Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/24

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14
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

of becoming an instrument of disciplinary education. Time would fail me to go into a defense of this proposition. I will only say that I believe that it is precisely the change which the progress of modern philology is bringing about; that it is fitting modern languages, and preeminently our own, to become the instrument of a true mental discipline, so far as language-study can serve as such an instrument. On the one hand it is giving a scientific form to the study of the Teutonic element, and on the other there remains the still needful study of the Latin language—a study which certainly need not lose in force and vitality because it may no longer be pursued as the basis of a superstructure never to be erected, but shall have a definite object and be pursued for a practical end.

But far above and beyond its uses as language-study comes the advantage of the direct and immediate entrance it gives to those regions of thought in which the higher mental discipline really lies. Through the direct road of the real study of the mother-tongue, and that rhetorical and, above all, that real logical study which accompanies and forms a part of it, can the study of what we vaguely denominate literature, and that which we are beginning still more vaguely to denominate social science, but which yet, between them, contain the substance of all we most need to know of man as distinct from Nature, be made real portions of general knowledge—be transferred from being a possession in the hands of the few, to be reached only by an abstruse and difficult preparatory training, secrets unlocked by a key out of reach of the hands of the many, to being a part of the general inheritance of all men. For, to be so, they must be made primary and not secondary; in other words, that time and strength must be devoted to a fruitful study of modern thought and modern literature, which have heretofore been wasted in school and college on the futile attempt to master ancient thought and ancient literature. The rudiments of all those studies must be reckoned as the most valuable of all the elements of general elementary training, which, in their higher departments, and after liberal culture, diverging in various directions, form the substance of professional knowledge, both that of those professions now reckoned, and of all those hereafter to be reckoned liberal. For, what should liberal education be but the preparatory general stage for that work of life which all honest callings and professions carry on in diverse directions afterward? What is a professional education but a liberal education taking a special direction?

Can it now be said, with any truth, that our nominally-educated young men go out into the world equipped with that general knowledge of the sciences of law and government, and political economy, with that knowledge of ethics and philosophy, with that acquaintance with modern history and of the condition of the world they live in, and with that real taste for modern literature, which should form the equipments of every man calling himself educated? We