George Gissing (1857-1903), "A Son of the Soil," Human Odds and Ends: Stories and Sketches
, new ed. (London: A.H. Bullen, 1901), pp. 296-302 (at 297-298):
At school he had learnt—well, what had he learnt? In the main, to spell out police news and to scrawl obscene words. His education, in the real sense, he owed to a powerful but unacknowledged instructor, the Spirit of the Age. Hence his discontent with everything about him, his thorough dishonesty, his blurred, gaslight vision of a remote world. Certain well-meaning persons had given him 'religious teaching,' that is to say, had laboriously brought him to the repetition of phrases he did not understand, to which he attached no particular significance whatever. He could not name the flowers by the wayside; no one had ever thought of teaching him that. He did not know—he did not hear—the bird that sang to him at his work; no one had ever spoken to him of such trifles. He was aware, by consequences, that the sun rose and set; but never had he consciously looked at its setting or its rising; for all that Jonas thought about it, the sky might have lowered in a perpetual leadenness. He had no conception of geography—save that somewhere vaguely to the east lay a huge town called London. Of the men who had lived and wrought before him in this fruitful English county he knew no more than of the Assyrians. Field and farmyard, hedgerow and highway, were hateful in his eyes, to be described only by a foul epithet. Old enough to do a man's work, he had nothing of a man's pride in it; no sense of a man's duties and lawful claims; no impulse of manhood save the fleshly.