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mental things, of little use for any one has been thought and said by the modern whose object is to get at truth, and to be nations, is to know, says Professor (300 a practical man. So, too, M. Renan talks Huxley, "only what modern literatures of the “superficial humanism” of a school have to tell us; it is the criticism of life course which treats us as if we were all contained in modern literature.” And going to be poets, writers, preachers, (250 yet “the distinctive character of our orators, and he opposes this humanism to times,” he urges, “lies in the vast and positive science, or the critical search constantly increasing part which is played after truth. And there is always a tend by natural knowledge.” And how, thereency in those who are remonstrating fore, can a man, devoid of knowledge of against the predominance of letters in what physical science has done in the education, to understand by letters belles last century, enter hopefully upon a (310 lettres, and by belles lettres a superficial criticism of modern life? humanism, the opposite of science or true Let us, I say, be agreed about the meanknowledge.
ing of the terms we are using. I talk of But when we talk of knowing Greek [260 knowing the best which has been thought and Roman antiquity, for instance, which and uttered in the world; Professor is the knowledge people have called the | Huxley says this means knowing literahumanities, I for my part mean a knowl ture. Literature is a large word; it may edge which is something more than a | mean everything written with letters or superficial humanism, mainly decorative. printed in a book. Euclid's Elements “I call all teaching scientific,” says Wolf, and Newton's Principia are thus (320 the critic of Homer, “which is systematic | literature. All knowledge that reaches us ally laid out and followed up to its ori through books is literature. But by literaginal sources. For example: a knowledge ture Professor Huxley means belles lettres. of classical antiquity is scientific [270 He means to make me say, that knowing when the remains of classical antiquity the best which has been thought and are correctly studied in the original lan said by the modern nations is knowing guages.” There can be no doubt that their belles lettres and no more. And this Wolf is perfectly right; that all learning is no sufficient equipment, he argues, for is scientific which is systematically laid a criticism of modern life. But as I do out and followed up to its original sources, not mean, by knowing ancient Rome, (330 and that a genuine humanism is scientific. knowing merely more or less of Latin
When I speak of knowing Greek and | belles lettres, and taking no account of Roman antiquity, therefore, as a help to Rome's military, and political, and legal, knowing ourselves and the world, I (280 and administrative work in the world; mean more than a knowledge of so much and as, by knowing ancient Greece, I vocabulary, so much grammar, so many understand knowing her as the giver of portions of authors in the Greek and Latin Greek art, and the guide to a free and languages, I mean knowing the Greeks right use of reason and to scientific and Romans, and their life and genius, method, and the founder of our matheand what they were and did in the world; matics and physics and astronomy (340 what we get from them, and what is its and biology,-I understand knowing her value. That, at least, is the ideal; and | as all this, and not merely knowing certain when we talk of endeavoring to know Greek poems, and histories, and treatises, Greek and Roman antiquity, as a [290 and speeches, so as to the knowledge help to knowing ourselves and the world, of modern nations also. By knowing we mean endeavoring so to know them modern nations, I mean not merely knowas to satisfy this ideal, however much we | ing their belles lettres, but knowing also may still fall short of it.
