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The Intellectual Life   By: (1834-1894)

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First Page:

Transcriber's note:

The following typographical errors have been corrected:

Page 86: "We bring ourselves, by its help, to face petty details that are wearisome, and heavy tasks that are almost appalling." 'appalling' amended from 'appaling'.

Page 153: "That which is truly, and deeply, and seriously an injury to our intellectual life, is the foolishness of the too common vanity." 'too' amended from 'two'.

Page 161: "the child had the defects of children, but of children born in the different countries where he lived." 'lived' amended from 'live'.

Page 294: "The girl was uneducated: it seems hopeless to try to educate the woman". 'educate' amended from 'educated'.

Page 364: "I am sure that my modern artillery captain, notwithstanding his bad manners." 'notwithstanding' amended from 'notwithstand'.

Page 377: "I know a distinguished Englishman who is quite remarkable for the talent with which he arranges his intellectual friendships, so as never to be dependent on any one." 'intellectual' amended from 'inintellectual'.

Page 383: "The truth is, that to succeed well in fashionable society the higher intellectual attainments are not so useful as distinguished skill in those amusements which are the real business of the fashionable world." 'business of' amended from 'busiof'.

Page 387: "To me it appears the perfect type of that preoccupation about appearances which blinds the genteel vulgar to the true nobility of life." 'preoccupation' amended from 'pre occupation'.

Page 417: "She moves; movement is the law of her life; yet she is as tranquil in her little cabin as any goodwife on shore." 'she' amended from 'see'.

Page 489: "I certainly think that if a good curé has an exceptional genius for sanctity." 'sanctity' amended from 'sancitity'.

Page 558 (index): "Dullness of general conversation." 'Dullness' amended from 'Dulness'.










We have shared together many hours of study, and you have been willing, at the cost of much patient labor, to cheer the difficult paths of intellectual toil by the unfailing sweetness of your beloved companionship. It seems to me that all those things which we have learned together are doubly my own; whilst those other studies which I have pursued in solitude have never yielded me more than a maimed and imperfect satisfaction. The dream of my life would be to associate you with all I do if that were possible; but since the ideal can never be wholly realized, let me at least rejoice that we have been so little separated, and that the subtle influence of your finer taste and more delicate perception is ever, like some penetrating perfume, in the whole atmosphere around me.


I propose, in the following pages, to consider the possibilities of a satisfactory intellectual life under various conditions of ordinary human existence. It will form a part of my plan to take into account favorable and unfavorable influences of many kinds; and my chief purpose, so far as any effect upon others may be hoped for, will be to guard some who may read the book alike against the loss of time caused by unnecessary discouragement, and the waste of effort which is the consequence of misdirected energies.

I have adopted the form of letters addressed to persons of very different position in order that every reader may have a chance of finding what concerns him. The letters, it is unnecessary to observe, are in one sense as fictitious as those we find in novels, for they have never been sent to anybody by the post, yet the persons to whom they are addressed are not imaginary. I made it a rule, from the beginning, to think of a real person when writing, from an apprehension that by dwelling in a world too exclusively ideal I might lose sight of many impediments which beset all actual lives, even the most exceptional and fortunate... Continue reading book >>

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