previous next
[176] presence of the vast advance of knowledge, is very limited; and the human memory, instead of being, as people think, an india-rubber bag of indefinite expansion, is much more like those pop-guns made by boys, which are loaded with a bit of potato at one end, and another bit at the other, but never by any chance hold more than two bits of potato at the same time.

The acquisition of knowledge is, after all, a process of selection rather than of collection. We forget as fast as we learn, and it is doubtful if the most learned man really knows more at fifty than at twenty; he has merely driven out a multitude of insignificant details by those of greater value. The travelling salesman and the horse-car conductor are probably possessed of as many items of detached knowledge as Von Humboldt or Darwin; the difference is in their quality and their use. It was one of Margaret Fuller's acutest sayings that a man who expects to accomplish much in the world must learn after five and twenty to read with his fingers. Dr. Johnson, who said to the man who thanked God for his ignorance, ‘Then, sir, you have a great deal to be thankful for,’ was in a similar

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Samuel Johnson (1)
Von Humboldt (1)
Margaret Fuller (1)
Charles Darwin (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: