NCERT Textbook: Essay 5 - What is a Good Book? Class 11 Notes | EduRev

English Class 11

Class 11 : NCERT Textbook: Essay 5 - What is a Good Book? Class 11 Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


174 Woven Words
What is a Good Book?
John Ruskin
F F F F F Look for these expressions and guess their meaning from the context
canaille peerage
fain national noblesse of words
The good book of the hour, then—I do not speak of the bad
ones—is simply the useful or pleasant talk of some person
whom you cannot otherwise converse with, printed for you.
Very useful often, telling you what you need to know; very
pleasant often, as a sensible friend’s present talk would
be. These bright accounts of travels; good-humoured and
witty discussions of question; lively or pathetic story-telling
in the form of novel; firm fact-telling by the real agents
concerned in the events of passing history—all these books
of the hour, multiplying among us as education becomes
more general, are a peculiar characteristic and possession
of the present age: we ought to be entirely thankful for
them, and entirely ashamed of ourselves if we make no
good use of them. But we make the worst possible use if we
allow them to usurp the place of true books: for, strictly
speaking, they are not books at all but merely letters or
newspapers in good print. Our friend’s letter may be
delightful, or necessary, today: whether worth keeping or
not, is to be considered. The newspaper may be entirely
proper at breakfast time but, assuredly, it is not reading
for all day. So, though bound up in a volume, the long
letter which gives you so pleasant an account of the inns,
and roads, and weather last year at such a place, or which
tells you that amusing story or gives you the real
circumstances of such and such events, however valuable
for occasional reference, may not be, in the real sense of
5
2019-2020
Page 2


174 Woven Words
What is a Good Book?
John Ruskin
F F F F F Look for these expressions and guess their meaning from the context
canaille peerage
fain national noblesse of words
The good book of the hour, then—I do not speak of the bad
ones—is simply the useful or pleasant talk of some person
whom you cannot otherwise converse with, printed for you.
Very useful often, telling you what you need to know; very
pleasant often, as a sensible friend’s present talk would
be. These bright accounts of travels; good-humoured and
witty discussions of question; lively or pathetic story-telling
in the form of novel; firm fact-telling by the real agents
concerned in the events of passing history—all these books
of the hour, multiplying among us as education becomes
more general, are a peculiar characteristic and possession
of the present age: we ought to be entirely thankful for
them, and entirely ashamed of ourselves if we make no
good use of them. But we make the worst possible use if we
allow them to usurp the place of true books: for, strictly
speaking, they are not books at all but merely letters or
newspapers in good print. Our friend’s letter may be
delightful, or necessary, today: whether worth keeping or
not, is to be considered. The newspaper may be entirely
proper at breakfast time but, assuredly, it is not reading
for all day. So, though bound up in a volume, the long
letter which gives you so pleasant an account of the inns,
and roads, and weather last year at such a place, or which
tells you that amusing story or gives you the real
circumstances of such and such events, however valuable
for occasional reference, may not be, in the real sense of
5
2019-2020
What is a Good Book? 175
the word, a ‘book’ at all, nor, in the real sense, to be ‘read’.
A book is essentially not a talked thing but a written thing;
and written, not with the view of more communication, but
of permanence. The book of talk is printed only because its
author cannot speak to thousands of people at once; if he
could, he would—the volume is mere ‘multiplication’ of his
voice. You cannot talk to your friend in India; if you could,
you would; you would write instead: that is mere
‘conveyance’ of voice. But a book is written, not to multiply
the voice merely, not to carry it merely, but to preserve it.
The author has something to say which he perceives to be
true and useful, or helpfully beautiful. So far as he knows
no one has yet said it; so far as he knows, no one else can
say it. He is bound to say it, clearly and melodiously if he
may; clearly, at all events. In the sum of his life he finds
this to be the thing or group of things, manifest to him—
this is the piece of true knowledge, or sight, which his
share of sunshine and earth has permitted him to seize.
He would fain set it down forever, engrave it on a rock, if
he could, saying, ‘This is the best of me; for the rest, I ate,
and drank, and slept, loved, and hated, like another; my
life was as the vapour, and is not; but this I saw and knew;
this, if anything, of mine, is worth your memory.’ That his
‘writing’, it is, in his small human way, and with whatever
degree of true inspiration is in him, his inscription, or
scripture.That is a ‘Book’.
Perhaps you think no books were ever so written?
