Youth's Magazine,  3rd ser. 10 (1837), 146–50.

Superficial Reading

M W Clapton


Short Fiction, Dialogue


Reading, Biblical Authority, Reasoning, Analogy, Induction, Natural Law, Imagination, Piety

    Maria's father has overheard her publicly criticizing the 'strange conceits' of the author of 'a certain treatise on a higher stage of existence' (147). He criticizes her ostentation, and also her superficiality in having made her comments on the basis of a review in place of the book itself. Maria asks him whether it is not 'absurd in any writer to advance ideas which have no support from Revelation?'. He replies that, with subjects not 'essential to salvation', a 'writer of respectability' may with advantage suggest 'observations, though not derived from the scriptures, yet by no means incompatible with their contents'. 'The human mind reasons by a process of analogy and induction', he explains; 'we believe that what has taken place, will take place again; that one train of events, will produce its natural consequences; and we are not mistaken'. Prompted by Maria, he declares imagination to be the most often perverted faculty of the mind, but observes that 'so long as she is "brought into subjection to the obedience of Christ", she may prove an admirable help during the hours that are consecrated to meditation and research'. (148) The remainder of the narrative concerns the dangers and value of book reviews.

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