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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 24

Inaugural Address

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Inaugural Address

Printed at the "Times" Office Gloucester Sterrt and Cathedral Squarg, Christchurch

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In acknowledging the compliment paid to me by the members of the Associated Literary Society of Christchurch, by electing me their President, and inviting me to address them—when I consider that we inhabit a city which may well be called a "seat of learning," and in which there are resident many gentlemen distinguished for their acquirements in literature and science—I assume that I am indebted for the honour accorded to me, rather to the public position which I have for many years held in the Colony, than to any special fitness which I can be supposed to possess for discharging the duties of the office, and for promoting the objects of the Society, by personal efforts in vindicating its usefulness, or enforcing its importance upon the attention of the community, in fixing its aims, or in directing or influencing its operations.

Privileges and Responsibilities of Colonial Youths.

I would not, however, have it understood that I have been unaccustomed to take an interest in matters connected with the general education of the community, and more especially with that self culture, for which ordinary scholastic education is but a necessary preliminary. On the contrary, I have always deemed it a luty and a privilege to declare—as circumstances might permit—my conviction of the extreme importance of cultivating, among the younger members of the population of the Colony, a sound taste and judgment in Literature and Art, and to impress upon young men the special importance, in a new but rapidly progressing society like ours, of the duties and responsibilities which devolve upon them, as well as the privileges they enjoy; and to remind them, sdemnly, of the countless interests depending upon the formation of their character, and their habits, personal, social and domesic; their tastes and amusements—their intellectual, moral, and social tone.

I have always thought that young men—(and I almost asume that the majority of the members of your societies are young men)—should be encouraged, on all legitimate occasions, to consider how much influence each one of them may have for good or eil on the future welfare of the country in his own sphere of life; and should be assured that efforts in self culture—in the equisition page 4 of knowledge, in the formation and expression of sound opinion, and in the development of healthy tastes in Literature and Art—will be certainly rewarded, not merely by internal satisfaction and personal enjoyment, but also by the estimation in which the aspirants will deservedly be held, and the respect and honour which will be conferred upon them, by their fellow citizens.

School Education.

One word about the preliminary general education of which societies like yours are the consequence and the complement. I had occasion, some years since, in an address to the Governors, the teaching staff and the pupils of an educational establishment in the Colony of which I had then the honour to be Visitor, to make some remarks upon certain fallacious views of education; observations which are perhaps less appropriate to the present time and place, but which may serve as an introduction to certain other suggestions.

I took occasion to observe as follows:—

Fallacious Views of Education.

I cannot conceal from myself that in recent times, both in the Mother Country and in her Colonies, while enlightened views and opinions respecting education have been extensively promulgated and inculcated, dangerous fallacies and misconceptions have also become popularly prevalent. Under the pretence of more effectually providing for the acquisition of what has—in many cases with pretentious exclusiveness—been called "useful knowledge," and of avoiding a waste of time and power upon acquirements which cannot be directly and immediately turned to purposes of material utility, the general scope and purposes, the true aims, objects, and fruits of education, have often been forgotten or ignored, missed or frustrated. For, the right end and object of education is to make men good, and useful, and happy, by enabling them, in the most effectual manner to discharge their duties towards God, and their duties towards their fellow men in the domestic, social, and public relations of life.

It is, indeed, a narrow and most mistaken notion of education which considers it as a process intended for developing the intellect merely; and it is a most miserable and degrading misconception of its functions which looks upon it only as a means of gaining, with the greatest speed, and at least cost, certain facilities for conducting the ordinary business of life, which shall bring in the quickest returns of material advantage to its possessors.

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Objects of True Education.

True education consists in the harmonious development, culture, control, direction, and corroboration of the various components of the complex being "Man;"—of the religious sentiment—of the passions and affections of the soul—of the moral sense and moral faculties of the will—of the intellectual and reasoning powers—of the physical organs and their functions.

Respecting the objects of such development, which ought to be kept in view in every system of education—besides those which fall specially under the heads of Religion and Personal Morality—the object of the State has been well said to be this:—

"To have a body of citizens, sober and industrious, and with an intelligence sufficiently cultivated to enable them to exercise their industry to the best advantage; submissive to legitimate government, because well informed as to the grounds of authority and the obligations of obedience; peaceful and charitable, because they know that peace and charity are not only the duties of Christian men, but lie at the very foundation of social well-being; and with their reasoning powers improved and directed by careful and judicious culture, that they may comprehend the causes which affect the national prosperity, and may aid them as they have ability and opportunity."

