Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

THE BOOK TABLE.

THE AMERICAN COLLEGES and the American Public. By Noah Porter,

D.D., Professor in Yale College, New Haven, Conn. Charles C. Chaifield & Co., Westeru News Co., Chicago. Pp. 285, 12mo.

All Christendom is, in these days, agitated with the discussion of questions pertajnirg to education. Good will come of this discussion. It is all the more hopeful because it lakes in the whole range of institutions from the primary school to tbe university. The problem is how best to give some education to all, and at the same time, carry the culture of a few to the highest point. It is but natural that in the first heat of these discussions, colleges and the college system of education should be violently assailed. This is due partly to the eminence which these institutions have held in our country; parily to a conservative spirit inherent in them which resists innovations, and tends to make their metbods too fixed and stationary for this progressive world, and yet more to the “cui bono" spirit, and the undue conceic for novelties which apimate many who, with narrow and partial views, put themselves forward in these discussions. These assaults have no doubt been stimulated by the ordeal to which the old English universities have recently been subjected, it being supposed that the objections brought against those institutions apply with equal force to our colleges.

These assaults upon American colleges have not been without effect. The value of a thorough collegiate education has been depreciated in the public estimation, and the number of young men seeking such an education proportionately diminisbed. This appears quite clearly from statistics presented in a recent report of President Barvard to the Trustees of Columbis College. From bis tables made up by an examination of college catalogues for the last thirty years, it appears that the number of students from all New England attending any of the colleges of the country, was not materially greater in 1869 tban in 1838, while the population of that section was increased more than fifty per cent. For the whole country, while the number of collegiate institutions bas been increased, the proportion of young men taking a full course of liberal study has steadily declined during the same period. Out of the number of persons of proper age and capacity for such a course of study, there were actually pursuing it,

In 1840, one io 67.
In 1860, one in 71.

In 1868, one in 79. These statistics may not be exact, but they are sufficiently so to confirm the evidence from other sources to the general fact that the American pub

lic does not regard American colleges with the same favor in which they were formerly held.

In the work before us, Professor Porter admits this fact, and, in behalf of the American colleges, appears before the American public to present “an explanation and defi nse of their system of discipline and study." He shows himself an able champion of the cause, and the views he presents are worthy of candid consideration by all who would form a correct judgment on the question involved. The Professor refers first to previous agitations of the same questions, and tbe consequent action of some colleges to meet the popular demand for change. He then notices the sources and occasions of the charges now brought against our college system, showing that they come largely from men of superficial and partial views. Then he proceeds, in successive chapters to treat with clearness and conciseness, yet fully and exhaustively of “The Studies of the American Colleges, the Prescribed Curriculum, Text-books and Lectures, the Enforcement of Fidelity, the Evils of the College System and their Remedies, the Common Life of the College, the Dormitory System, the Class System, Laws and Supervision, the Religious Character of Colleges, the Guardiansbip and Control of the College, the Relation of Colleges to one Another, the Relation of Colleges to Schools of Science and of Educational Progress and Reform."

The result is a full, almost triumphant vindication of the leading features of that system of higher education devised in and for our country, which makes the American college, peculiar in itselt, peculiar also and especially valuable, for its adaptation to the spirit and constitution of a free Christian Republic. We welcome the book as timely, and deserving of special atten. tion. It needs only that the views so clearly and fairly expressed, should be apprehended and studied by the public to secure an intelligent verdict favorable to the colleges, and to produce a speedy reaction from the tendency to slight this form of higher education. It is greatly to be desired that the class of writers and lecturers, known as educational reformers, and particularly that the many self-educated men of talent and good sense who are connected with the newspaper press, and exert a great influence on popular opinion, would give this little book a careful reading, it would correct some erroneous judgments, remove some unwarranted prejudices, bring needed support to the colleges, and help, by intelligent and friendly criticism, to secure such modifications as will improve their methods and extend their usefulness.

