Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/133

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EDITOR'S TABLE.

us necessary to be taken into account before we acquiesce in the view of science and humanism as two litigant parties, or attempt to pass a final judgment upon their alleged strife.

It may seem a strange thing to say, but Professor Huxley has underrated the strength and the victories of science. They are not confined to the bounds of natural history or physics, or to any or every branch of what we call the natural sciences. The modern spirit of science is too mighty and subtile not to penetrate, into every region of the field of human knowledge. It is transforming and requickening the humanities themselves; and we make bold to say that classical studies, so far from waning before the light of science, are awakening and waxing to a new Renaissance of which not we, but our children and children's children, will see the full splendor. What is it that Sir Josiah Mason's foundation excludes, and in Professor Huxley's judgment rightly, from the benefits and encouragement of his bounty? "Mere literary education and instruction," such mere drilling in language as until a recent date was understood to be the staple of our so-called classical learning. But our universities are now awake to the truth that knowledge of the ancient languages is an instrument, not an end in itself. The end is another kind of knowledge, and knowledge not undeserving to be compared for worth with the knowledge of things and of nature. It is the knowledge of man in the works of his hands and his thought, of the men from whom we inherit our laws, our art, and our civilization; the praise of famous men, and our fathers that begat us. Socrates and Plato, the fathers of philosophy; Pericles, the father of statesmanship; Alexander, the father of conquering civilization; Ulpian and Papinian, the fathers of scientific law; Trajan and the Antonines, of administration and government; Homer, the father of poetry; Phidias and Praxiteles, of sculpture—these last the masters' of all followers in their craft unto this day—and Aristotle, the father of science itself; surely of these men and their work we can not know too much, and even a little knowledge of them would be ill exchanged, for a man who does not mean to be a chemist, for a little knowledge of the atomic weights of elements.

But this, some one will say, is not what comes of our so-called classical education; what we get from our classical teachers is only verse-grinding, scraps and odds and ends of half-understood Latin and Greek, and a general contempt for knowledge that is not at Latin and Greek. This has been only too true; but we hope it will not be true much longer. Cambridge, the head and front of the old verbal scholarship, is transforming her classical curriculum. Not through mere linguistic attainments, but through scientific philology, scientific archaeology, scientific study of ancient history and philosophy, will henceforth lie the road to her highest honors. We shall no longer have accomplished classical scholars who stand mute before a coin or an inscription, and can not tell a work of the school of Phidias or Praxiteles from a late Asiatic or Roman imitation. Let the teachers of natural science look to it on their side that their own special studies do not degenerate into mere book-work, such barren catalogues of undigested facts and such an empty show of paper knowledge as Professor Huxley lifts up no uncertain voice against. Then, when at last a true and lively knowledge of man and of his history goes hand in hand with a true and lively knowledge of Nature and her works, our schools will produce results worthy of their noble means, and science and culture will be no longer names to bandy in controversy, but firm and inseparable allies. Science has come upon our humanists as from a region of mystery, like the nameless champion of the legend, clad in magical armor and wielding invincible weapons. But the champion is a friend and deliverer; well for them that receive him, and ill for them that in rashness and little faith repel him. But is there not already a working alliance? Are modern philology and archæology "mere literary education and instruction"? We conceive not; and we call Professor Huxley himself to witness. In his Aberdeen address he expresses the wish that there should be a Professorship of Fine Arts in every university, and that its functions should somehow be regularly connected with the arts curriculum. We are happy to think that this is exactly what is being done, or in a fair way to be done, at Cambridge. The study of classical antiquity through classical art is there rapidly becoming a living and working branch of the general classical studies of the university. But this, some will again say, is dreaming of the future. Are we satisfied with the present? Are we content that there should be university dignitaries who do not know one end of the solar spectrum from the other, and bishops who show their competence to criticise biological theories by supposing that the blood-corpuscles are formed by coagulation after death? We answer, unquestionably not. We hold that the elements of natural knowledge should be an integral part of general education. But we would make room for them