Objects of Literary Societies.

Now, I understand that the main design of the Societies represented here to night is Literary Cultivation; that is the cultivation of everything which relates to the promulgation of thought by words; the ulterior objects being utility and happiness.

The general utility of such culture, apart from its appropriateness to special avocations, consists in the acquisition of knowledge, the development of sound processes of reasoning and principles of criticism, the formation of opinions, and the effective expression and publication of them in written or oral language.

Utility and Pleasure.

The pleasure which follows from the possession of knowledge, and from the capacity for the enjoyment of the creations of The Imagination and of Literary skill, is one of the purest and most abiding that man can enjoy; and the saying of the great Roman Orator has not failed to become a proverb—that "Literary pursuits are the delight of old age, the nourishment of youth, the ornament of prosperity, and the refuge and solace of adversity." If a very striking modern illustration of the page 6 truth of this saying were desired, it may be found in the recently published and very charming memoirs of our illustrations Macaulay, whose career was almost exclusively dedicated to Literature; from and through which he derived unceasing delight, unsurpassed reputation, and ample wealth, and gained the highest honours from his sovereign, and the heartiest good will and sympathy from his countrymen.

Effects of Debating Societies.

No one can doubt that Literary and Debating Societies duly constituted and conducted, and rightly used, are very powerful helps to intellectual culture; but it must also be admitted that they are exposed to certain incidental evils which require to be carefully guarded against.

If they induce young men to observe, to read, and to think for themselves, to take trouble in order to express facts, ideas and arguments, in correct and vigorous, appropriate and graceful, language, to argue with calmness and judgment, to appreciate the arguments of others, and to form a sound judgment on the subject of debate, even after they have energetically advocated the prescribed side of a question—if they develop at once the "vis cogitandi" and the "facundia eloquendi" among their members, they are doubtless most beneficent in their operation; but if they are conducted in a slovenly manner, or used chiefly for the purposes of display, and encourage glibness of speech and pointless wordiness, or engender over disputative habits in ordinary conversation, they are apt to become rather mischievous than useful.

Confidence of Youth.

My own personal experience of non-professional debating societies is of rather ancient date; and it is also an experience of societies composed of very youthful members, and of a less advanced kind than I understand yours to be. It is now full five and forty years since, in the solemn councils of Conscript Orators, aged from twelve to eighteen, I used to debate such interesting questions as "Whether Brutus was justified in killing Cæsar;" and I can remember how the young advocates of Mary Queen of Scots on the one side, and of Queen Elizabeth on the other, used to fulminate their indignant eloquence at the memories of the rival Queens, and at each other; and now, I cannot help speculating how much one might learn if one possessed true reports of such school-boy utterances, so as to compare the happy audacity and vigorous prejudices of youth, with the self-doubtingness and the hesitating convictions of matured age.

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I met the other day, in a colonial newspaper, with an article of some merit, entitled "The Courage of our Opinions," taken from The Australasian, in which the following passage occurs:—

"In youth we are apt to deem the frank, impulsive utterance of our opinions as a moral obligation—nay, almost as a point of honour. But we need to be reminded that probably we have neither seen, suffered, enjoyed, nor experienced enough to stamp our mere opinions as of any very great value. Surely it is not enough to say, 'Such, sir, is my honest opinion.' The question recurs,' What (if any) pains have you taken to verify and test it?' When a man is too young and too borné to admit of his being accepted as an authority, we naturally pay more regard to that which he shall prove than to that which he (however sincerely) may assert."

And again, "It is well for a rising young man to know and feel the strength and weakness of his true position. How fatal is too early a promotion. Excellent as are debating societies, I doubt whether the attentive listener docs not gain more real mental opulence than the voluble and complacent orator of the evening. But nothing can be much worse than the setting of boys or of girls to write themes in decent grammar before they have, or can have any ideas; it compels them to borrow in some form, and thus familiarises them with leaning upon other minds, and with making words do duty for ideas. It gives rise to an irresponsible slip-slop style, in which inferences are often confounded with facts, suspicion with belief, and personal conviction with evidence. Scott and Cobbett advise well. The first says,' Rise to speak not till you feel that you have something to say;' the second 'Sit down, not to think what you shall write, but to write what you have thought.'"

