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Character and Learning : Intellectual learning is to be respected, but it should never be confused with good character.
Character and Learning

Abridged from Character by Samuel Smiles (1812-1904).

Samuel Smiles devoted an entire volume to the subject of character, appreciating that an education is only as good as the moral principles with which it is applied.

IN the New Testament, appeals are constantly made to the heart of man and to "the spirit we are of," whilst allusions to the intellect are of very rare occurrence.

‘A handful of good life,’ says George Herbert,* ‘is worth a bushel of learning.’ Not that learning is to be despised, but that it must be allied to goodness.

Intellectual capacity is sometimes found associated with the meanest moral character, with abject servility to those in high places, and arrogance to those of low estate.

‘You insist,’ wrote Perthes to a friend,** ‘on respect for learned men. I say, Amen! But, at the same time, don’t forget that largeness of mind, depth of thought, appreciation of the lofty, experience of the world, delicacy of manner, tact and energy in action, love of truth, honesty, and amiability — that all these may be wanting in a man who may yet be very learned.’

* George Herbert (1593-1633) was a Welshman with a brilliant career in politics, poetry and the University before him, who decided to become a country vicar.

** Friedrich Christoph Perthes (1772-1843) was a German publisher and a staunch opponent of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Abridged from Character by Samuel Smiles (1812-1904).

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Picture: © Theoden sA, Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC-BY-SA 3.0. View original
Old College Quad in Edinburgh University. Smiles studied at the medical school here from 1829, supported financially by his widowed mother, who owned and ran a small general store.
By Samuel Smiles

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