« EelmineJätka »
mis-spellings. He may know nothing of the modern geography of liis own country; he may know nothing of the history of England. I knew an instance not long ago of a gentleman who had attained high honors at the Uni. versity, and who became a contributor to a periodical, in which it was suggested Ite should illustrate some fact by reference to Lord Melbourne's Ministry. He said he had never heard of Lord Melbourne. He need know nothing whatever of modern history—how the present polity of Europe came into effect. He need know nothing of mediæval history, and that is a matter of serious importance, because important results have flowed from ignorance of that history. Great schisms have arisen in the Church of England from absurdly-exaggerated ideas of the perfection of every thing in that dreadful period; and the state of gross ignorance in which people are left as to these times seems almost to lead them to suppose that the best thing that modern society could aim at would be to return to the state of things which existed when the first crusade was projected. He may be in a state of utter ignorance of the antiquities or the law of England; he knows the laws and antiquities of Greece and Rome. The English laws and antiquities are bound up with our freedom and history, and are important to every day's business; but he knows about them nothing whatever. We have, I here say boldly, a literature unparalleled in the world. Which of our great classical authors is a young man required to read in order to attain the highest honors our educational institutions can give himn? He studies in the most minute manner the ancient writings of Rome or Greece. But as for Chaucer and Spenser, or the earlier classics, the old dramatists, or the writers of the reigns of Queen Elizabeth and Charles I, he knows nothing of them; and the consequence is that our style is impoverished, and the noble old language of our forefathers drops out of use, while the minds of our young men are employed instead in stringing together scraps of Latin poets learned by heart, and making them into execrable hexameters. Then as for modern languages :—There is some feeble sort of attempt to teach them, but nothing effective; and yet surely, if English is to have a preference over modern languages, as it ought to have, inodern languages ought to have a preference, as far as the practical affairs of life are concerned, over ancient languages. I have been with a party of half-a-dozen first-class Oxford gentlemen on the Continent, and not one spoke a word of French or German; and if the waiter had not been better educated than we, and known some other language than his own, we might all have starved. That is not nearly all, but that is enough. I think you will agree with me that, as Dr. Johnson said of the provisions of the Highland inn, the negative catalogue is very copious, and I therefore sum up what I have to say on this point by making this remark, that our education does not cominunicate to us knowledge, that it does not communicate to us the means of obtaining knowledge, and that it does not communicate to us the means of communicating knowledge.
These three capital deficiencies are undoubted; and what makes these so painful is the thought of the enormous quantities of things eminently worth knowing in this world. I have spoken only of modern history, of modern languages; but what are modern history and languages compared with the boundless field that nature opens out—with the new world which chemistry is expanding before us—with the old world that geology has called again into existence—with the wonderful generalization with regard to plants and ani. mals, and all those noble studies and speculations which are the glory and distinction and life-blood of the time in which we live, and of which our youth remain, almost without exception, totally ignorant? It is not too much to say, that the man who becomes really well educated must begin his education after it has closed. After all had been done for him that the present miserable, contracted, and poor system can do, he has to begin and educate himself over again, with a feeling that he has wasted the best and most precious years of his life on things neither useless nor unprofitable in themselves, but which were the mere by-paths or appanages to the knowledge which constitutes the mental stock of a man of erudition.
