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STUDENTS' PROJECTS > THE STORY OF MY LIFE > PART VIII : IN SOUTH AFRICA AGAIN > The magic spell of a book

 

34. The Magic Spell of a Book

Mr. Polak, a friend of mine, came to see me off to Durban, and left with me a book to read during the journey, which he said I was sure to like. It was Ruskin's Unto This Last.

The book was impossible to lay aside, once I had begun it. It gripped me. Johannesburg to Durban was a twenty-four hours' journey. The train reached there in the evening. I could not get any sleep that night. I determined to change my life in accordance with the ideals of the book.

I believe that I discovered some of my deepest convictions reflected in this great book of Ruskin, and that is why it so captured me and made me transform my life.

The teaching of Unto This Last I understood to be :

1. That the good of the individual is contained in the good of all.

2. That a lawyer's work has the same value as the barber's inasmuch as all have the same right of earning their livelihood from their work.

3. That a life of labour, i.e. the life of the tiller of the soil and the handicraftsman is the life worth living.

The first of these I knew. The second I had dimly realized. The third had never occurred to me. Unto This Last made it as clear as daylight for me that the second and the third were contained in the first. I arose with the dawn, ready to reduce these principles to practice.