Thursday, April 04, 2013


A Course of Reading

John Hill Burton (1809-1881), The Book-Hunter etc. (Edinburgh: William Blackwood & Sons, 1862), p. 97:
In fact, "a course of reading," as it is sometimes called, is a course of regimen for dwarfing the mind, like the drugs which dog-breeders give to King Charles spaniels to keep them small. Within the span of life allotted to man there is but a certain number of books that it is practicable to read through, and it is not possible to make a selection that will not, in a manner, wall in the mind from a free expansion over the republic of letters. The being chained, as it were, to one intellect in the perusal straight on of any large book, is a sort of mental slavery superinducing imbecility. Even Gibbon's Decline and Fall, luminous and comprehensive as its philosophy is, and rapid and brilliant the narrative, will become deleterious mental food if consumed straight through without variety. It will be well to relieve it occasionally with a little Boston's Fourfold State, or Hervey's Meditations, or Sturm's Reflections for Every Day in the Year, or Don Juan, or Ward's History of Stoke-upon-Trent.

Ernest Meissonier (1815-1891), Le Liseur Blanc

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