5 January 2015

A Few Individuals

Isaac Taylor, History of the Transmission of Ancient Books to Modern Times (Liverpool: Edward Howell, 1875), pp. 88-89:
Learning and the sciences can flourish and advance only where there are the means of a wide and quick diffusion of the fruits of intellectual labour: but they may exist even under the almost total absence of such means. This was the case in Europe during the middle ages. Knowledge rested with the few whom the inward fire of native genius constrained to pursue it: and these few were often insulated from each other, and unknown beyond the walls within which they spent their lives; and often secluded also by their tastes, even from their fellows of the same society.

In every myriad of the human race, take the number where or when we may, there will be found a few individuals — born for thought; and if the vocation of nature is not always stronger than every obstacle, it is, for the most part, strong enough to overcome such as are of ordinary magnitude. Those who are thus endowed with the appetite for knowledge, will certainly follow the impulse, if the means of its acquirement are presented to them in early life.
A related post: Individuals