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HABIT OF ATTENTIVE THOUGHT.
in our private studies may find a relief. A man of vast reading, without conversation, is like a miser, who lives only to himself.
Meditation or study includes all those exercises of the mind, whereby we render all the former methods useful, for our increase in true knowledge and wisdom. By meditation we fix in our memory whatsoever we learn, and form our own judgment of the truth or falsehood, the strength or weakness of what others speak or write. Neither our own observation, nor reading the works of the learned, nor attendance on the best lectures of instruction, nor enjoying the brightest conversation, can ever make a man truly knowing and wise, without the labours of his own reason in surveying, examining, and judging, concerning all subjects upon the best evidence he can acquire.-WATTS.
QUESTIONS.-1. What will be the state of the mind if unculti vated ? 2. To what exercise do the common duties of society oblige all persons? 13. What is the most important subject on which every one should reason correctly? 4. What are the most suitable opportunities for this duty ? 5. What are the five eminent means of knowledge ? 6. What is observation?.. 7. Reading? 8. What are lectures? 9. What is included in meditation or study? 10. What are some of the advantages of each of these five means of knowledge ?
Habit of Attentive Thought. Griffin, a fabled animal. Tal'isman, a magical character. It is of great importance to your intellectual improvement that
you should acquire the habit of attentive thought. The primary recommendation of science is its utility; and if you are really desirous of advancing in it, you will not regard the occasional ruggedness of a road, which is far from being always rugged. It may be allowed to him, who walks only for the pleasure of the moment to turn away from every path, in which he has not flowers and verdure beneath his feet, and beauty wherever he looks around. But in that knowledge which awaits your studies, in the various sciences to which your attention may be directed, you have a noble prize before you; and, therefore, you should not hesitate occa
CULTIVATION OF MEMORY.
sionally to put forth all the vigour of your attention, at the risk of a little temporary fatigue. It will facilitate your acquisition of a reward, which the listless exertions of the indolent can never obtain.
It is in science, or philosophy, as in many a fairy tale. The different obstacles which the hero encounters, are not progressively greater and greater ; but his most difficult achievements are often at the very commencement of his career. He begins, perhaps, with attacking the castle of some enchanter, and has to force his way, unassisted, through the gritñins and dragons that oppose his entrance. He finishes the adventure with the death of the magician and strips him of some ring, or other talisman, which renders his subsequent adventures comparatively easy and secure. The habit of attentive thought, which the consideration of difficult subjects necessarily produces, in those who are not too indolent to give attention to them, or too indifferent to feel interest in them, is more truly valuable than any talisman, of which accident or force might deprive you. The magic with which this endows you, is not attached to à ring, or a gem, or any thing external; it lives, and lives for ever, in the very essence of your minds.-BROWN.
Cultivation of Memory. Super'fluous, unnecessary. Cha'os, confusion. ch in words from the Greek sound like k. Memory implies two things: first, a capacity of retaining knowledge; and, secondly, a power of recalling that knowledge to our thoughts when we have occasion to apply it to
When we speak of a retentive memory, we use it in the former sense; when of a ready memory, in the latter. Without memory, there can be neither knowledge, arts, nor sciences; nor any improvement of mankind in virtue, or morals, or the practice of religion. Without memory,
the soul of man would be but a poor, destitute, naked being, with an everlasting blank spread over it, except the fleeting ideas of the present moment.
CULTIVATION OF MEMORY.
There is one great and general direction, which belongs to the improvement of other powers as well as of the memory, and that is, to keep it always in due and proper exercise. Many acts by degrees form a habit, and thereby the capacity or power is strengthened and made more retentive and ready. Due attention and diligence to learn and know the things which we would commit to our remembrance, is a rule of great necessity. There are some persons, who complain they cannot remember what they hear, when in truth their thoughts are wandering half the time, or they hear with such coldness and indifference, and a trifling temper of spirit, that it is no wonder the things which are read or spoken make but a slight impression, and soon vanish and are lost. If we would retain a long remembrance of the things which we read or hear, we should engage our delight and pleasure in those subjects, and use proper methods to fix the attention. Sloth and idleness will no more bless the mind with intellectual riches, than they will fill the hand with gain, the field with corn, or the purse with treasure.
