99. Learning; Literacy;
Mr. Langton told us, he was about to
establish a school upon his
estate, but it had been suggested to him, that it might have a
tendency to make the people less industrious.
Johnson:"No, Sir. While learning to read and write is a
distinction, the few who have that distinction may be the less
inclined to work; but when everybody learns to read and write,
it is no longer a distinction. A man who has a laced waistcoat
is too fine a man to work; but if everybody had laced
waistcoats, we should have people working in laced waistcoats.
There are no people whatever more industrious, none who work
more, than our manufacturers; yet, they have all learned to read
and write. Sir, you must not neglect of doing a thing
immediately good; from fear of remote evil; -- from fear of its
being abused. A man who has candles may sit up too late, which
he would not do if he had not candles; but nobody will deny that
the art of making candles , by which light is continued to us
beyond the time that the sun gives us light, is a valuable art,
and ought to be preserved."
378. Language; Learning;
"When a language begins to teem with books, it is tending to
refinement; as those who undertake to teach others must have
undergone some labour in improving themselves, they set a
proportionate value on their own thoughts, and wish to enforce
them by efficacious expressions; speech becomes embodied and
permanent; different modes and phrases are compared, and the
best obtains an establishment. By degrees one age improves upon
another. Exactness is first obtained, and afterwards elegance.
But diction, merely vocal, is always in its childhood. As no man
leaves his eloquence behind him, the new generations have all to
learn. There may possibly be books without a polished language,
but there can be no polished language without books."
Johnson: Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland