صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني






READING is for the improvement of the under


The improvement of the understanding is for two ends; first, for our own increase of knowledge; fecondly, to enable us to deliver and make out that knowledge to others.

The latter of these, if it be not, the chief end of study in a gentleman; yet it is at least equal to the other, fince the greatest part of his bufinefs and usefulness in the world is by the influence of what he says, or writes to others.

The extent of our knowledge cannot exceed the extent of our ideas. Therefore he, who would be univerfally. knowing, must acquaint himself with the objects of all fciences. But this is not neceffary to a gentleman, whose proper calling is the fervice of his country; and fo is most properly concerned in moral and political knowledge; and thus the ftudies, which more immediately belong to his calling, are thofe which treat of virtues and vices, of civil fociety, and the arts of government; and will take in alfo law and hiftory.

It is enough for a gentleman to be furnished with the ideas belonging to his calling, which he will find in the books that treat of the matters above-mentioned.



But the next step towards the improvement of his understanding, muft be, to obferve the connexion of these ideas in the propofitions, which those books hold forth, and pretend to teach as truths; which till a man can judge, whether they be truths or no, his understanding is but little improved; and he doth but think and talk after the books that he hath read, without having any knowledge thereby. And thus men of much reading are greatly learned, but may be little knowing.

The third and laft ftep therefore, in improving the understanding, is to find out upon what foundation any propofition advanced bottoms; and to obferve the connexion of the intermediate ideas, by which it is joined to that foundation, upon which it is erected, or that principle, from which it is derived. This, in fhort, is right reasoning; and by this way alone true knowledge is to be got by reading and studying.

When a man, by ufe, hath got this faculty of obferving and judging of the reafoning and coherence of what he reads, and how it proves what it pretends to teach; he is then, and not till then, in the right way of improving his understanding, and enlarging his knowledge by reading.

But that, as I have faid, being not all that a gentleman should aim at in reading, he should farther take care to improve himself in the art also of speaking, that fo he may be able to make the beft ufe of what he knows.

The art of speaking well confifts chiefly in two things, viz. perfpicuity and right reafoning.

Perfpicuity confifts in the ufing of proper terms for the ideas or thoughts, which he would have pafs from his own mind into that of another man. It is this, that gives them an easy entrance; and it is with delight, that men hearken to thofe, whom they easily underftand whereas what is obfcurely faid, dying as it is fpoken, is ufually not only loft, but creates a prejudice in the hearer, as if he that spoke knew not what he said, or was afraid to have it understood.

The way to obtain this, is to read fuch books as are allowed to be writ with the greatest clearness and pro


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

priety, in the language that a man ufes. An author excellent in this faculty, as well as feveral others, is Dr. Tillotfon, late archbishop of Canterbury, in all that is published of his. I have chofen rather to propose this pattern, for the attainment of the art of fpeaking clearly, than those who give rules about it; fince we are more apt to learn by example, than by direction. But if any one hath a mind to confult the mafters in the art of speaking and writing, he may find in Tully " De Oratore," and another treatise of his called, Orator; and in Quintilian's Inftitutions; and Boileau's "Traité du Sublime" *; inftructions concerning this, and the other. parts of speaking well.

Befides perfpicuity, there must be alfo right reafoning; without which, perfpicuity ferves but to expose the speaker. And for the attaining of this, I should propose the conftant reading of Chillingworth, who by his example will teach both perfpicuity, and the way of right reasoning, better than any book that I know; and therefore will deferve to be read upon that account over and over again; not to say any thing of his argu


Befides these books in English, Tully, Terence, Virgil, Livy, and Cæfar's Commentaries, may be read to form one's mind to a relish of a right way of speaking and writing.

The books I have hitherto mentioned have been in order only to writing and speaking well; not but that they will deferve to be read upon other accounts.

