Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 29.djvu/477
THE EXTENSION IN SCIENTIFIC TEACHING. 461
on the one hand, of primary and secondary school education, and, on the other, of the conditions which are attached by the universities to the attainment of their degrees and their rewards. As I ventured to remark some years ago, we want a most-favored-nation clause inserted in our treaty with educators. We have a right to claim that science shall be put upon the same footing as any other great subject of in- struction, that it shall have an equal share in the schools, an equal share in the recognized qualification for degrees, and in university honors and rewards. It must be recognized that science, as intel- lectual discipline, is at least as valuable, and, as knowledge, is at least as important, as literature, and that the scientific student must no longer be handicapped by a linguistic (I will not call it literary) burden, the equivalent of which is not imposed upon his classical compeer.
Let me repeat that I say this, not as a depredator of literature, but in the interests of literature. The reason why our young people are so often scandalously and lamentably deficient in literary knowledge, and still more in the feeling and the desire for literary excellence, lies in the fact that they have been withheld from a true literary training by the pretense of it, which too often passes under the name of classi- cal instruction. Nothing is of more importance to the man of science than that he should appreciate the value of style, and the literary work of the school would be of infinite value to him if it taught him this one thing. But I do not believe that this is to be done by what is called forming one's self on classical models, or that the advice to give one's days and nights to the study of any great writer is of much value. " Le style est l'homme meme," as a man of science who was a master of style has profoundly said ; and aping somebody else does not help one to express one's self. A good style is the vivid expression of clear thinking, and it can be attained only by those who will take infinite pains, in the first place, to purge their own minds of ignorance and half-knowledge, and, in the second, to clothe their thoughts in the words which will most fitly convey them to the minds of others. I can conceive no greater help to our scientific students than that they should bring to their work the habit of mind which is implied in the power to write their own language in a good style. But this is exactly what our present so-called literary education so often fails to confer, even on those who have enjoyed its fullest advantages, while the ordi- nary schoolboy has rarely been even made aware that its attainment is a thing to be desired.