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towards each other and towards the community or state of which they are members; and this object was best attained by that course of thorough classical education, which had been long established in the celebrated institutions of the old world. It was needless to support these opinions by the weight of individual authority; but the whole argument was so strikingly presented in a few words by the great English moralist, that it could not be deemed out of place to refer gentlemen to the sentiments of that great man upon the subject of education. [Mr Pickering here read the following extract from Johnson's Life of Milton :-" The truth is, that the knowledge of external nature, and the sciences which that knowledge requires or includes, are not the great or the frequent business of the human mind. Whether we provide for action or conversation, whether we wish to be useful or pleasing, the first requisite is the religious and moral knowledge of right and wrong; the next is an acquaintance with the history of mankind, and with those examples which may be said to embody truth and prove by events the reasonableness of opinions. Prudence and justice are virtues and excellencies of all places; we are perpetually moralists, but we are geometricians only by chance. Our intercourse with intellectual nature is necessary; our speculations upon matter are voluntary and at leisure. Physiological learning is of such rare emergence, that one may know another half bis life without being able to estimate his skill in hydrostatics or astronomy; but his moral and prudential character inmediately appears. Those authors, therefore, are to be read al schools, that supply most axioms of prudence, most principles of moral truth, and most materials for conversation ; and these purposes are best served by poets, orators, and historians."']
If any thing could be added to the consideration here urged with so much force, it would be the sentiments of an eminent British statesman (Sir James Mackintosh), who has said, in a speech distinguished by his usual eloquence, that we ought to have a perfect familiarity with the classic authors, who were the models of thought, the masters of moral teaching, and of civil wisdom, and above all things of civil liberty.
We have made these long extracts in order to give a distinct view of Mr Pickering's opinion on this subject, and supposing that this would be better exhibited in his words than in our own; besides that, by this course, we at least avoid the risk of misrepresentation.
On this subject opinions very different from those of Mr Pickering have been held and publicly defended, with some ingenuity at least; and we have ourselves been accused, some periodical publication, of favouring this literary heresy. It may not be amiss on this occasion, therefore, to deliver our creed, and we gladly seize the opportunity to express a part of it in the language of one, whose name and whose memory will long be dear to the friends of American literature.
" At that early period of life,” says Mr Frisbie, " when the languages of these nations [the Greeks and Romans) are
usually learned, their study affords a useful discipline to the mind, which could not perhaps, at that age, be so well derived from any other source. In discovering the meaning of a passage, there is not only a vigorous exercise of the powers of invention and comprehension; but in that grammatical analysis of each sentence, which is necessary for this purpose, a constant process of reasoning is carried on. By translation, a youth, while he acquires that copiousness of expression, so much insisted on by Quintilian, forms, at the same time, the habit of nicely discriminating the import of words, and perceiving their minutest shades of difference; and this much more from the dead, than living languages, because their idiom and modes of combination vary more from our
The importance of the early formation of this habit will be obvious to those, who consider, that language is not only the vehicle of our thoughts, when we impart them to others, but the very body in which they appear to ourselves. We think in propositions, and in proportion to the propriety and definiteness of our words, will be those of our ideas. It is true, that during the period we have mentioned, many facts in geography, civil, and even natural history, might be stored in the memory. But, not to mention that, especially with the children of the wealthy, there is time enough for all these; we hold it to be a maxim, that discipline, rather than knowledge, should be the object of education. We do not consider that youth as best taught, who has read or knows the most; but him, who carries into the world an understanding, formed successfully to grapple with whatever subject may be proposed, and most able, in whatever situation he may he placed, to think and act with sagacity, with truth and effect." **
We may add, that the early study of these languages, especially the Latin, for we think the Greek less necessary, is the best method of promoting the object proposed by some of the opposers of this study. The time spent, say they, in learning this dead language, might be more usefully employed in acquiring one or more of the modern
But this is a narrow view of the subject. It is not that the student is merely acquiring the power of reading a single language; he is acquiring the power of learning every language with facility,--he is fixing in his mind the principles and rules of universal grammar, by the study of a model
* North American Review, March, 1818, p. 323.
now settled and unchangeable. The youth who is well instructed in Latin grammar wants neither that of English, French, Spanish, nor indeed that of any other language, except for the explanation of an occasional exception to his general rule. The study of Latin, in short, is a labour-saving invention, if it is nothing better, and this is a sufficient answer to the demand of cui bono ?
The arguments in favour of this study, however, apply to an age earlier than that at which young men are usually admitted to the university ;-the acquiring of a competent knowledge of the Latin certainly, and perhaps of the Greek, should be prior to their admission. This is to be effected by making it necessary for this purpose. The governors of the College have been, for some years, gradually advancing in this particular, by increasing their demands upon the candidates, and we know no better way. Whether they have advanced fast enough our knowledge of the subject does not enable us to say; it is evident this must depend in some degree upon the state of schools.
