Trial Balance: The Education of An American

By Alan Valentine | Go to book overview
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IV
Puritan's Progress

AS Angus set out for Oxford he took with him new visions behind old blinders. He was still under the impression that education is chiefly the acquisition of facts. He conceded that good taste, imagination, and human sympathy are important to the cultivated man, but assumed they would come as by-products of his effortful devotion to factual knowledge. They were still only words to him; he had not felt them or the lack of them. He did not apprehend what wiser men really meant by human understanding, or how cultivation could be cultivated except through books and lectures. Friendships and the gentler arts were valuable and pleasant, but they were diversions and not education.

A summer of European travel during college years had done only a little to open his eyes to the spiritual sources of beauty and aspiration. Glimpses of Paris and Venice, of the Jungfrau and the English Lakes, had been extravagant pleasure and stimuli to the imagination, and Angus thought he appreciated them as much as anyone. They had indeed widened his horizons, but he

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