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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/132

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

mental concernment. There has been not only a change here, but a reversal of the order of importance. The question now is, not of the art of expression in itself, but to what is it subservient. We grow increasingly impatient of the rhetorician. The casket may be elegant, but what does it contain? The husks and shells of expression have had sufficient attention—we have now to deal with the living kernel of truth. The old ideal is discredited by the new developments of knowledge, and the new ideal must contain more substantial elements than that which it supersedes. Under the old ideal of culture, a man may still be grossly ignorant of the things most interesting and now most important to know; but an ideal of cultivation begins to be demanded which does not comport with ignorance. Modern knowledge is the highest and most perfected form of knowledge, and it is no longer possible to maintain that it is not also the best knowledge for that cultivation of mind and character which is the proper object of education. This truth is making its way steadily, and although the traditional ideal of culture is strongly fortified in existing institutions, and maintained by old habits and associations, it is undermined on every side, and is certain to give place to more comprehensive and rational views of what constitutes a properly cultivated man.

The leading criticisms of Professor Huxley's book, as we have said, illustrate this position decisively. They not only show that the question is uppermost and urgent with the thinking classes, but that science has already so clearly established its main positions that the old resistance is futile, and that a revised and enlarged conception of culture has become inevitable. Professor Huxley is even reproached by distinguished literary authorities for not fully perceiving the strength of his own case, and how far science has already pushed its educational conquests. It is even maintained that the scientific spirit and method have so far penetrated and revolutionized the classical system as to have given it a new lease of life; so that it will be conserved in future only by virtue of what it has borrowed from the progressive agency which it has hitherto so desperately resisted. The London "Saturday Review" discourses upon the subject as follows:

Professor Huxley's position as to the claims of the natural sciences on the one hand and the humanities on the other of the "modern" and the "classical" plan of education, as they are commonly called is, on the whole, if we rightly collect his meaning, something like this: The mediæval system of European universities, which with more or less minor diversity was in substance the same everywhere, embraced everything which to the best men of its day seemed best worth a man's knowing, and deserves our thanks and praise according to its time and work. But it became stereotyped and inexpansive. It was too narrow to hold the flood of new knowledge and interests let loose upon the world by the revival of classical learning. The Renaissance, in so far as it affected education, was the protest of far-sighted reformers against the bondage of mediævalism. The humanities fought their pitched battle against the scholastic curriculum, and won it. Our present classical education represents the triumph of the litteræ humaniores three centuries and a half ago. But the humanities, like the scholastic system before them, have in their turn become stereotyped. Now science has arisen and opened a new world, unfamiliar to the men of classical traditions, and often scorned by them; and science is fighting its way to its proper eminence as Greek did in the days of Erasmus. The leaders of science are the true humanists of our own time, and the old-fashioned humanities must give place to them. Now, if we were prepared to assume, as Professor Huxley to some extent seems tacitly to assume, that classical education had reached its final development, and that nothing more was to come out of scholarship and antiquities than was got out of them by English scholars forty or fifty years ago, we should entirely agree with Professor Huxley's conclusions. But, for our part, we are not prepared to assume anything of the kind. There are matters not adverted to by Professor Huxley, and to which, as they certainly lie outside his business, his attention may naturally have not been directed, which appear to