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pose, and learn the language of Plato precisely as he learns that of Goethe or Molière. And there cannot be any doubt that it would be a wise thing in our merchants and our Government to have a regular training-school of modern Greek attached to the universities, the commercial guilds, or the foreign office; it is impossible to say how much commercial transactions and diplomatic difficulties might be smoothed if John Bull would condescend to come down from his dignified throne of dumb classicality, and speak in a fraternal way to the numerous Greeks with whom he may come in contact in Alexandria, Cairo, Beyrout, Smyrna, Cyprus, and other corners of the Mediterranean, where the Union Jack flaunts with most recognized respect, and the national Shibboleth All right” most frequently answers to his call.
(4.) With regard to Greek specially it should be noted further that the colloquial style is, beyond all others, the national style; the style of Plato, of Lucian and of Aristophanes. To commence with colloquy in this language is to render ear and tongue familiar from the very beginning with the style of the most perfect masters in the classical use of that most perfect of languages.
(5.) In applying the principles of educational method here laid down to our present school and university system, two important modifications would be required. In the first place, no young person during his school career should be expected in the regular routine of the school to learn more languages than one, besides his mother-tongue, and this one might either be Latin or Greek amongst the ancient, French or German amongst the modern ; a restriction which seems necessary, on the one hand, to make room for other and equally important subjects at present too often neglected or unduly subordinated in our schools; and on the other, to give
to the learner that sense of progress and power over a strange instrument which he never acquires while painfully footing his way through half-a-dozen unfamiliar paths, rough with stones below, and bristling with thorns on both sides. I have known schools of no mean reput2, in which boys are taught a little Latin, a little Greek, a little French, and a little German, all at the same time (to make a respectable show perhaps to the public!) and which generally ends in a great deal of nothing. The ancient Romans contented themselves with two languages, Greek and their mother-tongue, but they knew both thoroughly, and used them with efficiency; we modern Romans pretend to learn half-a-dozen, and know how to use none. In the second place, considering the double relationship of this country to a rich store of inherited ancient learning on the one hand, and a large environment of existing European and Asiatic influences on the other, it should be provided in our general university scheme, that no person shall receive a poll degree without showing a fair proficiency in two foreign languages, one ancient and one modern, with free option. Under such a scheme as this, and with a radically reformed system of linguistic indoctrination, I have not the slightest fear that Greek would continue to hold up its head above all other languages, ancient or modern, proudly, like Aga
memnon among the chiefs. In fact it would be no appreciable loss to the highest culture of this country if two-thirds of those who now pass through a compulsory grammatical drill in two dead languages, entered the stage of actual life without the knowledge of a single Greek letter: while the remaining third, who did study Greek according to the naturalmethod, would know it at once free from the narrow formalism that too often cleaves to the present system, and accompanied with a kindly intimacy, a human reality, and a vivid appreciation, to which the scholastically-trained Hellenist, according to our perverse practice, will naturally remain a stranger.
JOHN STUART BLACKIE, in Contemporary Revier.
[P. S.-It may be as well to observe for the sake of objectors, that nothing contained in this paper is intended in the slightest degree to discourage any of those highest exercises in Latin and Greek composition, whether prose or verse, to which honors are justly given in our universities. On the contrary, thes, excercises will be facilitated in no small degree by the rich materials which a well-graduated practice of ear and tongue in connection with interesting objects will suppy. The whole drift of these remarks is simply to say, that familiarity with any language as a living dexterity of ear and tongue, in the order of nature, always precedes the scientific anatomy of that language in grammar and comparative philology, and must always do so in any art of teaching which shall do the greatest amount of efficient work in the least possible time. It must also be borne in mind, what has been too generally forgotten, that all men who learn Greek and Latin are not destined to be philologers ; and it is unwise to submit to a curiously minute philological training farge classes of students who desire only the human culture, the æsthetical polish, and the healthy discipline which a familiar acquaintance with a foreign language is so well calculated to afford.
J. S. B.]
ON THE WORTH OF A CLASSICAL EDUCATION.