But, again, I ask you; do you at all believe in honesty
or, at all, in kindness? Or do you think there is never any
honesty or benevolence in wise people? None of us, I hope,
are so unhappy as to think that. Well, whatever bit of a
wise man’s work is honestly and benevolently done, that
bit is his book, or his piece of art. It is mixed always with
evil fragments—ill-done, redundant, affected work. But if
you read rightly, you will easily discover the true bits, and
those are the book.
Now books of this kind have been written in all ages by
their greatest men—by great leaders, great statesmen and
great thinkers. These are all at your choice; and life is
short. You have heard as much before; yet have you
2019-2020
Page 3


174 Woven Words
What is a Good Book?
John Ruskin
F F F F F Look for these expressions and guess their meaning from the context
canaille peerage
fain national noblesse of words
The good book of the hour, then—I do not speak of the bad
ones—is simply the useful or pleasant talk of some person
whom you cannot otherwise converse with, printed for you.
Very useful often, telling you what you need to know; very
pleasant often, as a sensible friend’s present talk would
be. These bright accounts of travels; good-humoured and
witty discussions of question; lively or pathetic story-telling
in the form of novel; firm fact-telling by the real agents
concerned in the events of passing history—all these books
of the hour, multiplying among us as education becomes
more general, are a peculiar characteristic and possession
of the present age: we ought to be entirely thankful for
them, and entirely ashamed of ourselves if we make no
good use of them. But we make the worst possible use if we
allow them to usurp the place of true books: for, strictly
speaking, they are not books at all but merely letters or
newspapers in good print. Our friend’s letter may be
delightful, or necessary, today: whether worth keeping or
not, is to be considered. The newspaper may be entirely
proper at breakfast time but, assuredly, it is not reading
for all day. So, though bound up in a volume, the long
letter which gives you so pleasant an account of the inns,
and roads, and weather last year at such a place, or which
tells you that amusing story or gives you the real
circumstances of such and such events, however valuable
for occasional reference, may not be, in the real sense of
5
2019-2020
What is a Good Book? 175
the word, a ‘book’ at all, nor, in the real sense, to be ‘read’.
A book is essentially not a talked thing but a written thing;
and written, not with the view of more communication, but
of permanence. The book of talk is printed only because its
author cannot speak to thousands of people at once; if he
could, he would—the volume is mere ‘multiplication’ of his
voice. You cannot talk to your friend in India; if you could,
you would; you would write instead: that is mere
‘conveyance’ of voice. But a book is written, not to multiply
the voice merely, not to carry it merely, but to preserve it.
The author has something to say which he perceives to be
true and useful, or helpfully beautiful. So far as he knows
no one has yet said it; so far as he knows, no one else can
say it. He is bound to say it, clearly and melodiously if he
may; clearly, at all events. In the sum of his life he finds
this to be the thing or group of things, manifest to him—
this is the piece of true knowledge, or sight, which his
share of sunshine and earth has permitted him to seize.
He would fain set it down forever, engrave it on a rock, if
he could, saying, ‘This is the best of me; for the rest, I ate,
and drank, and slept, loved, and hated, like another; my
life was as the vapour, and is not; but this I saw and knew;
this, if anything, of mine, is worth your memory.’ That his
‘writing’, it is, in his small human way, and with whatever
degree of true inspiration is in him, his inscription, or
scripture.That is a ‘Book’.
Perhaps you think no books were ever so written?
But, again, I ask you; do you at all believe in honesty
or, at all, in kindness? Or do you think there is never any
honesty or benevolence in wise people? None of us, I hope,
are so unhappy as to think that. Well, whatever bit of a
wise man’s work is honestly and benevolently done, that
bit is his book, or his piece of art. It is mixed always with
evil fragments—ill-done, redundant, affected work. But if
you read rightly, you will easily discover the true bits, and
those are the book.
Now books of this kind have been written in all ages by
their greatest men—by great leaders, great statesmen and
great thinkers. These are all at your choice; and life is
short. You have heard as much before; yet have you
2019-2020
176 Woven Words
measured and mapped out this short life and its
possibilities? Do you know, if you read this, that you cannot
read that—that what you lose today you cannot gain
tomorrow? Will you go and gossip with your housemaid, or
your stable-boy, when you may talk with queens and kings;
or flatter yourselves that it is with any worthy
consciousness of your own claims to respect that you jostle
with the common crowd for entrée here, an audience there,
when all the while this eternal court is open to you, with
its society wide as the world, multitudinous as its days,
the chosen and the mighty, of every place and time? Into
that you may enter always; in that you may take fellowship
and rank according to your wish; from that, once entered
into it, you can never be outcast but by your own fault; by
your aristocracy of companionship there, your own inherent
aristocracy will be assuredly tested and the motives with
which you strive to take high place in the society of the
living, measured, as to all the truth and sincerity that are
in them, by the place you desire to take in this company of
the Dead.
