be the aim of the colleges. "Colleges can only serve us," said Emerson long ago, "when their aim is not to drill, but to create. They will gather every ray of genius to their hospitable halls, that by their combined influence they may set the heart of the youth in flame." It was in 1864 that Agassiz said, in advocating the elective system, that although it might possibly give the pretext for easy evasion of duty to some inefficient or lazy students, it gave larger opportunities to the better class, and the university should adapt itself to the latter rather than to the former. "The bright students," he said, "are now deprived of the best advantages to be had because the dull or the indifferent must be treated like children."
In the same year Emerson spoke of the old grudge he had for forty-five years owed Harvard College for the cruel waste of two years of college time on mathematics without any attempt to adapt these tasks to the capacity of learners. "I still remember," he said, "the useless pains I took, and my serious recourse to my tutor for aid he did not know how to give me. And now I see to-day the same indiscriminate imposing of mathematics on all students during two years. Ear, or no ear, you shall all learn music, to the waste of the time and health of a large part of the class."
I remember well the beginning of the modern system in the university of a neighboring State. It came as the permission, carefully guarded, to certain students who had creditably passed the examination of the freshman year in Latin, to take, instead of the sophomore Latin, some advanced work in zoölogy. To the very great surprise of the Professor of Latin, those who availed themselves of this opportunity "to take something easy" were not the worst students in Latin, but the best. Those who were attracted by investigation chose the new road; the plodders and shirks were contented with the evils they had, rather than to fly to others that they knew not of. And so, little by little in that institution, and in all the others, has come about a relaxation of the chains of the curriculum of Oxford and Cambridge, and the extension of opportunities for students to find out the facts of Nature for themselves, rather than to rest with the conserved wisdom of an incurious past.
Thus slowly and painfully came about the development of the scientific courses. We can all remember the dreary time when, in the tedious faculty meetings, we used to devise scientific courses, short in time and weak in quality, for students who could not or would not learn Latin and Greek. There was no scientific preparation or achievement required in these courses. They were scientific only in the sense that they were not anything else. Their degree of B. S., which should have meant