Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/555

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seminary. Even with the best intentions, it is not easy to see how "the reading of the Augustan Confession in connection with instructing in the differences between various symbols of faith" can form part of the general culture which it is the object of the gymnasium to impart to its pupils.

My second scheme for giving more room to mathematics and natural science will probably seem more objectionable, at least to a larger circle of people, than the first. I dare hardly express it, but I would restrict the study of Greek grammatical forms. My enthusiasm for the beauties of Grecian literature is assuredly not less than that of any German schoolman. But, unless I am greatly mistaken, the proper aim of studying Greek—namely, acquaintance with Grecian myth, history, and art, and being imbued with Greek ideas and Greek ideals—can be attained without the unspeakable labor—mostly labor in vain—which it costs to acquire the power of putting together a couple of Greek phrases. Surely neither Goethe when he wrote his "Iphigenie," nor Thorwaldsen when he modeled "The Triumph of Alexander," could write a Greek composition such as is written by the pupils in the lower second class of our gymnasia. If there is one Greek author whom all pupils read understandingly, and even with enthusiasm, and whom many of them hold dear and commit to memory, it is old Homer. And yet Homer's dialect is so different from that in which the extemporalia[1] are written that the practice gained by such exercises is of no account as far as his works are concerned. Hence without written exercises one can acquire such mastery of a dead language as is needed in order to read the authors who have written in it; and, as Homer, so, too, might the great Attic masters of style be read, the written exercises being restricted to preparation and translation. On a former occasion I gave utterance to the heretical opinion that our German style has been impaired by too extensive a study of the Greek. For exercising the intellectual faculties, and for awakening and developing a sense of the fundamental properties of a good style—namely, correctness, precision, and brevity of expression—there is no doubt that Latin with its limpid clearness, its rigorous precision, and its absolute definiteness of meaning, is a better object of study than Greek with its multitudinous forms and particles, the import of which is matter rather of skilled conjecture and artistic feeling than of logical analysis. Since the time when our system of gymnasium education assumed its present shape, our knowledge of the ancient world has undergone an almost entire transformation: barren philology has become the living science of that defunct world, and even daily our store of pictures of ancient life is enlarged by successful excavations. To one not versed in the study of pedagogy it would appear as though wonderful results might be attained here, just as in natural science, by the demonstratio ad oculos. Such a one is inclined to think the pupil would, by studying copies of antique

  1. Off-hand compositions.