« السابقةمتابعة »
was conveyed; they were fostered by scholastic endowments devoted to, and often founded for, their exclusive pursuit, in virtue of the principle, inherent in all endowments, of perpetuating that for the support of which they have been originally bestowed, or subsequently applied; they were the only studies with which the majority of the learned were acquainted, and consequently they were the only ones which they were disposed, or indeed able, to teach. And so they were propagated from generation to generation of students; they had the advantage of possession, and in time, too, the prestige which the tradition of long-continued pursuit, and all the associations and prejudices connected therewith, never fail to give-a prestige which inclines people to acquiesce even in that of which they do not quite approve; they had enlisted on their sides the best minds of each age, and the ardent feelings of able and zealous votaries; and it is not a matter of wonder that what had thus been the great study of the men of any one generation, and of their fathers and forefathers for many previous ones, should not at any time be dethroned from its position but after a hard and desperate struggle.
But while it is easy to account for the commanding position which classical studies have so long held in our educational system, the real question for us to decide is, how far that position is at the present time tenable. For it must be remembered that the circumstances of our age are very different from those of the sixteenth century. Then the Classics contained the only philosophy, history, poetry, and oratory worthy of the name; but now that philosophy is in many respects superseded by the deeper and truer philosophy which the enlarged speculations and wider experience of modern times have produced; that history is, if not altogether supplanted, yet rendered less valuable by reason of the far wider range of facts, differing often in kind:from those of the classical records, which modern history unfolds; and that poetry and oratory, if unsurpassed, can still be equalled, or nearly so, by the productions of modern authors. The point for our decision, then, is—whether, in the present condition of society, and the existing state of knowledge, classical studies ought to fill the exclusive and exalted position in education which they have hitherto done; and if not, what place, if any, they ought to be permitted to occupy. This is the question which has been so long and keenly debated, and to the solution of which we hope, in the present paper, to contribute something.
Before proceeding to discuss the proposed subject, we shall find it convenient for our purpose to fix our ideas upon two preliminary points.
First, then, it will be useful for us to determine the proper object of education, because this is a point which lies at the foundation of our present inquiry, and will subsequently help us in the investigation of one of the most common objections to classical studies. This matter has formed the subject of an earnest controversy between those, on the one hand, who advocate the training and development of the faculties as the aim and end of education, and those, on the other hand, who maintain that education should rather have as its object professional training, or the imparting of knowledge which can be directly turned to account in the business of after life. Now we may take it as a fundamental principle, that the object of general education is not so much to impart information, as to call into exercise, and develop, and discipline faculties; not so much to store with knowledge, as to awaken the desire, and supply the power, of acquiring knowledge ; not to afford special training for particular pursuits in life, but to furnish general culture; not to train a man for his future calling, but to make him fit for any calling, by giving him the power of taking up any subject that presents itself, comprehending its principles, and mastering its details, – by making his intellect broad, clear, vigorous, and activeby imparting to him a sound and accurate judgment, able to decide aright the various questions which occur in business or ordinary life ;-in short, by educing and training those powers and habits of mind which enable a man in his social and business capacity to deal successfully with his fellowmen, and to exert a wholesome and useful influence on all within his sphere of action. To confine education, then, within the limits afforded by the imparting of the preparatory knowledge, or training, necessary for a profession, or business, is grievously to narrow its limits, and to impair the prospect of its ultimately bringing forth the desired fruit. For, we must remember, a man has other duties to perform besides those of his profession, trade, or calling; he has to be the ruler and counsellor of a home circle, to whom wife and children and domestics will look for advice and direction; has to meet his fellow-creatures in social intercourse; he has perhaps to take some part in political, or civic, affairs; and for all these duties, domestic, social, and political, his education ought to fit him, as well as for his profession, or trade. Now it is obvious that so wide a culture as that of which we have been speaking, which has to influence the whole man in all his capacities, faculties, and feelings, cannot be effected by the mere acquisition of knowledge, as knowledge; no attainable amount of knowledge can enable him to grasp all the subjects, and grapple successfully with all the difficulties, which meet him in his ordinary life; nothing short of the vigorous and healthy action of all his faculties, as far as may be, will stand him in good stead in the great world-battle in which every true man has to engage. General culture, then, is the best preparation for a man's special work in life,
whatever that work may be, and should therefore be the primary object aimed at in his education.
We must be careful, however, to guard against any misapprehension in this matter; though it be true that the imparting of knowledge for its own sake is not the primary object of education, yet it must be remembered that education must be based on knowledge, and cannot be carried on without it; intellectual grasp and acuteness can only be attained by exercising the faculties in the acquistion, the contemplation, and the comparison of the various branches of human learning; education is not instruction indeed, but without instruction education is impossible.
The second preliminary point upon which it seems desirable to say something is the distinction between the different kinds of education. Now there are three kinds of education 1st, Primary; 2nd, Secondary; 3rd, the Higher.
1st. Primary Education consists in the imparting of the mere elements of learning, or rather of those branches of knowledge which are indispensable for every one in civilised life, or which are necessary for the subsequent acquisition of all knowledge, I mean -- Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic. Under proper methods of teaching these elements, some amount of intellectual discipline may be imparted; but that discipline is not very considerable in amount, nor is it of a very high quality. This, however, is all the mental culture attainable by the great mass of our population, who are forced at an early age to forego all systematic education, and engage in hard manual toil for the sustenance of life. 2nd. Secondary Education is that of the vast majority of our middle classes, who are enabled to stay longer at school than our working population, say until their fourteenth, fifteenth, or sixteenth year, and have therefore the opportunity of receiving a more thorough mental discipline, and acquiring a higher intellectual culture. They have time and opportunity for the pursuit of many of the higher branches of study, and of those which are the most efficacious for the training and cultivation of the mind; and the great object in educating them, after first of all securing their acquisition of those elements of knowledge which are necessary, or eminently useful, for the successful carrying on of the ordinary business of men in their position of life, should be to educe and discipline the various powers of their minds. 3rd. The Higher Education is that of those who have the means, opportunity, and desire of prolonging their studies up to the period of early manhood. Its object is the complete and harmonious development, and the calling forth into healthful, vigorous action, of all the mental faculties-in short, the general cultivation of the whole intelligence; and this is to be effected by the study of the higher, more refining, and more recondite branches of knowledge.
Leaving out of sight Primary Education, as not connected with our present subject of discussion, we have to consider only the Secondary and the Higher. We assume, then, as essential conditions, first, that in both, the branches of study which appertain specially to Primary Education have been secured ; next, that in both, so much extra information has been imparted as is necessary, or useful, for a man who has to occupy a position above that of the mechanic, or day-labourer, and earn his living in any other way than by the work of his hands; and we assert that afterwards, in both alike, the object in view should be mental discipline and culture,—the only difference between the two being, that in Secondary Education this discipline and culture can only be carried on to a certain point, and must stop at a much lower level than the one attainable in the Higher Education. The difference then between the Secondary and Higher Education is one rather of degree, than of kind; the instruments used in the