Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/484

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sities, fluctuating as regards political liberty, but standing up for intellectual liberty. In the seventeenth century the Church ruled the universities; in the eighteenth, it may be said that the universities returned the compliment.

Enough for the past. A word or two on the present. What is now the need for a university system, and what must the system be to answer that need? Many things are altered since the twelfth century.

First, then, universities, as I understand them, are not absolutely essential to the teaching of professions. Let me make an extreme supposition. A great naval commander, like Nelson, is sent on board ship, at eleven or twelve; his previous knowledge, or general training, is what you may suppose for that age. It is in the course of actual service, and in no other way, that he acquires his professional fitness for commanding fleets. Is this right or is it wrong? Perhaps it is wrong, but it has gone on so for a long time. Well, why may not a preacher be formed on the same plan? John Wesley was not a greater man in preaching than Nelson in seamanship. Take, then, a youth of thirteen from the school. Apprentice him to the minister of the parish. Let him make at once preparations for clerical work. Let him store his memory with sermons, let him make abstracts of divinity systems; master the best exegetical commentators. Then, in a year or two, he would begin to catechise the young, to give addresses in the way of exposition, exhortation, encouragement, and rebuke. Practice would bring facility. Might not, I say, seven years of the actual work, in the susceptible period of life, make a preacher of no mean power, without the grammar-school, without the Arts classes, without the Divinity Hall?

What, then, do we gain by taking such a roundabout approach to our professional work? The answer is twofold:

First, as regards the profession itself. Nearly every skilled occupation, in our time, involves principles and facts that have been investigated, and are taught, outside the profession; to the medical man are given courses of chemistry, physiology, and so on. Hence, to be completely equipped for your professional work, you must repair to the teachers of those tributary departments of knowledge. The requirement, however, is not absolute; it admits of being evaded. Your professional teachers ought to master these outside subjects, and give you just so much of them as you need, and no more; which would be an obvious economy of your valuable time.

Thus, I apprehend, the strictly professional uses of general knowledge fail to justify the grammar-school and the Arts' curriculum. Something, indeed, may still be said for the higher grades of professional excellence, and for introducing improved methods into the practice of the several crafts, for which wider outside studies lend their aid. This, however, is not enough; inventors are the exception. In