Studies in Virgil
Studies in Virgil
It is generally recognized that at present there is a movement in education away from the Classics. The questions are being raised in the older English Universities, whether after all Greek is a necessary part of every branch of study, and whether it should remain a compulsory subject in every curriculum. In America and in the British Colonies a further stage has been reached. Tradition there has less power; Greek as a compulsory subject has been quite discarded, and Latin itself is in some places a more or less optional subject. The possibilities of danger to education generally which are involved in this attitude toward classical studies need no remark. Yet there is another aspect of the matter which deserves consideration, and here I may be allowed to speak from my own experience.
I found when I was Professor of Latin in a Canadian University a system of 'options' in vogue, which permitted a man, if he so wished, to drop the Classics altogether at a very early stage. The higher study of Latin and Greek was, of course, as in England, a matter of free choice for the student who hoped for honours. But the second of the two pass classes in Latin, involving acquaintance with some half-dozen books, a little unseen translation, and a very little prose composition, could be avoided if a student so determined. Latin, in other words, had to compete with all sorts of subjects, and to stand on its own merits. A curious result followed. Not at all unfrequently a student, in spite of woeful preparation and a persistent inability to' translate with accuracy or to compose without elementary blunders in syntax, would nevertheless realize something of the literary value of the poet or historian who was being read in class, and would persevere with an almost pathetic enthusiasm in a study in which he could hope for no distinction, but . . .