Page:The World's Famous Orations Volume 5.djvu/200

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significant touches, which impress the mind often without remaining in the memory.

The best method of guarding against the danger of reading what is useless is to read only what is interesting — a truth which will seem a paradox to a whole class of readers, fitting ob- jects of our commiseration, who may be often recognized by their habit of asking some ad- viser for a list of books, and then marking out a scheme of study in the course of which all these are to be conscientiously perused.

These unfortunate persons apparently read a book principally with the object of getting to the end of it. They reach the word "Finis" with the same sensation of triumph as an Indian feels who strings a fresh scalp to his girdle. They are not happy unless they mark by some definite performance each step in the weary path of self-improvement. To begin a volume and not to finish it would be to deprive themselves of this satisfaction; it would be to lose all the reward of their earlier self-denial by a lapse from virtue at the end. The skip, according to their literature code, is a form of cheating: it is a mode of obtaining credit for erudition on false pretenses; a plan by which the advantages of learning are surreptitiously obtained by those who have not won them by honest toil. But all this is quite wrong. "In matters literary, works have no saving efficacy. He has only half learned the art of reading who has not added to it the even more refined accomplishments of 172

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