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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/305

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THE CLASSICAL QUESTION IN GERMANY.

classical study as a waste of time. The classical party of that period resisted the introduction of any studies but Latin, Greek, and mathematics. The "modernists" of to-day demand the abolition of Greek as a required study in a liberal course. Many of them, indeed, would like to send Latin the same road. The modern "classicists" are on the defensive, and constantly grant more concessions, or see them wrested from them.

This discussion, which in one form or another has appeared in every civilized nation, has been everywhere marked by bitterness and prejudice, and has resulted in a slowly-growing victory for modern culture. The question has attracted renewed and wide attention in this country of late, owing to Mr. Charles Francis Adams's attack upon the requisition of Greek as a part of the course in Harvard College. The old weapons on both sides have been again brought out and burnished, and made to do valiant service in the good cause. The result of the criticism and counter-criticism has been to demonstrate pretty clearly that, however we may feel about it, the fact is, that the cause of the "modernists" is gaining ground. President Porter, in a rejoinder to Mr. Adams, in the "Princeton Review" for September last, remarks, in substance, that the proposition to drop Greek from the list of required studies was somewhat "hesitatingly urged many years ago by the adventurous and sanguine President of Harvard College." If the writer is not greatly mistaken, President Eliot did not only urge it years ago, but has vigorously and persistently urged it ever since, and it is probably only a question of time when his policy will be adopted, whether urged by him or by some one else.

The discussion as to the relative merits of the classics and other subjects, as constituents of a liberal course of study, has always been marked by a great deference to authority. The assertions of eminent men, as to the advantage or disadvantage to them of the classical course which they pursued while young, always play a prominent part. The testimony of eminent educators, as to their observation of the effect that a study of the classics seemed to have on the minds and hearts of their pupils, is quoted and requoted. The tradition and usages of hundreds of years are strongly appealed to in order to show the superiority of the one system over the other.

The present discussion in our American press has been no exception to the rule. But, in addition to the regular authorities which are quoted on all occasions, a new witness has been appealed to in this controversy, whose testimony on the question is regarded by many as decisive and final. This is the experience of the Germans, embodied in what is known as the "Berlin Report," and which has been widely urged as an authoritative answer to Mr. Adams's argument. It seems to be supposed that this thorough-going people have entered into the subject experimentally and on an extensive scale, with a view of settling it effectually. They have made, it is asserted, a fair trial of