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» is given up for a lunatic, is a frenzy hors » d'ouvre ; that is, in other words , some» thing which is singular in its kind, and » does not fall in with the madness of a » multitude. »
STUDIES serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability. The chief use for delight is in privateness and retiring; for ornament, is in discourse ; and for ability , is in the judgment and disposition of 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 judgment 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 duty, and studies themselves do give fortb directions too
much at large, except they be bounded in hy 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 to be 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 should be only in the less important arguments, and the meaner sort of books; else distilled books are like common distilled walers, flashy things. Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready inan; and writing an exact man. And therefore , if a man write little, he had need have a great memory; if he confer little , he had need have a present wit; and if he read little, he had need have much cunning to seem to know that he doth not.
The English delight in silence more than any other European nation , if the remarks which are made on us by foreigners are true. Our discourse is not kept up in conversation, but falls into more pauses and intervals than in our neighbouring countries : as it is observed, that the matter of our writings is thrown much closer together, and lies in a narrower compass than is usual in the works of foreign authors : for, to favour our naMiral taciturnity , when we are obliged to utter our thoughts, we do it in the shortest way we are able , and give as quick a birth to our conceptions as possible.
This humour shews itself in several remarks that we may make upon the English language. As first of all, by its abounding in monosyllables , which gives us an opportunity of delivering our thoughts in few sounds. This indeed takes off from the eles gance of our tongue , but at the same time expresses our ideas in the readiest manner, and consequently answers the first design of speech better than the multitude of syllables, which make the words of other languages more tunable and sonorous. The sounds of our English words are commonly, like those of string music, short and transient, which rise and perish upon a single touch ; those of other languages are like the notes of wind instruments, sweet and swelling , and lengthened out into variety of modulation.
In the next place we may observe, that where the words are not monosyllables, we often make them so, as much as lies in our power, by our rapidity of pronunciation; as it generally happens in most of our long words which are derived from the Latin, where we contract the length of the syllables that gives them a grave and solemn air in their own language, to make them more proper for dispatch, and more conformable to the genius of our tongue, This we may find in a multitude of words, as liberty , conspiracy , theatre, orator, etc.
The same natural aversion to loquacity has of late years made a very considerable
alteration in our language , by closing in one syllable the termination of our preterperfect tense, as in the words drown'd , walk'd, arriv'd , for drowned , walked, arrived, which has very much disfigured the tongue, and turned a tenih part of our smoothiest words into so many clusters of consonants. This is the more remarkable , because the want of vowels in our language has been the general complaint of our politest authors, who nevertheless, are the men that have made these retrenchments, and consequently very much increased our former scarcity.
This reflexion on the words that end in ed, I have heard in conversation from one of (1) the greatest geniuses this age has produced. I think we inay add to the foregoing observation, the change which has happened in our language by the abbreviation of several words that are terminated in eth by substituting an s in the room of the lást syllable, as in drowns, walks , arrives , and innumerable other words, which in the pronunciation of our forefathers were drowneth , walketh , arriveth. This has won
(1) Dean Swift.