Open main menu

Page:Samuel Johnson (1911).djvu/128

This page needs to be proofread.


102 SAMUEL JOHNSON

will very easily receive it from religion. The bulk of mankind is not likely to be very wise or very good : and I know not whether there are not many states of life, in which all know- ledge, less than the highest wisdom, will pro- duce discontent and danger. I believe it may be sometimes found, that a little learning is to a poor man a dangerous thing. But such is the condition of humanity,, that we easily see, or quickly feel, the wrong, but cannot always distinguish the right. Whatever knowledge is superfluous, in irremediable poverty, is hurtful; but the difficulty is to determine when poverty is irremediable, and at what point superfluity begins. Gross ignorance every man has found equally dangerous with perverted knowledge. Men left wholly to their appetites and their instincts, with little sense of moral or religious obligation, and with very faint distinctions of right and wrong, can never be safely employed, or con- fidently trusted: they can be honest only by obstinacy, and diligent only by compul- sion or caprice. Some instruction, there- fore, is necessary, and much perhaps may be dangerous.

Though it should be granted that those who are born to poverty and drudgery should not be deprived by an improper education of the opiate

�� �