Saturday, January 20, 2007



Anthony Trollope, The Claverings, chap. 8 (The House in Onslow Crescent):
"You don't believe that he's idle by disposition? Think of all that he has done already."

"That's just what is most against him. He might do very well with us if he had not got that confounded fellowship; but having got that, he thinks the hard work of life is pretty well over with him."

"I don't suppose he can be so foolish as that, Theodore."

"I know well what such men are, and I know the evil that is done to them by the cramming they endure. They learn many names of things — high-sounding names, and they come to understand a great deal about words. It is a knowledge that requires no experience and very little real thought. But it demands much memory; and when they have loaded themselves in this way, they think that they are instructed in all things. After all, what can they do that is of real use to mankind? What can they create?"

"I suppose they are of use."

"I don't know it. A man will tell you, or pretend to tell you — for the chances are ten to one that he is wrong — what sort of lingo was spoken in some particular island or province six hundred years before Christ. What good will that do any one, even if he were right? And then see the effect upon the men themselves! At four-and-twenty a young fellow has achieved some wonderful success, and calls himself by some outlandish and conceited name — a double first, or something of the kind. Then he thinks he has completed everything, and is too vain to learn anything afterward. The truth is, that at twenty-four no man has done more than acquire the rudiments of his education. The system is bad from beginning to end. All that competition makes false and imperfect growth. Come, I'll go to bed."

What would Harry have said if he had heard all this from the man who dusted his boots with his handkerchief?

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