What is the worth of a classical education? Why should boys spend 80 many years on the study of the Greek and Latin languages? What results are obtained to compensate for so much time, labour, and expense consumed on such an occupation? Is it mere routine, or is it the recognition of solid and sufficient advantages derived from it, which makes so many generations of Englishmen persist in bestowing this training on their sons ?
These are questions of the highest moment, and they were very distinctly raised by the appointment of a Royal Commission to report on the education imparted by our public schools. Much has been said in the way of reply in the Report of the Commissioners and elsewhere, but the subject is far from being exhausted. It will easily bear a few more words; all the more so because a clear and succinct answer, such an answer as England in the nineteenth century is entitled to demand, has not, as far as I know, been given to this inquiry. The question is still heard on every side, “What is the use of making a boy waste so many years on Greek and Latin ?" and it is anything but easy to refer A
parent who puts it, if ignorantly, at any rate honestly, to such a statement as ought to satisfy him in the choice of his son's studies. It is no reply to say that there is no education so good as that of public schools, and that Greek and Latin are the chief staple of that education; for the question still recurs, “Why should the public schools insist on the study of the classics ?” May not the sceptical parent complain with much force that if he cannot do better than send his boy to a public school, it is very hard that he should be compelled to purchase that advantage at the cost of a mischievous waste of time and energy? It is not enough to say, as is so commonly said, that the best and ablest men in England are trained at public schools, and thence to argue that the education must be excellent; there would be a sad illicit process in this reasoning: The course of education adopted at public schools must be defended on its own merits, if it is to be defended successfully; otherwise the great men that have issued from their walls might be tumed into a justification of every conceivable abuse. On the very face of the inquiry, the classics, or Greek at least, are not needed for direct application to some positive want of society. No one is required to speak or to write in these languages; their virtues, whatever they may be, are expended on the general formation of the boy's mind and character, not on supplying him with knowledge demanded by any calling in life; and consequently the burden of proof lies plainly on the system which imposes on thousands of English boys-not selected boys, but the general mass of the sons of the upper classes--the study of dead languages, and with the certainty, moreover, as demonstrated by experience, that a very few only of these students will ever acquire any but the most meagre acquaintance with these tongues.
Is such a case capable of being defended? I think that it is. I hold that the nation judges rightly in adhering to classical education: I am convinced that for general excellence no other training can compete with the classical. In sustaining this thesis, I do not propose to compare here what is called useful education with classical, much less to endeavour to prescribe the portion of each which ought to be combined in a perfect system. Want of space forbids me to examine here a problem involving so much detail
. Let it be taken for granted that every boy must be taught to acquire a certain definite amount of knowledge positively required for carrying on the business of life in its several callings; and, if so it be, let it be assumed that there is a deficiency of this kind of instruction at the public schools. Let that defect be repaired by all means : let Eton and Winchester be forced, by whatever means, to put into every one of their scholars the requisite quantity of arithmetic, modern languages, geography, and physical science. The adjustment of this quantity does not concern us now; let us recognize its necessity and importance. Let all interference of Greek and Latin with this indispensable qualification for after-life be forbidden; but let us at the same time maintain that both things may go on successfully together. The problem before us here is of a different kind. The education of the boys of the upper classes is necessarily composed of two parts, -general training, and special, or, as it is called, useful, training,—the general development of the boy's faculties, of the whole of his nature, and the knowledge which is needed to enable him to perform certain specific functions in life. Of those two departments of education, the general far transcends in importance the special: and finally I maintain that for the carrying out of this education, the Greek and Latin languages are the most efficient instruments which can be applied. Their chief merits are four in number.