We rise from the perusal of this clear exposition of the character and aims of our college system deeply convinced that for tbe stability of our free institutions and for the refinement of American society, there is needed among our people a much larger infusion of just the kind of iatellectual training which the college gives. It is all the more essential because of the imperious demands which the utilitarian spirit of the age make for another style of education esteemed more practical. The polytechnic or scientific school is a necessity of the times. But as this necessity is met, all the more necessary is the work of the college with the leaders of society

by a broad, generous culture, to develope all the powers of the mind, to cultivate the love of learning for its own sake, to settle great principles of truth and right for any application, and so to keep lifting the thoughts and aims of men above the low range of mere material pursuits for present use and immediate profit. The two kinds of education are distinct. They ought not to be regarded as rivals of each otber. Neither can be made & substitute for the other. All our practical men can not probably have the benefit of a college education; but let as many as possible secure it. They will be all the better mechanics, engineers, merchants and scientists for the liberalizing effect of the college training, and they will come to the practical, work of the world with a spirit and an aim to ennoble it all, and link it with all that bears most directly on the welfare of men as the spiritual immortal creatures of God.

The reading of this book has impressed us also with another thought. It is that in order to raise the ideas of the “ American Public” to a just estimate of the value of the college work, that work itself must be made more distinct and magnified for its own sake, notwithstanding whit Professor Porter says in justification of the tendency of things at Yale to develope a complete university, and much as we rejoice in all the growth and enlargement of our “ Alma Mater," we can not resist the conviction that for the true college discipline, the newest changes are working unfavorably. It is to be apprehended either that the college will be overshadowed by the scientific and professional departments, so as to fall into a subordinate place, or that the students of the college will be made university students, and either break away, or be set free from the restraints necessary to the period and the processes of true college culture. In either case the work of the college as such will be marred. There seems to be especial danger that the healthful, moral and religious influences in the college will be weakened and overbcrne. Some are confident in the assertion that these results are already apparent.

On the other hand, when we turn to the younger colleges (so-called) of the newer parts of our country, we see a similar cause working, in another direction, like results. With most of these institutions, tne proper collegework seems very small. Students of both sexes, all ages and of almost every grade above that of the primary school are gathered in great num. bers. The larger part are pursuing courses of study which do not touch, or contemplate anything of college discipline. The work is mainly, at best, but the work of an academy. A few are held in connection with the institution on what is called the college course. But even in Oberlin College, these count but one out of ten of the whole number. Meantime, all bave & conceit of themselves as members of college. The people, generally, so understand it, and the peculiar distinction and value of a genuine college training is not apprehended.

So, the tendency is strong everywhere to group together different kinds of education, we think, to the detriment of all. In time, the mischievous effect will appear. We are, probably, old fogies on this subject; but we

can not help it. For the inore we study this tendency of the times, the more strong and settled is our conviction that the best interests of higher education all over the land are suffering for the lack of proper distinctions between things that differ. The three institutions, the academy, the college and the university are needed for the competent results. Each should stand by itself, in its own place, doing its own work and magnifying that specific work to the utmost. Each will then be the true belper of tbe others, and their combined influence will be steady and constant for the promotion of intelligence, virtue and religion generally. We sball not greatly err if we give the college as central between the other two the place of first importance.

A CRITICAL GREEK AND ENGLISH CONCORDANCE of the New Testament.

Prepared by C F. HUDSON, under the direction of H. L. HASTINGS. Revised aud completed by EZRA ABBOT, LL.D. Boston: Scriptural Tract Society. Pp. 510. 18 mo. Price $2.50.

A volume that meets a long-felt waut. Bruder's admirable concordance is owned by only here and there a scholar, is expensive and hardly portable. Bagster's condensed coo.cordance lacks some desirable qualities. The EogJishman's Greek Concordance has had a wide sale, but is bulky and somewhat costly. A smaller concordance, printed not long since in Germany, is scarcely known in this country.

