Getting into the Intellectual Game

A LIBRARIAN of South London reports a policeman who constantly draws sociological books and never any other kind, of a chimney sweep who reads assiduously books of art, of a bricklayer who studies works of science of the more erudite kind.

If anybody in this or any other modern civilized community wishes to be intellectual, he has the privilege. The way lies open and means are at hand. He may interest himself in any subjects he chooses, and become learned in them, provided he has the will, the patience, the mental curiosity.

Poverty is no bar. There is nothing intellectual about a lot of persons who have money to burn. Rich, poor, or neither, such persons never can experience the incentive to the intellectual life. They bar themselves, they are not barred. They miss a world of interest, but they never know their loss. They go through the world not knowing what is in it.

Schools and colleges are helps, but they cannot guarantee to their graduates the intellectual life. Many an educated man, many a successful man has no participation in the intellectual life, while someone whom you wouldn’t suspect, someone who is taught to read and write and little more, is simply reveling in the intellectual life on the sly, having his fun all to himself. Such a man isn’t wasting his evenings in saloons or hanging about the streets. He may be occupying a hall room, but he transforms it by use into a temple of Muses, with a special Muse of History, of Science or of Art to preside.

No doubt the head of our own Public Library could tell tales to match those of the Librarian of South London, of men and women unsuspected who as an amusement and an improvement read serious books on this or that subject, who keep their minds alert, their interest keen, who daily get a lot out of life through their brains and do not stupefy their perceptions through their stomachs.

Gentle reader, it is up to you whether you will be a participant in the stirring intellectual life of these our marvelous times. A million dollars would not aid you much in that endeavor. It is a matter of pure personal equation. The humblest toiler in Minneapolis today has larger chances to live the intellectual life than did anybody in America a hundred years ago. That life is much more intense and interesting now. It offers a hundred fold more facilities of approach.