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Of Studies

Studies serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability. Theirchief use for delight, is in privateness and retiring; for ornament,is in discourse; and for ability, is in the judgment, anddisposition of business. For expert men can execute, and perhaps judgeof particulars, one by one; but the general counsels, and the plotsand marshalling of affairs, come best, from those that are learned. Tospend too much time in studies is sloth; to use them too much forornament, is affectation; to make judgment wholly by their rules, isthe humor of a scholar. They perfect nature, and are perfected byexperience: for natural abilities are like natural plants, that needproyning, by study; and studies themselves, do give forth directionstoo much at large, except they be bounded in by experience. Crafty mencontemn studies, simple men admire them, and wise men use them; forthey teach not their own use; but that is a wisdom without them, andabove 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 beswallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some booksare 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. Somebooks also may be read by deputy, and extracts made of them by others;but that would be only in the less important arguments, and the meanersort of books, else distilled books are like common distilledwaters, flashy things. Reading maketh a full man; conference a readyman; 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 havea present wit: and if he read little, he had need have much cunning,to seem to know, that he doth not. Histories make men wise; poetswitty; the mathematics subtile; natural philosophy deep; moralgrave; logic and rhetoric able to contend. Abeunt studia in mores.Nay, there is no stond or impediment in the wit, but may be wroughtout by fit studies; like as diseases of the body, may have appropriateexercises. Bowling is good for the stone and reins; shooting for thelungs and breast; gentle walking for the stomach; riding for the head;and the like. So if a man's wit be wandering, let him study themathematics; for in demonstrations, if his wit be called away never solittle, he must begin again. If his wit be not apt to distinguish orfind differences, let him study the Schoolmen; for they are cyminisectores. If he be not apt to beat over matters, and to call up onething to prove and illustrate another, let him study the lawyers'cases. So every defect of the mind, may have a special receipt.


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