This work of Mr. Hudson is the result of patient and careful labor, prompted by the sense of want, and aided by valuable suggestions from Mr. Abbot. 1. It is conveniently small, while the type is good and clear. 2. It is greatly condensed by giving only the reference without the text. 3. It has the great convenience of showing the English renderings, classified. 4. It gives, in each case of importance, the critical readings of Gries. bach, Lachmann, Tischendorf, and Tregelles, as well as the variations of the Sinaitic manuscripts. 5. It enables the English reader to trace cach word to its Greek original and connexions. Though in many processes of investigation it is a great convenience to have the passages spread before the eye, it is never indispensable and frequently unimporiant. And while the compactness and cheapne:s of this volume give it great advantages for general use, probably for nine persons out of ten it will be quite sufficient, and for the remaining persons in nine cases out of ten. Would that Mr. Hudson had always been as well employed upon the Scripturas.

In these remarks we assume, what we have no reason to doubt and no time to test, the correctness of the book. We tbiuk it, however, a serious mistake to make so much parade of Griesbuch and his conjectures. Froin the seven different modes in wbich he is quoted, the uninformed reader would judge that his readings were far the most important of all. As matter of fact, they are now of little value. Griesbach rendered eminent services in systematizing and settling the principles of text criticism, and showed much tact in applying those principles, and often much felicity in conjecture. But (1) he was often capricious and audacious, advancing conjectures founded on no evidence; and (2) he lacked some of the most

important manuscript. A critical editioa published sixty-five years ago is a little like a chemistry thirty-five years old—a curiosity more than an authority. In weighing authorities, Griesbach may almost be counted out. The volume deserves better paper. We predict for it a wide sale.

THE HEBRAIST's VADE MECUM; a first attempt at a complete verbal index

to the contents of the Hebrew and Chaldee Scriptures. Arranged according to Grammar. London: Groombridge and Love. New York: John Boyd, 169 South Avenue. Pp. 646, 800. Price $5.40.

Though this excellent work has been some time before the public, it well deserves to be pressed again upon ihe attention of Hebrew scholars. The modest editor, G. V. Wigram, gives an account of singular care and labor to insure accuracy and completeness, so that in the tirst eight pages seven corrections and ten additions were made upon Fuerst's great work. The volume is made convenient in size by giving only the references, without quoting. At the same time it is more complete than the larger and costly Hebrew concordances. We have in some instances found it peculiarly useful, because containing the monosyllabic particles wbich were not to be found in other works, and which sometimes are of special importance to investigate. The fundamental or prevailing Eoglish meaning of each root is given, and the student left then to his own explanations. We hardly need say that here is the material of which lexicons are made, and by which lexicons and commentators can be corrt cted. Here we are brought directly to the sources of Hebrew criticism. A concordance so compact and comparatively cheap is a great boop to the cause of Hebrew study and Biblical learning. Few persons could afford to pay twenty dollars or more for Fuerst's splendid work; and if tbey have it, they find it a heavy volume to lift, and an impracticable volume for almost any trunk,-except a “Saratoga,"— which is commonly filled with different literature. So great is the convenience of tbis volume, that while our Fuerst stands at our feet ready for use on occasion, we more commonly leave it there in majestic reposelike some heavy ordnance from which we turn to a revolver or a breechloading rifle. For the sake of Hebrew aud Biblical studies, we wish a wide circulation to the “ Vade Mecum.”

WORDS AND THEIR USES, Past AND PRESENT. A Study of the English

Language. By RICHARD GRANT WHITE. New York: Sheldon & Company. Chicago: Cobb Brothers. Pp. 438. 12 ino.

The editor of one of the best editions of Shakspeare has come to the rescue of the English language. His Shakspeare studies were a good stimuJant and preparation. While men of culture can not fail to derive valuable suggestions from this book, the great mass of writers and speakers exceedingly need such criticisins. They have no adequate conception of the delicacy of the instrument they abuse. They open oysters with a razor and behead a flea with a broad axe. In the midst of slang lecturers, slang poems, slaug editorials and slang sermons,—the Nasbys, Twains, Bigelows, Billingses, that may be named, and others that may not-it becomes neces

« AnteriorContinuar »