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Science & Education by Thomas H. Huxley

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other; and to believe that the machinery of society is at least as
delicate as that of a spinning-jenny, and as little likely to be
improved by the meddling of those who have not taken the trouble to
master the principles of its action.

In conclusion, I am sure that I make myself the mouthpiece of all
present in offering to the venerable founder of the Institution, which
now commences its beneficent career, our congratulations on the
completion of his work; and in expressing the conviction, that the
remotest posterity will point to it as a crucial instance of the wisdom
which natural piety leads all men to ascribe to their ancestors.

* * * * *


[1] See the first essay in this volume.

[2] The advocacy of the introduction of physical science into general
education by George Combe and others commenced a good deal earlier; but
the movement had acquired hardly any practical force before the time to
which I refer.

[3] _Essays in Criticism_, p. 37.




When a man is honoured by such a request as that which reached me from
the authorities of your institution some time ago, I think the first
thing that occurs to him is that which occurred to those who were
bidden to the feast in the Gospel--to begin to make an excuse; and
probably all the excuses suggested on that famous occasion crop up in
his mind one after the other, including his "having married a wife," as
reasons for not doing what he is asked to do. But, in my own case, and
on this particular occasion, there were other difficulties of a sort
peculiar to the time, and more or less personal to myself; because I
felt that, if I came amongst you, I should be expected, and, indeed,
morally compelled, to speak upon the subject of Scientific Education.
And then there arose in my mind the recollection of a fact, which
probably no one here but myself remembers; namely, that some fourteen
years ago I was the guest of a citizen of yours, who bears the honoured
name of Rathbone, at a very charming and pleasant dinner given by the
Philomathic Society; and I there and then, and in this very city, made
a speech upon the topic of Scientific Education. Under these
circumstances, you see, one runs two dangers--the first, of repeating
one's self, although I may fairly hope that everybody has forgotten the
fact I have just now mentioned, except myself; and the second, and even
greater difficulty, is the danger of saying something different from
what one said before, because then, however forgotten your previous
speech may be, somebody finds out its existence, and there goes on that
process so hateful to members of Parliament, which may be denoted by
the term "Hansardisation." Under these circumstances, I came to the
conclusion that the best thing I could do was to take the bull by the
horns, and to "Hansardise" myself,--to put before you, in the briefest
possible way, the three or four propositions which I endeavoured to
support on the occasion of the speech to which I have referred; and
then to ask myself, supposing you were asking me, whether I had
anything to retract, or to modify, in them, in virtue of the increased
experience, and, let us charitably hope, the increased wisdom of an
added fourteen years.

Now, the points to which I directed particular attention on that
occasion were these: in the first place, that instruction in physical
science supplies information of a character of especial value, both in
a practical and a speculative point of view--information which cannot
be obtained otherwise; and, in the second place, that, as educational
discipline, it supplies, in a better form than any other study can
supply, exercise in a special form of logic, and a peculiar method of
testing the validity of our processes of inquiry. I said further, that,
even at that time, a great and increasing attention was being paid to
physical science in our schools and colleges, and that, most assuredly,
such attention must go on growing and increasing, until education in
these matters occupied a very much larger share of the time which is
given to teaching and training, than had been the case heretofore. And
I threw all the strength of argumentation of which I was possessed into
the support of these propositions. But I venture to remind you, also,
of some other words I used at that time, and which I ask permission to
read to you. They were these:--"There are other forms of culture
besides physical science, and I should be profoundly sorry to see the
fact forgotten, or even to observe a tendency to starve or cripple
literary or aesthetic culture for the sake of science. Such a narrow
view of the nature of education has nothing to do with my firm
conclusion that a complete and thorough scientific culture ought to be
introduced into all schools."

I say I desire, in commenting upon these various points, and judging
them as fairly as I can by the light of increased experience, to
particularly emphasise this last, because I am told, although I
assuredly do not know it of my own knowledge--though I think if the
fact were so I ought to know it, being tolerably well acquainted with
that which goes on in the scientific world, and which has gone on there
for the last thirty years--that there is a kind of sect, or horde, of
scientific Goths and Vandals, who think it would be proper and
desirable to sweep away all other forms of culture and instruction,
except those in physical science, and to make them the universal and
exclusive, or, at any rate, the dominant training of the human mind of
the future generation. This is not my view--I do not believe that it is
anybody's view,--but it is attributed to those who, like myself,
advocate scientific education. I therefore dwell strongly upon the
point, and I beg you to believe that the words I have just now read
were by no means intended by me as a sop to the Cerberus of culture. I
have not been in the habit of offering sops to any kind of Cerberus;
but it was an expression of profound conviction on my own part--a
conviction forced upon me not only by my mental constitution, but by
the lessons of what is now becoming a somewhat long experience of
varied conditions of life.

I am not about to trouble you with my autobiography; the omens are
hardly favourable, at present, for work of that kind. But I should like
if I may do so without appearing, what I earnestly desire not to be,
egotistical,--I should like to make it clear to you, that such notions
as these, which are sometimes attributed to me, are, as I have said,
inconsistent with my mental constitution, and still more inconsistent
with the upshot of the teaching of my experience. For I can certainly
claim for myself that sort of mental temperament which can say that
nothing human comes amiss to it. I have never yet met with any branch
of human knowledge which I have found unattractive--which it would not
have been pleasant to me to follow, so far as I could go; and I have
yet to meet with any form of art in which it has not been possible for
me to take as acute a pleasure as, I believe, it is possible for men to

And with respect to the circumstances of life, it so happens that it
has been my fate to know many lands and many climates, and to be
familiar, by personal experience, with almost every form of society,
from the uncivilised savage of Papua and Australia and the civilised
savages of the slums and dens of the poverty-stricken parts of
great cities, to those who perhaps, are occasionally the somewhat
over-civilised members of our upper ten thousand. And I have never
found, in any of these conditions of life, a deficiency of something
which was attractive. Savagery has its pleasures, I assure you, as well
as civilisation, and I may even venture to confess--if you will not let
a whisper of the matter get back to London, where I am known--I am even
fain to confess, that sometimes in the din and throng of what is called
"a brilliant reception" the vision crosses my mind of waking up from
the soft plank which had afforded me satisfactory sleep during the
hours of the night, in the bright dawn of a tropical morning, when my
comrades were yet asleep, when every sound was hushed, except the
little lap-lap of the ripples against the sides of the boat, and the
distant twitter of the sea-bird on the reef. And when that vision
crosses my mind, I am free to confess I desire to be back in the boat
again. So that, if I share with those strange persons to whose
asserted, but still hypothetical existence I have referred, the want of
appreciation of forms of culture other than the pursuit of physical
science, all I can say is, that it is, in spite of my constitution, and
in spite of my experience, that such should be my fate.

But now let me turn to another point, or rather to two other points,
with which I propose to occupy myself. How far does the experience of
the last fourteen years justify the estimate which I ventured to put
forward of the value of scientific culture, and of the share--the
increasing share--which it must take in ordinary education? Happily, in
respect to that matter, you need not rely upon my testimony. In the
last half-dozen numbers of the "Journal of Education," you will find a
series of very interesting and remarkable papers, by gentlemen who are
practically engaged in the business of education in our great public
and other schools, telling us what is doing in these schools, and what
is their experience of the results of scientific education there, so
far as it has gone. I am not going to trouble you with an abstract of
those papers, which are well worth your study in their fulness and
completeness, but I have copied out one remarkable passage, because it
seems to me so entirely to bear out what I have formerly ventured to
say about the value of science, both as to its subject-matter and as to
the discipline which the learning of science involves. It is from a
paper by Mr. Worthington--one of the masters at Clifton, the reputation
of which school you know well, and at the head of which is an old
friend of mine, the Rev. Mr. Wilson--to whom much credit is due for
being one of the first, as I can say from my own knowledge, to take up
this question and work it into practical shape. What Mr. Worthington
says is this:--

"It is not easy to exaggerate the importance of the information
imparted by certain branches of science; it modifies the
whole criticism of life made in maturer years. The study has
often, on a mass of boys, a certain influence which, I think, was
hardly anticipated, and to which a good deal of value must be
attached--an influence as much moral as intellectual, which is
shown in the increased and increasing respect for precision of
statement, and for that form of veracity which consists in the
acknowledgment of difficulties. It produces a real effect to find
that Nature cannot be imposed upon, and the attention given
to experimental lectures, at first superficial and curious only,
soon becomes minute, serious, and practical."

Ladies and gentlemen, I could not have chosen better words to
express--in fact, I have, in other words, expressed the same conviction
in former days--what the influence of scientific teaching, if properly
carried out, must be.

But now comes the question of properly carrying it out, because, when I
hear the value of school teaching in physical science disputed, my
first impulse is to ask the disputer, "What have you known about it?"
and he generally tells me some lamentable case of failure. Then I ask,
"What are the circumstances of the case, and how was the teaching
carried out?" I remember, some few years ago, hearing of the head
master of a large school, who had expressed great dissatisfaction with
the adoption of the teaching of physical science--and that after
experiment. But the experiment consisted in this--in asking one of the
junior masters in the school to get up science, in order to teach it;
and the young gentleman went away for a year and got up science and
taught it. Well, I have no doubt that the result was as disappointing
as the head-master said it was, and I have no doubt that it ought to
have been as disappointing, and far more disappointing too; for, if
this kind of instruction is to be of any good at all, if it is not to
be less than no good, if it is to take the place of that which is
already of some good, then there are several points which must be
attended to.

And the first of these is the proper selection of topics, the second is
practical teaching, the third is practical teachers, and the fourth is
sufficiency of time. If these four points are not carefully attended to
by anybody who undertakes the teaching of physical science in schools,
my advice to him is, to let it alone. I will not dwell at any length
upon the first point, because there is a general consensus of opinion
as to the nature of the topics which should be chosen. The second
point--practical teaching--is one of great importance, because it
requires more capital to set it agoing, demands more time, and, last,
but by no means least, it requires much more personal exertion and
trouble on the part of those professing to teach, than is the case with
other kinds of instruction.

When I accepted the invitation to be here this evening, your secretary
was good enough to send me the addresses which have been given by
distinguished persons who have previously occupied this chair. I don't
know whether he had a malicious desire to alarm me; but, however that
may be, I read the addresses, and derived the greatest pleasure and
profit from some of them, and from none more than from the one given by
the great historian, Mr. Freeman, which delighted me most of all; and,
if I had not been ashamed of plagiarising, and if I had not been sure
of being found out, I should have been glad to have copied very much of
what Mr. Freeman said, simply putting in the word science for history.
There was one notable passage,--"The difference between good and bad
teaching mainly consists in this, whether the words used are really
clothed with a meaning or not." And Mr. Freeman gives a remarkable
example of this. He says, when a little girl was asked where Turkey
was, she answered that it was in the yard with the other fowls, and
that showed she had a definite idea connected with the word Turkey, and
was, so far, worthy of praise. I quite agree with that commendation;
but what a curious thing it is that one should now find it necessary to
urge that this is the be-all and end-all of scientific instruction--the
_sine quâ non_, the absolutely necessary condition,--and yet that
it was insisted upon more than two hundred years ago by one of the
greatest men science ever possessed in this country, William Harvey.
Harvey wrote, or at least published, only two small books, one of which
is the well-known treatise on the circulation of the blood. The other,
the "Exercitationes de Generatione," is less known, but not less
remarkable. And not the least valuable part of it is the preface, in
which there occurs this passage: "Those who, reading the words of
authors, do not form sensible images of the things referred to, obtain
no true ideas, but conceive false imaginations and inane phantasms."
You see, William Harvey's words are just the same in substance as those
of Mr. Freeman, only they happen to be rather more than two centuries
older. So that what I am now saying has its application elsewhere than
in science; but assuredly in science the condition of knowing, of your
own knowledge, things which you talk about, is absolutely imperative.

