If you seek testimony, here are the ipsissima verba of a poor monk of Wessobrunn endorsed upon his MS:
The book which you now see was written
in the outer seats
of the cloister. While I wrote I froze: and what I could not
write by the beams of day I finished by candlelight.
We might profitably spend—but to-day cannot spare—a while upon the pains these men of the Middle Ages took to accumulate books and to keep them. The chained volumes in old libraries, for example, might give us a text for this as well as start us speculating why it is that, to this day, the human conscience incurably declines to include books with other portable property covered by the Eighth Commandment. Or we might follow several of the early scholars and humanists in their passionate chasings across Europe, in and out of obscure monasteries, to recover the lost MSS of the classics: might tell, for instance, of Pope Nicholas V, whose birth-name was Tommaso Parentucelli, and how he rescued the MSS from Constantinople and founded the Vatican Library: or of Aurispa of Sicily who collected two hundred and thirty-eight for Florence: or the story of the editio princeps of the Greek text of Homer. Or we might dwell on the awaking of our literature, and the trend given to it, by men of the Italian and French renaissance; or on the residence of Erasmus here, in this University, with its results.
But I have said enough to make it clear that, as we owe so much of our best to understanding Europe, so the need to understand Europe lies urgently to-day upon large classes in this country; and that yet, in the nature of things, these classes can never enjoy such leisure as our forefathers enjoyed to understand what I call the soul of Europe, or at least to misunderstand it upon acquaintance.
Let me point out further that within the last few months we have doubled the difficulty at a stroke by sharing the government of our country with women and admitting them to Parliament. It beseems a great nation to take great risks: to dare them is at once a sign and a property of greatness: and for good or ill—but for limitless good as we trust—our country has quietly made this enterprise amid the preoccupations of the greatest War in its annals. Look at it as you will—let other generations judge it as they will—it stands a monument of our faith in free self-government that in these most perilous days we gave and took so high a guerdon of trust in one another.
But clearly it implies that all the women of this country, down to the small girls entering our elementary schools, must be taught a great many things their mothers and grandmothers—happy in their generation—were content not to know.