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From all these instances you may collect this great truth, that whenever you do, by setting the comforts of virtue and the difficulties and errors of study one against the other, perceive that you have utterly expelled all emulation, jealousy, and every thing else that uses to disturb or discourage young men, you may then assuredly conclude with yourself that you have made very laudable progress.

Another argument of proficiency in virtue is the alteration of your very style of writing, and of your way of managing any argument or discourse. Most of those that nowadays design for scholars (in ordinary speaking) do prosecute almost none but popular studies; to furnish out discourse, and make themselves, as the phrase is, plausible men; some few of them there are who, like silly larks, are taken with the glaring light of natural philosophy, and. measuring themselves by their own levity and conceit, think they are able presently to attain the height of that science. Others like young whelps ('tis Plato's simile) love to snap [p. 456] and bite at one another, only to gratify a contentious, sceptical, and sophistical humor, which they at first got by bad tuition and ill-managed studies. Some again, as soon as ever they are initiated in the principles of logic, presently commence sophisters. Others spend their whole time in collecting sentences and historical narrations. These (as Anacharsis said of the Grecians, that he saw no occasion they had for money, but only to count and tell it over) have nothing at all to do, but go about singing and repeating what they have collected into commonplace books, without any other benefit or satisfaction from their labors. To these you may apply that of Antiphanes, which one ingeniously turned to Plato's scholars. This Antiphanes said merrily, that in a certain city the cold was so intense that words were congealed as soon as spoken, but that after some time they thawed and became audible, so that the words spoken in winter were articulated next summer. Even so, the many excellent precepts of Plato, which he instilled into the tender ears of his scholars, were scarce perceived and distinguished by many of them, till they grew men and attained the warm vigorous summer of their age.

Such a cool disposition to virtue and philosophy, as that philosopher said was in Plato's scholars when young, often lasts in the most of us (as was hinted before) till our judgments grow to a solid firmness and maturity, and we begin to value those precepts that are able to beget a composure and greatness of mind, and diligently to trace and follow those discourses and precepts whose tracks (as it is in Aesop's fables) rather look inward than outward, to ourselves rather than others. Sophocles said of himself, that in writing his tragedies he first of all abated and pricked the tumor of Aeschylus's invention, then corrected the harshness and over artifice of his composition, and, last of all, changed his very style and elocution, the thing [p. 457] which is most considerably persuasive, and which most of all conduces to good manners. Even so, young students, when they pass from the fulness and luxuriancy of panegyric and declamation to that more solid part of philosophy that regulates manners and smooths all rugged and disorderly passions, then begin really to attain true and solid proficiency.

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