Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/106

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

need of the watershed, it is proposed to develop at first only the Esopus watershed by the construction of the great Ashokan dam at Olive Bridge and to carry the water to the present Croton system, the aqueducts of which are somewhat in excess of the Croton supply in dry years. It is hoped that this part of the undertaking may be completed within three years.


The class of 1885 of Amherst College at its twenty-fifth reunion a year ago appointed a committee to present to the trustees an address on the future development of the college. It is an interesting fact that the alumni of a college should concern themselves with scholarship rather than with athletics, and the address is a document of such considerable moment that it has attracted wide attention. The committee signing the report points out that the conditions for a college such as Amherst have changed in the course of the past twenty-five years. The great universities, especially the state universities, take students from the high school and graduate them prepared for a technical career. A college such as Amherst can not compete with these institutions. According to the committee it ha.i or should have other objects. It should demand a preparation not within the tendencies of the high schools, and give a course which postpones preparation for a profession. Amherst should retain, or return to, a liberal or classical education and confine its work to this. The committee makes to the trustees five definite propositions:

1. That the instruction given at Amherst College be a modified classical course.
2. That the degree of bachelor of science be abolished.
3. That the college adopt the deliberate policy of devoting all its means to the indefinite increase of teachers' salaries.
4. That the number of students attending the college be limited.
5. That entrance be permitted only by competitive examination.

The committee does not make clear just what a modified classical course should be. They say that all would agree that some knowledge of science is part of a liberal education and that no one would advocate the adoption of the unchanged classical course of fifty years ago. They also say that a classical education is a training in civics, the history of government, etc. The difficulty is that if students are to be thoroughly trained in Latin and Greek, they must specialize quite as much as students preparing for the professions. Now that we have admirable technological schools, it would apparently be desirable to have schools that would specialize to the same extent in the languages, on the one hand, and in history and political science, on the other. This is not because, as the committee argues, technical education teaches devices instead of principles, and is one of the causes of the increased excitability of American politics. This is little short of nonsense. But it would be desirable for one college to give a thorough classical education for the training of scholars in this direction and as a basis for work in literature, in law and in other professions. It is an advantage for men to enter on their professions with diverse training in order that they may specialize in different directions. Such a college should have a graduate department, which the Amherst committee apparently regards as superfluous, in order to maintain the scholarship both of its professors and of its students.

This, however, is presumably not at all what is wanted by the committee; it would let Amherst College give a liberal education on the lines, for example, advocated by President Lowell, teaching those things which a cultivated gentleman should know. If such an education is desirable there is much to be said for giving it at a small college rather than in a great university. If a college is limited to some three hundred students, it is possible for all the students to attend the same courses, to know each other and all the