‘The place you desire’, and the place you ‘fit yourself
for’, I must also say; because, observe, this court of the
past differs from all living aristocracy in this—it is open to
labour and to merit but to nothing else. No wealth will
bribe, no name will overawe, no artifice will deceive the
guardian of those Elysian gates. In the deep sense, no vile
or vulgar person ever enters there. At the portieres of that
silent Faubourg St. Germain, there is but brief question,
‘Do you deserve to enter? Pass. Do you ask to be the
companion of nobles? Do you long for the conversation of
the wise? Learn to understand it, and you shall hear it.
But on other terms? No. If you will not rise to us, we cannot
stoop to you. The living lord may assume courtesy, the
living philosopher explain his thought to you with
considerable pain; but here we neither feign nor interpret;
you must rise to the level of our thoughts if you would be
gladdened by them, and share our feelings, if you would
recognise our presence.’
This, then, is what you have to do and I admit that it
is much. You must, in a word, love these people if you are
2019-2020
Page 4


174 Woven Words
What is a Good Book?
John Ruskin
F F F F F Look for these expressions and guess their meaning from the context
canaille peerage
fain national noblesse of words
The good book of the hour, then—I do not speak of the bad
ones—is simply the useful or pleasant talk of some person
whom you cannot otherwise converse with, printed for you.
Very useful often, telling you what you need to know; very
pleasant often, as a sensible friend’s present talk would
be. These bright accounts of travels; good-humoured and
witty discussions of question; lively or pathetic story-telling
in the form of novel; firm fact-telling by the real agents
concerned in the events of passing history—all these books
of the hour, multiplying among us as education becomes
more general, are a peculiar characteristic and possession
of the present age: we ought to be entirely thankful for
them, and entirely ashamed of ourselves if we make no
good use of them. But we make the worst possible use if we
allow them to usurp the place of true books: for, strictly
speaking, they are not books at all but merely letters or
newspapers in good print. Our friend’s letter may be
delightful, or necessary, today: whether worth keeping or
not, is to be considered. The newspaper may be entirely
proper at breakfast time but, assuredly, it is not reading
for all day. So, though bound up in a volume, the long
letter which gives you so pleasant an account of the inns,
and roads, and weather last year at such a place, or which
tells you that amusing story or gives you the real
circumstances of such and such events, however valuable
for occasional reference, may not be, in the real sense of
5
2019-2020
What is a Good Book? 175
the word, a ‘book’ at all, nor, in the real sense, to be ‘read’.
A book is essentially not a talked thing but a written thing;
and written, not with the view of more communication, but
of permanence. The book of talk is printed only because its
author cannot speak to thousands of people at once; if he
could, he would—the volume is mere ‘multiplication’ of his
voice. You cannot talk to your friend in India; if you could,
you would; you would write instead: that is mere
‘conveyance’ of voice. But a book is written, not to multiply
the voice merely, not to carry it merely, but to preserve it.
The author has something to say which he perceives to be
true and useful, or helpfully beautiful. So far as he knows
no one has yet said it; so far as he knows, no one else can
say it. He is bound to say it, clearly and melodiously if he
may; clearly, at all events. In the sum of his life he finds
this to be the thing or group of things, manifest to him—
this is the piece of true knowledge, or sight, which his
share of sunshine and earth has permitted him to seize.
He would fain set it down forever, engrave it on a rock, if
he could, saying, ‘This is the best of me; for the rest, I ate,
and drank, and slept, loved, and hated, like another; my
life was as the vapour, and is not; but this I saw and knew;
this, if anything, of mine, is worth your memory.’ That his
‘writing’, it is, in his small human way, and with whatever
degree of true inspiration is in him, his inscription, or
scripture.That is a ‘Book’.
Perhaps you think no books were ever so written?
