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demonstration and operation, with all the instruments of art necessary to those operations.
Conversation is another method of improving our minds, wherein, by mutual discourse and inquiry, we learn the sentiments of others, as well as communicate our sentiments to others in the same manner. Sometimes, indeed, the advantage is only on one side; as when a teacher and a learner meet and discourse together; but frequently the profit is mutual. Under the head of conversation we rank disputations of various kinds.
Meditation, or study, includes those exercises of the mind whereby we render all the former methods useful for our increase in true knowledge and wisdom. It is by meditation we confirm our remembrance of things, of our own experience, and of the observations we make. It is by meditation that we draw various inferences, and establish in our minds general principles of knowledge. It is by meditation that we fix in our memory whatever we learn, and form our own judgment of the truth or falsehood, the strength or weakness, of what others speak or write. It is meditation, or study, that draws out long chains of argument, and searches and finds deep and difficult truths, which before lay concealed in darkness.
Each of these five methods has its peculiar advantages, by which it materially assists the others; and its peculiar defects, which need to be supplied by the assistance of the rest.
ON BOOKS AND READING.
Ir is of vast importance for the improvement of knowledge, that a young person should have the most proper books for reading recommended by a judicious friend. In books of importance, I would advise that the preface be read, and a survey taken of the table of contents (if there be one) before the first survey of the book. By this means you will not only be better fitted to give the book the first reading, but will be much assisted in the second perusal of it, which should be done with still greater attention and deliberation. Unless a reader has an uncommon and most retentive memory, I may venture to affirm there is scarcely any book or chapter worth reading once, that is not worthy of a second perusal.
Remember, that your business in reading or in conversation, especially on subjects of natural, moral, or divine science, is to consider whether the opinions of the author or speaker are just; and to increase your own knowledge on that subject, by meditation on the heads of their writing or discourse.
Let this therefore be your practice. If a writer does not explain his ideas well, mark the faults, and endeavour to do it better, either in the margin of your book, or rather in some papers of your own. For instance: where the author is obscure, enlighten him; where he is too brief, amplify a little, and set his opinions in a fairer view; where he is redundant, mark these paragraphs to be retrenched; where he argues, observe whether his reasons are conclusive; where you suppose he
is in a mistake, propose your objections and correct his sentiments; what he writes that your understanding approves both as just and useful, treasure up in your memory, and count it a part of your intellectual gains.
These methods of reading will cost some labour at first, but the profit will richly compensate the pains: one book read in this manner will more enrich your understanding, than skimming over the mere surface of twenty authors. Watts.
ON THE SEVERAL BRANCHES OF EDUCATION.
FRENCH is now esteemed an accomplishment te both sexes. There are several good books written in that language which are not unworthy of our perusal; and there are many words now introduced into the English language, borrowed and derived from it, as well as from the Latin and Greek; so that it may not be improper for an English gentleman to learn those languages, that he may understand his own the better. If persons have occasion to converse with foreigners at court, or in the city, or if they design to travel abroad, the French is a necessary tongue, because it is much spoken throughout Europe.
It is still more important that youth should be perfectly skilled in reading, writing, and speaking their native tongue in a correct, a polite, and a graceful manner. It is of more worth and advantage to gentlemen and ladies to have an exact kuowledge of what is decent, just, and elegant, in
English, than be critics in foreign tongues and dead and useless languages.
Youth of both sexes should be a little acquainted with logic, that they may learn to obtain clear ideas; to banish the prejudices of infancy, custom, and humour, and cast their thoughts and affairs into a proper and easy method.
Several parts of mathematical learning are also necessary ornaments of the mind; and many of these are so agreeable to the fancy, that young persons will find entertainment in acquiring the knowledge of them.
Besides the common skill in accounts which is needful for every trader, there are useful rules and practices in arithmetic to which a gentleman should be no stranger; and if his genius be that way, a little insight into algebra would be no disadvantage to him. It was for want of a more general acquaintance with mathematical learning, that, a century ago, a good algebraist and a geometrician were counted conjurers; and people applied to them to seek for lost horses and stolen goods.
They should also know something of geometry, so far at least as to understand the names of the various lines and angles, surfaces and solids, and to know some of the most general properties of angles, triangles, squares, and circles, &c. The world has now grown so learned in mathematical science, that this sort of language is often used in common writing, and in conversation.
Geography and astronomy are exceedingly delightful studies; and no young person of either sex is now esteemed to have had an elegant education
without some knowledge of them. It is absolutely necessary for young persons to learn the several parts of the land and sea, that they may know in what quarter of the world the chief cities and countries are situated; that they may not grossly blunder, and expose themselves to contempt and ridicule. Without the knowledge of geography we cannot study the important science of history with profit, nor even understand the common newspapers.
It is necessary also to know something of the heavenly bodies, and their various motions and periods of revolution, that we may guard against vulgar fears and prejudices, and be able to behold the Sun covered with darkness, and the full Moon deprived of her light, without foreboding that the government is in danger, or that the world has come to an end..
Natural philosophy is a very bright ornament of our rational natures; and a course of philosophical experiments should be frequently attended by young ladies as well as genticmen.
History is another accomplishment of youth, and ornament of education. The narratives of the various occurrences in nations, as well as in the lives of particular persons, will furnish the mind with a store of knowledge, whence to derive useful observations, inferences, and rules of conduct.
Biography ought to be pursued with equal zeal. It is equally interesting, and more applicable to the pursuits of common life. Biography teaches the knowledge of human nature, excites a spirit of emulation, and enables us to surmount the dan