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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/427

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EDITOR'S TABLE.

progress on the question in the following paragraph: "A discussion took place in the Arts Schools at Cambridge on Tuesday, October 26th, on the report of an influential syndicate, which had been appointed to consider a memorial sent by schoolmasters and teachers, including the head-masters of Eaton, Winchester, Westminster, St, Paul's, Harrow, and Rugby—Matthew Arnold, C. Darwin, Sir J. Hooker, Professor Huxley, Professor Tyndall, Dr. Vaughan, and the Bishops of Exeter and Winchester. The memorial stated that 'the present regulations, according to which a knowledge of Greek is required from all candidates for the Previous Examination at Cambridge, have the effect of excluding a large and increasing number of able and deserving students from the benefits of university education,' and it respectfully prayed that the university would be pleased to take into consideration some means whereby candidates for an honor degree may be relieved from the obligation of passing an examination in Greek. After much deliberation and inquiry, the syndicate reported—1. In favor of the relaxation of the requirements of Greek in some cases; 2. That the relaxation should be restricted to candidates for honors; 3. That a knowledge of French and German should be accepted as a substitute for Greek."

But it seems that this reasonable report of the syndicate was not finally adopted. We learn from the London "Spectator" that the senate of the university decided against the petitioners by one hundred and eighty-five votes against one hundred and forty-five. The "Spectator" discusses this result in a way that is suggestive. It regrets the Cambridge decision, not from want of appreciation of Greek, but because the language is so poorly taught in the university. It declares that it heartily concurs in the following estimate of this study: "It is said that a knowledge of Greek is the only door of access to a certain plane of culture which contains more of the seeds of free life and intellectual energy than all the rest of the intellectual discipline of our schools put together. The genius of the Greek language and literature, it is said, is the genius of freedom. The genius of the Latin language is the genius of authority and law. We believe there is a great deal of truth in this view."

But no such ideal is realized in practice, and the actual results are thus stated: "The fact, no doubt, is that in the present embarrassing wealth of disciplinary studies a great many men, with a real gift for mathematics and physical science, and whose education at the university, so far as it is of any value at all, is carried through in the sphere of mathematics or physical science, take up Greek for the Previous Examination in the most perfunctory way, never attain even a rudimentary mastery of the language or the literature, and even lose something in the thoroughness of their early studies, by entering on a subject which they intend to drop as soon as ever it has answered their temporary purpose. Now, for such as these, the compulsory cramming of a little Greek—enough to enable them, perhaps, to construe decently a little New Testament or a little bit of the 'Anabasis' of Xenophon, after they have been carefully prepared by a tutor—is of no kind of good, and yet takes the place of an acquisition which might be of very real use to them in the career they actually propose to themselves." Again: "The real reason for regretting the decision of the University of Cambridge is the tendency of modern education toward superficiality. Whatever can be done to prevent subjects being taken up which are never to be pursued, and which are never so far followed out that they give those who have entered upon them a new sense of power, should be done. Whatever any university can do to en-