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Michael Faraday’s Mental Exercises

Michael Faraday’s Mental Exercises: An Artisan Essay-Circle in Regency London

Volume: 51
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: 1
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Michael Faraday’s Mental Exercises
    Book Description:

    In 1818 Michael Faraday and a handful of other London artisans formed a self-help group with the aim of teaching themselves to write like gentlemen. For a year and a half Faraday’s essay-circle met regularly to read aloud and criticise one another’s writings. The ‘Mental Exercises’ they produced are a record of the life, literary tastes and social and political ideas of Dissenting artisans in Regency London. This book is the first to publish the essays and poems produced by Faraday’s circle. The complete corpus of the essay-circle’s writings is accompanied by detailed annotations, extracts from key sources and a full-length introduction explaining the biographical, historical and literary context of the group. This edition will be valuable not only for historians of Romantic and Victorian science, but for literary scholars and historians working on early nineteenth-century writing, reading and class issues, and for all readers interested in the development of the mind of a great scientist.

    eISBN: 978-1-84631-355-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-38)

    In the summer of 1818, Michael Faraday, then approaching his twenty-seventh birthday and employed as Chemical Assistant in the Royal Institution in London, persuaded four male friends to join him in forming a self-help writing group. The MS book of essays and poems that this group produced is held in the archives of the Royal Institution and is printed here for the first time, and in full. It offers a unique corpus of evidence about Michael Faraday’s philosophical ideas and literary taste. The texts gathered in this edition rarely address scientific topics directly; but many of them develop ideas which...

  6. Part One: The ‘Mental Exercises’

    • List of Members and Scribes’ Rota
      (pp. 39-40)
    • Members’ Agreement
      (pp. 40-40)

      It is agreed,

      1. That the number of persons who join efforts to make this book useful, shall not exceedSix

      2. That each person shall produce at certain periods, a paper, essay, a few observations, or some other production, which is to be considered as their lesson for that period.

      3. That no other qualifications be required, than the production of the paper in due time, and a wish to improve.

      4. That the Members do in rotation take charge of the book during the periods, and, receiving the written subscriptions, enter or cause them to be entered in an uniform manner.⁴


    • On Study
      (pp. 41-46)

      Of all the means which the mind possesses of obtaining knowledge, there is perhaps none more characteristic, more important, or of a more exalted nature, than Study.⁶

      Study is a twofold act. It requires in the first place, the exercise of perceptive powers, & then the exercise of the judgement. Whenever the mind is studiously engaged on a subject, of whatever nature it may be, the first efforts are, to obtain a knowledge of the circumstances known concerning it: The mind is almost passive in this state; its exertions being, only to facilitate the reception of ideas through the organs of...

    • On Honour
      (pp. 46-49)

      Honor is a virtue that should inherit the breasts of all men, and is in the opinion of some innate with our nature. It is a virtue, which in the strict sense of the word will be found (in the ordinary occurrences of life) to be all that is requisite to make men happy, from it we may deduce every other virtue, and on this basis rests every degree of social order. But the manner in which it is treated in modern times must be a matter of severe reflection on the degenerate state of mankind, and will point us...

    • On Argument
      (pp. 49-51)

      Many a time have I been present, when in consequence of singular, but inadvertent associations, two persons have been engaged in an argument, or rather perhaps were approaching towards it, without being at all aware of the circumstance. And, I have often observed at those times, that one, or perhaps both, instead of answering directly to what has been advanced, start off from the fair open path of the conversation, and break it up, or conclude it, by attributing foolish or improper opinions to the opponent; which are unwarrantably asserted, either by word or manner, to be not worth answering....

    • On Imagination and Judgement
      (pp. 51-55)

      It is a common sentiment applied to a state of doubt or hesitation thatto make a beginningis often more than half accomplishing an undertaking, in conformity to this maxim it will give me pleasure if I can prove that it has some foundation.33I shall endeavour to find out the cause of my own hesitation in the present case which if accomplished may in part do away with the difficulty in future.