But, again, I ask you; do you at all believe in honesty
or, at all, in kindness? Or do you think there is never any
honesty or benevolence in wise people? None of us, I hope,
are so unhappy as to think that. Well, whatever bit of a
wise man’s work is honestly and benevolently done, that
bit is his book, or his piece of art. It is mixed always with
evil fragments—ill-done, redundant, affected work. But if
you read rightly, you will easily discover the true bits, and
those are the book.
Now books of this kind have been written in all ages by
their greatest men—by great leaders, great statesmen and
great thinkers. These are all at your choice; and life is
short. You have heard as much before; yet have you
2019-2020
176 Woven Words
measured and mapped out this short life and its
possibilities? Do you know, if you read this, that you cannot
read that—that what you lose today you cannot gain
tomorrow? Will you go and gossip with your housemaid, or
your stable-boy, when you may talk with queens and kings;
or flatter yourselves that it is with any worthy
consciousness of your own claims to respect that you jostle
with the common crowd for entrée here, an audience there,
when all the while this eternal court is open to you, with
its society wide as the world, multitudinous as its days,
the chosen and the mighty, of every place and time? Into
that you may enter always; in that you may take fellowship
and rank according to your wish; from that, once entered
into it, you can never be outcast but by your own fault; by
your aristocracy of companionship there, your own inherent
aristocracy will be assuredly tested and the motives with
which you strive to take high place in the society of the
living, measured, as to all the truth and sincerity that are
in them, by the place you desire to take in this company of
the Dead.
‘The place you desire’, and the place you ‘fit yourself
for’, I must also say; because, observe, this court of the
past differs from all living aristocracy in this—it is open to
labour and to merit but to nothing else. No wealth will
bribe, no name will overawe, no artifice will deceive the
guardian of those Elysian gates. In the deep sense, no vile
or vulgar person ever enters there. At the portieres of that
silent Faubourg St. Germain, there is but brief question,
‘Do you deserve to enter? Pass. Do you ask to be the
companion of nobles? Do you long for the conversation of
the wise? Learn to understand it, and you shall hear it.
But on other terms? No. If you will not rise to us, we cannot
stoop to you. The living lord may assume courtesy, the
living philosopher explain his thought to you with
considerable pain; but here we neither feign nor interpret;
you must rise to the level of our thoughts if you would be
gladdened by them, and share our feelings, if you would
recognise our presence.’
This, then, is what you have to do and I admit that it
is much. You must, in a word, love these people if you are
2019-2020
What is a Good Book? 177
to be among them. No ambition is of any use. They scorn
your ambition. You must love them and show your love by
a true desire to be taught by them, and to enter their
thoughts. To enter into theirs, observe; not to find your
own expressed by them. If the person who wrote the book
is not wiser than you, you need not read it; if he be, he will
think differently from you in many respects.
Very ready we are to say of a book, ‘How good this is—
that’s exactly what I think!’ But the right feeling is, ‘How
strange that is! I never thought of that before and yet I see
it is true; or if I do not now, I hope I shall, some day.’ But
whether thus submissively or not, at least be sure that
you go to the author to get at his meaning, not to find
yours. Judge it afterwards, if you think yourself qualified
to do so; but ascertain it first. And be sure also, if the
author is worth anything, that you will get at his meaning
all at once; nay, that at his whole meaning you will not for
a long time arrive in any wise. Not that he does not say
what he means, and in strong words too; but he cannot
say it all; and what is more strange, will not, but in a
hidden way and in parables, in order that he may be sure
you want it. I cannot quite see the reason of this, nor analyse
that cruel reticence in the breasts of wise men which makes
them always hide their deeper thoughts. They do not give
it to you by way of help, but of reward, and will make
themselves sure that you deserve it before they allow you
to reach it. But it is the same with the physical type of
wisdom, gold. There seems, to you and me, no reason why
the electric forces of the earth should not carry whatever
there is of gold within it at once to the mountain tops, so
that kings and people might know that all the gold they
could get was there; and without any trouble of digging, or
anxiety, or chance, or waste of time, cut it away, and coin
as much as they needed. But nature does not manage it
so. She puts it in little fissures in the earth, nobody knows
where: you may dig long and find none; you must dig
painfully to find any.
And it is just the same with men’s best wisdom. When
you come to a good book, you must ask yourself, ‘Am I
inclined to work as an Australian miner would? Are my
2019-2020
Page 5


174 Woven Words
What is a Good Book?
John Ruskin
F F F F F Look for these expressions and guess their meaning from the context
canaille peerage
fain national noblesse of words
The good book of the hour, then—I do not speak of the bad
ones—is simply the useful or pleasant talk of some person
whom you cannot otherwise converse with, printed for you.
