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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/575

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EDITOR'S TABLE.

pitiful protestations of classical graduates (with their incomparable "mental discipline") that they could not even understand the epoch-making books of these great thinkers.

From this point of view, the English experience with classical studies is especially rich in instruction. Every public influence in that old, aristocratic, tradition-ridden country has favored the ascendency and the perpetuity of dead languages in all grades of education. Whatever benefits could be got from them have been there obtained in abounding measure. Modern knowledge has been hindered and repressed that the classics might have free course and undisputed sway; and yet, as we have before observed, the system worked out such miserable and scandalous results that the state was compelled to look into the subject and do what it could to expose if not to correct the abuses. The Government reports on the condition of education in the universities and great public schools revealed a state of things which will be the wonder of all future ages. Some twenty years ago, Prof. W. P. Atkinson, of Boston, printed a very valuable pamphlet devoted to these English educational reports. We regret to say that it is now out of print, for it would be an invaluable contribution to the discussion now going forward upon this question. As its contents will be new to many, we reprint some passages illustrating the extent to which, even at that time, the classical university education had been practically superseded by forms of culture more suited to the necessities of the times:

This view [that the English universities have lost the hold they once had on the educated classes] will be corroborated if we consider how many of the most influential minds of the century, in science, literature, art, and politics, have either had no connection whatever with the universities, or are under small obligation to them for any connection they may have had. In politics, and political economy, we might name, among others, Romilly, Bentham, Ricardo, Bright, Cobden, Stuart Mill. Though the government of England is monopolized by the aristocracy, the political thought which governs her governors comes daily more and more from the people. The list of "uneducated" men of science—if I may be allowed the absurdity of such a phrase—is far longer, as, after what has been said, might reasonably be expected, than any the universities can show—Davy, Wollaston, Dalton, Faraday, Wheatstone, De la Beche, Murchison, Hind, South, Fitzroy, Playfair, Carpenter—it might be indefinitely extended; and we shall find that the most eminent of her college-educated men of science are the foremost in denouncing her university system. Of course, all her great engineers, inventors, and builders, are uneducated men—Watt, Telford, Smeaton, Rennie, Brindley, the Brunels, the Stephensons, Sir Joseph Paxton—it is with these names that that sad but glorious volume, "The Pursuit of Knowledge under Difficulties," is filled. Her great artists are all "uneducated" men—Flaxman and Gibson, Landseer, Turner, and Stanfield, Kemble and Macready, and all the rest. And, when we turn to literature itself, the greatest English historical work of this generation—a work on classic history, too—was written by an "uneducated" London banker. The greatest, I might almost say the only, English attempt at a philosophy of history, a work which, with all its errors and paradoxes—and I shall not deny that they are many and great—is still one which can not be matched by any similar academic performance, was the work of the "uneducated" son of a London merchant. Her novelists—Dickens, Thackeray, Jerrold, Marryat—come from all quarters save the banks of the Cam and the Isis; not to mention so many of that sex which is excluded altogether from their sacred borders. Bulwer is, indeed, a Cambridge man, but I think Cambridge will be slow to put forward that pretentious charlatan as an example of the fruits of her classical training. Even of her poets, critics, and essayists, what a long list are among the wholly "uneducated," or must be classed among those who derived no benefit from their stay at a university, save that (undoubtedly great) one which comes from mere residence at a place of learning! The names at once occur of Crabbe, Rogers, Lamb, Moore, Montgomery, Hunt, Gifford, Hazlitt, Hood. Who would hesitate to say where Scott's real education lay? Who has criticised the education of Oxford so wittily as Sydney Smith, or so grimly as Carlyle? Wordsworth and Coleridge, in their short