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tions held by our forefathers have been And this is perhaps a case for applying forced upon us by physical science. the Preacher's words: “Though a (840 Grant to him that they are thus fatal, man labor to seek it out, yet he shall not that the new conceptions must and will find it; yea, farther, though a wise man soon become current everywhere, and think to know it, yet shall be not be able that every one will finally perceive (790 to find it."! Why should it be one thing. them to be fatal to the beliefs of our fore- in its effect upon the emotions, to say, fathers. The need of humane letters, as "Patience is a virtue," and quite another they are truly called, because they serve thing, in its effect upon the emotions, to the paramount desire in men that good say with Homer, should be for ever present to them, the | τλητόν γάρ Μοίραι θυμόν θέσαν ανθρώποισιν-2 need of humane letters to establish a relation between the new conceptions, and "for an enduring heart have the des- (850 our instinct for beauty, our instinct for tinies appointed to the children of men”? conduct, is only the more visible. The Why should it be one thing, in its effect Middle Age could do without humane (800 upon the emotions, to say with the philosletters, as it could do without the study opher Spinoza, Felicitas in eo consistit of nature, because its supposed knowledge quod homo suum esse conservare potestwas made to engage its emotions so power- “Man's happiness consists in his being fully. Grant that the supposed knowl- able to preserve his own essence," and edge disappears, its power of being made quite another thing, in its effect upon the to engage the emotions will of course emotions, to say with the Gospel, "What disappear along with it,-but the emotions is a man advantaged, if he gain (860 themselves, and their claim to be en- the whole world, and lose himself, forgaged and satisfied, will remain. Now feit himself?” How does this difference if we find by experience that humane (810 of effect arise? I cannot tell, and I am letters have an undeniable power of not much concerned to know; the imporengaging the emotions, the importance tant thing is that it does arise, and that of humane letters in a man's training we can profit by it. But how, finally, becomes not less, but greater, in propor- are poetry and eloquence to exercise the tion to the success of modern science power of relating the modern results of in extirpating what it calls “mediæval natural science to man's instinct for conthinking."
duct, his instinct for beauty? And here (870 Have humane letters, then, have poetry again I answer that I do not know how and eloquence, the power here attributed they will exercise it, but that they can and to them of engaging the emotions, (820 will exercise it I am sure. I do not mean and do they exercise it? And if they have that modern philosophical poets and it and exercise it, how do they exercise it, modern philosophical moralists are to so as to exert an influence upon man's come and relate for us, in express terms, sense for conduct, his sense for beauty? the results of modern scientific research Finally, even if they both can and do to our instinct for conduct, our instinct exert an influence upon the senses in for beauty. But I mean that we shall find, question, how are they to relate to them as a matter of experience, if we know (880 the results,-the modern results, -of nat- the best that has been thought and uttered ural science? All these questions may in the world, we shall find that the art be asked. First, have poetry and elo- (830 and poetry and eloquence of men who quence the power of calling out the emo- | lived, perhaps, long ago, who had the tions?
The appeal is to experience. most limited natural knowledge, who Experience shows that for the vast ma- had the most erroneous conceptions about jority of men, for mankind in general, many important matters, we shall find they have the power. Next, do they that this art, and poetry, and eloquence, exercise it? They do. But then, how have in fact not only the power of refreshdo they exercise it so as to affect man's ing and delighting us, they have also (890 sense for conduct, his sense for beauty? 1 i Ecclesiastes, viï, 17.
? Iliad, aiv, 49.
the power,--such is the strength and humane letters; not to mention that in worth, in essentials, of their authors' setting himself to be perpetually accriticism of life,-they have a fortifying, cumulating natural knowledge, he sets and elevating, and quickening, and sug- himself to do what only specialists have gestive power, capable of wonderfully · in general the gift for doing genially. helping us to relate the results of modern And so he will probably be unsatisfied, science to our need for conduct, our need or at any rate incomplete, and even more for beauty. Homer's conceptions of the incomplete than the student of hu- 1950 physical universe were, I imagine, gro- mane letters only. tesque; but really, under the shock [900 I once mentioned in a school-report, of hearing from modern science that “the how a young man in one of our English world is not subordinated to man's use, training colleges having to paraphrase and that man is not the cynosure of things the passage in Macbeth beginning, terrestrial,” I could, for my own part, desire no better comfort than Homer's “Canst thou not minister to a mind line which I quoted just now,
τλητόν γάρ Μοίραι θυμόν θέσαν ανθρώποισιν- turned this line into, “Can you not wait
upon the lunatic?"