I remember, in my youth, there were detestable books which ought to
have been burned by the hands of the common hangman, for they contained
questions and answers to be learned by heart, of this sort, "What is a
horse? The horse is termed _Equus caballus_; belongs to the class
Mammalia; order, Pachydermata; family, Solidungula." Was any human
being wiser for learning that magic formula? Was he not more foolish,
inasmuch as he was deluded into taking words for knowledge? It is that
kind of teaching that one wants to get rid of, and banished out of
science. Make it as little as you like, but, unless that which is
taught is based on actual observation and familiarity with facts, it is
better left alone.

There are a great many people who imagine that elementary teaching
might be properly carried out by teachers provided with only elementary
knowledge. Let me assure you that that is the profoundest mistake in
the world. There is nothing so difficult to do as to write a good
elementary book, and there is nobody so hard to teach properly and well
as people who know nothing about a subject, and I will tell you why. If
I address an audience of persons who are occupied in the same line of
work as myself, I can assume that they know a vast deal, and that they
can find out the blunders I make. If they don't, it is their fault and
not mine; but when I appear before a body of people who know nothing
about the matter, who take for gospel whatever I say, surely it becomes
needful that I consider what I say, make sure that it will bear
examination, and that I do not impose upon the credulity of those who
have faith in me. In the second place, it involves that difficult
process of knowing what you know so well that you can talk about it as
you can talk about your ordinary business. A man can always talk about
his own business. He can always make it plain; but, if his knowledge is
hearsay, he is afraid to go beyond what he has recollected, and put it
before those that are ignorant in such a shape that they shall
comprehend it. That is why, to be a good elementary teacher, to teach
the elements of any subject, requires most careful consideration, if
you are a master of the subject; and, if you are not a master of it, it
is needful you should familiarise yourself with so much as you are
called upon to teach--soak yourself in it, so to speak--until you know
it as part of your daily life and daily knowledge, and then you will be
able to teach anybody. That is what I mean by practical teachers, and,
although the deficiency of such teachers is being remedied to a large
extent, I think it is one which has long existed, and which has existed
from no fault of those who undertook to teach, but because, until the
last score of years, it absolutely was not possible for any one in a
great many branches of science, whatever his desire might be, to get
instruction which would enable him to be a good teacher of elementary
things. All that is being rapidly altered, and I hope it will soon
become a thing of the past.

The last point I have referred to is the question of the sufficiency of
time. And here comes the rub. The teaching of science needs time, as
any other subject; but it needs more time proportionally than other
subjects, for the amount of work obviously done, if the teaching is to
be, as I have said, practical. Work done in a laboratory involves a
good deal of expenditure of time without always an obvious result,
because we do not see anything of that quiet process of soaking the
facts into the mind, which takes place through the organs of the
senses. On this ground there must be ample time given to science
teaching. What that amount of time should be is a point which I need
not discuss now; in fact, it is a point which cannot be settled until
one has made up one's mind about various other questions.

All, then, that I have to ask for, on behalf of the scientific people,
if I may venture to speak for more than myself, is that you should put
scientific teaching into what statesmen call the condition of "the most
favoured nation"; that is to say, that it shall have as large a share
of the time given to education as any other principal subject. You may
say that that is a very vague statement, because the value of the
allotment of time, under those circumstances, depends upon the number
of principal subjects. It is _x_ the time, and an unknown quantity
of principal subjects dividing that, and science taking shares with the
rest. That shows that we cannot deal with this question fully until we
have made up our minds as to what the principal subjects of education
ought to be.

I know quite well that launching myself into this discussion is a very
dangerous operation; that it is a very large subject, and one which is
difficult to deal with, however much I may trespass upon your patience
in the time allotted to me. But the discussion is so fundamental, it is
so completely impossible to make up one's mind on these matters until
one has settled the question, that I will even venture to make the
experiment. A great lawyer-statesman and philosopher of a former age--I
mean Francis Bacon--said that truth came out of error much more rapidly
than it came out of confusion. There is a wonderful truth in that
saying. Next to being right in this world, the best of all things is to
be clearly and definitely wrong, because you will come out somewhere.
If you go buzzing about between right and wrong, vibrating and
fluctuating, you come out nowhere; but if you are absolutely and
thoroughly and persistently wrong, you must, some of these days, have
the extreme good fortune of knocking your head against a fact, and that
sets you all straight again. So I will not trouble myself as to whether
I may be right or wrong in what I am about to say, but at any rate I
hope to be clear and definite; and then you will be able to judge for
yourselves whether, in following out the train of thought I have to
introduce, you knock your heads against facts or not.

I take it that the whole object of education is, in the first place, to
train the faculties of the young in such a manner as to give their
possessors the best chance of being happy and useful in their
generation; and, in the second place, to furnish them with the most
important portions of that immense capitalised experience of the human
race which we call knowledge of various kinds. I am using the term
knowledge in its widest possible sense; and the question is, what
subjects to select by training and discipline, in which the object I
have just defined may be best attained.

I must call your attention further to this fact, that all the subjects
of our thoughts--all feelings and propositions (leaving aside our
sensations as the mere materials and occasions of thinking and
feeling), all our mental furniture--may be classified under one of two
heads--as either within the province of the intellect, something that
can be put into propositions and affirmed or denied; or as within the
province of feeling, or that which, before the name was defiled, was
called the aesthetic side of our nature, and which can neither be
proved nor disproved, but only felt and known.

According to the classification which I have put before you, then, the
subjects of all knowledge are divisible into the two groups, matters of
science and matters of art; for all things with which the reasoning
faculty alone is occupied, come under the province of science; and in
the broadest sense, and not in the narrow and technical sense in which
we are now accustomed to use the word art, all things feelable, all
things which stir our emotions, come under the term of art, in the
sense of the subject-matter of the aesthetic faculty. So that we are
shut up to this--that the business of education is, in the first place,
to provide the young with the means and the habit of observation; and,
secondly, to supply the subject-matter of knowledge either in the shape
of science or of art, or of both combined.

Now, it is a very remarkable fact--but it is true of most things in
this world--that there is hardly anything one-sided, or of one nature;
and it is not immediately obvious what of the things that interest us
may be regarded as pure science, and what may be regarded as pure art.
It may be that there are some peculiarly constituted persons who,
before they have advanced far into the depths of geometry, find
artistic beauty about it; but, taking the generality of mankind, I
think it may be said that, when they begin to learn mathematics, their
whole souls are absorbed in tracing the connection between the
premisses and the conclusion, and that to them geometry is pure
science. So I think it may be said that mechanics and osteology are
pure science. On the other hand, melody in music is pure art. You
cannot reason about it; there is no proposition involved in it. So,
again, in the pictorial art, an arabesque, or a "harmony in grey,"
touches none but the aesthetic faculty. But a great mathematician, and
even many persons who are not great mathematicians, will tell you that
they derive immense pleasure from geometrical reasonings. Everybody
knows mathematicians speak of solutions and problems as "elegant," and
they tell you that a certain mass of mystic symbols is "beautiful,
quite lovely." Well, you do not see it. They do see it, because the
intellectual process, the process of comprehending the reasons
symbolised by these figures and these signs, confers upon them a sort
of pleasure, such as an artist has in visual symmetry. Take a science
of which I may speak with more confidence, and which is the most
attractive of those I am concerned with. It is what we call morphology,
which consists in tracing out the unity in variety of the infinitely
diversified structures of animals and plants. I cannot give you any
example of a thorough aesthetic pleasure more intensely real than a
pleasure of this kind--the pleasure which arises in one's mind when a
whole mass of different structures run into one harmony as the
expression of a central law. That is where the province of art overlays
and embraces the province of intellect. And, if I may venture to
express an opinion on such a subject, the great majority of forms of
art are not in the sense what I just now defined them to be--pure art;
but they derive much of their quality from simultaneous and even
unconscious excitement of the intellect.

When I was a boy, I was very fond of music, and I am so now; and it so
happened that I had the opportunity of hearing much good music. Among
other things, I had abundant opportunities of hearing that great old
master, Sebastian Bach. I remember perfectly well--though I knew
nothing about music then, and, I may add, know nothing whatever about
it now--the intense satisfaction and delight which I had in listening,
by the hour together, to Bach's fugues. It is a pleasure which remains
with me, I am glad to think; but, of late years, I have tried to find
out the why and wherefore, and it has often occurred to me that the
pleasure derived from musical compositions of this kind is essentially
of the same nature as that which is derived from pursuits which are
commonly regarded as purely intellectual. I mean, that the source
of pleasure is exactly the same as in most of my problems in
morphology--that you have the theme in one of the old master's works
followed out in all its endless variations, always appearing and always
reminding you of unity in variety. So in painting; what is called
"truth to nature" is the intellectual element coming in, and truth to
nature depends entirely upon the intellectual culture of the person to
whom art is addressed. If you are in Australia, you may get credit for
being a good artist--I mean among the natives--if you can draw a
kangaroo after a fashion. But, among men of higher civilisation, the
intellectual knowledge we possess brings its criticism into our
appreciation of works of art, and we are obliged to satisfy it, as well
as the mere sense of beauty in colour and in outline. And so, the
higher the culture and information of those whom art addresses, the
more exact and precise must be what we call its "truth to nature."

If we turn to literature, the same thing is true, and you find works of
literature which may be said to be pure art. A little song of
Shakespeare or of Goethe is pure art; it is exquisitely beautiful,
although its intellectual content may be nothing. A series of pictures
is made to pass before your mind by the meaning of words, and the
effect is a melody of ideas. Nevertheless, the great mass of the
literature we esteem is valued, not merely because of having artistic
form, but because of its intellectual content; and the value is the
higher the more precise, distinct, and true is that intellectual
content. And, if you will let me for a moment speak of the very highest
forms of literature, do we not regard them as highest simply because
the more we know the truer they seem, and the more competent we are to
appreciate beauty the more beautiful they are? No man ever understands
Shakespeare until he is old, though the youngest may admire him, the
reason being that he satisfies the artistic instinct of the youngest
and harmonises with the ripest and richest experience of the oldest.

I have said this much to draw your attention to what, to my mind, lies
at the root of all this matter, and at the understanding of one another
by the men of science on the one hand, and the men of literature, and
history, and art, on the other. It is not a question whether one order
of study or another should predominate. It is a question of what topics
of education you shall select which will combine all the needful
elements in such due proportion as to give the greatest amount of food,
support, and encouragement to those faculties which enable us to
appreciate truth, and to profit by those sources of innocent happiness
which are open to us, and, at the same time, to avoid that which is
bad, and coarse, and ugly, and keep clear of the multitude of pitfalls
and dangers which beset those who break through the natural or moral

I address myself, in this spirit, to the consideration of the question
of the value of purely literary education. Is it good and sufficient,
or is it insufficient and bad? Well, here I venture to say that there
are literary educations and literary educations. If I am to understand
by that term the education that was current in the great majority of
middle-class schools, and upper schools too, in this country when I was
a boy, and which consisted absolutely and almost entirely in keeping
boys for eight or ten years at learning the rules of Latin and Greek
grammar, construing certain Latin and Greek authors, and possibly
making verses which, had they been English verses, would have been
condemned as abominable doggerel,--if that is what you mean by liberal
education, then I say it is scandalously insufficient and almost
worthless. My reason for saying so is not from the point of view of
science at all, but from the point of view of literature. I say the
thing professes to be literary education that is not a literary
education at all. It was not literature at all that was taught, but
science in a very bad form. It is quite obvious that grammar is science
and not literature. The analysis of a text by the help of the rules of
grammar is just as much a scientific operation as the analysis of a
chemical compound by the help of the rules of chemical analysis. There
is nothing that appeals to the aesthetic faculty in that operation; and
I ask multitudes of men of my own age, who went through this process,
whether they ever had a conception of art or literature until they
obtained it for themselves after leaving school? Then you may say, "If
that is so, if the education was scientific, why cannot you be
satisfied with it?" I say, because although it is a scientific
training, it is of the most inadequate and inappropriate kind. If there
is any good at all in scientific education it is that men should be
trained, as I said before, to know things for themselves at first hand,
and that they should understand every step of the reason of that which
they do.

