… is from page 99 of historian William Manchester’s 1992 book, A World Lit Only by Fire ; here, Manchester is writing about 16th-century Europe:
[T]he sons of merchants led the way in learning foreign languages. They were already among the most attentive pupils. The growth of industry gave education a new urgency. Literacy had been an expensive indulgence in an agrarian culture, but in an urban, merchant world it was mandatory.