And I remarked "for an enduring heart have the destinies what a curious state of things it would appointed to the children of men”!
be, if every pupil of our national (960 And the more that men's minds (910 schools knew, let us say, that the moon is are cleared, the more that the results of two thousand one hundred and sixty science are frankly accepted, the more miles in diameter, and thought at the that poetry and eloquence come to be same time that a good paraphrase for received and studied as what in truth they really are,-the criticism of life by “Canst thou not minister to a mind gifted men, alive and active with extraor- diseased?" dinary power at an unusual number of points;—so much the more will the was, “Can you not wait upon the lunavalue of humane letters, and of art also, tic?" If one is driven to choose, I think which is an utterance having a like (920 I would rather have a young person igkind of power with theirs, be felt and norant about the moon's diameter, but acknowledged, and their place in educa- aware that “Can you not wait upon 1970 tion be secured.
the lunatic?” is bad, than a young person Let us therefore, all of us, avoid indeed whose education had been such as to as much as possible any invidious com- manage things the other way. parison between the merits of humane Or to go higher than the pupils of our letters, as means of education, and the national schools. I have in my mind's merits of the natural sciences. But when eye a member of our British Parliament some President of a Section for Me- who comes to travel here in America, chanical Science insists on making (930 who afterwards relates his travels, and the comparison, and tells us that "he who shows a really masterly knowledge who in his training has substituted litera- of the geology of this great country 1980 ture and history for natural science has and of its mining capabilities, but who chosen the less useful alternative," let ends by gravely suggesting that the us make answer to him that the student United States should borrow a prince of humane letters only, will, at least, from our Royal Family, and should make know also the great general conceptions him their king, and should create a House brought in by modern physical science; of Lords of great landed proprietors after for science, as Professor Huxley says, the pattern of ours; and then America, forces them upon us all. But the stu- (940 he thinks, would have her future happily dent of the natural sciences only, will, by and perfectly secured. Surely, in this our very hypothesis, know nothing of case, the President of the Section for logo
Mechanical Science would himself hardly art and Greek literature can serve this say that our member of Parliament, by need.
need. Women will again study Greek, concentrating himself upon geology and : as Lady Jane Grey did; I believe that in mineralogy, and so on, and not attending that chain of forts, with which the fair to literature and history, had “chosen the host of the Amazons are now engirdling more useful alternative.”
our English universities, I find that (1050 If then there is to be separation and here in America, in colleges like Smith
one hand, and the natural sciences on College in the State of New York, and in the other, the great majority of man- (1000 the happy families of the mixed univerkind, all who have not exceptional and sities out West, they are studying it aloverpowering aptitudes for the study of ready. nature, would do well, I cannot but think, Defuit una mihi symmetria prisca,to choose to be educated in humane letters “The antique symmetry was the one rather than in the natural sciences. Let- thing wanting to me,” said Leonardo da ters will call out their ng at more Vinci; and he was an Italian. I will (1060 points, will make them live more.