Some persons are conceited of their abilities, and trust so much to an acuteness of parts denominated genius, that they think it superfluous labour to make any provision beforehand, and they sit still, therefore, satisfied without endeavouring to store their understanding with knowledge. Such should remember that we are born ignorant of every thing. God has made the intellectual world harmonious and beautiful without us; but it will never come into our heads all at once; we must bring it home by degrees, and there set it up by our own industry, or we shall have nothing but darkness and chaos within, whatever order and light there may be in things without us.
Others, on the contrary, depress their own minds, despond at the first difficulty, and conclude that getting an insight in any of the sciences, or making any progress in knowledge, farther than serves their ordinary business, is above their capacities. The proper remedy here is to set the mind to work, and apply the thoughts vigorously to the business; for it holds in the struggles of the mind, as in those of war,-a persuasion that we shall overcome any difficulties that we may meet with in the sciences, seldorn fails to carry us through them. Nobody knows the strength of his mind, and the force of steady and regular application, until he has tried.
All things are open to the searching eye
PERCIVAL. Questions.--1. What does memory imply? 2. What genera] direction is given for the improvement of memory? 3. What is a rule of great necessity ? 4. What is said of those who are conceited of their abilities? 5. What is the proper remedy for those who despond at difficulties?
Plan of Reading Speculation, a train of thoughts formed by meditation. Discrimina'tion, the act of distinguishing one from another. Desidera'ta, pl. some desirable things which are wanted. Lab'yrinth, a place formed with inextricable windings. The only method of putting our acquired knowledge on a level with our original speculations, is, after making ourselves acquainted with our author's ideas, to study the subject over again in our own way; to pause, from time to time, in the course of our reading, in order to consider what we have gained; to recollect what the propositions are, which the author wishes to establish, and to examine the different
proofs which he employs to support them. Such reasonings, as we have occasion frequently to apply, either in the business of life, or in the course of our studies, it is of importance to us to commit to writing, in a language and in an order of our own; and if, at any time, we find it necessary to refresh our recollection on the subject, to have recoarse to our own composition, in preference to that of any other author.
That the plan of reading, commonly followed, is very different from that which is here recommended, will not be disputed. Most people read merely to pass an idle hour, or to please themselves with the idea of employment, while their indolence prevents them from any active exertion; and a considerable number with a view to the display which they are afterwards to make of their literary acquisitions. From whichsoever of these motives a person is led to the perusal of books, it is hardly possible that he can derive from them any material advantage. If he reads merely from indolence, the ideas which pass through his mind will probably leave little or no impression ; if he reads from vanity, he will be more anxious to select striking particulars in the matter or expression, than to seize the spirit and scope of the author's reasoning, or to examine how far he has made any additions to the stock of useful and solid knowledge.
A proper selection of the particulars to be remembered is necessary to enable us to profit by reading. When we first enter on any new literary pursuit, we commonly find our efforts of attention painful and unsatisfactory. We have no discrinination in our curiosity, and by grasping at every thing, we fail in making those moderate acquisitions which are suited to our limited faculties. As our knowledge extends, we learn to know what particulars are likely to be of use to us, and acquire a habit of directing our examinations to these, without distracting the attention with others. "It is partly owing to a similar circumstance, that most readers complain of a defect of memory, when they first enter on the study of history. They cannot separate important from trifling facts, and they find themselves unable to retain any thing from their anxiety to secure the whole.
In order to give a proper direction to our attention to the course of our studies, it is useful before engaging in any particular pursuits to acquire as familiar an acquaintance as