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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/756

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a hundred years hence there will only be a few eccentrics reading letters, and almost every one will be studying the natural sciences—the "Times," instead of counseling Mr. Bright's young people rather to drink deep of Homer, is for giving them, above all, "the works of Darwin and Lyell and Bell and Huxley," and for nourishing them upon the voyage of the Challenger. Stranger still, a brilliant man of letters in France, M. Renan, assigns the same date of a hundred years hence as the date by which the historical and critical studies, in which his life has been passed and his reputation made, will have fallen into neglect, and deservedly so fallen. It is the regret of his life, M. Renan tells us, that he did not himself originally pursue the natural sciences, in which he might have forestalled Darwin in his discoveries.

What does it avail, in presence of all this, that we find one of your own prophets, Bishop Thirlwall, telling his brother who was sending a son to be educated abroad that he might be out of the way of Latin and Greek, "I do not think that the most perfect knowledge of every language now spoken under the sun could compensate for the want of them"? What does it avail, even, that an august lover of science, the great Goethe, should have said, "I wish all success to those who are for preserving to the literature of Greece and Rome its predominant place in education"? Goethe was a wise man, but the irresistible current of things was not then manifest as it is now. "No wisdom, nor counsel, nor understanding, against the Eternal!"

But to resign one's self too passively to supposed designs of the Eternal is fatalism. Perhaps they are not really designs of the Eternal at all, but designs—let us for example say—of Mr. Herbert Spencer. Still the design of abasing what is called "mere literary instruction and education," and of exalting what is called "sound, extensive, and practical scientific knowledge," is a very positive design and makes great progress. The universities are by no means outside its scope. At the recent congress in Sheffield of elementary teachers—a very able and important body of men whose movements I naturally follow with strong interest—at Sheffield one of the principal speakers proposed that the elementary teachers and the universities should come together on the common ground of natural science. On the ground of the dead languages, he said, they could not possibly come together; but, if the universities would take natural science for their chosen and chief ground instead, they easily might. Mohammed was to go to the mountain, as there was no chance of the mountain's being able to go to Mohammed.

The vice-chancellor has done me the honor to invite me to address you here to-day, although I am not a member of this great university. Your liberally conceived use of Sir Robert Rede's lecture leaves you free in the choice of a person to deliver the lecture founded by him, and on the present occasion the vice-chancellor has gone for a lecturer