THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
It thus appears that the antagonism of the classical institutions to the popular schools in their real purpose is of a very radical kind. Our colleges, by their history and traditions, are academic, scholastic, and literary institutions, designed at least theoretically to form a learned class; while on the other hand the great body of the subordinate schools is devoted to the general education of the people, which should be practical and useful, based upon common needs and a preparation for the working duties of life. The colleges by their policy are chiefly solicitous to make the lower schools tributary to their own prosperity; but they must take larger views of their own interests by ceasing their indirect resistance to the progress of education in the lower schools, and by efficiently helping it forward. In an enlarged view, as Mr. Bowker well remarks, "the colleges can not do their proper work, nor can an approximately correct curriculum be put into practice until many features of the middle schools are not only reformed but revolutionized." But this revolution of the middle schools is a revolution that must begin in the colleges them-selves, by which their exclusive exaction of a classical preparation is abandoned, and the sciences are given an equal chance with the dead languages. The classical gentlemen may league together to resist this change, but it will be of little avail; sooner or later it is sure to come. We observe by the last report of the President and Treasurer of Harvard College, 1882-'83, that this question is under serious consideration by the authorities of that institution, and, if they shall see fit to take the step now so urgently demanded, other institutions will be certain to follow.
President Eliot says (page 16): "The College Faculty is the body in which almost all the considerable changes, made during the past sixteen years in the educational methods of Harvard College, and of the schools which regularly feed it, have been first studied in detail, and then wrought into practical shape; and it is at present engaged, not for the first time, in the discussion of the gravest question of university policy which has arisen, or is likely to arise, in this generation—namely, the extent to which option among the different subjects should be allowed in the examination for admission to college."
Excursions of an Evolutionist. By John Fiske. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. Pp. 379. $2.
Mr. Fiske has laid the reading public under many obligations by the reissue of these more recent papers, which embody his matured views on a wide and varied range of topics. Nothing need be said in commendation of the literary work of a writer who has been long recognized as unrivaled in the art of lucid, effective, and pleasing exposition. But we are not to forget that these accomplishments have been put to the noblest service, and make him the most admirable interpreter of a new epoch in the advance of human thought. Mr. Fiske's writings belong eminently to a transition era in philosophic and scientific progress, and are in a high sense authoritative representations of it. And this is much to say of any one man's relation to a mental movement more comprehensive in its bearings upon widely received opinion than any that has ever before taken place.
There can be no doubt that Mr. Fiske's "Cosmic Philosophy" must rank first among the few masterpieces of expository statement contributed by this age on the subject of evolution. It is the book for the people upon this subject. It is not only an eminently instructive but a most charming work.