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versity in the country, not completely deadened, would feel proud to have its course of instruction thus marked for enlightened public approval. The institutions doing this in their various sections of the country would have an honorable preeminence, and all would seek to present the highest inducements. Men of wealth attached to these institutions would be led to strengthen them by gifts, trustees would watch closely for the best professors, and professors would be spurred to do their best work.
Another good result would be that, as regards the preparatory schools, colleges, and universities, there would be afforded a method of comparison between the work of various institutions of the same grade, a method of comparison of very great importance, but which does not yet exist. Two pieces of cloth turned out from two different looms can be placed side by side, and their strength and texture compared. We can thus choose between them, and between the looms which wove them; but between the results of work in our hundreds of institutions of learning no comparison is at present possible. Each puts forth high claims, but no present tests exist. The establishment of these scholarships would afford such tests. The question between various systems and methods of instruction, so important to the country, the question between the practical results of various institutions, so important to parents in the interest of their sons and daughters, would thus be fairly tested.
So much for the first part of the plan—the system of university scholarships. I turn now to the second part, the creation, with another portion of the income from the proposed fund, of fellowships. Of these I would have the university distribute, each year, a certain number, each of the annual value of, say, seven hundred dollars. These should be bestowed in the various fields of learning, as determined from time to time by the trustees at Washington. To select the incumbents I would have the president of the university nominate to its board of trustees each year examiners in the various subjects required for the taking of such fellowships; these examiners being selected from the foremost experts in their respective fields, whether literary or scientific. The candidates should be sought in the graduating classes of the various existing colleges and universities. The
appointments should be made as the result of competitive examinations or of testimonials, as the examiners might think best. Doubtless in some branches of instruction they would find it best to use one method, in other branches the other.
Each of these fellowships should be good for not more than three years. Each person taking one of them should be allowed to use it as a means for securing the best instruction to be found in the subject to which he or she is devoted, and should be at liberty, for this purpose, to enjoy the income of the fellowship in any institution in this country or any other. Each should be required to make frequent reports to the central institution at Washington as to the studies taken, progress in them, and health.
It will be noticed that I name three years as the longest period of holding such fellowships. I do so because in this period a student would have full time to make great progress under the best instruction, but would not have time to become an intellectual recluse, sybarite, or lounger, or to drift out of the currents of active thought in the world at large.
Some of the results which may be expected with certainty from this system may be stated as follows: First, it would give the very best men and women graduates of our colleges and universities the best opportunities to perfect themselves in their chosen fields of study and thought. The great majority of these are youths of such small means that they are at present obliged to turn at once to the first profession which promises them a living. Every college officer has been pained at the sight of such youths, of the highest promise as scientific investigators, inventors, instructors, journalists, historians, jurists, poets, who would have added to the strength and glory of the country in their favorite fields, turning off into professions for which they are not especially fitted, by which they add little, if anything, to the strength of the country, and in which they are hardly ever to be heard of again. Taking such scholars at their graduation in all their energy and enthusiasm, and giving them two or three years to develop their genius or talent in their chosen fields, virtually insures their continuance in their highest vocation; it is like doubling the size of a diamond.
Another result would be a great stimulus to the existing col
leges and universities. All would be anxious to train students fitted to compete successfully for these fellowships, and the stronger institutions would be especially anxious to develop post-graduate courses fitted to attract these. I can think of no better antiseptic for the dry-rot which afflicts so many institutions of learning. The custom of shelving clergymen unacceptable to parishes in college professorships would probably by this means receive a killing blow.
Still another very important result would be a test of work in the various institutions, and so a test of the traditions, systems, and men controlling this work. In view of this test trustees would doubtless be more attentive, professors more energetic, and students more conscientious.
