Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/22

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

our colleges are looking about for a remedy, and a class of thinkers, just now, as we know, very influential, and looking to the substitution of the study of science as the sole remedy. Gentlemen, I have been long enough attached to a school of science to have been convinced, if I had ever doubted it, that science by itself is no remedy; that as there can never again be a liberal education, or the pretense of one, without the scientific element, so, on the other hand, scientific studies alone can never constitute a liberal education—scientific can never supersede ethical studies as its foundation. What, then, is the true remedy? I think it is evident. It is, along with scientific study, of whose true place I shall have more to say presently, to accept ethical studies in their new form, in the form of modern literatures and modern languages, and with classical studies as the special and subordinate, and not, as heretofore, the main and primary instrument. This is the great change which liberal education is silently undergoing, far more than it is a change from a literary to a scientific basis.

I know of no educational fallacy more common and more mischievous than that of enormously overrating the educating value of the process of acquiring the mere form of foreign languages, whether dead or living; yet it is in this barren study that we waste the precious time that should be employed, from the very beginning of school-life, in acquiring the substance of real knowledge. Languages, other than our own, are the useful, sometimes the necessary tools for acquiring knowledge; in the literatures of other tongues there reside elements of culture not to be found, or not to be found in the same perfection in our own, which may well repay the student who has time and perseverance sufficient really to attain them without too great a sacrifice. But to sacrifice an attainable education in not attaining them, what is it but to sow the barren sea-shore, to travel half a journey, to possess one's self of half an instrument useless without the other half. Languages alone are knowledge only to the professed philologist; we sacrifice a real education attainable through an instrument we already possess in the fruitless labor of giving our boys other instruments they will never make use of.


counts the stones in the Appian Way, instead of gazing on the monuments of the 'Eternal City.'"—("Discourse on the Studies of the University of Cambridge," fifth edition, p. 37.) I find a corroboration of this view of the present state of classical study on this side of the water coming from a quarter where there can be no suspicion of too great leaning toward modern studies. Prof. Tayler Lewis is reported to have expressed himself in a recent pamphlet as follows: "He thinks it undeniable that there is danger that classical studies may be driven from our colleges; and, in looking for a reason for this, he seems to himself to have discovered it in the fact that we nowadays busy the undergraduate too much with grammar and too little with literature.... He illustrates his position by a comparison of the school of critical students even so great as Porson and Elmsley with the earlier schools.... The one school, admirable as it is, and deep as is our obligation to them, he regards as reading Homer for the sake of knowing Greek; the other as knowing Greek for the sake of reading Homer."—{New-York Nation, August 7, 1873.)