forced itself upon the thought of the present age with the following result: "I made for myself what might perhaps be called a specialty in connection with the development of the railroad system. I do not hesitate to say that I have been incapacitated from properly developing my specialty by the sins of omission and commission incident to my college training. The mischief is done, and, so far as I am concerned, is irreparable. I am only one more sacrifice to the fetich. But I do not propose to be a silent sacrifice. I am here to-day to put the responsibility for my failure—so far as I have failed—at the door of my preparatory and college education."
Mr. Adams charges that this failure is very far from being a thing of imagination or sentiment; but, on the contrary, it has been not only matter-of fact and real, but to the last degree humiliating. He convicts his college of having refused to furnish him with that modern knowledge which is indispensable to effective work in modern life; of withholding from him the knowledge of those living languages which open communication with the world of contemporary thought; of wasting his youthful years upon dead languages which were never learned; of substituting a lax superficiality for thoroughness of attainment; of forcing its vicious system back upon the preparatory schools; and of adhering with superstitious tenacity to an educational policy fitted only to turn out incompetent smatterers, not half taught in subjects of very small importance. We quote some pointed passages of his indictment:
How did Harvard College prepare me, and my ninety-two classmates of the year 1856, for our work in a life in which we have had these homely precepts brought close to us 1 In answering the question it is not altogether easy to preserve one's gravity. The college fitted us for this active, bustling, hard-hitting, many-tongued world, caring nothing for authority and little for the past, but full of its living thought and living issues, in dealing with which there was no man who did not stand in pressing and constant need of every possible preparation as respects knowledge and exactitude and thoroughness—the poor old college prepared us to play our parts, in this world by compelling us, directly and indirectly, to devote the best part of our school lives to acquiring a confessedly superficial knowledge of two dead languages.
In regard to the theory of what we call a 1 liberal education, there is, as I understand it, not much room for difference of opinion. There are certain fundamental requirements without a thorough mastery of which no one can pursue a specialty to advantage. Upon these common fundamentals are grafted the specialties—the students' electives, as we call them. The man is simply mad who in these days takes all knowledge for his province. He who professes to do so can only mean that he proposes, in so far as in him lies, to reduce superficiality to a science.Such is the theory. Now, what is the practice? Thirty years ago, as for three centuries before, Greek and Latin were the fundamentals. The grammatical study of two dead languages was the basis of all liberal education. It is still its basis. But, following the theory out, I think all will admit that, as respects the fundamentals, the college training should be compulsory and severe. It should extend through the whole course. No one ought to become a Bachelor of Arts until, upon these fundamentals, he had passed an examination, the scope and thoroughness of