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Another advantage of this method of instruction is, the assistance whichrit affords to the memory. When a man has to carry valuable goods through a crowd, where he has to be pressed and jostled on all sides, it is certainly better that he should take up small 'parcels, and packed in such a manner as to be borne with safety and ease, than to encumber himself with a burden that must soon be lost in the throng. Well-chosen maxims are found particularly useful for. conversation. In a thousand cases, they answer a valuable purpose, where long chains of reasoning could find no place. The merchant, who has thousands in the bank, may sometimes be put to. great inconvenience for want of a little running cash in his pocket.
I am sensible that some objection may be raised against this method of conveying instruction to the young. .. . ;:
It may be said, proverbial maxims, from their brevity, necessarily involve some obscurity. This is granted. But we find a propensity in the young to untie what is knotty, and examine what is ob
scure, as is evident by their fondness for riddles and enigmas. Those things which are so obvious,
as to give no excuse to the understanding, seldom - excite much interest. On the contrary, young
people in general relish the kernel the more for having the trouble to break the shell. It may be objected, that such maxims as these resemble lime without sand, and have no power to cement and consolidate knowledge in the mind. This objection would carry great weight against a bulky volume, made up of such materials, but it has no force against a small pocket companion like this, which may profitably employ short intervals of time, between the more regular engagements of business or learning.
If it should be said, such sayings and maxims. uttered by the young in company, will give them an air of formality, and sometimes expose them to contempt. I reply, it is no argument against the utility of any weapon, that it may happen to fall into unskilful hands.
I have mentioned the authors from whom I have borrowed, because a maxim often owes half
its weight to the name it bears, or to the person who first gave it currency.
In quoting the sayings of ancient writers, I have taken the liberty of altering here and there a word without in the least changing the sentiment.
If parents or teachers put this little thing into the hands of the young, I think they have no reason to dread any bad effects from it, and they may see some advantage.