Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 11.djvu/118

This page has been validated.

one might almost infer that the very object of its establishment is to encourage and strengthen the worst feature of educational practice. It is not an organization to improve the colleges by giving encouragement to neglected studies, or by bringing their schemes of instruction into completer harmony with the claims of modern knowledge or the necessities of modern life; but it offers its sensational rewards for proficiency in just those subjects which have long usurped undue attention in the collegiate education. It applies increasing pressure in those directions in which pressure is already excessive. Hence, if there are any students already shaken by struggles to get the leading positions in the colleges, the Association tempts them to come forward and fight it out with each other before the whole country. It will remain true to the end of time that those who sacrifice all the rest of their nature to the attainment of any one object will win it as against those who regard the claims of their whole nature. The Intercollegiate Association bids for the best cases of one-sided development. If a student has sacrificed his bodily health to brilliant scholastic results, the Association wants him for exhibition. Johannot says that Schwerdtfeger, "in preparing for the late intercollegiate contest, made no extraordinary effort;" yet he beat all the healthier fellows out of sight, and the Association gave him a prize for his disease. If it killed him, no matter; that was but an incident. Do not horses often die on the racecourse? and are not men often killed in the prize-ring? Aspirants must take their chances. To the earnest protest of a correspondent to its encouragement of the Intercollegiate Association the editor of the Tribune replies, "Even if young Schwerdtfeger's death could be directly traced to overwork in connection with the recent competition in this city, we should hesitate before condemning the intercollegiate literary contests." This is a little startling as an illustration of the foothold that sporting ethics has got in the field of education; but we can admire that pluck of opinion which does not recoil from its logical consequences.


We picked up an educational paper the other day, presenting a long list of distinguished men as editors. This promised well, as the field of American education is not the place where the editorial "dummy" humbug would be tolerated. Albeit the wisdom of the periodical did not seem to be of a very solid sort, though we read on, hopefully expecting to find it at every step. At length we came upon the reviews of periodicals, and thought perhaps here we should discover the sound sense promised by the import of the editorial names. We found the story-telling magazines dissected, weighed, and measured, with care and fullness. The writer was here clearly interested in his topic; but when we came to The Popular Science Monthly it was different. The writer said he never thought much of it, and, though he had no doubt there was some truth in Evolution, he did not like to have it thrust in his face and be bored with it perpetually in accordance with the usage of this periodical. This was the first time that he had broken out into adverse criticism. He had been hitherto much pleased; the contents of the story-telling magazines had not bored him. Whereat we reflected upon the different values assigned by different minds to different orders of ideas. We think the trashy love-sick stories, the idle gossip about notorious persons, and the dashing sensational criticism, which make up the chief portion of our literary periodicals, to be not very important; and on the other hand we think that Evolution, if true, is a very important matter indeed, and as the case stands it seems to us of very great interest to know what the ablest men of the age are thinking about it. Its establishment and general acceptance