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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/768

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ters on the one hand and the natural sciences on the other, the great majority of mankind, all who have not exceptional and overpowering aptitudes for the study of nature, would do well, I can not but think, to choose to be educated in humane letters rather than in the natural sciences. Letters will call out their being at more points, will make them live more.

And indeed, to say the truth, I can not really think that humane letters are in danger of being thrust out from their leading place in education, in spite of the array of authorities against them at this moment. So long as human nature is what it is, their attractions will remain irresistible. They will be studied more rationally, but they will not lose their place. What will happen will rather be that there will be crowded into education other matters besides, far too many; there will be, perhaps, a period of unsettlement and confusion and false tendency; but letters will not in the end lose their leading place. If they lose it for a time, they will get it back again. We shall be brought back to them by our wants and aspirations. And a poor humanist may possess his soul in patience, neither strive nor cry, admit the energy and brilliancy of the partisans of physical science, and their present favor with the public, to be far greater than his own, and still have a happy faith that the nature of things works silently on behalf of the studies which he loves, and that, while we shall all have to acquaint ourselves with the great results reached by modern science, and to give ourselves as much training in its disciplines as we can conveniently carry, yet the majority of men will always require humane letters, and so much the more as they have the more and the greater results of science to relate to the need in man for conduct, and to the need in him for beauty.

And so we have turned in favor of the humanities the "No wisdom, nor understanding, nor counsel, against the Eternal!" which seemed against them when we started. The "hairy quadruped furnished with a tail and pointed ears, probably arboreal in his habits," carried hidden in his nature, apparently, something destined to develop into a necessity for humane letters. The time warns me to stop; but most probably, if we went on, we might arrive at the further conclusion that our ancestor carried in his nature, also, a necessity for Greek. The attackers of the established course of study think that against Greek, at any rate, they have irresistible arguments. Literature may perhaps be needed in education, they say; but why on earth should it be Greek literature? Why not French or German? nay, "has not an Englishman models in his own literature of every kind of excellence?" As before, it is not on any weak pleadings of my own that I rely for convincing the gainsayer; it is on the constitution of human nature itself and on the instinct of self-preservation in humanity. The instinct for beauty is set in human nature, as surely as the instinct for