Page:The World's Famous Orations Volume 5.djvu/190

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attain, and that as a source, not of worldly profit, but of personal pleasure, it may be of incalculable value to its possessor.

But it will naturally be asked, "How are we to select from among the infinite number of things which may be known those which it is best worth while for us to know?" We are constantly being told to concern ourselves with learning what is important, and not to waste our energies upon what is insignificant.

But what are the marks by which we shall recognize the important, and how is it to be distinguished from the insignificant? A pre- cise and complete answer to this question which shall be true for all men can not be given. I am considering knowledge, recollect, as it ministers to enjoyment, and from this point of view each unit of information is obviously of importance in proportion as it increases the general sum of enjoyment which we obtain from knowledge. This, of course, makes it impossible to lay down precise rules which shall be an equally sure guide to all sorts and conditions of men; for in this, as in other matters, tastes must differ, and against real difference of taste there is no appeal.

There is, however, one caution which it may be worth your while to keep in view: Do not be persuaded into applying any general prop- osition on this subject with a foolish impartial- ity to every kind of knowledge. There are those who tell you that it is the broad generalities and 164

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