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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Atlantic Essays, A plea for culture. (search)
merican life involves, has his own whim as to his imaginary employments in case illness or other interference should deny him even the action of the pen, and throw him entirely upon books. I can remember a time, for one, when the State prison would have looked rather alluring to me, if it had guaranteed a copy of the Mecanique Celeste, with full leisure to read it. But foremost among such fantastic attractions are those which obtained actual control over that English clerygyman, described in Hogg's Life of Shelley, who had for his one sole aim in existence the reiterated perusal of a three years course of Greek books. He had no family, almost no professional duties, a moderate income, and perfect health. He took his three meals a day and his two short walks; and all the rest of his waking hours, for thirty years, he gave to Greek. No; he read a newspaper once a week, and two or three times a year he read a few pages of Virgil and Cicero, just to satisfy himself that it was a waste