ON THE BENEFITS OF READING 1
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.