I desire to speak with the utmost respect of that science--philology--of
which grammar is a part and parcel; yet everybody knows that
grammar, as it is usually learned at school, affords no scientific
training. It is taught just as you would teach the rules of chess or
draughts. On the other hand, if I am to understand by a literary
education the study of the literatures of either ancient or modern
nations--but especially those of antiquity, and especially that of
ancient Greece; if this literature is studied, not merely from the
point of view of philological science, and its practical application to
the interpretation of texts, but as an exemplification of and
commentary upon the principles of art; if you look upon the literature
of a people as a chapter in the development of the human mind, if you
work out this in a broad spirit, and with such collateral references to
morals and politics, and physical geography, and the like as are
needful to make you comprehend what the meaning of ancient literature
and civilisation is,--then, assuredly, it affords a splendid and noble
education. But I still think it is susceptible of improvement, and that
no man will ever comprehend the real secret of the difference between
the ancient world and our present time, unless he has learned to see
the difference which the late development of physical science has made
between the thought of this day and the thought of that, and he will
never see that difference, unless he has some practical insight into
some branches of physical science; and you must remember that a
literary education such as that which I have just referred to, is out
of the reach of those whose school life is cut short at sixteen or

But, you will say, all this is fault-finding; let us hear what you have
in the way of positive suggestion. Then I am bound to tell you that, if
I could make a clean sweep of everything--I am very glad I cannot
because I might, and probably should, make mistakes,--but if I could
make a clean sweep of everything and start afresh, I should, in the
first place, secure that training of the young in reading and writing,
and in the habit of attention and observation, both to that which is
told them, and that which they see, which everybody agrees to. But in
addition to that, I should make it absolutely necessary for everybody,
for a longer or shorter period, to learn to draw. Now, you may say,
there are some people who cannot draw, however much they may be taught.
I deny that _in toto_, because I never yet met with anybody who
could not learn to write. Writing is a form of drawing; therefore if
you give the same attention and trouble to drawing as you do to
writing, depend upon it, there is nobody who cannot be made to draw,
more or less well. Do not misapprehend me. I do not say for one moment
you would make an artistic draughtsman. Artists are not made; they
grow. You may improve the natural faculty in that direction, but you
cannot make it; but you can teach simple drawing, and you will find it
an implement of learning of extreme value. I do not think its value can
be exaggerated, because it gives you the means of training the young in
attention and accuracy, which are the two things in which all mankind
are more deficient than in any other mental quality whatever. The whole
of my life has been spent in trying to give my proper attention to
things and to be accurate, and I have not succeeded as well as I could
wish; and other people, I am afraid, are not much more fortunate. You
cannot begin this habit too early, and I consider there is nothing of
so great a value as the habit of drawing, to secure those two desirable

Then we come to the subject-matter, whether scientific or aesthetic, of
education, and I should naturally have no question at all about
teaching the elements of physical science of the kind I have sketched,
in a practical manner; but among scientific topics, using the word
scientific in the broadest sense, I would also include the elements of
the theory of morals and of that of political and social life, which,
strangely enough, it never seems to occur to anybody to teach a child.
I would have the history of our own country, and of all the influences
which have been brought to bear upon it, with incidental geography, not
as a mere chronicle of reigns and battles, but as a chapter in the
development of the race, and the history of civilisation.

Then with respect to aesthetic knowledge and discipline, we have
happily in the English language one of the most magnificent storehouses
of artistic beauty and of models of literary excellence which exists in
the world at the present time. I have said before, and I repeat it
here, that if a man cannot get literary culture of the highest kind out
of his Bible, and Chaucer, and Shakespeare, and Milton, and Hobbes, and
Bishop Berkeley, to mention only a few of our illustrious writers--I
say, if he cannot get it out of those writers, he cannot get it out of
anything; and I would assuredly devote a very large portion of the time
of every English child to the careful study of the models of English
writing of such varied and wonderful kind as we possess, and, what is
still more important and still more neglected, the habit of using that
language with precision, with force, and with art. I fancy we are
almost the only nation in the world who seem to think that composition
comes by nature. The French attend to their own language, the Germans
study theirs; but Englishmen do not seem to think it is worth their
while. Nor would I fail to include, in the course of study I am
sketching, translations of all the best works of antiquity, or of the
modern world. It is a very desirable thing to read Homer in Greek; but
if you don't happen to know Greek, the next best thing we can do is to
read as good a translation of it as we have recently been furnished
with in prose. You won't get all you would get from the original, but
you may get a great deal; and to refuse to know this great deal because
you cannot get all, seems to be as sensible as for a hungry man to
refuse bread because he cannot get partridge. Finally, I would add
instruction in either music or painting, or, if the child should be so
unhappy, as sometimes happens, as to have no faculty for either of
those, and no possibility of doing anything in any artistic sense with
them, then I would see what could be done with literature alone; but I
would provide, in the fullest sense, for the development of the
aesthetic side of the mind. In my judgment, those are all the
essentials of education for an English child. With that outfit, such as
it might be made in the time given to education which is within the
reach of nine-tenths of the population--with that outfit, an
Englishman, within the limits of English life, is fitted to go
anywhere, to occupy the highest positions, to fill the highest offices
of the State, and to become distinguished in practical pursuits, in
science, or in art. For, if he have the opportunity to learn all those
things, and have his mind disciplined in the various directions the
teaching of those topics would have necessitated, then, assuredly, he
will be able to pick up, on his road through life, all the rest of the
intellectual baggage he wants.

If the educational time at our disposition were sufficient, there are
one or two things I would add to those I have just now called the
essentials; and perhaps you will be surprised to hear, though I hope
you will not, that I should add, not more science, but one, or, if
possible, two languages. The knowledge of some other language than
one's own is, in fact, of singular intellectual value. Many of the
faults and mistakes of the ancient philosophers are traceable to the
fact that they knew no language but their own, and were often led into
confusing the symbol with the thought which it embodied. I think it is
Locke who says that one-half of the mistakes of philosophers have
arisen from questions about words; and one of the safest ways of
delivering yourself from the bondage of words is, to know how ideas
look in words to which you are not accustomed. That is one reason for
the study of language; another reason is, that it opens new fields in
art and in science. Another is the practical value of such knowledge;
and yet another is this, that if your languages are properly chosen,
from the time of learning the additional languages you will know your
own language better than ever you did. So, I say, if the time given to
education permits, add Latin and German. Latin, because it is the key
to nearly one-half of English and to all the Romance languages; and
German, because it is the key to almost all the remainder of English,
and helps you to understand a race from whom most of us have sprung,
and who have a character and a literature of a fateful force in the
history of the world, such as probably has been allotted to those of no
other people, except the Jews, the Greeks, and ourselves. Beyond these,
the essential and the eminently desirable elements of all education,
let each man take up his special line--the historian devote himself to
his history, the man of science to his science, the man of letters to
his culture of that kind, and the artist to his special pursuit.

Bacon has prefaced some of his works with no more than this:
_Franciscus Bacon sic cogitavit;_ let "sic cogitavi" be the epilogue
to what I have ventured to address to you to-night.




Elected by the suffrages of your four Nations Rector of the ancient
University of which you are scholars, I take the earliest opportunity
which has presented itself since my restoration to health, of
delivering the Address which, by long custom, is expected of the holder
of my office.

My first duty in opening that Address, is to offer you my most hearty
thanks for the signal honour you have conferred upon me--an honour of
which, as a man unconnected with you by personal or by national ties,
devoid of political distinction, and a plebeian who stands by his
order, I could not have dreamed. And it was the more surprising to
me, as the five-and-twenty years which have passed over my head
since I reached intellectual manhood, have been largely spent in no
half-hearted advocacy of doctrines which have not yet found favour in
the eyes of Academic respectability; so that, when the proposal to
nominate me for your Rector came, I was almost as much astonished as
was Hal o' the Wynd, "who fought for his own hand," by the Black
Douglas's proffer of knighthood. And I fear that my acceptance must be
taken as evidence that, less wise than the Armourer of Perth, I have
not yet done with soldiering.

In fact, if, for a moment, I imagined that your intention was simply,
in the kindness of your hearts, to do me honour; and that the Rector of
your University, like that of some other Universities was one of those
happy beings who sit in glory for three years, with nothing to do for
it save the making of a speech, a conversation with my distinguished
predecessor soon dispelled the dream. I found that, by the constitution
of the University of Aberdeen, the incumbent of the Rectorate is, if
not a power, at any rate a potential energy; and that, whatever may be
his chances of success or failure, it is his duty to convert that
potential energy into a living force, directed towards such ends as may
seem to him conducive to the welfare of the corporation of which he is
the theoretical head.

I need not tell you that your late Lord Rector took this view of his
position, and acted upon it with the comprehensive, far-seeing insight
into the actual condition and tendencies, not merely of his own, but of
other countries, which is his honourable characteristic among
statesmen. I have already done my best, and, as long as I hold my
office, I shall continue my endeavours, to follow in the path which he
trod; to do what in me lies, to bring this University nearer to
the ideal--alas, that I should be obliged to say ideal--of all
Universities; which, as I conceive, should be places in which thought
is free from all fetters; and in which all sources of knowledge, and
all aids to learning, should be accessible to all comers, without
distinction of creed or country, riches or poverty.

Do not suppose, however, that I am sanguine enough to expect much to
come of any poor efforts of mine. If your annals take any notice of my
incumbency, I shall probably go down to posterity as the Rector who was
always beaten. But if they add, as I think they will, that my defeats
became victories in the hands of my successors, I shall be well

* * * * *

The scenes are shifting in the great theatre of the world. The act
which commenced with the Protestant Reformation is nearly played out,
and a wider and deeper change than that effected three centuries ago--a
reformation, or rather a revolution of thought, the extremes of which
are represented by the intellectual heirs of John of Leyden and of
Ignatius Loyola, rather than by those of Luther and of Leo--is waiting
to come on, nay, visible behind the scenes to those who have good eyes.
Men are beginning, once more, to awake to the fact that matters of
belief and of speculation are of absolutely infinite practical
importance; and are drawing off from that sunny country "where it is
always afternoon"--the sleepy hollow of broad indifferentism--to range
themselves under their natural banners. Change is in the air. It is
whirling feather-heads into all sorts of eccentric orbits, and filling
the steadiest with a sense of insecurity. It insists on reopening all
questions and asking all institutions, however venerable, by what right
they exist, and whether they are, or are not, in harmony with the real
or supposed wants of mankind. And it is remarkable that these searching
inquiries are not so much forced on institutions from without, as
developed from within. Consummate scholars question the value of
learning; priests contemn dogma; and women turn their backs upon man's
ideal of perfect womanhood, and seek satisfaction in apocalyptic
visions of some, as yet, unrealised epicene reality.