what has been done by such men as The same also as to knowing our own / Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Darwin. and other modern nations, with the like “Our ancestors learned,” says Pro 1350 aim of getting to understand ourselves fessor Huxley, “that the earth is the and the world. To know the best that | centre of the visible universe, and that is the cynosure of things terrestrial; / casm “the Levites of culture," and those and more especially was it inculcated that | whom the poor humanist is sometimes the course of nature has no fixed order, apt to regard as its Nebuchadnezzars. but that it could be, and constantly was, The great results of the scientific (410 altered.” But for us now, continues investigation of nature we are agreed Professor Huxley, "the notions of the upon knowing, but how much of our study beginning and the end of the world enter are we bound to give to the processes by tained by our forefathers are no longer (360 which those results are reached? The credible. It is very certain that the earth results have their visible bearing on is not the chief body in the material uni human life. But all the processes, too, verse, and that the world is not subor- all the items of fact by which those results dinated to man's use. It is even more are reached and established, are int certain that nature is the expression of a ing. All knowledge is interesting to a definite order, with which nothing inter wise man, and the knowledge of na- [420
feres.”. “And yet,” he cries, “the purely ture is interesting to all men. It is very E classical education advocated by the interesting to know, that, from the al
representatives of the humanists in our buminous white of the egg, the chick in day gives no inkling of all this!” (370 the egg gets the materials for its flesh,
In due place and time I will just touchbones, blood, and feathers; while, from upon that vexed question of classical the fatty yelk of the egg, it gets the heat education; but at present the question is and energy which enable it at length to as to what is meant by knowing the best break its shell and begin the world. It which modern nations have thought and is less interesting, perhaps, but still it said. It is not knowing their belles lettres is interesting, to know that when a (430 merely which is meant. To know Italian | taper burns, the wax is converted into belles lettres is not to know Italy, and to carbonic acid and water. Moreover, it know English belles lettres is not to know is quite true that the habit of dealing England. Into knowing Italy and [380 with facts, which is given by the study of England there comes a great deal more, nature, is, as the friends of physical Galileo and Newton amongst it. The science praise it for being, an excellent reproach of being a superficial humanism, dsicipline. The appeal, in the study of a tincture of belles lettres, may attach nature, is constantly to observation and rightly enough to some other disciplines; experiment; not only is it said that the but to the particular discipline recom thing is so, but we can be made to see (440 mended when I proposed knowing the that it is so. Not only does a man tell best that has been thought and said in us that when a taper burns the wax is the world, it does not apply. In that converted into carbonic acid and water, best I certainly include what in mod- [390 as a man may tell us, if he likes, that ern times has been thought and said by Charon is punting his ferry-boat on the the great observers and knowers of river Styx, or that Victor Hugo is a subnature.
| lime poet, or Mr. Gladstone the most There is, therefore, really no question admirable of statesmen; but we are made between Professor Huxley and me as to to see that the conversion into carbonic whether knowing the great results of the acid and water does actually happen. [450 modern scientific study of nature is not | This reality of natural knowledge it is, required as a part of our culture, as well which makes the friends of physical science as knowing the products of literature and contrast it, as a knowledge of things, art. But to follow the processes by 1400 with the humanist's knowledge, which is, which those results are reached, ought, they say, a knowledge of words. And say the friends of physical science, to hence Professor Huxley is moved to lay be made the staple of education for the it down that, "for the purpose of attainbulk of mankind. And here there does ing real culture, an exclusively scientific arise a question between those whom | education is at least as effectual as an Professor Huxley calls with playful sar- | exclusively literary education.” And (460 it.
a certain President of the Section for the power of social life and manners,-he Mechanical Science in the British As can hardly deny that this scheme, though sociation is, in Scripture phrase, “very drawn in rough and plain lines enough, bold," and declares that if a man, in his and not pretending to scientific exactness, mental training, “has substituted litera- | does yet give a fairly true representature and history for natural science, he tion of the matter. Human nature is (520 has chosen the less useful alternative.” built up by these powers; we have the But whether we go these lengths or not, need for them all. When we have rightly we must all admit that in natural science met and adjusted the claims of them all, the habit gained of dealing with facts (470 we shall then be in a fair way for getting is a most valuable discipline, and that soberness and righteousness, with wisevery one should have some experience of dom. This is evident enough, and the
friends of physical science would admit More than this, however, is demanded it. by the reformers. It is proposed to make But perhaps they may not have sufthe training in natural science the main ficiently observed another thing: 1530 part of education, for the great majority namely, that the several powers just of mankind at any rate. And here, I mentioned are not isolated, but there is, confess, I part company with the friends in the generality of mankind, a perpetual of physical science, with whom up to (480 tendency to relate them one to another in this point I have been agreeing. In dif- divers ways. With one such way of fering from them, however, I wish to relating them I am particularly concerned proceed with the utmost caution and now. Following our instinct for intellect diffidence. The smallness of my own and knowledge, we acquire pieces of acquaintance with the disciplines of nat knowledge; and presently, in the genural science is ever before my mind, and erality of men, there arises the desire (540 I am fearful of doing these disciplines an to relate these pieces of knowledge to our injustice. The ability and pugnacity of sense for conduct, to our sense for the partisans of natural science make beauty,—and there is weariness and disthem formidable persons to contra- [490 satisfaction if the desire is baulked. dict. The tone of tentative inquiry, which Now in this desire lies, I think, the befits a being of dim faculties and bounded strength of that hold which letters have knowledge, is the tone I would wish to upon us. take and not to depart from. At present All knowledge is, as I said just now, it seems to me, that those who are for | interesting; and even items of knowledge giving to natural knowledge, as they call which from the nature of the case (550 it, the chief place in the education of the cannot well be related, but must stand majority of mankind, leave one important | isolated in our thoughts, have their inthing out of their account: the constitu terest. Even lists of exceptions have tion of human nature. But I put this (500 their interest. If we are studying Greek forward on the strength of some facts accents, it is interesting to know that not at all recondite, very far from it; facts pais and pas, and some other mono capable of being stated in the simplest syllables of the same form of declension, possible fashion, and to which, if I so do not take the circumflex upon the last state them, the man of science will, I syllable of the genitive plural, but vary, am sure, be willing to allow their due in this respect, from the common rule. (560 weight.
