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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/383

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369
EDITOR'S TABLE.

his own, and so out of all relation to the hard workaday facts of college and university life, that it practically served little other purpose than to confirm a bad state of things, and to put a new weapon into the hands of the educational obstructives. Let us see how this result was effected.

Mr. Mill began by enforcing the largest claims of ancient learning. He outstripped all contemporaries in the extent and rigor of his classical exactions. He refused a place to modern languages in the collegiate course, saying that these can be best studied in the countries where they are spoken, while three or four of them can be easily picked up after the classical tongues have been secured. With the modern languages modern literature was also ruled out. "The only languages, then, and the only literature," says he, "to which I would allow a place in the ordinary curriculum are those of the Greeks and Romans, and to these I would preserve the position in it which they at present occupy." The reasons which he offered for studying Greek and Latin were far from being the stock-reasons that we are accustomed to hear. These languages are to be acquired for the purpose of mastering their literary contents. Not for any such slight considerations as the bearings of the classical languages upon English, or to be able to understand current quotations, or for the mere discipline of lingual study, are they to be acquired, but that the student may enter into the spirit and breathe the atmosphere of ancient life. He is to be at home in Greek and Roman thought as he is in that of his native speech. "We must be able in a certain degree to think in Greek if we would represent to ourselves how a Greek thought; and this not only in the abstruse region of metaphysics, but about the political, religious, and even domestic concerns of life." Translations are not to be accepted. Though the profoundest scholar, after life-long preparation, renders an ancient author into English, the student of the "ordinary curriculum" must be able to translate it better for himself. He must not trust to other person's impressions, but must have every thing at first hand, and go directly to the fountain-head. Greek and Latin must be studied, that the student may get at the original materials of history, so as to check and correct the historians. The modern classics, English, German, and French, are insufficient as models; those of Greece and Rome are more perfect, and therefore the student must use them to form his style and perfect his literary taste.

Mr. Mill then went on to argue the claims of the sciences, but his work was superfluous. Methuselah might have listened to him with interest, but practical men knew that the demands he had already made were far beyond the possibilities of realization by general students in the usual period of study. Already he had laid out a scheme of professional scholarship not attainable in its completeness by one in a hundred of those who give their lives to it. Mr. Mill's words, to be sure, were hot with scorn when he referred to the "shameful inefficiency," and "wretched methods," and "laborious idleness," of current classical teaching—the constant fruits of the system for centuries, as testified to by similar denunciations of the most eminent men. But he did not say, "Improve these methods or get them out of the way." On the contrary, he indorsed unqualifiedly Greek and Latin studies in "the position which they at present occupy;" and, to carry out his views, nothing remained but to give them a greatly-increased attention. The practical effect of his argument was, to lend renewed and powerful support to the classical system as it now exists, and this was the general interpretation given to the address. It was universally hailed as a triumph of the classical party, and thrown in