Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/746

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admirably the intellectual treasures of our people and the material resources of our country; but, cramped by want of books, want of apparatus, want of everything needed in advanced institutions, cramped above all by the spirit of the sectarian college system, very many of them have been paralyzed. Then, too, the really strong men holding professorships are too often hampered by incompetent men, whose main function was to hear boys 'parrot' text-books by rote in the recitation-room, and to denounce 'science falsely so called' in the chapel, varying these avocations by going about the country denouncing every attempt at a better system as 'godless,' and passing around the contribution-boxes in behalf of the bad system they represented."

The American college of the middle of this century, like its English original, existed for the work of the Church. If the college dies the Church dies, was the basis of its appeal for money and influence. Its duty was to form a class of educated men in whose hands should lie the preservation of the creed. In the mouths of ignorant men the truths of the Church would be clouded. Each wise church would see that its wisdom be not marred by human folly.

The needs of one church indicated the needs of others. So it came about that each of the many organizations called churches in America established its colleges here and there about the country, all based on the same general plan.

And as the little towns on the rivers and prairies grew with the progress of the country into large cities, so it was thought, by some mysterious virtue of inward expansion, these little schools in time would grow to be great universities. And in this optimistic spirit the future was forestalled, and the schools were called universities from the beginning. As time went on, it appeared that a university could not be made without money, and the source of money must be outside the schools. And so has ensued a long struggle between the American college and the wolf at the door—a tedious, belittling conflict, which has done much to lower the name and dignity of higher education. To this educational planting without watering, repeated again and again, East and West, North and South, must be ascribed the unnaturally severe struggle for existence through which our colleges have been forced to pass, the poor work, low salaries, and humiliating economies of the American college professor, the natural end of whom, according to Dr. Holmes, "is starvation."

The intense rivalry among these schools, like rivalry among half-starving tradesmen, has done much to belittle the cause in which all are engaged. At the same time, their combined rivalry has too often prevented the growth within their neighborhood of any better school.