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JUSTICE TO HUMAN LIFE.
a young man up to the age of seventeen? Just as if there was such a want of difficulties to overcome, and of important tastes to inspire, that from the mere necessity of doing something, and the impossibility of doing anything else, you were driven to the expedient of metre and poetry; as if a young man within that period might not acquire the modern languages, modern history, experimental philosophy, geography, chronology, and a considerable share of mathematics; as if the memory of things were not more agreeable and more profitable than the memory of words.
The great objection is, that we are not making the most of human life, when we constitute such an extensive, and such minute classical erudition, an indispensable article in education. Up to a certain point we would educate every young man in Latin and Greek; but to a point far short of that to which this species of education is now carried. Afterward, we would grant to classical erudition as high honours as to every other department of knowledge, but not higher. We would place it upon a footing with many other objects of study; but allow it no superiority. Good scholars would be as certainly produced by these means as good chemists, astronomers, and mathematicians are now produced, without any direct provision whatsoever for their production. Why are we to trust to the diversity of human tastes, and the varieties of human ambition in everything else, and distrust it in classics alone? The passion for language is just as strong as any other literary passion. There are very good Persian and Arabic scholars in this country. Large heaps of trash have been dug up from Sanscrit ruins. We have seen, in our own times, a clergyman of the University of Oxford complimenting their majesties in Coptic and Syrophoenician verses; and yet we doubt whether there will be a sufficient avidity in literary men to get at the beauties of the finest writers which the world has yet seen; and though the Bagvat Gheeta has (as can be proved) met with human beings to translate, and other human beings to read it, we think that, in order to secure an attention to Homer and Virgil, we must catch up every man-whether he is to be a clergyman or a duke -begin with him at six years of age, and never quit him till he is twenty; making him conjugate and decline for life and death; and so teaching him to estimate his progress in real wisdom as he can scan the verses of the Greek tragedians.
DESTRUCTION OF TALENT.
The English clergy, in whose hands education entirely rests, bring up the first young men of the country as if they were all to keep grammar-schools in little country-towns; and a nobleman, upon whose knowledge and liberality the honour and welfare of his country may depend, is diligently worried, for half his life, with the small pedantry of longs and shorts. There is a timid and absurd apprehension, on the part of ecclesiastical tutors, of letting out the minds of youth upon difficult and important subjects. They fancy that mental exertion must end in religious skepticism; and, to preserve the principles of their pupils, they confine them to the safe and elegant imbecility of classical learning. A genuine Oxford tutor would shudder to hear his young men disputing upon moral and political truth, forming and pulling down theories, and indulging in all the boldness of youthful discussion. He would augur nothing from it but impiety to God and treason to kings. And yet, who vilifies both more than the holy poltroon who carefully averts from them the searching eye of reason, and who knows no better method of teaching the highest duties, than by extirpating the finest qualities and habits of the mind? If our religion is a fable the sooner it is exploded the better. If our government is bad, it should be amended. But we have no doubt of the truth of the one, or of the excellence of the other; and are convinced that both will be placed on a firmer basis in proportion as the minds of men are more trained to the investigation of truth. At present, we act with the minds of our young men as the Dutch did with their exuberant spices. An infinite quantity of talent is annually destroyed in the universities of England by the miserable jealousy and littleness of ecclesiastical instructors. It is in vain to say we have produced great men under this system. We have produced great men under all systems. Every Englishman must pass half his life in learning Latin and Greek; and classical learning is supposed to have produced the talents which it has not been able to extinguish. It is scarcely possible to prevent great men from rising up under any system of education, however bad. Teach men demonology or astrology, and you will still have a certain portion of original genius, in spite of these or any other branches of ignorance and folly.
There is a delusive sort of splendour in a vast body of men pursuing one object, and thoroughly obtaining it; and yet, though
CLAIMS OF SCIENCE.
it be very splendid, it is far from being useful. Classical literature is the great object at Oxford. Many minds so employed have produced many works and much fame in that department; but if all liberal arts and sciences useful to human life had been taught there -if some had dedicated themselves to chemistry, some to mathematics, some to experimental philosophy-and if every attainment had been honoured in the mixed ratio of its difficulty and utility the system of such a University would have been much more valuable, but the splendour of its name something less.
