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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 3.djvu/660

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the proper guidance is to be found only in—science. For that interpretation of national life, past and present, without which the citizen cannot regulate his conduct, the indispensable key is—science. Alike for the most perfect production and highest enjoyment of art in all its forms, the needful preparation is still—science. The question which at first seemed so perplexed has become, in the course of our inquiry, comparatively simple. We have not to estimate the degrees of importance of different orders of human activity and different studies as severally fitting us for them; since we find that the study of science, in its most comprehensive meaning, is the best preparation for all these orders of activity. We have not to decide between the claims of knowledge of great though conventional value, and knowledge of less though intrinsic value; seeing that the knowledge which we find to be of most value in all other respects is intrinsically most valuable; its worth is not dependent upon opinion, but is as fixed as is the relation of man to the surrounding world. Necessary and eternal as are its truths, all science concerns all mankind for all time. Equally at present, and in the remotest future, must it be of incalculable importance for the regulation of their conduct, that men should understand the science of life, physical, mental, and social: and that they should understand all other science as a key to the science of life."




The readers of the Monthly may recollect that, in his article in the April number, Mr. Spencer criticised the position taken by Matthew Arnold in regard to the needs of English culture. Mr. Arnold is a great admirer of the French Academy, which, he says, was established "to work, with all the care and all the diligence possible, at giving sure rules to our (the French) language, and rendering it pure, eloquent, and capable of treating the arts and sciences," and he thinks something of the kind would be of great service in England. Mr. Spencer pinted out the inefficiency and absurdity of such an attempt at supervision, and prepared a note to the article, which was not printed with it. We insert it here, as it has both a personal interest and a significance in relation to classical studies, as a preparation for English:

"Before leaving the question of Academies and their influences, let me call attention to a fact which makes me doubt whether as a judge of style, considered simply as correct or incorrect, an Academy is to be trusted. Mr. Arnold, insisting on propriety of expression, and giving instances of bad taste among our writers, due, as he thinks, to absence of Academic control, tacitly asserts than an Academy, if we had one, would condemn the passages he quotes as deserving condemnation, and, by implication, would approve the passages he quotes as worthy of approval. Let us see to what Mr. Arnold awards his praise. He says:

To illustrate what I mean by an example. Addison, writing as a moralist on fixedness in religious faith, says:

"Those who delight in reading books of controversy do very seldom arrive at a fixed and settled habit of faith. The doubt which was laid revives again, and shows itself in new difficulties; and that generally for this reason—because the mind, which is perpetually tossed in controversies and disputes, is apt to forget the reasons which had once set it at rest, and to be disquieted with any former perplexity when it appears in a new shape, or is started by a different hand."

'It may be said, that is classical English, perfect in lucidity, measure, and propriety. I make no objection; but in my turn, I say that the idea expressed is perfectly trite and barren,' etc., etc.

"In Mr. Arnold's estimate of Addison's thought I coincide entirely; but I cannot join him in applauding the 'classical English' conveying the thought. Indeed, I am not a little astonished that one whose taste in style is proved by his own writing to be so good, and who to his poems especially gives a sculpturesque finish, should have quoted, not simply without condemnation but with tacit eulogy, a passage full of faults. Let us examine it critically, part by part.