The ftudy of morality, I have above mentioned as that that becomes a gentleman; not barely as a man, but in order to his bufinefs as a gentleman. Of this there are books enough writ both by antient and modern philofophers; but the morality of the gofpel doth fo exceed them all, that, to give a man a full knowledge of true morality, I fhall fend him to no other book, but the New Teftament. But if he hath a mind to fee how far the heathen world carried that fcience, and whereon they bottomed their ethics, he will be delightfully and

* That treatise is a tranflation from Longinus.

D d 4


profitably entertained in Tully's Treatifes "De Officiis."

Politics contains two parts, very different the one from the other. The one, containing the original of focieties, and the rife and extent of political power; the other, the art of governing men in fociety.

[ocr errors]

The first of these hath been fo bandied amongst us, for these fixty years backward, that one can hardly miss books of this kind. Thofe, which I think are most talked of in English, are the first book of Mr. Hooker's Ecclefiaftical Polity," and Mr. Algernon Sydney's "Difcourfes concerning Government." The latter of these I never read. Let me here add, Let me here add, "Two, Treatifes of Government," printed in 1690 *; and a Treatife of "Civil Polity," printed this year t. To thefe one may add, Puffendorf" De Officio Hominis & Civis," and "De Jure Naturali & Gentium;" which laft is the best book of that kind.

As to the other part of politics, which concerns the art of government; that, I think, is beft to be learned by experience and hiftory, especially that of a man's own country. And therefore I think an English gentleman should be well verfed in the hiftory of England, taking his rife as far back as there are any records of it; joining with it the laws that were made in the feveral ages, as he goes along in his hiftory; that he may obferve from thence the feveral turns of state, and how they have been produced. In Mr. Tyrrel's Hiftory of England, he will find all along thofe feveral authors which have treated of our affairs, and which he may have recourse to, concerning any point, which either his curiofity or judgment fhall lead him to inquire into.

With the hiftory, he may alfo do well to read the antient lawyers; fuch as Bracton, "Fleta," Henningham, "Mirror of Justice," my lord Coke's "Second Institutes," and the Modus tenendi Parliamentum ;" and others of that kind which he may find quoted in

[ocr errors]

Thefe two treatifes are written by Mr. Locke himself.

[ocr errors]

Civil Polity. A treatife concerning the nature of government,' &c. London 1703, in Svo. Written by Peter Paxton, M. Ď.


the late controverfies between Mr. Petit, Mr. Tyrrel, Mr. Atwood, &c. with Dr. Brady; as alfo, I fuppofe,' in Sedler's Treatife of "Rights of the Kingdom, and "Customs of our Ancestors," whereof the first edition is the best; wherein he will find the antient conftitution of the government of England.

There are two volumes of "State Tracts" printed fince the revolution, in which there are many things relating to the government of England *.

As for general hiftory, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Dr. Howel, are books to be had. He, who hath a mind to launch farther into that ocean, may consult Whear's' Methodus legendi Hiftorias," of the last edition; which will direct him to the authors he is to read, and the method wherein he is to read them.


To the reading of history, chronology and geography are abfolutely neceffary.

In geography, we have two general ones in English, Heylin and Moll; which is the best of them, I know not; having not been much converfant in either of them. But the laft, I fhould think to be of moft ufe; because of the new difcoveries that are made every day, tending to the perfection of that science. Though, I believe, that the countries, which Heylin mentions, are better treated of by him, bating what new difcoveries fince his time have added.

These two books contain geography in general, but whether an English gentleman would think it worth his time to bestow much pains upon that; though without it he cannot well understand a Gazette; it is certain he cannot well be without Camden's "Britannia," which is much enlarged in the last English edition. A good collection of maps is alfo neceffary.

* We have now two collections of state tracts; one, in two volumes in folio, printed in 1689 and 1692, contains "feveral treatifes relating to the government from the year 1660 to 1689; and the other, in three volumes in folio, printed in 1705, 1706, and 1707, is a "Collection of tracts, published on occafion of the late revolution in 1688, and during the reign of K. William III." Thefe collections might have been made more complete and more convenient; especially the firft, which is extremely defective and incorrect,


« السابقةمتابعة »