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and evanescent tales and novels of the day, to the pure and noble study of our glorious literature. That the good fortune which has hitherto attended these Essays may still wait upon the book is the only wish its author would express; but he would remind the reader of the purpose of this work, and would urge that the space occupied forbad a complete view of the most fertile field in the world, so that many names are barely mentioned or regretfully omitted. He has, lastly, publicly to thank Mr. Edward Pepper, who has before assisted him, for reading the book for the press, and for selecting the far greater part of the admirable extracts of the old writers which will be found in the early portion of this volume.
LL eminent men are, in a great measure,
self-made. Mr. Gladstone, Mr. Robert Lowe and Mr. John Stuart Mill, must each have had many tens of schoolfellows;
nay, to point to an earlier and more wonderful example, in that Stratford Grammar School, where Shakespeare—he who had wrenched the key of Learning, and forcibly entered and made himself master of the house of Wisdom—first learnt Hic, hæc, hoc, genitive Hujus, which he has duly reproduced, there were many hundred boys nationally educated by the wise and beneficent Elizabeth—and but one Shakespeare, one Gladstone, one Mill, one Lowe. It follows that the difference lies in the boy or the man, and not in the school. All first-rate men, again, are to a great extent selfeducated; so said Dr. Johnson, who, by the way, added that he, and all like him, had done their chief reading before they were eighteen; for it is indeed certain that, if there is no royal road to learning, there are still
a great many bye and private paths which are principally laid down by men themselves. Hence those who feel that they are deficiently educated should not despair on account of their want of schooling. It is true that a want of early training is a sad want, difficult to make up; but it can be made up, and there are now existing means of remedying that deficiency such as were never before obtainable. The faults of late and self-education are these : that he who wins learning by himself, with difficulty and with a great struggle, generally becomes, in some degree, arrogant and conceited. And it is from this, and only from this point of view, that Pope's often-quoted line-chiefly quoted to be misused-is true
“A little learning is a dangerous thing.”
But it is by no means true as a whole. A little learning is insufficient; one must “drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring;” because a little learning, like a little bread, or a little meat, makes us feel the want of more. “So a little philosophy," says Bacon, "inclineth a man to atheism ;” but much philosophy and much learning both make a man more open to conviction and more reverent towards the All-knower.
The first promptings towards self-improvement, or the desire to know more, arise from a sensible deficiency in all of us. An uneducated man feels at a disadvantage amongst those who express themselves clearly, and debate upon what is interesting to all in an interesting way. The two principal subjects of human talk may be divided roughly into Politics and Religion ; the concern about the things of this world, and the concern about those of the next. Morals or man