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specialty for the few, classical studies still have a future before them, and we can ill afford to lose the elevating and refining influence exercised by their real votaries on those who do not directly pursue them; but as the main instruments of liberal culture their day seems to me to be nearly over.
In England, the very stronghold of the classical theory, classical study seems to be declining, in spite of, or rather through, the very means taken for keeping it alive. "I fear," says the late Earl of Der by, in the preface to his translation of the Iliad, "that the taste for and appreciation of classical literature are greatly on the decline." "The study of classical literature is probably on the decline," says Matthew Arnold, in his essay on translating Homer. "I cannot help thinking," says Mr. Sidgwick, of Cambridge, "that classical literature, in spite of its enormous prestige, has very little attraction for the mass even of cultivated persons at the present day. I wish statistics could be obtained of the amount of Latin and Greek read in any year, except for professional purposes, even by those who have gone through a complete classical curriculum. From the information that I have been able privately to obtain, I incline to think that such statistics, when compared with the fervent admiration with which we all speak of the classics, upon every opportunity, would be found rather startling.' And the truth is that the classical system of liberal education in England maintains its place, so far as it does maintain it, solely from the fact of its being a strictly protected system, through the enormous pecuniary prizes to which it is the sole means of access." "
Our own attempts to establish a liberal education seem to me to have thus far proved little less than abortive, because, following as we have in the steps of the mother-country, we cannot bring ourselves to abandon the old shadow for the new substance. For classical study has really dwindled into a shadow. Once it did mean the study of philosophy, of ethics, politics, history, poetry; now, for ninety-nine in a hundred of its students, it means none of these, but the mere dry study of grammar. The scholars of the Renaissance read their Plato in the original, and compassed sea and land to find a teacher who could unlock for them his treasure-house, but it was the treasure-house of his thought, not his grammar.
1 "Essays on a Liberal Education, ed. Farrar," p. 106.
"The prizes proposed," says Dr. Donaldson ("Classical Scholarship and Classical Learning," p. 154), "are of enormous value. It is estimated that the first place in either Tripos (classics or mathematics) is worth, in present value and contingent advantages, about £10,000. . . . In classics, the majority of successful candidates for high honors have been under tuition in Greek and Latin for at least ten years."
The number of college fellowships at Oxford is somewhat over 300, and their average value £300 per annum. There are 400 scholarships, of an average value of £80, tenable for five years. The incomes of nineteen heads of houses are estimated at £23,000 a year. (Heywood, in Social Science Transactions for 1871.) The sole access to all these pecuniary prizes has heretofore been through classical study.
scholars of the Revival, without Shakespeare or Milton, had to master Homer and Eschylus, or go without poetry altogether. With no wealth of modern literature, such as lies all round us, they were perforce classical students in order to be scholars. We cannot put back the wheels of time, and reproduce their circumstances. The mind of the generation refuses to be bound within antiquated limits: it will seek the new world of thought which lies before it. Try, therefore, to make classical scholars now of all liberally-educated boys, and you make nine-tenths of them into dunces or pedants. How many of the regiments of young men of this generation who have gone through, as it is well called, our older colleges, are real classical scholars? But the liberally-educated men of the times of the revival of learning were real classical scholars.
The Rev. Mark Pattison, Rector of Lincoln College, gives the following account of the present state of classical study even at Oxford: "We must not close our eyes to the fact that the honor-students" (that is to say, the students who have any expectation of winning the pecuniary prizes) “are the only students who are undergoing any educational process which it can be considered as the function of a university either to impart or to exact; the only students who are at all within the scope of the scientific apparatus and arrangements of an academical body. This class of students cannot be estimated at more than thirty per cent. of the whole number frequenting the university. The remaining seventy per cent. not only furnish from among them all the idleness and extravagance which are become a byword throughout the country, but cannot be considered to be even nominally pursuing any course of university studies at all.”1
If the treasurer of a great manufacturing corporation were to report to his stockholders that, of all the raw material furnished, their machinery was capable of making only thirty per cent. into cloth, and that of a very peculiar and unsalable pattern; that the remaining seventy per cent. was not only not manufactured into any kind of cloth, but was much of it disseminated over the country, in the shape of deadly, poisonous rags, we should think there was something wrong in the machinery of that mill.
