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excellence shall be torn away, and all must be shown to all in their real estate.

I am, SIR,

Your humble fervant,

NUMB. 85. TUESDAY, August 28, 1753.

Qui cupit optatam curfu contingere metam,
Multa tulit fecitque puer.


The youth, who hopes th' Olympick prize to gain,
All arts must try, and every toil sustain.


Tis obferved by Bacon, that "reading makes a "full man, converfation a ready man, and "writing an exact man."

As Bacon attained to degrees of knowledge scarcely ever reached by any other man, the directions which he gives for ftudy have certainly a just claim to our regard; for who can teach an art with fo great authority, as he that has practifed it with undisputed fuccefs?

Under the protection of fo great a name, I fhall, therefore, venture to inculcate to my ingenious contemporaries, the neceffity of reading, the fitness of confulting other understandings than their own, and of confidering the fentiments and opinions of thofe who, however neglected in the prefent age, had in their own times, and many of them a long

time afterwards, fuch reputation for knowledge and acuteness, as will fcarcely ever be attained by thofe that defpife them.

An opinion has of late been, I know not how, propagated among us, that libraries are filled only with useless lumber; that men of parts and in need of no affiftance; and that to fpend life in poring upon books, is only to imbibe prejudices, to obftruct and embarrass the powers of nature, to cultivate memory at the expence of judgment, and to bury reafon under a chaos of indigefted learning.

Such is the talk of many who think themfelves wife, and of fome who are thought wife by others; of whom part probably believe their own tenets, and part may be justly fufpected of endeavouring to fhelter their ignorance in multitudes, and of wishing to deftroy that reputation which they have no hopes to fhare. It will, I believe, be found invariably true, that learning was never decried by any learned man; and what credit can be given to thofe, who venture to condemn that which they do not know?

If reafon has the power afcribed to it by its advocates, if fo much is to be difcovered by attention and meditation, it is hard to believe, that fo many millions, equally participating of the bounties of nature with ourselves, have been for ages upon ages meditating in vain: if the wits of the prefent time expect the regard of pofterity, which will then inherit the reafon which is now thought fuperior to instruction, furely they may allow themselves to be inftructed by the reafon of former generations. When, therefore, an author declares, that he has been able to learn nothing from the writings of his prede

predeceffors, and fuch a declaration has been lately made, nothing but a degree of arrogance unpardonable in the greatest human understanding, can hinder him from perceiving that he is raifing prejudices against his own performance; for with what hopes of fuccefs can he attempt that in which greater abilities have hitherto mifcarried? or with what peculiar force does he fuppofe himself invigorated, that difficulties hitherto invincible fhould give way before him?

Of those whom Providence has qualified to make any additions to human knowledge, the number is extremely small; and what can be added by each fingle mind, even of this fuperior class, is very little: the greatest part of mankind muft owe all their knowledge, and all muft owe far the larger part of it, to the information of others. To understand the works of celebrated authors, to comprehend their fyftems, and retain their reafonings, is a task more than equal to common intellects; and he is by no means to be accounted useless or idle, who has ftored his mind with acquired knowledge, and can detail it occafionally to others who have lefs leifure or weaker abilities.

Perfius has justly obferved, that knowledge is nothing to him who is not known by others to poffefs it to the scholar himself it is nothing with refpect either to honour or advantage, for the world cannot reward those qualities which are concealed from it; with respect to others it is nothing, because it affords no help to ignorance or error.

It is with juftice, therefore, that in an accomplished character, Horace unites juft fentiments with

the power of expreffing them; and he that has once accumulated learning, is next to confider, how he fhall moft widely diffuse and most agreeably impart it.

A ready man is made by converfation. He that buries himself among his manufcripts befprent," as Pope expreffes it, "with learned dust," and wears out his days and nights in perpetual research and folitary meditation, is too apt to lofe in his elocution what he adds to his wifdom; and when he comes into the world, to appear overloaded with his own notions, like a man armed with weapons which he cannot wield. He has no facility of inculcating his fpeculations, of adapting himself to the various degrees of intellect which the accidents of converfation will prefent; but will talk to moft unintelligibly, and to all unpleasantly.

I was once prefent at the lectures of a profound philofopher, a man really killed in the fcience which he profeffed, who having occafion to explain the terms opacum and pellucidum, told us, after fome hesitation, that opacum was, as one might fay, opake, and that pellucidum fignified pellucid. Such was the dexterity with which this learned reader facilitated to his auditors the intricacies of fcience; and fo true is it, that a man may know what he cannot teach.

Boerhaave complains, that the writers who have treated of chemistry before him, are ufelefs to the greater part of ftudents, because they pre-fuppofe their readers to have fuch degrees of skill as are not often to be found. Into the fame error are all men apt to fall, who have familiarized any fubject to


themselves in folitude: they difcourfe, as if they thought every other man had been employed in the fame inquiries; and expect that fhort hints and obfcure illufions will produce in others, the fame train of ideas which they excite in themselves.

Nor is this the only inconvenience which the man of ftudy fuffers from a reclufe life. When he meets with an opinion that pleases him, he catches it up with eagerness; looks only after fuch arguments as tend to his confirmation; or fpares himself the trouble of difcuffion, and adopts it with very little proof; indulges it long without fufpicion, and in time unites it to the general body of his knowledge, and treasures it up among inconteftible truths: but when he comes into the world among men who, arguing upon diffimilar principles, have been led to different conclufions, and being placed in various fituations, view the fame object on many fides; he finds his darling pofition attacked, and himself in no condition to defend it: having thought always in one train, he is in the ftate of a man who having fenced always with the fame mafter, is perplexed and amazed by a new posture of his antagonist; he is entangled in unexpected difficulties, he is haraffed by sudden objections, he is unprovided with folutions or replies, his furprize impedes his natural powers of reasoning, his thoughts are fcattered and confounded, and he gratifies the pride of airy petulance with an eafy victory.

It is difficult to imagine, with what obftinacy truths which one mind perceives almoft by intuition, will be rejected by another; and how many artifices must be practised, to procure admiffion for VOL. IX.



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