      Altho’ we may be convinced that “resolutions will not execute themselves”34and although we may have every inclination necessary to commence the pursuit of a laudable...

    • Hope
      (pp. 56-59)

      In those ages of the world, when man was young in the witcheries, and arts, of Society; and when he existed in the state in which the Gods had placed him; Hope reigned over all his thoughts and wishes, with undisputed and uninterrupted power: and, also, with an infallibility, which the beings of later ages know not. The celestial powers had made man a little below themselves; but they had given him hope, who supplied what was wanting, and made him equal to the deities. No deception, no disappointment attended her. Wherever she came, she made happiness; for wherever she...

    • On General Character
      (pp. 59-62)

      There is such a degree of pleasure in the perusal of the various works of eminent authors, that whenever we return to them, it seems like the revival of an old acquaintance, or the meeting a friend who has long been absent. We sometimes know of what they are about to treat, but find out their peculiar excellence by the search of diligence, or a sort of conversation with them, and deduce their merits or demerits according to our own judgements. We find in some much that we admire; in others part that we doubt: and in many that we...

    • On the Pleasures and Uses of the Imagination
      (pp. 62-68)

      In my first essay, I endeavoured to shew the difference, existing between the execution of a work of the Imagination, and one of the reasoning powers of Judgement.62I intend now, to make a few observations on the pleasures which are derived from the Imagination, and on the use which the cultivation of those powers, may be of to us; particularly in the study of language, and in the increase of our enjoyments from those arts or sciences, that are directly under the protection of the muses.

      I mentioned, that the effect of judgement on the mind was not a...

    • On Politeness
      (pp. 68-74)

      C. Civility and Politeness are74due to every one; and you have done wrong in thus violently transgressing their bounds.75

      A. I deny that I have transgressed. I know well enough what civility is due to others, and in this instance at least I have given it.

      C. Do you really conceive that you behaved politely, when you told him, in three or four words, that he was mean?—that he grasped so hard and hastily in dealing with his friend, as well as the world as to evince a mean disposition?—Was this a polite remonstrance or was it...

    • Agis
      (pp. 74-75)
    • The Charms of Sleep
      (pp. 75-77)
    • Friendship & Charity
      (pp. 77-82)

      Alas! my dear Albert, how rare is true and sincere friendship; this observation will frequently occur to you, in journeying through the varied scenes of this bustling world; may you my friend enjoy its purest blessings. I have endeavoured in the following short sketch, which I beg your acceptance of, to depicture the true character of a man worthy the name of a real friend.91Octavius was born of respectable, tho’ not wealthy parents: having in them the brightest examples, and being naturally of a kind and obedient disposition, could not fail of imbibing those good precepts, they were ever...

    • An Ode to the PASS
      (pp. 82-88)
    • Garreteer’s Epistle
      (pp. 88-89)

      Honest Sec.

      I have just set myself down with a great deal of Self-complacency, to inform you of the happy termination of a War which has been carried on for sometime by a particular friend of mine against your humble Servant; you should know Sir that I am a young Man about twenty, with all the becoming Vanity generally attending this Age; but to strike closer to the foundation of the subject now before you, I should tell you that I went early to School, at a small distance from Town, where I have continued nearly up to this period....

    • A Mathematical Love Letter
      (pp. 89-91)

      Hypomochlionof my Life,125

      Aquantityof themultipliedglances,impelledfrom the externalhemispheresof your Eyes, have enter’dperpendicularlyinto my heart, to the destruction of thatequilibrium, I was so proud to maintain in it; and theinversionof all its powers.—Long did I endeavour toannihilatethesesingulareffects, by atranspositionof my thoughts to some othercentre, than yourself, butdirectly, as were my efforts toextirminateall Ideas of You,so wasthe continual recurrence, of yourfigure, to my imagination; ’tillrais’dto theapexof misery, by therepetitionof...

