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In the old romances there were no plots, in the modern sense of the word; the notion of a plot was derived rather from the eighteenth-century theory of the requirements of the stage. Let us not carp at those who still write dramas in prose and call them novels; but let us remember that, if the characters are true to life, the absence of a plot does not lessen the demand on the imagination of the reader. "Ah, now I am glad!" said Verena iu "The Bostonians," when she reached the street with Ransom, her betrothed lover, from the hall where her lecture had been so rudely interrupted. "But though she was glad, Ransom presently discerned that beneath her hood she was in tears." To the imaginative reader this is as good an ending as though the marriage bells were pealing and in his ears the sweet words were ringing, and they lived happily ever after;" for, so far as Verena and Ransom resemble human beings, a discerning mind may follow their footsteps through many nights and days with perfect confidence, since their after history is implicit in their characters.
The aims, then, of romanticists and realists, when intelligently understood and pursued, are identical; but the words "romanticism" and "realism," as commonly used, indicate slightly different points of view. The romanticist thinks the realist is like an ignorant man who tries to give an idea of a complicated machine by a photograph of it, taken indifferently from any side; and that he himself is like a mechanical draughtsman who detects first the plane that reveals most of the mainsprings and peculiarities of the machine, and then draws that one plane in its simplest outlines. The realist in his turn would say that he tries to give both the drawing and the photograph, but that the romanticist, without studying the thing at all, evolves from his inner consciousness a rough design of how such a noble machine ought to look.
"What matter whether you call it pantheism or pottheism, if the thing be true?" asked Carlyle. What matter whether a work is called romantic or realistic, if the thing be true? It makes no matter. What does matter is, that any restrictions whatever should be imposed upon the writer who thinks he has something to say and tries to say it, who thinks he has observed
something and tries to describe it. The vigorous men who founded schools always held themselves bound by no conventions; those who insist on following blindly in some master's path deprive themselves of the advantage of any special skill of theirs or opportunity, and adopt by choice the master's errors, while it is only by accident if they possess a single one of the qualities that made his merits possible. "We are bid to study the ancients," said wiser Goethe, "yet what does that avail us, if it does not teach us to study the real world and reproduce that? for that was the source of the power of the ancients."
To reproduce the real world in its entirety is impossible, or even to reproduce precisely its smallest particle, but the attempt to do so need not therefore be discouraged. It is enough that novelists may approximate to a perfect representation of life indefinitely. In other arts perfection is not supposed to be common, but it is not on that account deemed an undesirable ideal. Many men, working with the utmost of their personal intelligence, expressing in words that to them seem fittest the thoughts and the scenes that to them are nearest and most familiar, may each in his measure reproduce something of true that has eluded the vision and the grasp of all other men. To shackle such liberty of choice may lose for humanity something irretrievable, something of incalculable worth.
WHAT SHALL THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS TEACH?
INTELLIGENCE consists not only in knowing but also in knowing how. Widely as this truth has been recognized by educationalists ever since the advantages of popular education first began to be felt, it is only within a few years, comparatively speaking, that any practical application of it has been systemat ically attempted. But a new era has now begun, and the ease with which industrial education can be conducted is only less surprising than the success that has attended its introduction. The educational world is almost unanimous for it in some form, but wide divergences exist not only as to the methods but even as to its true object. Different nations defend it on different grounds. Germany has led the way, apparently from a theoretical standpoint, as the logical outcome of its system of public instruction; but it has had the effect, perhaps unexpected, of placing German manufactures at the head of the European market, and giving them the preference over those of other countries. England has already taken the alarm, and appeals are being made for state aid in the establishing of industrial schools, which are openly demanded on economic grounds as the only means of saving the commercial prestige of Great Britain. A similar motive underlies one of the strongest considerations in their favor in this country, in the obvious fact that foreigners are successfully competing more and more for the first places in all our industrial establishments. It is felt that this is not due to any native inferiority in American artisans, but to insufficient and defective training. But fortunately thus far manual training has been chiefly defended, in this country, on grounds which, if not always strictly theoretical, are at least legitimate, honorable, and philosophical. To attempt an adequate presentation of all these, while an easy task, would scarcely be profitable, in view of their recent thorough discussion at educational conventions
and in the public press, and such is not the purpose of this article. Still, as some readers may not be familiar with these discussions, a brief enumeration of a few of the leading points may not be an unsuitable prelude to an article primarily devoted to the development of a single thought on the general subject.
In looking through the large mass of rapidly accumulating literature on manual training I find nothing that accomplishes this purpose so admirably as the brief summary of the principal claims of the new education contained in the latest report of Prof. W. B. Powell, superintendent of schools of the District of Columbia. He reduces them to eight distinct heads; and although each of these is set forth in very compact form, still the full presentation would occupy more space than can here be given to it, and a mere indication of the central idea in each will have to suffice. Prof. Powell's eight reasons for the introduction of manual training into the public schools are as follows:
1. To secure, amid the diverse pursuits of a great population, "that harmony of thought and action necessary to the peace and prosperity of the state."
2. To create a popular appreciation of the character and value of "mechanical appliances, industrial achievements, and art endowments."
3. To substitute skill and exactness for bungling and guesswork in all the practical pursuits of life.
4. To give range and diversity to tastes and abilities, for the purpose of securing adaptability to vicissitudes in life, and of offsetting modern tendencies toward the excessive division of labor and narrowness of vocation.
5. To provide a useful education for the large class who have little power of abstract mental application, but marked ingenuity and manipulative tact.
6. To check the tendency to overcrowd the professions and so-called genteel occupations, such as clerking, book-keeping, private teaching, etc., as well as to discourage such non-productive activities as speculating, stock-jobbing, money-lending, and even banking, shopkeeping, and redundant mercantile enterprise.
7. To enable those who are destined to settle the frontiers of the country to cope with the difficulties of pioneer life.
8. To provide, without loss of time, for the needed relief of the pupil's mind from too protracted mental application.
This enumeration might be extended not only by the addi tion of other independent considerations of co-ordinate rank, but also by the specification of subordinate ones suggested by a number of Superintendent Powell's formulas. Moreover, any one of these heads might form the basis for an article like the present one. Such, however, is not its object, but rather to present, in as strong a light as possible, the high educational value of the training of what may be called the "constructive powers."
It has been complained that such training is so practical as to become a substitute for apprenticeship, and that it should, therefore, be left to the individual, and not undertaken by the state. It is proposed to show that it can be defended from the most theoretical standpoint. It has been urged that such training merely cultivates the hands and other parts of the body, and is, therefore, in the nature of teaching a trade. It is proposed to show that, rightly understood, it is essentially a training of the mental faculties, and this in the direction of the most useful of all the objects to which the powers of the mind can be applied. I may, therefore, be justified in taking a somewhat higher ground than is customary in discussing this question, and in endeavoring to lay down a few principles of wide application and fundamental character, without which such a treatment as is proposed could not satisfactorily proceed.
Probably there is no subject that is less definitely understood, or more thoroughly misunderstood, by the general public, even the educated classes, than that of the true nature of civilization. Notions about it are vague, narrow in scope, and generally false in fact. The real causes of progress are deep and obscure. They are so masked by superficial apparent causes that civilization becomes confounded with its concomitants and even with its products. Among such apparent causes may be mentioned government, religion, morality, literature, art, commerce, industry. Whether one or another of these great social factors, so intimately bound up with man's well-being, is regarded as the true cause of all progress will depend upon the education and habit of thought of the individual. Perhaps I cannot do better