Very useful often, telling you what you need to know; very
pleasant often, as a sensible friend’s present talk would
be. These bright accounts of travels; good-humoured and
witty discussions of question; lively or pathetic story-telling
in the form of novel; firm fact-telling by the real agents
concerned in the events of passing history—all these books
of the hour, multiplying among us as education becomes
more general, are a peculiar characteristic and possession
of the present age: we ought to be entirely thankful for
them, and entirely ashamed of ourselves if we make no
good use of them. But we make the worst possible use if we
allow them to usurp the place of true books: for, strictly
speaking, they are not books at all but merely letters or
newspapers in good print. Our friend’s letter may be
delightful, or necessary, today: whether worth keeping or
not, is to be considered. The newspaper may be entirely
proper at breakfast time but, assuredly, it is not reading
for all day. So, though bound up in a volume, the long
letter which gives you so pleasant an account of the inns,
and roads, and weather last year at such a place, or which
tells you that amusing story or gives you the real
circumstances of such and such events, however valuable
for occasional reference, may not be, in the real sense of
5
2019-2020
What is a Good Book? 175
the word, a ‘book’ at all, nor, in the real sense, to be ‘read’.
A book is essentially not a talked thing but a written thing;
and written, not with the view of more communication, but
of permanence. The book of talk is printed only because its
author cannot speak to thousands of people at once; if he
could, he would—the volume is mere ‘multiplication’ of his
voice. You cannot talk to your friend in India; if you could,
you would; you would write instead: that is mere
‘conveyance’ of voice. But a book is written, not to multiply
the voice merely, not to carry it merely, but to preserve it.
The author has something to say which he perceives to be
true and useful, or helpfully beautiful. So far as he knows
no one has yet said it; so far as he knows, no one else can
say it. He is bound to say it, clearly and melodiously if he
may; clearly, at all events. In the sum of his life he finds
this to be the thing or group of things, manifest to him—
this is the piece of true knowledge, or sight, which his
share of sunshine and earth has permitted him to seize.
He would fain set it down forever, engrave it on a rock, if
he could, saying, ‘This is the best of me; for the rest, I ate,
and drank, and slept, loved, and hated, like another; my
life was as the vapour, and is not; but this I saw and knew;
this, if anything, of mine, is worth your memory.’ That his
‘writing’, it is, in his small human way, and with whatever
degree of true inspiration is in him, his inscription, or
scripture.That is a ‘Book’.
Perhaps you think no books were ever so written?
But, again, I ask you; do you at all believe in honesty
or, at all, in kindness? Or do you think there is never any
honesty or benevolence in wise people? None of us, I hope,
are so unhappy as to think that. Well, whatever bit of a
wise man’s work is honestly and benevolently done, that
bit is his book, or his piece of art. It is mixed always with
evil fragments—ill-done, redundant, affected work. But if
you read rightly, you will easily discover the true bits, and
those are the book.
Now books of this kind have been written in all ages by
their greatest men—by great leaders, great statesmen and
great thinkers. These are all at your choice; and life is
short. You have heard as much before; yet have you
2019-2020
176 Woven Words
measured and mapped out this short life and its
possibilities? Do you know, if you read this, that you cannot
read that—that what you lose today you cannot gain
tomorrow? Will you go and gossip with your housemaid, or
your stable-boy, when you may talk with queens and kings;
or flatter yourselves that it is with any worthy
consciousness of your own claims to respect that you jostle
with the common crowd for entrée here, an audience there,
when all the while this eternal court is open to you, with
its society wide as the world, multitudinous as its days,
the chosen and the mighty, of every place and time? Into
that you may enter always; in that you may take fellowship
and rank according to your wish; from that, once entered
into it, you can never be outcast but by your own fault; by
your aristocracy of companionship there, your own inherent
aristocracy will be assuredly tested and the motives with
which you strive to take high place in the society of the
living, measured, as to all the truth and sincerity that are
in them, by the place you desire to take in this company of
the Dead.
‘The place you desire’, and the place you ‘fit yourself
for’, I must also say; because, observe, this court of the
past differs from all living aristocracy in this—it is open to
labour and to merit but to nothing else. No wealth will
bribe, no name will overawe, no artifice will deceive the
guardian of those Elysian gates. In the deep sense, no vile
or vulgar person ever enters there. At the portieres of that
silent Faubourg St. Germain, there is but brief question,
‘Do you deserve to enter? Pass. Do you ask to be the
companion of nobles? Do you long for the conversation of
the wise? Learn to understand it, and you shall hear it.
