Re-Reading Master & Commander

You are mistaken, sure, when you say they do not know him: unlearned men have a wonderful penetration in these matters — have you ever known a village reputation to be wrong? It is a penetration that seems to dissipate, with a little education, somewhat as the ability to remember poetry will go. I have known peasants who could recite two or three thousand verses.

Stephen Maturin,
Master & Commander,
p. 230