Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
458
CLASSICS

to declare in Des ouvrages de l’esprit (about 1680), “We have at last thrown off the yoke of Latinism”; and, in the same year, Jacques Spon claimed in his correspondence the right to use the French language in discussing points of archaeology.

Meanwhile, in 1563, notwithstanding the opposition of the university of Paris, the Jesuits had succeeded in founding the Collegium Claromontanum. After the accession of Henry IV. they were expelled from Paris and other The Jesuits. important towns in 1594, and not allowed to return until 1609, when they found themselves confronted once more by their rival, the university of Paris. They opened the doors of their schools to the Greek and Latin classics, but they represented the ancient masterpieces dissevered from their original historic environment, as impersonal models of taste, as isolated standards of style. They did much, however, for the cultivation of original composition modelled on Cicero and Virgil. They have been charged with paying an exaggerated attention to form, and with neglecting the subject-matter of the classics. This neglect is attributed to their anxiety to avoid the “pagan” element in the ancient literature. Intensely conservative in their methods, they kept up the system of using Latin in their grammars (and in their oral instruction) long after it had been abandoned by others.

The use of French for these purposes was a characteristic of the “Little Schools” of the Jansenists of Port-Royal (1643-1660). The text-books prepared for them by Lancelot included not only the above-mentioned Latin grammar (1644) Port-Royal. but also the Méthode grecque of 1655 and the Jardin des racines grecques (1657), which remained in use for two centuries and largely superseded the grammar of Clenardus (1636) and the Tirocinium of Père Labbe (1648). Greek began to decline in the university about 1650, at the very time when the Port-Royalists were aiming at its revival. During the brief existence of their schools their most celebrated pupils were Tillemont and Racine.

The Jesuits, on the other hand, claimed Corneille and Molière, as well as Descartes and Bossuet, Fontenelle, Montesquieu and Voltaire. Of their Latin poets the best-known were Denis Petau (d. 1652), René Rapin (d. 1687) and N.E. Sanadon (d. 1733). In 1762 the Jesuits were suppressed, and more than one hundred schools were thus deprived of their teachers. The university of Paris, which had prompted their suppression, and the parliament, which had carried it into effect, made every endeavour to replace them. The university took possession of the Collegium Claromontanum, then known as the Collège Louis-le-Grand, and transformed it into an école normale. Many of the Jesuit schools were transferred to the congregations of the Oratoire and the Benedictines, and to the secular clergy. On the eve of the Revolution, out of a grand total of 562 classical schools, 384 were in the hands of the clergy and 178 in those of the congregations.

The expulsion of the Jesuits gave a new impulse to the attacks directed against all schemes of education in which Latin held a prominent position. At the moment when the university of Paris was, by the absence of its rivals, Classical education attacked. placed in complete control of the education of France, she found herself driven to defend the principles of classical education against a crowd of assailants. All kinds of devices were suggested for expediting the acquisition of Latin; grammar was to be set aside; Latin was to be learned as a “living language”; much attention was to be devoted to acquiring an extensive vocabulary; and, “to save time,” composition was to be abolished. To facilitate the reading of Latin texts, the favourite method was the use of interlinear translations, originally proposed by Locke, first popularized in France by Dumarsais (1722), and in constant vogue down to the time of the Revolution.

Early in the 18th century Rollin pleaded for the “utility of Greek,” while he described that language as the heritage of the university of Paris. In 1753 Berthier feared that in thirty years no one would be able to read Greek. In 1768 Rolland declared that the university, which held Greek in high honour, nevertheless had reason to lament that her students learnt little of the language, and he traced this decline to the fact that attendance at lectures had ceased to be compulsory. Greek, however, was still recognized as part of the examination held for the appointment of schoolmasters.

During the 18th century, in Greek as well as in Latin, the general aim was to reach the goal as rapidly as possible, even at the risk of missing it altogether. On the eve of the Revolution, France was enjoying the study of the Eve of the Revolution. institutions of Greece in the attractive pages of the Voyage du jeune Anacharsis (1789), but the study of Greek was menaced even more than that of Latin. For fifty years before the Revolution there was a distinct dissatisfaction with the routine of the schools. To meet that dissatisfaction, the teachers had accepted new subjects of study, had improved their methods, and had simplified the learning of the dead languages. But even this was not enough. In the study of the classics, as in other spheres, it was revolution rather than evolution that was loudly demanded.

The Revolution was soon followed by the long-continued battle of the “Programmes.” Under the First Republic the schemes of Condorcet (April 1792) and J. Lakanal (February 1795) were superseded by that of P.C.F. First Republic. Daunou (October 1795), which divided the pupils of the “central schools” into three groups, according to age, with corresponding subjects of study: (1) twelve to fourteen,—drawing, natural history, Greek and Latin, and a choice of modern languages; (2) fourteen to sixteen,—mathematics, physics, chemistry; (3) over sixteen,—general grammar, literature, history and constitutional law..

In July 1801, under the consulate, there were two courses, (1) nine to twelve,—elementary knowledge, including elements of Latin; (2) above twelve,—a higher course, with two Consulate. alternatives, “humanistic” studies for the “civil,” and purely practical studies for the “military” section. The law of the 1st of May 1802 brought the lycées into existence, the subjects being, in Napoleon’s own phrase, “mainly Latin and mathematics.”

At the Restoration (1814) the military discipline of the lycées was replaced by the ecclesiastical discipline of the “Royal Colleges.” The reaction of 1815-1821 in favour of classics was followed by the more liberal programme of Restoration. Vatimesnil (1829), including, for those who had no taste for a classical education, certain “special courses” (1830), which were the germ of the enseignement spécial and the enseignement moderne.

Under Louis Philippe (1830-1848), amid all varieties of administration there was a consistent desire to hold the balance fairly between all the conflicting subjects of study. After the revolution of 1848 the difficulties raised by the excessive number of subjects were solved by H.N.H. Fortoul’s expedient of “bifurcation,” the alternatives being letters and science. In 1863, under Napoleon III., Victor Duruy encouraged the study of history, and also did much for classical learning by founding the École des Hautes Études. In 1872, under the Third Republic, Jules Simon found time for hygiene, geography and modern Third Republic. languages by abolishing Latin verse composition and reducing the number of exercises in Latin prose, while he insisted on the importance of studying the inner meaning of the ancient classics. The same principles were carried out by Jules Ferry (1880) and Paul Bert (1881-1882). In the scheme of 1890 the Latin course of six years began with ten hours a week and ended with four; Greek was begun a year later with two hours, increasing to six and ending with four.

The commission of 1899, under the able chairmanship of M. Alexandre Ribot, published an important report, which was followed in 1902 by the scheme of M. Georges Leygues. The preamble includes a striking tribute to the advantages that France had derived from the study of the classics:—

“L’étude de l’antiquité grecque et latine a donné au génie français une mesure, une clarté et une élégance incomparables. C’est par elle que notre philosophie, nos lettres et nos arts ont brillé d’un si