Of Studies
From Essays by Francis Bacon (1625)

STUDIES serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability. Their chief use for delight, is in privatenesse and retiring; For ornament, is in discourse; And for ability, is in the judgement and disposition of business. For experienced 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 judgement 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 study: And studies themselves, do give forth directions too much at large, except they be bounded in by experience. Crafty men condemn 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 would be, only in the less important arguments, and the meaner sort of books: else distilled books are like common distilled waters, flashy things. Reading maketh a full man; Conference a ready man; And writing an exact man. And therefore, If a man write little, he had need have a great memory; if he conferre 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. Histories make men wise; poets witty; the mathematicks subtle; natural philosophy deep; moral grave; logic and rhetoric able to contend. Abeunt studia in Mores. Nay there is no Stond or impediment in the wit, but may be wrought out by fit studies: Like as diseases of the body, may have appropriate exercises. Bowling is good for the stone and reines; shooting for the lungs and breast; Gentle walking for the stomach; Riding for the head; And the like. So if a mans wit be wandering, let him study the mathematicks; For in demonstrations, if his wit be called away never so little, he must begin again: If his wit be not apt to distinguish or find differences, let him study the school-men; For they are cymini sectores. If he be not apt to beat over matters, and to call up one thing, 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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