Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 12.djvu/172

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that such questions are, generally speaking, very few, perhaps one or two in a long paper, and nearly all pertain to the outworks of literature, so to speak. Here is the Latin literature of one paper: In what special branch of literature were the Romans independent of the Greeks? Mention the principal writers in it, with the peculiar characteristics of each. Who was the first to employ the hexameter in Latin poetry, and in what poem? To what language is Latin most nearly related, and what is the cause of their great resemblance? The Greek literature of the same examination involves these points: The Aristophanic estimate of Euripides, with criticisms on its taste and justice (for which, however, an historical subject is given as an alternative); the Greek chorus, and choric metres. Now, such an examination is, in the first place, a most meagre view of literature: it does not necessarily exercise the faculty of critical discernment. In the next place, it is chiefly a matter of compilation from English sources; the actual readings of the candidate in Greek and Latin would be of little account in the matter. Of course, the choric metres could not be described without some knowledge of Greek, but the matter is of very trifling importance in an educational point of view. Generally speaking, the questions in literature, which in number bear no proportion to historical questions, are such as might be included under history, as the department of the history of literature.

The distribution of the 750 marks allotted respectively to Latin and to Greek, in the present scheme, is this: There are three papers—two are occupied exclusively with translation. The third is language, literature, and history: the language means purely grammatical questions; so that 583 marks are given for the language proper. The remaining number, 167, should be allotted equally between literature and history; but history has always the lion's share, and is, in fact, the only part of the whole examination that has, to my mind, any real worth. It is generally a very searching view of important institutions and events, together with what may be called their philosophy. Now, the reform that seems to me to be wanted is to strike out everything else from the examination. At the same time, I should like to see the experiment of a real literary examination, such as did not necessarily imply a knowledge of the originals.

It is interesting to turn to the examination in modern languages, where the ancient scheme is copied, by appending literature and history. Here the literature is decidedly more prominent and thorough. There is also a fair paper of history questions. What strikes us, however, in this, is a slavish adherence to the form, without the reality, of the ancient situation. We have independent histories of Greece and Rome, but scarcely of Germany, France, and Italy. Instead of partitioning modern European history among the language-examiners for English, French, German, Italian, it would be better to relieve them of history altogether, and place the subject as a whole in the