    • On seeing a Rose in the Possession of a Lady at the SMHPABNASL
      (pp. 92-92)
    • On Courage
      (pp. 93-98)

      As our conduct and happiness in life depend materially upon the principles we imbibe and the habits we acquire in our youth; we should be careful while we are young and conscious of it, to confirm ourselves in those that are not meretricious, and such as will not forsake us when the decripitude and satiety of old age, shall have deprived us of the inclination or the power to enjoy with our early zest, the bustling scenes of the world and the morning pleasures of our existence.

      There are principles which we imbibe and habits which we acquire, that although...

    • Irritus to the Manager
      (pp. 98-99)


      I am one of those beings the world commonly calls crabbed old Fellows.143Having spent the greater part of a long life with material inconvenience to myself and the great annoyance of my numerous friends I have just set about the hopeless search of a Remedy to retrieve that character which I can scarcely recollect to have inherited

      I was Sir in my earliest days the favourite or as others say the darling of my parents being the youngest of a large family nothing particular transpired at that period worthy of relation except that (as I am told) my...

    • Marriage is Honourable in All
      (pp. 99-106)

      Much having been offered in every age by learned and pious men of almost every country on the delicate subject now before us it would be seeming vanity in me to expect I should be able to come in competition with those learned ones or vainly to imagine it would be in my power to elucidate or throw any new light on the important subject on which I am about to treat. What I would more particularly in the first place wish to draw the attention of my readers to is a few remarks which I will class under the...

    • Friendship
      (pp. 106-107)
    • On Mind and the Duty of Improving It
      (pp. 107-118)

      Associated together in Man by the strongest ties, still no two things are more distinct from each other than Mind and Matter. We cannot in any way assimilate them, or make them identical; nor can we confound their relations, or trace them to one common origin. Every effect, or motion, or change dependant on the one part, or the other, carries with it that mark of its source which it is impossible for anindifferentmind to mistake; and even Materialists are spited by their very reasonings proving in each step of their progress the opposite of the conclusion which...

    • A word for Page 73
      (pp. 118-118)

      It appears by a Letter signed Garreteer182that a certain Gentleman of our Picknick183Class is favoured by a generous Muse in his own estimation, we should be doubtless happy in the perusal of his handy works,184but he must not think to disarm us in Criticism by pretending to throw a stumbling block in our way, for if he is willing to throw the Gauntlet in the ring, he may not go far to find a Combatant, at any rate if he is the author, of a certain long and laborious Ode or thethen thenstyle of a...

    • On the Early Introduction of Females to Society
      (pp. 118-120)

      There is a most lamentable practice among society, viz, that of introducing the rising generation at too early a period into mixt company; or what is more fashionably termed “bringing them out” at a period when the youthful mind is most liable to imbibe false ideas, when it is acted upon in a truly alarming manner; the result of which is seriously injurious, rendering them unfit for those stations they may be called upon to fulfill in the world, in187the more happy enjoyment of Domestic pursuits.

      Independant of the destructive inroads late hours and a continued change of pleasures...

    • Memoranda
      (pp. 120-121)

      A Man should be tardy in the choice of his friends, but lasting in the remembrance of them.

      Paris is all Superfluity, London all Solidity.

      Many fools travel in Foreign Countries in search of new Wonders, without being acquainted with half the Curiosities of their own.

      My friend has but few faults, but wherever he raises a Storm the bolt is sure to break on his own head.

      The Son of Napoleon is more legitimate on the throne of France than the present Dynasty on that of England.

      Cassius would fain degrade the great Julius for his want of bodily...

    • On prematurely Forming Opinion of Characters
      (pp. 121-123)

      There is perhaps, not a more evident mark of the vanity of the human Character, than the facility with which men flatter themselves, they can discover the train of reasoning, and the bias of judgment of others, by the smallest exertion of theirownminds, or by little more than simple perception.

      That mankind do, in various degrees, possess an intuitive knowledge of temper, from phisiognomy, will not be disputed; but we are continually reminded, in our intercourse with the world, of the fallacy of such impressions, and of the danger of forming connections on such unsubstantial and unreasonable cases....