But on other terms? No. If you will not rise to us, we cannot
stoop to you. The living lord may assume courtesy, the
living philosopher explain his thought to you with
considerable pain; but here we neither feign nor interpret;
you must rise to the level of our thoughts if you would be
gladdened by them, and share our feelings, if you would
recognise our presence.’
This, then, is what you have to do and I admit that it
is much. You must, in a word, love these people if you are
2019-2020
What is a Good Book? 177
to be among them. No ambition is of any use. They scorn
your ambition. You must love them and show your love by
a true desire to be taught by them, and to enter their
thoughts. To enter into theirs, observe; not to find your
own expressed by them. If the person who wrote the book
is not wiser than you, you need not read it; if he be, he will
think differently from you in many respects.
Very ready we are to say of a book, ‘How good this is—
that’s exactly what I think!’ But the right feeling is, ‘How
strange that is! I never thought of that before and yet I see
it is true; or if I do not now, I hope I shall, some day.’ But
whether thus submissively or not, at least be sure that
you go to the author to get at his meaning, not to find
yours. Judge it afterwards, if you think yourself qualified
to do so; but ascertain it first. And be sure also, if the
author is worth anything, that you will get at his meaning
all at once; nay, that at his whole meaning you will not for
a long time arrive in any wise. Not that he does not say
what he means, and in strong words too; but he cannot
say it all; and what is more strange, will not, but in a
hidden way and in parables, in order that he may be sure
you want it. I cannot quite see the reason of this, nor analyse
that cruel reticence in the breasts of wise men which makes
them always hide their deeper thoughts. They do not give
it to you by way of help, but of reward, and will make
themselves sure that you deserve it before they allow you
to reach it. But it is the same with the physical type of
wisdom, gold. There seems, to you and me, no reason why
the electric forces of the earth should not carry whatever
there is of gold within it at once to the mountain tops, so
that kings and people might know that all the gold they
could get was there; and without any trouble of digging, or
anxiety, or chance, or waste of time, cut it away, and coin
as much as they needed. But nature does not manage it
so. She puts it in little fissures in the earth, nobody knows
where: you may dig long and find none; you must dig
painfully to find any.
And it is just the same with men’s best wisdom. When
you come to a good book, you must ask yourself, ‘Am I
inclined to work as an Australian miner would? Are my
2019-2020
178 Woven Words
pickaxes and shovels in good order and am I in good trim
myself, my sleeves well up to the elbow, and my breath
good, and my temper?’ And, keeping the figure a little longer,
even at the cost of tiresomeness, for it is a thoroughly
useful one, the metal you are in search of being the author’s
mind or meaning, his words are as the rock which you
have to crush and smelt in order to get at it. And your
pickaxes are your own care, wit and learning; your smelting
furnace is your own thoughtful soul. Do not hope to get at
any good author’s meaning without these tools and that
fire; often you will need sharpest, finest chiselling, and
patientest fusing, before you can gather one grain of metal.
And, therefore, first of all, I tell you, earnestly and
authoritatively (I know I am right in this), you must get
into the habit of looking intensely at words and assuring
yourself of their meaning, syllable by syllable—nay, letter
by letter. For, though it is only by reason of the opposition
of letters in the function of signs, to sounds in the function
of signs, that the study of books is called ‘literature’, and
that a man versed in it is called, by the consent of nations,
a man of letters instead of a man of books, or of words, you
may yet connect with that accidental nomenclature this
real principle: that you might read all the books in the
British Museum (if you could live long enough), and remain
an utterly ‘illiterate’, uneducated person; but that if you
read ten pages of a good book, letter by letter—that is to
say, with real accuracy—you are forever more in some
measure with an educated person. The entire difference
between education and non-education (as regards the
merely intellectual part of it), consists in this accuracy. A
well-educated gentleman may not know many languages—
may not be able to speak any but his own—may have read
very few books. But whatever language he knows, he knows
precisely; whatever word he pronounces, he pronounces
rightly; above all, he is learned in the peerage of words;
knows the words of true descent and ancient blood, at a
glance, from words of modern canaille; remembers all their
ancestry—their inter-marriages, distantest relationships,
and the extent to which they were admitted, and offices
they held, among the national noblesse of words at any
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