Deficiencies in Literary Learning

James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson:

‘Being asked if Barnes knew a good deal of Greek, he answered, “I doubt, Sir, he was unoculus inter caecos‘ [a one-eyed man among the blind].


‘A gentleman, by no means deficient in literature, having discovered less acquaintance with one of the Classicks than Johnson expected, when the gentleman left the room, he observed, “You see, now, how little any body reads.” Mr. Langton happening to mention his having read a good deal in Clenardus’s Greek Grammar, “Why, Sir, (said he,) who is there in this town who knows any thing of Clenardus but you and I?” And upon Mr. Langton’s mentioning that he had taken the pains to learn by heart the Epistle of St. Basil, which is given in that Grammar as a praxis, “Sir, (said he,) I never made such an effort to attain Greek.”‘

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