    • On the Death of the Princess Charlotte
      (pp. 124-124)
    • Affectation
      (pp. 124-127)

      In submitting to my friends the few following remarks, it will be immedately perceived how little capable I am of treating with sufficient rectitude a subject, that is at all times open to the observation of every individual, the errors and good qualities continually in exposure, and at the same time so much spoken of abstractedly, and seldom wrote198of at large, yet I have no apology to offer, but on the other hand would wish, that every one who has an Argument to offer, for, or against it, will advance it as free199as I do, for as it...

    • On Conscious Approbation
      (pp. 128-129)

      Elevated as is the character of Man, still he is but a mere bundle of Ideas, and Ideas differ nothing in their nature from dreams and phantoms.—He may think and reason for ages, were his existence to extend through them, without advancing one jot in the knowledge of that existence; and he is obliged at last, to remain in passive ignorance of it. The common observation made by every idle, thoughtless being, when any thing novel or intricate appears before him, may with great propriety be adopted by the Man of thought; nay more, he isobliged, when considering...

    • The Origin of a Critic—A Fable
      (pp. 129-132)
    • Reflections on Death
      (pp. 132-134)
    • On Avarice
      (pp. 135-136)

      Of all the passions which exist in the human breast, & of all the vices which infest civil society, none appear to me more despicable and dangerous than avarice. It is very usual for persons in advocating the cause of the poor and needy to inveigh with bitter invectives against the gay and the profligate. It does to be sure seem inconsistent that one man should be rolling in the utmost gaiety and pleasure, enjoying all that gold can purchase or the world produce, whilst perhaps a being of the same make and species shall be calling upon him in the...

    • On Tradesmen
      (pp. 136-142)

      Among the various observations that are continually being made among mankind there is none more universal than that which touches on the circumstances of individuals, or their poverty, or riches, we find it so much the task of the historian that even the commonest narrator is not without this as the chief topic of relation whenever the subject is the actions of men.

      It is the duty of all those who read to judge of what they read, & it is a duty which all seem in some measure to act up to; who peruse the actions of men in the...

    • On Laws
      (pp. 143-144)

      Laws are very convenient things, and yet those that are bound by them are seldom satisfied. All agree that laws are useful; all find pleasure in making them for others; and, all dislike the constraint they impose on themselves. It is a question, certainly very difficult to be resolved, whether, in the droll and unnatural state into which a great part of the world has now sunk, more evil would not arise from the perfect fulfilling and completion of the laws imposed by compact and force, in society and in legislation; than does accrue at present from the evasion of...

    • On the Changes of the mind
      (pp. 144-146)

      It is said that the human body undergoes an entire change of matter in the course of a certain time256Whether this be truth or no it may perhaps be difficult even for philosophers to determine but let a man examine his mind and make a comparison of periods between which seven or ten years have elapsed and he will find so considerable an alteration especially in youth that was it not for the important associations of his material part with the changes that have taken place in his mind he might often doubt whether he was the same creature...

    • On Marriage
      (pp. 147-148)

      To Dillemus

      Since you have called upon me to commit to writing my opinions on the probable cause of unhappiness in the married state I beg to hand you a short treatise on that subject and must trust to your candour and known indulgence to pardon the want of perspicuity in the composition. My object will be merely to take a cursory view of things as they have appeared to my own immediate observation without diving too deeply into probable circumstances. I am well aware there is subject sufficient to be gleaned from the works of able authors but I...

    • On Calumny
      (pp. 148-149)

      I have often been at a loss to account for the great propensity which exists in the minds of men to censure one another. How many good actions may be performed by a man, which probably are never known or at least never spoken of by persons residing under the same roof: and yet should that man inadvertently commit an inconsistent action how soon would it be known to the whole world but in that exaggerated form that a person who might have known or seen the action originally would scarcely observe the least similarity between them.—It is quite...

