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Page 194 - Yet let us avoid the contrary extreme, and respect method without rendering ourselves its slaves. While we propose an end in our reading, let not this end be too remote ; and when once we have attained it, let our attention be directed to a different subject. Inconstancy weakens the understanding ; a long and exclusive application to a single object hardens and contracts it. Our ideas no longer change...
Page 485 - France il était passé en proverbe de dire : Cela est beau comme le Cid. Si ce proverbe a péri , il faut s'en prendre aux auteurs qui ne le goûtaient pas, et à la cour, où c'eût été très-mal parler que de s'en servir sous le ministère du cardinal de Richelieu.
Page 196 - ... invention which creates a new kind of writing ; and next, that which displays the charms of novelty in its subject, characters, situation, pictures, thoughts, and sentiments. Yet this invention will miss its effect, unless it be accompanied with a genius capable of adapting itself to every variety of the subject — successively sublime, pathetic, flowery, majestic, and playful ; and with a judgment which admits nothing indecorous, and a style which expresses well whatever ought to be said.
Page 227 - As Homer is the most ancient Greek author (excepting perhaps Hesiod) who is now extant ; and as he was not only the poet, but the lawgiver, the theologian, the historian, and the philosopher, of the ancients, every succeeding writer is full of quotations from, or allusions to, his writings, which it would be difficult to understand without a previous knowledge of them. In this situation, was it not natural to follow the ancients themselves, who always began their studies by the perusal of Homer ?...
Page 193 - Let us read with method, and propose to ourselves an end to which all our studies may point. Through neglect of this rule, gross ignorance often disgraces great readers; who, by skipping hastily and irregularly from one subject to another, render themselves incapable of combining their ideas. So many detached parcels of knowledge cannot form a whole. This...
Page 30 - SM comme une agression formelle et préméditée. Telle fut, il est vrai, la déclaration que l'honneur et la justice exigèrent du roi, et qu'il communiqua sans délai à tous ses ministres dans les différentes cours de l'Europe,' pour justifier d'avance les effets d'un ressentiment légitime.
Page 194 - We ought, says he, not to attend to the order of our books, so much as of our thoughts. " The perusal of a particular work gives birth perhaps to ideas unconnected with the subject it treats ; I pursue these ideas, and quit my proposed plan of reading.
Page 195 - To read with attention, exactly to define the expressions of our author, never to admit a conclusion without comprehending its reason, often to pause, reflect, and interrogate ourselves, these are so many advices which it is easy to give but difficult to follow.
Page 530 - I have entirely omitted a metaphysical inquiry upon the nature of laws in general, eternal and positive laws, and a number of sublime terms, which I admire as much as I can without understanding them. Instead of following this high priori road, would it not be better humbly to investigate the desires, fears, passions, and opinions of the human being ; and to discover from thence what means an able legislator can employ to connect the private happiness of each individual with the observance of those...
Page 228 - I read with a good deal of care and criticism, and made many observations on them. Some I have inserted here ; for the rest I shall find a proper place. Upon the whole, I think that Homer's few faults (for some he certainly has) are lost in the variety of his beauties. I expected to have finished him long before. The delay was owing partly to the circumstances of my way of life and avocations, and partly to my own fault ; for while every one looks on me as a prodigy of application, I know myself...