Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/304

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other. We find the "classicists" agreeing that the study of modern languages may also be made valuable; that modern literature is adorned with names which rival in luster the greatest of the Greek or Roman. They give up slowly more and more of that valuable time formerly spent in conning Greek and Latin grammars, or in learning to write Greek and Latin verses, or to talk a jargon which they dignify by the name of classical Latin, to the study of French, Italian, Spanish, German, and English. They allow the elements of the natural sciences one after another, to creep in, and even grant some hours a week to modern history. They still devote the most of their attention, however, to Latin and Greek, and justify their course by the claim that the shortest road to modern literature is through Athens and Rome; that modern languages are so intimately connected with the classics that, after mastering the latter, the acquisition of French, English, Italian, and Spanish, is a matter for leisure hours, a mere after-dinner amusement; that the nomenclature of the modern sciences is so largely Greek that time would be saved in learning them by first mastering Homer, Xenophon, and Plato; that modern history is only the second chapter of the world's history, and can be rightly understood only after learning what goes before.

Their most thoughtful opponents have also given up many of the claims advanced by their prototypes. They allow that there is a vast difference between knowledge and power; that a mass of undigested facts in the memory is as depressing for the mind as a mass of undigested food in the "stomach is for the brain. They, or at least the most advanced among them, allow that the old humanists followed sound pedagogical principles in selecting but few subjects, and in lingering over them long enough to secure that mental power and grasp which come from the detailed and long-continued study of any great branch of human knowledge. They grant that the secondary schools should give a liberal education, in the sense of an education which shall prepare the students, not for the particular calling which they may afterward take up, but for right and intelligent living, in any sphere to which circumstances may call them. They maintain, however, that for the purposes of such an education modern subjects are as good as or better than ancient; that French and English, if properly taught, can afford, so far as is desirable, the same kind of mental discipline as that obtained from Latin and Greek; that modern literature embraces classics as worthy of detailed and continuous study as ancient literature; that the proper study of the modern sciences develops certain faculties with a completeness of which no other instrument is capable; that modern history offers subjects as worthy of labor, as fruitful in results, as anything which ancient times can afford.

The objective points of the contest have also changed in the course of time. The old philanthropinists demanded the total abolition of all