Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/303

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.


THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.

 

JANUARY, 1884.


 

THE CLASSICAL QUESTION IN GERMANY.
By EDMUND J. JAMES, Ph. D.,

PROFESSOR OF FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION IN THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA.

THE struggle between the adherents of the old classical curriculum and the representatives of modern culture has nowhere been carried on with more bitterness than in Germany. In no other land have the respective antagonists shown more narrowness and bigotry, or been less inclined to allow their opponents the possession of common sense or pure motives.

The representatives of the classics, intrenched behind a strong wall of tradition and usage, were from the first in the enjoyment of all the honors and privileges. They were supported by the mighty power of a public sentiment which had been begotten at a time when the classics and mathematics formed the only subjects worthy of serious study, and had been nourished by a long line of illustrious men whose only school-education had been a training in Latin, Greek, and geometry. They were upheld by the powerful force of a government which made the acquisition of such an education the condition of all its favors. They looked down, therefore, naturally enough, with a certain contempt and loathing upon those rude materialists who insisted that there was something in the modern world worthy of serious study. The other party, on the contrary, driven to extremes by the bigotry and obstinacy of their opponents, were compelled to make war to the death, by denying all virtue of any sort to a classical training. They insisted on purely modern subjects as opposed to classics, on a multiplicity of branches in preference to a few, on technical education for particular callings instead of a liberal training for good living.

But in the course of events we find both parties in that country receding from their extreme positions and gradually approaching each