Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/556

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dead-shot whose ultimatum was the duel, ruled to a certain extent the society in which he moved. To test which was the most powerful knight was an easy matter; for a combat between the rivals was easily arranged, and the result was seldom questionable; or, if it were uncertain, the relative powers were supposed to be equal.

In the present day, however, the question of brain-power is a far more difficult problem. We can not weigh brains as we can tea or sugar; we can not determine their mental capacity as we could the physical powers of knights of old, by setting two of them opposite each other and leaving them to fight it out. We have, however, arranged various tests which we suppose give us a correct estimate of the brain-power of various individuals. These tests may be better than none at all, yet they are far from being perfect; consequently, we too often by such means select men to do work for which they are quite unsuited, and to fill offices for which they have no capacity.

The present is an age of competitive examinations, yet these afford but an imperfect test of brain-power; for, after a time, competitive examinations become less and less efficient as true tests of intelligence, and sink into a sort of official routine. As examples, we will take the following cases: Brown is the son of an Indian officer who died when his boy was ten years old, and left his widow badly off. Young Brown is intended for the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich; but his mother's means do not enable her to send him to a first-class "crammer's," so he has to sit beneath the average schoolmaster. He works hard and thinks a great deal, and gains a fair knowledge of the subjects he is required to learn. He goes up to the competitive examination at Woolwich, and finds each question so complicated that he is utterly puzzled; and, when the results of the examination are made known, Brown is nearly last on the list.

On the other hand, Smith is the son of a wealthy tradesman who wishes his son to enter as a cadet at Woolwich. Young Smith is sent early in life to a successful "crammer's," to be fattened with knowledge as turkeys are crammed for Christmas. The crammer does not confine his attention to teaching his pupils; but he watches the examination papers set at Woolwich, and he finds that the examiners have each a peculiar "fad," and set their questions in a sort of rotation. He looks carefully over these, and he forms a kind of estimate of the questions which are likely to be set at any particular examination. He therefore trains his pupils for these questions, and is often so successful in his predictions that at least half the questions have been worked out by these pupils a week before the examination; and this result is obtained without any collusion between the crammer and the examiner. On one occasion that we know of, seven questions out of a paper of thirteen were predicted as "due"; and the pupils consequently of this crammer were most successful at this "competitive." Young Smith is thus trained, and passes say fifth out of a long list,