Although the observations of this writer about the themes of schoolboys and schoolgirls can have no direct application to members of such societies as yours, and I am not sure that they are altogether well founded, yet the concluding advice seems not unworthy of consideration, and adoption.

Advantage of Federation of Societies.

Now, admitting the existence, or the probability of the existence of certain incidental disadvantages attending the practice on discussions in debating societies, I would wish to express my belief that no more effectual method of restraining such undesirable tendencies could be adopted than that which we inaugurate this evening, namely, a page 8 combination of different societies for the purpose of occasional intercommunication, affording from time to time a wider arena for the intellectual efforts of their members, than the individval societies ordinarily present; and giving opportunities for comparing opinions and experiences of the members of different societies. You seem indeed, practically to recognise that co-operation is one of the two great motive powers of modern civilization—division of labour being the other;—and to feel that the vigorous action of your individual societies will be stimulated by federation, while the proverbial danger of eminence within a narrow sphere will be to some extent avoided.

Opinion: Its Formation and Expression.

The subject of the formation and expression of opinion is one which has an obvious connection with the functions of such Societies as yours, and which appears to me to be of the highest importance; and it is not a little remarkable that there should exist so few special helps to the student in respect of it among the works of thinkers and writers of modern times.

Deficiency of Educational Help.

Seeing that it is the great function of public opinion to act as the escapement for the regulation of the motive power of Government, in countries possessing popular political constitutions; it would seem to be a necessary part of the education of a people enjoying such advantages, not only to provide their minds with materials and method for arriving at just conclusions on political and social questions, but also to give them facilities for expressing their convictions, and for the persuasion of others.

There are, I believe, no countries in the world in which the average citizen has so many opportunities or so many temptations to address his fellow citizens as the English-speaking communities living under popular institutions; and yet there is probably no civilized nation in which so little trouble is taken, in the education of youth, to prepare them for addressing their fellow men in well-chosen language, with effective delivery.

Origin of Opinion.

This topic—I mean the formation and expression of opinion—is one the importance of which has often forced itself upon my attention: but it is of far too grave a character, and of too wide a comprehension to be satisfactorily dealt with, incidentally, in an address on such an occassion as the present. Still I may, perhaps, be pardoned for dwelling page 9 upon the matter for a moment, and asking you to reflect at leisure, each one for himself, upon the sources of the opinions which he may entertain upon any subjects of moment, whether political, moral, literary, or other; and to try to ascertain how far they are the result of his own thought or reasoning or conviction—how far they are attributable to trustworthy authority; or to what extent they may be referred to accident or the reflection or imitation of other men's language;—or be the offspring of ignorance, indolence, self-love, or prejudice.

Bacon's "Idola."

If any of you are desirous of dealing honestly with yourselves in this matter, it would be well for you to fall back on the works of that great Master-Thinker, Bacon; and by a due appreciation of the manner and extent in and to which you find yourself affected by the Idola which he indicates as the chief impediments to knowledge and truth, prepare your minds for the formation and adoption, for yourselves, of sound and just opinions, when you are called upon or desire to do so; instead of being satisfied with authority on the subject. Having acquired the right mode of proceeding, you will have to take care in the first place to be provided with the facts upon which arguments and conclusions are to be founded; to assume nothing to be true about which there can be serious doubt, and to look for the facts which bear on both or all sides of the question, and not for those only which tend to support one side of it; you will then take care to reason from the facts or propositions, which are established to your satisfaction, in a fair and rational manner, which, though it may not require a knowledge of the science of logic to ensure, still needs patience, and a constant exercise of what I may call intellectual vigour and honesty.

Authority: Its Influences on Opinion.

Now, though it may be true that men ordinarily engaged in other than intellectual pursuits, find it difficult or inconvenient to go through such a process deliberately, with regard to ordinary matters of opinion; still in affairs of importance, whether political, social, intellectual, or moral, a man must sometimes conduct such investigations for himself, if he wish to have an opinion which he can with any propriety call his own, and which he will be prepared at any time to vindicate.

No doubt, the greatest proportion of the opinions which any man can hold must be founded upon authority, that is upon the expressed opinions of others, as distinguished from conclusions deliberately arrived at by himself.

