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that he should know what he is about; that he should read and think over the title-page, acquaint himself, if he can, with some little history of the author, some hint as to whether he is trustworthy or biased. Then he should carefully read the preface, and master the idea that the author had when he wrote the book. He should then glance over the contents, look at the subdivisions and chapters, and finally read the book, if he choose to do so. This, which may seem a roundabout way to some, is in reality the shortest way. Some books, says Lord Bacon, are to be tasted, some to be read and digested. Let us presume that the work is of the common class, without any thought in it-a farrago of notions huddled together in haste, and made only for sale. The self-improver will save all his time by a preliminary study; oftentimes the title will tell him all that he wants to know; more often the title, the preface, and contents will assure him that he has little to learn, and he will put aside the book and pass on to worthier food. For books are like men : sometimes their prefaces and addresses are by far the worthiest parts of them. As the reader progresses in his studies and gains in experience, he will find that there grows up in him almost an intuition, by which he can tell, in a very few pages at least, a bad, empty, and pretentious book from that which will inform, teach, and render him wiser.
To know something of books and their writers, and to know well the significations of words, will be two safe and admirable bases upon which to rear a superstructure of higher knowledge. The realms of knowledge are wide. No man has traversed them all ; and the THE REALM OF KNOWLEDGE.
9 more a wise man traverses them, the more he discovers that there is much he will never know. The true student, like Moses beholding the Promised Land from Pisgah, finds that the most beautiful and admirable prospects open out before him on every side ; that the land, in the strong symbolism of Scripture, floweth with milk and honey ; that, boundless as the supply is, there is more than enough for all; that there is no satiety in knowledge; that the more one devours the abundant supply, the more one desires ; that true knowledge increases reverence, fear, and happiness : but also, like Moses, he knows that it will not be given him in this life wholly to overrun and possess that fertile land. The student will therefore limit his task, and determine to rest contentedly ignorant of many things; but, to fit himself for the knowledge of words and things, he will do well, should time and opportunity permit him, to enter at least into a preparatory study of two languages wherewith our own is most intimately bound up; and these are Latin and French. One would not wholly pass by Greek, from which many
of our derivations come; but it will be foolish to advise him to try to grasp too much. Latin is not a difficult language to master, so far as the rudiments go, and the ability to read it with ease; and French, as a living language, may be said to be easier. It follows, then,
, that, if he takes an easy primer-and, with no disrespect for the Public Schools' Primer, a modification of the “Eton Grammar" will suit him best-and for some three months works away at the book till the declensions, conjugations, and the primary forms of the different parts of speech are well known to him, by writing out, from a good dictionary, the Latin roots of words opposite the words themselves, he will in a short time begin to look with a different light upon the meanings of words. Take the words “amorous,” from amor, love; "uxoriousness," --uxor, a wife; “inimical” -in, not, amicus, a friend, and other simple derivations, as instances. When the student knows the real meaning of these and such like, he may be led not to use them ; in fact, he may think that "loving," "wife-loving," and "unfriendly," all English words, are just as good, if not better; but he will find that the Latinised English has a slightly different meaning. An amorous man means something not so noble as a loving man; one who is uxorious is weakly fond of his wife; and so
Read in this way, passages of little meaning become instinct with life, beauties appear in writers which were never seen before, swelling words of leader-writers and public orators become merely swelling words or nonsense, and the calm writing of the wise man gains considerably in strength. Nor need he be afraid of having to learn too much to get at the meaning of words. We have it on record (said, too, in a friendly way, by one who was a great scholar, Ben Jonson) that Shakespeare “had small Latin and less Greek ;" but yet it is well known that no man knew better how to use English words than he did ; that some of his lines convey more than whole pages of other writers; nay, that he himself has invented, in spite of his want of learning, numerous excellent words, which express to the mind, as a picture does to the eye, exactly what the author means. Presuming, then, that not a perfect, but a fair acquaintance with Latin and French can be gained,
NATURE OF THE WORK, even in the course of his reading, by the student who is anxious to instruct himself, I will now enter upon the subject proper of the present volume.*
It has been thought advisable to incorporate a number of speci. mens of various authors in the present volume. A mere list of names and dates, coupled with brief criticisms--and these last, however carefully prepared, are more or less unsatisfactory, unless supplemented with examples—cannot but be unprofitable at all times to the elementary student. As to the nature of the extracts, I may say that they have been newly selectid, with very few exceptions, from the originals, for the present work. In doing this, I have endeavoured to avoid the well-worn tracks of most of the books of specimens that are at present current.
ISTORY,” says the quaint but full and sufficient author, Thomas Fuller, in his
History of the Church,” “maketh a young man to be old without either wrin
kles or grey hairs, privileging him with the experience of age without either the infirmities or the inconveniences thereof." This estimate of history is hardly sufficient : it takes only one view. It is a grand thing to be gifted with the judgment and experience of age when young, to know what results certain experiments will lead to, to be able to stem or to foretell a revolution, or to "wield at will the fierce democratie:” but there is another use for history. Without it we can know nothing of our country. It is like a fieldglass, which gives us a long backward view over the painful passage of our fathers, and which, turned forwards, will enable us to make out, with some little distinctness at least, the career which our children will have to run. Without history, man loses much of his grandeur and his place in the world; for, as Shakespeare has so acutely said, one of his chief mental character