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Martin Eden 54







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Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf




physics. "I am not a specialist," he said, in defence, to Ruth. "Nor am I going to try to be a specialist. There are too many special fields for any one man, in a whole lifetime, to master a tithe of them. I must pursue general knowledge. When I need the work of specialists, I shall refer to their books." "But that is not like having the knowledge yourself," she protested. "But it is unnecessary to have it. We profit from the work of the specialists. Thats what they are for. When I came in, I noticed the chimney-sweeps at work. Theyre specialists, and when they get done, you will enjoy clean chimneys without knowing anything about the construction of chimneys." "Thats far-fetched, I am afraid." She looked at him curiously, and he felt a reproach in her gaze and manner. But he was convinced of the rightness of his position. "All thinkers on general subjects, the greatest minds in the world, in fact, rely on the specialists. Herbert Spencer did that. He generalized upon the findings of thousands of investigators. He would have had to live a thousand lives in order to do it all himself. And so with Darwin. He took advantage of all that had been learned by the florists and cattle- breeders." "Youre right, Martin," Olney said. "You know what youre after, and Ruth doesnt. She doesnt know what she is after for herself even." "--Oh, yes," Olney rushed on, heading off her objection, "I know you call it general culture. But it doesnt matter what you study if you want general culture. You can study French, or you can study German, or cut them both out and study Esperanto, youll get the culture tone just the same. You can study Greek or Latin, too, for the same purpose, though it will never be any use to you. It will be culture, though. Why, Ruth studied Saxon, became clever in it,--that was two years ago,--and all that she remembers of it now is Whan that sweet Aprile with his schowers soote--isnt that the way it goes?" "But its given you the culture tone just the same," he laughed, again heading her off. "I know. We were in the same classes." "But you speak of culture as if it should be a means to something," Ruth cried out. Her eyes were flashing, and in her cheeks were two spots of color. "Culture is the end in itself." "But that is not what Martin wants." "How do you know?" "What do you want, Martin?" Olney demanded, turning squarely upon him. Martin felt very uncomfortable, and looked entreaty at Ruth. "Yes, what do you want?" Ruth asked. "That will settle it." "Yes, of course, I want culture," Martin faltered. "I love beauty, and culture will give me a finer and keener appreciation of beauty." She nodded her head and looked triumph. "Rot, and you know it," was Olneys comment. "Martins after career, not culture. It just happens that culture, in his case, is incidental to career. If he wanted to be a chemist, culture would be unnecessary. Martin wants to write, but hes afraid to say so because it will put you in the wrong." "And why does Martin want to write?" he went on. "Because he isnt rolling in wealth. Why do you fill your head with Saxon and general culture? Because you dont have to make your way in the world. Your father sees to that. He buys your clothes for you, and all the rest. What rotten good is our education, yours and mine and Arthurs and Normans? Were soaked in general culture, and if our daddies went broke to-day, wed be falling down to-morrow on teachers examinations. The best job you could get, Ruth, would be a country school or music teacher in a girls boarding-school." "And pray what would you do?" she asked. "Not a blessed thing. I could earn a dollar and a half a day, common labor, and I might get in as instructor in Hanleys cramming joint--I say might, mind you, and I might be chucked out at the end of the week for sheer inability." Martin followed the discussion closely, and while he was convinced that Olney was right, he resented the rather cavalier treatment he accorded Ruth. A new conception of love formed in his mind as

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