Another result not less important would doubtless be very marked. As already stated, I would allow the persons taking these fellowships to use them in securing advanced instruction at whatever institution they may select at home or abroad. Probably the great majority would choose the best institutions at home, but many would go abroad and seek out the most eminent professors and investigators. Thus, eager, energetic, ambitious young American scholars would bring back to us the best thoughts, words, and work of the foremost authorities in every department throughout the world; skill in the best methods, knowledge of the best books, familiarity with the best illustrative material. From the scholars thus trained our universities, colleges, and academies would receive better teachers; our magazines and newspapers writers better fitted to discuss living political, financial, and social questions; the various professions men better prepared to develop them in obedience to the best modern thought, and the great pursuits which lie at the foundation of material prosperity-agriculture, manufactures, and the likemen better able to solve the practical problems of the world. Every field of moral, intellectual, and physical activity would thus be enriched.
As supplementary to this system of scholarships and fellowships having as their center the proposed university, I would add a considerable number of brevets, certificates of honorable mention, and the like, which would be additional incentives to
study, and indications by which wealthy men might be guided in doing what has always been done among us largely, but frequently rather blindly-aiding needy and meritorious youths in securing a higher education. There are few communities in this country where a young man of good character, but of inadequate means, holding such a brevet or certificate, would not find some public-spirited citizen or citizens ready to advance to him the means he requires.
And finally, as to the third part of the plan, I would have the university authorities at Washington select, from time to time, a small number of "traveling bachelors;" persons somewhat more mature than those taking the fellowships, and showing not only strong intellectual powers, but genius or high talent in actual, practical investigation. These should receive necessary traveling expenses while investigating and reporting upon subjects of immediate practical interest in our own and other countries. Some, perhaps, would study the better methods of solving sundry pressing problems in agriculture, manufactures, and transportation; some the best methods of preserving or restoring forests; some the administration of cities especially well or ill managed; some the better or worse systems and methods of instruction in other countries or in the various States of our own country; some the working of laws designed to meet certain general evils, as acts relating to habitual criminals; some the working of laws designed to meet certain specific evils, as the laws dealing with intemperance; some the best methods of preventing the influx of pauperism, insanity, and crime from other countries; some the best methods of dealing with these evils in our own country; and so with a vast number of other subjects of vital interest, as to which, at present, there is far more declamation than knowledge. The result of this part of the university's work would be, first, a great body of useful information; and secondly, an increasing number of thoughtful and practical men trained and training others to study great questions, and not merely to howl about them.
There are various subsidiary features and supplementary arrangements which might be discussed, but I close my main plea by noticing two or three inevitable objections.
First, it will be said that the proposed system would attract the best students from the weaker institutions in the newer States to the stronger institutions in the older States. At worst this would not be an unmixed evil; indeed good would probably greatly preponderate over evil in it, for most of the youths thus going forth would return to their old haunts bringing their sheaves with them. But I would remind any objector on this score that I have provided against this difficulty by suggesting that the examination papers for each section of the country be based upon the best standards of instruction in that section. The examinations held in Texas would hardly, at first, be as severe as those held in Massachusetts.
Again, others will protest against the system as urging young persons on too strongly in work. But all sorts of stimulants to work are in use now, and in every field. A long observation of young men and young women has taught me that there is infinitely greater danger to their health, moral, intellectual, and physical, from lounging, loafing, dawdling, and droning over books, than from the most vigorous efforts they can be induced to make; and I believe that most thoughtful teachers will agree with me on this point. In order to meet any danger of the sort suggested, it will be observed that I have insisted on a proper examination as to physical condition at the same time with the regular examinations for scholarships and fellowships, and also upon frequent reports from the successful candidates as to health as well as progress. The expectation of such examinations and reports would do much to guard and improve the health of ambitious young scholars in every part of the country.
Again, the objection is sure to be raised by certain excellent, grandmotherly gentlemen, that the system proposed is a system of prizes. So is life. As well object to the "survival of the fittest" in nature. Our whole political and social fabric is constantly developed in obedience to the ambition of men to raise themselves, and when this ambition leads to efforts which ennoble, enrich, and strengthen their fellow men, as in this case, the objection subsides into a feeble doctrinairism.
And finally, it may be objected that the plan proposed is untried, that no such institution now exists, that there is no prec