« ElőzőTovább »
is Milton, whose pieces have been taken from the edition of 1645, as superior to that of 1673. In all cases the latest readings have been given. In one or two poems—in “Mac Flecknoe,” “ The Rape of the Lock,” “London,” “ The Twa Dogs," --slight omissions have been necessary, and in the latter two poems slight changes have been made, that the “reverence due to boys," to adopt Juvenal's phrase, might be well observed. Some of the later texts were revised by my friend Mr. Twentyman, late Fellow of Christ's College, Cambridge, now Vice-Master of King's College School, in whom indeed I hoped to have had a genial coadjutor in all the work to be done, had his other duties given him leisure.
And now, little book, whose compilation has taken me more time than would be thought, I send you forth into the world. Would you were something better ; but it is late wishing when the very
minute for parting has come. You must make the best of yourself ; you must not mind scorings and defacements; no doubt you have much to learn. And still less must you mind much fingering and laceration; it may be that your ears may be made those of a dog ; perhaps you may be cried over and called evil names and held an abomination. By these things be not troubled, O booklet; for they would mean, in spite of appearances, that you were really worthy. So this is the fortune I wish you ; and if it is vouchsafed, then it cannot but be that you will be smiled as well as wept over, spoken of with some affection, deemed a sort of blessing.
THE TEACHING OF ENGLISH.
Σμικρά μέν τάδ' άλλ' όμως άχω ..
It is certain that a great revolution is now taking place in the educational world. A discontent which has been growing for several generations is now reaching its culmination. For a long time Englishmen have been dissatisfied with their schools and universities ; they have felt that those well-designed institutions failed to do their proper work; they have been made painfully conscious that the fosterchildren of them were to a great degree ignorant of what they ought to know, and accomplished in what was comparatively worthless; and at this state of things they have not unnaturally murmured. Not unfrequently they have done something more than murmur. There have arisen thoughtful and wise observers who have loudly and clearly protested against the existing system ; but no immediate hearing has been vouchsafed to them. The old idols have stood firm on their pedestals ; and no new divinities have been honoured with places by their side. But at last there seems to be come a time when those protests are to be heard, when school-doors and college-gates are to be thrown open to subjects that have long clamoured in vain for admission. This wonderful unbarring the present age appears destined to witness. When this century closes, the ordinary education of an Englishman will be a very different thing from what it was when the century began. The school of our grandchildren will not closely resemble that of our grandfathers. It will exhibit new methods; it will comprehend fresh subjects; it will exalt other interests. We of to-day should feel strange and unacquainted, were we seated on those benches of the future. There will be sounds we know not of, textbooks to us incomprehensible, arrangements that with their novelty would puzzle and perplex. There will perhaps be missing in these future class-rooms something that is to us dear, and justly dear; there will certainly be found in them much on whose value we can have no opinion, inasmuch as we are scarcely qualified by knowledge to form any. For good or for evil a great revolution is taking place. It is hard to think that it is all for evil, although many dear traditions are being swept away.
Doubtless it is hard to throw the brand Excalibur into the mere. One cannot but see how richly gemmed and jewelled it is; one cannot but remember what noble services it has wrought in its day, what famous home-thrusts it has dealt, what safety and confidence it has given, still less that in the beginning it was bestowed by Heaven : but for all these facts and memories it may be better that it should now be flung away, that we should
strongly wheel and throw it.” At all events it may be well to recognize that there are other weapons with which good work may be achieved in our assaults upon the strongholds of Ignorance and Dulness. Let the good sword be supported by other arms.
With whatever feelings we may regard this educational change, it is certainly coming to pass. This nineteenth century seems likely to be as memorable, or perhaps more memorable, in the history of education, than are the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. As in those days Greek and “the New Philosophy” at last found a place in our schools and universities, so now Modern Languages and Natural Science appear to be establishing themselves. It would perhaps be not uninstructive for us to note what bitter opposition those old innovations encountered. The introduction of Greek, for instance, was effected in the teeth of the most furious hostility. The struggles described by Homer as raging beneath Troy walls were neither so fierce nor so long lasting as those which raged between the modern Greeks and Trojans, as the combatants in the educational battle of the sixteenth century called themselves. There were many then who from various points