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"every tree is known by its fruits.” If her doctrines lead to oligarchy, while those of Mill ultimate in democracy, we are in a fearful “strait betwixt two;" with no method of deliverance but to accept the premises of the one and the conclusions of the other, which can hardly be considered satisfactory.
In person, Miss Cobbe is large; her face full of expression; her brow very beautiful; her eyes luminous, rather than flashing; her mouth flexible, and quivering with wit, humor, and a power of sarcasm that seldom appears in her writings. She has immense animal spirits, as any reader of her “Cities of the Past" may know, and great physical courage. Her faith, that she was made for virtue rather than for happiness, doés not prevent her from being herself thoroughly happy, and diffusing happiness through every circle that she blesses with her presence.
Miss Alcott, in a well-meant but ill-judged letter to the “Independent," calls her “a great sunbeam,”
“Wherever she was, people gathered about her as if she was a social fire; and every one seemed to find warmth and pleasure in the attractive circle that surrounded her. It was truly delightful to see a woman so useful, happy, wise, and beloved.” She is eminently a magnetic person, - a very genial, suggestive, and exhilarating talker, without pedantry or fluent rattle. Possessed of marked facility for intercourse with every type of character, her sphere of influence is constantly enlarging. And this influence is of the very noblest sort, because she is a woman, - never so completely any thing else as she is that; never losing, in the sweep of her attain. ments, the peculiar charm that indicates her sex. And, more than any thing else in her,
“ The ever womanly draweth us on.”
If she has reached, she surely has not passed, the zenith of her powers. In the course of nature, she has still many years for growth and work. God grant that she may tarry with us long! We do not care to argue the question, whether she has genius. The lack of any high imaginative quality in her thought may justly rob her of that claim. It may be only talent that she has; but it is talent so reverently cultivated,
so sincerely used, that we are not dissatisfied. But this distinction applies only to her writings. High above these rises the character,—the woman. Genius for character, genius for womanhood, she has; and, having this, her work is sure of being better done than if, without it, she had many times her present intellectual power.
ART. II. —YOUMANS ON MODERN CULTURE.
The Culture Demanded by Modern Life. E. L. YOUMANS.
York: D. Appleton & Co., 1867.
In editing this book, Dr. Youmans has earned the thanks of all who are interested in the mooted question of the true method of modern culture. The work consists of a series of addresses and arguments on the claims of scientific education. The names of Tyndall, Henfrey, Huxley, Faraday, De Morgan, Barnard, Carpenter, Spencer, and others, are a pledge, at the outset, of good matter within. The selection may, indeed, wear a somewhat partisan look ; but it gives assurance, that one side of the question, at least, will be ably presented, and by men animated with earnest convictions. It is a great thing to have thus brought together, within the compass of a single volume, matter that one would have to hunt out at a considerable cost of time and money. Dr. Youmans has before this laid the reading world under obligation, by collecting in a similar manner, in his “Correlation of Forces,” the best things that have been written on that fascinating subject in England and in Germany.
In the present work, however, he has not confined himself to the mere task of editing. Two of the ablest articles in the book are from his own pen. His Introduction is especially valuable. It would be hard
It would be hard to point out words that deserve to be more carefully pondered than his remarks on the importance of economizing power by repetition of mental action in the work of education, and of continuity in the
nature of the studies pursued. Few American readers of his words but will groan over the disjointed method - or rather absence of method — in which their own education was conducted. Mathematics, physics, chemistry, studied to the point where the brain was just beginning to acquire spontaneity and tenacity in dealing with them, and then these subjects suffered to lapse utterly out of the mind during a year or two of totally different occupation! One section of mental railroad hardly graded and ballasted for smooth running, when it was abandoned to be gullied by rains and torrents; instead of being kept in constant use for freighting easily the stone and gravel and trusswork needed for advancing farther and farther through the swamps and forests of the yet unsubdued country! One's chemistry or botany or physics gone to wreck, just when one wants to apply it to geology; one's mathematics in like ruin, when he would apply it to astronomy or optics! The same study taken up almost de novo at two or three several periods of life! Who can tell the amount of disgust, weariness, and waste of power, involved in such a course? Nor will it do for the few who have been educated under happier auspices to take themselves as fair examples of the majority. The rule is the other way in most of our American schools, and in many of our colleges. The young are sent to draw water at the springs of knowledge, not with buckets, but with cullenders. Great attention is paid to pouring in fresh streams, but little to stopping the holes in the bottoms of the vessels. Nor is this philosophy of economizing force by constant repetition of mental acts, and logical sequence of subjects, vitally appreciated even in later life. It is most seriously and damagingly lost sight of everywhere.
