Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/494

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polish derived from pursuit of the old classical course, and regard themselves as examples—a comfortable frame of mind, truly. Evidently mental culture and mental refinement are synonymous terms to most of those who use the former term, but this is not sufficient; mere refinement must not be all, there must be strength in addition. The all-important culture studies are those which make also for robustness, which enable a man to see broadly, to make inductions safely and to tell to others clearly what he wishes to communicate. Such studies are taught now as never before and with them are taught, also as never before, other studies which make mostly for refinement. A boy entering college to-day must have better acquaintance with history and English literature than had seniors in most of our colleges fifty years ago. Long steps have been taken by several of our States toward making law and medicine actually, instead of nominally, learned professions. Men must have some education before entering upon professional study.

Similarly, the significance of 'literature' must be made definite; it changes with the times. Medieval literature consisted almost wholly of treatises upon harmless topics—such as involved no danger of dispute with church authorities; after the revival of learning, literature was based chiefly upon the newly revealed classics of Greece and Rome; still later, historical disquisitions and philosophical discussions in various forms made up the mass—in each period, that mass concerned matters then most widely interesting. The survivors of each preceding period must have chanted jeremiads over the intellectual decline. In our age, those who love the poem, the essay, the drama, the polished novel and philosophical history, written with a purpose, do find themselves lost. They cannot see good in the development of a new literature, embracing philosophy, archeology, sociology, the natural sciences—a strong literature, often as polished as the old, and showing on the whole a virility unknown even fifty years ago. It reflects the spirit of the age, it is truthful, accurate, honest.

And this brings us to the essence of the whole matter. Stripped of all incidentals, the assertion is that, neglecting mental culture, we have been led to neglect man's higher interests; we have fallen into a slough where everything is subordinated to gain and the rights of man are not regarded; a grasping selfishness brings about combinations in manufacturing interests and makes possible the accumulation of vast fortunes; a base 'commercialism' pervades all society; the body politic is corrupt and honesty has well-nigh disappeared.

The charge that mental culture has been neglected has been considered; it is not true. The other charges remain.

For one hundred years the civilized world has been undergoing repeated transitions. At the beginning of the nineteenth century men lived in quiet; there was no haste. With unfavorable wind, a sloop