Intelligence Rules the World and Ignorance Carries the Burden
Use every spare minute you have in reading. If you are going on a journey that would take you an hour carry something with you to read for that hour until you have reached the place. If you are sitting down waiting for somebody, have something in your pocket to read until the person comes.
Don't waste time. Any time you think you have to waste, put it in reading something. Carry with you a small pocket dictionary and study words whilst waiting or travelling, or a small pocket volume on some particular subject. Read through at least one book every week separate and distinct from your newspapers and journals. It will mean that at the end of one year you will have read fifty-two different subjects. After five years you will have read over two hundred and fifty books. You may be considered then a well read man or a well read woman and there will be a great difference between you and the person who has not read one book.
Intelligence Rules the World, Ignorance Carries the Burden
You will be considered intelligent and the other person considered ignorant. You and that person therefore will be living in two different worlds; one in the world of ignorance and the other the world of intelligence. Never forget that intelligence rules the world and ignorance carries the burden. Therefore, remove yourself as far as possible from ignorance and seek as far as possible to be intelligent.
Your language being English you should study the English language thoroughly. To know the English language thoroughly you ought to be acquainted with Latin, because most of the English words are of Latin origin. It is also advisable that you know the French language because most of the books that you read in English carry Latin and French phrases and words. There is no use reading a page or paragraph of a book or even a sentence without understanding it.
If it has foreign words in it, before you pass over them you should go to the dictionary, if you don't know the meaning, and find out the meaning. Never pass over a word without knowing its meaning. The dictionary and the books on word building which can be secured from book sellers will help you greatly.
Ambitious to Learn
I know a boy who was ambitious to learn. He hadn't the opportunity of an early school education because he had to work ten hours a day, but he determined that he would learn and so he took with him to his workplace every day a simplified grammar and he would read and memorize passages and the rules of grammar whilst at work.
After one year he was almost an expert in the grammar of his language. He knew the different parts of speech, he could paraphrase, analyze and construct sentences. He also took with him a pocket dictionary and he would write out twenty-five new words with their meanings every day and study these words with their meanings every day.
After one year he had a speaking vocabulary of more than three thousand words. He continued this for several years and when he became a man he had a vocabulary at his command of over fifteen thousand words. He became an author because he could write in his language by having command of words. What he wrote was his experiences in the best words of his language.
He was not able to write properly at the same age and so he took with him to work what is called in school a copying book and he practiced the copying of letters until he was able to write a very good hand. He naturally became acquainted with literature and so he continued reading extensively. When he died he was one of the greatest scholars the world ever knew. Apply the story to yourself.
Study a Couple of Subjects at a Time
There is nothing in the world that you want that you cannot have so long as it is possible in nature and men have achieved it before. The greatest men and women in the world burn the midnight lamp. That is to say, when their neighbors and household are gone to bed, they are reading, studying and thinking. When they rise in the morning they are always ahead of their neighbors and their household in the thing that they were studying, reading and thinking of. A daily repetition of that will carry them daily ahead and above their neighbors and household.
It is wise to study a couple of subjects at a time. As for instance - a little geography, a little psychology, a little ethics, a little theology, a little philosophy, a little mathematics, a little science on which a sound academic education is built. Doing this week after week, month after month, year after year will make you so learned in the liberal arts as to make you ready and fit for your place in the affairs of the world. If you know what others do not know, they will want to hear you. You will then become invaluable in your community and to your country, because men and women will want to hear you and see you everywhere.
Spend Most of Your Spare Time in Your Library
As stated before, books are ones best companions. Try to get them and keep them. A method of doing so is every time you have ten cents or twenty five cents or a dollar to spend foolishly, either on your friends or yourself, think how much more useful that ten or twenty five cents or dollar would be invested in a book, and so invest it. 1
It may be just the thing you have been looking for to give you a thought by which you may win the heart of the world. The ten cent, twenty five cent or a dollar, therefore, may turn out to be an investment of worth to the extent of a million dollars.
Never lend anybody the book you want. You will never get it back. Never allow anybody to go to your bookshelf in your absence because the very book that you may want most may be taken from the shelf and you may never be able to get one of that kind again. If you have a library of your own, lock it when you are not at home.
Spend most of your spare time in your library. If you have a radio keep it in your own library and use it exhaustively to listen to lectures, recitals, speeches and good music. You can learn a lot from the radio. You can be inspired a lot by good music. Good music carries the sentiment of harmony and you may think many a good thought out of listening to good music.
Read a chapter from the Bible every day, Old and New Testaments. The greatest wisdom of the age is to be found in the Scriptures. You can always quote from the Scriptures. It is the quickest way of winning approval.
Lessons from the School
of African Philosophy