that they only knew that they knew nothing. And what a discomfiting expression is here, that all the piled — up grains of human wisdom will raise one not at all from this earth; that he may labor and heap his acquirements, and yet they are as nothing! He begins with nothing, and ends where he began. If it is so, yet knowledge and acquirements are relative; and the man who knows that he knows nothing is yet more wise than the herd of his fellow-men,—even as much more wise, as wisdom itself is wiser than he is. And here is the place for hope,—though we cannot mount to the skies or elevate ourself from mother earth, yet can we reach far above those around us, and look with a far keener gaze. ‘What man has done, man can do;’ and in these words is a full fountain of hope. And again, hear Burke: ‘There is nothing in the world really beneficial that does not lie within the reach of an informed understanding and a well-directed pursuit. There is nothing that God has judged good for us that He has not given us the means to accomplish, both in the natural and the moral world.’1 What a sentiment! how rich in expression, how richer in truth! A lawyer must know every thing. He must know law, history, philosophy, human nature; and, if he covets the fame of an advocate, he must drink of all the springs of literature, giving ease and elegance to the mind and illustration to whatever subject it touches. So experience declares, and reflection bears experience out. I have not yet methodized my time,—and, by the way, method is the life of study,—but I think of something like the following: The law in the forenoon; six hours to law is all that Coke asks for (sex horas des legibus aequis), and Matthew Hale and Sir William Jones and all who have declared an opinion; though, as to that matter, I should be influenced little more than a tittle by any opinions of others.2 We all of us must shape our own courses; no two men will like the same hours or manner of study. Let each one assist himself from the experience of others; but let him not put aside his own judgment. Well, six hours,—namely, the forenoon wholly and solely to law; afternoon to classics; evening to history, subjects collateral and assistant to law, &c. I have as yet read little else than law since I have been here; but the above is the plan I have chalked out. Recreation must not be found in idleness or loose reading. “Le changement d'occupation est mon seul dZZZlassement,” says Chancellor D'Aguesseau, one of the greatest lawyers France ever saw. And now have I blackened enough paper? Have you read to this spot? If you have, you are a well-doing servant, and shalt surely have your reward. But pray visit upon these sheets the heretic's fate,—fire, fire, fire. And now I stop. ‘Dabit deus his quoque finem.’3 Your true friend,C. S.
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Chapter 2 : Parentage and Family.—the father.
Chapter 3 : birth and early Education.— 1811 - 26 .
Chapter 4 : College Life.— September , 1826 , to September , 1830 .—age, 15 - 19 .
Chapter 5 : year after College.— September , 1830 , to September , 1831 .—Age, 19 - 20 .
Chapter 6 : Law School .— September , 1831 , to December , 1833 .—Age, 20 - 22 .
Chapter 7 : study in a law office .—Visit to Washington .— January , 1854 , to September , 1834 .—Age, 23 .
Chapter 8 : early professional life.— September , 1834 , to December , 1837 .—Age, 23 - 26 .
Chapter 9 : going to Europe .— December , 1837 .—Age, 26 .
Chapter 10 : the voyage and Arrival.— December , 1837 , to January , 1838 — age, 26 - 27 .
Chapter 11 : Paris .—its schools.— January and February , 1838 .—Age, 27 .
Chapter 12 : Paris .—Society and the courts.— March to May , 1838 .—Age, 27 .
Chapter 13 : England .— June , 1838 , to March , 1839 .—Age, 27 - 28 .
Chapter 14 : first weeks in London .— June and July , 1838 .—Age, 27 .
Chapter 15 : the Circuits .—Visits in England and Scotland .— August to October , 1838 .—age, 27 .
1 Speech on the ‘Plan for Economical Reform.’
2 The authority of these eminent jurists as to the distribution of the hours of the day is cited in Mr. Sumner's lecture on ‘The Employment of Time.’ delivered in 1846. This lecture may be read with interest in connection with the letters of this period, which emphasize the value of time. Works, Vol. I. pp. 184-213.
3 Virgil, Aeneid I. 199.
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