22 January, 2009

One mania after another

A frightful majority of our middle-class young men are growing up effeminate, empty of all knowledge but what tends directly to the making of a fortune; or rather, to speak correctly, to the keeping up the fortunes which their fathers have made for them; while of the minority, who are indeed thinkers and readers, how many women as well as men have we seen wearying their souls with study undirected, often misdirected; craving to learn, yet not knowing how or what to learn; cultivating, with unwholesome energy, the head at the expense of the body and the heart; catching up with the most capricious self-will one mania after another, and tossing it away again for some new phantom; gorging the memory with facts which no one has taught them to arrange, and the reason with problems which they have no method for solving; till they fret themselves in a chronic fever of the brain, which too often urges them on to plunge, as it were, to cool the inward fire, into the ever-restless seas of doubt or of superstition.

— Charles Kingsley, Glaucus (1855). This is not the best sentence in the book, on a purely formal level—there are two or three better—but it is the most stinging.

1 comment:

Underground Dude said...

Guilty as charged here. Could that be a form of variety?