I have read many books, but to little purpose, for want of good method

From Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy, in the prologue “Democritus Junior to the Reader.”  I’ve never made it past these first hundred pages but maybe someday.

Yet thus much I will say of myself, and that I hope without all suspicion of pride, or self-conceit, I have lived a silent, sedentary, solitary, private life, mihi et musis in the University, as long almost as Xenocrates in Athens, ad senectam fere to learn wisdom as he did, penned up most part in my study…. I had a great desire (not able to attain to a superficial skill in any) to have some smattering in all, to be aliquis in omnibus, nullus in singulis,  which Plato commends, out of him Lipsius approves and furthers, as fit to be imprinted in all curious wits, not to be a slave of one science, or dwell altogether in one subject, as most do, but to rove abroad, centum puer artium, to have an oar in every man’s boat, to taste of every dish, and sip of every cup, which, saith Montaigne, was well performed by Aristotle, and his learned countryman Adrian Turnebus. This roving humour (though not with like success) I have ever had, and like a ranging spaniel, that barks at every bird he sees, leaving his game, I have followed all, saving that which I should, and may justly complain, and truly, qui ubique est, nusquam est, which Gesner did in modesty, that I have read many books, but to little purpose, for want of good method;

Such convenience is not to be enjoyed — nor such liberty taken — with the living

From the letters of Laurence Sterne:

…Indeed I have no inclination to visit, or say a syllable to but a few persons in this lower vale of vanity and tears beside you: — But I often derive a peculiar satisfaction in conversing with the ancient and modern dead, —- who yet live and speak excellently in their works. — My neighbors think me often alone, — and yet at such times I am in company with more than five hundred mutes —- each of whom, at my pleasure, communicates his ideas to me by dumb signs — quite as intelligibly as any person living can do by uttering of words. — They always keep the distance from me which I direct —- and, with a motion of my hand, I can bring them as near to me as I please.  I lay hands on fifty of them sometimes in an evening, and handle them as I like — they never complain of ill-usage, — and when dismissed from my presence, — tho’ ever so abruptly —- take no offence.  Such convenience is not to be enjoyed — nor such liberty taken — with the living: —- We are bound —- in point of good manners to admit all our pretended friends when they knock for entrance, and dispense with all the nonsense or impertinence which they broach ’till they think proper to with-draw…