While nearly all the articles in this collection contain thoughts of real value, those of Professor Henfrey on the Educational Claims of Botanical Science, and of Professor Faraday on the Education of the Judgment, are especially worthy of notice. In following Professor Henfrey through the argument in which he develops the principles on which the rational classifications of botany are based, and the rela
tions subsisting between this science and other sciences, the reader cannot but feel the force of the claim put forth, that, in mastering the method of this one science, the mind receives an invaluable aid toward methodical habits of thought in all departments of knowledge, and grasps principles that “are applicable to all cases in which mankind are called upon to bring the various parts of any extensive subject into mental co-ordination.” To look on, and see any one part of man's intellectual work on earth so ably accomplished as the reduction of the apparent jumble and chance-medley of the vegetable world to the splendid order in which it now stands to the intelligent eye, gives a lesson in the possibility of method, the reign of law, the capacity of reason, and the final reward of patient persistence, which cannot but brace the mind, clear the eye, and assure the faith for every other department of mental labor. The value, moreover, of the terminology of botanical science in cultivating habits of accuracy and perspicuity in the use of language, is forcibly urged by Professor Henfrey. The same principles underlie a strong and vivid use of words alike in science and in poetry,- the observation of some fact first, and then a symbol to express it. Dry and technical as the terminology of botany may seem, its study, nevertheless, furnishes an admi. rable discipline for the right use of language in all other departments. Every adjective here is an honest adjective. It has its special reason for being. It sheds light; it fixes the eye on a real quality ; it gives the mind a quick sense of the thousandfold minutely differing shades of attributes that enter into all thorough description of objects, and furnishes it with a lesson of the first importance alike to the historian, the metaphysician, or the poet. The scientific description of a single flower, as, step by step, the language refers us to a long series of delicately observed facts, is a grand triumph in the art of expression, and shows the true method of discriminating and realizing speech on all subjects.
The article of Professor Faraday, on the Education of the Judgment, is absolutely religious in its tone, though not tech
nically so. A pure love of truth breathes through every line in which he dwells on the fallibility of the senses, and the needful correctives to the deceptions they so often impose on the judgment. This article, taken in connection with his replies to the English Public Schools' Commission, reveals a singularly simple and truth-loving nature, and speaks volumes for the ethical influence of ardent scientific pursuits. “The correcting blush of shame, which should be brought to the cheeks of all who feel convicted of neglecting the beautiful living instrument wherein play all the powers of the mind,” expresses his own lowly reverence for the endowment of intelligence. And the rules he lays down, and the life-long self-restraint he urges, in the work of counteracting aberrations, and keeping the mind from running wild, can be studied with profit by all.
While the impression left by the strong and often eloquent appeals of each of the many writers in favor of the claims of his special department in the work of education is one not easily to be shaken off, still we cannot but feel, on closing the book, that the title chosen by Dr. Youmans -- " The Culture Demanded by Modern Life” – is too comprehensive. The “ demanded” cannot be too strongly emphasized. No man can be other than an ignoramus, no man can do thorough work in any department — agriculture, manufacturing, history, politics, literature, medicine, theology — who is not more or less grounded in the methods and results of modern science.
A new view of the universe has been reached, which exerts its influence on regions of thought seemingly at the farthest remove from abstract science. The very strains in which modern poetic sorrow pours out its hopes and dreads, as in Tennyson's “In Memoriam,” are unintelligible except in the light of the change which has come over human thought through the discoveries of science.
But the phrase " the culture” is too exclusive. It is only a part of the culture to which our attention is here drawn, - an indispensable part, a part we must have at any cost, — but still a part only. Of philology, literature, æsthetics, history, ethics, little, comparatively, is said. The “classical question " is indeed more
VOL. LXXXIII. — NEW SERIES, VOL. IV. NO. III.