Thus it is that, classical education having dwindled into a shadow,'
1 "Suggestions on Academical Organization," p. 230.
2 "I think it incontestably true,” says Prof. Sidgwick, “that for the last fifty years our classical studies (with much to demand our undivided praise) have been too critical and formal; and that we have sometimes been taught, while straining after an accuracy beyond our reach, to value the husk more than the fruit of ancient learning.
. . . This, at least, is true, that he who forgets that language is but the sign and vehicle of thought, and while studying the word knows little of the sentiment-who learns the measure, the garb and fashion of ancient song without looking to its living soul or feeling its inspiration, is not one jot better than a traveler in a classic land who sees its crumbling temples, and numbers, with arithmetical precision, their steps and pillars, but thinks not of their beauty, their design, or the living sculptures on their walls, or who
our colleges are looking about for a remedy, and a class of thinkers, just now, as we know, very influential, and looking to the substitution of the study of science as the sole remedy. Gentlemen, I have been long enough attached to a school of science to have been convinced, if I had ever doubted it, that science by itself is no remedy; that as there can never again be a liberal education, or the pretense of one, without the scientific element, so, on the other hand, scientific studies alone can never constitute a liberal education-scientific can never supersede ethical studies as its foundation. What, then, is the true remedy? I think it is evident. It is, along with scientific study, of whose true place I shall have more to say presently, to accept ethical studies in their new form, in the form of modern literatures and modern languages, and with classical studies as the special and subordinate, and not, as heretofore, the main and primary instrument. This is the great change which liberal education is silently undergoing, far more than it is a change from a literary to a scientific basis.
I know of no educational fallacy more common and more mischievous than that of enormously overrating the educating value of the process of acquiring the mere form of foreign languages, whether dead or living; yet it is in this barren study that we waste the precious time that should be employed, from the very beginning of school-life, in acquiring the substance of real knowledge. Languages, other than our own, are the useful, sometimes the necessary tools for acquiring knowledge; in the literatures of other tongues there reside elements of culture not to be found, or not to be found in the same perfection in our own, which may well repay the student who has time and perseverance sufficient really to attain them without too great a sacrifice. But to sacrifice an attainable education in not attaining them, what is it but to sow the barren sea-shore, to travel half a journey, to possess one's self of half an instrument useless without the other half. Languages alone are knowledge only to the professed philologist; we sacrifice a real education attainable through an instrument we already possess in the fruitless labor of giving our boys other instruments they will never make use of.
counts the stones in the Appian Way, instead of gazing on the monuments of the 'Eternal City.""" Discourse on the Studies of the University of Cambridge," fifth edition, p. 37.)
I find a corroboration of this view of the present state of classical study on this side of the water coming from a quarter where there can be no suspicion of too great leaning toward modern studies. Prof. Tayler Lewis is reported to have expressed himself in a recent pamphlet as follows: "He thinks it undeniable that there is danger that classical studies may be driven from our colleges; and, in looking for a reason for this, he seems to himself to have discovered it in the fact that we nowadays busy the undergraduate too much with grammar and too little with literature. . . . He illustrates his position by a comparison of the school of critical students even so great as Porson and Elmsley with the earlier schools. . . . The one school, admirable as it is, and deep as is our obligation to them, he regards as reading Homer for the sake of knowing Greek; the other as knowing Greek for the sake of reading Homer."—(New-York Nation, August 7, 1873.)
