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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/552

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

again like a heavy and useless burden. Nothing is converted in succum et sanguinem. The only thing that seems to remain is an intellectual nausea—a dislike of the food swallowed under compulsion.

The mischief done is, I believe, most serious. It will poison the best blood of England, if it has not done so already.

It is the best men who suffer most from the system of perpetual examination. The lazy majority has, I believe, been benefited by it, but the vigor of the really clever and ambitious boys has been systematically deadened. Formerly some of my clever young friends were what is called idle at Oxford, but during their hours of idleness, which mostly meant discursive reading and thinking, they grew into something, they became different from others. Now, my young friends seem all alike, all equally excellent, but so excellent that you can hardly tell one from the other. What is the result?

We have excellent members of Parliament, excellent judges, excellent bishops, excellent generals: but if we want to know Who is Who! we must often consult a Red-Book. England is losing its intellectual athletes who were a head and shoulders taller than the rest, and used to be looked up to as born leaders of men. And if history teaches anything, it teaches us that no country remains great without really great men, without a few men different from the rest.

I am asked what remedy there is. In the university there is, I believe, a remedy. Let there be two sets of examinations, one for clever and studious men who promise to take high honors, another for the many. For the latter the examinations might remain what they are now. Only the degrees might be given, not in the name of the university, but in the name of the different colleges. For the former there should be a real matriculation examination held by the university, not, as now, by the colleges; and then, after three or four years, a final examination might follow for real academic honors, allowing great latitude in the subjects of examination.

Much depends in all this on the examiners. In England most examiners are young men, in Germany they are invariably old. The professores ordinarii, who alone examine for academic degrees in German universities, try to find out what candidates have learned and know; our young examiners seem chiefly bent on finding out what candidates do not know. Add to this that in some cases, though rarely, examiners are actually the same persons who have crammed their examinees, and it may be imagined how human nature is tried in that process, and what the result must be.

With regard to the civil service, I know no substitute for