When a University has been doing useless things for a long time, it appears at first degrading to them to be useful. A set of lectures upon political economy would be discouraged in Oxford,* probably despised, probably not permitted. To discuss the enclosure of commons, and to dwell upon imports and exports-to come so near to common life, would seem to be undignified and contemptible. In the same manner, the Parr or the Bentley of his day, would be scandalized in a University to be put on a level with the discoverer of a neutral salt; and yet, what other measure is there of dignity in intellectual labour, but usefulness and difficulty? And what ought the term University to mean, but a place where every science is taught which is liberal, and at the same time useful to mankind? Nothing would so much tend to bring classical literature within proper bounds, as a steady and invariable appeal to these tests in our appreciation of all human knowledge. The puffed-up pedant would collapse into his proper size, and the maker of verses, and the rememberer of words, would soon assume that station which is the lot of those who go up unbidden to the upper places of the feast.
We should be sorry if what we have said should appear too contemptuous toward classical learning, which we most sincerely hope will always be held in great honour in this country, though we certainly do not wish to it that exclusive honour which it at present enjoys. A great classical scholar is an ornament, and an important acquisition to his country; but, in a place of education, we would give to all knowledge an equal chance for distinction ; and would trust to the varieties of human disposition that every science worth cultivation would be cultivated. Looking always to real utility as our guide, we should see, with equal pleasure, a *They have since been established.
OBJECTS OF EDUCATION.
studious and inquisitive mind arranging the productions of nature, investigating the qualities of bodies, or mastering the difficulties of the learned languages. We should not care whether he were chemist, naturalist, or scholar; because we know it to be as necessary that matter should be studied, and subdued to the use of man, as that taste should be gratified, and imagination inflamed.
In those who were destined for the church, we would undoubtedly encourage classical learning more than in any other body of men; but if we had to do with a young man going out into public life, we would exhort him to contemn, or at least not to affect, the reputation of a great scholar, but to educate himself for the offices of civil life. He should learn what the constitution of his country really was-how it had grown into its present statethe perils that had threatened it—the malignity that had attacked it-the courage that had fought for it, and the wisdom that had made it great. We would bring strongly before his mind the characters of those Englishmen who have been the steady friends of the public happiness; and by their examples, would breathe into him a pure public taste which should keep him untainted in all the vicissitudes of political fortune. We would teach him to burst through the well-paid, and the pernicious cant of indiscriminate loyalty; and to know his sovereign only as he discharged those duties, and displayed those qualities, for which the blood and the treasure of his people are confided to his hands. We should deem it of the utmost importance that his attention was directed to the true principles of legislation--what effect laws can produce upon opinions, and opinions upon laws-what subjects are fit for legislative interference, and when men may be left to the management of their own interests. The mischief occasioned by bad laws, and the perplexity which arises from numerous laws-the causes of national wealth-the relations of foreign trade-the encouragement of manufactures and agriculture-the fictitious wealth occasioned by paper credit-the laws of population—the management of poverty and mendicity-the use and abuse of monopoly-the theory of taxation-the consequences of the public debt. These are some of the subjects, and some of the branches of civil education to which we would turn the minds of future judges, future senators, and future noblemen. After the first period of life had been given up to the cultivation of the
REPLICATION OF A REVIEWER.
classics, and the reasoning powers were now beginning to evolve themselves, these are some of the propensities in study which we would endeavour to inspire. Great knowledge, at such a period of life, we could not convey; but we might fix a decided taste for its acquisition, and a strong disposition to respect it in others. The formation of some great scholars we should certainly prevent, and hinder many from learning what, in a few years, they would necessarily forget; but this loss would be well repaid-if we could show the future rulers of the country that thought and labour which it requires to make a nation happy or if we could inspire them with that love of public virtue, which, after religion, we most solemnly believe to be the brightest ornament of the mind of man.
[The discussion which grew out of the preceding and other articles in the Edinburgh Review, has been already noticed (Memoir ante p. 45). The reader may be interested in a few passages of Smith's reply to the strictures of Copleston. They are taken from the article, "Calumnies Against Oxford." Ed. Rev., April, 1810.]
REPLY TO COPLESTON.
COME We next to the third mould or crucible into which this Oxford gentleman has poured his melted lead,-viz. his reply to our more general observations on the use and abuse of classical learning, and on the undue importance assigned to it in English education; and as this part of his work is more remarkable than the rest for its ostentatious dullness, and its gross departure from the language and manners of a gentleman, we must be excused for bestowing on it a little more of our time than we are in the habit of wasting on such men and such things.
Admitting that a young man, though occupied in overcoming verbal difficulties, has acquired the same real knowledge as if his path had been completely without obstruction-what is all this to the purpose? Our objection is not, that classical knowledge is not a good, but that it is not the only good. We contend that all young men need not be made great classical scholars; that some may be allowed to deviate into mathematical knowledgesome into chemistry, some into natural philosophy-some into political economy-some into modern languages; that all these occupations, though not, perhaps, superior in importance to classical