Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/132

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122
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

quiring the niceties of Greek and Latin scholarship! We resent the nickname of the 'Chinese of Europe,' yet our education offers the closest possible analogue to that which reigns in the Celestial Empire, and for centuries we have continued, and are continuing, a system to which (so far as I know) no other civilized nation attaches any importance, yet which leaves us to borrow our scholarship second-hand from them; which is now necessary for the very highest classical honors at the University of Cambridge alone; in which only one has a partial glimmering of success, for hundreds and hundreds who inevitably fail; and in which the few exceptional successes are so flagrantly useless that they can only be regarded at the best as a somewhat trivial and fantastic accomplishment—an accomplishment so singularly barren of all results that it has scarcely produced a dozen original poems on which the world sets the most trifling value; while we waste years in thus perniciously fostering idle verbal imitations, and in neglecting the rich fruit of ancient learning for its bitter, useless, and unwholesome husk—while we thus dwarf many a vigorous intellect, and disgust many a manly mind—while a great university, neglecting in large measure the literature and the philosophy of two leading nations, contents itself with being, in the words of one of its greatest sons, 'a bestower of rewards for school-boy merit'—while thousands of despairing boys thus waste their precious hours in 'contracting their own views and deadening their own sensibilities' by a failure in the acquisition of the useless}}while we apply this inconceivably irrational process to Greek and Latin, and to no other language ever yet taught under the sun—while we thus accumulate instruction without education, and feel no shame or compunction if at the end of many years we thrust our youth, in all their unwarned ignorance, through the open gate of life—while, I say, such a system as this continues and flourishes, which most practical men have long scorned with an immeasurable contempt, do not let us consider that we have advanced a single step in reforming education, to reform which, in the words of Leibnitz, is to reform society and to reform mankind."

This is sufficiently explicit and emphatic as to the worth of current classical study, but the ever-ready objection is, that all this condemnation is only true of the bad methods by which the dead languages are taught, and that, if they were taught as they should be and can be, there would be no basis for the charge of failure. But Mr. Adams's arraignment was of the existing practice, and he did not deny that there may possibly be a better practice in which classical studies shall be successful. President Porter does not hesitate to fall back upon the bad methods of teaching as giving some excuse for the charge of failure. We suspect, however, that a good deal more is made of this bad-method pretext than it will bear, and that the study of dead languages as a leading element of higher education in this age must remain a failure, whatever the perfection of the methods employed in their acquisition. Indeed, it becomes a serious question whether, broadly considered, perfected methods would not lead to worse failure than the existing practice. But we must postpone this aspect of the discussion to another time.

 


LITERARY NOTICES.

French and German Socialism in Modern Times. By Richard T. Ely, Ph.D. New York: Harper & Brothers. Pp. 262. Price, 75 cents.

Professor Ely has here presented in small compass and attractive form a large amount of information about the notable socialistic and communistic schemes that have been brought forward in the two coun-