not presume to speak for the Americans, I said that before I ended I would just but I am sure that, in the Englishman, touch on the question of classical educa- the want of this admirable symmetry of tion, and I will keep my word. Even (1010 the Greeks is a thousand times more if literature is to retain a large place in great and crying than in any Italian. our education, yet Latin and Greek, say The results of the want show themselves the friends of progress, will certainly have most glaringly, perhaps, in our architecto go. Greek is the grand offender in the ture, but they show themselves, also, in eyes of these gentlemen. The attackers all our art. Fit details strictly combined, of the established course of study think | in view of a large general result nobly (1070 that against Greek, at any rate, they conceived; that is just the beautiful symhave irresistible arguments. Literature metria prisca of the Greeks, and it is may perhaps be needed in education, just where we English fail, where all our they say; but why on earth should it (1020 art fails. Striking ideas we have, and be Greek literature? Why not French or well-executed details we have; but that German? Nay, “has not an Englishman high symmetry which, with satisfying models in his own literature of every kind and delightful effect, combines them, we of excellence?” As before, it is not on seldom or
The glorious any weak pleadings of my own that I rely beauty of the Acropolis at Athens did for convincing the gainsayers; it is on not come from single fine things (1080 the constitution of human nature itself, stuck about on that hill, a statue here, and on the instinct of self-preservation a gateway there;-no, it arose from all in humanity. The instinct for beauty is things being perfectly combined for a set in human nature, as surely as the (1030 supreme total effect. What must not an instinct for knowledge is set there, or the Englishman feel about our deficiencies instinct for conduct. If the instinct for in this respect, as the sense for beauty, beauty is served by Greek literature and whereof this symmetry is an essential art as it is served by no other literature element, awakens and strengthens within and art, we may trust to the instinct of him! what will not one day be his reself-preservation in humanity for keeping spect and desire for Greece and its (1090 Greek as part of our culture. We may symmetria prisca, when the scales drop trust to it for even making the study of from his eyes as he walks the London Greek more prevalent than it is now. streets, and he sees such a lesson in meanGreek will come, I hope, some day (1040 ness as the Strand, for instance, in its true to be studied more rationally than at deformity! But here we are coming to present; but it will be increasingly studied our friend Mr. Ruskin's province, and I as men increasingly feel the need in them will not intrude upon it, for he is its very for beauty, and how powerfully Greek | sufficient guardian.
And so we at last find, it seems, we find flowing in favor of the humanities the (1100 THOMAS HENRY HUXLEY (1826–1896) natural and necessary stream of things,
ON THE ADVISABLENESS OF IMwhich seemed against them when we
PROVING NATURAL KNOWLEDGE started. The “hairy quadruped furnished with a tail and pointed ears, probably This time two hundred years ago—in arboreal in his habits,” this good fellow the beginning of January, 1666-those carried hidden in his nature, apparently, of our forefathers who inhabited this great something destined to develop into a and ancient city, took breath between necessity for humane letters. Nay, more; the shocks of two fearful calamities: one we seem finally to be even led to the not quite past, although its fury had further conclusion that our hairy an- (1110 abated; the other to come. cestor carried in his nature, also, a neces- Within a few yards of the very spot on sity for Greek.
which we are assembled, so the tradition And therefore, to say the truth, I can- runs, that painful and deadly malady, (10 not really think that humane letters are the plague, appeared in the latter months in much actual danger of being thrust of 1664; and, though no new visitor, out from their leading place in education, smote the people of England, and esin spite of the array of authorities against pecially of her capital, with a violence them at this moment. So long as human unknown before, in the course of the nature is what it is, their attractions will following year.
The hand of a master remain irresistible. As with Greek, (1120 has pictured what happened in those so with letters generally: they will some dismal months; and in that truest of day come, we may hope, to be studied fictions, The History of the Plague Year, more rationally, but they will not lose Defoe shows death, with every accom- 120 their place. What will happen will rather paniment of pain and terror, stalking be that there will be crowded into educa- through the narrow streets of old London, tion other matters besides, far too many; and changing their busy hum into a there will be, perhaps, a period of un- silence broken only by the wailing of the settlement and confusion and false ten- mourners of fifty thousand dead; by the dency; but letters will not in the end woful denunciations and mad prayers of lose their leading place. If they lose (1130 fanatics; and by the madder yells of it for a time, they will get it back again. despairing profligates. We shall be brought back to them by our But, about this time, in 1666, the deathwants and aspirations. And a poor rate had sunk to nearly its ordinary (30 humanist may possess his soul in patience, amount; a case of plague occurred only neither strive nor cry, admit the energy here and there, and the richer citizens and brilliancy of the partisans of physical who had flown from the pest had returned science, and their present favor with the to their dwellings. The remnant of the public, to be far greater than his own, people began to toil at the accustomed and still have a happy faith that the round of duty, or of pleasure; and the nature of things works silently on (1140 stream of city life bid fair to flow back behalf of the studies which he loves, along its old bed, with renewed and unand that, while we shall all have to ac- interrupted vigor. quaint ourselves with the great results The newly-kindled hope was deceit- (40 reached by modern science, and to give ful. The great plague, indeed, returned ourselves as much training in its dis- no more; but what it had done for the ciplines as we can conveniently carry, Londoners, the great fire, which broke out yet the majority of men will always re- in the autumn of 1666, did for London; quire humane letters; and so much the and, in September of that year, a heap more, as they have the more and the of ashes and the indestructible energy greater results of science to relate (1150 of the people were all that remained of to the need in man for conduct, and to the glory of five-sixths of the city within the need in him for beauty.
