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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/129

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EDITOR'S TABLE.

sical education had proved a failure. He first tried to discredit him as not knowing the difference between failure and success, intimating that Mr. Adams has been after all a very successful man; that he studied Greek; therefore, by a well-known classical formula, his success was due to his Greek. But President Porter is not entirely satisfied with the sufficiency of this logic, and so he proceeds to strengthen his case by resorting to counter-testimony. Suddenly converted to the faith that the evidence of men of experience is worth something—at least when it comes on his side—he cites repeated cases of men who, in opposition to Mr. Adams, set a high value on their classical education. The question, then, is, to what extent is Mr. Adams's view substantiated by the testimony of others, and of those who must be regarded as the highest authorities? Let us rule out the enemies of the classics—those ignorant of them or prejudiced against them—and appeal to men whose sympathies and predilections are on the other side, but who have had large opportunities of observing the results of classical study eminent educators, college presidents, experienced teachers, and professors of Latin and Greek, and those who have systematically and under responsibility inquired into the general working of this kind of education.

A conspicuous example of such testimony is obtained without going very far. The eminent President of Columbia College, Dr. F. A. P. Barnard, is a man of enlarged experience in the field of collegiate education, and he has anticipated Mr. Adams in the emphatic reprobation of dead-language studies, on the ground of their incontestable failure. In an address before the University Convocation a few years ago President Barhard said: "What are in fact the results which we do actually reach in the teaching of the classics at this time? Are they in truth anything like what we claim for them? "We hear, for instance, a great deal said of the intellectual treasures locked up in the languages of Greece and Rome, which it is asserted that our system of education throws open to the student freely to enjoy. And yet we know that practically this claim is without foundation. It will not, I presume, be affirmed of the graduates of American colleges generally that they become familiar with any portions of the literature of Rome and Greece which do not form part of their compulsory reading. It will hardly be affirmed that one in ten of them does so. And why not? The reason is twofold: First, there is hardly one in ten in whose mind the classics ever cease to be associated with notions of painful labor. Reading is not therefore pursued beyond the limit of what is required, because it is not agreeable. But, secondly and chiefly, there is hardly one in ten whose knowledge of the Latin or the Greek is ever sufficiently familiar to give him the command of the ancient literature which it is asserted for him that he enjoys. I suppose that, to read with any satisfaction any work in any language, we should be able to give our attention to the ideas that it conveys, without being embarrassed or confused by want of familiarity with the machinery by which they are imparted. It will not be for mere pleasure that we shall pursue our task, if every sentence brings us a new necessity to turn over our lexicons, or to reason out a probable meaning by the application of the laws of syntax. And yet, if there be any of our graduates who are able, without such embarrassments, to read a classical author, never attempted before, the number must be very few. If there are any who can read even such books of Latin and Greek as they have read before, with anything like the fluency with which they read their mother-tongue, the number can not be large; and if there are any who can read, with similar facility, classic works which they take up