Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/283

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271
LITERARY NOTICES.

fort in the study of foreign languages, and common sense declares that it was because of it. In his defense of the wholesale study of language, in the St. Andrew's address, Mr. Mill encountered this perplexing consideration, and his treatment of it was hardly more adroit than Lord Coleridge's reference to Mr. Bright. Having pointed out the numberless advantages of a knowledge of many languages, and then having to explain how the Greeks succeeded so remarkably without any such knowledge, he is driven to the shift of suggesting that these Greeks were a very wonderful people. He says, "I hardly know any greater proof of the extraordinary genius of the Greeks, than that they were able to make such brilliant achievements in abstract thought, knowing as they did no language but their own." From which we are to infer that if these clever Greeks could have had a couple of dead languages to train on, and three or four living languages to expand on, their achievements would have been simply prodigious! Another illustration of the power of fetich-worship to pervert the logical intellect.

On the whole, we can not think the Yale devotees have made much by trying to play off the Lord Chief-Justice of England against Mr. Adams on the classical question. They are very much in agreement. Mr. Adams said that he had forgotten his Latin and Greek; Lord Coleridge says that by calling in the aid of religion he has been able to hold on to his classical acquisitions. But Mr. Adams was before him, as shown by the title of his address, in recognizing the peculiar function of religion in the case.

"We owe thanks to our classical friends for keeping the question in a lively condition. They have had much to say about the German experience with classical and scientific studies; we will see how much they make by that next month.

 


LITERARY NOTICES.

What Social Classes owe to Each Other. By William Graham Sumner, Professor of Political and Social Science in Yale College. New York: Harper & Brothers. Pp. 169. Price, 60 cents.

This little volume has exceptional claims upon the attention of thinking people. It is not of the current order of social science literature, but is rather a trenchant protest against its prevailing spirit, and an able attempt to substitute the scientific for the sentimental mode of studying the relations of men in society. Professor Sumner finds a very loose state of thinking in regard to social obligations, their grounds, and their extent, what people owe to each other, and what they expect from each other, and he shows very clearly that from erroneous views upon these subjects spring a large number of the worst evils of the social state.

The general object of beings who recognize evil as something to be avoided, and good as something to be sought, and who look forward to ends to be secured and work for the accomplishment of these ends, is undoubtedly to make things better, but how to do this it is by no means so easy to determine. The most conflicting projects are offered for the attainment of the end, and the discords of opinion as to what things are socially best show that ignorance, prejudice and passion have still a great deal to do with the subject. In any treatment of it, therefore, that can become instructive and helpful, the first thing is to get at the facts and call things by their right name. Professor Sumner has this unquestionable merit, that he refuses to be misled by words, and insists upon stripping off the illusions in which the subject is shrouded, and getting at the real things represented. This is not an agreeable task. It requires some courage to encounter an ignorant public sentiment which appropriates to itself the whole terminology of charity, benevolence, and sympathy for the poor and weak, and denounces as cold and hard-hearted all who do not share its sentimental views upon social questions. Professor Sumner comes in for a liberal amount of reprobation, the "New York Tribune," for example, saying that his book is characterized by "an insolent