Southey, Robert, 1774-1843. / The doctor, &c.
Chapter CLX. Mention of one for whom the Germans would coin a designation which might be translated a once reader. Many minds in the same man. A poet's unreasonable request. The author offers good advice to his readers, and enforces it by an Episcopal opinion, pp. 404-405
404 THE DOCTOR. do not content thyself with glancing over this book as an Italian Poet says Precipitevolissimevolmente. But I need not exhort thee thus, who art quick to apprehend and quick to feel, and sure to like at first sight whatever upon better acquaintance deserves to be loved. CHAPTER CLX. ME, NTION OF ONE FOR WHOM THE GERMANS WOULD COIN A DESIGNATION WHICH MIGHT BE TRANSLATED A ONCE-READER. MANY MINDS IN THE SAME MAN. A POET'S UNREASONABLE REQUEST. THlE AUTHOR OFFERS GOOD ADVICE TO HIS READERS, AND ENFORCES IT BY AN EPISCOPAL OPINION. Judge not before Thou know mine intent: But read me throughout, And then say thy fill; As thou in opinion Art minded and bent, Whether it be Either good or ill. E. P. I HAVE heard of a man who made it a law for himself never to read any book again which had greatly pleased him on a first perusal; lest a second reading should in some degree disturb the pleasurable im- pression which he wished to retain of it. This person must have read only for his amusement, otherwise he would have known that a book is worth little if it deserves to be perused but once: and moreover that as the same landscape appears differently at different seasons of the year, at morning and at evening, in bright weather and in cloudy, by moonlight and at noon-day, so does the same book produce a very different effect upon the same reader at different times and under different circumstances. I have elsewhere said that the man of one book is proverbially formidable; but the man of one reading, though he should read through an ample library would never be- come so. The studious man who at forty re-peruses books which he has read in his youth or early manhood, vivid as his recollections of them may be, finds them new, because he brings another mind to the perusal. Worth- less ones with which he may formerly have been delighted appear flat and unprofitable to his maturer judgment; and on the other hand sterling merit which he was before un- able to appreciate, he can now understand and value, having in his acquired knowledge and habits of reflection the means of assaying it. Sometimes a Poet, when he publishes what in America would be called a lengthy poem, with lengthy annotations, advises the reader in his preface, not to read the notes in their places, as they occur, lest they should interrupt his clear perception and enjoyment of the piece, but to read the poem by itself at first; and then, for his more full contentment, to begin again, and peruse the notes in their order, whereby he will be introduced to the more minute and recondite merits of the work. If the poets who calculate upon many such readers are not wise in their generation, they are happy in it. What I request of my dear readers is far more reasonable, and yet perhaps not much more likely to be granted; I request them, that in justice to themselves,-for that they may not lose any part of the pleasure which I have designed for them; and in justice to me, - that I may not be defrauded of any portion of that grateful applause, which after a due perusal they will undoubtedly bestow upon the benevolent unknown; and in justice to the ever-honoured subject of these volumes,-lest a hasty and erroneous judgment of his character should be formed, when it is only partially considered;- I request that they would not dip into these volumes before they read them, nor while they are reading them, but that they would be pleased to go through the book regularly, in the order of the chapters, and that when they recommend the book to their friends, (as they will do with the friendly intention of contributing to their entertainment and instruction,) they would particularly advise them to begin at the beginning,, or more accurately speaking at the seventh chapter before the beginning, and so peruse it con- secutively. I I I I I I I __ - I
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