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distinction, whatever falls in its way, but neither of them digests. They heap crudity upon crudity, and nourish and improve nothing but their distemper. Some such characters I have known, though it is not the most common extreme into which men are apt to fall. One of them I knew in this country. He joined to a more than athletic strength of body a prodigious memory, and to both a prodigious industry. He had read almost constantly twelve or fourteen hours a-day for five-and-twenty or thirty years, and had heaped together as much learning as could be crowded into a head. In the course of my acquaintance with him, I consulted him once or twice, not oftener; for I found this mass of learning of as little use to me as to the owner. The man was communicative enough; but nothing was distinct in his mind. How could it be otherwise? he had never spared time to think; all was employed in reading. His reason had not the merit of common mechanism. When you press a watch, or pull a clock, they answer your question with precision ; for they repeat exactly the hour of the day, and tell you neither more nor less than you desire to know. But when you asked this man a question, he overwhelmed you by pouring forth all that the several terms or words of your question recalled to his memory; and if he omitted anything, it was that very thing to which the sense of the whole question should have led him or confined him. To ask him a question was to wind up a spring in his memory, that rattled on with vast rapidity and confused noise, till the force of it was spent ; and you went away with all the noise in your ears, stunned and uninformed.

He who reads with discernment and choice, will


acquire less learning, but more knowledge; and as this knowledge is collected with design, and cultivated with art and method, it will be at all times of immediate and ready use to himself and others.

Thus useful arms in magazines we place,
All ranged in order, and disposed with grace;
Nor thus alone the curious eye to please,
But to be found, when need requires, with ease.

You remember the verses my lord, in our friend's Essay on Criticism, which was the work of his childhood almost; but as such a monument of good sense and poetry, as no other, that I know, has raised in his riper years.

He who reads without this discernment and choice, and, like Bodin's pupil, resolves to read all, will not have time, no, nor capacity neither, to do anything else. He will not be able to think, without which it is impertinent to read; nor to act, without which it is impertinent to think. He will assemble materials with much pains, and purchase them at much expense, and have neither leisure nor skill to frame them into proper scantings, or to prepare them for use. To what purpose should he husband his time, or learn architecture? he has no design to build. But then, to what purpose all these quarries of stone, all these mountains of sand and lime, all these forests of oak and deal?

Unreasonableness of Complaints of the Shortness of
Human Life.

I think very differently from most men, of the time we have to pass, and the business we have to do, in this world. I think we have more of one, and less of the other, than is commonly supposed. Our want of time, and the shortness of human life, are some of the principal commonplace complaints, which we prefer against the established order of things; they are the grumblings of the vulgar, and the pathetic lamentations of the philosopher; but they are impertinent and impious in both.

The man of business despises the man of pleasure for squandering his time away; the man of pleasure pities or laughs at the man of business for the same thing; and yet both concur superciliously and absurdly to find fault with the Supreme Being for having given them so little time. The philosopher, who misspends it very often as much as the others, joins in the same cry, and authorises this impiety. Theophrastus thought it extremely hard to die at ninety, and to go out of the world when he had just learned how to live in it. His master Aristotle found fault with nature for treating man in this respect worse than several other animals; both very unphilosophically! and I love Seneca the better for his quarrel with the Stagirite on this head.

We see, in so many instances, a just proportion of things, according to their several relations to one another, that philosophy should lead us to conclude this proportion preserved, even where we cannot discern it; instead of leading us to conclude that it is not preserved

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where we do not discern it, or where we think that we see the contrary. To conclude otherwise is shocking presumption. It is to presume that the system of the universe would have been more wisely contrived, if creatures of our low rank among intellectual natures had been called to the councils of the Most High; or that the Creator ought to mend his work by the advice of the creature.

That life which seems to our self-love so short, when we compare it with the ideas we frame of eternity, or even with the duration of some other beings, will appear sufficient, upon a less partial view, to all the ends of our creation, and of a just proportion in the successive course of generations. The term itself is long; we render it short; and the want we complain of flows from our profusion, not from our poverty. We are all arrant spendthrifts; some of us dissipate our estates on the trifles, some on the superfluities, and then we all complain that we want the necessaries, of life. The much greatest part never reclaim, but die bankrupts to God and man. Others reclaim late, and they are apt to imagine, when they make up their accounts, and see how their fund is diminished, that they have not enough remaining to live upon, because they have not the whole. But they deceive themselves; they were richer than they thought, and they are not yet poor. If they husband well the remainder, it will be found sufficient for all the necessaries, and for some of the superfluities, and trifles too, perhaps, of life; but then the former order of expense must be inverted, and the necessaries of life must be provided, before

they put themselves to any cost for the trifles or superfluities.

Let us leave the men of pleasure and of business, who are often candid enough to own that they throw away their time, and thereby to confess that they complain of the Supreme Being for no other reason than this, that he has not proportioned his bounty to their extravagance. Let us consider the scholar and philosopher, who far from owning that he throws any time away, reproves others for doing it; that solemn mortal, who abstains from the pleasures, and declines the business of the world, that he may dedicate his whole time to the search of truth and the improvement of knowledge.

When such a one complains of the shortness of human life in general, or of his remaining share in particular, might not a man, more reasonable, though less solemn, expostulate thus with him:-"Your complaint is indeed consistent with your practice; but you would not possibly renew your complaint if you reviewed your practice. Though reading makes a scholar, yet every scholar is not a philosopher, nor every philosopher a wise man. It cost you twenty years to devour all the volumes on one side of your library; you came out a great critic in Latin and Greek, in the oriental tongues, in history and chronology; but you were not satisfied. You confessed that these were the literæ nihil sanantes, and you wanted more time to acquire other knowledge. You have had this time; you have passed twenty years more on the other side of your library, among philosophers, rabbis, commentators, schoolmen, and whole legions of modern doctors. You are extremely well

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