Page:The World's Famous Orations Volume 5.djvu/187

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BALFOUR

ON THE BENEFITS OF READING 1

(1887)

Born In 1848; nephew of Lord Salisbury; made President of the

Local Government Board in 1885; Secretary for Scotland in 1886;

Secretary for Ireland in 1887; First Lord of the Treasury in 1891, and

again in 1896 and 1900; Prime Minister in 1902.

Truly it is a subject for astonishment that, instead of expanding to the utmost the employ- ment of this pleasure-giving faculty, so many persons should set themselves to work to limit its exercise by all kinds of arbitrary regula- tions.

Some persons, for example, tell us that the acquisition of knowledge is all very well, but that it must be useful knowledge, — meaning usually thereby that it must enable a man to get on in a profession, pass an examination, shine in conversation, or obtain a reputation for learning. But even if they mean something higher than this — even if they mean that knowl- edge, to be worth anything, must subserve ulti- mately, if not immediately, the material or spiritual interests of mankind — the doctrine is one which should be energetically repudiated.

1 From an address before St. Andrews University in Scotland in December, 1887. By kind permission of Mr. Balfour, the London Times, and Messrs. William Blackwood & Son.

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