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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/280

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

pily we see in this country but very few of the blooming specimens of what the system can do, because our classical standards in the colleges are not high, and because the pressure of other subjects is not to be entirely resisted. But observation gives abundant assurance that no man is so disqualified for any desirable use, so irremediably helpless in the struggles of actual life, as he who has attained to the high classical ideal, and made himself at home in the literatures of Greece and Borne. The following sketch of a successful university product appeared a few years ago in the London "Times":

"Common things are quite as much neglected and despised in the education of the rich as in that of the poor. It is wonderful how little a young' gentleman may know when he has taken his university degrees, especially if he has been industrious, and has stuck to his studies. He may really spend a long time in looking for somebody more ignorant than himself. If he talks with the driver of the stage-coach, that lands him at his father's door, he finds he knows nothing of horses. If he falls into conversation with a gardener, he knows nothing of plants or flowers. If he walks into the fields, he does not know the difference between barley, rye, and wheat; between rape and turnips; between lucern and sainfoin; between natural and artificial grass. If he goes into a carpenter's yard, he does not know one wood from another. If he comes across an attorney, he has no idea of the difference between common and statute law, and is wholly in the dark as to those securities of personal and political liberty on which we pride ourselves. If he talks with a county magistrate, he finds his only idea of the office is, that the gentleman is a sort of English sheik, as the mayor of the neighboring borough is a sort of cadi. If he strolls into any workshop, or place of manufacture, it is always to find his level, and that a level far below the present company. If he dines out, and as a youth of proved talents, and perhaps university honors, is expected to be literary, his literature is confined to a few popular novels—the novels of the last century, or even of the last generation—history and poetry having been almost studiously omitted in his education. The girl who has never stirred from home, and whose education has been economized, not to say neglected, in order to send her own brother to college, knows vastly more of those things than he does. The same exposure awaits him wherever he goes, and whenever he has the audacity to open his mouth. At sea he is a landlubber, in the country a cockney, in town a greenhorn, in science an ignoramus, in business a simpleton, in pleasure a milksop—everywhere out of his element, everywhere at sea, in the clouds, adrift, or by whatever word utter ignorance and incapacity are to be described. In society and in the work of life he finds himself beaten by the youth whom at college he despised as frivolous or abhorred as profligate. He is ordained, and takes charge of a parish, only to be laughed at by the farmers, the trades people, and even the old women, for he can hardly talk of religion without betraying a want of common sense."

Have we not here delineated the natural outcome of a method of instruction which, despising utility and disparaging modern knowledge, would, if strictly carried out, multiply incapables on every hand? Classical studies are theoretically predominant in most of our higher institutions of education. Could they be "successful," as it is maintained they may be and ought to be—that is, could they be pursued with the thoroughness necessary to gain the advantages claimed for them—what other effect would follow than to fill the community with weaklings, imbeciles, and good-for-nothings, of which the "Times" has portrayed for us a typical example? Such a "success" of the