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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

stay at the university, owed little or nothing to the studies of the place. Southey says he only learned to swim there—badly; Byron was ruined there; and the beautiful genius of Shelley found there, instead of the help and guidance it so much needed, only cruel and ignominious abuse. Keats, some of whose exquisite poems breathe the very spirit of classical antiquity, was a stable-keeper's son, and never studied at public school or university. England's eminent surgeons and physicians are not university men; and what is it that in that country keeps theology so far behind all other sciences, but the fact that the clergy are the only profession who are compelled to subject their minds to the full "dementalizing" power of Oxford training? What power less potent could produce the bigotry of an English High-Church bishop? I am not forgetful of the eminent names that may be produced on the other side; but, even in regard to these, the question must always he asked, How far was their eminence due to their education? The real relation in which the English schools and universities stand to her greatest minds, even in the past, and the share which university teaching really had in training them, is a problem that still needs elucidation. "We are not sure," says the present Lord Brougham, writing in 1826, "whether the result of the investigation would be so favorable as is commonly supposed to Oxford and Cambridge. And of this we are sure, that many persons, who, since they have risen to eminence, are perpetually cited as proofs of the beneficial tendency of English education, were at college never mentioned but as idle, frivolous men, fond of desultory reading, and negligent of the studies of the place. It would be indelicate to name the living; but we may venture to speak more particularly of the dead. It is truly curious to observe the use that is made, in such discussions, of names which we acknowledge to be glorious, but in which the colleges have no reason to glory—that of Bacon, who reprobated their fundamental constitution; of Dryden, who abjured his Alma Mater, and regretted that he had passed his youth under her care; of Locke, who was censured and expelled; of Milton, whose person was outraged at one university, and whose works were committed to the flames at the other.

It may, perhaps, be argued that many of the "uneducated" men whom I have been enumerating would have been the better for a university training. For a true university training, no doubt they would—one that would have developed all their powers harmoniously, while it gave full play to their special genius. With the advocates of such a training, I have here no controversy; I will even grant that many of these writers, in spite of their genius, betray the faults which are wont to mark the self-educated man. But would it have been better for Mr. Buckle himself if, by a long course of nonsense-verses, the attempt had been made to flatter and polish him down to the regulation standard of Oxford mediocrity? Mr. Buckle at least stimulates us to think; can as much be said of Oxford bishops? There is a passage in a recently published book of travels in Russia, by Professor Piazzi Smyth, the Astronomer-Royal for Scotland, which bears on this question and records a somewhat surprising conclusion. Describing a conversation he had with that eminent astronomer, Struve, as to the results of their experience in university teaching, both agreed that on many points further inquiry was greatly needed; but Professor Struve said that "this conclusion had been drawn independently by so many differently circumstanced men in the Russian and German-Baltic provinces, from the general impressions which their recollections gave them, that there could be little doubt of its containing much truth—truth, too, of a startling character: the first boys at school disappear at the colleges, and those who are first in the colleges disappear in the world." I am not sure that a similar conclusion would not follow from a similar investigation into our own, as well as into English and German academical history, and that it would not be found that the men most useful and successful in after-life were not those who had placed themselves most fully under the influence of college training, or been stimulated to exertion by mere hope of college rewards, but those who had been most successful in escaping its narrowing influences, while, on the other hand, they had also escaped the still greater dangers of idleness and dissipation in the formative period of their history men who had cast from them the trammels of pedantry, and with independent energy marked out their own career.

 

 

We publish the first of a series of articles on some of the political tendencies of the times, by Herbert Spencer. The present paper, though treating of affairs in England, and therefore full of English illustrations, will be found to have a bearing upon urgent questions in this country, and to in-