Our forefathers had their own ways (50 together for the purpose, as they phrased of accounting for each of these calamities. it, of "improving natural knowledge.” They submitted to the plague in humility The ends they proposed to attain cannot and in penitence, for they believed it to be stated more clearly than in the words of be the judgment of God. But towards one of the founders of the organisation > the fire they were furiously indignant, “Our business was (precluding matters interpreting it as the effect of the malice of of theology and state affairs) to discourse man,-as the work of the Republicans, and consider of philosophical en- (110 or of the Papists, according as their pre- quiries, and such as related thereunto:possessions ran in favor of loyalty or of as Physick, Anatomy, Geometry, AsPuritanism.
(60 tronomy, Navigation, Staticks, MagnetIt would, I fancy, have fared but ill icks, Chymicks, Mechanicks, and Natwith one who, standing where I now ural Experiments; with the state of these stand, in what was then a thickly-peopled studies and their cultivation at home and and fashionable part of London, should abroad. We then discoursed of the circuhave broached to our ancestors the doc- lation of the blood, the valves in the trine which I now propound to you, veins, the venæ lacteæ, the lymphatic that all their hypotheses were alike vessels, the Copernican hypothesis, (120 wrong; that the plague was no more, in the nature of comets and new stars, the their sense, Divine judgment, than the satellites of Jupiter, the oval shape (as fire was the work of any political, or 170 it then appeared) of Saturn, the spots on of any religious, sect; but that they were the sun and its turning on its own axis, themselves the authors of both plague the inequalities and selenography of the and fire, and that they must look to them- moon, the several phases of Venus and selves to prevent the recurrence of calami- Mercury, the improvement of telescopes ties, to all appearance so peculiarly be- and grinding of glasses for that purpose, yond the reach of human control-so the weight of air, the possibility or imevidently the result of the wrath of God, possibility of vacuities and nature's (130 or of the craft and subtlety of an enemy. abhorrence thereof, the Torricellian ex
And one may picture to one's self how periment in quicksilver, the descent of harmoniously the holy cursing of the (80 heavy bodies and the degree of acceleraPuritan of that day would have chimed tion therein, with divers other things of in with the unholy cursing and the crack- like nature, some of which were then but ling wit of the Rochesters and Sedleys, new discoveries, and others not so genand with the revilings of the political fa- erally known and embraced as now they natics, if my imaginary plain dealer had are; with other things appertaining to gone on to say that, if the return of such what hath been called the New Philosmisfortunes were ever rendered impos- ophy, which from the times of Galileo (140 sible, it would not be in virtue of the vic- at Florence, and Sir Francis Bacon (Lord tory of the faith of Laud, or of that of Verulam) in England, hath been much Milton; and, as little, by the triumph (90 cultivated in Italy, France, Germany, of republicanism, as by that of monarchy. and other parts abroad, as well as with But that the one thing needful for com- us in England." passing this end was, that the people of The learned Dr. Wallis, writing in 1696, England should second the efforts of an narrates in these words what happened insignificant corporation, the establish- half a century before, or about 1645. ment of which, a few years before the The associates met at Oxford, in the rooms epoch of the great plague and the great of Dr. Wilkins, who was destined to (150 fire, had been as little noticed, as they become a bishop; and subsequently comwere conspicuous.
ing together in London, they attracted
the notice of the king. And it is a Some twenty years before the out- (100 strange evidence of the taste for knowledge break of the plague a few calm and which the most obviously worthless of the thoughtful students banded themselves Stuarts shared with his father and grand