Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/551

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from unknown causes, moving in unknown orbits and about un-known centers; also, with equal confidence, that, not far away, inebriety and its evils will be understood, treated, and prevented, as positively as any other disease.



CONSIDERING that nearly forty years ago I did my best to prove the necessity of examinations for admission to the civil service, it will be believed that I did not sign the foregoing protest with a light heart. Before the Indian civil service had been thrown open, and before Sir Charles Trevelyan had carried his reform of the civil service in England, I was allowed by the then editor of the “Times” to publish several letters signed “La Carrière Ouverte,” in which I said all that could be said against appointments by patronage and in favor of examinations.

Nor should I wish to withdraw now any of the arguments which I then advanced. I hold as strongly as ever that appointment by patronage is too much for human nature. But I believe the time has come to examine the examinations, to improve them, and to reduce, if possible, the evil which, in addition to much real good, they have produced. The present system of perpetual examination, in spite of all the good which it has done, stands self-condemned, so far as our public schools and universities are concerned, by two facts which can not be contested; viz., (1) the number of men who, after having spent six years at a public school, fail to pass the matriculation examination in college, or the little-go examination in the university; (2) the number of men who, after having taken a degree at Oxford or Cambridge, can not pass the civil-service examinations without spending a year or two with a crammer. These facts speak for themselves. I wish, indeed, that I had time to go fully into the subject, but I have not at present, and I must be satisfied with giving my general impressions, and saying what is uppermost in my mind.

From what I have seen at Oxford and elsewhere, all real joy in study seems to me to have been destroyed by the examinations as now conducted. Young men imagine that all their work has but one object—to enable them to pass the examinations. Every book they have to read, even to the number of pages, is prescribed. No choice is allowed; no time is left to look either right or left. What is the result? The required number of pages is got up under compulsion, therefore grudgingly, and after the examination is over what has been got up is got rid of