Saturday, October 20, 2012
How to Do Research
Charles Dickens, The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club
(1837), chapter 51:
Mr. Pott looked dubiously at Bob Sawyer for some seconds, and, turning to Mr. Pickwick, said:
Stefan Mart, Don Quixote
"You have seen the literary articles which have appeared at intervals in the Eatanswill Gazette in the course of the last three months, and which have excited such general—I may say such universal—attention and admiration?"
"Why," replied Mr. Pickwick, slightly embarrassed by the question, "the fact is, I have been so much engaged in other ways, that I really have not had an opportunity of perusing them."
"You should do so, sir," said Pott, with a severe countenance.
"I will," said Mr. Pickwick.
"They appeared in the form of a copious review of a work on Chinese metaphysics, sir," said Pott.
"Oh," observed Mr. Pickwick; "from your pen, I hope?"
"From the pen of my critic, sir," rejoined Pott, with dignity.
"An abstruse subject, I should conceive," said Mr. Pickwick.
"Very, sir," responded Pott, looking intensely sage. "He crammed for it, to use a technical but expressive term; he read up for the subject, at my desire, in the Encyclopaedia Britannica."
"Indeed!" said Mr. Pickwick; "I was not aware that that valuable work contained any information respecting Chinese metaphysics."
"He read, sir," rejoined Pott, laying his hand on Mr. Pickwick's knee, and looking round with a smile of intellectual superiority, "he read for metaphysics under the letter M, and for China under the letter C, and combined his information, sir!"