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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/394

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

favor of a better education, and in 1524 he addressed a letter to tine councils of all the towns in Germany, begging them to vote money not merely for roads, dikes, guns, and the like, but for schoolmasters, so that all children might be taught; and he states his opinion that if it be the duty of a state to compel the able-bodied to carry arms, it is a fortiori its duty to compel its subjects to send their children to school, and to provide schools for those who without such aid would remain uninstructed.

Here we have the germ of Germany's position at the present day, not only in scientific instruction but in everything which that instruction brings with it.

With the Reformation this idea spread to France. In 1560 we find the States-General of Orleans suggesting to Francis II a "levée d'une contribution sur les bénéfices ecclésiastiques pour raisonablement stipendier des pédagogues et gens lettrés, en toutes villes et villages, pour l'instruction de la pauvre jeunesse du plat pays, et soient tenus les pères et mères, à peine d'amende, à, envoyer les dits enfants à l'école, et à ce faire soient contraints par les segnieurs et les juges ordinaires."

Two years after this suggestion, however, the religious wars broke out; the material interests of the clerical party had predominated, the new spirit was crushed under the iron heel of priestcraft, and the French, in consequence, had to wait for three centuries and a revolution before they could get comparatively free.

In the universities, or at all events alongside them, we find next the introduction not so much yet of science as we now know it, with its experimental side, as of the scientific spirit.

The history of the Collége de France, founded in 1531 by Francis I, is of extreme interest. In the fifteenth century the studies were chiefly literary, and except in the case of a few minds they were confined merely to scholastic subtleties, taught (I have it on the authority of the Statistique de l'Enseignement Supérieur) in barbarous Latin. This was the result of the teaching of the faculties; but even then, outside the faculties, which were immutable, a small number of distinguished men still occupied themselves in a less rigid way in investigation; but still these studies were chiefly literary. Among those men may be mentioned Danes, Postel, Dole, Guillaume Budé, Lefèvre d'Étaples, and others, who edited with notes and commentaries Greek and Latin authors whom the university scarcely knew by name. Hence the renaissance of the sixteenth century, which gave birth to the Collége de France, the function of which, at the commencement, was to teach those things which were not in the ordinary curriculum of the faculties. It was called the Collége des Deux Langues, the languages being Hebrew and Greek.