If there be a type of stability in this world, one would be inclined to
look for it in the old Universities of England. But it has been my
business of late to hear a good deal about what is going on in these
famous corporations; and I have been filled with astonishment by the
evidences of internal fermentation which they exhibit. If Gibbon could
revisit the ancient seat of learning of which he has written so
cavalierly, assuredly he would no longer speak of "the monks of Oxford
sunk in prejudice and port." There, as elsewhere, port has gone out of
fashion, and so has prejudice--at least that particular fine, old,
crusted sort of prejudice to which the great historian alludes.

Indeed, things are moving so fast in Oxford and Cambridge, that, for my
part, I rejoiced when the Royal Commission, of which I am a member, had
finished and presented the Report which related to these Universities;
for we should have looked like mere plagiarists, if, in consequence of
a little longer delay in issuing it, all the measures of reform we
proposed had been anticipated by the spontaneous action of the
Universities themselves.

A month ago I should have gone on to say that one might speedily expect
changes of another kind in Oxford and Cambridge. A Commission has been
inquiring into the revenues of the many wealthy societies, in more or
less direct connection with the Universities, resident in those towns.
It is said that the Commission has reported, and that, for the first
time in recorded history, the nation, and perhaps the Colleges
themselves, will know what they are worth. And it was announced that a
statesman, who, whatever his other merits or defects, has aims above
the level of mere party fighting, and a clear vision into the most
complex practical problems, meant to deal with these revenues.

But, _Bos locutus est_. That mysterious independent variable of
political calculation, Public Opinion--which some whisper is, in the
present case, very much the same thing as publican's opinion--has
willed otherwise. The Heads may return to their wonted slumbers--at any
rate for a space.

Is the spirit of change, which is working thus vigorously in the South,
likely to affect the Northern Universities, and if so, to what extent?
The violence of fermentation depends, not so much on the quantity of
the yeast, as on the composition of the wort, and its richness in
fermentable material; and, as a preliminary to the discussion of this
question, I venture to call to your minds the essential and fundamental
differences between the Scottish and the English type of University.

Do not charge me with anything worse than official egotism, if I say
that these differences appear to be largely symbolised by my own
existence. There is no Rector in an English University. Now, the
organisation of the members of a University into Nations, with their
elective Rector, is the last relic of the primitive constitution of
Universities. The Rectorate was the most important of all offices in
that University of Paris, upon the model of which the University of
Aberdeen was fashioned; and which was certainly a great and flourishing
institution in the twelfth century.

Enthusiasts for the antiquity of one of the two acknowledged parents of
all Universities, indeed, do not hesitate to trace the origin of the
"Studium Parisiense" up to that wonderful king of the Franks and
Lombards, Karl, surnamed the Great, whom we all called Charlemagne, and
believed to be a Frenchman, until a learned historian, by beneficent
iteration, taught us better. Karl is said not to have been much of a
scholar himself, but he had the wisdom of which knowledge is only the
servitor. And that wisdom enabled him to see that ignorance is one of
the roots of all evil.

In the Capitulary which enjoins the foundation of monasterial and
cathedral schools, he says: "Right action is better than knowledge; but
in order to do what is right, we must know what is right." [1] An
irrefragable truth, I fancy. Acting upon it, the king took pretty full
compulsory powers, and carried into effect a really considerable and
effectual scheme of elementary education through the length and breadth
of his dominions.

No doubt the idolaters out by the Elbe, in what is now part of Prussia,
objected to the Frankish king's measures; no doubt the priests, who had
never hesitated about sacrificing all unbelievers in their fantastic
deities and futile conjurations, were the loudest in chanting the
virtues of toleration; no doubt they denounced as a cruel persecutor
the man who would not allow them, however sincere they might be, to go
on spreading delusions which debased the intellect, as much as they
deadened the moral sense, and undermined the bonds of civil allegiance;
no doubt, if they had lived in these times, they would have been able
to show, with ease, that the king's proceedings were totally contrary
to the best liberal principles. But it may be said, in justification of
the Teutonic ruler, first, that he was born before those principles,
and did not suspect that the best way of getting disorder into order
was to let it alone; and, secondly, that his rough and questionable
proceedings did, more or less, bring about the end he had in view. For,
in a couple of centuries, the schools he sowed broadcast produced their
crop of men, thirsting for knowledge and craving for culture. Such men
gravitating towards Paris, as a light amidst the darkness of evil days,
from Germany, from Spain, from Britain, and from Scandinavia, came
together by natural affinity. By degrees they banded themselves into a
society, which, as its end was the knowledge of all things knowable,
called itself a "_Studium Generale_;" and when it had grown into a
recognised corporation, acquired the name of "_Universitas Studii
Generalis_," which, mark you, means not a "Useful Knowledge
Society," but a "Knowledge-of-things-in-general Society."

And thus the first "University," at any rate on this side of the Alps,
came into being. Originally it had but one Faculty, that of Arts. Its
aim was to be a centre of knowledge and culture; not to be, in any
sense, a technical school.

The scholars seem to have studied Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric;
Arithmetic and Geometry; Astronomy; Theology; and Music. Thus, their
work, however imperfect and faulty, judged by modern lights, it may
have been, brought them face to face with all the leading aspects of
the many-sided mind of man. For these studies did really contain, at
any rate in embryo--sometimes, it may be, in caricature--what we now
call Philosophy, Mathematical and Physical Science, and Art. And I
doubt if the curriculum of any modern University shows so clear and
generous a comprehension of what is meant by culture, as this old
Trivium and Quadrivium does.

The students who had passed through the University course, and had
proved themselves competent to teach, became masters and teachers of
their younger brethren. Whence the distinction of Masters and Regents
on the one hand, and Scholars on the other.

Rapid growth necessitated organisation. The Masters and Scholars of
various tongues and countries grouped themselves into four Nations; and
the Nations, by their own votes at first, and subsequently by those of
their Procurators, or representatives, elected their supreme head and
governor, the Rector--at that time the sole representative of the
University, and a very real power, who could defy Provosts interfering
from without; or could inflict even corporal punishment on disobedient
members within the University.

Such was the primitive constitution of the University of Paris. It is
in reference to this original state of things that I have spoken of the
Rectorate, and all that appertains to it, as the sole relic of that

But this original organisation did not last long. Society was not then,
any more than it is now, patient of culture, as such. It says to
everything, "Be useful to me, or away with you." And to the learned,
the unlearned man said then, as he does now, "What is the use of all
your learning, unless you can tell me what I want to know? I am here
blindly groping about, and constantly damaging myself by collision with
three mighty powers, the power of the invisible God, the power of my
fellow Man, and the power of brute Nature. Let your learning be turned
to the study of these powers, that I may know how I am to comport
myself with regard to them." In answer to this demand, some of the
Masters of the Faculty of Arts devoted themselves to the study of
Theology, some to that of Law, and some to that of Medicine; and they
became Doctors--men learned in those technical, or, as we now call
them, professional, branches of knowledge. Like cleaving to like, the
Doctors formed schools, or Faculties, of Theology, Law, and Medicine,
which sometimes assumed airs of superiority over their parent, the
Faculty of Arts, though the latter always asserted and maintained its
fundamental supremacy.

The Faculties arose by process of natural differentiation out of the
primitive University. Other constituents, foreign to its nature, were
speedily grafted upon it. One of these extraneous elements was forced
into it by the Roman Church, which in those days asserted with effect,
that which it now asserts, happily without any effect in these realms,
its right of censorship and control over all teaching. The local
habitation of the University lay partly in the lands attached to the
monastery of S. Geneviève, partly in the diocese of the Bishop of
Paris; and he who would teach must have the licence of the Abbot, or of
the Bishop, as the nearest representative of the Pope, so to do, which
licence was granted by the Chancellors of these Ecclesiastics.

Thus, if I am what archaeologists call a "survival" of the primitive
head and ruler of the University, your Chancellor stands in the same
relation to the Papacy; and, with all respect for his Grace, I think I
may say that we both look terribly shrunken when compared with our
great originals.

Not so is it with a second foreign element, which silently dropped into
the soil of Universities, like the grain of mustard-seed in the
parable; and, like that grain, grew into a tree, in whose branches a
whole aviary of fowls took shelter. That element is the element of
Endowment. It differed from the preceding, in its original design to
serve as a prop to the young plant, not to be a parasite upon it. The
charitable and the humane, blessed with wealth, were very early
penetrated by the misery of the poor student. And the wise saw that
intellectual ability is not so common or so unimportant a gift that it
should be allowed to run to waste upon mere handicrafts and chares. The
man who was a blessing to his contemporaries, but who so often has been
converted into a curse, by the blind adherence of his posterity to the
letter, rather than to the spirit, of his wishes--I mean the "pious
founder"--gave money and lands, that the student, who was rich in brain
and poor in all else, might be taken from the plough or from the
stithy, and enabled to devote himself to the higher service of mankind;
and built colleges and halls in which he might be not only housed and
fed, but taught.

The Colleges were very generally placed in strict subordination to the
University by their founders; but, in many cases, their endowment,
consisting of land, has undergone an "unearned increment," which has
given these societies a continually increasing weight and importance as
against the unendowed, or fixedly endowed, University. In Pharaoh's
dream, the seven lean kine eat up the seven fat ones. In the reality of
historical fact, the fat Colleges have eaten up the lean Universities.

Even here in Aberdeen, though the causes at work may have been somewhat
different, the effects have been similar; and you see how much more
substantial an entity is the Very Reverend the Principal, analogue, if
not homologue, of the Principals of King's College, than the Rector,
lineal representative of the ancient monarchs of the University, though
now, little more than a "king of shreds and patches."

Do not suppose that, in thus briefly tracing the process of University
metamorphosis, I have had any intention of quarrelling with its
results. Practically, it seems to me that the broad changes effected in
1858 have given the Scottish Universities a very liberal constitution,
with as much real approximation to the primitive state of things as is
at all desirable. If your fat kine have eaten the lean, they have not
lain down to chew the cud ever since. The Scottish Universities, like
the English, have diverged widely enough from their primitive model;
but I cannot help thinking that the northern form has remained more
faithful to its original, not only in constitution, but, what is more
to the purpose, in view of the cry for change, in the practical
application of the endowments connected with it.

In Aberdeen, these endowments are numerous, but so small that, taken
altogether, they are not equal to the revenue of a single third-rate
English college. They are scholarships, not fellowships; aids to do
work--not rewards for such work as it lies within the reach of an
ordinary, or even an extraordinary, young man to do. You do not think
that passing a respectable examination is a fair equivalent for an
income, such as many a grey-headed veteran, or clergyman would envy;
and which is larger than the endowment of many Regius chairs. You do
not care to make your University a school of manners for the rich; of
sports for the athletic; or a hot-bed of high-fed, hypercritical
refinement, more destructive to vigour and originality than are
starvation and oppression. No; your little Bursaries of ten and twenty
(I believe even fifty) pounds a year, enabled any boy who has shown
ability in the course of his education in those remarkable primary
schools, which have made Scotland the power she is, to obtain the
highest culture the country can give him; and when he is armed and
equipped, his Spartan Alma Mater tells him that, so far, he has had his
wages for his work, and that he may go and earn the rest.