It is natural and necessary that those who have not time or the opportunity of access to proper materials, or the requisite power and page 10 habits of mind for forming opinions for themselves, upon subjects of importance, whether speculative or practical, should be content to adopt, without very eager scrutiny, the conclusions arrived at by men on whose competency of judgement they can rely, and whose acquirements, experiences, and character, have earned for them reputation among the best instructed in special branches of knowledge. Life would be too short—were its allotted span ten times the Psalmist's limit—for any one man to form opinions for himself on a very great variety of matters, and were to trust to his own reason only, and not accept the authority of others.

And yet when it becomes a man's duty to decide, for any practical purpose, between the conflicting opinions of persons nearly equal in respect of competency and personal trust-worthiness—which must sometimes happen in the affairs of life—he must strive his best to ascertain not only which of the conflicting authorities deserves the greatest deference in respect of acquired reputation, but even to weigh for himself the value of the evidence and the soundness of the reasoning on which they have professed to base their judgments.

Respecting this branch of the subject, the little treatise of Sir George Cornewall Lewis, "On the Influence of Authority upon Opinion," is a work which deserves much consideration, which I can recommend for your perusal.

Eight Opinions more Important than Facility of Expression.

No one can doubt, upon reflection, that the formation of right, just, and safe opinions, is of infinitely more value than a facility for expressing arguments and conclusions carelessly adopted or arrived at.

I would venture to repeat it, at the risk of being accused of serving you up a rechauffé of trite and tedious maxims and dogmas, instead of furnishing you with fresh matter palateably concocted for your entertainment, that without first thinking, and reading, and thinking again, the art of mere speaking, not to say of oratory, must be delusive and mischievous.

I may assume—not indeed without fear of contradiction—(because such a statement would be very rash when addressed to the members of debating societies), but with something like certainty, in spite of contradiction, that to a well educated mind, a right judgment and a cultivated taste, nothing is more offensive than those products of a fatal facility for glib speaking, irrespective of precision as to facts, and strictness of reasoning, which, especially in popular assemblies, not unfrequently excite the applause of the unthinking.

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If your Societies were so conducted as to encourage this sort of mischief, I for one should consider them as social nuisances, rather than as benefits to the community.

But I feel confident that the very formation of the Association over which you permit me to preside, is a certain proof that your individual Societies, and their members, have higher aspirations than to become collections of mere "spouters" and "declaimers;" that you desire to extend the areas of your intellectual enterprise, and the arena of your intellectual contests; that you strive to prove by your discussions that you cultivate literature, honestly, for itself—for the enlightenment and enjoyment it affords, and not for the sole purposes of display and the gratification of personal vanity.

Use of Societies to Thinkers.

Such societies are, to my mind, of most especial value to those who are more given to reading and thinking than to speaking; to those—forming no inconsiderable proportion of the best informed and most thoughtful men in the community—who, by temperament and personal circumstances, find a difficulty in expressing themselves readily in the presence of others.

Gentlemen, you will permit me to say it—although I can pretend to no special literary qualification myself—that in a community like ours, there must be, and there is—as indeed is the case in our great Mother Country—a great deal of very bad speaking, and very bad writing; that the variety of our popular institutions, and the vast number and fecundity of the so-called organs of opinion, tend necessarily to create a loose, slip-shod, inelegant, and, not unfrequently, vulgar style of composition, both written and verbal—though in this place and elsewhere there are honourable exceptions;—and that in our highest class of educational establishments, as in many of those of England itself, there is but scanty training in English composition, and in the art of oratory; and even the art of reading intelligently and effectively, is cultivated and possessed by a very inconsiderable minority of the educated population. The cultivation of a true taste in societies like yours, may materially check and reform this mischief, and supply this want.

Importance of Language.

The choice of appropriate words, and the formation of a good style of composition, in writing and speaking, are matters of far more substantial and practical importance than the unthinking are aware of.

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Extract from Dr. Roget—language an Instrument of Thought.

Of the value of language for the purposes of thought, as well as of expression, and its influence upon human affairs and habits, Dr. Roget, in his preface to that most interesting and useful work—" The Thesaurus af the English Language," makes the following pregnant remarks:—

"The use of language is not confined to its being the medium through which we communicate our ideas to one another; it fulfills a no less important a function as an instrument of thought; not being merely its vehicle, but giving it wings for flight. Metaphysicians are agreed that scarcely any of our intellectual operations could be carried on to any considerable extent without the agency of words. None but those who are conversant with the philosophy of mental phenomena can be aware of the immense influence that is exercised by language in promoting the development of our ideas, in fixing them in the mind, and in detaining them for steady contemplation. Into every process of reasoning, language enters as an essential element. Words are the instruments by which we form all our abstractions, by which we fashion and embody our ideas, and by which we are enabled to glide along a series of premises and conclusions with a rapidity so great as to leave in the memory no trace of the successive steps of the process; and we remain unconscious how much we owe to this potent auxiliary of the reasoning faculty.

