Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 28.djvu/94

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

tion necessarily presupposed a knowledge of Latin, Greek, and even Hebrew, because these languages were the keys to the knowledge the student desired to obtain. But this had not always been so. At first Latin alone was used. The introduction of Greek often met with intense opposition, for instance, at Oxford. Greek stood then for new ideas, it was the treasure-house of the most valuable knowledge, and the professors of the old school thought then, as some of their colleagues seem to think even now, that the old education had been good enough for them, and therefore must be the best for every one else. But the rising tide of the Reformation soon settled the question of Greek. The demands of the times were of a religious nature, and the New Testament was written in Greek. And, besides, whatever there was to be found out about science, political, mental, and even physical, bad to be searched for in Greek books. To be ignorant of Greek was then as serious a drawback for a scholar as to be ignorant of German and French is to-day. Latin was the native language, so to speak, of every scholar. It was the common medium of social and learned intercourse; the speech in which the professor lectured and the student answered when examined; the language used in public disputations, on the rostrum, in the courts, and even in the theatre.

There were, of course, also the specialties of Latin and Greek grammar and literature, as there are the specialties of English grammar and literature in our colleges, but the general purpose and aim of the college was to impart knowledge of facts, or what was taken for facts, in matters historical, physical, philosophical, theological, and, naturally enough, also philological and literary.

In the discussion of this subject frequent reference has been made to the higher schools of Germany. Now, it is a fact that the German universities have continued the idea of the old university more faithfully than any others. The most successful old university, that of Paris, had contained the four faculties of theology, law, medicine, and the "arts." The terms of admission, as far as scholarship is concerned, are the same for all. They are still the same for all in the modern German university, with one notable exception, of which we will speak further on. The American college ought to correspond to the faculty "of arts"; it may at least be compared to it, though, as a matter of fact, the preparation for the German school is more severe and extensive than the preparation for the American college. As the latter gives to its successful graduates the degree of bachelor "of arts," the former used to confer on all who passed the proper examination the degree of master "of arts." What were these "arts" originally? They are enumerated in the following line: "Lingua, tropus, ratio, numerus, tenor, angulus, astra"—i. e., grammar, rhetoric, dialectics, arithmetic, music, geometry, astronomy.[1]

That is, the degree "of arts" meant proficiency in these branches,

  1. Raumer, "Geschichte der deutschen Universitaten."