    • Letter to the Secretary
      (pp. 149-151)

      Mr Secretary,


      I know not what you will think of my assurance in daring to send you a riddle, ofallthings for insertion in Our Class Book. What (you will exclaim) a riddle among the lucubrations of Metaphysicians, poets and moralists? Yes, indeed, and it will be no uncommon thing either. What does the metaphysician, but continually form riddles in his brain which he cannot solve? For instance whether matterisoris not; or mind is matter or matter is mind or both no matter at all; or whether right may not be wrong and wrong, right...

    • Enigma
      (pp. 151-152)
    • On Marriage
      (pp. 152-154)

      Every Man possess’d of the least sensibility of mind must accutely feel the mortifying refusal coolly uttered from those lips which he was wont to praise, while with anxious look and throbing heart, he awaits the doom that is to pronounce him the highly favour’d & accepted Lover or that which272in a moment hurls him from comparative happiness to a state of misery bordering on frenzy itself.273

      How little must a man know the heart of her to whom he offers his addresses how short sighted & inconsiderate must he be, who lays himself open to so mortifying a repulse. With...

    • Effeminacy & Luxury
      (pp. 154-156)

      Probably there are no evils more destructive to the happiness and prosperity284of nations than luxury, and effeminacy. Many sensible, and enlightened characters have censured in the highest degree the destructive principle of war. It is certainly extremely injurious to the public, and private happiness of mankind—it not only barbarously destroys thousands of our fellow creatures—it not only greatly exhausts the finances of a country—but it is highly incompatible with the mild, and genial principles of Christianity.—But I am inclined to think that in a political sense luxury, and effeminacy are quite as destructive as war...

    • A Brother’s Letter to Mr. Deeble
      (pp. 156-156)

      Sitting Room

      Aug 23rd 1819.

      Friend Deeble,290

      I have not time at present to comply with the Spirit of our Laws relating to the class book291but willing to fulfill them to the letter beg thee to insert this Epistle as my contribution during thy period of thy292charge.293I hope at some time to be more troublesome to thee, and in the mean time, Am

      thine in the Class book294

      A Brother....

    • Junius & Tullia
      (pp. 156-160)

      In the year 543 of the building of Rome,295when Hannibal had led his conquering army, nearly over all Italy, and was then laying encamped on the banks of the River Arno about 3 Miles from the Capital the greatest Consternation prevailed among the Inhabitants within the walls;296in every part were to be seen Women walking about wringing their hands in the greatest anguish, and even the oldest generals then in the City seemed to give up their country for lost, but Patriotism which was then as prevalent as at any time of the empire seemed by one great,...

    • A Ramble to Melincourt Melincourt July 20th
      (pp. 160-161)

      After dinner I set off on a ramble to Melincourt, a waterfall on the North-Side of the Valley, and about six miles from our Inn. I found the canal path very foul; the canal overflowing in many places from the rain and the river very turbid and swelled. I crossed the river by a tottering slippery bridge with more safety than I expected; and soon rambled my way out to the Village of Melincourt. Here I got a little damsel for my guide who could not speak a word of English. We however talked together all the way to the...

    • On Triflers
      (pp. 162-166)

      The follies and vices of mankind, their struggles against inclination, and their rare attempts in favour of virtue, must continually be the subject of reflection, to those who consider them, from their powers, as distinct, from the other animals of creation. Can it be doubtful to the reasonable man, whether he ought to view them in a serious or a ludicrous light, whether he ought to assume the character of Democritus or Heraclitus?307—Be it as it may, it seldom happens, but, that train of thought, gradually brings on a serious and a melancholy mood.—At such a time the...

    • 139th Psalm
      (pp. 166-168)
    • Infancy
      (pp. 168-170)

      Of all the tender feelings Man is capable of possessing next to those towards lovely Women there is not a greater incitement to pure love & affection than that which the presence of Children inspires us with. they are indeed well calculated to soften the heart of the most obdurate and give a zest of true pleasure to the whole frame.

