An Old Castle: And Other Essays

An Old Castle: And Other Essays

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An Old Castle: And Other Essays

An Old Castle: And Other Essays

Read FREE!

Excerpt

I am told that our Oxford Professor of English Literature, Sir Walter Raleigh, once said: "Of all the men I have met in America the most interesting was a man by the name of Winchester, from a place I never heard of called Wesleyan." I too had never heard of Winchester or Wesleyan till I was introduced to both through a friend during my first visit to America in 1920, about a month after Winchester's death.

"Interesting" is not the first epithet we generally apply to scholars or dons. Few teachers make even their teaching interesting. At all events, after the customary years in an English Public School and the greatest of our Universities, I remember only one who taught me anything interesting -anything vital, anything that touched my life. I suppose it is its effect upon life that is the test of teaching, and that is why the teacher is so much more important than the thing taught that the subject does not really matter in comparison. It is because so few Professors and dons have this influence upon life, or have even much intimacy with life, that so few are called interesting.

With distant but reverent admiration I think of the verbal scholar, the emendator of classic texts, the authority upon minute particles of speech, like the honoured corpse at the Grammarian's Funeral, of whom it was written,

This man decided not to Live but Know.

By all means let us rejoice at assisting in a grammarian's funeral -- the elevated funeral upon the mountain top. But for interest we must go to life -- the life common to all who pass from darkness into darkness through this dimly torchlit world.

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