When I think of the host of pleasant, moneyed, well-bred young
gentlemen, who do a little learning and much boating by Cam and Isis,
the vision is a pleasant one; and, as a patriot, I rejoice that the
youth of the upper and richer classes of the nation receive a wholesome
and a manly training, however small may be the modicum of knowledge
they gather, in the intervals of this, their serious business. I admit,
to the full, the social and political value of that training. But, when
I proceed to consider that these young men may be said to represent the
great bulk of what the Colleges have to show for their enormous wealth,
plus, at least, a hundred and fifty pounds a year apiece which each
undergraduate costs his parents or guardians, I feel inclined to ask,
whether the rate-in-aid of the education of the wealthy and
professional classes, thus levied on the resources of the community, is
not, after all, a little heavy? And, still further, I am tempted to
inquire what has become of the indigent scholars, the sons of the
masses of the people whose daily labour just suffices to meet their
daily wants, for whose benefit these rich foundations were largely, if
not mainly, instituted? It seems as if Pharaoh's dream had been
rigorously carried out, and that even the fat scholar has eaten the
lean one. And when I turn from this picture to the no less real vision
of many a brave and frugal Scotch boy, spending his summer in hard
manual labour, that he may have the privilege of wending his way in
autumn to this University, with a bag of oatmeal, ten pounds in his
pocket, and his own stout heart to depend upon through the northern
winter; not bent on seeking

"The bubble reputation at the cannon's mouth,"

but determined to wring knowledge from the hard hands of penury; when I
see him win through all such outward obstacles to positions of wide
usefulness and well-earned fame; I cannot but think that, in essence,
Aberdeen has departed but little from the primitive intention of the
founders of Universities, and that the spirit of reform has so much to
do on the other side of the Border, that it may be long before he has
leisure to look this way.

As compared with other actual Universities, then, Aberdeen, may,
perhaps, be well satisfied with itself. But do not think me an
impracticable dreamer, if I ask you not to rest and be thankful in this
state of satisfaction; if I ask you to consider awhile, how this actual
good stands related to that ideal better, towards which both men and
institutions must progress, if they would not retrograde.

In an ideal University, as I conceive it, a man should be able to
obtain instruction in all forms of knowledge, and discipline in the use
of all the methods by which knowledge is obtained. In such a
University, the force of living example should fire the student with a
noble ambition to emulate the learning of learned men, and to follow in
the footsteps of the explorers of new fields of knowledge. And the very
air he breathes should be charged with that enthusiasm for truth, that
fanaticism of veracity, which is a greater possession than much
learning; a nobler gift than the power of increasing knowledge; by so
much greater and nobler than these, as the moral nature of man is
greater than the intellectual; for veracity is the heart of morality.

But the man who is all morality and intellect, although he may be good
and even great, is, after all, only half a man. There is beauty in the
moral world and in the intellectual world; but there is also a beauty
which is neither moral nor intellectual--the beauty of the world of
Art. There are men who are devoid of the power of seeing it, as there
are men who are born deaf and blind, and the loss of those, as of
these, is simply infinite. There are others in whom it is an
overpowering passion; happy men, born with the productive, or at
lowest, the appreciative, genius of the Artist. But, in the mass of
mankind, the Aesthetic faculty, like the reasoning power and the moral
sense, needs to be roused, directed, and cultivated; and I know not why
the development of that side of his nature, through which man has
access to a perennial spring of ennobling pleasure, should be omitted
from any comprehensive scheme of University education.

All Universities recognise Literature in the sense of the old Rhetoric,
which is art incarnate in words. Some, to their credit, recognise Art
in its narrower sense, to a certain extent, and confer degrees for
proficiency in some of its branches. If there are Doctors of Music, why
should there be no Masters of painting, of Sculpture, of Architecture?
I should like to see Professors of the Fine Arts in every University;
and instruction in some branch of their work made a part of the Arts

I just now expressed the opinion that, in our ideal University, a man
should be able to obtain instruction in all forms of knowledge. Now, by
"forms of knowledge" I mean the great classes of things knowable; of
which the first, in logical, though not in natural, order is knowledge
relating to the scope and limits of the mental faculties of man, a form
of knowledge which, in its positive aspect, answers pretty much to
Logic and part of Psychology, while, on its negative and critical side,
it corresponds with Metaphysics.

A second class comprehends all that knowledge which relates to man's
welfare, so far as it is determined by his own acts, or what we call
his conduct. It answers to Moral and Religious philosophy. Practically,
it is the most directly valuable of all forms of knowledge, but
speculatively, it is limited and criticised by that which precedes and
by that which follows it in my order of enumeration.

A third class embraces knowledge of the phaenomena of the Universe, as
that which lies about the individual man; and of the rules which those
phaenomena are observed to follow in the order of their occurrence,
which we term the laws of Nature.

This is what ought to be called Natural Science, or Physiology, though
those terms are hopelessly diverted from such a meaning; and it
includes all exact knowledge of natural fact, whether Mathematical,
Physical, Biological, or Social.

Kant has said that the ultimate object of all knowledge is to give
replies to these three questions: What can I do? What ought I to do?
What may I hope for? The forms of knowledge which I have enumerated,
should furnish such replies as are within human reach, to the first and
second of these questions. While to the third, perhaps the wisest
answer is, "Do what you can to do what you ought, and leave hoping and
fearing alone."

If this be a just and an exhaustive classification of the forms of
knowledge, no question as to their relative importance, or as to the
superiority of one to the other, can be seriously raised.

On the face of the matter, it is absurd to ask whether it is more
important to know the limits of one's powers; or the ends for which
they ought to be exerted; or the conditions under which they must be
exerted. One may as well inquire which of the terms of a Rule of Three
sum one ought to know, in order to get a trustworthy result. Practical
life is such a sum, in which your duty multiplied into your capacity,
and divided by your circumstances, gives you the fourth term in the
proportion, which is your deserts, with great accuracy. All agree, I
take it, that men ought to have these three kinds of knowledge. The
so-called "conflict of studies" turns upon the question of how they may
best be obtained.

The founders of Universities held the theory that the Scriptures and
Aristotle taken together, the latter being limited by the former,
contained all knowledge worth having, and that the business of
philosophy was to interpret and co-ordinate these two. I imagine that
in the twelfth century this was a very fair conclusion from known
facts. Nowhere in the world, in those days, was there such an
encyclopaedia of knowledge of all three classes, as is to be found in
those writings. The scholastic philosophy is a wonderful monument of
the patience and ingenuity with which the human mind toiled to build up
a logically consistent theory of the Universe, out of such materials.
And that philosophy is by no means dead and buried, as many vainly
suppose. On the contrary, numbers of men of no mean learning and
accomplishment, and sometimes of rare power and subtlety of thought,
hold by it as the best theory of things which has yet been stated. And,
what is still more remarkable, men who speak the language of modern
philosophy, nevertheless think the thoughts of the schoolmen. "The
voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau."
Every day I hear "Cause," "Law," "Force," "Vitality," spoken of as
entities, by people who can enjoy Swift's joke about the meat-roasting
quality of the smoke-jack, and comfort themselves with the reflection
that they are not even as those benighted schoolmen.

Well, this great system had its day, and then it was sapped and mined
by two influences. The first was the study of classical literature,
which familiarised men with methods of philosophising; with conceptions
of the highest Good; with ideas of the order of Nature; with notions of
Literary and Historical Criticism; and, above all, with visions of Art,
of a kind which not only would not fit into the scholastic scheme, but
showed them a pre-Christian, and indeed altogether un-Christian world,
of such grandeur and beauty that they ceased to think of any other.
They were as men who had kissed the Fairy Queen, and wandering with her
in the dim loveliness of the under-world, cared not to return to the
familiar ways of home and fatherland, though they lay, at arm's length,
overhead. Cardinals were more familiar with Virgil than with Isaiah;
and Popes laboured, with great success, to re-paganise Rome.

The second influence was the slow, but sure, growth of the physical
sciences. It was discovered that some results of speculative thought,
of immense practical and theoretical importance, can be verified by
observation; and are always true, however severely they may be tested.
Here, at any rate, was knowledge, to the certainty of which no
authority could add, or take away, one jot or tittle, and to which the
tradition of a thousand years was as insignificant as the hearsay of
yesterday. To the scholastic system, the study of classical literature
might be inconvenient and distracting, but it was possible to hope that
it could be kept within bounds. Physical science, on the other hand,
was an irreconcilable enemy, to be excluded at all hazards. The College
of Cardinals has not distinguished itself in Physics or Physiology; and
no Pope has, as yet, set up public laboratories in the Vatican.

People do not always formulate the beliefs on which they act. The
instinct of fear and dislike is quicker than the reasoning process; and
I suspect that, taken in conjunction with some other causes, such
instinctive aversion is at the bottom of the long exclusion of any
serious discipline in the physical sciences from the general curriculum
of Universities; while, on the other hand, classical literature has
been gradually made the backbone of the Arts course.

I am ashamed to repeat here what I have said elsewhere, in season and
out of season, respecting the value of Science as knowledge and
discipline. But the other day I met with some passages in the Address
to another Scottish University, of a great thinker, recently lost to
us, which express so fully and yet so tersely, the truth in this matter
that I am fain to quote them:--

"To question all things;--never to turn away from any difficulty; to
accept no doctrine either from ourselves or from other people without a
rigid scrutiny by negative criticism; letting no fallacy, or
incoherence, or confusion of thought, step by unperceived; above all,
to insist upon having the meaning of a word clearly understood before
using it, and the meaning of a proposition before assenting to
it;--these are the lessons we learn" from workers in Science. "With all
this vigorous management of the negative element, they inspire no
scepticism about the reality of truth or indifference to its pursuit.
The noblest enthusiasm, both for the search after truth and for
applying it to its highest uses, pervades those writers." "In
cultivating, therefore," science as an essential ingredient in
education, "we are all the while laying an admirable foundation for
ethical and philosophical culture." [2]

The passages I have quoted were uttered by John Stuart Mill; but you
cannot hear inverted commas, and it is therefore right that I should
add, without delay, that I have taken the liberty of substituting
"workers in science" for "ancient dialecticians," and "Science as an
essential ingredient in education" for "the ancient languages as our
best literary education." Mill did, in fact, deliver a noble panegyric
upon classical studies. I do not doubt its justice, nor presume to
question its wisdom. But I venture to maintain that no wise or just
judge, who has a knowledge of the facts, will hesitate to say that it
applies with equal force to scientific training.

But it is only fair to the Scottish Universities to point out that they
have long understood the value of Science as a branch of general
education. I observe, with the greatest satisfaction, that candidates
for the degree of Master of Arts in this University are required to
have a knowledge, not only of Mental and Moral Philosophy, and of
Mathematics and Natural Philosophy, but of Natural History, in addition
to the ordinary Latin and Greek course; and that a candidate may take
honours in these subjects and in Chemistry.

I do not know what the requirements of your examiners may be, but I
sincerely trust they are not satisfied with a mere book knowledge of
these matters. For my own part I would not raise a finger, if I could
thereby introduce mere book work in science into every Arts curriculum
in the country. Let those who want to study books devote themselves to
Literature, in which we have the perfection of books, both as to
substance and as to form. If I may paraphrase Hobbes's well-known
aphorism, I would say that "books are the money of Literature, but only
the counters of Science," Science (in the sense in which I now use the
term) being the knowledge of fact, of which every verbal description is
but an incomplete and symbolic expression. And be assured that no
teaching of science is worth anything, as a mental discipline, which is
not based upon direct perception of the facts, and practical exercise
of the observing and logical faculties upon them. Even in such a simple
matter as the mere comprehension of form, ask the most practised and
widely informed anatomist what is the difference between his knowledge
of a structure which he has read about, and his knowledge of the same
structure when he has seen it for himself; and he will tell you that
the two things are not comparable--the difference is infinite. Thus I
am very strongly inclined to agree with some learned schoolmasters who
say that, in their experience, the teaching of science is all waste
time. As they teach it, I have no doubt it is. But to teach it
otherwise requires an amount of personal labour and a development of
means and appliances, which must strike horror and dismay into a man
accustomed to mere book work; and who has been in the habit of teaching
a class of fifty without much strain upon his energies. And this is one
of the real difficulties in the way of the introduction of physical
science into the ordinary University course, to which I have alluded.
It is a difficulty which will not be overcome, until years of patient
study have organised scientific teaching as well as, or I hope better
than, classical teaching has been organised hitherto.