      How void of all the finer feelings must that Man be who can look on the smiles of lovely Children without emotions of the tenderest nature, their little innocent play that gleam of youthful happiness & contentment which setts fix’d in...

    • At a Village on the Dunchurch Road
      (pp. 170-173)
  7. Part Two: Contexts

    • Faraday and Self-Education

      • Faraday, from the Correspondence (1812–16)
        (pp. 174-179)

        From a letter to Benjamin Abbott, 12 July 1812:²

        I was lately engaged in conversation with a gentleman, who appeared to have a very extensive correspondence: for within the space of half an hour, he drew observations from two letters that he had received not a fortnight before; one was from Sicily; and the other from France. After a while, I adverted to his correspondence; & observed that it must be very interesting, and a source of great pleasure to himself: He immediately affirmed with great enthusiasm that it was one of the purest enjoyments of his life: (observe he like...

      • Faraday, from Observations on the Means of Obtaining Knowledge (1817)
        (pp. 179-186)

        ‘Read to the body of members, at 53 Dorset-street, Salisbury-square, Feb. 19, 1817.


        It cannot be necessary for me to enlarge on the advantages of knowledge, to men professedly assembled in the pursuit of it. Whatever the primeval state of things may have been, the experience of every day, and every hour, carries with it a conviction of the important truth, that in the present state, it is the most essential requisite to the mind of man. It is possible that the unreflecting, being acquainted only with the small circle immediately around him; and, from the force of custom,...

      • Faraday, from ‘Observations on the Inertia of the Mind’ (1818)
        (pp. 187-198)

        Read at the City Philosophical Society, 1 July 1818.

        Man is an improving animal: Unlike the animated world around him which remains in the same constant state he is continually varying; and it is one of the noblest prerogatives of his nature that in the highest of earthly distinctions he has the power of raising and exalting himself continually.—The transitory state of man has been held up to him, as a memento of his weakness; to mandegradedit may with justice; to man as he ought to be it is no reproach; and in knowledge, that man only...

      • Faraday’s indexes to eighteenth-century periodicals
        (pp. 198-199)

        Faraday’s index toThe Spectator

        [For the first two entries, Faraday gave a brief title; in the second, he noted only the numbers of the papers, so I have added an indication of the topics.]21

        595 On false taste

        626 Novelty

        385 [On friendship]22

        471 [On hope]23

        593 [On dreams]

        626 [Novelty as a spur to intellectual endeavour]

        Faraday’s index toThe Idler24

        [Faraday left the rest of the page in CPB blank, evidently intending to add to this brief list. The note on the subject of each paper is Faraday’s.]

        22. Improvement

        23. Friendship

        36. On Composition or Style

        38. Imprisonment

        43. Procrastination


      • Faraday, from ‘Observations on Mental Education’ (1854)
        (pp. 200-212)

        If the term education may be understood in so large a sense as to include all that belongs to the improvement of the mind, either by the acquisition of the knowledge of others, or by increase of it through its own exertions, then I may hope to be justified for bringing forward a few desultory observations respecting the exercise of the mental powers in a particular direction, which otherwise might seem out of place. The points I have in view are general, but they are manifest in a striking manner, among the physical matters which have occupied my life; and...

    • The Improvement of the Mind

      • Isaac Watts, from The Improvement of the Mind (1741)
        (pp. 213-216)

        No man is obliged to learn and know every thing; this can neither be sought nor required, for it is utterly impossible: yet all persons are under some obligation to improve their own understanding; otherwise it will be a barren desert, or a forest overgrown with weeds and brambles. Universal ignorance or infinite errors will overspread the mind, which is utterly neglected, and lies without any cultivation.

        Skill in the sciences is indeed the business and profession but of a small part of mankind; but there are many others placed in such an exalted rank in the world, as allows...

      • Samuel Johnson, from The Rambler (1751)
        (pp. 217-219)

        The chief art of learning, asLockehas observed, is to attempt but little at a time. The widest excursions of the mind are made by short flights frequently repeated; the most lofty fabricks of science are formed by the continued accumulation of single propositions.