Influence of Educational Endowments. How are we to account for this phenomenon-how, with physical science in the state that it is, with such a history as ours, with such a literature as ours, with such a literature as that of modern Europe before us, we should turn aside from this rich banquet, and content ourselves with gnawing at mouldy crusts of speculations which have passed away upwards of two thousand years ? How are we to account for this? It is easily accounted for. It is mainly the fault of educational endowments. When the educational endowments of Universities were made, there really existed no English literature. Modern history had not begun; mediæval history was only to be found in meagre annals of monkish chroniclers. Physical science was not in existence at all; and there really was nothing to direct the mind except Latin and Greek, and Aristotelian logic. No blame, therefore, attaches to those noble and philanthropic persons who made these foundations. The blame is in those who, after the immense expansion of knowledge, have not found means to expand the objects to which these endowments may apply in a similar proportion. Nor docs any blame attach to our Universities, considered strictly as such—meaning by a University a body that ought to examine and test the advancement of its pupils; because our Universities do give examinations, and are willing, I am sure, to give them on any subject on which pupils can be found. But the blame lies with the Government of this country, because these endowments which are now exclusively given to Latin, Greek, and mathematics, are really, in my opinion, public property, for the use of which the State, as representing the public, is responsible. So long as they answer the end that endowments should answer, they should be let alone. When they do not, it is our business to reform them. Now what end do they answer? The end that they answer is this—they give an enormous bounty, an enormous premium, on the study of the dead languages, and of pure mathematics. Well, the studies of the dead languages, and of pure mathematics, are noble and valuable studies, and if that was all I would not object. But you know very well you can not give a premium to one study without discouraging another, and though their first effect is to give a premium to these studies, their collateral and far more important effect is to discourage, and, I would say, prevent, all those other studies which appear to me infinitely more orthy of a place in education. If a young man has talent, and is in want of money, as any young man is apt to be, and wants to turn his talent to advantage, suppose he devotes himself to physical science in Oxford, he can gain a first-class, whatever good that will do him. But there is hardly an endowment open to him; whereas, if he gave the same trouble to Latin and
Greek, he might be a Fellow of half a dozen different colleges with the most perfect ease. How can you expect these studies to get fair play, when they are so handicapped, when the whole weight of these endowments, amounting to about half a million annually, is thrown into the scale of the dead languages, and the study of pure mathematics? The fault lies, therefore, with the Government, which has not reformed these endowments; and the remedy, as it appears to me, is that these endowments should be emancipated from this narrow application, so that the emoluments that are to be obtained for learning, may be impartially distributed among all the branches of human knowledgenot proscribing the subjects to which I have alluded, but not giving them these invidious preferences over all the rest.
The same thing applies to our public schools. They are really adventure schools, kept by masters for their own profit. There is a foundation which forms the nucleus, and that foundation is generally for the purpose of teaching Latin and Greek, and that overrules and dominates the schools. The remedy is in the hands of parents; but these schools have got a good-will such as no other institution in the country has got. A man that has been at a school, however badly taught he has been, however much he has been flogged, always goes away with an affection for it. He forgets his troubles. It is a time that appears to us all very pleasant in the retrospect; and as these troubles are to be undergone not again by himself, but by his son, he always sends him there. No doubt, if we could only secure a fair stage and no favor for all the different branches of instruction, the thing would remedy itself. Do not misunderstand
I do not think it is any part of the duty of Government to prescribe what people should learn, except in the case the poor, where time is so limited that we must fix upon a few elementary subjects to get any thing done at all. I think it is the duty of the parents to fix what their children should learn. But then the State should stand impartial, and not by endowments necessarily force education into these channels, and leave those others dry. And, therefore, what I would press is, that somehow or other the endowments should be so recast as to give all subjects—physical science, modern history, English history, English law, ancient languages, ancient literature, ancient history, ancient philosophy, all a fair and equal start.
You will say, How is it possible for this to be done? I don't presume to say what is the best way of doing it, but I can tell you one way it can be done, because I have done it myself. I was Secretary to the India Board at the time when the writerships were thrown open to public competition. We had of course the problem to solve then, because if we had restricted them to Latin and Greek, of course we should have excluded a great number of very meritorious candidates-gentlemen, for instance, coming from the Scotch Universities, who, though very well versed in the philosophy of mind, and many other valuable studies, would not have been able to compete perhaps successfully in classics with boys trained in the English public schools. And therefore we had to attempt to do something of the kind that I have endeavored to point out to you as being necessary to do. In order to solve the problem of education, I, with the assistance of Lord Macaulay and other eminent men, prepared a scale which has since, with very little change, been the scale upon which these offices have been distributed; that is, we took every thing that we could think of that a well-educated man could learn. We took all the languages: we took Latin and Greek, we took French and English, and all the modern languages of Europe; we took the principal branches of physical science, we took history, English literature, philosophy of mind as taught in Scotland, and at Oxford, and at other places; we took every thing, aud we gave marks to each according to their relative importance, as near as we could arrive to it; and under that system all persons have been admitted equally and fairly to the benefits of those offices, whatever their line of study may have been. Instead of loading the dice in favor of the dead languages, we gave them all a fair start, and the thing, so far as I know, has worked perfectly smoothly and with perfect success. Now, I say something of that kind should be done if we are to reform endowments so as to place all studies on a level, and then let the best study win. I won't pretend to influence the decision of parents, but I should give to them no bribe, no inducement, to choose one study more than another, but allow them to take whatever they like best. And I think you would find that the public appetite for Latin verses, the difficult parts of Greek choruses, and the abstruser rules of grammar, such as are given in the Latiu Primer recently issued for the use of public schools, would begin to abate ; and the people would think it is better to know something of the world around them, something about the history of their own country, something about their own bodies and their own souls, than it is to devote themselves entirely to the study of the literature of the republics of Greece and Rome.
