Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/558

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and the child will easily excel the man. This is because ear, and the memory derived from ear, are the means by which languages are acquired. Reason enables us to predict what is probable, when we know that which has previously occurred. If, then, we informed a reasoning individual that a chair, an article made of wood, with four legs, was feminine in French, and then called his attention to a stool, an article made of wood, with four legs, and inquired to what gender he considered the stool belonged, he would naturally conclude that it also was feminine; but a stool (tabouret) is masculine in French.

Then, again, the pronunciation of words is purely arbitrary. Take our own language, for example, and such words as plough, enough, cough, dough, bough, rough, etc. Where does reason enter into the pronunciation of such words? What power of intellect would enable us to pronounce "cough" correctly, even though we knew how "bough" was spoken? Yet, in spite of these unreasonable laws, classics and modern languages are not unusually referred to, not as stored knowledge, but as tests of mental power. As a rule, it is not the reasoner, or person gifted with great brain-power, who the most quickly learns a language, but the superficial thinker, gifted with ear; and these superficial people are the first to quiz any error made when a speaker attempts to converse in a foreign language.

We may fairly divide the subjects employed in modern mental training into those which store and those which strengthen the mind. Languages; a knowledge of history and geography; the facts connected with various sciences, such as chemistry, electricity, astronomy, etc., are stores; but not one of these does more than store the mind. Men's minds were stored with a certain number of astronomical facts when Galileo attempted to revive the olden belief that the earth rotated; but their minds had not been strengthened, as it was the leading astronomers who most offered opposition to him. Several men with stored minds were the great opponents of Stephenson when he talked about traveling twenty miles an hour on a railroad. So that it appears that, no matter how well a mind may be stored, if it is incapable of judging correctly on a novelty, it can not be called a strong mind.

Our competitive examinations tend almost entirely to bring to the front those whose minds are the best stored, and many persons therefore have come to the conclusion that by such a course we have obtained for our various services what are termed "the cleverest youths." It does not, however, follow that this result has been obtained. The greatest brain-power may actually be low down in the list of a competitive examination in which stored knowledge alone has been requisite. There is a certain advantage to be gained by storing the mind with facts, and some people imagine that a knowledge of these facts indicates an educated and strong mind. It, however, merely proves that the mind has been stored; it does not prove it to have been