But we infer from his language that Mr Pickering means by “classical learning” something more than the mere knowledge of the ancient languages and the power of reading them with tolerable facility; he would have the students acquainted with the works of most of the celebrated ancient authors and the peculiarities of their style. Не would have them acquire a taste for their perusal and a relish for their beauties. He would have them prepared and enabled to find amusement for a leisure hour, or solace for an anxious one, in the pages of Pindar, Homer, and Horace, as readily as in those of Milton, Childe Harold, or Waver ley; and he implies, if we understand him, that this result had better be obtained at the expense of much scientific knowledge—that it is even necessary for professional men. But in this we differ from him. That a highly cultivated taste of this sort is a source of happiness, and innocent happiness, we admit; but so is a taste for the fine arts, for painting, sculpture, and the like; and the general cultivation of taste in all these things is advantageous to society.
Has didicisse fideliter artes
Emollit mores, nec sinit esse feros. But any degree of cultivation of this sort requires time, leisure, and application to a degree that is not permitted to many
individuals in a young nation like our own. It is a luxury, while scientific and professional acquirements are necessaries; and we contend that those important years which are usually spent in College must not be wholly, nor indeed in a great degree, employed in cultivating tastes no way connected with commercial, manufacturing, agricultural, political, or professional excellence. We deny that classical learning, in the sense in which it seems to be understood by Mr Pickering and of which he himself is well known to be a brilliant illustration, is any more necessary to either of the professions than it is to any gentleman in any situation. We look upon it in the light of the “ burnish of a complete man," and in no other. As to the quotations from Dr Johnson and Sir James Mackintosh, they have no weight with us in our view of the question ; every moral and every political question, every argument in favour of civil liberty, all the history and all the reasoning of the ancients may be obtained without a knowledge of their language. The world is filled with translations, imitations, and plagiarisms; their sentiments have been borrowed and repeated and mixed and compounded in our own language, till nothing is left to be discovered in the original. To know all that the ancients said or thought, we want no language but our own; the knowledge of the exact manner in which they have said il, is all that is to be gained by the first degree of classical learning; and this we contend is a luxury, and not a necessary.
But there are occasionally, individual students, with whom the principal object of a liberal education is to become accomplished scholars, and this class is likely to increase with the wealth and population of the country. It would seem desirable that the College should afford facilities for this purpose, while it seems incompatible with the routine, which confines all to the same course of study. The recommendation of the committee, that there should be a certain liberty of choice, seems judicious, though there appear to be some objections on the score of practicability, which, however, our limits will not enable us to discuss.
In what we have said above we do not mean to imply that no attention ought to be paid to classical learning in the University; we think the accomplishment is worth much, though we do not consider it the sole, nor even the most important, object of a liberal education. But, in any point of view, is sufficient attention paid to classical learning in Harvard University?
Mr Pickering thinks not; but from the difference of our views on the general subject, it is not easy to decide whether we should, on the whole, agree with him. One evidence of the fact, in his view, is the difference between the attention now given, and that which was fashionable a century or more ago. But this weighs not at all with us; a sort of pedantic and useless erudition was then often encouraged to the neglect of more important knowledge. The graduates of the present day cannot indeed boast the scholastic lore, which addled the brains of Cotton Mather, and enabled him to write himself down an ass” in Greek and Latin as well as in English ; but besides a tolerable general knowledge of the ancient tongues, they have a store of that scientific information, in which he was so wofully deficient. Another evidence is the general inability to speak Latin. The students are no longer able to speak“ suo ut aiunt Marte;" one of our professors, on going abroad, was compelled to learn to speak Latin ; another professor was unable to reply in that language to the address of a foreign officer of engineers, &c. But this again weighs lightly with us. We know numberless instances in which an inability to speak a language, either living or dead, is perfectly compatible with the power of reading and understanding it with the greatest facility, with an acquaintance with the fine writings in it, and a high relish of its beauties. Moreover, the power of conversing in Latin is a cheap accomplishment, easily acquired and easily lost; it is taught in almost every petty conventual school in Europe, and in many where little else can be learned that is worth learning; and thus it becomes, in Catholic countries at least, a common acquirement with many who possibly never heard of Tully or Quintilian. We have known a whole hive of contemptible monks, in a convent where Latin composition was taught with great diligence, who regarded the belief of the earth's motion as an heretical blasphemy, to whom such a map of the world as every urchin can draw in a New England school was a prodigy, a brown paper armillary sphere, a month's wonder, and a Greek testament, a sealed book; yet had one of these wretched dealers in the dead languages wandered by any accident to America, he might, by this principle, have triumphed over our classical professors; and with no more reading than the Fasti of Ovid, or the “Vocalem breviant aliâ subeunte Latini," might have put to the blush many a one to whom Virgil and Horace and Juvenal and Persius were familiar