Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 1.djvu/723

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ENGLISH AGAINST THE CLASSICS.
ENGLISH AGAINST THE CLASSICS.
BY A SCOTCH GRADUATE[1]

NOT long ago, the Lord Rector of the University of Aberdeen submitted to the University Court a scheme for reducing the value of Latin composition. In a lecture recently given at Edinburgh upon education, Prof. Jowett condemned the existing methods of classical instruction, and asserted that Latin and Greek might be learned in two-thirds of the time now bestowed upon them. And the other day, Mr. Fronde, addressing the students of St. Andrew's on the occasion of his installation as their Lord Rector, in place of Greek recommended French, or German, or Chemistry, or Norman-French, or Chinese, or Russian, according to the wants of the individual. Such explosions of discontent keep the question of classical education in a lively condition.

In fact, complaints against the classics have grown so common of late that people begin to be weary of the question before any thing has been done to settle it. The cry that we have had enough of discussion about classics, and the sneer that every scribbler must have his fling at classics nowadays, are taken up with such heartiness by those interested in keeping things just as they are, that it is difficult sometimes to get a hearing.

To vindicate the right of speech on a question that deserves every ventilation, it may be sufficient to say that, if there were more doing, there might be less talking. It is contrary to all experience to suppose that, if there were a cessation of the talking, the authorities might in course of time begin to act. The importunate widow in the parable knew better than that. Believing: that it is wise to discuss such a

  1. The present article is abridged from a pungent pamphlet reissued by D. Appleton & Co., and entitled "Classical Studies as Information or as Training." Should it be thought that what it says of the neglect of English applies to the state of things abroad, not here, we suggest a recent testimony upon this point. Dr. Manly, President of Georgetown College, Ky., in a commencement address, delivered last June, on Collegiate Reform, speaking of the branches of study that should be added to the course, said:
    "Of these, one of the most important is the English language. The study of English grammar, commonly made a botch of in our schools, is usually entirely ignored in our colleges. Dogberry's philosophy appears to prevail, that "to read and write comes by nature." The student is presumed to be a "good English scholar" when he arrives at college; a very violent presumption, by the way, whether we consider either the chance he has had to learn, or the proofs he usually gives that he has learned. And even as to graduates, male and female, I scarcely venture to tell, what I have had abundant opportunities of knowing, in other States besides this, of the blunders they make in spelling, in pronunciation, in the plainest matters of propriety, and the simplest principles of grammar. And yet I do not hesitate to affirm that intrinsically and for its own merits, and then certainly more especially for us, who are to use it all our lives, there is no language the world ever saw more abundantly deserving, or more amply repaying, careful study than this same English tongue."