A dark and stormy night
It is a melancholy thing, which none but those educated at a college can understand, to see the debilitated frames of the aspirants for academical honours; to mark the prime—the verdure—the glory—the life—of life wasted irrevocably away in a labor ineptiarum, which brings no harvest either to others or themselves. For the poet, the philosopher, the man of science, we can appreciate the recompence if we commiserate the sacrifice; from the darkness of their retreat there goes a light—from the silence of their studies there issues a voice, to illumine or convince. We can imagine them looking from their privations to the far visions of the future, and hugging to their hearts, in the strength of no unnatural vanity, the reward which their labours are certain hereafter to obtain. To those who can anticipate the vast dominions of immortality among men, what boots the sterility of the cabined and petty present? But the mere man of languages and learning—the machine of a memory heavily but unprofitably employed—the Columbus wasting at the galley oar the energies which should have discovered a world—for him there is no day-dream of the future, no grasp at the immortality of fame. Beyond the walls of his narrow room he knows no object; beyond the elucidation of a dead tongue he indulges no ambition; his life is one long school-day of lexicons and grammars—a fabric of ice, cautiously excluded from a single sunbeam—elaborately useless, ingeniously unprofitable; and leaving at the moment it melts away, not a single trace of the space it occupied, or the labour it cost.
– Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Pelham