I read, as Emerson says of Margaret Fuller, at a rate like Gibbon's.
There was the obstacle to be faced, which has indeed always proved too much for me,--the enormous wealth of the world of knowledge, and the stupendous variety of that which I wished to know.
Doubtless the modern elective system, or even a wise teacher, would have helped me; they would have compelled me to concentration, but perhaps I may have absolutely needed some such period of intellectual wild oats.
This was in September, 1843.
I read in that year, and a subsequent similar year, the most desultory and disconnected books, the larger the better: Newton's Principia and Whewell's Mechanical Euclid; Ritter's History of Ancient philosophy; Sismondi's Decline and fall of the Roman empire; Lamennais' Paroles d'un Croyant and Livre du Peuple; Homer and Hesiod; Linnaeus's Correspondence; Emerson over and over.
Fortunately I kept up outdoor life also and learned the point where books and nature meet; learned that Ch