If we are studying physiology, it is inDeny the facts altogether, I think, he | teresting to know that the pulmonary hardly can. He can hardly deny, that artery carries dark blood and the pulwhen we set ourselves to enumerate 1510 | monary vein carries bright blood, de the powers which go to the building up of parting in this respect from the common human life, and say that they are the rule for the division of labor between the power of conduct, the power of intellect veins and the arteries. But every one and knowledge, the power of beauty, and knows how we seek naturally to combine
e bulk of mannot, how the
the pieces of our knowledge together, those who have the gift thus to employ to bring them under general rules, to (570) them; and they may be disciplines in relate them to principles; and how un themselves wherein it is useful for every satisfactory and tiresome it would be to one to have some schooling. But it is go on for ever learning lists of exceptions, inconceivable that the generality of men or accumulating items of fact which must should pass all their mental life with stand isolated.
Greek accents or with formal logic. My Well, that same need of relating our friend Professor Sylvester, who is (630 knowledge, which operates here within one of the first mathematicians in the the sphere of our knowledge itself, we world, holds transcendental doctrines as shall find operating, also, outside that to the virtue of mathematics, but those sphere. We experience, as we go on [580 doctrines are not for common men. In learning and knowing,—the vast majority | the very Senate House and heart of our of us experience,-the need of relating | English Cambridge I once ventured, what we have learned and known to the though not without an apology for my sense which we have in us for conduct, profaneness, to hazard the opinion that to the sense which we have in us for for the majority of mankind a little of beauty.
mathematics, even, goes a long way. (640 A certain Greek prophetess of Man Of course this is quite consistent with tineia in Arcadia, Diotima by name, their being of immense importance as an once explained to the philosopher Soc | instrument to something else; but it is rates that love, and impulse, and (590 the few who have the aptitude for thus bent of all kinds, is, in fact, nothing else using them, not the bulk of mankind. but the desire in men that good should! The natural sciences do not, howfor ever be present to them. This desire ever, stand on the same footing with for good, Diotima assured Socrates, is these instrument-knowledges. Experience our fundamental desire, of which funda shows us that the generality of men will mental desire every impulse in us is only find more interest in learning that, [650 some one particular form. And therefore when a taper burns, the wax is converted this fundamental desire it is, I suppose,– | into carbonic acid and water, or in learnthis desire in men that good should be ing the explanation of the phenomenon for ever present to them,—which (600 of dew, or in learning how the circulaacts in us when we feel the impulse for tion of the blood is carried on, than they relating our knowledge to our sense for find in learning that the genitive plural conduct and to our sense for beauty. of pais and pas does not take the cirAt any rate, with men in general the in- cumflex on the termination. And one stinct exists. Such is human nature. piece of natural knowledge is added to And the instinct, it will be admitted, is another, and others are added to that, [660 innocent, and human nature is preserved and at last we come to propositions so by our following the lead of its innocent interesting as Mr. Darwin's famous propinstincts. Therefore, in seeking to gratify osition that “our ancestor was a hairy this instinct in question, we are fol- (610 quadruped furnished with a tail and lowing the instinct of self-preservation pointed ears, probably arboreal in his in humanity.
