duldison, once so popular, certainly ness is impenetrable; and there contain a great deal unworthy of no are hours when the liveliest taste tice; and Mrs. Barbauld has lately loses its sensibility. The temporary done a real service to the world, by tone of the mind may be unfavoura. compressing eighteen or twenty of ble to taste a work properly, and the se into three or four. The best we have had many erroneous criti. parts of Pope are his translations of cisms from great men, which may Hom er and Horace; these, with his be attributed to this circumstance