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Views & Reviews Between the Lines

There will be blood

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 13 March 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:619
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

Staying recently at a country house with an intact library from the late 18th and early 19th centuries, I found myself leafing through leatherbound volumes of sermons and essays by divines. At one time I would have dismissed such volumes as being inherently without interest, but now I found them pleasant reading (perhaps it is my age).

I started to read the Winter Evenings or Lucubrations on Life and Letters of the Reverend Vicesimus Knox DD (third edition, 1795). Who, indeed, could resist an essay entitled “On the imprudence of urging incorrigible dunces to a learned profession,” although it made me slightly uncomfortable to read it. Was I merely one of what the Reverend Knox called the “mediocrists,” that is to say one …

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