The time has gone past evidently when the higher classes can hope by any indirect influence, either of property or coercion of any kind, to direct the course of public affairs. Power has passed out of their hands, and what they do must be done by the influence of superior education and superior cultivation; by the influence of mind over mind—"the sign and signet of the Almighty to command," which never fails being recognized wherever it is truly tested. Well, then, gentlemen, how is this likely to be done? Is it by confining the attention of the sons of the wealthier classes of the country to the history of these old languages and those Pagan republics, of which working men never heard, with which they are never brought in contact in any of their affairs, and of which, from the necessity of the case, they know nothing? Is it not better that gentlemen should know the things which the working men know, only know them infinitely better in their principles and in their details, so that they may be able, in their intercourse and their commerce with them. to assert the superiority over them which greater intelligence and leisure is sure to give, and to conquer back by means of a wider and more enlighlened cultivation some of the influence which they have lost by political change? I confess, for myself, that whenever I talk with an intelligent workman, so far from being able to assert any such superiority, I am always tormented with the conception, “What a fool a man must think me when he finds me, upon whose education thousands of pounds have been spent, utterly ignorant of the matters which experience teaches him, and which he naturally thinks every educated man ought to know." I think this ought easily to be managed. The lower classes ought to be educated to discharge the duties cast upon them. They should also be educated that they may appreciate and defer to a higher cultivation when they meet it; and the higher classes ought to be educated in a very different manner, in order that they may exhibit to the lower classes that higher education to which, if it were shown to them, they would bow down and defer.
WILLIAM EWART GLADSTONE. William Ewart Gladstone was born in Liverpool Dec. 29, 1809, educated at Eton, and Christ Church, Oxford, where he graduated in 1829, taking a double class in 1831. After traveling on the continent, he was returned to Parliament in 1832, and was in 1834 made a junior Lord of the Treasury, and in 1835 under Secretary for Colonial Affairs, by Sir Robert Peel. In the same ycar he retired from office with bis leader, and returned with him in 1841 as Vice-President of the Board of Trade, and Master of the Mint. In this capacity he gave the explanation required of the commercial policy of the government and of the revived tariff in 1842. In 1843 he was made President of the Board of Trade, and in 1846, succeeded Lord Stanley as Secretary of State for the Colonies. In the following year he resigned, and in a few months he was elected member of the lIonse for the University of Oxford, and in 1852 became Chancellor of the Exchequer. In 1855 he was in Parliament but out of office, until 1859, when he resumed office as Chancellor of the Exchequer, assisted in negotiating the commercial treaty with France, and aided the Oxford University Commissioners, He was rejected as member from Oxford in 1865, but was immediately returned for South Lancashire, and after the death of Lord Palmerston became leader in the House of Commons and Chancellor of the Exchequer under Lord Russell's administration. In 1866 he brought in a Reform Bill, and again in 1868, when he was successful. As Premier after 1868 he signalized his ministry by disestablishing the Irish Church, and inaugurating a new system of land tenure in Ireland.
Mr. Gladstone has kept up his classical studies, for which he was eminent at Eton and Oxford, and published an elaborate work on Homer. He maintains the classical side of the question of a modern curriculum for secondary and superior schools.
Classical Training, the Basis of a Liberal Education. The relation of pure science, natural science, modern languages, modern history, and the rest, to the old classical training, ought to be founded on a principle, and that these competing branches of instruction ought not to be treated simply as importunate creditors that take one shilling in the pound to-day because they hope to get another shilling to-morrow, and in the meantime have a recognition of their title. This recognition of title is just what I would refuse; I deny their right to a parallel or equal position; their true position is ancillary; and as ancillary it ought to be limited and restrained without scruple as much as a regard to the paramount matter of education may dictate. But why, after all, is the classical training paramount? Is it because we find it established ?