278 IDEAL HOME LIFE
Charles Reade are nothing to those of life's actual drama. The romance of fiction is inane by the side of the romance of facts, and the newspaper is where they are recorded. In this study the monthly periodical will aid you. The world has never known such storehouses of well-selected mental food as are furnished by the magazines. The ablest writers of America are laid under contribution. The ablest artists are called on to add both the attractions and illuminations of the pencil.
But to the journal—weekly or daily—and the magazine you will want to add some study of books. Periodical reading may become desultory reading. It need not, but there is always danger. For courses of study in books observe three rules:
(1) Begin with what is congenial. Choose not what you ought to know but what you want to know. It is a rare mind that can keep itself to a course of distasteful study. It is not safe for anyone to assume, without proof, that he has a rare mind.
(2) Begin with a short course. Do not lay out, for history, Hume, Macauiay, and Miss Martineau, with the idea that when you have finished these fifteen volumes you will be well versed in English history. That is very true; but you will never finish them. Read Jacob Abbott's "Life of Charles I" or "Charles II," or Macaulay's "Lord Chatham," or Thomas Hughes's "Alfred the Great." One thing at a time; and that thing short and simple. Putting the word done opposite a purpose is a wonderful incentive to a large achievement in the next attempt.
(3) Buy a dictionary, an atlas, and, if possible, an encyclopedia. If you have not the money make over an old bonnet. No harm will be done if it cultivates a habit of making over old bonnets. If a man, dispense with cigars for a year. No harm will be done if this cultivates a habit of dispensing with cigars. If this does not supply the increasing demand for increasing facilities try some other economies.
Equipped with dictionary and atlas, never pass a word the meaning of which you do not know; the name of a place the location of which you have not fixed; or reference to an