A little while ago, I ventured to hint a doubt as to the perfection of
some of the arrangements in the ancient Universities of England; but,
in their provision for giving instruction in Science as such, and
without direct reference to any of its practical applications, they
have set a brilliant example. Within the last twenty years, Oxford
alone has sunk more than a hundred and twenty thousand pounds in
building and furnishing Physical, Chemical, and Physiological
Laboratories, and a magnificent Museum, arranged with an almost
luxurious regard for the needs of the student. Cambridge, less rich,
but aided by the munificence of her Chancellor, is taking the same
course; and in a few years, it will be for no lack of the means and
appliances of sound teaching, if the mass of English University men
remain in their present state of barbarous ignorance of even the
rudiments of scientific culture.

Yet another step needs to be made before Science can be said to have
taken its proper place in the Universities. That is its recognition as
a Faculty, or branch of study demanding recognition and special
organisation, on account of its bearing on the wants of mankind. The
Faculties of Theology, Law, and Medicine, are technical schools,
intended to equip men who have received general culture, with the
special knowledge which is needed for the proper performance of the
duties of clergymen, lawyers, and medical practitioners.

When the material well-being of the country depended upon rude pasture
and agriculture, and still ruder mining; in the days when all the
innumerable applications of the principles of physical science to
practical purposes were non-existent even as dreams; days which men
living may have heard their fathers speak of; what little physical
science could be seen to bear directly upon human life, lay within the
province of Medicine. Medicine was the foster-mother of Chemistry,
because it has to do with the preparation of drugs and the detection of
poisons; of Botany, because it enabled the physician to recognise
medicinal herbs; of Comparative Anatomy and Physiology, because the man
who studied Human Anatomy and Physiology for purely medical purposes
was led to extend his studies to the rest of the animal world.

Within my recollection, the only way in which a student could obtain
anything like a training in Physical Science, was by attending the
lectures of the Professors of Physical and Natural Science attached to
the Medical Schools. But, in the course of the last thirty years, both
foster-mother and child have grown so big, that they threaten not only
to crush one another, but to press the very life out of the unhappy
student who enters the nursery; to the great detriment of all three.

I speak in the presence of those who know practically what medical
education is; for I may assume that a large proportion of my hearers
are more or less advanced students of medicine. I appeal to the most
industrious and conscientious among you, to those who are most deeply
penetrated with a sense of the extremely serious responsibilities which
attach to the calling of a medical practitioner, when I ask whether,
out of the four years which you devote to your studies, you ought to
spare even so much as an hour for any work which does not tend directly
to fit you for your duties?

Consider what that work is. Its foundation is a sound and practical
acquaintance with the structure of the human organism, and with the
modes and conditions of its action in health. I say a sound and
practical acquaintance, to guard against the supposition that my
intention is to suggest that you ought all to be minute anatomists and
accomplished physiologists. The devotion of your whole four years to
Anatomy and Physiology alone, would be totally insufficient to attain
that end. What I mean is, the sort of practical, familiar, finger-end
knowledge which a watchmaker has of a watch, and which you expect that
craftsman, as an honest man, to have, when you entrust a watch that
goes badly, to him. It is a kind of knowledge which is to be acquired,
not in the lecture-room, nor in the library, but in the dissecting-room
and the laboratory. It is to be had not by sharing your attention
between these and sundry other subjects, but by concentrating your
minds, week after week, and month after month, six or seven hours a
day, upon all the complexities of organ and function, until each of the
greater truths of anatomy and physiology has become an organic part of
your minds--until you would know them if you were roused and questioned
in the middle of the night, as a man knows the geography of his native
place and the daily life of his home. That is the sort of knowledge
which, once obtained, is a life-long possession. Other occupations may
fill your minds--it may grow dim, and seem to be forgotten--but there
it is, like the inscription on a battered and defaced coin, which comes
out when you warm it.

If I had the power to remodel Medical Education, the first two years of
the medical curriculum should be devoted to nothing but such thorough
study of Anatomy and Physiology, with Physiological Chemistry and
Physics; the student should then pass a real, practical examination in
these subjects; and, having gone through that ordeal satisfactorily, he
should be troubled no more with them. His whole mind should then be
given with equal intentness to Therapeutics, in its broadest sense, to
Practical Medicine and to Surgery, with instruction in Hygiene and in
Medical Jurisprudence; and of these subjects only--surely there are
enough of them--should he be required to show a knowledge in his final

I cannot claim any special property in this theory of what the medical
curriculum should be, for I find that views, more or less closely
approximating these, are held by all who have seriously considered the
very grave and pressing question of Medical Reform; and have, indeed,
been carried into practice, to some extent, by the most enlightened
Examining Boards. I have heard but two kinds of objections to them.
There is first, the objection of vested interests, which I will not
deal with here, because I want to make myself as pleasant as I can, and
no discussions are so unpleasant as those which turn on such points.
And there is, secondly, the much more respectable objection, which
takes the general form of the reproach that, in thus limiting the
curriculum, we are seeking to narrow it. We are told that the medical
man ought to be a person of good education and general information, if
his profession is to hold its own among other professions; that he
ought to know Botany, or else, if he goes abroad, he will not be able
to tell poisonous fruits from edible ones; that he ought to know drugs,
as a druggist knows them, or he will not be able to tell sham bark
and senna from the real articles; that he ought to know Zoology,
because--well, I really have never been able to learn exactly why he is
to be expected to know zoology. There is, indeed, a popular
superstition, that doctors know all about things that are queer or
nasty to the general mind, and may, therefore, be reasonably expected
to know the "barbarous binomials" applicable to snakes, snails, and
slugs; an amount of information with which the general mind is usually
completely satisfied. And there is a scientific superstition that
Physiology is largely aided by Comparative Anatomy--a superstition
which, like most superstitions, once had a grain of truth at bottom;
but the grain has become homoeopathic, since Physiology took its modern
experimental development, and became what it is now, the application of
the principles of Physics and Chemistry to the elucidation of the
phaenomena of life.

I hold as strongly as any one can do, that the medical practitioner
ought to be a person of education and good general culture; but I also
hold by the old theory of a Faculty, that a man should have his general
culture before he devotes himself to the special studies of that
Faculty; and I venture to maintain, that, if the general culture
obtained in the Faculty of Arts were what it ought to be, the student
would have quite as much knowledge of the fundamental principles of
Physics, of Chemistry, and of Biology, as he needs, before he commenced
his special medical studies.

Moreover, I would urge, that a thorough study of Human Physiology is,
in itself, an education broader and more comprehensive than much that
passes under that name. There is no side of the intellect which it does
not call into play, no region of human knowledge into which either its
roots, or its branches, do not extend; like the Atlantic between the
Old and the New Worlds, its waves wash the shores of the two worlds of
matter and of mind; its tributary streams flow from both; through its
waters, as yet unfurrowed by the keel of any Columbus, lies the road,
if such there be, from the one to the other; far away from that
North-west Passage of mere speculation, in which so many brave souls
have been hopelessly frozen up.

But whether I am right or wrong about all this, the patent fact of the
limitation of time remains. As the song runs:--

"If a man could be sure
That his life would endure
For the space of a thousand long years------"

he might do a number of things not practicable under present
conditions. Methuselah might, with much propriety, have taken half a
century to get his doctor's degree; and might, very fairly, have been
required to pass a practical examination upon the contents of the
British Museum, before commencing practice as a promising young fellow
of two hundred, or thereabouts. But you have four years to do your work
in, and are turned loose, to save or slay, at two or three and twenty.

Now, I put it to you, whether you think that, when you come down to the
realities of life--when you stand by the sick-bed, racking you brains
for the principles which shall furnish you with the means of
interpreting symptoms, and forming a rational theory of the condition
of your patient, it will be satisfactory for you to find that those
principles are not there--although, to use the examination slang which
is unfortunately too familiar to me, you can quite easily "give an
account of the leading peculiarities of the _Marsupialia_," or
"enumerate the chief characters of the _Compositae_," or "state
the class and order of the animal from which Castoreum is obtained."

I really do not think that state of things will be satisfactory to
you; I am very sure it will not be so to your patient. Indeed, I
am so narrow-minded myself, that if I had to choose between two
physicians--one who did not know whether a whale is a fish or not, and
could not tell gentian from ginger, but did understand the applications
of the institutes of medicine to his art; while the other, like
Talleyrand's doctor, "knew everything, even a little physic"--with all
my love for breadth of culture, I should assuredly consult the former.

It is not pleasant to incur the suspicion of an inclination to injure
or depreciate particular branches of knowledge. But the fact that one
of those which I should have no hesitation in excluding from the
medical curriculum, is that to which my own life has been specially
devoted, should, at any rate, defend me from the suspicion of being
urged to this course by any but the very gravest considerations of the
public welfare.

And I should like, further, to call your attention to the important
circumstance that, in thus proposing the exclusion of the study of such
branches of knowledge as Zoology and Botany, from those compulsory upon
the medical student, I am not, for a moment, suggesting their exclusion
from the University. I think that sound and practical instruction in
the elementary facts and broad principles of Biology should form part
of the Arts Curriculum: and here, happily, my theory is in entire
accordance with your practice. Moreover, as I have already said, I have
no sort of doubt that, in view of the relation of Physical Science to
the practical life of the present day, it has the same right as
Theology, Law, and Medicine, to a Faculty of its own in which men shall
be trained to be professional men of science. It may be doubted whether
Universities are the places for technical schools of Engineering or
applied Chemistry, or Agriculture. But there can surely be little
question, that instruction in the branches of Science which lie at the
foundation of these Arts, of a far more advanced and special character
than could, with any propriety, be included in the ordinary Arts
Curriculum, ought to be obtainable by means of a duly organised Faculty
of Science in every University.

The establishment of such a Faculty would have the additional advantage
of providing, in some measure, for one of the greatest wants of our
time and country. I mean the proper support and encouragement of
original research.

The other day, an emphatic friend of mine committed himself to the
opinion that, in England, it is better for a man's worldly prospects to
be a drunkard, than to be smitten with the divine dipsomania of the
original investigator. I am inclined to think he was not far wrong.
And, be it observed, that the question is not, whether such a man shall
be able to make as much out of his abilities as his brother, of like
ability, who goes into Law, or Engineering, or Commerce; it is not a
question of "maintaining a due number of saddle horses," as George
Eliot somewhere puts it--it is a question of living or starving.

If a student of my own subject shows power and originality, I dare not
advise him to adopt a scientific career; for, supposing he is able to
maintain himself until he has attained distinction, I cannot give him
the assurance that any amount of proficiency in the Biological Sciences
will be convertible into, even the most modest, bread and cheese. And I
believe that the case is as bad, or perhaps worse, with other branches
of Science. In this respect Britain, whose immense wealth and
prosperity hang upon the thread of Applied Science, is far behind
France, and infinitely behind Germany.

And the worst of it is, that it is very difficult to see one's way to
any immediate remedy for this state of affairs which shall be free from
a tendency to become worse than the disease.

