Carlyle regards men without education as mutilated beings, and with great force insists that to deprive men and women of the blessings of education is as bad as it would be to deprive them of eyes or hands. An uneducated man may a indeed well be compared to a blind man. The blind man has a very imperfect idea of the world in which he lives, as compared with those who have the use of their eyes, and the uneducated labour under a similar inferiority of mental vision. While the uneducated man has his mind confined to the narrow circle of such unintelligent labour as he is capable of performing, the educated man can look far back into the past and forward into the future. His mind is full of great events that happened long ago, about which history gives him information, and from his knowledge of the past he is able to form conjectures about the social and political condition to which the world is progressing. The uneducated man sees in the heavenly bodies, that illumine the sky by night, nothing but innumerable specks of light, some more and some less bright.
Any one who has learnt astronomy divides them into fixed stars and planets, and form in his mind a conception of the planets of the solar system rolling round the sun, and of countless other greater suns than ours, each of which may have its own planetary system, occupying the more distant realms of boundless space. By help of the telescope he can map out the seas and mountains of the moon and of the nearer planets, and the spectroscope tells him the elements of which the stars are composed, The botanist finds the plants at his feet and the trees above his head full of interest. The entomologist, zoologist and geologist enrich the stores of their minds by the study of insects, animals, and fossils. Indeed there is not one of the long list of modern sciences that does not open the eyes of the mind to wonders undreamt of by the uneducated man.
Those who have no taste for science can enrich their minds with the literary wealth of ancient and modern times, and learn the thoughts of the greatest intellects of the world on all manner of subjects. If it is a pleasure to converse with the ordinary men we meet in everyday life, how much greater is the privilege of reading in books the noblest thoughts of such great writers as Plato, Milton, and Shakespeare. These writers of world wide fame, who are not of an age but for all time, are the delight of all students of literature, and stand apart on the highest pinnacle of glory. But below the very highest literary rank there is in every language a large number of excellent writers, whose works are specially adapted to various readers of every age and of every temperament, so that, whatever our intellectual tastes may be, we are sure to find satisfaction for them in the wide and varied field of literature.
Thus it is that education, besides being of practical assistance to us in the struggle of life, enlarges and ennobles the mind and enables us to live as beings endowed with human intellects ought to live.
Other titles of the above Essay
- Importance of Education
- Difference between Educated and Illetrate
- Why Educate yourself
- Education an essence of Life