Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/326

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The second conclusion that seems justified is no less important for the science teacher. It is this: Since the dawn of modern science was preceded by the solution of a great number of practical problems, which arose from the practical needs and the ideals of the times, and which developed in humanity a great deal of skill in the handling of tools and the mastering of matter, the course of the child in learning science should be similar. Hence, it is unscientific to try to teach modern science to a child that has not been prepared for it by a symbolic middle-age training in the mastery of tools, brute force and concrete matter.

No one can realize more fully than the writer the inadequacy of this discussion of this mighty theme. The same theme has been handled far more completely by Carlyle in the following short paragraphs from his review of the Corn Law Rhymes:

Nay, it appears to us as if in this humble Chant of the Village Patriarch might be traced rudiments of a truly great idea; great though all undeveloped. The Rhapsody of "Enoch Wray" is, in its nature and unconscious tendency, Epic; a whole world lies shadowed in it. What we might call an inarticulate, half-audible Epic! The main figure is a blind aged man; himself a ruin, and encircled with the ruin of a whole Era. Sad and great does that image of a universal Dissolution hover visible as a poetic background. Good old Enoch! He could do so much; was so wise, so valiant. No Ilion had he destroyed; yet somewhat he had built up: where the Mill stands noisy by its cataract, making corn into bread for men, it was Enoch that reared it, and made the rude rocks to send it water; where the mountain Torrent now boils in vain, and is mere passing music to the traveler, it was Enoch's cunning that spanned it with that strong Arch, grim, time-defying. Where Enoch's hand or mind has been, Disorder has become Order; Chaos has receded some little handbreadth, had to give up some new handbreadth of his ancient realm....

Rudiments of an Epic, we say; and of the true Epic of our Time,—were the genius but arrived that could sing it! Not "Arms and the Man"; "Tools and the Man," that were now our Epic. What indeed are tools, from the Hammer and Plummet of Enoch Wray to this Pen we now write with, but Arms, wherewith to do battle against Unreason without or within, and smite in pieces not miserable fellow men, but the Arch-Enemy that makes us all miserable; henceforth the only legitimate battle!