Great schemes for the Endowment of Research have been proposed. It has
been suggested, that Laboratories for all branches of Physical Science,
provided with every apparatus needed by the investigator, shall be
established by the State: and shall be accessible, under due conditions
and regulations, to all properly qualified persons. I see no objection
to the principle of such a proposal. If it be legitimate to spend great
sums of money on public Libraries and public collections of Painting
and Sculpture, in aid of the Man of Letters, or the Artist, or for the
mere sake of affording pleasure to the general public. I apprehend that
it cannot be illegitimate to do as much for the promotion of scientific
investigation. To take the lowest ground, as a mere investment of
money, the latter is likely to be much more immediately profitable. To
my mind, the difficulty in the way of such schemes is not theoretical,
but practical. Given the laboratories, how are the investigators to be
maintained? What career is open to those who have been thus encouraged
to leave bread-winning pursuits? If they are to be provided for by
endowment, we come back to the College Fellowship system, the results
of which, for Literature, have not been so brilliant that one would
wish to see it extended to Science; unless some much better securities
than at present exist can be taken that it will foster real work. You
know that among the Bees, it depends on the kind of cell in which the
egg is deposited, and the quantity and quality of food which is
supplied to the grub, whether it shall turn out a busy little worker or
a big idle queen. And, in the human hive, the cells of the endowed
larvae are always tending to enlarge, and their food to improve, until
we get queens, beautiful to behold, but which gather no honey and build
no comb.

I do not say that these difficulties may not be overcome, but their
gravity is not to be lightly estimated.

In the meanwhile, there is one step in the direction of the endowment
of research which is free from such objections. It is possible to place
the scientific enquirer in a position in which he shall have ample
leisure and opportunity for original work, and yet shall give a fair
and tangible equivalent for those privileges. The establishment of a
Faculty of Science in every University, implies that of a corresponding
number of Professorial chairs, the incumbents of which need not be so
burdened with teaching as to deprive them of ample leisure for original
work. I do not think that it is any impediment to an original
investigator to have to devote a moderate portion of his time to
lecturing, or superintending practical instruction. On the contrary, I
think it may be, and often is, a benefit to be obliged to take a
comprehensive survey of your subject; or to bring your results to a
point, and give them, as it were, a tangible objective existence. The
besetting sins of the investigator are two: the one is the desire to
put aside a subject, the general bearings of which he has mastered
himself, and pass on to something which has the attraction of novelty;
and the other, the desire for too much perfection, which leads him to

"Add and alter many times,
Till all be ripe and rotten;"

to spend the energies which should be reserved for action in whitening
the decks and polishing the guns.

The obligation to produce results for the instruction of others, seems
to me to be a more effectual check on these tendencies than even the
love of usefulness or the ambition for fame.

But supposing the Professorial forces of our University to be duly
organised, there remains an important question, relating to the
teaching power, to be considered. Is the Professorial system--the
system, I mean, of teaching in the lecture-room alone, and
leaving the student to find his own way when he is outside the
lecture-room--adequate to the wants of learners? In answering this
question, I confine myself to my own province, and I venture to reply
for Physical Science, assuredly and undoubtedly, No. As I have
already intimated, practical work in the Laboratory is absolutely
indispensable, and that practical work must be guided and superintended
by a sufficient staff of Demonstrators, who are for Science what Tutors
are for other branches of study. And there must be a good supply of
such Demonstrators. I doubt if the practical work of more than twenty
students can be properly superintended by one Demonstrator. If we
take the working day at six hours, that is less than twenty minutes
apiece--not a very large allowance of time for helping a dull man, for
correcting an inaccurate one, or even for making an intelligent student
clearly apprehend what he is about. And, no doubt, the supplying of a
proper amount of this tutorial, practical teaching, is a difficulty in
the way of giving proper instruction in Physical Science in such
Universities as that of Aberdeen, which are devoid of endowments; and,
unlike the English Universities, have no moral claim on the funds of
richly endowed bodies to supply their wants.

Examination--thorough, searching examination--is an indispensable
accompaniment of teaching; but I am almost inclined to commit myself to
the very heterodox proposition that it is a necessary evil. I am a very
old Examiner, having, for some twenty years past, been occupied with
examinations on a considerable scale, of all sorts and conditions of
men, and women too,--from the boys and girls of elementary schools to
the candidates for Honours and Fellowships in the Universities. I will
not say that, in this case as in so many others, the adage, that
familiarity breeds contempt, holds good; but my admiration for the
existing system of examination and its products, does not wax warmer as
I see more of it. Examination, like fire, is a good servant, but a bad
master; and there seems to me to be some danger of its becoming our
master. I by no means stand alone in this opinion. Experienced friends
of mine do not hesitate to say that students whose career they watch,
appear to them to become deteriorated by the constant effort to pass
this or that examination, just as we hear of men's brains becoming
affected by the daily necessity of catching a train. They work to pass,
not to know; and outraged Science takes her revenge. They do pass, and
they don't know. I have passed sundry examinations in my time, not
without credit, and I confess I am ashamed to think how very little
real knowledge underlay the torrent of stuff which I was able to pour
out on paper. In fact, that which examination, as ordinarily conducted,
tests, is simply a man's power of work under stimulus, and his capacity
for rapidly and clearly producing that which, for the time, he has got
into his mind. Now, these faculties are by no means to be despised.
They are of great value in practical life, and are the making of many
an advocate, and of many a so-called statesman. But in the pursuit of
truth, scientific or other, they count for very little, unless they are
supplemented by that long-continued, patient "intending of the mind,"
as Newton phrased it, which makes very little show in Examinations. I
imagine that an Examiner who knows his students personally, must not
unfrequently have found himself in the position of finding A's paper
better than B's, though his own judgment tells him, quite clearly, that
B is the man who has the larger share of genuine capacity.

Again, there is a fallacy about Examiners. It is commonly supposed that
any one who knows a subject is competent to teach it; and no one seems
to doubt that any one who knows a subject is competent to examine in
it. I believe both these opinions to be serious mistakes: the latter,
perhaps, the more serious of the two. In the first place, I do not
believe that any one who is not, or has not been, a teacher is really
qualified to examine advanced students. And in the second place,
Examination is an Art, and a difficult one, which has to be learned
like all other arts.

Beginners always set too difficult questions--partly because they are
afraid of being suspected of ignorance if they set easy ones, and
partly from not understanding their business. Suppose that you want to
test the relative physical strength of a score of young men. You do not
put a hundredweight down before them, and tell each to swing it round.
If you do, half of them won't be able to lift it at all, and only one
or two will be able to perform the task. You must give them half a
hundredweight, and see how they manoeuvre that, if you want to form any
estimate of the muscular strength of each. So, a practised Examiner
will seek for information respecting the mental vigour and training of
candidates from the way in which they deal with questions easy enough
to let reason, memory, and method have free play.

No doubt, a great deal is to be done by the careful selection of
Examiners, and by the copious introduction of practical work, to remove
the evils inseparable from examination; but, under the best of
circumstances, I believe that examination will remain but an imperfect
test of knowledge, and a still more imperfect test of capacity, while
it tells next to nothing about a man's power as an investigator.

There is much to be said in favour of restricting the highest degrees
in each Faculty, to those who have shown evidence of such original
power, by prosecuting a research under the eye of the Professor in
whose province it lies; or, at any rate, under conditions which shall
afford satisfactory proof that the work is theirs. The notion may sound
revolutionary, but it is really very old; for, I take it, that it lies
at the bottom of that presentation of a thesis by the candidate for a
doctorate, which has now, too often, become little better than a matter
of form.

* * * * *

Thus far, I have endeavoured to lay before you, in a too brief and
imperfect manner, my views respecting the teaching half--the Magistri
and Regentes--of the University of the Future. Now let me turn to the
learning half--the Scholares.

If the Universities are to be the sanctuaries of the highest culture of
the country, those who would enter that sanctuary must not come with
unwashed hands. If the good seed is to yield its hundredfold harvest,
it must not be scattered amidst the stones of ignorance, or the tares
of undisciplined indolence and wantonness. On the contrary, the soil
must have been carefully prepared, and the Professor should find that
the operations of clod-crushing, draining, and weeding, and even a good
deal of planting, have been done by the Schoolmaster.

That is exactly what the Professor does not find in any University in
the three Kingdoms that I can hear of--the reason of which state of
things lies in the extremely faulty organisation of the majority of
secondary schools. Students come to the Universities ill-prepared in
classics and mathematics, not at all prepared in anything else; and
half their time is spent in learning that which they ought to have
known when they came.

I sometimes hear it said that the Scottish Universities differ from the
English, in being to a much greater extent places of comparatively
elementary education for a younger class of students. But it would seem
doubtful if any great difference of this kind really exists; for a high
authority, himself Head of an English College, has solemnly affirmed
that: "Elementary teaching of youths under twenty is now the only
function performed by the University;" and that Colleges are "boarding
schools in which the elements of the learned languages are taught to
youths." [3]

This is not the first time that I have quoted those remarkable
assertions. I should like to engrave them in public view, for they have
not been refuted; and I am convinced that if their import is once
clearly apprehended, they will play no mean part when the question of
University reorganisation, with a view to practical measures, comes on
for discussion. You are not responsible for this anomalous state of
affairs now; but, as you pass into active life and acquire the
political influence to which your education and your position should
entitle you, you will become responsible for it, unless each in his
sphere does his best to alter it, by insisting on the improvement of
secondary schools.

Your present responsibility is of another, though not less serious,
kind. Institutions do not make men, any more than organisation makes
life; and even the ideal University we have been dreaming about will be
but a superior piece of mechanism, unless each student strive after the
ideal of the Scholar. And that ideal, it seems to me, has never been
better embodied than by the great Poet, who, though lapped in luxury,
the favourite of a Court, and the idol of his countrymen, remained
through all the length of his honoured years a Scholar in Art, in
Science, and in Life.

"Wouldst shape a noble life! Then cast
No backward glances towards the past:
And though somewhat be lost and gone,
Yet do thou act as one new-born.
What each day needs, that shalt thou ask;
Each day will set its proper task.
Give others' work just share of praise;
Not of thine own the merits raise.
Beware no fellow man thou hate:
And so in God's hands leave thy fate." [4]

* * * * *


[1] "Quamvis enim melius sit bene facere quam nosse, prius tamen est
nosse quam facere."--"Karoli Magni Regis Constitutio de Scholis per
singula Episcopia et Monasteria instituendis," addressed to the Abbot
of Fulda. Baluzius, _Capitularia Regum Francorum_, T. i., p. 202.

[2] Inaugural Address delivered to the University of St. Andrew,
February 1, 1867, by J. S. Mill, Rector of the University (pp. 32, 33).

[3] _Suggestions for Academical Organisation, with Especial Reference
to Oxford_. By the Rector of Lincoln.

[4] Goethe, _Zahme Xenien, Vierte Abtheilung_. I should be glad to
take credit for the close and vigorous English version; but it is my
wife's, and not mine.




The actual work of the University founded in this city by the
well-considered munificence of Johns Hopkins commences to-morrow, and
among the many marks of confidence and good-will which have been
bestowed upon me in the United States, there is none which I value more
highly than that conferred by the authorities of the University when
they invited me to deliver an address on such an occasion.

For the event which has brought us together is, in many respects,
unique. A vast property is handed over to an administrative body,
hampered by no conditions save these:--That the principal shall not be
employed in building: that the funds shall be appropriated, in equal
proportions, to the promotion of natural knowledge and to the
alleviation of the bodily sufferings of mankind; and, finally, that
neither political nor ecclesiastical sectarianism shall be permitted to
disturb the impartial distribution of the testator's benefactions.