        It often happens, whatever be the cause, that impatience of labour, or dread of miscarriage, seizes those who are most distinguished for quickness of apprehension; and that they who might with greatest reason promise themselves victory, are least willing to hazard the encounter. This diffidence, where the attention is not laid asleep by laziness, or...

      • Thomas Williams, from The Moral Tendencies of Knowledge (1815)
        (pp. 220-222)

        The Necessity of Knowledge is like that of light,—without it we can do nothing: but as different occupations require various degrees of light, so various degrees of knowledge are requisite to the different classes of society. But to the middle classes I consider knowledge as most important; and in these, generally, it is most successfully cultivated:—for though anArkwrightmay arise from the lowest class, and aStanhopebe found among the highest, these are instances which attract our admiration for their singularity.13


        I rejoice in reflecting on the unprecedented extent to which knowledge is spreading among...

      • Isaac Taylor, from Self-Cultivation Recommended: Or, Hints to a Youth Leaving School (1817)
        (pp. 222-224)

        The grand object of self-education is the mind; to cultivate the intellectual powers. This is the man’s self; this is capable of much improvement; this imperiously demands our care; and this will, beyond all calculation, repay us.

        On principle, then, aim to give these faculties their due. Many, as drawn by one delightful prospect or another, cultivate those powers of mind which are allied thereto.

        This is only partial; it is liable to become desultory, or it may fail entirely. Principle will feel the bounden duty of enriching, training, and rendering effective, all the mighty, but dormant energies of intellect....

      • From The Black Dwarf (1819)
        (pp. 224-225)

        The progress of public opinion is now unimpeded. The heartless enemies of reform content themselves with holding their entrenchments, in the forlorn hope of defending the citadel of corruption from our assaults. Defeated in the field, notwithstanding the glitter of the bayonets in their centre, and embarrassed in their finances, they dare not venture to cope with us openly any longer. By all the petty artifices congenial to little and malignant minds, they still endeavour to irritate, and to injure: and in some instances they still succeed. […] Their agents are actively on the watch for a sortie upon any...

      • Mary Shelley, from Frankenstein (1818)
        (pp. 226-232)

        From vol. I, pp. 72–81:

        Partly from curiosity, and partly from idleness, I went into the lecturing room, which M. Waldman entered shortly after. This professor was very unlike his colleague. He appeared about fifty years of age, but with an aspect expressive of the greatest benevolence; a few grey hairs covered his temples, but those at the back of his head were nearly black. His person was short, but remarkably erect; and his voice the sweetest I had ever heard. He began his lecture by a recapitulation of the history of chemistry and the various improvements made by...

      • Henry Brougham, from Practical Observations upon the Education of the People (1825)
        (pp. 233-238)

        [I]t is no doubt manifest, that the people themselves must be the great agents in accomplishing the work of their own instruction. Unless they deeply feel the usefulness of knowledge, and resolve to make some sacrifices for the acquisition of it, there can be no reasonable prospect of this grand object being attained. But it is equally clear, that to wait until the whole people with one accord take the determination to labour in this good work, would be endless. A portion of the community may be sensible of its advantages, and willing at any fair price to seek them,...

    • The Pleasures of the Imagination

      • Joseph Addison, from The Spectator (1712)
        (pp. 239-242)

        Our sight is the most perfect and most delightful of all our senses. It fills the mind with the largest variety of ideas, converses with its objects at the greatest distance, and continues the longest in action without being tired or satiated with its proper enjoyments. The sense of feeling can indeed give us a notion of extension, shape, and all other ideas that enter at the eye, except colours; but at the same time it is very much straitened and confined in its operations to the number, bulk, and distance of its particular objects. Our sight seems designed to...

      • Mark Akenside, from The Pleasures of the Imagination (1744)
        (pp. 242-246)
  8. Index
    (pp. 247-250)