Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/28

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18
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

what are called the learned professions. The layman has nothing to do with the study of the science of theology: that must be expounded to him by his priest. The layman has nothing to do with the science of medicine: he must be cured, or, more probably, killed, secundum artem, by his physician. The layman has nothing to do with the science of the law: it is his business to get into lawsuits, and it is the lawyer's secret how to extricate him. But these superstitions, the relics of an age of popular ignorance, are in their turn disappearing, as just ideas of what constitutes real knowledge begin to penetrate the minds of the whole people. It is seen that, so far from being mysterious, such knowledge is the very substance and material of sound education for all men; and the layman will no longer allow himself to be led blindfold by priest, or lawyer, or physician, for there is no longer any magical sacredness in their callings. And thus it comes about that a knowledge of physiology, which will help save the patient from any need of a physician; a knowledge of law, that shall obviate the necessity for lawsuits; a knowledge of political science and history worthy of men who have become their own rulers; a knowledge of political economy, that shall raise the honorable calling of the merchant to the dignity of a liberal profession; a knowledge of theology that shall save us the degrading spectacle of the unchristian quarrels of bigoted and superstitious sects—are reckoned more and more to be essential elements in all education. It is only on sound general knowledge, disseminated through the whole people by a liberal education of the whole people, that we shall ever build up professions, in regard to which we are not forced to entertain a doubt as to whether they are not on the whole more of a curse to us than a blessing.[1] And an education of this sort must be begun in the primary school, must have for its instrument the mother-tongue. It cannot be based on the study of Greek particles, or any amount of skill, either in the reading or the manufacture of Latin verses.

It is sometimes said that we, who have received this liberal education we decry, are ungrateful in thus decrying it, and unconscious of, and insensible to, all the benefits we derive from it. I am conscious of no ingratitude in agreeing with an eminent Scotchman who discusses these subjects, when he says, in speaking of knowledge and studies such as I have been enumerating: "lam sure no one seriously applies himself to such studies without wishing that he had given to them many hours in his youth which he fooled away, in obedience to his 'pastors

  1. "We need diffused knowledge in the community to sustain soundness of public opinion, and prevent the perversion of separate sciences into black arts and professional secrets."—{Prof. Newman, on the Relations of Free Knowledge to Modern Sentiments.) The affirmation of Prof. Seeley is destined, I fear, to find an illustration in the experience of this country, "that a people will never have a supply of competent politicians until political science... is made a prominent part of the higher education."—Inaugural Address on the Teaching of Politics.