Practical Importance of Precision of Language.

"It is of the utmost consequence that strict accuracy should regulate our use of language, and that every one should acquire the power and the habit of expressing his thoughts with perspicuity and correctness. Few, indeed, can appreciate the real extent and importance of that influence which language has always exercised on human affairs, or can be aware how often these are determined by causes much slighter than are apparent to a superficial observer. False logic, disguised under specious phraseology, too often gains the assent of the unthinking multitudes, disseminating far and wide the seeds of prejudice and error. Truisms pass current, and wear the semblance of profound wisdom, when dressed up in the garb of antithetical phrases, or set off by an imposing pomp of paradox. By a confused jargon of involved and mystical sentences, the imagination is easily inveigled into a transcendantal region of clouds, and the understanding beguiled into the belief that it is acquiring knowledge and approaching truth. A misapplied or misapprehended term is sufficient to give rise to fierce and interminable disputes; a misnomer has turned the tide of popular opinion; a verbal sophism page 13 has decided a party question; an artful watchword, thrown among combustible materials, has kindled the flames of deadly warfare, and changed the destiny of an empire."

Want of Precision, Source of Litigation.

Alluding specially to the importance of precision and accuracy of language in matters relating to law, and legal rights, I nay mention that a learned Italian commentator says, that "Many are bad law-makers because they are bad grammarians;" and I have no hesitation in adding, that a very large proportion of the most unsatisfactory litigation is attributable to a want of care in the adoption of terms, and in the verbal composition, of written laws; while a far greater proportion is to be credited to the vagueness, obscurity, incongruity, ambiguity, and uncertainty of the language used by parties dealing with each other, in their agreements—verbal and written,—in commercial documents, and in general correspondence.

The cultivation, therefore, of a pure and vigorous, a simple and unambiguous style, would be a worthy object to be kept prominently in view by the members of our societies, not merely for literary, but also for utilitarian purposes.

Choice of Books.

Among the various topics which occur to one's mind in connection with an Association like this, the wise choice of books is one which naturally suggests itself, as specially pertinent; but this again, is a wide and comprehensive subject, which cannot be disposed of cursorily in such an address as the present; and I daresay most of you are familiar with Mr. Carlyle's interesting lecture on the subject.

"Noscitur a Sociis."

This is a matter of much importance to young men; for the maxim "Noscitur a sociis," is nearly as applicable in respect of the literary works a man cultivates, as in respect of his personal associates.

And surely it is a great privilege which we all enjoy, in being able to select our intellectual associates and intimates; to cultivate acquaintance with the minds and manners of the greatest, the noblest, the wisest, the wittiest, the most brilliant of mankind, of many ages, in their own literary works, and the works of men who have preserved their memories. I believe, indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that the cultivation of a taste for reading, developed by judicious principles of selection and method, is one of the greatest sources of happiness which men have it in their own power to command.

Different Kinds of Reading.

But there is reading and reading. All reading is not profitable. Of making of books we know there is no end; but of books worthy to page 14 be read for instruction or rational amusement, or real pleasure to a cultivated taste and understanding, the proportion is by no means large; and, unquestionably, it is a great boon to the reading public to have their attention directed by impartial critics to the works most worthy of perusal in various departments of literature. We have abundant helps in this respect as to the literature of the past, in a variety of excellent collections and essays on general literature, and as to the literature of the day, in the periodical notices with which the higher class of journals and magazines from time to time furnish us : and in the intercommunication of such societies as yours and of their members, you may also have the means of directing each other's attention to works of special inportance and interest.

Method in Heading—"Inwardly Digesting."

But it is not in the Selection of books only that care should be taken. It will be found also desirable to have a certain method, in reading. Desultory reading is one thing. Reading with a purpose is another. The particular method is not so very important as the existence of some method. Thus, the reading consecutively and systematically of various histories or accounts of a particular period or transaction, of the biographies of certain groups or classes of notable characters, and various biographies of the same individual, of works on Cognate sciences, &c., is likely to be more profitable and interesting, than the perusal of such works at odd times and seasons. And after all, it is not so much from the "reading" as the "marking and inwardly digesting," that the reader is to derive profit. Now I suspect that most of us take large doses of reading as mere kill-time occupation, when the mind is not very active: but this kind of reading, though it may be harmless, and even "soothing," can be of no avail for intellectual edification. Unless at the close of a paragraph or section, and of the whole work, the reader is ready to give himself an account of the scope and pith of it, he is reading to little purpose. And even if a reader does receive and memorially retain what he has read, it does not necessarily follow that he has read it profitably.