I think that we monstrously overrate the educating value of the mere process of learning other languages; but with the mother-tongue the case is altogether different. Here the mastery of form and substance can proceed pari passu. The mother-tongue is the only one which can stand to our modern liberal education in the relation in which the classical tongues stood to the scholars of the revival of learning. It might be said that Greek and Latin were mother-tongues to them as scholars, because it was through them alone that they reached the thoughts which really educated them. They were not brought up on empty words and barren syntax; they studied no grammars, for grammars were non-existent. Their minds were really nourished on the philosophy of Plato, and Cicero's eloquence, and Homer's poetry, and the lessons not the words they found in Tacitus and Thucydides. Now, when we have a philosophy, a history, a poetry, a law, an ethics, which embody all that is valuable in classical literature, together with all the progress of thought has produced through these later centuries, we not only fail to use them as those older scholars used their older instruments, really and efficiently, but we equally fail in using the older ones. We abandon both to feed our boys on a husk without a kernel. What wonder that our higher education is struck with barrenness?
When, therefore, I propose modern language-study instead of ancient, as a chief instrument of school education, I mean much more than the mere substitution of the study of some modern language as language, for some ancient language as language-German, for instance, instead of Greek, as has sometimes been suggested. This would be the mere semblance of a remedy, for the difficulty consists in the enormous overrating, by what I have called the grindstone-theory, of the educating value of the study of the mere structure and vocabulary of any strange language whatever. It has sometimes been doubted if we can ever really know more than one tongue, and certainly all our deeper mental processes go on in that one we know best. If that is a foreign one, it is because we have lost a mother to gain a step-mother; and a stepmother she will ever remain. What is very certain is, that too many of the recipients of our present education, in seeking to possess themselves of more than one language, end with having none whatever. Neglecting to develop their minds through the instrumentality of their mother-tongue, and never, therefore, really knowing it, they equally fail in providing themselves with any substitute; with Shakspeare's pedants, "they have been at a great feast of languages, and stolen the scraps."
My position, therefore, is that, so far as language-study shall form a part of the elementary discipline of the liberal education of the future, the centre and pivot of it all will hereafter be the scientific study of the mother-tongue. I anticipate something almost like ridicule for this proposition on the part of those—and they are many-who undervalue our native language so far as to believe it to be incapable
of becoming an instrument of disciplinary education. Time would fail me to go into a defense of this proposition. I will only say that I believe that it is precisely the change which the progress of modern philology is bringing about; that it is fitting modern languages, and preeminently our own, to become the instrument of a true mental discipline, so far as language-study can serve as such an instrument. On the one hand it is giving a scientific form to the study of the Teutonic element, and on the other there remains the still needful study of the Latin language-a study which certainly need not lose in force and vitality because it may no longer be pursued as the basis of a superstructure never to be erected, but shall have a definite object and be pursued for a practical end.
But far above and beyond its uses as language-study comes the advantage of the direct and immediate entrance it gives to those regions of thought in which the higher mental discipline really lies. Through the direct road of the real study of the mother-tongue, and that rhetorical and, above all, that real logical study which accompanies and forms a part of it, can the study of what we vaguely denominate literature, and that which we are beginning still more vaguely to denominate social science, but which yet, between them, contain the substance of all we most need to know of man as distinct from Nature, be made real portions of general knowledge-be transferred from being a possession in the hands of the few, to be reached only by an abstruse and difficult preparatory training, secrets unlocked by a key out of reach of the hands of the many, to being a part of the general inheritance of all men. For, to be so, they must be made primary and not secondary; in other words, that time and strength must be devoted to a fruitful study of modern thought and modern literature, which have heretofore been wasted in school and college on the futile attempt to master ancient thought and ancient literature. The rudiments of all those studies must be reckoned as the most valuable of all the elements of general elementary training, which, in their higher departments, and after liberal culture, diverging in various directions, form the substance of professional knowledge, both that of those professions now reckoned, and of all those hereafter to be reckoned liberal. For, what should liberal education be but the preparatory general stage for that work of life which all honest callings and professions carry on in diverse directions afterward? What is a professional education but a liberal education taking a special direction?
Can it now be said, with any truth, that our nominally-educated young men go out into the world equipped with that general knowl edge of the sciences of law and government, and political economy, with that knowledge of ethics and philosophy, with that acquaintance with modern history and of the condition of the world they live in, and with that real taste for modern literature, which should form the equipments of every man calling himself educated? We