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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/720

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

of observation and the appreciation of scenery. An artist sees so much more in a landscape than an ordinary observer, that he is justified in thinking that the ordinary observer scarcely sees anything at all. Darwin all his life bitterly regretted that he had not learned drawing when young; yet drawing is quite as easily learned by a boy as writing, and gives him the power of showing in a picture much that can not be described in words. Darwin also constantly lamented that he had not overcome his repugnance to dissecting, so as to practice the art and gain direct access to much valuable evidence. Yet, notwithstanding defects in his equipment, he rose, by what he calls sheer doggedness, to ascertaining through observation and thought one of the greatest laws of organic life. Tested by verbal standards, this great man would not have stood high. His verbal memory was poor. He always found it difficult to express himself clearly and concisely, yet this very difficulty was beneficial in making him think long and intently about every sentence, leading him to correct errors in observation and reasoning. He had the strongest disbelief that a classical scholar must write good English—he thought the contrary to be the case. Of literary style as an indulgence in power over words he evidently thought little; while he acknowledged the vividness of Carlyle's pictures of men and things, he questioned their truth. Darwin, by his life, more convincingly than by what he said, demonstrated the supreme value in education of addressing the senses and the reasoning powers rather than the verbal memory. Few boys are destined to be naturalists, and none may hope to be as great as Darwin; yet the lesson of his life is eloquent to every one surrounded by a world of things to be observed, of testimony to be elicited and sifted, of gaps in known truth to be bridged and filled. Because in times past the area of known truth has been vastly overestimated, and the value of language in the expression of such truth equally overestimated, written creeds, theological, political, legal, and educational, have on all sides blocked human advance.

 

 

Apropos of Cambridge and progress in the modernization of its curriculum, it is pleasant to read the recent remarks of Professor Seeley, who occupies the chair of Modern History at Cambridge. On the 10th of January, at the Congress of the National Society of French Professors residing in England, he said: "A crisis in the history of English education is upon us, in that classicism education is once more attacked, and the affirmation strongly made that the interests of practical life must no longer be neglected in our educational system, and that Englishmen must be prepared at school to compete in commerce and in business with their foreign rivals, and for this purpose they will have to renounce in part that training in Latin and Greek which former generations of Englishmen have received. The assertion is made more peremptorily, more impatiently, than ever before. I am myself by breeding a classicist of the classicists. In aim I am most heartily at one with the classicists. At the same time I think that in taking up their position they display a spirit of blind, unreasoning conservatism, such as in politics died out with Lord Eldon. What is to be done if the claims of practical life and those of culture are radically incompatible? I should say that the Master of Balliol laid the best basis for such an arrangement when he pointed out that French might be treated as a stepping-stone to Latin.

"Let us give up the preposterous doctrine that Latin must be learned in order to learn French, and let us teach French in order to teach Latin. In so doing we do not sacrifice literature to