Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/642

This page has been validated.

the concluding part herewith published. After a survey of the progress of the human mind as illustrated in the great scientific movement of modern times, he comes to the practical question of German education, considered in relation to those extreme utilitarian tendencies of the age against which he protests. How is the Americanization of European culture to he withstood in Germany?—that is his question. The reply has been, through the liberalizing influence of classical studies. The professor acknowledges himself a devotee to these studies, and has a high opinion of their educational value; but he admits that, although prosecuted with great vigor, they have failed to produce the desired effect." "What other country can boast of imparting so thorough and so learned a classical education, and that to so large a proportion of its youth, even of the less wealthy classes?" But all this is a humiliating failure. They neither acquired a critical familiarity with Latin and Greek vocabularies, nor did they arrive at any such conception of the thought of the ancients as to see in what way we are their intellectual descendants. "Their indifference toward broad ideas and historic sequence makes it difficult for me to believe that they are permeated with the spirit of antiquity, or that they had received a sound historical training." This, it will be remembered, is the complaint everywhere—in the English universities and the American colleges: not one in ten of those who consume years in the study of classics gets any intelligent acquaintance with the subject. It is, moreover, an old and cogent objection to the usual study of Latin and Greek, both in England and in this country, that, so far from favoring a critical knowledge of English, it hinders and defeats the mastery of the mother-tongue. Prof. Du Bois-Reymond alleges that the same effect is produced in Germany. Of the graduates of the gymnasia who had drilled so long, though ineffectually, in Latin and Greek, he says, "For the most part these young people wrote in ungrammatical and inelegant German." They "did not even suspect that any one could care about purity of language and pronunciation, force of expression, brevity, or pointedness of style." The study of classical authors is again arraigned with us as obstructing the proper study of the great English classics; and Prof. Du Bois-Reymond remarks, "This neglect of the mother tongue in the youth of the present day is accompanied by a lack of acquaintance with the German classics that is oftentimes astounding." It is again said that the classical students of English and American colleges very rarely acquire any permanent interest in these studies, so as to keep them up as a part of the mental occupation in after-life. The same complaint is made in Germany. The professor says:

"There are but few students, indeed, who in later years ever open an ancient author. So far from having any warm love for the classics, most persons regard them with indifference; not a few with aversion. They are remembered only as the instruments by means of which they were made familiar with the rules of grammar, just as the only conception they retain of universal history is that of learning by rote insignificant dates. Was it for this that these youths sat for thirty hours weekly on a school-bench till their eighteenth or twentieth year? Was it for this that they devoted most of their time to studying Greek, Latin, and history? Is this the result for the attainment of which the gymnasium remorselessly englooms the life of the German boy?"

Prof. Du Bois-Reymond therefore acknowledges a serious modification of opinion in regard to the employment of classical studies in the German schools. The gymnasia, or higher schools, have failed with their classics, and the industrial schools in which these studies are but little taught are entitled to increasing consideration. Classical studies, he