Even of those who have dedicated themselves to knowledge, the far greater part have confined their curiosity to a few objects, and have very little inclination to promote any fame but that of which their own studies entitle them to partake. The naturalist has no desire to know the opinion or conjectures of the philologer; the botanist looks upon the astronomer as being unworthy of his regard; the lawyer scarcely hears the name of a physician without contempt; and he that is growing great and happy by electrifying a bottle wonders how the world can be engaged by trifling prattle about war or peace.
In plain truth, the cares and expence our parents are at in our education point at nothing but to furnish our heads with knowledge; but not a word of judgment or vertue. Cry out of one that passes by, to the people, O, what a learned! and of another, O what a good man goes there! they will not fail to turn their eyes, and address their respect to the former. There should then be a third cryer, O the puppies and coxcombs! Men are apt presently to enquire, Does such a one understand Greek? Is he a critick in Latine? Is he a poet? Or does he pretend to prose? But whether he be grown better or more discreet, which are qualities of more value and concern, those are never enquird into: whereas, we should rather examine who is better learned than who is more learned. We only toil and labour to stuff the memory, and in the mean time leave the conscience and the understanding unfurnishd and void . All other knowledge is hurtful to him who has not the science of honesty and good nature. But the reason I glancd upon but now, may it not also proceed from hence, that our study having almost no other aim but profit, fewer of those who by nature are born to offices and employments, rather of glory than gain, addict themselves to letters; or for so little a while (being taken from their studies before they can come to have any taste of them, to a profession that has nothing to do with books), that there ordinarily remain no other to apply themselves wholly to learning but people of mean condition, who in that study only to live, and have preferment only in their prospect; and by such people, whose souls are both by nature, and education, and domestick example, of the basest metal and alloy, the fruits of knowledge are both immaturely gathered, ill-digested, and deliverd to their pupils quite another thing.
Michel de Montaigne: Essays, Cottons 3d ed., ch. xxiv.
He who pretends to the learned professions, if he doth not arise to be a critic himself in philological matters, should frequently converse with dictionaries, paraphrasts, commentators, or other critics, which may relieve any difficulties.