William Ballantyne Hodgson stands as a typical, but also a special Victorian. His unheralded but important essay, “Exaggerated Estimates of Reading and Writing as Means of Education,” also combines the typical with the special. It informs our understanding of nineteenth-century attitudes toward education, adding a complexity and a critical edge usually not accorded to reformers. It also reveals a special depth to that most Victorian of obsessions: the faith in the power and efficacy of schooling for the improvement of society and of the individual within it. The document, reprinted here, not only has a historical value which should be apparent to readers, but it may also be seen as speaking to concerned persons of the late twentieth century.