Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/348

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temporaries, or our posterity, will suffer infallibly from their violation. There is no possibility of hoodwinking those eternal laws which, in our dealings with them, never make a mistake and never overlook one, never forego an advantage, never shrink to exact retribution, never feel remorse. When a person leaves college with a very respectable knowledge of Greek and Latin authors, and with little or nothing more than that, it seems preposterous that he should think himself an educated person. If he has learned nothing about the stars above his head and the earth beneath his feet; nothing about the nature of the air which he breathes, of the water which he drinks, of the food which he eats; cannot tell why water rises in a pump, or how a man breathes, and why he dies if he cannot get air to breathe; knows nothing whatever of the laws of the world in which he lives and of which he is a part, he is surely a profound ignoramus, notwithstanding that he may be able to make indifferent Greek or Latin verses. I would not for a moment undervalue the priceless benefits of a knowledge of Greek and Latin authors; on the contrary, I am sure that a study of the works of these great minds of antiquity, full as they are of the rich stores of human observation and thought, expressed in the most chaste, concise, and finished language, produces a discipline of intellect and a refinement of culture which can be got in no other way, and the loss of which in youth nothing gained afterward will ever entirely compensate for; but I am sure also that if Plato or Aristotle, or any of those great thinkers of antiquity, were to live again now, he would look with amazement and compassion, if not with contempt, on men who are content that education should consist in studying only the writings of the past, in utter neglect of the wonderful works of Nature to which the later ages of mankind have gained access, and of the vast stores of knowledge which have been gradually accumulated by the patient labors of successive generations of men. He would be apt, I think, to say something of this sort: "Good Heavens! we lived more than two thousand years ago; have you in all that time gained no new experience of men and things which it would be well to make an essential part of the intellectual culture of your children? is it education enough for life now to let them learn from us what we thought of men and things more than two thousand years ago, and to train them in a study of the structure of our dead language?" To state the matter so, sufficeth to expose its absurdity.

Now, the training of a medical man, when thorough, is admirable in this respect, that it follows the order of Nature, beginning with the less complex and rising to the more complex sciences, using the lower as a ladder by which to mount up to the higher. Coming to his work, as he certainly should do, with a fair knowledge of mathematics and physics, he proceeds to the study of chemistry, and passes on thence to the study of physiology; so he lays deep and firm the scientific groundwork for the study of the disorders of the structure