Readers who have no time to Think.

Lord Bolingbroke humorously describes, in one of his works, an acquaintance of his—I have known such a one myself—who had read almost constantly "twelve or fourteen hours a-day for five and twenty or thirty years, and has heaped together as much learning as could be crowded into a head. In the course of my acquaintance with him, I consulted him once or twice, but not oftener; for I found his mass of learning of as little use to me as to the owner. The man was communicative enough; but nothing was distinct in his mind. How could page 15 it be otherwise? he had never spared time to think, all was employed in reading * * To ask him a question was to wind up a spring in his memory, that rattled on with vast rapidity and confused noise, till the force of it was spent; and you went away with all the noise in your ears, stunned and uninformed." Bolingbroke adds, "He who reads with discernment and closeness will acquire less learning but more knowledge."

Advantages of Professorship of English Literature.

But I fear that I am becoming didactic and wearisome, and assuming to myself functions which I am but slightly qualified to discharge; and that indeed I have been, throughout my address, somewhat presumptuous, remembering, as I do, that the community of Christchurch have the privilege of being able, as regards the literature of England, to avail themselves of the lectures of a distinguished Professor, specially chosen for the purpose of instructing youth, and keeping alive among us an interest, in the grand, noble, comprehensive literature of our Fatherland. I feel confident that the members of your various societies cannot more effectually demonstrate the sincerity of their interest in literary cultivation, than by taking advantage of that learned gentleman's prelections.

Before concluding, I shall read you a few sentences of Lord Bacon, which summarize the advantages of learning and study, and will afford you ample subject for thought and reflection.

Eulogium of Learning and Studies by Lord Bacon.

"Learning taketh away the wildness, barbarism, and ierceness of men's minds; though a little of it doth rather work a contrary effect. It taketh away all levity, temerity, and insolence, by copious suggestion of all doubts and difficulties, and acquainting the mind to balance reasons on both sides, and to turn back the first offers and conceits of the kind and to accept of nothing but (what is) examined and tried."

"It were too long to go over the particular remedies which learning doth minister to all the diseases of the mind—sometimes purging the ill humours, sometimes opening the obstructions, sometimes helping the digestion, sometimes increasing appetite, sometimes healing the wounds and ulcerations thereof, and the like; and I will therefore conclude with the chief reason of all, which is, that it disposeth the constitution of the mind not to be fixed or settled in the defects thereof, but still to be capable and susceptible of reformation."

Elsewhere the great Philosopher and Essayist writes thus:—

"Studies serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability. Their chief use for delight is in privateness and retiring; for ornament is in discourse; and for ability, is in the judgement and disposition of page 16 business; for expert men can execute, and perhaps judge of particulars, one by one; but the general counsels, and the plots and marshalling of affairs, come best from those that are learned. To spend too much time in studies, is sloth; to use them too much for ornament, is affectation; to make judgement wholly by their rules, is the humour of a scholar; they perfect nature and are perfected by experience, for natural abilities are like natural plants, that need pruning by study; and studies themselves do give forth directions too much at large, except they be bounded in by experience. Crafty men contemn studies, simple men admire them, and wise men use them, for they teach not their own use; but that is a wisdom without them and above them won by observation. Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider. Some books are to be tasted, others swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention. Some books also may be read by deputy, and extracts made of them by others; but that would be only on the less important arguments, and the meaner sort of books, else distilled books are like common distilled waters, flashy things. Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man; and therefore if a man write little, he had need have a great memory; if he confer little, he need have a present wit; and if he read little, he had need have much cunning, to seem to know that he doth not."


Gentlemen,—I shall not further trespass upon your patience this evening, except for the purpose of expressing my sincere good wishes for the success of the Associated Literary Society, and expressing my regret, that domestic circumstances have prevented me from preparing myself to deliver an address to you, more worthy of the occasion, and of my appreciation of the compliment which the Literary and Debating Societies of Christchurch have paid me in electing me to be the President of their Association.

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