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For though most hands dispatch apace,
And make light work, (the proverb says,)
Yet many different intellects

Are found t' have contrary effects;
And many heads t' obstruct intrigues,
As slowest insects have most legs.

Hudibras, Part III., Canto 2.



ALL the world's a stage,

And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms;

And then, the whining school-boy, with his satchel,
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school: And then, the lover;
Sighing like furnace, with a woful ballad
Made to his mistress' eye-brow: Then, a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation

Even in the cannon's mouth: And then, the justice,
In fair round belly, with good capon lined,
With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances,
And so he plays his part: The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon;
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shanks: and his big manly voice,
Turning again towards childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound: Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,

Is second childishness, and mere oblivion;
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

As You Like It, Act II.

The noblest characters only
All others act comedy

A GERMAN writer observes, show themselves in their real light. with their fellowmen even unto the grave."



FOUR seasons fill the measure of the year;

There are four seasons in the mind of man :
He has his lusty Spring, when fancy clear
Takes in all beauty with an easy span :
He has his Summer, when luxuriously

Spring's honey'd cud of youthful thought he loves
To ruminate, and by such dreaming high
Is nearest unto heaven: quiet coves
His soul has in its Autumn, when his wings
He furleth close; contented so to look
On mists in idleness-to let fair things
Pass by unheeded as a threshold brook.
He has his winter too of pale misfeature,
Or else he would forego his mortal nature.

KEATS. Sonnet.


YET went she not, as not with such discourse
Delighted, or not capable her ear

Of what was high: such pleasure she reserved,
Adam relating, she sole auditress:

Her husband the relater she preferr❜d

Before the angel, and of him to ask

Chose rather; he, she knew, would intermix
Grateful digressions, and solve high dispute
With conjugal caresses: from his lip

Not words alone pleased her. O! when meet now
Such pairs in love and mutual honour join'd?
With goddess-like demeanour forth she went,
Not unattended; for on her, as queen,
A pomp of winning graces waited still,
And from about her shot darts of desire
Into all eyes, to wish her still in sight.

Paradise Lost, Book VIII.


(David and Michol.)

HOME flies the prince, and to his trembling wife
Relates the new past hazard of his life;
Which she with decent passion hears him tell,
For not her own fair eyes she loved so well.

Upon the palace top beneath a row

Of lemon trees, which there did proudly grow,
And with bright store of golden fruit repay,

The light they drank from the sun's neighb'ring ray
(A small but artful paradise) they walk'd,

And hand in hand sad, gentle things they talk'd.
COWLEY. Davideis, Book I.


OTHER relaxations are peculiar to certain times, places, and stages of life, but the study of letters is the nourishment of our youth, and the joy of our old age. They throw an additional splendour on prosperity, and are the resource and consolation of adversity; they delight at home, and are no embarrassment abroad, in short they are company to us at night, our fellowtravellers on a journey, and attendants in our rural recesses.


No man's life is free from struggles and mortification, not even the happiest; but every one may build up his own happiness by seeking mental pleasures, and thus making himself independent of outward fortune.



THOSE faithful mirrors, which reflect to our mind, the minds of sages and heroes.

GIBBON. Decline and Fall.

THEY give

New views to life, and teach us how to live;

They soothe the grieved, the stubborn they chastise,
Fools they admonish, and confirm the wise.
Their aid they yield to all, they never shun
The man of sorrow, nor the wretch undone;
Unlike the hard, the selfish, and the proud,
They fly not sullen from the suppliant crowd;
Nor tell to various people various things,
But show to subjects what they show to kings.


CRABBE. The Library.

HOWEVER, many books,

Wise men have said, are wearisome; who reads

Incessantly, and to his reading brings not
A spirit and judgment * equal or superior

(And what he brings, what need he elsewhere seek?)
Uncertain and unsettled still remains,

Deep-versed in books, and shallow in himself,+
Crude or intoxicate collecting toys

And trifles of choice matters, worth a sponge;

As children gathering pebbles on the shore.

Paradise Regained, Book IV.

THE frame of mind in which we read a work often influences our judgment upon it. That which for the moment predominates in our minds, colours all that we read, and we are afterwards surprised, on a reperusal of works of this kind, under circumstances and with different feelings, to find no longer the merit we formerly attributed to them.


SOME are too indolent to read anything, till its reputation is established; others too envious to promote that fame which gives them pain by its increase. What is new is opposed, because most are unwilling to be taught; and what is known is rejected, because it is not sufficiently considered that men more frequently require to be reminded than informed.


NOTHING perhaps increases by indulgence more than a desultory habit of reading. I believe one reason why such numerous instances of erudition occur among the lower ranks is, that, with the same powers of mind, the poor student is limited to a narrow circle for indulging his passion for books, and must necessarily make himself master of the few he sesses ere he can acquire more.


Waverley, Chap. III.

* Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking makes what we read ours. So far as we apprehend and see the connexion of ideas, so far it is ours; without that it is so much loose matter floating in our brain.

LOCKE. Conduct of the Understanding.

+ Study is like the heaven's glorious sun,
That will not be deep-search'd with saucy looks;
Small have continual plodders ever won,
Save base authority from others' books.

Love's Labour's Lost, Act I.


As 'tis a greater mystery in the art
Of painting to foreshorten any part,
Than draw it out, so 'tis in books the chief
Of all perfections to be plain and brief.

BUTLER. Miscellaneous Thoughts.

WHAT ken we better that sae sindle look,
Except on rainy Sundays, on a book,
When we a leaf or twa haff read, haff spell
Till a' the rest sleep round, as weel's oursell?

Books of Amusement."

Gentle Shepherd.

ONE of the amusements of idleness is reading without the fatigue of close attention, and the world therefore swarms with writers whose wish is not to be studied, but to be read.

DR. JOHNSON. Idler, No. 30.


FAIR Isabel, poor simple Isabel!

Lorenzo, a young palmer in Love's eye!
They could not in the self-same mansion dwell
Without some stir of heart, some malady;
They could not sit at meat but feel how well
It soothed each to be the other by ;

They could not, sure, beneath the same roof sleep,
But to each other dream, and nightly weep.

With every morn their love grew tenderer,

With every eve deeper and tenderer still;
He might not in house, field, or garden stir,
But her full shape would all his seeing fill;
And his continual voice was pleasanter

To her, than noise of trees or hidden rill;
Her lute-string gave an echo of his name,
She spoilt her half-done 'broidery with the same.
He knew whose gentle hand was at the latch,
Before the door had given her to his eyes;

Men love better books which please them, than those which instruct. Since their ennui troubles them more than their ignorance, they prefer being amused to being informed.

L'Abbé Dubos.

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