In my experience of life a truth which sounds very much like a paradox
has often asserted itself: namely, that a man's worst difficulties
begin when he is able to do as he likes. So long as a man is struggling
with obstacles he has an excuse for failure or shortcoming; but when
fortune removes them all and gives him the power of doing as he thinks
best, then comes the time of trial. There is but one right, and the
possibilities of wrong are infinite. I doubt not that the trustees of
the Johns Hopkins University felt the full force of this truth when
they entered on the administration of their trust a year and a half
ago; and I can but admire the activity and resolution which have
enabled them, aided by the able president whom they have selected, to
lay down the great outlines of their plan, and carry it thus far into
execution. It is impossible to study that plan without perceiving that
great care, forethought, and sagacity, have been bestowed upon it, and
that it demands the most respectful consideration. I have been
endeavouring to ascertain how far the principles which underlie it are
in accordance with those which have been established in my own mind by
much and long-continued thought upon educational questions. Permit me
to place before you the result of my reflections.

Under one aspect a university is a particular kind of educational
institution, and the views which we may take of the proper nature of a
university are corollaries from those which we hold respecting
education in general. I think it must be admitted that the school
should prepare for the university, and that the university should crown
the edifice, the foundations of which are laid in the school.
University education should not be something distinct from elementary
education, but should be the natural outgrowth and development of the
latter. Now I have a very clear conviction as to what elementary
education ought to be; what it really may be, when properly organised;
and what I think it will be, before many years have passed over our
heads, in England and in America. Such education should enable an
average boy of fifteen or sixteen to read and write his own language
with ease and accuracy, and with a sense of literary excellence derived
from the study of our classic writers: to have a general acquaintance
with the history of his own country and with the great laws of social
existence; to have acquired the rudiments of the physical and
psychological sciences, and a fair knowledge of elementary arithmetic
and geometry. He should have obtained an acquaintance with logic rather
by example than by precept; while the acquirement of the elements of
music and drawing should have been pleasure rather than work.

It may sound strange to many ears if I venture to maintain the
proposition that a young person, educated thus far, has had a liberal,
though perhaps not a full, education. But it seems to me that such
training as that to which I have referred may be termed liberal, in
both the senses in which that word is employed, with perfect accuracy.
In the first place, it is liberal in breadth. It extends over the whole
ground of things to be known and of faculties to be trained, and it
gives equal importance to the two great sides of human activity--art
and science. In the second place, it is liberal in the sense of being
an education fitted for free men; for men to whom every career is open,
and from whom their country may demand that they should be fitted to
perform the duties of any career. I cannot too strongly impress upon
you the fact that, with such a primary education as this, and with no
more than is to be obtained by building strictly upon its lines, a man
of ability may become a great writer or speaker, a statesman, a lawyer,
a man of science, painter, sculptor, architect, or musician. That even
development of all a man's faculties, which is what properly
constitutes culture, may be effected by such an education, while it
opens the way for the indefinite strengthening of any special
capabilities with which he may be gifted.

In a country like this, where most men have to carve out their own
fortunes and devote themselves early to the practical affairs of life,
comparatively few can hope to pursue their studies up to, still less
beyond, the age of manhood. But it is of vital importance to the
welfare of the community that those who are relieved from the need of
making a livelihood, and still more, those who are stirred by the
divine impulses of intellectual thirst or artistic genius, should be
enabled to devote themselves to the higher service of their kind, as
centres of intelligence, interpreters of Nature, or creators of new
forms of beauty. And it is the function of a university to furnish such
men with the means of becoming that which it is their privilege and
duty to be. To this end the university need cover no ground foreign to
that occupied by the elementary school. Indeed it cannot; for the
elementary instruction which I have referred to embraces all the kinds
of real knowledge and mental activity possible to man. The university
can add no new departments of knowledge, can offer no new fields of
mental activity; but what it can do is to intensify and specialise the
instruction in each department. Thus literature and philology,
represented in the elementary school by English alone, in the
university will extend over the ancient and modern languages. History,
which, like charity, best begins at home, but, like charity, should not
end there, will ramify into anthropology, archaeology, political
history, and geography, with the history of the growth of the human
mind and of its products in the shape of philosophy, science, and art.
And the university will present to the student libraries, museums of
antiquities, collections of coins, and the like, which will efficiently
subserve these studies. Instruction in the elements of social economy,
a most essential, but hitherto sadly-neglected part of elementary
education, will develop in the university into political economy,
sociology, and law. Physical science will have its great divisions of
physical geography, with geology and astronomy; physics; chemistry and
biology; represented not merely by professors and their lectures, but
by laboratories, in which the students, under guidance of
demonstrators, will work out facts for themselves and come into that
direct contact with reality which constitutes the fundamental
distinction of scientific education. Mathematics will soar into its
highest regions; while the high peaks of philosophy may be scaled by
those whose aptitude for abstract thought has been awakened by
elementary logic. Finally, schools of pictorial and plastic art, of
architecture, and of music, will offer a thorough discipline in the
principles and practice of art to those in whom lies nascent the rare
faculty of aesthetic representation, or the still rarer powers of
creative genius.

The primary school and the university are the alpha and omega of
education. Whether institutions intermediate between these (so-called
secondary schools) should exist, appears to me to be a question of
practical convenience. If such schools are established, the important
thing is that they should be true intermediaries between the primary
school and the university, keeping on the wide track of general
culture, and not sacrificing one branch of knowledge for another.

Such appear to me to be the broad outlines of the relations which the
university, regarded as a place of education, ought to bear to the
school, but a number of points of detail require some consideration,
however briefly and imperfectly I can deal with them. In the first
place, there is the important question of the limitations which should
be fixed to the entrance into the university; or, what qualifications
should be required of those who propose to take advantage of the higher
training offered by the university. On the one hand, it is obviously
desirable that the time and opportunities of the university should not
be wasted in conferring such elementary instruction as can be obtained
elsewhere; while, on the other hand, it is no less desirable that the
higher instruction of the university should be made accessible to every
one who can take advantage of it, although he may not have been able to
go through any very extended course of education. My own feeling is
distinctly against any absolute and defined preliminary examination,
the passing of which shall be an essential condition of admission to
the university. I would admit to the university any one who could be
reasonably expected to profit by the instruction offered to him; and I
should be inclined, on the whole, to test the fitness of the student,
not by examination before he enters the university, but at the end of
his first term of study. If, on examination in the branches of
knowledge to which he has devoted himself, he show himself deficient in
industry or in capacity, it will be best for the university and best
for himself, to prevent him from pursuing a vocation for which he is
obviously unfit. And I hardly know of any other method than this by
which his fitness or unfitness can be safely ascertained, though no
doubt a good deal may be done, not by formal cut and dried examination,
but by judicious questioning, at the outset of his career.

Another very important and difficult practical question is, whether a
definite course of study shall be laid down for those who enter the
university; whether a curriculum shall be prescribed; or whether the
student shall be allowed to range at will among the subjects which are
open to him. And this question is inseparably connected with another,
namely, the conferring of degrees. It is obviously impossible that any
student should pass through the whole of the series of courses of
instruction offered by a university. If a degree is to be conferred as
a mark of proficiency in knowledge, it must be given on the ground that
the candidate is proficient in a certain fraction of those studies; and
then will arise the necessity of insuring an equivalency of degrees, so
that the course by which a degree is obtained shall mark approximately
an equal amount of labour and of acquirements, in all cases. But this
equivalency can hardly be secured in any other way than by prescribing
a series of definite lines of study. This is a matter which will
require grave consideration. The important points to bear in mind, I
think, are that there should not be too many subjects in the
curriculum, and that the aim should be the attainment of thorough and
sound knowledge of each.

One half of the Johns Hopkins bequest is devoted to the establishment
of a hospital, and it was the desire of the testator that the
university and the hospital should co-operate in the promotion of
medical education. The trustees will unquestionably take the best
advice that is to be had as to the construction and administration of
the hospital. In respect to the former point, they will doubtless
remember that a hospital may be so arranged as to kill more than it
cures; and, in regard to the latter, that a hospital may spread the
spirit of pauperism among the well-to-do, as well as relieve the
sufferings of the destitute. It is not for me to speak on these
topics--rather let me confine myself to the one matter on which my
experience as a student of medicine, and an examiner of long standing,
who has taken a great interest in the subject of medical education, may
entitle me to a hearing. I mean the nature of medical education itself,
and the co-operation of the university in its promotion.

What is the object of medical education? It is to enable the
practitioner, on the one hand, to prevent disease by his knowledge of
hygiene; on the other hand, to divine its nature, and to alleviate or
cure it, by his knowledge of pathology, therapeutics, and practical
medicine. That is his business in life, and if he has not a thorough
and practical knowledge of the conditions of health, of the causes
which tend to the establishment of disease, of the meaning of symptoms,
and of the uses of medicines and operative appliances, he is
incompetent, even if he were the best anatomist, or physiologist, or
chemist, that ever took a gold medal or won a prize certificate. This
is one great truth respecting medical education. Another is, that all
practice in medicine is based upon theory of some sort or other; and
therefore, that it is desirable to have such theory in the closest
possible accordance with fact. The veriest empiric who gives a drug in
one case because he has seen it do good in another of apparently the
same sort, acts upon the theory that similarity of superficial symptoms
means similarity of lesions; which, by the way, is perhaps as wild an
hypothesis as could be invented. To understand the nature of disease we
must understand health, and the understanding of the healthy body means
the having a knowledge of its structure and of the way in which its
manifold actions are performed, which is what is technically termed
human anatomy and human physiology. The physiologist again must needs
possess an acquaintance with physics and chemistry, inasmuch as
physiology is, to a great extent, applied physics and chemistry. For
ordinary purposes a limited amount of such knowledge is all that is
needful; but for the pursuit of the higher branches of physiology no
knowledge of these branches of science can be too extensive, or too
profound. Again, what we call therapeutics, which has to do with the
action of drugs and medicines on the living organism, is, strictly
speaking, a branch of experimental physiology, and is daily receiving a
greater and greater experimental development.

The third great fact which is to be taken into consideration in dealing
with medical education, is that the practical necessities of life do
not, as a rule, allow aspirants to medical practice to give more than
three, or it may be four years to their studies. Let us put it at four
years, and then reflect that, in the course of this time, a young man
fresh from school has to acquaint himself with medicine, surgery,
obstetrics, therapeutics, pathology, hygiene, as well as with the
anatomy and the physiology of the human body; and that his knowledge
should be of such a character that it can be relied upon in any
emergency, and always ready for practical application. Consider, in
addition, that the medical practitioner may be called upon, at any
moment, to give evidence in a court of justice in a criminal case; and
that it is therefore well that he should know something of the laws of
evidence, and of what we call medical jurisprudence. On a medical
certificate, a man may be taken from his home and from his business and
confined in a lunatic asylum; surely, therefore, it is desirable that
the medical practitioner should have some rational and clear
conceptions as to the nature and symptoms of mental disease. Bearing in
mind all these requirements of medical education, you will admit that
the burden on the young aspirant for the medical profession is somewhat
of the heaviest, and that it needs some care to prevent his
intellectual back from being broken.

Those who are acquainted with the existing systems of medical education
will observe that, long as is the catalogue of studies which I have
enumerated, I have omitted to mention several that enter into the usual
medical curriculum of the present day. I have said not a word about
zoology, comparative anatomy, botany, or materia medica. Assuredly this

Book of the day: