Page:Essays and Addresses.djvu/647

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as soon as we turn from the machinery of the higher education to consider its essence, and the general aims which it has in view. Culture cannot be secured by planning courses of study, nor can it be adequately tested by the most ingenious system of examinations. But it would be generally allowed that a University training, if it is really successful, ought to result in giving culture, over and above such knowledge as the student may acquire in his particular branch or branches of study. We all know what Matthew Arnold did, a generation ago, to interpret and diffuse in England his conception of culture. The charm, the humour, and also the earnestness of the essays in which he pleaded that cause render them permanently attractive in themselves, while at the same time they have the historical interest of marking a phase in the progress of English thought and feeling about education. For, indeed, whatever may be the criticisms to which Arnold's treatment of the subject is open in detail, he truly indicated a great national defect; and by leading a multitude of educated persons to realise it, he helped to prepare the way for better things. Dealing with England as it was in the sixties, he complained that the bulk of the well-to-do classes were devoid of mental culture,—crude in their perceptions, insensible to beauty, and complacently impenetrable to ideas. If, during the last 30 or 40 years, there has been a marked improvement, the popular influence of Matthew Arnold's writings may fairly be numbered among the con-