Sunday, October 02, 2011

Self-improvement

"Regarding his own improvement, Wilberforce resolved to begin immediately by making up for lost time at Cambridge, where he'd frittered away the years and opportunities in idleness. "Books to be read," he writes in his diary, "Locke's Essay-Marshall's logic-Indian Reports." This resolve to read was no flippant New Years resolution. For the next twelve summers, until his marriage, he would spend one or two months at some country home, assiduously studying nine or ten hours alone each day. He became renowned for reading everything- Montesquieu, Adam Smith, Blackstone, Pope- and for the rest of his life, his pockets were literally stuffed with literature on every subject. He would in his later years carry corked inkwells in his pockets too- for he was forever making notes and writing letters- and his clothing ever after bore the ebon of obsession. Once, while he was kneeling with others in prayer, one fatally overstuffed pocket interrupted the devotional atmosphere by exploding under the strain of literature and pouring its contents upon the carpet"

Amazing Grace (William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery), Eric Metaxa


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