I. In the first place, they are languages : they are not particular sciences, nor definite branches of knowledge, but literatures. In this respect high claims of superiority have been advanced for them on the ground that they cultivate the taste, and give great powers of expression, and teach a refined use of words, and thus impart that refinement and culture which characterize an educated gentleman. But I cannot help feeling that too much stress has been laid on this particular result of classical training. In the first place it is realized only by a very few, either at school or college: the vast bulk of English boys do not acquire these high accomplishments, at least before their entrance on the real business of life. On the other hand, the great development which civilization, and with it general intelligence, have made in these modern days, produces in increasing numbers vigorous men who have acquired these powers in great eminence without the help of Greek or Latin. The Senate, the bar, and many other professions, exhibit men whose gifts of expression, vigour of language, neatness as well as force in the use of words, and discrimination of all the finer shades of meaning, are fully on a par with those of men who have been prepared by classical and academical training. A Bright and , Cobden are good set-offs against a Marquis of Wellesley or even a Lord Derby, and with this advantage, moreover, that the growth of modern England is sure to to furnish an everexpanding supply of men of the former class. There has been a vast amount of excellent writing in France put forth by men who knew nothing of Greek, and often very little Latin; and there has been equally an incredible quantity of bad writing in Germany, which has flowed, or rather been jerked out of the pens of men whose heads were stuffed with boundless stores of classical learning. The educational value of Greek and Latin is something immeasurably broader than this single accomplishment of refined taste and cultivated expression. The problem to be solved is to open out the undeveloped nature of a human being; to bring out his faculties, and impart skill in their use; to set the seeds of many powers growing; to teach as large and as varied a knowledge of human nature, both the boy's own and the world's about him, as possible; to give him, according to his circumstances, the largest practicable acquaintance with life, what it is composed of, morally, intellectually, and materially, and how to deal with it. For the performance of this great work, what can compare with a language, or rather with a literature ? not with a language carried to soaring heights of phil. ology, for then it becomes a pure science, as much as chemistry or astronomy, but with a language containing books of every degree of variety and difficulty. Think of the many elements of thought a boy comes in contact with when he reads Cæsar and Tacitus in succession, Herodotus and Homer, Thucydides and Aristotle : how many ideas he has perforce acquired; how many regions of human life—how many portions of his own mind-he has gained insight into ; with how extended a familiarity with many things he starts with, when the duties of a profession call on him to concentrate these insights, these exercised and disciplined faculties, on a single sphere of action. See what is implied in having read Homer intelligently through, or Thucydides, or Demosthenes ; what light will have been shed on the essence and laws of human existence; on political society, on the relations of man to man, on human nature itself. What perception of all kinds of truths and facts will dawn on the mind of the boy ; what sympathies will be excited in him; what moral tastes and judgments established; what a sense of what he, as a human being, is, and can do; what an understanding of human life. Every glowing word will call up a corresponding emotion; every deed recorded, every motive unfolded, every policy explained, will be pregnant with instruction ; and that instruction must be valued, not only by its use when applied to practice, or by the maxims or rules which it lays down for human action, but infinitely more by the general acquaintance with human nature which it has generated, by the readiness for action which it has produced in a world now become familiar, by the consciousness it has brought out of the possession of faculties, and the tact and skill it has created for their use. Knowledge is not ability, cram is not power, least of all in education. A man may be able to count accurately every yard of distance to the stars, and yet be most imperfectly educated; he may be able to reckon up all the kings that ever reigned, and yet be none the wiser or the more efficient for his learning. But the unfledged boy, who starts with a mind empty, blank, and unperceiving, is transformed by passing through Greek and Latin: a thousand ideas, a thousand perceptions are awakened in him, that is, a thousand fitnesses for life, for its labours and its duties.
But is he able to reason? asks the mathematician. Can he correctly deduce conclusions from premises ? Can he follow out step by step_a chain of sequences? Can he push his principles to just results ? He can, and necessarily must, if he has honestly worked through his books, if he has been properly handled by a competent teacher, if his progress, step by step, has been challenged and justified. Let it be gladly acknowledged that every large exercise of thought has its true and intrinsic advantages: and the patient investigator of natural or mathematical science unquestionably uses and cultivates powers which are amongst the most valuable accorded to humanity. But, on the other hand, no one familiar with education can have failed to perceive what immense stores of