meant, example. He gives no comfortnto those who want to impose democracynon others, but much comfort to thosenwho want to defend American democracynfrom any and all enemies. Jefferson,nit is true, mistrusted the clergy. In thisnrespect he was typical of his generation.nBut Jefferson the citizen, as opposed tonJefferson the philosopher, lived withinnthe church. Religion and piety troublednhim not at all. What he feared was thensanctimonious, intermeddling, politicizednCalvinist clergy—that is, whatnwe would today call “liberal” churchmen.nJefferson was the advocate of a freeneconomy, but he was not doctrinairenabout it. Like all his values, his beliefnin the free market was balanced againstnother claims. He believed in economicnfreedom within a stable society. Malone’snchapter, “The Political Economynof a Country Gentleman,” by simplenadherence to the facts, corrects fourngenerations of distortion. When viewedn”in retrospect,” he writes, Jefferson’sn”reaction to the economic problems ofnhis day can better be described asnconservative.”.nJefferson championed public education,nbut it was not public education onnthe leveling Prussian-New Englandnmodel that later became the Americannstandard. The traditional classical curriculumnwas to be supplemented bynmore modern and practical subjects,nbut not jettisoned to make room fornthem. It was to be an education competitive,nelitist, based on a belief in annatural aristocracy of talents and virtues.nThe rich would always take carenof themselves. The purpose of publicneducation was to make sure that thentalented ones who appeared among thenpoor would not be lost. That is the exactnopposite of what modern Americannpublic education aims at, for its goal isnto reduce the educational level to thenlowest common denominator—which,nin effect, guarantees that the poor butnpromising youth does not learn enoughnto rise above his station or to competenwith the privileged. “The naturaln181nChronicles of Culturenaristocracy,” wrote Jefferson, “I considernas the most precious gift of naturenfor the instruction, the trusts and governmentnof society. . . . May we notneven say that the government is bestnwhich provides most effectually for anpure selection of these natural aristoininto the offices of government.'”nUumas Malone has completed angreat work—a work that is, like itsnsubject, truthful, harmonious, balanced,nfair, decorous, gentlemanly.nWhat a rare thing for an Americannbook in the 20th century, a book by angentleman about a gentleman. DnConversing with Professor BarzunnJacques Barzun: Teacher in America;nLiberty Press; Indianapolis.nJacques Barzun: Three Talks;nNorthern Kentucky University;nHighland Heights, Kentucky.nby Gordon M. PradlnJDistinctions recognized force us tondiscriminate. Discriminations freelynearned breed character, with its judgments.nCharacter consistently demonstratednunveils wisdom. With wisdomna declining virtue these days, lost toonin the end is this foundational chain.nAnd at the heart of this great disappearingnact is the erosion of our mythicnimagination, which entails deciphering,ncompromising—but never extinguishing—thenopposing contradictions ofnhuman existence that modern livingnseeks by denial to avoid.nA refreshing antidote to these depressingntrends is the stylish voice ofnJacques Barzun, distinguished tfeachernand administrator, jwhbse career at ColumbianUniversity spanned almost halfna century from 1927 to 1975. Here isna man of wisdom worthy to be wrestlednwith because he is one who has seennwhat fruits can be borne from a wellplacedndistinction. The timely reissuingnof Teacher in America, originallynpublished in 1945, and the printing bynNorthern Kentucky University of ThreenTalks afford us the opportunity to re.nDr. Pradl is professor of English educationnat New York University.nnnemphasiz^e the kinds of oppositional insightsnacross the whole spectrum ofnsocial life that Professor Barzun hasnbeen providing us with for several generationsnnow, despite our perverse displaynof deafness.nAmong the many distinctions ProfessornBarzun offers, two reveal thenkind of principled judgments that tientogether a lifetime of observations onnthe educational and cultural scene. Innthe first instance is the distinction betweenncommunication and conversation.nOf equal importance is the secondndistinction between a problem and andifficulty. In each case we see his commitmentnto the dynamic as opposed tonthe static view of human affairs andninteraction. And it is because ProfessornBarzun’s scrutiny of social arrangementsnis traceable to rationally heldnprinciples that his message passes beyondnhis own time.nThe literacy issue and Barzun’s goodnsense regarding the nature of readingnand writing is what informs the wisdomnof Teacher in America. In the firstnplace, our current cultural malaise isntied to “the inherent weakness of allnmodern literacy.” Such literacy “isnhalf-baked and arrogant. It trifles solemnlynwith the externals of things, nenglecting even the surfaces or the handlesnby which a truth may be seized: it goesnlike a childfor the false glint or strikingntriviality of detail.” The schools, ofncourse, contribute to the debasement ofnartistic response—a state of affairs uponnwhich all the subversive atrocities of popnculture are based—when they separaten