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Study

( Originally Published 1851 )



While some are lost in dissipation and thoughtlessness, there are others whose minds are absorbed in diligent and laborious study. And, indeed, he who has no taste for intellectual pleasures, seems to be but a small remove from the animal tribes. Ile who cannot bear thinking, or at least has no disposition for investigation, but takes things merely from the report of others, or as they are imposed upon him by custom or prejudice is a mere slave, and hardly can be wise. It is a remark worthy attention, that " Thinking has been one of the least exerted privileges of cultivated humanity." It must be confessed there is too much truth in the observation. That all men think, is not denied; but, alas! few think with propriety, few bend their thoughts to right objects, few divest themselves of the shackles of ignorance and custom: to be, how-ever intelligent, to be candid, to be useful, a man should give himself to application. In a word, he who would be happy in himself, respectable in society, and a blessing to the world, should persevere in the study of those subjects which are calculated to enlarge the mind, meliorate the disposition, and promote the best interests of mankind.

Demosthenes's application to study was surprising. To be the more removed from noise, and less subject to distraction, he caused a small chamber to be made for him under ground, in which he shut himself up sometimes for whole months, shaving on purpose half his head and face, that he might not be in a condition to go abroad. It was there, by the light of a small lamp he composed the admirable Orations, which were said, by those who en-vied him, to smell of the oil, to imply they were too elaborate. " It is plain," replied he, " your's did not cost you so much trouble." He rose very early in the morning, and used to say, that " he was sorry when any workman was at his business before him." He copied Thucydides' History eight times, with his own hand, in order to render the style of that great man familiar to him.

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