habits.” Or we come to propositions But, no doubt, some kinds of knowledge of such reach and magnitude as those cannot be made to directly serve the in which Professor Huxley delivers, when stinct in question, cannot be directly | he says that the notions of our forefathers related to the sense for beauty, to the about the beginning and the end of (670 sense for conduct. These are instrument the world were all wrong, and that nature knowledges; they lead on to other knowl is the expression of a definite order with edges, which can. A man who passes which nothing interferes. his life in instrument-knowledges is (620 | Interesting, indeed, these results of a specialist. They may be invaluable as science are, important they are, and we instruments to something beyond, for should all of us be acquainted with them. But what I now wish you to mark is, reasoning upon it, and has little time or that we are still, when they are pro- | inclination for thinking about getting it pounded to us and we receive them, we related to the desire in man for conduct, are still in the sphere of intellect and (680 the desire in man for beauty. He relates knowledge. And for the generality of it to them for himself as he goes along, men there will be found, I say, to arise, so far as he feels the need; and he draws when they have duly taken in the propo from the domestic affections all the addisition that their ancestor was "à hairy | tional solace necessary. But then Darquadruped furnished with a tail and wins are extremely rare. Another great pointed ears, probably arboreal in his and admirable master of natural (740 habits," there will be found to arise an knowledge, Faraday, was a Sandemanian. invincible desire to relate this proposition That is to say, he related his knowledge to the sense in us for conduct, and to the i to his instinct for conduct and to his sense in us for beauty. But this the (690 | instinct for beauty, by the aid of that men of science will not do for us, and respectable Scottish sectary, Robert will hardly even profess to do. They Sandeman. And so strong, in general, is will give us other pieces of knowledge, the demand of religion and poetry to other facts, about other animals and have their share in a man, to associate their ancestors, or about plants, or about themselves with his knowing, and to restones, or about stars; and they may lieve and rejoice it, that probably, (750 finally bring us to those great "general for one man amongst us with the disposiconceptions of the universe, which are i tion to do as Darwin did in this respect, forced upon us all,” says Professor Huxley, there are at least fifty with the disposition "by the progress of physical science.” 1700 to do as Faraday. But still it will be knowledge only which | Education lays hold upon us, in fact, they give us; knowledge not put for us into by satisfying this demand. Professor relation with our sense for conduct, our sense Huxley holds up to scorn mediæval educafor beauty, and touched with emotion by tion, with its neglect of the knowledge being so put; not thus put for us, and of nature, its poverty even of literary therefore, to the majority of mankind, after studies, its formal logic devoted to 1760 a certain while, unsatisfying, wearying. “showing how and why that which the
Not to the born naturalist, I admit. | Church said was true must be true.” But what do we mean by a born nat But the great mediæval universities were uralist? We mean a man in whom [710 not brought into being, we may be sure, the zeal for observing nature is so uncom- | by the zeal for giving a jejune and conmonly strong and eminent, that it marks temptible education. Kings have been him off from the bulk of mankind. Such their nursing fathers, and queens have a man will pass his life happily in collect been their nursing mothers, but not for ing natural knowledge and reasoning this. The mediæval universities came upon it, and will ask for nothing, or hardly into being, because the supposed (770 anything, more. I have heard it said knowledge, delivered by Scripture and that the sagacious and admirable nat- | the Church, so deeply engaged men's uralist whom we lost not very long ago, hearts, by so simply, easily, and powerMr. Darwin, once owned to a friend (720 fully relating itself to their desire for conthat for his part he did not experience duct, their desire for beauty. All other the necessity for two things which most knowledge was dominated by this supmen find so necessary to them,-religion posed knowledge and was subordinated and poetry; science and the domestic to it, because of the surpassing strength affections, he thought, were enough. To of the hold which it gained upon the a born naturalist, I can well understand affections of men, by allying itself pro [780 that this should seem so. So absorbing foundly with their sense for conduct, is his occupation with nature, so strong their sense for beauty. his love for his occupation, that he goes But now, says Professor Huxley, conon acquiring natural knowledge and [730 | ceptions of the universe fatal to the no