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THE IGNORANT BOOK-COLLECTOR
them, however, they do not know how to handle them, but someone who has studied his profession comes upon the scene with a knife that is thoroughly sharp, though covered with rust, and frees the patient from his pain. But let me compare your case with something still more comical. Consider the barbers and you will observe that the master-craftsmen among them have only a razor and a pair of shears and a suitable mirror, while the unskilled, amateurish fellows put on view a multitude of shears and huge mirrors ; but for all that, they cannot keep their ignorance from being found out. In fact, what happens to them is as comical as can be—people have their hair cut next door and then go to their mirrors to brush it. So it is with you : you might, to be sure, lend your books to someone else who wants them, but you cannot use them yourself. But you never lent a book to anyone ; you act like the dog in the manger, who neither eats the grain herself nor lets the horse eat it, who can.
I give myself the liberty of saying this much to you for the present, just about your books ; about your other detestable and ignominious conduct you shall often be told in future.