Thursday, March 31, 2016



Frederic Harrison (1831-1923), Among My Books (London: Macmillan and Co., Limited, 1912), p. 117:
That word of ill-omen known as Research hangs upon literature like the microbe of Sleeping Sickness. No one who knows me will suggest that I disparage thorough and exact knowledge or show any mercy as a critic to superficial work. No man has any right to make public his thoughts upon any subject until he has thoroughly exhausted and assimilated all that can be reasonably learned about it. But he has got to give us his thoughts, not his materials; what is worth knowing, not what can be stated and printed; what conclusion can be reached by Research, not what Research can unearth and cast up in a rubbish-heap. Books are too often made nowadays by laborious poking into charnel-houses and dustbins of the past, instead of by intelligent understanding of men and things. The first thing and the last thing in a real book is Thought. Tons of Research will not weigh down an ounce of Mind. For this canonisation of dead Facts is the ruin of healthy and pleasant reading. And if reading gives no enduring pleasure it serves no humane purpose.

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