Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/11

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THE

 

POPULAR SCIENCE

 

MONTHLY.



NOVEMBER, 1883.



"THE GREEK QUESTION."[1]
By JOSIAH PARSONS COOKE,
PROFESSOR OF CHEMISTRY IN HARVARD COLLEGE.

THE question whether the college faculty ought to continue to insist on a limited study of the ancient Greek language, as an essential prerequisite of receiving the A. B. degree, has been under consideration at Cambridge for a long time; and, since the opinions of those with whom I naturally sympathize have been so greatly misrepresented in the desultory discussion which has followed Mr. Adams's Phi Beta Kappa oration, I am glad of the opportunity to say a few words on the "Greek question."

This question is by no means a new one. For the last ten years it has been under discussion at most, if not at all, of the great universities of the world; and, among others, the University of Berlin, which stands in the very front rank, has already conceded to what we may call the new culture all that can reasonably be asked.

Let me begin by asserting that the responsible advocates of an expansion of the old academic system do not wish in the least degree to diminish the study of the Greek language, the Greek literature, or the Greek art. On the contrary, they wish to encourage such studies by every legitimate means. For myself I believe that the old classical culture is the best culture yet known for the literary professions; and among the literary professions I include both law and divinity. Fifty years ago I should have said that it was the only culture worthy of the recognition of a university. But we live in the present, not in the past, and a half-century has wholly changed the relations of human

  1. Remarks made at the dinner of the Harvard Club of Rhode Island, Newport, August 25, 1883.