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CURIOSITl- Curiosity is inherent in man; and, in some measure, accompanies every degree of the human understanding, and every modification of the mind. From the philosopher to the peasant, scarcely any one is found who is not desirous of information on one subject or another; but this curiosity is directed to different objects in different minds, in proportion to their degrees of elevation, or the extent of their previous im- provements. That great colossus of literature and moral phi- losophy, Dr. Johnson, says —" Curiosity is one of the most permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect;" and again, Curiosity is, in great and generous minds, the first passion and the last; and, perhaps, always predominates in pro- portion to the strength of the mental faculties." These are the encomiums which that great observer of the human mind be- stows on this passion but, with all deference to so respectable an authority, the praise is, perhaps, rather due to the direction which it takes than to the passion itself; for curiosity may be directed to the most insignificant as well as the most important objects. The uncultivated peasant confines his inquiries to the affairs of his own parish while the man of a more improved understanding, and more extensive views, directs his attention to the affairs of the world at large, and is desirous of informa- tion relative to subjects which interest mankind in general-the schemes of politicians, the stratagems of war, the fluctuations of commerce, and the progress of arts, sciences, or literature. This active curiosity of man may be gratified in many different ways; but no gratification can ever satisfy it. The traveller who goes to visit a strange country, on ascending every emi- nence, amuses his mind in the expectation of the prospect he shall enjoy from the summit; but on gaining his point, his curi- osity is so far from being extinguished by gratification, that it operates with redoubled force, and excites his desires to contem- plate the landscapes which lie beyond his view; and which, he expects, will yet diversify the scene, and amuse him in his fur- ther progress. In like manner, the man of a cultivated under- standing, while he investigates the wonders of art or the phenomena of nature, finds his curiosity continually excited by new objects and the village gossip, who turns her thoughts to nothing further than the domestic concerns of her neighbours, finds her curiosity as strongly and incessantly excited by the "whispers of scandal, and the trifling concerns of the neighbour- hood, as does the philosopher who directs his attention to the XBost' Important and interesting phenomena of the physical, jagral,.SHirt intellectual world,— Bigland, H"


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